5 Favorites from the National Sex Ed Conference

National Sex Ed Conference poster

A bit of time has passed since I had the amazing opportunity to attend the National Sex Ed Conference hosted by CFLE in NJ. It’s never too late to share ideas and inspiration, so I’d like to start 2014 by revisiting five favorites from the National Sex Ed Conference.  

Yes means yes!

Enthusiastic consent activists and sex positive educators populated this conference. Numerous sessions extolled the value of teaching how to say yes to sex. A sex positive perspective understands sexuality as a normal and natural part of life. Enthusiastic consent approaches seek to build skills at asking and giving consent. This was one of many topics which made great connections to sexual violence prevention.  

Tech is important

Scarleteen founder Hearther Corrina presented a great keynote on How the Internet Can Save Sex Ed. Tech positive perspectives highlighted how the internet can increase our reach and connect us with new audiences and youth. An online presence is utilizing a space that is already integral to our lives, and the internet needs accurate information about sex. Yahoo answers anyone?

Movements need to discuss barriers to racial justice

A candid conversation on race was facilitated by Trina Scott during a conference keynote. This speaker facilitated a graceful dialogue about racism, structural barriers and lack of outreach in the Sex Ed movement. A brave conversation on many levels, this dialogue highlighted three big ideas for racial justice: cultural competence, inclusion, and structural racism. Not only was the conversation relevant to the growth of this movement and positive outcomes for the field, but I think this talk highlighted supporting communities of color and working toward greater equity.

Porn literacy is media literacy

Porn is controversial, complicated, and both literally and figuratively messy. In healthy sexuality work, I really tend to avoid the topic of porn because I think it needs to be examined in a comprehensive way. One session I attended really left me feeling equipped to approach the topic by focusingon porn literacy. Media literacy is the skill to think critically and evaluate and analyze media. Media messages are organized to gain power or profits, and porn is media. Porn isn’t going away any time soon, so how can we support individuals to be competent, critical and literate consumers of media?

Broadening our work+

At a conference about sex and sexuality there can never be enough room to explore L-G-B-T-Q. Often when talking about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender topics and communities, we can use LGBTQ as a one-size-fits-all umbrella. Conversations at the sex ed conference really challenged this lumping, and encouraged folks to explore and give space to the many unique needs across this spectrum. A great session focused on barriers for LGBQT youth and the specific challenges of those who experience intimate partner violence. The terminology LGBQ/T+ was presented. This acronym uses a slash (/) to separate orientation and identify, and the plus symbol (+) represents other uncaptured identities.

Sexual violence prevention & healthy sexuality  

There was a lot to love about this conference. From yoga in the morning to displays of dresses made from condoms, there was no shortage of creativity and inspiration. One of my favorite parts of this conference was experiencing the Sex Ed field approach healthy sexuality from so many viewpoints. This movement works to be inclusive and grow the network and skills of educators. Further collaboration between sex ed and anti-sexual violence movements stands to benefit both fields. We’ve got a lot to learn from each other, and I’m hoping to see more folks making the connection and participating in joint training and allied work. Healthy sexuality and sexual health promotion is sexual violence prevention. Let’s resolve to continue spreading the word in 2014 (and beyond)!

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