Teaching Sex Education In Schools

  • Teaching sex education in schools comes with its own set of challenges. Many school districts have restrictions and/or strict guidelines regarding sex education curricula. To guide your work in schools, Liore Klein, a sex educator who’s worked with a variety of non-profits, recommends you keep the following tips in mind. They will help you not only do the best work possible but also avoid getting in trouble with the school or your organization.

    1. Always ask the teacher if there are restrictions on the presentation. Examples of restrictions include no condom demonstrations, only teaching specific birth control methods, or using fingers for condom demonstrations instead of a dildo. Even if you talked with a school administrator ahead of time, double check with the teacher.

    1. Read up on mandatory reporting laws in your state and find out if/how you are mandated to report.

    1. Read up on minor’s reproductive rights for abortion and contraception in your state, especially regarding birth control and abortion. They vary widely and your students will most likely have questions.

    1. Clarify how to handle discussion about abortion. Ask your supervisor, school administration, and the classroom teacher (see #1). You may be restricted in what you can teach or you may need training on dealing with anti-abortion advocates.

    1. Don’t make assumptions about students’ knowledge. Additionally,, don’t treat them as ignorant. Young people respond best when treated like adults whose opinions matter.

    1. Know the language and literacy needs of the class before you go teach. Ensure translation is available and/or adjust lesson plans accordingly.

    1. Avoid heteronormative language as much as possible. This both makes lessons more inclusive and reaches young people who are having sex but not using commitment-heavy language like boyfriend/girlfriend to describe their sex partners.

    1. There are no stupid questions. No matter how “out-there” a question may be, if a student risked embarrassment to ask it, they most likely need the answer.

    1. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Then find the answer and follow-up at the next class session. Only with this group once? Provide an age-appropriate resource.

    1. Master your poker face. Some question will get under your skin. Answer it factually then do some internal work on your own time to understand why this bothered you.

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