Teaching sex ed, pt. 2

I’m still tossing around some ideas on how to conduct a sex, dating, and relationship workshop. I found a “Sexual Pressures” curriculum aimed at middle schoolers that had a nice list of discussion questions to get students thinking deeply about sex and relationships:

What is the difference between love and sex?
What are some ways to express love without sex?
What are some things to think about before you decide to have sex?
What are some feelings someone might feel after having sex?
How do you deal with peer pressures?
What are some things that might tempt someone to consider having sex?
Does dancing promote sex? Does dress promote sex?
What do you think is sexual harassment?
What is date rape?

The curriculum also suggests role-playing conversations between a “parent” and child. I know that role playing is a common strategy to get young people to think about how they would conduct themselves in different scenarios, but looking back on my own teenage years, I don’t think I would have been too keen to participate in such an activity, nor would I have been able to do the role play in earnest (lots of nervous giggles).

Last night I it occurred to me that instead of role play it might be effective to have teens read through case studies in class and discuss what they would do in certain situations (e.g., how to talk about the terms of a relationship when one person wants to be exclusive while the other wants to date around; what to do when one person is ready to be physically intimate while the other doesn’t). Role playing could arise organically out of that situation if participants wanted to get up and demonstrate how they would have those conversations.

I was all set to buckle down and write some of these scenarios out, but then I found Scenarios USA, a non-profit organization that allows underserved youth to write about the pressures and challenges they face in topics such as teen pregnancy, peer pressure, body image, gender identity, and the like (basically everything to do with their changing bodies and their burgeoning sexuality). The authors of winning entries are given the opportunity to partner with a young writer and a Hollywood filmmaker and turn their pieces into short films that are intended to encourage discussions about communication, relationships, and good decision-making.

Ideally I’d like to have a nice balance between text-based and a/v-based work in my workshops, but the Scenarios are pricey, so I’m going to find time to watch the videos online before making my decision.

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