Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Exact Kind of People You Want Teaching Your Kids Banned from Teaching Sex Ed.

Wow! I just read an article about two people in California who teach sex education classes in schools being banned because of the things that they do outside of their work. I am generally against firing teachers for things that happen in their lives outside of the classroom (unless they are molesting children or something of that nature) but this, in particular, is ridiculous. One of these people (names are not given in the article) teaches classes at Good Vibrations sex toy store in Berkeley. The other attended CatalystCon - a biannual conference that covers all manner of topics related to sex. This person described themselves as a pleasure activist on twitter.

This is completely ridiculous. Good Vibrations is THE original sex-positive, women-friendly sex toy store. Even though ownership has changed, a lot of their educators remain the same. Their education has always been progressive, positive, responsible, inclusive, and above all, accurate. Their education department is staffed by such notable people as Carol Queen and Charlie Glickman. Carol freakin' Queen and Charlie freakin' Glickman!!! These people are recognized as leaders in their field and respected by sex educators worldwide! If this person is getting their education from the people at GoodVibes, the schools should be thanking their lucky stars that they managed to score such a well-connected and well-educated sex ed teacher.

CatalystCon is hands down the most amazing sex conference I've ever been to. This is a gathering of leaders in all areas related to progressive sexuality. It is not a 'porn conference' as the article states - although I wouldn't have a problem with that either. It is a sexuality conference. It covers everything including porn. When I went, I attended sessions on sexuality and disability, the pros and cons of circumcision, body positivity, sex toy safety, anal pleasure and health, educating educators, and feminist pornography among others.

Every person I have met through Good Vibes and CatalystCon has been devoted to the concept of sex-positive education. These are communities that believe deeply in fostering love of self, respect for others, and positive healthy sexuality. These are good things people!!!! The educators who were fired are not named but I'm willing to bet that I've met them. I would very much expect that they have the same attitude on sex ed as all the others I've met in these communities.

These are also rational, professional, respectful people who understand boundaries. They, I'm sure, would know what's appropriate for the classroom and what's not. Notice how the article does not say that they discussed sex toys, good vibes store, or pornography in detail in their classes. Note also, that the article does not say that they were any complaints about what actually happened in the classrooms. The complaints were only about what these people did outside of the classroom. Even if these activities were actually harmful, which they aren't, they don't affect the students in any way. It's exactly the same thing as a teacher who drinks or smokes pot at home. As long as they aren't doing that in the classroom or talking to the kids about it, it doesn't affect them. That's their life and their business.

It baffles me why people would have a problem with any of this. It's based on a bias about sex that is completely unfounded and never explored. Some person somehow finds one of these educators tweets that uses a swear word and says that they've been to a sex conference, and they totally lose their mind. They don't bother to find out what that conference is all about. They just assume that the educator is out to corrupt their kids and teach them how to make porn and use sex toys. It's a kneejerk response that's rooted in a fear of sex.

Given what I've been doing for the last year, this upsets me in particular. I've been involved in action to bar a biased sex-negative group from delivering sex education in our schools in Edmonton. This group presents abstinence only fear-based information that is not medically accurate. They attempt to scare young people away from having sex by exaggerating the risks and ignoring information on how to truly take care of your health. They do not include abortion information and they ignore even the existence of gay, lesbian, bixsexual and genderqueer students. THIS is the kind of 'education' that is allowed in schools and yet people who have a vast background in sexuality, actually really know and understand sex, are inclusive of all people, and want to help people love themselves and their potential partners, and inappropriate educators. It blows my mind.

I have asked if there is any sort of protest or action going on in support of these educators but haven't heard back yet. If I do, I will post.


Inara de Luna said...

Thank you for writing on this! I'm doing a little deeper research into this story myself, so that I can write something from a sex-positive perspective, as well. It's crazy how the only things that seem to be circulating about this are being produced by outlets that have a sex-negative bias. Thank you for the work you're doing in your area to combat the sex-negative, fear-based approach to sexual education!

Brenda said...

Friends of mine in California have let me know that this incident is part of a coordinated effort by a particular group to get Planned Parenthood out of the schools in that district. These two educators were with Planned Parenthood. Apparently this group has been actively seeking out and even creating 'issues' with the education they provide and trying to stir up controversy. They want to get parents upset about PP and have them booted out of the schools. This is because PP offers unbiased, sex-positive, accurate sex education. So this information about these two people didn't just 'come to light', they went looking for it.