Sex Ed

25 years of Savage Love.

Savage Love | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy Vancouver

It's hard to believe that it's been 25 years. I remember first encountering Savage Love in the Georgia Straight (or was it the Ubyssey?) back in the early 90s.

Dan Savage has been the sex advice columnist who would go where others would dare not tread. He's beyond sex-positive. His column has always been irreverent and compassionate, yet he still calls people out if need be. There's a good reason that he's as successful as he is.

The Stranger just published the first Savage Love column in celebration of the 25th anniversary. Go check it out: link.

Increased contraceptive use associated with less teen pregnancies.

There is now indisputable evidence showing that comprehensive sexual education reduces teen pregnancies (among other positive outcomes). 

A core part of most comprehensive sex ed programs is contraception. 

With better knowledge, and improved comfort and confidence speaking about sex and seeking sexual health services (i.e., contraception), kids are making more effective choices when it comes to sex.

A recently published study provides even more supportive evidence. As reviewed by the Guttmacher Institute:

Declines in Teen Pregnancy Risk Entirely Driven by Improved Contraceptive Use
Levels of Teen Sexual Activity Essentially Unchanged Between 2007–2012
Improvements in contraceptive use have led to a drop in the risk of pregnancy among U.S. adolescents aged 15–19—and these changes also appear to be driving the recent declines in teen pregnancy rates, abortion rates and birthrates. A new analysis titled “Understanding the Decline in Adolescent Fertility in the United States, 2007–2012,” byDr. Laura Lindberg and colleagues, estimated that improved contraceptive use accounted for the entire 28% decline in teen pregnancy risk between 2007 and 2012. The authors found significant increases in teens’ use of any contraceptive method, use of multiple methods and use of highly effective methods, as well as a decline in contraceptive nonuse.
“There was no significant change in adolescent sexual activity during this time period,” says lead author Dr. Lindberg. “Rather, our new data suggest that recent declines in teens’ risk of pregnancy—and in their pregnancy rates—are driven by increased contraceptive use.”

contraception teen pregnancy sex | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

Read the rest here: link.

Obama cuts funding to abstinence-only sex ed programs.

Great news for the US.

If one hopes that their child will be abstinent until marriage, the research unequivocally shows that comprehensive sex education is more effective than abstinence-only in delaying first intercourse.

And for those kids who do decide to have sex, comprehensive sex ed, if done right, provides them the knowledge and skills that they need to make the best possible choices.

As the cliche goes, knowledge is power.

From Deadstate:

obama sex ed | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace
Obama cuts all funding for Christian-based ‘Abstinence Only’ sex-ed programs
By Andrew Wertz
President Obama’s 2017 budget proposal has removed a $10 million annual grant that goes towards funding “abstinence-only” sexual education classes in public schools. By eliminating the grant, Obama would end the financial incentive for states to continue teaching the debunked sex-ed program.

Read the rest here: link.

Sex education, Norwegian style.

Looking to brush up on your sex education?

In most of North America and elsewhere, sex education is notoriously inadequate (and arguably, straight up ineffective - I'm looking at you, abstinence-only).

In the last few decades, Canada has made a concerted effort to improve access to good, comprehensive sex ed. But, sex education is at the purview of the provinces, who set curriculum. There is some flexibility in how that curriculum is applied, and even in places where sex ed is the best, it's still largely an afterthought.

The nordic countries tend to be the most sex-positive and socially liberal, so it's no surprise that their sex education is much better.

While these clips aren't part of the school curriculum in Norway, they do demonstrate a much different approach to thinking about sex ed than we see here in North America. And they're awesome.

Below is the first in the series. If you click through to YouTube, you can find the rest of the series. There are English subtitles. The clips are NSFW!

You can learn more about the series here: link.

Oh Joy Sex Toy by Erika Moen.

Erika Moen is an artist and educator. She is the authour the comic strip Oh Joy Sex Toy. It started out several years ago as a sex-positive, diversity-friendly sex toy review but has expanded into all aspects of sex and sexuality. There is no topic that she's afraid of addressing. The strips are fun, subversive, educational, and visually appealing. You can read more about her here and here. Check out all her comic strips and reviews here. And a sample of her work:

how to eat pussy erika moen cunnilingus oral sex  | Dr. Jason Winters | Sex Therapy | Blogging on Squarespace

OMGYes: New project and program to turbo boost female sexual pleasure.

This project and web-based service appears to be really promising.

It's a collaboration between some entrepreneurs and researchers at Indiana University (home of the Kinsey Institute).

OMGYes looks to be a slick, engaging, and richly informative educational tool. Its purpose is to increase women's sexual pleasure through a series of online videos and interactive experiences. Subscribers (and their partners) learn diverse skills and techniques, which are based on research and the experiences of the OMGYes women.

The most interesting part of the program looks to be the interactive video and touchpad manual stimulation component. Subscribers learn how to stimulate the various OMGYes women's genitals using the trackpad; the OMGYes software (and OMGYes women) provides real-time feedback.

Here's the intro video:

Dr. Stephen Snyder, a sex therapist in New York, wrote a piece published by Huffington Post, about his experiences test-driving the interactive learning tools.

"Yeah, that's it! Mmmm . . . that's GOOD!"
My computer is talking to me, whispering words of encouragement as I trace big circles with my finger on my trackpad. My cursor grazes over the vulva of the woman lying before me onscreen. 
Her name is Amber. Amber likes a circular stroke on the upper right corner of her vulva next to her clitoris. 
I've just finished watching a video where she demonstrates the technique on herself. And now the program has loaded an "interactive" module, for me to try it on her. 
Tentatively, not knowing quite what to expect, I click "Begin." 
Amber's vulva, freshly shaved and beautifully lit, appears on the screen. A delicate white arrow traces a circle in the exact spot where I'm supposed to start. Hesitating at first, I press the trackpad, and a cursor appears on Amber's vulva. As we approach Amber's clitoris the image morphs a bit, and her clitoral hood stretches towards my cursor. 
We are suddenly connected -- her vulva and my finger.

Check it out the full article here: link.

It's also worth visiting the OMGYes website, even if you aren't interested in becoming a subscriber. There are a bunch of videos (NSFW) and demonstrations of the interactive tool, as well as some basic resources. Link.

Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno.

I've posted about Isabella Rossellini' Green Porno series previously, but it's worth a repost.

Growing up, I became acquainted with Isabella Rossellini, an actress, through two David Lynch films, Wild at Heart and Blue Velvet (I was a huge David Lynch fan as a kid). She is widely regarded worldwide as an exceptional actress.

Having achieved world domination as an actress, she turned her sights to various philanthropic conservation causes and a related pet project called Green Porno.

The series, which aired on the Sundance Channel, featured Ms. Rossellini and other actors dressed up as creatures and having sex. It was intended to be both educational and fun. You can read more about it here: link.

Here are a sample of the shorts:

Jessica Biel and WomanCare Global team up for funny sex ed videos.

In response to the mostly piss-poor sex education in the states, Jessica Biel, Joy Bryant, and Whitney Cummings teamed up with WomanCare Global (a nonprofit women's sexual health service provider) and Funny or Die to produce a series of educational comedy clips that address some misconceptions related to sex. The clips have received a lot of attention, and for good reason.

From an article in Slate:

Today, Biel and WomanCare Global, an international nonprofit that works to improve access to products such as contraception and menstrual cups, released a series of videos on Funny or Die called “If You Don’t Tell Them, Then Who Will?” Named to encourage parents and other informed adults to speak honestly with the kids in their lives about reproductive health, the three clips feature Biel kibitzing with fellow actresses Joy Bryant and Whitney Cummings about hetero sex, birth control, dudes, and periods in someone’s kitchen.
The three women cite some messed-up ideas of how female bodies work—e.g., if a condom gets stuck in your vagina, it cannot travel up and out your mouth, contrary to the anatomical fantasies of one Idaho lawmaker—which work as straw men for on-screen text to bat down. “We thought the best way to encourage women to get educated and start the conversation around our bodies was to make it comically clear that people like me, and other non-experts, should not be the source for this information,” said Biel in a statement.

Read the rest here.

Check out WomanCare Global here.

And the videos:

More awkward sex ed questions.

As part of the CBC series last week on sex ed in BC, Overexposed and Undereducated, local sex education superstar Saleema Noon shared some of the more awkward questions that she's been asked over the years. Here are the top ten, from the article:

  1. Why do people yell during sex? (Grade 4)
  2. Have you ever sexed before and if so did you enjoy it? (Grade 5)
  3. Do people have to go to the hospital to make a baby or can they just do it at home? (kindergarten).
  4. What if a lady has two penises in her vagina? (Grade 1)
  5. If you don't use it do you lose it? (Grade 7)
  6. [When Noon asked a group of Grade 1s if they have any more questions about condoms] "Yah, can we see you wear one of those? "
  7. What if someone doesn't want a baby? Is there a way to cancel it? (Grade 2)
  8. My dad calls my testicles my "family jewels". Is that a scientific word? (Grade 3)
  9. How do you tell someone you aren't comfortable intercourse-ing with them? Do we ever have to intercourse? (Grade 4) 
  10. Is the ocean salty because of whale sperm? (Grade 6)

Questions kids ask in sex ed.

More on the theme of sex ed.

Global news recently published a fun piece with an accompanying video revealing some of the questions that students often ask in sex ed. The questions typically fall into four broad categories, as described in the article:

  • The “Am I normal?” questions.
  • The “Test the teacher” questions, which may ask about the teachers’ own sexual experience (and which is always politely dismissed: “We’re not here to talk about anyone’s private life”).
  • The “I’ve heard…” questions, which tend to stem from whatever outlandish-seeming reality TV show the children have seen or heard of.
  • The “This is something that’s worrying me” questions.

Check out the rest of the article and the amazing video of Global staff reading out real questions here.

 

John Oliver's poignant and funny take-down of bad sex ed and the abstinence-only approach.

Sex education is a highly contentious topic, even though it shouldn't be. Generally speaking, sex education is poor. Even the best comprehensive sex ed programs focus on risk and risk mitigation, with no attention paid to all other aspects of sex or relationships. Most sex ed is non-existent, superficial, or perhaps even worse, is based on the abstinence-only model. But Canada is still better than the US.

In this segment John Oliver provides biting and humorous commentary on the current state of sex ed.

Pornography and sex ed.

From the CBC:

Pornography, Kids And Sex Education: What To Do?Porn industry the main sex educator of kids, says child advocate By Daniel Schwartz

More kids at ever younger ages are accessing pornography online, according to a range of international studies, but there's not much consensus about what, if anything, should be done by parents or teachers to address the issue.

Today in Winnipeg, a children's advocacy group called Beyond Borders will host a symposium entitled "Generation XXX, the pornification of our children."

"The porn industry is the country's main sex educator of our boys and girls," says Cordelia Anderson, one of the experts scheduled to speak at the symposium, referring to the situation in the U.S.

"Young people have never had this ease of access to this type of material at this young of age," the founding president of the U.S. National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation told CBC Radio. "This alone should encourage us to be talking about it and studying it."

Cathy Wing, the co-executive director of Ottawa-based MediaSmarts, another conference speaker, says "we really need to talk to kids from an early age, before they become exposed to online porn."

[…]

"Porn can have both negative and positive impacts," says Alice Gauntley, a sex education activist and a student in gender and sexuality studies at McGill University in Montreal.

"It can reinforce sexist, racist and transphobic stereotypes and give us unrealistic expectations about sex and our bodies. But it can also be a source of pleasure and a means of exploring our sexualities."

But for young teens with no sexual experience, processing the porn on their screens may be quite a challenge. Gauntley argues, "it is necessary to equip teens with the tools they need to make sense of the erotic material they might come across."

Sex educators are concerned that young people are getting the wrong picture about sex from viewing online pornography.

As Wing points out, "you're not going to get realistic portrayals in the pornography industry. It's a business; everything is constructed, like all media."

She advises teachers and parents to, "make sure the kids understand that this is not reflecting reality, that it's a constructed reality that contains bias and it's there to make money."

Fantasy, not reality

Sex therapist Wendy Maltz says that while kids have a sense that they should view pornography as fiction, she doesn't think they do.

"That takes a lot of high-order thinking to maintain that, especially under the influence of sexual arousal. It can start getting blurry when there's an excitement associated with it."

Maltz, author of The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography, says "the image is the reality on the internet."

She adds that you won't stop young people's curiosity about sex, but that it's important for them to know that curiosity is normal. "It doesn't mean you're sick if you found this stuff exciting."

But it bothers Maltz that, because of the prevalence of pornography, "kids are getting robbed of having their own sexual conditioning come from real-life romantic experiences."

She would like to see kids start getting a healthy sex education before they start viewing pornography.

Getting educated about porn

The questions is where should young people get that education?

Linda Kasdorf is studying the impact of pornography on children and youth for her social work degree at the University of Regina, and she works at Saskatoon Christian Counselling Services. She says parents have the responsibility not only to protect kids from pornography, but also to educate them about sex.

"Sexual intimacy is totally missed when kids view porn, and there's no way to prepare them to understand that void."

Kasdorf argues when it comes to pornography, the education needs to begin with the adults. "Many parents have no idea that their children can even access pornography, they're that naive."

She adds that, "parents needs to be taught how to talk about pornography with their kids, how to help dissect experiences when kids are exposed to pornography."

But she also wants to see pornography become a component of school sex education programs. Those programs should ensure that, "kids actually have trusted adults that they can talk to about things they're curious about."

Gauntley would like to see a media literacy component on pornography, "because it encourages teens to be critical thinkers — to be able to recognize the differences between sex in porn and in real life."

A school trustee addresses some of the myths about the new sex ed program in Ontario

From Jake Skinner's site:

The 2015 Sex-ed Curriculum

On Monday 23 February 2015 the new sex-ed curriculum for Ontario was released. The physical documents are available at www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum. This post includes a myth/fact document provided to school trustees which I am passing on to you. I will continue to add to this blog post as more resources become available for parents concerned about how the new curriculum will address the question of health. I appreciate that this is a sensitive topic and there are some strong views but let's keep the comment section civil.

Myth vs. Fact

Release of the revised curriculum for Health and Physical Education, Grades 1 to 12

Myth: Students will be learning about having sex in Grade 1.

Fact: In Grade 1, students will be learning about anatomy, personal hygiene (e.g. hand washing), and how to interact respectfully with their peers. Young children need to be able to identify the correct names for their body parts in order to communicate clearly and get help if they need to in cases of abuse, illness or injury. They start to learn about expressing their romantic feelings in Grade 5, and only start to learn about sexual activity in Grade 7.

Myth: Students will be learning about masturbation in Grade 6.

Fact: While the concept of masturbation is included in Grade 6 curriculum, it is mentioned in an optional prompt. It is there to support teachers in responding to student questions that may arise. Teachers have repeatedly stated that students often ask questions on this topic, and they need guidance on how to answer in a factual and consistent manner. This is not a mandatory learning expectation. Experts have also pointed out that many children in fact start masturbating before puberty begins.[1]

Myth: Students will be learning about anal and oral sex in Grade 7.

Fact: In Grade 7, the curriculum expects students identify ways of preventing STIs (including HIV) and/or unintended pregnancy. It talks about delaying intercourse and other sexual activities until a person is older, and using condoms consistently if and when they become sexually active. Oral and anal sex are included as topics for discussion to ensure all students are aware of the risks associated with any form of sexual behaviour. Many students believe oral and anal sex are safer alternatives as they cannot get pregnant, but Public Health Agency of Canada data tells us the rate of chlamydia and gonorrhea has been increasing since the late 90s and mostly affects teenagers and young adults. From 2002 to 2011, Ontario’s reported chlamydia rate has increased by 81% while the reported gonorrhea rate has increased by more than 20%.[2]

Read the rest here. The comments are worth reading, too, if you want to get an idea of how polarizing the debate is.

Battle over comprehensive sex ed in Ontario.

The provincial government of Ontario has announced that it is going ahead with a beefed up new comprehensive sex ed curriculum, starting next fall. Children will learn the proper names for their genitals and sexual orientations in elementary school, among other things. In middle school, they'll learn about masturbation as a means to explore their bodies. And by high school, they will get a complete package of comprehensive sex ed. There has been fierce opposition to the new program. From the CBC, in its entirety (read the comment section for good examples of opposition):

New Ontario sex ed curriculum ready for September Children to be taught dangers of sexting

The Ontario government says its new sex education curriculum, which will start in Grade 1 and later involve discussions on the dangers of sexting, will be taught starting in September.

Education Minister Liz Sandals unveiled the new curriculum at a news conference Monday, saying the government won't back down in the face of criticism as it did in 2010 when religious groups complained about proposed revisions.

Sandals said she anticipates some criticism, but the new lessons are key to keeping children safe.

"This will be the curriculum that is taught in Ontario schools in September 2015," Sandals said, noting training for teachers has already been scheduled.

Sandals said many aspects of the curriculum, like telling children they have the right to say no to unwanted touching, remains the same. However, due to public health data that shows children are experiencing puberty earlier, some topics are being introduced at earlier ages.

"We need to deal with the fact that our kids are starting to go through puberty much younger than they used to," said Sandals.

The new curriculum, which marks the first time sex education courses in Ontario have been updated since 1998, also includes more information about the role technology plays in youth sexuality.

Sandals said she hopes frank discussions about the risks of sharing explicit content online will cut down on the inappropriate material children are sharing online.

Children have questions about sex: experts

Many people who work in the sexual education field praised the changes on Monday.

Lyba Spring, who has worked as a sex educator with Toronto Public Health for some 30 years, said Ontario’s curriculum is the oldest in Canada and 16 years out of date.

Spring said the number 1 issue the curriculum needs to address is consent.

Currently, she said, "there’s no encouragement to really think through what one is willing to do."

Spring said classes should also discuss pornography and sexting, and that there should be a section about sexual abuse in the puberty section.

And, Spring said, teachers should be ready to answer questions.

"They're exposed to everything on the internet … but they want to hear it from a teacher," Spring said.

Dr. Miriam Kaufman, the head of adolescent medicine at SickKids Hospital, said it's natural for children and youth to have questions about sex.

"Kids start asking about things very, very early in terms of their own sexuality," said Kaufman.

Those questions shouldn’t be left for parents to answer, she said.

"The parent role is essential … but as parents we're not all that good," Kaufman said, noting that while she's written books on the topic and taught classes, she wasn't good at speaking with her own children about sex.

Parents will get resources, too

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of a "quick facts" guide for parents that outlines some of the changes, including many that relate to technology.

The guide says students in Grades 1, 2 and 3 will learn initial searching skills and strategies for safe internet use, including "how to get help for themselves or others if harassment or abuse happens either face-to-face or online."

The primary grade students will also learn the difference between real and fictional violence, in the media or with online games, and "respectful communications" in the gym, classroom and school yard.

Even some elementary school students have sent sexually explicit pictures of themselves to someone online, while 11 per cent of Grade 10 students and about 14 per cent of those in Grade 11 say they have sent a sext, according to a 2015 study, Young Canadians in a Wired World.

"As students get older, they are more likely to sext," the guide warns parents. "Many students are unaware of the potential effects and consequences of sexting."

For the accompanying video, click here.

Swedish sex ed video.

This video was produced to help educate kids about genitals. Translation below.

 

“Jumpedy jump jump, prickely prick, here comes the dick in full speed He with no pants on, he dangles his gear and rear Snippety snipp snipp, the vagina is way more awesome though Even on and old lady, the vagina there is so elegant located So unlike, but it’s almost the same thing You piss the piss through the prick, or from the vagina if youre a girl The prick and the vagina, what a lovely crew! The prick and the vagina dig along The prick and the vagina belong to our body The prick hangs and dangles on a small body The vagina is awesome, baby I love you”

Apparently, though, the translation of vagina is difficult, the Swedish word for it being used is more of a childish nickname for vagina (“snippa”)