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Sex Ed and Health Literacy

National Sex Ed ConferenceLast week, I had the pleasure of attending the National Sex Ed Conference, which is dedicated exclusively to sexuality education. It’s the largest of its kind in the United States, and in my opinion, one of the most important public health conferences. My favorite workshops discussed the importance of tailoring sexual health information to meet the needs of the intended audience, and inclusivity was a central thread between all workshops.

Some of my favorite workshops included:

  • Knowledge Isn’t Enough: Adapting sex education programs to be inclusive of teen dating abuse victims
  • HPV and Guys Like Me
  • Trans*-Inclusive Sex Ed
  • Best Practices for Integrating Sexuality in Medical Education
  • So Glad You’ve Come: Including All Types of Families in Birth & Family Stories

The conference was a powerful reminder of what I already know from personal experience and stories from others: there’s an urgent need for sex education that’s not only medically accurate, but also understandable and inclusive.­ Sadly, it’s not surprising this need is so pressing — only 19 states require that if provided, sex education must be medically, factually, or technically accurate (these definitions vary by state). Furthermore, many programs aren’t inclusive of sexual minority groups or victims of violence, for example.

On the second day of the conference, Bill Taverner, the Executive Director at the Center for Sex Education said, “There are a lot of people in the world not talking about sex ed today.” That moment really struck me. As a health literacy advocate and an aspiring educator, I have a vision in which everyone around the world receives medically accurate sexuality education that’s informed by best practices in health literacy.

So, let’s start talking about sex ed.


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