A New Era of Teaching Safer Sex!

by Bill Taverner

Both volumes of the preliminary draft of Teaching Safer Sex, 3rd ed. are now in the hands of our editorial advisory board, as well as other experts in sexuality education, and our copyeditor.  So for the first time since I dove into this project full-force a year ago, I am finding myself trying to say goodbye to old routines, like 10-hour days typing away at Starbucks and Panera Bread Company — places that became so familiar with me they greeted me the same way the gang used to greet Norm when he entered Cheers.  I’ll miss the odd experience of writing a book in the Facebook generation. Whenever I was stumped for a citation, one of my Facebook friends would invariably have a citation at their fingertips! I’ll also miss my 6-hour Skype meetings with co-editor Dr. Susan Milstein.  Those were fun! Sometimes it was about pedagogy.  Sometimes it was about gathering the most recent facts. And sometimes it was debates over which was the “right” font.  (Our copyeditor informs me that Dr. Milstein won that argument.)

So, what is Teaching Safer Sex, and what’s so new about it? It’s an expanded third edition of the original work by Peggy Brick and colleagues that revolutionized safer sex education.  If you are old enough to remember learning — or teaching — about the subject in the mid 1980s, you will surely remember an abundance of lectures about “t-cells” and “viral load”.  This is how STD-prevention education was done in the early years of HIV.  Lots and lots of facts about a disease that everyone was just learning about.

Peggy knew that this wasn’t what people really needed.  Knowing the genetic composition of a virus had little to do with helping students develop the SKILLS to practice safer sex and take care of their sexual health.  Peggy and her colleagues developed highly engaging, interactive, vibrant lessons and activities that helped people become more comfortable talking about condoms and other aspects of sexual health.  The lessons challenged negative attitudes that were getting in the way of sexual health, such as “good girls don’t carry condoms”.  The lessons were cognizant of varying degrees of readiness with respect to sexual activity and risk reduction.

The new edition carries on the tradition.  It has been a privilege working with my friends and co-editors Dr. Milstein and Sue Montfort. We updated old lessons, developed new ones, and selected from (and then edited) dozens of submissions from outstanding sexuality educators nationwide.  The result is 50 LESSONS in TWO VOLUMES! The new lessons explore culture, inclusivity, relationships, sexting, sexual pleasure, and much more in an effort to continue to expand the scope of “sexual safety”.

And now we must wait while both volumes are reviewed by experts. We did hear back from two of our reviewers so far.  Here is what they said:

“Teaching Safer Sex is a welcome collection of lessons that skillfully combine the fundamentals of safer sex education with the bold inclusion of relevant, timely, nuanced topics not found in existing teaching and learning materials. Thanks for filling the gaps in the conventional wisdom of contemporary, comprehensive safer sex education. We expect nothing less from the trailblazing team at the Center for Family Life Education!”

Maria Bakaroudis, MA, CSE, PhD (c)

International Sexuality Educator and United Nations Consultant

“Teaching Safer Sex is a valuable new resource for sexuality educators that are seeking dynamic, interactive lessons on cutting edge topics. The third edition includes tools for addressing online behavior, texting, and use of other digital media which are critical for today’s youth and missing from many curricula. This manual is a welcome addition to the Center for Family Life Education’s terrific selection of sex education resources.”

Leslie M. Kantor, MPH

Vice President for Education 

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

After we implement feedback by reviewers, we expect to have the new edition in print in March.  Meanwhile, I hope you’ll take a moment to check out the preliminary table of contents.

When you visit the website, we hope you’ll appreciate that in this age of high-priced curricula that cost hundreds of dollars, we decided to keep Teaching Safer Sex at an affordable $55 per volume. And the full set is available at $95.

Moreover, please know that your purchase helps support the Sex Ed initiatives at the CFLE.

And, if you have any suggestions on new routines to replace Panera’s, drop me a line!