Addressing that most uncomfortable of topics…

I’m diving back into Sex Ed In The Digital Age today because Bill Taverner and I are doing another training together today focusing on this manual.

I’m going to introduce a lesson by Kirsten deFur, because Kirsten is one of my favorite sex educators. In addition to being an amazing presenter and lesson writer, she is one of those people I can sit and talk with and just thoroughly enjoy my time around. Kirsten also happens to write a fantastic blog, Fearless Sexuality Educator, which you should check out as soon as you’ve finished reading my blog.
Sexually explicit media (the tamer name for pornography), I’ve found, is one of those big, scary topics that is still so taboo to talk about in sex education classrooms. Opinions on whether to include it range from a horrified NO! to a horrified YES! What is unique and special about Kirsten’s lesson is that it invites students to consider pornography as a values question. It meets students where they are and exposes them to questions and critical thinking in a way that they may not have considered before.
Porn, Porn, Everywhere!: A values clarification lesson for young adults ages 18+
By Kirsten deFur
By the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:
  1. Describe at least two opposing values about pornography that many people hold.
  2. Identify at least three ways they will determine their personal values about pornography.
  3. Articulate at least two factors that will help them make informed decisions about pornography.
In this increasingly digital age, it is becoming easier and easier to access sexually explicit media such as pornography. Whether on a website, on a blog, or on a smartphone, porn is just a click of a button away. Porn is, in essence, everywhere, which means that individuals will likely encounter it in some way, shape, or form at some point in their lives. Few young people have had an opportunity to explore their values around something so ubiquitous. In addition, pornography is a hot-button issue, with a considerable amount of public and political discussion generating heated debates. Individuals need to be prepared to respond to pornography in healthy and productive ways both when they encounter actual pornography, and when they are confronted with the topic in society. One important part of preparing for that response is to examine personal values. This lesson will explore the many values that people hold regarding pornography, offer an opportunity for participants to evaluate their own values, and also outline important factors to consider when making decisions about whether or not to consume pornography.
What I love most about what Kirsten did with this activity is that it doesn’t require the facilitator to be experienced in discussing porn, or even have a very high level of comfort with porn. Of course, it’s helpful for the facilitator to have a firm grasp on their own opinion about sexually explicit media before they use this lesson plan. It is useful to run the lesson from a values-neutral position so that the students can focus on developing and clarifying their own perspectives rather than being influenced by the facilitator. Young people respond best when they are invited to consider multiple factors of an issue rather than told what they should think.
And now you should consider buying Sex Ed in the DigitalAge, because it really is fantastic, and you should go read Fearless SexualityEducator. Both are well worth your attention.