Keynote Speaker Carolyn Cooperman

The National Sex Ed Conference is a mere 15 days away! This means that I, along with the rest of the AMAZING Planning Team are toiling away to settle the final details for things like the Sex Ed Gala and Dance, the Friday awards ceremony with Naida S. Wharton, Robie H. Harris, and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and workshop and mealtime menus filled with so much deliciousness to fuel your mind and body.

To give you a little preview of the events at the conference, I would like to introduce our Thursday morning keynote speaker, Carolyn Cooperman, MA, MSW. Her keynote is titled Revolutionary Changes: Sex Education in the Digital Age and will be focusing one of the Center for Sex Education’s newest manuals.

I caught up with Carolyn via email and asked her a few questions so you could get to know her a little bit before the conference.

Karen: What is your favorite song?

Carolyn: Lately, I find myself humming the music and recalling the words to Bob Dylan’s song, “The Times They Are A-Changin.”  Heralded as one of Dylan’s most popular ballads, this song encouraged young people to become active in promoting the changing political and social agenda that was taking hold in the 1960’s. A similar rallying cry could readily apply today.  I see activism as an opportunity for adolescents, in their own voice, to advance social causes such as LGBT rights and gender equality.   We now have social media, the perfect platform available to the younger generation for changing their world.

K: Have you attended the National Sex Ed Conference before? What was the most compelling part of the conference for you?

C: As one of the originators of an annual Conference for sexuality educators that started in New Jersey in the 1980’s, it is particularly meaningful for me to see how this Conference has grown in depth and scope over the years.  Today, the Conference reaches educators both nationally, and internationally. This is certainly a tribute to the talent and expanded vision of the educators along the way who have elevated this training opportunity to new levels. It also reflects how the field has grown, and with every passing year, new insights and methodologies are put forward that improve the substance and quality of sexuality education.  I feel very grateful to bear witness to this extraordinary progress.

As I attend the more recent Conferences, my favorite part involves talking to as many educators as I can to learn about exciting projects that are underway in local communities.  It is always wonderful to reconnect with old friends at these Conferences, but with equal satisfaction, I never fail to be inspired by educators who are new to the field.

K: What are you most excited about in speaking at the 2014 National Sex Ed Conference?

C: My presentation at the 2014 National Sex Education Conference will expand on the important role that sexuality educators can play in preparing adolescents to live safely and constructively in the digital age. Already burdened by minimal time to cover many topics, sexuality educators are faced with the dilemma of  having to integrate new material into an already crowded curricula.   My task at the conference will be to give a broad overview about topics such as cyber bullying, Internet safety, sexting and pornography. The purpose for doing this is to help educators identify subject matter that strikes them as being relevant for the populations with which they work. Most importantly, I hope to demonstrate how age-appropriate computer research, on recommended websites for teenagers, can augment topics that are already covered in a sex education curricula.