NSEC Workshop Presenters Judith Steinhart and Mariotta Gary-Smith


Mariotta Gary-Smith

Judith Steinhart

Judith Steinhart

NSEC Workshop Title: Opening Arms to Open Doors: Diversifying the Sexuality Field through Intentional Mentoring

NSEC Workshop Description: This interactive workshop will offer new and experienced sex educators a deeper understanding of the value of a mentor, ways to find a mentor, what can be gained from someone different from you, strategies to bring to the surface often unstated expectations, and techniques to maximize your mutual experience, while making the field more inclusive.


  • How many times have you attended the National Sex Ed Conference?

Mariotta: I’m a first time attendee to the NSEC!

Judith: I have attended and presented at this conference before.  I remember when it was a one day conference, and there would have to be a raffle before 3pm, since all the teachers would leave when it was time to leave according to their school schedules.  I remember this conference when it was one of the few ways that teachers could get information and training about teaching sex education, after New Jersey became the first state to mandate that sex education be taught in public schools.  I remember when this conference was attended mostly by physical education teachers who wore sweats, running suits and t-shirts.  I remember this conference before it became a star studded, international, multicultural, inclusive multi day conference!


  • What about your workshop excites you most?

Mariotta: I’m most excited to share the story of how Judith & I met – and what our relationship can represent for those who may not know how to go beyond comfort zones.

Judith: Mariotta and I can serve as a model for others to risk moving outside their comfort zone, risk rejection, and trusting their intuition in finding someone to learn from and collaborate with, and for finding venues to do just that.


  • Whom do you hope will attend your workshop?

Mariotta: I hope that anyone who is interested in helping new/young professionals, well seasoned professionals, people who invest & appreciate relational connections in their work … anyone who values relationships, diversity & who seeks common ground attends our workshop.

Judith: I agree with Mariotta!  Ditto!


  • Can you tell us a little about who you work with, and what issues you are most interested in?

Mariotta: In my day job, I represent a local government health department; I work with & provide sexuality/sexual health education to the public, from the perspective of a community based approach. I also specialize in communities of color – that means that what I deliver must also honor the historical context & relationship of these communities in relation to many variables that have been used to define & other their existence (health care, access, sexuality, body sovereignty, & choice). I’m most interested in providing accurate, accessible, tangible sex/sexual health/sexuality education and information to communities that are most impacted; this means communities of various disenfranchisement & underrepresentation.  Outside of my day job, I’m a Co-Founder & member of WOCSHN (Women Of Color Sexual Health Network; www.wocshn.org), a network & collective space for women of color sexuality professionals.


  • When you meet someone new how do you describe what you do?

Mariotta: This is a great question! what I tend to tell folks (short version): “I get paid by the government to talk about sex.” That usually brings out laughter & ‘What?? That’s a real job?’ responses. From there, it’s a pretty interactive and engaging conversation.

Judith: I love Mariotta’s response!

Sometimes I down play it, sometimes I talk about teaching, and sometimes I just go for the gusto, saying, “I’m a Clinical Sexlogist!”

I teach Health, which includes Sexual and Emotional Health to public high school students in the Bronx. I also am part of a team of 26 Health Educators whom the Office of Health and Wellness, NYC Department of Education, provides curriculum for, trains in sexual health including LGBT issues, and provides a forum for a collaborative learning partnership to develop. My mission for the past ten years has been to expand the sexuality field and its professional organizations to include people of color.

I also host Women’s SexualiTeas, where we drink tea, learn about women’s sexuality, and create VulvART.