Sex Ed Week in Review: Inspiring & Not-so-Inspiring Updates from the Midwest

Two students attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are encouraging conversations on their campus for sexual education and advocacy through their reinstatement of two student groups: Students for Choice, and Students Advocating Gender Equity (SAGE). Meredith Cain and Audrey Nance returned to campus feeling inspired after attending the Youth Organizing and Policy Conference in Washington, DC in July, sponsored by Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Although both groups have been on the campus for five and 20 years, respectively, they have been off the radar, until now. Once these groups have establish a solid foundation of campus support for advocacy around gender, sexual, and reproductive rights, Cain and Nance hope to establish a Planned Parenthood-sponsored VOX (voice, in Latin) group on campus which supports these efforts nationally.

Meanwhile, Pheobe Chastain, a 2013 Phillips Scholar, is partnering with HealthFinders in Rice County, Minnesota to provide teen pregnancy prevention and sexuality education classes to middle and high Latino students. Latinos in Rice County have a disproportionately high rate of teen pregnancy. Her classes empower young adults to ask their parents the questions they have about sex and relationships, in order to open up dialogue and reduce stigma of such important conversations. Chastain is a senior at Carleton College has been called a young Dr. Ruth.

And lastly, in Wisconsin, the Oak Creek School District has stirred the waters with their “handy” guide for teachers who, despite Gov. Scott Walker’s (R)signature on legislation last year that repealed the comprehensive sex education law and reinstated an abstinence-only approach, may find themselves in a position to answer questions about sex. Those pesky, precocious kids. The booklet offers suggestions to teachers about answering questions about sex, pregnancy, abortion, contraception, and masturbation. Suggestions even include telling the child to go ask his/her parents. But conservatives are using these “masturbation education policies” to steamroll any efforts to offer fact-based information to students regarding sexual health… and just in time for the new school year to start.

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