Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Beyond The Birds And The Bees: Surviving Sex Ed Today

Posted by on Jun. 2, 2015 at 7:22 PM
  • 9 Replies

Beyond The Birds And The Bees: Surviving Sex Ed Today

Sexual and reproductive educator Lena Solow teaches students in the Bronx during an after-school class.

Christopher Gregory for NPR

It's after hours at Rafael Hernandez, an elementary school in the Bronx, and Room 421 is in an uproar.

It's what you would expect from a sixth-grade sex education class learning how to put a condom on.

Sex education: The very concept makes a lot of people cringe, conjuring images of teenage giggles and discomfort. It's also a subject a lot of teachers would rather avoid.

But Bronx-based teacher Lena Solow is more than happy to talk about the birds, the bees ... and beyond.

Solow has been teaching for 10 years. She covers the topics you'd expect, like pregnancy and how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. But Solow talks about way more than going all the way. "One of my biggest goals as a sex educator is to be sex-positive," she explains, "to talk about pleasure and to talk about sex not just as something that just makes babies."

Solow demonstrates how to use a female condom.

Solow demonstrates how to use a female condom.

Christopher Gregory for NPR

Dressed in a leather jacket with tousled hair, Solow looks a little like the Joan Jett of sex educators. She remembers her own elementary school education as less than stellar. "We had mostly the gym teachers teaching us sex ed," she smiles. "I definitely had spelling tests as a big part of my sex ed when I was in middle school: 'Spell gonorrhea. Spell gonococcus. Now you pass or don't pass health.' Literally, that was what was prioritized."

Solow now works for WHEDco, a Bronx-based community development organization that includes sex education in its programs for youth. Solow teaches along with peer educators — high schoolers who assist her teaching.

Peer educators are a key part of the equation, advocates say, especially with so many kids exposed to information about sex. Bianca Laureano is a co-founder of the Women of Color Sexual Health Network. She says that having instructors who share the students' backgrounds "affirms young people's identities, and they can feel comfortable speaking with someone who not only mirrors their own cultural experiences, but also gives them the example of someone who has persevered. Resilience."

"One of my biggest goals as a sex educator is to be sex-positive," Solow explains.

"One of my biggest goals as a sex educator is to be sex-positive," Solow explains.

Christopher Gregory for NPR

There are no spelling tests in this class. But Solow does talk to kids about writing. Sexting, that is, and the legal ramifications of sending and receiving racy pictures of underage youths, even if they themselves are well underage. It can count as child pornography, she warns.

This is an example of how, while these students are really young, they already know — or think they know — a lot about sex. "My seventh graders, every single boy in that class has asked me a very explicit question about porn," she reflects. "Kids are getting information about sex and examples of what sex looks like in a lot of different ways already. It's actually not even about saying, 'Oh, we should be giving them information.' It's actually about saying, 'We need to be supplementing the information that they already have.' "

Solow talks to a student about an intrauterine device.

Solow talks to a student about an intrauterine device.

Christopher Gregory for NPR

Beyond the basics, Solow is delving into topics that many teachers would skirt. Things like tolerance. Solow recently asked her students if they thought LGBT people would feel comfortable at the school. A lot of the kids say they didn't think so.

When I visit Solow's classroom at Rafael Hernandez Dual Language Magnet School, she's having the kids draw posters to make LGBT kids at the school feel welcome.

Things almost immediately start getting complicated. One boy, clearly uncomfortable, complains, "This is nasty."

"What's nasty about it?" Solow inquires.

"It's not natural," another one chimes in. "Our parents taught us not to become lesbians or gay ... we look up to them, and basically just listen to what they say."

Solow pushes back, gently.

"But can you think about how, just like you don't like it when people say things like that about you," she asks, "how somebody who was gay or lesbian would feel bad if they heard the things you where saying?"

"Kids are getting information about sex in a lot of different ways already," says Solow. "It's about supplementing the information that they already have."

"Kids are getting information about sex in a lot of different ways already," says Solow. "It's about supplementing the information that they already have."

Christopher Gregory for NPR

There's an uncomfortable silence. The student shifts nervously in his chair, and changes the subject.

I ask Solow how she walks the line between teaching about sex without contradicting what's taught at home.

"The conversation we want to have is not, 'I want to have a fight with you about your parents,' " she explains. "Listen: Everybody has different ideas about sex and sexuality. And we're in this classroom to make it a space where people can figure out for themselves what makes sense for them, and not judge the choices of others."

A group of boys in Solow's class are putting the finishing touches on their LGBT welcoming poster. They've written the word "equality."

They call Solow over, showing off their work.

"Tell me why you wrote equality there?" Solow asks them.

"Everybody is equal, so they don't have to judge each other," the boys respond. "They're still human. They deserve the same respect as everybody."

Outside, the grownups can keep fighting over these issues. But Solow says that for a couple of hours in Room 421, we can all agree to talk about sex respectfully.

Nerds Without Pants

by on Jun. 2, 2015 at 7:22 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-9):
turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Jun. 2, 2015 at 8:00 PM
1 mom liked this

'We need to be supplementing the information that they already have.' "

Yes we do.  It was easier with my older kids as they didnt have as much access to the internet.  Now that kids are getting laptops and Ipads from school ...it is harder to control.  So my tactics have to change with the time.  The biggest thing that worries me is my kids getting their cues about sex from porn.  I dont have a problem with porn for adults...I do for kids because it can be what they expect...what they think their partners will expect and that IMO is a bad thing.

anxiousschk
by anxiouss on Jun. 3, 2015 at 8:33 AM
1 mom liked this

So, in general, I fully support more informative sex education.  A lot of what she seems to be doing is great. 

However, I need to know more about *her* class before I would be able to say whether I was comfortable with my child in it or not.  

The fact that she's teaching 6th graders how to put on condoms....I would need to know more about the stats in her area.  There is a fine line between promoting sex and teaching about it.  



LGA1165
by on Jun. 3, 2015 at 8:46 AM


Quoting anxiousschk:

So, in general, I fully support more informative sex education.  A lot of what she seems to be doing is great. 

However, I need to know more about *her* class before I would be able to say whether I was comfortable with my child in it or not.  

The fact that she's teaching 6th graders how to put on condoms....I would need to know more about the stats in her area.  There is a fine line between promoting sex and teaching about it.  



GOOD point!

Bookwormy
by Ruby Member on Jun. 3, 2015 at 8:49 AM
thanks for posting this! Hey do you have time to search out the NPR article about the SAT changes coming up next year?
romalove
by Roma on Jun. 3, 2015 at 8:49 AM
1 mom liked this
My kids would have been permitted to be in that class, and we would have used it as a jump off for discussion at home.
Pandora_13
by Bronze Member on Jun. 3, 2015 at 9:10 AM

This is why what she is teaching is so important

Bronx girls aged 15 to 19 logged the city’s highest rates of pregnancy and abortion, according to a new city report.

Teenagers accounted for 86.4 of every 1,000 pregnancies in the Bronx — and nearly 1,800 babies — in 2012. Teenage girls accounted for 65 in 1,000 pregnancies citywide.

“The numbers are alarming, but we’re not surprised,” said Simone Jhingoor of the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corp., which runs teen pregnancy prevention programs out of its Morrisania headquarters. “It’s really a lack of access to information.”

Brooklyn recorded the second-highest rate of pregnant teens, 62 of every 1,000. Manhattan was third, with 54; Queens was next, at 50, and Staten Island’s teen pregnancy rate was lowest, with 38 per 1,000.

Bronx teens also outpaced their peers from other boroughs in “induced terminations,” accounting for 49 of every 1,000 Bronx abortions.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bronx County Teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 females aged 18-19 years


Bronx County Teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 females aged 18-19 years

Teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 females aged 18-19 years

  Crude Rate
Year Single Year 3-Year Average New York City
2003 209.8
154.7
2004 208.6 209.8 156.6
2005 211.0 200.1 150.1
2006 183.4 190.3 133.6
2007 179.8 176.9 129.6
2008 168.2 171.6 123.7
2009 167.1 163.7 131.0
2010 155.6 158.7 111.7
2011 153.3 147.9 112.4
2012 134.3
97.8


At this link, it shows rates for 2010 for all states women 15-19 - NY ranks 14 for total pregnancies, 42 for births, and number 1 for abortions (page 17)

“I don't think..." then you shouldn't talk, said the Hatter.”― Alice in Wonderland

anxiousschk
by anxiouss on Jun. 3, 2015 at 9:34 AM

So now my only question is what the typical age of a 6th grader in the Bronx is.  My daughter is in the 7th grade and 12.  

If 7th graders are closer to 14 there -- then I could see it. 

However, where I live, this type of education is best for 9th graders and up.  There honestly aren't a ton of middle schoolers having sex where I live, that percentage would go up if you switched to the inner city of Richmond.  

Quoting Pandora_13:

This is why what she is teaching is so important

Bronx girls aged 15 to 19 logged the city’s highest rates of pregnancy and abortion, according to a new city report.

Teenagers accounted for 86.4 of every 1,000 pregnancies in the Bronx — and nearly 1,800 babies — in 2012. Teenage girls accounted for 65 in 1,000 pregnancies citywide.

“The numbers are alarming, but we’re not surprised,” said Simone Jhingoor of the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corp., which runs teen pregnancy prevention programs out of its Morrisania headquarters. “It’s really a lack of access to information.”

Brooklyn recorded the second-highest rate of pregnant teens, 62 of every 1,000. Manhattan was third, with 54; Queens was next, at 50, and Staten Island’s teen pregnancy rate was lowest, with 38 per 1,000.

Bronx teens also outpaced their peers from other boroughs in “induced terminations,” accounting for 49 of every 1,000 Bronx abortions.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bronx County Teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 females aged 18-19 years

Bronx County Teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 females aged 18-19 years

Teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 females aged 18-19 years

  Crude Rate
Year Single Year 3-Year Average New York City
2003 209.8 154.7
2004 208.6 209.8 156.6
2005 211.0 200.1 150.1
2006 183.4 190.3 133.6
2007 179.8 176.9 129.6
2008 168.2 171.6 123.7
2009 167.1 163.7 131.0
2010 155.6 158.7 111.7
2011 153.3 147.9 112.4
2012 134.3 97.8


At this link, it shows rates for 2010 for all states women 15-19 - NY ranks 14 for total pregnancies, 42 for births, and number 1 for abortions (page 17)


Pandora_13
by Bronze Member on Jun. 3, 2015 at 9:50 AM

According to this chart most pregnancies in the Bronx occur between the ages of 10-19. Age group 10-14 makes up for 30.4% of pregnancies in the Bronx in 2013 - almost the exact percentage of the 18-19 group. 10-14 age group makes up for almost half of the pregnancies in 2 of the 6 cities for each city and 1/4 for another.

Percent of Live Births by Mother's Age Group (years) and Mother's Borough of Residence
New York City, 2013


Mother's Age Group (years):	10-14 
Percent:	5.4% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Staten Island Mother's Age Group (years):	10-14 
Percent:	25.0% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Queens Mother's Age Group (years):	10-14 
Percent:	30.4% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Brooklyn Mother's Age Group (years):	10-14 
Percent:	30.4% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Bronx Mother's Age Group (years):	10-14 
Percent:	8.9% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Manhattan Mother's Age Group (years):	15-17 
Percent:	1.5% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Non-residents Mother's Age Group (years):	15-17 
Percent:	4.1% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Staten Island Mother's Age Group (years):	15-17 
Percent:	21.1% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Queens Mother's Age Group (years):	15-17 
Percent:	31.8% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Brooklyn Mother's Age Group (years):	15-17 
Percent:	32.2% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Bronx Mother's Age Group (years):	15-17 
Percent:	9.3% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Manhattan Mother's Age Group (years):	18-19 
Percent:	2.8% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Non-residents Mother's Age Group (years):	18-19 
Percent:	3.5% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Staten Island Mother's Age Group (years):	18-19 
Percent:	20.2% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Queens Mother's Age Group (years):	18-19 
Percent:	31.8% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Brooklyn Mother's Age Group (years):	18-19 
Percent:	30.5% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Bronx Mother's Age Group (years):	18-19 
Percent:	11.1% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Manhattan Mother's Age Group (years):	20-24 
Percent:	3.9% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Non-residents Mother's Age Group (years):	20-24 
Percent:	3.4% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Staten Island Mother's Age Group (years):	20-24 
Percent:	20.5% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Queens Mother's Age Group (years):	20-24 
Percent:	39.2% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Brooklyn Mother's Age Group (years):	20-24 
Percent:	23.7% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Bronx Mother's Age Group (years):	20-24 
Percent:	9.2% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Manhattan Mother's Age Group (years):	25-29 
Percent:	6.2% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Non-residents Mother's Age Group (years):	25-29 
Percent:	4.6% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Staten Island Mother's Age Group (years):	25-29 
Percent:	25.0% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Queens Mother's Age Group (years):	25-29 
Percent:	35.7% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Brooklyn Mother's Age Group (years):	25-29 
Percent:	18.0% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Bronx Mother's Age Group (years):	25-29 
Percent:	10.5% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Manhattan Mother's Age Group (years):	30-34 
Percent:	10.2% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Non-residents Mother's Age Group (years):	30-34 
Percent:	4.9% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Staten Island Mother's Age Group (years):	30-34 
Percent:	22.3% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Queens Mother's Age Group (years):	30-34 
Percent:	31.1% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Brooklyn Mother's Age Group (years):	30-34 
Percent:	13.1% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Bronx Mother's Age Group (years):	30-34 
Percent:	18.4% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Manhattan Mother's Age Group (years):	35-39 
Percent:	12.0% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Non-residents Mother's Age Group (years):	35-39 
Percent:	4.5% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Staten Island Mother's Age Group (years):	35-39 
Percent:	20.0% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Queens Mother's Age Group (years):	35-39 
Percent:	31.7% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Brooklyn Mother's Age Group (years):	35-39 
Percent:	11.5% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Bronx Mother's Age Group (years):	35-39 
Percent:	20.3% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Manhattan Mother's Age Group (years):	40-44 
Percent:	12.0% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Non-residents Mother's Age Group (years):	40-44 
Percent:	3.6% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Staten Island Mother's Age Group (years):	40-44 
Percent:	19.7% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Queens Mother's Age Group (years):	40-44 
Percent:	29.9% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Brooklyn Mother's Age Group (years):	40-44 
Percent:	11.3% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Bronx Mother's Age Group (years):	40-44 
Percent:	23.4% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Manhattan Mother's Age Group (years):	45-49 
Percent:	15.4% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Non-residents Mother's Age Group (years):	45-49 
Percent:	3.1% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Staten Island Mother's Age Group (years):	45-49 
Percent:	17.0% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Queens Mother's Age Group (years):	45-49 
Percent:	23.6% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Brooklyn Mother's Age Group (years):	45-49 
Percent:	9.9% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Bronx Mother's Age Group (years):	45-49 
Percent:	31.1% 
Mother's Borough of Residence:	Manhattan
Bar chart of kmage


Quoting anxiousschk:

So now my only question is what the typical age of a 6th grader in the Bronx is.  My daughter is in the 7th grade and 12.  

If 7th graders are closer to 14 there -- then I could see it. 

However, where I live, this type of education is best for 9th graders and up.  There honestly aren't a ton of middle schoolers having sex where I live, that percentage would go up if you switched to the inner city of Richmond.  

Quoting Pandora_13:

This is why what she is teaching is so important

Bronx girls aged 15 to 19 logged the city’s highest rates of pregnancy and abortion, according to a new city report.

Teenagers accounted for 86.4 of every 1,000 pregnancies in the Bronx — and nearly 1,800 babies — in 2012. Teenage girls accounted for 65 in 1,000 pregnancies citywide.

“The numbers are alarming, but we’re not surprised,” said Simone Jhingoor of the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corp., which runs teen pregnancy prevention programs out of its Morrisania headquarters. “It’s really a lack of access to information.”

Brooklyn recorded the second-highest rate of pregnant teens, 62 of every 1,000. Manhattan was third, with 54; Queens was next, at 50, and Staten Island’s teen pregnancy rate was lowest, with 38 per 1,000.

Bronx teens also outpaced their peers from other boroughs in “induced terminations,” accounting for 49 of every 1,000 Bronx abortions.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bronx County Teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 females aged 18-19 years

Bronx County Teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 females aged 18-19 years

Teen pregnancy rate per 1,000 females aged 18-19 years

  Crude Rate
Year Single Year 3-Year Average New York City
2003 209.8 154.7
2004 208.6 209.8 156.6
2005 211.0 200.1 150.1
2006 183.4 190.3 133.6
2007 179.8 176.9 129.6
2008 168.2 171.6 123.7
2009 167.1 163.7 131.0
2010 155.6 158.7 111.7
2011 153.3 147.9 112.4
2012 134.3 97.8


At this link, it shows rates for 2010 for all states women 15-19 - NY ranks 14 for total pregnancies, 42 for births, and number 1 for abortions (page 17)



“I don't think..." then you shouldn't talk, said the Hatter.”― Alice in Wonderland

coolmommy2x
by Platinum Member on Jun. 3, 2015 at 10:39 AM
1 mom liked this
Same here. Sexting wasn't an issue when I had sex ed as cell phone and the internet hadn't been invented yet but it's so important today.

DD's 4th grade class had sex ed last week, it was about puberty. She asked me so many questions, which was good, but the word was vagina was the most used word in our house last week.


Quoting romalove: My kids would have been permitted to be in that class, and we would have used it as a jump off for discussion at home.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)