The teacher who has changed the way we teach about sex

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One of the most problematic issues when children are not so young and obviously reach a certain age is that of sex . Having a good reference to guide them is essential for adolescents to develop a healthy relationship with themselves and with others . After all, it is one of the aspects in many cases of great relevance and importance within the students, and many parents tend to close their eyes and not face the dreaded conversation, avoiding it by all means.

But young people are no longer so naive , and much less with the great speed that the times have acquired and the different tools they have at their disposal. In this sense, it is a thousand times better that those in charge of solving doubts are the parents or their trusted environment more than the Google search engine . In reality it is not that easy and if the number of conflicts between children and parents is already skyrocketing at these ages, in many cases it is a real rush to bring up the damn topic of conversation . For this reason, in recent years the importance of public education teachers in this area is essential, since it involves maintaining a dialogue on the subject with a person disconnected from the family environment. How do we know if we are ready to go to the ‘next level’ or what is the best way to leave someone? These are the most common questions Profiles like that of Deborah Roffman , who since 1975 has been attending to the demands in sexual education of American boys and girls between 13 and 17 years old . “There is a belief that sex should be taught ‘when the children are older’. My job has always been to change this,” he says in an interview with ‘The Atlantic ‘. For this reason, she not only takes care of young people, but also runs parenting classes where she advises them on the correct way to talk to their children about it. Things have changed a lot since the 70s. Also in sex. In the first place, the very concept of intercourse, which was previously bombarded by religious connotations that gave it a taboo dimension. Fortunately, the view of sex has been softened, and now there is much more freedom in dealing with the subject. Secondly, gender theories, which began to emerge precisely 50 years ago, together with the countercultural movement in the United States, have led to a change when it comes to relating to each other that confers more rights and freedoms to LGBT groups , as well as greater representation. Students are concerned about the same as 20 years ago, except issues such as gender or sexual orientation Roffman advises them not only on strictly sexual matters, but also on the social and economic sphere that practicing it involves in his country. American health care differs a lot from Spanish in terms of benefits, so the teacher informs them about the fees they must pay in case they need to take a birth test or have to go to the doctor because they have contracted a sexually transmitted disease . But above all, the students in their classes delve into the history of abortion rights, the changing conceptions of gender roles and the foundation that must be built when maintaining respectful and intimate relationships with other people. As a first contact, the youngest begin by learning lessons about the reproductive systems, the importance of open communication with other people and the physiological changes more typical of puberty. The following year, the students already enter the subject and Roffman explains to them in depth everything related to human sexuality, pornography, the use of sex by advertising, gender identities or different sexual orientations. “My classes are based on what I call the characteristics of a sexually healthy adult, such as always staying healthy, enjoying carnal pleasure and interacting with others in a loving and non-possessive or exploitative way,” he says in the North American environment .

Photo: Teenagers are concerned about sex;  alcohol to them

Teenagers are concerned about sex; alcohol to them


To ensure that students are honest in expressing their concerns, Roffman asks them to submit anonymous questions as soon as the course begins. “The questions are almost always the same,” he says. “For example, high school students often request information about their own bodies and if their behaviors are ‘normal’. Many ask me at what age it is normal to start masturbating.”

A “direct and holistic” approach

“Who takes the first step? How do I know if both me and the other person are ready to go to the ‘next level’? What is the best way to break up with someone? ” These are some of the most common questions students ask Roffman. In general, students are concerned about the same thing as 20 years ago, except when the topic to be discussed has to do with gender or sexual orientation , a debate that thanks to the demands of different groups has also been transferred to the school.

Photo: Raj Chetty, in a file photo.

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“There were already questions two decades ago about sexual orientation, but not about gender diversity,” says the teacher. “There are many who ask, How many genders are there? What does gender roles mean? What does the acronym LGTB mean?” . One of the details to take into account is that Roffman works for the private school and, in this sense, regrets that the necessary changes have not yet been made in the public school to implement the subject of sexuality from this point of view, “direct and holistic, “as she defines it. “I see very limited movement in the public sector,” he admits. “In a country where only a minority of states promote sex education classes in their schools, there is still much to do . I experienced a sexual revolution, I have hope that this time is in education,” he explains. If you want more information, you can consult his book ‘ Talk To Me First’, which he published in 2012.

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