Sex educator advises parents

Rachel Schwartz

At a conversation open to parents of middle and upper school students, sexuality educator Deborah Roffman told parents not to be surprised by anything their children ask. In Rugby Auditorium, around 50 parents heard Roffman present what she called her not-so-secret agenda

“My dream is that one day in the United States of America it will be families and schools that are the primary reference points for issues of sex, gender and reproduction,” Roffman said.

Roffman also met with teachers of the eighth grade Human Development classes and the 10th grade Choices and Challenges classes about what changes she thinks are necessary to the courses. She said she would tweak the sexuality section.

Roffman read both curriculums, which she said are “more comprehensive and more well researched than the vast majority of what I’ve seen.”

Roffman asked parents if they found talking about sex more difficult than other topics. When the majority raised their hands she pointed out that this fear is a cultural problem, and is true for most parents regardless of their education or overall confidence.

Teaching critical thinking, Roffman said, will ensure parents can create the “lens” their kids see through and be the “voice in their heads” as their children face the onslaught of sexualized media. She said that education leads to “postponement until a stage in their life when they can manage these risky behaviors.”

Middle School psychologist Susan Ko, who organized the event, called Roffman’s book, “Talk To Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids ‘Go-To’ Person About Sex,” an excellent resource. Roffman aims to fill what she called a vacuum of role modeling for how to be calm, supportive and nurturing when it comes to talking about sex.