Elizabeth Chen

A crowdfunded education project byElizabeth Chen

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What We Learned from the Sex Ed Date on The Bachelorette

Lab Note #9
Jun 03, 2015

Dear MyHealthEd Supporters,

On this week's episode of The Bachelorette, Kaitlyn Bristowe invited five men to join her on a group date (par for the course). On the date, the men were tasked with teaching sex ed to a classroom full of elementary school students (not par for the course). While the viewers found out that the students were actually child actors, Kaitlyn did not reveal her "prank" to the men. Regardless, it was clear that these men (who are fairly well educated and gainfully employed in their late 20's and early 30's) were very uneasy reviewing their lesson plans on puberty, anatomy, sex, menstrual periods, etc. What did this group date reveal about the way we teach/view sex education in the U.S.?

1. These men had gaps in basic content knowledge.

2. They were very uncomfortable talking about sex and everything related to it (Joshua was called out for turning the same color as his shirt). Kaitlyn may have chosen this date knowing that this would force the men out of their comfort zones, but don't we want all men (and women) to be comfortable talking about this stuff.

3. Then, ABC bleeped out the word clitoris and black boxed the image of a tampon being inserted into a plastic replica of the female anatomy. This censorship implies that this information should not be discussed with elementary school students or aired for general viewers of this reality TV show (who are mainly adults anyways). How do we change the norm so that discussing sexuality and sexual health education is perceived as normal and healthy?

Earlier this month, Liz presented at APPCNC's annual conference where the organization announced that it was changing its name and mission. Today, the organization has evolved into SHIFT NC (Sexual Health Initiatives For Teens North Carolina) and has broadened its mission. Their website reads, "We are expanding our mission and scope to lead North Carolina to improve adolescent and young adult sexual health. We aren't changing our approach of using evidence-based and best practice strategies to improve health; we'll be using this same approach to address adolescent pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and STIs, sexuality, development, and relationships." Congratulations, SHIFT NC!

At the conference, participants in Liz's session worked in groups to brainstorm additional sex ed topics that are not currently included in the 9th grade standards to add to the new online course we will develop in coming months. Here are some of the topics groups came up with:

  • Sexting, social media and sexuality
  • Gender (identity and fluidity)
  • Sexuality, sexual identity, LGBTQ identities, homophobia
  • Anatomy
  • Consent ("sexy" consent)
  • Healthy relationships (how to break up, signs of sexual abuse and resources)
  • Reproductive/family planning

We were also able to reunite at Princeton Reunions this past weekend and are pictured below alongside fellow TFA alumni (from left to right: Wes Norris, Dale Hammer, Liz Chen, Elaina Sabatine, Tania Haag, and Vichi Jagannathan).


We will be finishing up student focus groups in the coming weeks and look forward to analyzing the data and presenting our findings at the annual APHA conference in Chicago at the end of October! Woohoo!

Cheers,

Liz & Vichi

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