Are New Sex Education Standards Needed?

We’ve said it before:  Sex education in America needs to be improved.  The point can certainly be argued rationally and there are, of course, many valid perspectives on the matter, but while some progress is being made, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control cited that over 80%  of teens ages 15 to 17 have had no formal sex education before they have sex for the first time.  At Sex Across America, we think that kind of figure indicates that a serious problem exists.

Without a doubt, it’s often an uncomfortable subject to bring up at local school board meetings, but the sad state of sex education across the country should be inspiring educators to lead rather than give in to that discomfort.  That said, it’s often not just a matter of overcoming community objections to curricula content or gaining consensus about what material should be taught to which age groups, but also about ensuring teachers are fully prepared to deliver the information and appropriately mentor students through the process.  In that regard, some leading sex educators are stepping up and investing their experience in building a framework that makes sense.

As a project sponsored by the non-profit organization, Future of Sex Education, a comprehensive plan entitled, The National Teacher Preparation Standards on Sexuality Education, was recently published which outlines standards for preparing teachers to deliver sexuality education.  Specifying seven standards along with success indicators and examples, the project seeks to establish a common national foundation for ensuring that every middle and high school student receives a complete, age-appropriate sexuality education.  The result is the first time that specific standards have been established for educators charged with the responsibility of providing sex education.

Of course, a plan is only as good as the degree to which it’s implemented and while this project is a nice step in the right direction, it has to be adopted in order to have any real impact.  It’s hard at this point to gauge the actual interest in it, but with the stakes as high as they are and recognizing the genuine challenges involved with sexual health education, embracing a reasonable structure for better preparing those who will eventually be responsible for providing sex education has tremendous merit towards solving a serious and growing problem.

If nothing else, it does demonstrate that there are many who are not content with just sitting around and hoping for better results.

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Sex Smart Films: Sex Ed’s Essential Resource

(5/5/14)  Sex education in America these days is full of challenges.  While it’s improved a bit over the past few years for both students and adults, it still a hot potato that’s often held hostage to conflicting attitudes and political posturing, ultimately resulting in an ongoing vacuum for those who could benefit most.  Indeed, technology advances have somewhat helped to bridge that gap in recent times, but even that has its own issues, particularly when it comes to overwhelming information overload and content accuracy.

Recognizing that cacophony, Dr. Mark Schoen founded Sex Smart Films as a platform for archiving, producing and distributing sex-health films, but it has evolved into a one-stop locale for a myriad of useful and pertinent educational materials that’s suitable for all ages and audiences.  With a PhD in human sexuality and AASECT certification as a sexuality educator, Dr. Schoen’s credentials as an educator are impressive enough (having served as the Sinclair Institute’s Director of Sex Education as well as on the National Advisory Council on Sexual Health, as examples) but it’s his talents as a film maker that positioned him to solve a serious issue in a unique way.

His knack for producing engaging films to promote sexual health took root during his graduate school years in the mid-1970s, a time where the tide hadn’t yet turned in favor of more open and candid approaches to sex education.  Sticking with that maverick approach, however, he went on to produce over 50 films that have not only been used in a variety of educational and clinical environments, but also received wide acclaim from the general public while garnering numerous awards from some of the country’s top sexuality organizations.  With the coming of the internet, it was just a natural next step to expand his efforts into the virtual world in order to offer greater access globally, but in a focused and user-friendly manner.  Sex Smart Films accomplishes that brilliantly.

On the site, which has free, subscription-based and pay-per-view content, users will find almost 400 thought provoking and educational films including historical pieces, documentary profiles (such as Dr. Schoen’s masterful look at the life of Betty Dodson, recently profiled on Sex Across America), public health videos from over 35 countries and the latest in sex therapy and education.  With 24 hour-a-day accessibility, the resources are not only conveniently available for individual visitors, but also to classrooms and therapists as needed.

In short, Dr. Schoen has crafted a true masterpiece.  Sex Smart Films is a unique resource that’s elegant in both its usefulness and the quality of its content.  It’s perfect for educators, therapists and individuals looking for insight into a wide range of sexuality concerns, accomplishing its goals efficiently and discretely in an engaging manner.  We strongly recommend that you make it a point to visit and judge for yourself.

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S.A.A. Salutes: Betty Dodson

SAAgraphic04212014(4/21/14)  One of the wonderful bennies of Sex Across America as an ongoing project is having the opportunity to meet some truly great people who have dedicated themselves to positively impacting sex lives–and are succeeding brilliantly through straight talk and rational approaches.  In a climate of perpetual hypocrisy and cultural mystification, that’s often a tall order, but some manage to break through anyway.  Recently, we had the chance to meet one such pioneer who has been a bastion of irreverent style, delightful inspiration and unequivocal commitment for almost half a century:  Dr. Betty Dodson.  If you haven’t followed her work before, you’re really missing out on a genuine treasure.

Dr. Dodson first gained attention in the 1960s by holding the very first one-woman erotic art show at New York’s Wickersham Gallery.  Later, dismayed by some of the more mainstream feminist strategies emerging at the time, she leveraged her artistic skills into educational pursuits that ultimately pioneered an era of sexual liberation for women.  A dynamic speaker and best-selling author, her first book, Sex for One, sold over a million copies and set the stage for practical workshops for over 40 years.

Now closing in on her mid-80s, Dr. Betty still approaches the science of sexology with the soul of an artist and the energy of a super-athlete.  She leads the field as a sex-positive feminist by applying her no-nonsense feistiness in a philosophy that emphasizes what works instead of what’s popular.  It’s as simple as that in principle, but applying it on today’s uber-politicized landscape is rarely so straightforward.  Even in that environment, she leaves no room for excuses and instead, with an iron will, makes it work.  Such is the nature of unconventional stars.


She remains highly engaged today in sex education and activism through her private practice and various internet resources that are administered along with her partner, Carlin Ross.  In addition to their exceptionally comprehensive website,, they maintain a lively, informative and entertaining presence through their YouTube channel, which we highly recommend.  Just make sure you leave yourself plenty of uninterrupted time to enjoy and we strongly suggest keeping any drinks a safe distance away from your keyboard.

Though creeping up on the eventual closing chapter of her brilliant career, Dr. Betty shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.  If anything, she seems to be facing it with confident defiance and unbridled optimism, stating in a recent interview, “We need to face and embrace death like it’s the final orgasm! I’m going to design my death like I designed my life. Besides, I’m leaving all of my information and art images behind in the cloud. And I’m not going to exit for quite a while, either. I’m going for a hundred or more because I’m having so much fun!”

Indeed, Dr. Betty–here’s to much more fun for many years to come!

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