ODE Sexuality Education Newsletter -- May 2022

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

ODE Sexuality Education Newsletter: May 2022

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ODE Sexuality Education Newsletter 

May 24, 2022 

Dearest colleagues, 

Sex Ed for All month proclamation by Gov Brown

May is an important month for sexuality education! All month, partners across the state and country are celebrating Youth Sexual Health Awareness Month and Sex Ed for All Month. Ever since Governor Kulongoski first declared May Oregon Youth Sexual Health Month in 2009, every year educators, public health professionals, community based organizations, youth, families, and other partners come together to uplift youth sexual health as an integral part of well-being, dignity, safety and equity. 

We know that celebrating this month also coincides with many educators around the state providing sexuality education instruction to students– it’s a topic we often see saved until spring. Now is a great time to elevate the messages of Youth Sexual Health/Sex Ed for All Month to amplify the importance of classroom education, with resources like these:

  • The Oregon Youth Sexual Health Partnership (OYSHP) has a new website, which is a hub for resources, information, and connection. OYSHP works collectively to ensure that all people have the information and skills to be sexually healthy, knowing this impacts the overall health and safety of our communities.
  • The national Sex Education Collaborative’s Sex Ed for All Month Toolkit provides resources to get the word out about the importance of sexuality education. 
  • The Healthy Teen Network has a webinar, articles, and other great resources.

Governor Brown’s 2022 Youth Sexual Health Awareness proclamation also helps to reaffirm the importance of providing youth with sexuality education that is LGBTQ2SIA+ inclusive, culturally responsive, medically accurate, trauma informed, and not fear- or shame- based.

Asian American and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month

May is also Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, prompting us to lend an intersectional eye to our sexuality education practices and instructional resources with great resources, events, and kids books. In light of recent reports finding that Asian Americans have faced an increase in race-based harassment, it’s especially critical to consider instructional practices and policies. GLSEN has also published an important report on Asian American and Pacific Islander LGBTQ2SIA+ students that shines a light on student experiences, helping to refine and improve efforts to support and affirm Asian American and Pacific Islander students. 

There is a lot going on this month, but don’t forget to give yourself grace and care. If you need some time with art, and poetry, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center published a care package that feels like a balm at this time. 

In this newsletter, we will share with you some announcements, research, resources, and opportunities for training by ODE, as well as other offerings by statewide and national colleagues that may be of interest to you. 

Header photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash, Newberg, OR

Menstrual product dispenser at Falls City SD

ODE Sexuality Education Updates 

Sex Ed Spotlight: Talking to Youth about Menstruation on Menstrual Hygiene Day

Puberty, growing up, and oh-so-many changes – being an adolescent is undoubtedly tough. All these changes present important opportunities to learn about the amazing experience of being human, connect to our bodies, and build a positive sense of self. Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28 gives us a chance to talk about (and celebrate) menstruation as a positive part of our development. And, importantly, to have open conversations about menstrual products.

Menstrual products will soon be a common sight in school bathrooms in Oregon and around the country, just like they are common in bathrooms in student’s homes. Kids are notorious for needing answers to everything. Here are some tips for how to answer a young student who asks: What are those for?

  1. If they are asking, they are ready to hear the answer. We all know that children are watching everything in their environments. We want to encourage their curiosity. Can you imagine shutting down a future gynecologist, epidemiologist, or oncologist? Know that questions are coming, and be ready to answer them by checking out some resources from the Menstrual Dignity for Students Toolkit.
  2. Answer simply; don’t over explain. Every day, a child asks: “Why is the sky blue?” Many of these children who ask this question have never heard of Raleigh scattering and do not understand electromagnetic radiation. But an answer like, “Because of the way the sunlight interacts with the atmosphere,” may be enough. In the same way, you could answer a question about menstrual products by simply saying, “Those are for people to wear in their underwear if they are shedding their uterine lining. They aren’t hurt, and it’s perfectly normal. Just a little blood and water.” If they continue to ask questions, follow their lead. After they understand the basics of biological reproduction, understanding the function of a uterine lining makes understanding menstruation even easier.
  3. Avoid language that makes the subject seem gross, embarrassing, or dirty. Talk about menstruation in the same way you talk about cutting your nails. It’s something that happens because of how bodies work. Take the opportunity to increase empathy with preadolescents by asking things like “How might someone feel if they can’t find products?” or “What if someone in your class was laughing at someone who had a stain on their clothes from their period blood?” Centering the conversation on creating a supportive community builds empathy and fosters a healthy community. Check out page 20 of the Toolkit for more ideas.

For additional resources, you can check out a slide deck, created by Portland Public Schools, for providing instruction to K-2 students on menstrual products.

This spotlight section is a feature by ODE staff that shines a spotlight on one aspect of K-12 comprehensive sexuality education. If you have a topic request for a future Spotlight, let us know at ode.sexed@ode.oregon.gov. 

Photo by Falls City School District

Reminder: Submit your Menstrual Dignity Reimbursement Forms

2021-2022 School Year

The Menstrual Dignity team at ODE is currently working to create grants in the EGMS system for school districts to claim in the coming days. As a reminder, you will have to submit a reimbursement form, to claim your funds on EGMS. The grants will be available soon and will reflect the maximum funding ceiling designated for your district, charter school, or ESD listed on the 2021-2022 funding calculator

For more information on how the distribution process works, see page 21 of the Menstrual Dignity for Students Toolkit.

Reimbursement forms (for expenses incurred between July 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022) are due on September 1, 2022. 


Click here to submit the reimbursement form


For more information, please refer to the Menstrual Dignity for Students Toolkit. If you have any questions, please contact the Menstrual Dignity team at ode.menstrual-dignity@ode.oregon.gov

ODE Director Colt Gill Discusses Supporting Transgender Students on OPB

Listen to Colt Gill discuss how public schools in Oregon affirm LGBTQ2SIA+ students in an interview with OPB’s Dave Miller. In the interview, he discussed how comprehensive sexuality education supports this vision by supporting students to understand emotions, show kindness and respect for others, develop healthy friendships, and talk to trusted adults. All students deserve to learn these skills, which have been shown to prevent child abuse, bullying, and sexual violence– and work to create safe and supportive environments for LGBTQ2SIA+ students. 

Sex Ed News & Resources 

ODE is committed to supporting school districts with implementing Oregon Human Sexuality Education (OAR 581-022-2050), which requires the use of "inclusive materials, language, and strategies that recognizes different sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expression" that must also be "culturally inclusive." Our collective goal is for all students to feel safe, seen, heard, and valued. 

Please see below for related news and relevant resources as you consider how to implement K-12 comprehensive sexuality education. 

News & Resources

Upcoming Events, Training & Conference Opportunities

All trainings are listed in Pacific Time zone unless otherwise noted. 

  • July 18-22, Sex Ed. Boot Camp, a virtual conference for youth-serving professionals to learn new methods to provide inclusive, accurate, and empowering sexuality education in a variety of school and community settings, by Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon.

Note: Unless hosted or facilitated by The Oregon Department of Education (ODE), these training opportunities have not been endorsed by ODE, but are being shared as relevant opportunities for sexuality education professionals to consider.

Grants, Job Openings, and Youth Opportunities

MFMC logo

Youth Opportunity: Oregon My Future My Choice Teen Advisory Board (TAB)

The ODHS My Future-My Choice program is recruiting high school teens to apply for their Teen Advisory Board (TAB) that starts next fall of 2022 and ends spring of 2023.The TAB acts as the youth voice of the My Future-My Choice program. Members are asked to share program feedback, advocate for quality youth sexual health education in their communities, and take part in leadership development trainings/activities. 

TAB member responsibilities include:

  • Meeting monthly for 1 hour with an assigned local mentor (October 2022-March 2023)
  • Meeting monthly for 1 hour (virtual) with the entire board (October 2022-March 2023)
  • Completing a youth sexual health equity project
  • Participating in the virtual Leadership Kick-Off Weekend (October 15-16, 2022)
  • Participating in the End of the Year Meeting (March 11-12, 2023) This may be in-person with all expenses paid for by MFMC program). 

Upon completion of the program, TAB members are offered a $350 stipend for their participation.

You can find the TAB Application here. Feel free to share flyers to high school teens in your community who may be interested in this program. The application deadline is June 15th.

Youth Opportunity: REV(olution) Youth Action Council 

REV(olution) Youth Action Council Program is a peer education program that is open to all high school students in Southwestern Oregon who are interested in sexual and reproductive health and education. Youth will meet once a week to learn about sexual health, gain peer education skills, and take action in their community.

Youth Survey: The Human Rights Campaign Foundation Survey

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and researchers at the University of Connecticut are conducting a study to better understand the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth, ages 13 to 18. The survey will ask LGBTQ+ youth ages 13 to 18 about their experiences as an LGBTQ+ person at home, in school and across various aspects of their daily lives. Youth who complete the survey have the option to be compensated for their participation. All responses will be confidential.

ODE compact logo

Job Opportunities: Oregon Department of Education

Small District Support Program Manager (Remote/Hybrid), closes 5/29/2022

Tribal Nations Educator Collaborative Program Analyst, closes 5/30/2022

OPHA logo

Opportunity: Oregon Public Health Association Conference Call for Proposals

The Oregon Public Health Association invites proposals for the 2022 OPHA Annual Conference & Meeting. Abstracts addressing all public health topics are welcome and presenters should seek to make connections between research, policy and practice. Abstract submissions will be accepted May 2 through June 17, 2022. 

Opportunity: National Sex Ed Conference Call for Proposals

The National Sex Ed conference, the largest conference in the United States designed exclusively for sexuality educators, is currently accepting proposals for their 2022 conference. Proposals are due by May 31

Newsletter Submission Process

We welcome your submissions to ODE's Sexuality Education ListServ! If you have announcements, job postings, or general questions for your colleagues, you can submit them to ode.sexed@ode.oregon.gov.

In an effort to streamline our newsletter, we are now planning to send out our newsletter twice a month, during the first week and again mid-month. To accommodate this change and to ensure that we can equitably share announcements from everyone, we're now asking that you submit your Listserv posts no later than the 25th of each month, for inclusion and consideration in the following month (e.g. submit October 25 for November newsletters). 

Questions? Connections?

Please reach out to us at ode.sexed@ode.oregon.gov.

Did someone forward you this newsletter? Want to stay connected with sexuality education at the Oregon Department of Education? Visit our website or subscribe to the ODE Sexuality Education ListServ today!