ODE Sexuality Education Newsletter -- September 2022

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

ODE Sexuality Education Newsletter: September 2022

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ODE Sexuality Education Newsletter 

September 15, 2022 

Dearest colleagues, 

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It’s back to school for Oregon students and, with it, comes both joy and uncertainty. It’s such a time for new and renewed social connection; for learning and inspiration. It can also be a time for fear and anxiety for many students. As ODE’s Director Colt Gill wrote in his opinion piece in the Oregonian, building care, connection, and community is a worthwhile investment for student well-being and engagement with school, as well as community mental health.

Sexuality education, as an overarching umbrella that covers requirements related to child abuse prevention, menstrual dignity, and healthy relationships, is an important avenue for fostering care, connection, and community. Exploring questions such as: What makes us similar and different?, How can I support others in my community?, and What makes a family? can help us all learn a bit more about ourselves and each other.

Back-to-school time may also be a time that your school district or ESD is thinking about professional development. If your school district or ESD has a need for training or technical support from ODE , please fill out this form. We’re working to piece together our calendar this year and would love your input.

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

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

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ODE Sexuality Education Updates

Sex Ed Spotlight: Comprehensive and not abstinence-only

In Oregon, sexuality education must be comprehensive and not abstinence-only. This means that classroom education provides young people with information that will help guide them to make their own decisions, to respect and value the decisions of others, and to develop the skills that they need to keep their bodies safe and healthy. 

Abstinence, or choosing not to have sexual contact, is a decision that many students in Oregon make. It prevents STIs and unintended pregnancies, and should be affirmed and taught as a valid decision. This is a practice that is both supportive of asexual students and students who abstain due to religious beliefs and/or their own values. 

However, when abstinence is the only presented decision, students can often feel ashamed about the normal ways their bodies and identities are developing during puberty and adolescence. Importantly, focusing solely on abstinence may feel isolating for a student who has experienced sexual violence, or nonconsensual sex.

Providing information on a wide range of sexual decisions, relationships, identities, and birth control options alongside the opportunity to practice skills such as communication and boundary setting, empowers students to make the decisions that align with their familial, cultural, and individual values. 

So what might this sound like? Have conversations about abstinence alongside age-appropriate definitions of sex, consent, and child sexual abuse and sexual assault in clear, survivor-centered terms. In the classroom, a teacher may use guiding questions to explore these topics: What do we mean when talk about sexual activity? What can abstinence mean to people? What activities require consent? What does sexual violence include? These conversations are important, complex, and will sound differently throughout the years, reflecting requirements in the Oregon Health Education Standards and Essential Questions.

It’s equally important to connect students to their own community and to the trusted adults in their lives. With value-laden topics like birth control and abstinence, it’s especially important to acknowledge and honor the range of values that people have. When values are involved, educators are affirming, positive, and ultimately say, “It’s up to you, your family, and/or your trusted people to determine what’s right for you.” 

This feature by ODE staff, 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 Everton Vila on Unsplash

Apply now for the K-12 Social Emotional (SEL) Advisory Group

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is seeking participants that reflect the diversity of the public K-12 student population for its K-12 Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Framework & Standards Advisory Group. This group will work with ODE to develop a K-12 SEL Framework and Standards for Oregon to be adopted by the State Board of Education by September 2023. The adopted SEL Framework and Standards will be implemented in Oregon schools starting in the fall of 2024. 

For more information, see the September 6th bulletin.

Apply Now

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Education Employee Well-being (EEW) Grant opportunity

OEA Choice Trust is offering a grant opportunity to Oregon public school districts, education service districts, and community colleges. EEW Grant awards are a maximum of $100,000 over 5 years to support the planning and implementation, or expansion of existing, education employee well-being programs. For more information, go to  OEA Choice Trust’s EEW Grant webpage.

Sex Ed News, Research, and Resources for Educators

ODE is committed to supporting school districts with implementing Oregon Human Sexuality Education (OAR 581-022-2050). Please see below for related news and resources for K-12 educators. 

News & Research for Educators

Resources for Educators

Upcoming Events, Training & Conference Opportunities

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.

Job Opportunities

ODE Opportunities

Art, Information, and Communication Technology Education Specialist (Education Program Specialist 2), closes 09/19/2022

Racial and Ethnic Disparities Coordinator (OPA3), closes 09/25/2022

Child Nutrition Specialist, Child Nutrition Program, closes 09/25/2022  

Equity Fund Grant Specialist (Operations & Policy Analyst 2), open until filled

Equity & Civil Rights Specialist (Operations & Policy Analyst 4), open until filled

Latino Network Opportunities

Health & Wellness Sexuality Program Manager 

Health & Wellness Coordinator 

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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

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