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Reimagining Sex Education

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Sex education is in serious need of an update.

Sex education is in serious need of an update. In 2022, state and local governments still have the power to determine whether sex education is comprehensive or abstinence-only, and recent data shows that only about half of students in the U.S. are receiving adequate instruction around sex and sexuality.

This week, host Anita Rao reimagines sex ed with a sex therapist, a professor of sociology and two young adults — each with a unique perspective on how to make sex ed more comprehensive, practical and inclusive.

Linden James is a high school student in Durham, North Carolina, and a youth advocate for various organizations including SafeBAE and iNSIDEoUT. Kyndia Motley, a high school senior from Jeffersonville, Indiana, is a member of Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council. Dr. Lisa Wade is an associate professor at Tulane University and the author of “American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus.” Dr. Lexx Brown-James is a sex therapist and the founder of the Institute for Sexuality and Intimacy.

Thank you to Dr. Lynn Smith, Jaisha Smalls, Nada Merghani and Jules Gardner for contributing voice notes to this episode.

Looking for sex ed resources as an adult? Dr. Lexx Brown-James recommends the following resources:

  • Sex Positive Families: Shame-free sex education resources, including a book, a podcast and sex education workshops.
  • Six-Minute Sex Ed: A podcast that provides the sex education you always wanted … in six minutes or less! 
  • Sex education books by Cory Silverburg.
  • Amaze.org, an online resource that takes the awkward out of sex ed!

Three Ways Teens would Reimagine Sex Education 

  1. Reimagined sex education would be youth-centered.

Linden James, a youth advocate for SafeBAE and iNSIDEoUT, says: “I think it would be beneficial to the entire state and to our peers if there were councils of youth from all different backgrounds and lived experiences informing counties and public school districts of what policies they should make.”

  1. Reimagined sex education would be consent-based.

Kyndia Motley, a member of Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council, says: “It's important to teach about healthy decision-making and self-love and consent and the protection in contraceptives — they all connect.”

  1. Reimagined sex education would be sex positive.

Linden James says: “In addition to being safe and comfortable, we should be encouraged and empowered to be the sexual beings that we are — not discouraged from being this way.”

Stay Connected
Audrey Smith is a writer, educator, and temporary producer of "Embodied" based in Greensboro, NC. She holds a Master's degree in Secondary English Language Arts Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (2018) and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Nonfiction Writing from Oregon State University (2021).
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.