This month we are excited to highlight our new remote admin, Gabby! She was kind enough to take a break from answering emails and tracking down statistical sources to answer a few questions about what motivated her to join the team.
What initially drew you to working with UN|HUSHED?
I’m a grade A nerd for sex ed and sex education policy! I taught sex ed in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer and wrote my graduate capstone on sex education policy in Massachusetts. I love that UN|HUSHED focuses on sex education and sexual well being as a human right rather than purely a risk avoidance strategy. Plus Ollie the Octopus is just so darn cute!
How is sex and sexuality education typically regarded in your line of work and/or local community?
I was lucky enough to have a fairly positive public school sex education experience – my middle school sex ed began as a crossover between English class and Health where the class decoded all the sexual double entendre in the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet (“I bite my thumb sir but not at you sir” indeed). By high school it had degenerated to the Mean Girls style “Don’t have sex, if you have sex you will get pregnant and die” speeches delivered by a gym teacher but it was still medically accurate and we got information about different contraceptive methods. This meant that when I went to a very Catholic university I became kind of an unofficial sexuality information office for my entire dorm. I’d say almost every community I’ve been a part of since has regarded sex education as primarily a way to help avoid negative health outcomes. But my experience of students in all those places has always been that they have a thousand more questions and thousand more strategies to define their identities and negotiate relationships and some truly creative ideas about helping their peers do the same. Kind of feel like we should put them in charge?
What skill sets or projects are you currently working with UN|HUSHED?
As the admin I’ll be answering a lot of your inquiries and be working on social media as well. Chances are we will cross paths in the future!
What project would you dream to work on for UN|HUSHED?
As a policy fangirl, I’d love to see the work done by UN|HUSHED translated into a policy platform that could ensure more schools had the resources and mandate to deliver UN|HUSHED’s caliber of sex education. I’ve been involved in efforts to pass similar legislation in Massachusetts that would mandate that, if taught, sex education meet certain quality standards and cover a comprehensive array of topics including consent, contraception and media literacy. But even that leaves loopholes for schools and school districts and does not allocate additional resources to make sure this is done well.
What kind of vision do you hold for comprehensive sexuality education?
I love the idea of the strict separation between comprehensive sex ed and other subject areas blurring so that understanding sexuality becomes a lifelong and integrated part of education. Besides being medically accurate, I think the comprehensive sex education of the future will include historical context and discussions of pleasure as well as being consent focused, student centered and community specific.
What role do you see UN|HUSHED playing in that vision?
The great news is that UN|HUSHED is already doing a lot of this! Being evidence informed also allows us to make curricula that are cutting edge but also flexible to meet the needs of the communities using them. This is key – if sex ed isn’t adaptable to its audience or able to evolve with them then it doesn’t matter how great it is, it won’t be effective.
What role do you see UN|HUSHED’s curriculum playing in a global movement towards social justice?
The more young people have access to high quality sex education delivered by teachers and facilitators that have been trained to implement it in effective and engaging ways, the better! Inclusive sex education has a positive impact on LGBTQ youth’s feelings of safety at school. Discussions of pleasure and consent in sex ed can help students understand the difference between consensual and coercive sex and eventually change social norms that perpetuate rape culture and encourage victim blaming. Media literacy classes can help young people define and negotiate the interpersonal, ideological and institutional forces that influence the culture they live in. The list goes on and on and on!