Deborah Roffman is the subject of in-depth profile in The Atlantic.
As part of their project “On Teaching,” The Atlantic today published Sarah Carr’s profile of Deborah Roffman, “The Questions Sex-Ed Students Always Ask.”For 45 years, Deborah Roffman has let students’ curiosities guide her lessons on sexuality and relationships.” (Sarah Carr, The Atlantic, January 13, 2020.)
“For 45 years, Deborah Roffman has let students’ curiosities guide her lessons on sexuality and relationships.” More excerpts …
“Roffman’s title of human-sexuality educator has not changed since she arrived at the Park School in 1975, but the dimensions of her role there have steadily grown. So, too, has her outside work in consulting and teacher training: Over the years, she has advised at nearly 400 schools, most of them private.
“Initially, Roffman taught elective classes in sexuality to the juniors and seniors at Park, but within two years, she had expanded to seventh and eighth graders. In the 1980s, she added fourth and fifth graders to her roster. She also meets annually with the parents of students as young as kindergartners, to coach them on how to talk with their children about sexuality, and she leads summer training for the Park’s elementary-school teachers on incorporating sexuality instruction into their classrooms. “There is this knowledge that we keep in a box about sexuality, waiting until kids are ‘old enough,’” Roffman told me. “My job is to change that.”
“During the next several years, Roffman not only made sure the school remembered to talk to students about sex but steadily built up the curriculum. At Park, students learn about standard fare like birth control and sexually transmitted diseases but also delve into issues such as the history of abortion rights, changing conceptions of gender roles, and how to build respectful, intimate relationships.”
Debbie joins Third Space on VoicEd Radio with Jen Cort to discuss her insights on understanding gender, gender identity, gender expression, talking about sexuality with kids and more. (Original podcast May 13, 2019.)
AMAZE LAUNCHES GROUNDBREAKING VIDEO SERIES TO HELP PARENTS TALK ABOUT SEXUALITY WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
About Debbie Roffman
Named one of Time Magazine’s “Top Sixteen Parenting Experts for the 21st Century,” Debbie Roffman is a sexuality educator, consultant, and author based in Baltimore, Maryland, where she has taught sexuality education in grades 4-12 at the Park School for more than 35 years. Debbie’s most recent book, Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “Go-To” Person About Sex, was published in 2013 by Perseus Books. In addition to her constant writing and teaching, she’s worked with parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, students, alumni, and trustees at more than 400 schools and organizations across the country, and she publishes widely throughout the national media. She’s referred to by her colleagues as the most articulate professional voice in the US on the need for broad-based human sexuality education. Her ability to find common ground by keeping the focus on young people and their universal needs around healthy sexual development is one of her gifts.
The “THIRTEEN GOOD IDEAS TO LIVE BY” poster was developed as a learning and discussion tool to help everyday adults in children’s lives get ahead of the unhealthy, inaccurate, and misleading messages to which children inevitably will be exposed.
The Thirteen Good Ideas Project was conceived under the auspices of the ADVOC8 PROGRAM at The Park School of Baltimore, a progressive, coeducational K-12 Independent School.
ALL PROCEEDS from poster sales will directly support Park’s 8th grade Social Justice initiatives in and around Baltimore City.
For information about ordering, write us at: ADVOC8@parkschool.net
General Pricing for Flat Posters (bulk discounts and foam backing are also available):
13” X 17” = $10.00 ea. 24” X “32”= $15.00 ea. Place orders at: ADVOC8 @parkschool.net
Holding-off Talking to Your Child About Sex? Talk Sooner, Not Later
Debbie Roffman is quted extensively in a recent article by Kristin Shaw on AlphaMom.
The article discusses the short videos from AMAZE, like “How Do You Talk to Young Kids about Sex?” which represent Debbie’s views and suggestions. An excerpt:
1. It is never too early to start having conversations, and it’s on you to start them. Remember, brief, more frequent talks are more effective than one big talk.
2. Kids just want the basics. Find out what they know and go from there. You can’t share too much. What they don’t understand goes over their heads.
3. You don’t need to know all the answers. Be honest and tell them you don’t know but you can research it and get back to them. Then follow-up.
4. There are no gender-based rules when it comes to conversations.
Talk to your young kids about consent early on. It’s about body autonomy, not sex.
AMAZE, the Sex Ed playlist for 10-14-year-olds featuring over 50 animated videos on the nuances of puberty and growing up, is launching the “AMAZE Parent Playlist” for parents of 4-9 year-olds.
The Parent Playlist marks a new target audience for the AMAZE series and is designed specifically to help parents as they broach these complicated topics with even younger children in an informative and age-appropriate manner.
“The earlier that parents can begin a dialogue with their children, the better – and while it may feel difficult to talk to very young children about sensitive topics, our kids will be healthier in the future,” said Deborah Roffman, sexuality educator and content expert for the AMAZE Parents Playlist. “For so many parents, the idea of talking to young children about sexuality sparks existential dread. But it doesn’t have to be that way – these videos will help parents ease their fears, leave embarrassment at the door, and find comfortable ways to lay the groundwork for a healthy outlook on everything from relationships, consent, body image, and much more.”
With titles ranging from “How Do You Talk to Young Kids About ‘Sex’” to “Where Do Babies Come From” to “Is Playing Doctor OK?,” the first 10 animated videos in the AMAZE Parent Playlist will help parents continue building an open dialogue with their kids and lay the groundwork to lead safe and healthy lives.
AMAZE, funded by the Westwind Foundation, is a collaboration between Advocates for Youth, Answer, and Youth Tech Health working to create an engaging, age appropriate, online sex education resource for young people aged 4-14. There’s help for parents and teachers too. Visit AMAZE.org for tools to help facilitate a healthy discussion with your kids and students about these essential but sensitive subjects.
Supporting Healthy Relationships Amoung Youth
New York Times publishes Debbie Roffman’s Letter to the Editor
Debbie Roffman’s letter to the editor of the New York Times was published on January 23, 2020, in reply to Peggy Orenstein’s January 12 feature, “Will We Ever Figure Out How to Talk to Boys About Sex?” Here is an excerpt:
As Peggy Orenstein asserts, school-based programs and parental conversations that focus primarily on averting physical risk and danger — unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, sexual assault — indirectly encourage a sadly, even tragically, low bar for sexual decision-making and expectation: So long as people use “protection” and ensure mutual consent, many young people reason, then, duh, why not just do it?
Missing from the discourse is an exploration of the human dimensions of sexual connection and its potential to create meaning, joy, mutual pleasure and unparalleled levels of physical and emotional intimacy. We tell young people what we want them to say no to, but not all the things we want them, eventually, to say yes to.
It’s not about sex: Teaching young children where babies come from (and other stuff)
It’s not about sex: Teaching young children where babies come from (and other stuff), The Hechinger Report (Lillian Mongeau, September 23, 2019). Same article in Lifestyle section of The Washington Post, September 23, 2019.
Debbie Roffman contributed to an article in The Hechinger Report and The Washington Post on “Teaching Young Children Where Babies Come From.” An excerpt:
… few grown-ups feel ready to talk about sex with kids younger than 10, said longtime sexual health educator Deborah Roffman.
“As soon as adults think things have to do with sex, they lose their common sense,” she said.
Here’s the thing though: “[Kids’] questions are not about sex,” Roffman said. “They don’t know anything about it. They are asking about their origins.”
And since young children are the ultimate egoists, wanting to know everything they can about themselves and their surroundings, both parents and teachers should be prepared for lots of questions about who can touch who, what the body parts between our legs are called, why Sammy gets to have two mommies and, yes, where babies come from. Experts say offering age-appropriate answers to kids’ questions about humans as social and sexual beings lays the groundwork for those important (if still cringe-worthy) conversations about puberty and sex the kids will need when they’re teens. Yet, like everything about raising and educating children, it’s one thing to know how you intend to handle a situation and another to actually handle it.