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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.

More about Debbie Roffman


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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

“When a Student Says, ‘I’m Not a Boy or a Girl’
By ZOE GREENBERG, New York Times, OCT. 24, 2017

This is an excellent article on gender. From the article:

“At some schools, teaching for and about transgender people is a battle, epitomized by nationwide debates over “bathroom bills.” But at others, educators aren’t battling against trans students or their needs. Instead, schools like Puget Sound are altering their policies to include transgender kids and, more broadly, to make gender a deliberate part of the curriculum. Students are leading the way, driving schools to adopt more inclusive teaching methods.”

Debbie is quoted in the article:

“This is not about those kids,” said Deborah Roffman, a teacher at the Park School in Baltimore who has been teaching human sexuality for 40 years. “Everybody in this building has a gender identity, which exists along a continuum.”

Education Nation: Sex Education: More Than a “Talk”

Debbie was featured in a Twitter ToolkitTalk on July 19, 2018, a Twitter chat that happens every third Tuesday of the month and is sponsored by ParentToolkit of NBC News Education Nation: Visit Sex Education: More Than a “Talk” for a complete transcript.

Debbie Roffman is available for presentations, consulting. Go to Presentations to learn about the full range of Debbie’s activities and to request an engagement.

And go to In the News for more news and writing by and about Debbie Roffman


More “In the News”

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 theAMAZE Parent Playlistfor 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.

All 10 videos are available here.

 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.

The Value of Childhood Crushes

Debbie was quoted in “The Value of Childhood Crushes,” by Bonnie Rough in The New York Times, Feb 13, 2009. [Crushes are] “a normal part of development, when kids start to see each other in ways that are a little bit different. I really do believe that they get a little zing in their heart.”

We Just Can’t Let Boys Be Boys

The New York Times published Debbie’s letter (New York Times, Oct 9, 2018) in response to Peggy Orenstein’s article “We Just Can’t Let Boys Be Boys,” New York Times, September 29, 2018).

Here is an excerpt from Peggy Orenstein’s article:

For the past two years I have been interviewing high school and college-age men for a book on their experience of physical and emotional intimacy. I’m not convinced they are always reliable narrators of their own experience. At times, I can almost see the shadow of a girl behind them as they speak — a girl who is furious, traumatized, grieving over harms big and small that the boy in question simply didn’t recognize, or didn’t want to.

At some point in our conversation, these young men usually referred to themselves as “good guys,” and mostly, I would say, they were. They had also all been duly admonished by some adult in their lives — a parent, a coach — to “respect women.” But that, along with “don’t get anyone pregnant,” was pretty much the totality of their sex education. As one college sophomore said to me, “That’s kind of like telling someone who’s learning to drive not to run over any little old ladies and then handing him the car keys. Well, of course, you think you’re not going to run over an old lady. But you still don’t know how to drive.”

And here is an excerpt from Debbie’s comment:

Peggy Orenstein is right. Too many parents — and schools — abdicate responsibility for talking with boys about sexual ethics and emotional intimacy, in effect turning them over to the default options of peers, older boys and siblings, misogynistic locker room banter and digital street corners.

The “boys will be boys” stereotype certainly gives license for boys to disrespect, devalue and mistreat girls, but deeper analysis of it also reveals the fundamentally demeaning ways in which we think about boys

Ten Tips for Talking to Teenagers About Consent and Sexual Boundaries

Debbie’s article, “Ten Tips for Talking to Teenagers About Consent and Sexual Boundaries,” was published on The Kojo Nnamdi Show Blog, September 24, 2018. The Kojo Nnamdi Show is on American University Radio, 12 pm to 1 pm ET on Monday through Friday. An excerpt:

“The one constant in young people’s lives are their parents and guardians. Decades of research demonstrates that it’s open communication at home about sexual topics that is the most significant factor in keeping teens out of harm’s way. So regardless of the current public spectacle on our screens, or the prevailing cultural or social milieu, parents can be the consistent voice of reason and reality that helps kids make wise decisions.

A Key To Appropriate Behavior: Self-Respect

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Following Debbie’s recent letter in the New York Times, she was interviewed for the program On The Record, on WYPR, public radio for Baltimore and Maryland. The program was titled, “A Key To Appropriate Behavior: Self-Respect,” on December 7, 2017. Click here for the audio.

“We talk with Deborah Roffman, author and human sexuality educator at the Park School of Baltimore, about eye-opening events in the past five years that changed attitudes about taking what you want versus getting permission. Roffman teaches boys and girls as young as 9–fourth graders–and says forming personal boundaries starts with building self-respect.”




Permanent link to this article: http://sexandsensibility.net/