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.”