Eugene nonprofit aims to fill gaps in sex education

Respect(Ed) was born out of what they call a necessity for more comprehensive sex education in Eugene and statewide.

Posted: Aug 12, 2020 5:53 PM
Updated: Aug 12, 2020 6:15 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- According to experts, while Oregon has among the most progressive sex education curriculum in the nation, they can't afford to let it slide to the back burner with online learning.

That's where Respect(Ed) comes in.

"The program was born kind of out of this need for comprehensive sex education and particularly consent education at South Eugene High School, and it's something we've noticed across Lane County, across the state of Oregon, and across the country -- that sex education is really deprioritized," said Maya Corral, a co-founder of Respect(Ed).

The aim of the organization is to fill in the gaps left behind by typical public school sex ed curricula. Things like affirmative consent and identifying sexual violence.

The curriculum began with what was taught at South Eugene High School -- expanding on subjects that sometimes may not be prioritized or just not addressed due to time constraints.

They are launching a new 12-week program, Sex(Ed), where students can hop online and ask questions or share concerns they have judgment free.

Brittany McBride is with Advocates for Youth, a national organization that works to ensure all young people have access to sex and health care education. McBride said she's been to Portland five times in the past year helping their schools refine the curriculum.

She said it's some of the most progressive in the country. But she also adds we are not immune from letting crucial information for kids and teens fall through the cracks -- and sex education is more important now than ever.

"The positive outcomes are endless, you know, young people feel confident and competent enough to make those very important decisions to build the lives that they deserve to create. Unfortunately when young people don't complete sex education, life starts to happen to them and it's completely unfair," said McBride.

The Oregon Department of Education says sexual violence is a huge problem in Oregon. A problem they say public education is tasked to face. But teachers and schools don't have to face it alone.

Jade Pfaefflin-Bounds sits in the board of directors for Respect(Ed) and said the program is facilitated by a leader book-club style where students are encouraged to chime in, taking their education into their own hands. 

"There's a huge portion of what we're covering that in terms of being really explicit about affirmative consent and normalized sexual violence and inclusivity that we just didn't have any instruction on," he said.

Experts said that the positive effects of complete sex education are endless -- adding the negative effects of not teaching it put our kids at risk of dangers they won't even know.

The program begins the week of Sept. 10.

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