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International Workshop on Sex Education

workshop on sex educationOn the 13th and 14th of June, 20 renowned researchers from nine different countries met for a mutual workshop on sex education.

First to go was Elisabethe Payne, from The Queering Education Research Institute, who presented a project where they had examined all educational material that was used during one year in New York State. The project showed, among other things, that teachers still use information leaflets on HIV/AIDS produced in the 80:ies, filled with the atrocity propaganda and malicious portraits of different at-risk groups that surrounded the epidemic at that time.

Further, Mieko Tashiro, Daisuke Watanabe, Kaori Ushitora and Chie Nakazawas talked about sex education in Japan, and about the interest organisation they had started to develop and influence educational policy. Primarily, they want youth to receive solid information on sexual practice and more diverse perspectives on gender relations and sexual identity.

xDuring the Monday afternoon, Sharon Lamb from the University of Massachusetts and Jessica Fields from San Francisco State University talked about some of the challenges that face sex education in the US. With Obama, the support for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage programs decreased, yet Field’s and Lamb’s research show that conservative attitudes towards sexuality remain even if policy has shifted. Ethical issues were also brought up, and Jen Gilbert from York University presented interesting research on consent laws in a Canadian context. Gender related bullying was another topic, raised by Katarina Eriksson Barajas’ (LiU) talk.

The workshop was initiated by Eva Reimers, Eva Bolander, Anna Bredström and Jenny xBengtsson, as a mutual arrangement between the section for pedagogic practices and REMESO at ISV. Reimers is responsible for the research area Norms, Inclusion, Exclusion and Participation at Pedagogic Practices, and Bredström (REMESO) is the principal investigator for the research project Young People and Sexual Risk-Taking funded by the Swedish Research Council, in which Bolander and Bengtsson (GU) participate. Together with Veronica Honkalsao from the Finnish Youth Research Network and Stine Bang Svendsen from NTNU in Trondheim, the organisers talked about sex education in a Nordic context, focusing in particular on those attempts that are being made in the Nordic countries – and particularly in Sweden – to develop norm critical and anti-discriminatory methods, and the workshop participants listened with great interest in how teachers deal with, and try to balance, different norms on gender, sexuality, class and ethnicity while teaching about sex.


The question of how gender and sexuality is intertwined with racism, islamophobia, culture and religion was also palpable present at the workshop through the Orlando mass shooting. Instead of their paper presentations, Mary Lou Rasmussen, Deana Leahy – both at Monash University, Mindy Blaise (Victoria University), Kathleen Quinlivan (University of Cantebury) and Emma Renhold (Cardiff University) opened up for a mutual discussion among the participants on what had happened, and on hate crimes and acts of terror. The post humanist perspectives on sex education that they were to present originally, were instead discussed at the adjacent conference Gender and Education, which many of the participants also attended.

The workshop was the start of an international network, and more mutual projects are to be expected in the future.

Tue Jun 21 23:10:42 CEST 2016

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Last updated: Thu Jun 23 10:45:55 CEST 2016