When I go into the schools to teach sexuality education, it is only for a short period of time, depending on the grade, the school, and the district. I usually do not know if the teacher who invited me continues the conversations I have started. When I answer questions about birth control, puberty, anatomy, and various others, I hope that the information I dispense is adequate. However, to shift from a guest lecturer once (or maybe twice) per year, to incorporating this info within the entire curriculum would be beneficial to all students.
I have also spoken to classes that include students with various ability levels. It is interesting to see how they are divided in the various schools and districts. Some students are in small classes with no inclusion available, some are in multi-level classes, and some are in stand-alone schools for those with special needs only. Grouping these students by age is often not appropriate when teaching sexual education. Many of these students are embarrassed, and often are not given adequate time for them to process the information. Teachers of these students should meet with the sexuality education instructor ahead of time (or by email) to set the tone for these type of classes to maximize comprehension. Because there is such an increase in the number of autistic children, decisions need to be made as to how best to impart the information. Whether these students attend a school for the autistic, are mainstreamed into the general population of a school, or are kept in segregated classes, accommodations must be made, especially for these students, some of whom may be engaging in high risk behaviors.
This is a website that I have found to be beneficial when creating lessons geared towards students with special needs. The Family Life and Sexual Health (F.L.A.S.H) curriculum is grounded in social learning theory. Social learning theory emphasizes that observing other people’s behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions greatly contribute to our own behaviors. The principles that guide the theory include: an individual is more likely to adopt the behavior if the outcome is what they desire, and the observer “first recogniz[es] and rehears[es] the modeled behavior symbolically” before enacting it overtly” (Bandura 1977). These principles apply to the curriculum, as it models the behaviors of others.
If you are interested in a curriculum for adults with disabilities, please check out these sample lesson plans that have been taken from Planned Parenthood, and these, which are based from a cognitive development perspective.
My vision for the future of sexuality education should be a prototype of what we are aiming for, the key components of a successful and student-oriented curriculum. The more I visit schools, the more I see a very unequal and often times narrow scope. What I envision in the future is that all students are treated equally when it comes to learning sexual education, that all students are given the necessary background knowledge to make informed decisions about the lives and their lifestyles.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. New York: General Learning Press.