The Educator’s Back Pocket

Question: What should a sexuality educator always have in their back pocket?

Answer: The Circles of Sexuality


Lately, in my practicum and other classes, there has been a lot of talk about using the Circles of Sexuality as a tool for educators. I hadn’t given this tool a second thought since I first learned about it in 592 (Concepts in Human Sexuality course) because I already knew it’s basic premise – all different aspects of sexuality affect one another. Although I believe this tool has room for improvement, I can’t help but recognize how useful this tool can be to visually and conceptually explain sexuality to others.

As part of my practicum, I went on a home visit with a therapist to a teenage girl’s home to talk about sexuality. I did not know her background, nor what she wanted help with. Because I was going in blind, I decided to bring a bunch of different materials just in case. I brought the Genderbread Person, condom kits from CHOICE (which included information on STDs, contraception, how to use a male condom, how to use a female condom, CHOICE’s sexuality hotline to call for more information, and condoms of course), and the Circles of Sexuality visual along with the explanation of it. Thankfully I came prepared!


During this home visit, I had one of those rare moments when everything worked out perfectly. At the time, the teenage girl was realizing that her previous sexual trauma had affected her current life in all sorts of different ways. I pulled out the Circles of Sexuality map and began explaining that what she was going through made perfect sense.  This was because sexual trauma can affect all other parts of one’s sexuality including their sensuality, sexual identity, intimate life, and knowledge about sexual and reproductive health. She began circling all the different parts of her sexuality which were affected by being raped and with a little prompting she explained to the therapist and me, how the rape affected them.

The Circles of Sexuality is a great tool for the educator’s back pocket. The map and accompanying explanation combined, satisfy both the visual and ­­­verbal learner’s needs. For more information on how to use the Circles of Sexuality for all of Gardner’s intelligences, visit Sarah Kleintop’s blog. I recommend always having the map and the explanation printed out and in your teaching kit wherever you go.


Circles of Sexuality Leaders Resource (n.d.). In Advocates for Youth. Retrieved September 28 2014, from

Gardner, H. (1991). The unschooled mind: How children think & how schools should teach. New York: Basic Books.

Written by Sarah McMurchie