Sex Ed Module 4: How to be a Sexuality Educator, Part II: Strategies for teaching sex education
Length * 1:18:03
Speakers (in order of appearance)
Linda Sandman, Necole Mills, Leanne Mull, and Anne Thurston
Linda Sandman 00:01
Welcome to the fourth module of the training series, What's Right about Sex Ed, designed to help you and others in your organization provide sexuality education to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This fourth module continues the conversation started in Module Three. Both modules share the title, "How to be a Sexuality Educator". While Module Three focused on the "Qualities of a sexuality educator", this module will focus on "Strategies for teaching sex education". We're glad you've joined us today.
This training and the other modules in the What's Right about Sex Ed series are being brought to you by Blue Tower Solutions, Incorporated, and the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities. Blue Tower Solutions is a nonprofit organization that works to empower individuals, organizations and systems to create cultures of respect, inclusion, dignity and equality for people with disabilities. The Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities' mission is to help lead change in Illinois so all people with developmental disabilities exercise their right to equal opportunity and freedom.
The training series on sex education, What's Right about Sex Ed contains eight modules. These modules cover information about the law, Module One, the sexual rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Module Two, and how to be a sexuality educator, Module Three and this module, there will be information on how to provide trauma informed sex education, and how to use the approved curricula and resources, including guidance on how to design an inclusive sexuality education program at your organization. How to partner with parents and guardians will also be addressed. Experts speakers from around the state and country including self-advocates are involved in presenting the information. All trainings will be posted to the Department of Human Services Developmental Disability Provider Training platform, so they can be viewed as often as needed. If you have any questions about this training series, my contact information will be posted at the end of each training module, please feel free to reach out to me.
Because the topic "How to be a Sexuality Educator" is so important we dedicated two modules to the subject. In Module Three, we focused on the qualities of a sexuality educator specifically, the skills, knowledge or information, respect, and understanding how one's values and opinions can impact sex education. We also heard the self-advocate perspective on what makes a good educator.
Today, in part two of the topic how to be a sexuality educator, we will focus on strategies for teaching sex education to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This includes looking at strategies to consider as you plan your program, working with self-advocates to plan and teach sex education, and highlighting various strategies for teaching the sex education content. Just as we did in part one, we'll continue to use examples from the WEAVE and Elevatus Training curricula, both of which are approved by the Department of Human Services for use in sex education. This module has five handouts, which will be posted on the same web page as all the training modules.
Today's speakers are Necole Mills, Leanne Mull, Anne Thurston and myself, Linda Sandman. Necole, would you like to introduce yourself?
Necole Mills 04:34
Yes. Hello, everyone. My name is Necole Mills. I am the Vice President of Disability Services at Anixter Center. I've been with the company for about a year and a half now. Since joining the company I have done significant work around supporting sex education, and throughout my tenure in this business. I've been in the industry for a little, well, over 21 years, and I'm really happy to be a part of this - this webinar. Thank you for having me.
Linda Sandman 05:11
Thanks, Necole. Leanne, would you like to introduce yourself?
Leanne Mull 05:16
Hi, I'm Leanne Mull. I'm with Blue Tower Solutions. I do a lot of work in the state of Illinois and across the country, particularly working with self-advocates, to train - to really be involved in every aspect of agency life. I also work for the Division on an epilepsy grant here in Illinois, teaching people receiving services, all about epilepsy. And I'm currently launching a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training, created with a self-advocate, also for people receiving services.
Linda Sandman 06:01
Great. Thanks, Leanne. And Anne, would you like to introduce yourself?
Anne Thurston 06:06
My name is Anne Thurston. I'm a self-advocate over ten years. And I belong in a group home situation. And I'm also a good friend of Leanne's - and Linda's and Necole's.
Linda Sandman 06:25
Awesome. Leanne, were you going to say something?
Leanne Mull 06:30
I was gonna say, and "Where do you work?"
Anne Thurston 06:35
At Goodwill Industries in Westchester, Illinois.
Leanne Mull 06:39
How long have you been there?
Anne Thurston 06:41
Leanne Mull 06:44
And are you their favorite employee who works on the floor at the thrift shop?
Anne Thurston 06:50
Linda Sandman 06:55
And Anne, did you did you have a role in helping get this law passed?
Anne Thurston 07:01
Linda Sandman 07:03
That's awesome. You know, self-advocates played a really important role in helping to get this law passed that we're talking about. So I just want to take a minute, and thank you for that. That's really cool.
Anne Thurston 07:18
Linda Sandman 07:19
Sure. So let me introduce myself. I'm Linda Sandman, I'm a social worker, and I work with Blue Tower Solutions, like Leanne. I have over 35 years' experience working with self-advocates. And while working at the Developmental Disabilities, Family Clinics, I oversaw our offering of sex education groups to adults with disabilities, for about 10 years. I learned a great deal from that experience and I'm really grateful for the chance to share some of that knowledge with you. In addition, I am bilingual in Spanish and English and bicultural, as my mother was born and raised in Mexico, and I have a large extended family there. The BIOS for today's presenters are included as a handout and will be posted with the recording of this training,
Sexuality education: Strategies for teaching sex education. Let's get started.
So there's a lot of planning and preparation that goes into setting up a sexuality education program. You may be asking, Where do we start?
What steps are involved in getting prepared? What do we do about assessment of an individual's sex education needs? Who's going to teach the sex education? And who can we reach out to among our community partners to support our efforts? There's just so many questions, right. So we thought it might be helpful to hear from one agency and their experience thus far. So I'm going to stop the share so that we can have a conversation with Necole about sex education and the efforts going on at Anixter Center.
So Necole, I have a few questions for you. Can you tell us a little bit about how you approached getting prepared and informed to provide sex education at Anixter Center?
Necole Mills 09:41
Sure. We recognized immediately that the work that we were going to be doing was progressive, and that we were, it was going to be an ongoing conversation at Anixter Center. We wanted to give ourselves permission and think - to take the time to be thorough, thoughtful and intentional about the work that we were going to be, were going to be, that was going to be ahead of us. We educated ourselves on the law and the nine standards within it. We inventoried our internal resources to support the educational pieces to the law, we signed on to host a doctoral occupational therapy intern with a local university to support the work ahead. This was very helpful during the beginning stages of our journey. We organized an internal team within Anixter to discuss our capacity to implement the sex education, with just the law guiding the work at that time. We talked, we talked through quality assurance, risk mitigation, the training needs, our policies and procedures, amongst other topics. I reached out to the Intersect for Ability, which is a collaborative network of multiple agencies, serving individuals with developmental disabilities of all ages. And my goal for reaching out to them was to find out what work was already being done, to figure out if there was any opportunities for collaboration, and to find out if there was a subcommittee that was being formed to support provider agencies like Anixter Center.
And through that communication, I am now the co-chair of the sex ed work group, which is to say, which is just a subcommittee of the Intersect, of Intersect for Abilities. And this community of practice meets monthly. And we currently host approximately 10 DD provider agencies and talk through our processes through this, through this journey. I also learned about the Planned, about Planned Parenthood, and their work on sex education within the Chicago Public School System for students with disabilities. And I wanted to learn more about their work and figure out if there were, if there was a way that Anixter could collaborate with them, in some way. And through networking, I learned about the Tool for Assessment of Levels of Knowledge and Sexuality and Consent, which is acronymed as the TALK-SC.
Lastly, and again, this is still a work, it's, we're still a work in progress. But I reached out to community partners and colleagues in the field, like you, Linda, to direct my, my processes, to try to figure out what you know, people who were directly involved in the law and the implementation of this work within CILA homes and CDS programming. So that's kind of where we are right now. And the roadmap that I've taken to get us started at Anixter Center.
Linda Sandman 12:46
Necole, that's really great. I love the way that you have put so much thought and care into trying to get this work started and off the ground. I'm sure there are a lot of agencies that feel like they're in very similar positions to Anixter Center.
You, you shared a lot about kind of reaching out to different partners. How did you get that idea? That's such a great idea.
Necole Mills 13:14
The conversations we were having internally, and the research that we were doing to educate ourselves on the law led me to reaching out to my community partners - and we, and who to interface with. And we're still, we're still a work in progress. We're still in the planning stages of the work. But I think the more we reached out to community partners, it gave me more material to be able to supplement the work that we're going to be doing around sex education in our homes.
Linda Sandman 13:50
Yeah, that's great. And I think it sounds like, as you develop those relationships with community partners, you also were able to share resources with them. And so they benefited from what you had found out and you benefited from what they found out. I also wanted to circle back to something you said about recruiting an intern. Can you say more about that?
Necole Mills 14:16
Yes. We reached out to Midwestern University, in Lombard. They have a robust intern program for occupational therapists. We actually were able to get a doctoral intern that was going to dedicate 14 weeks of support to help drive this work within Anixter. The intern worked on everything from curriculum selection, assessment, analysis, finding videos and support materials to enhance the work - enhance the curriculum that we were going to select. We ultimately ended up picking the Elevatus Training. And this intern helped create a robust group of materials to just roll it out when we were ready to implement.
Linda Sandman 15:07
That's awesome. Yeah - such a great idea to draw upon resources like interns, because they benefit - it furthers their work and their education. And that also really gives a great opportunity for you to boost your staffing through, through the use of an intern. So that's, that's really such a great idea.
All right, well, um, I'm going to go on to some of the other topic areas that we want to be talking about as we think about the planning stages. But we're going to return to a conversation with Necole in a little bit to hear more about what Anixter is doing. So thanks, Necole.
So that was a really helpful conversation and information from Necole. I'm sure that, as I said, many organizations are facing similar circumstances. Planning strategies involve many steps and a thoughtful process. In addition to the steps that Necole was talking about, we want to bring in some additional considerations. You can see here on the slide, three additional elements. First, adult learning - there's a great deal of research and writing about adult learning principles. We won't have time to go into all of these in great depth, but we do want to cover some of the highlights that are important to keep in mind. Second, developmentally and age appropriate. The law states that the sex education must be appropriate to the developmental disability of the recipient. It also states that it must present identity as a part of mature adulthood. Both of these criteria are essential, and we'll have some suggestions about how to incorporate them into your sex education programming. Remembering to keep sex education, inclusive is a third factor to consider in developing and implementing your sex education program.
Okay, let's take a closer look at adult learning principles. Now, there are three important elements that we're going to talk about. One is to keep in mind the preferred learning style of the individual who will be receiving the sex education. Second, we want to emphasize how the learning connects or applies to their lives. And third, we want to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to practice and rehearse the new learning. So as we look at each of these adult learning principles, we will also show you how the approved curricula and resources can help support the particular element that we're talking about.
On the Illinois Imagines website, there is a Counselor Guide with some helpful information, includes some helpful information about the different processing or learning styles. We've included a handout with this training that has the illustration you see here on your screen. This can serve as a quick reminder that there are many different ways to approach learning, and some strategies will work better for some and other strategies will be more effective for others. These are the learning styles included on the handout: we have listening, writing, talking, music, movement, and pictures. On the second page of this handout, there is a short description for each of the learning or processing styles, along with some examples of activities that work best for a particular style.
Overall, research has found that people with disabilities tend to learn best with visual supports and opportunities for hands on learning. But it would be wise to not discount these other methods. As you design your educational program, keep in mind a variety of learning styles such as those illustrated here. And then you can ask yourself, how can we incorporate these different styles and or combine more than one style into the sex education program, so that we can achieve the best fit for the different individuals that we work with?
Using the information we talked about regarding an individual's preferred learning or processing style, we can make sure that the training materials apply to people's lives. If you're trying to teach material that the individual doesn't relate to. They may be less engaged or have more difficulty remembering what they've learned. This is true for all of us. I'm most motivated to learn about things when I understand how it will benefit me. Having individuals with disabilities involved as part of the "treatment team" is a great way to make sure you are focusing on educational goals that have meaning for the person. And I use that phrase "treatment team" because that's what's in the law. It talks about the "treatment team". I don't want to get too clinical here on people, but that is what the law says.
The different elements that you see listed on this slide are suggested by the Elevatus Training curriculum as strategies that you can use to make sexuality education real for individuals. For example, when using pictures, consider using pictures of familiar places from their home and community environment to make it more realistic, and identifiable. This can also help with being able to generalize the learning across settings from classroom and back to the group home. Please remember to follow your agency's guidelines for privacy and consent when using photo images.
Using the resource link on the sex education webpage, you can find a number of video resources. Some examples include the 10 videos made by the National Council on Independent Living, which were made by and for self-advocates. There's also a site called Real Talk. So the search term if you look up the site is Real-Talk.org. There's just a number of websites that use the title "real talk", so I want to make sure that you get to the correct one - so include that hyphen! This website is a sexual health initiative started in 2017 and it's run by sexuality educators from Canada, dedicated to folks with cognitive disabilities. And it contains many helpful videos and resources, as well as workshops and events.
When using activities suggested in the curriculum, consider using the names of familiar locations and settings. And for objects and music have self-advocates help to select the particular object or the music that you may bring in to supplement a lesson. These are just some of the ways that you can help keep things real for people and help them apply it to their lives.
When the sex education material applies to an individual's life, it is easier to understand and more likely to engage the person. I worked with a parent once, who shared that she wanted to be very proactive and provide sex education to her daughter with Down syndrome, just like she had for her daughter without a disability. But when she met with her daughter, with the books and illustrations all prepared, she found her daughter's attention wavered. She was fidgety and uninterested. She realized that she needed to approach sex education at her daughter's pace, and reflecting her daughter's interests, not her own, the mother's, pace and interest. This was such a good insight on this parent's part and a valuable lesson.
The sex education law talks about assessing the individual for developmentally appropriate sex education and materials. This assessment process, we'll be talking a little bit more about with Necole, is a great opportunity to figure out what a person's knowledge level is, and what they are interested in. It's also a good time to think through their learning style or styles. How do they learn best? You can undertake such an assessment as part of a formal process, but it can also be accomplished informally during interactions, observations and conversations with the individual. Another way to think about the sex education material applying to their lives, is to make use of lifelike models, as suggested in the WEAVE curriculum. When you provide teaching tools that can be touched, such as an anatomically correct doll, models of the reproductive system and contraception teaching materials, you can assist more directly the individual to learn about sexually transmitted infections, about how to avoid unintended pregnancy. These are elements that are included in the law. For example, you could use a model of the male reproductive anatomy to show how to put on a condom. The WEAVE curriculum contains information about how they incorporated such educational materials into their sex education curricula. I've also included some resources for purchasing such educational supports on the Resource handout that accompanies this training. It's also possible that partner organizations may be helpful in accessing such resources. When I worked at the Family Clinics, we partnered with the Wellness Center at the University who was able to provide us with the models of the male reproductive system. Also prevention education, educators from rape crisis centers may also know of some of these resources or, like Necole was mentioning, Planned Parenthood might be an option and a resource. So I encourage you, as Necole talked about, to reach out to those community partners to help supplement some of your supplies for teaching those aspects of the sexual health curriculum.
The third adult learning principle is a chance to practice and rehearse. This can make the education come alive for the individual. It also helps underscore that the learning applies to their lives and appeals to the different learning styles: visual, auditory, and movement. In the WEAVE curriculum, homework is used as a teaching strategy to practice and reinforce learning. In the WEAVE workbook, for each lesson, a homework follows the same basic format. First, there's a summary of the lesson. Then there's a place to write or draw the individual's goals related to the topic. And third, there's an activity related to the topic. As the curriculum states, "There are homework pages for you to do on your own. These help you practice what we learned in class and show others what you know." So homework is a great idea for a chance to practice and rehearse.
The Elevatus Training curriculum also includes opportunities to practice and rehearse. Two of the teaching strategies used in the Elevatus Training curriculum are roleplay and brainstorming activities. The goal is, as it says in the curriculum, "get people involved in hands on activities." In Module Three, Tia Nelis and Katherine McLaughlin demonstrated how roleplay could be very helpful in addressing questions about dating and relationships. Now let's look at an example of how the Elevatus curriculum uses brainstorming for the topic of public and private. One of the handouts included for this module comes from the Elevatus Training curriculum. This brainstorming activity is included in the curriculum, and it expands upon information included in that handout.
So, what you see here is a brainstorming activity on the topic of "public". And it has some questions: "Let's name some public places." And then people can just, you know, name different public places, in your group - they can suggest those and maybe you can write them down. Or if you have a really good artist, you can draw them. "What are public places in our homes?" And again, you can call them out. "What is okay to talk about in public?" "What are examples of okay ways to touch in public?"
So these are all great brainstorming questions. And people may say things like, you know, "a restaurant" or "the movies". Or they may say "the bus", or they may say "the bathroom". Well, if they say the bathroom, you're going to have to break that down a little bit - into what bathroom are they thinking about? If they're thinking about the bathroom, you know, at the center, that could be a public place. If they're thinking about the bathroom in their family home, that might be a private place. So it gives you a great way, a brainstorming activity gives you a great way to kind of figure out what people are thinking and what they know. I like how this activity doesn't mix public and private into the same discussion. It kind of focuses just on the one aspect right here. I think it can be confusing for people. I shared in Module Three that I knew a gentleman who would get confused between public and private because they both start with "P". And so keeping the activity separate for this way could be helpful. You could do the same questions then about private places and private conversations, and private ways to touch.
So that gave you an in depth look at some of the teaching strategies that build upon what we know about adult learning principles. Now let's turn to the concepts of developmentally and age appropriate the Illinois law states several times that the individual shall be assessed for developmentally appropriate sex education materials, and that the sex education shall be appropriate to the developmental disability of the recipient. The definition of developmentally appropriate as it relates to the law is listed on the web page set up by the Department of Human Services on Sex Education Curriculum. You can see that definition here on this slide. It says "An approach to educating that respects the specific needs of each participant by centering the program material and techniques used to convey that material to the abilities of the participant, cognitively, physically and emotionally."
In addition, the law states that "the course material and instruction in sex education shall present identity as a part of mature adulthood." I'm often asked about the description of an individual's developmental age, as described in IQ testing, and how this should impact teaching sex education. Sometimes, people may think that those age equivalencies are how one should view the entire person. They say something like, "This person's like a five year old. That's what the testing shows." Even though the person has the age 26.
We need to remember that the law covers adults with disabilities and we need to keep this in mind when we think about sex education. I want to share with you a quote from an article written by a sex educator, Terri Couwenhoven from Wisconsin. She wrote this in an article in 2010. I found it enormously helpful in understanding these two concepts: developmentally appropriate and age appropriate. Terri is also the mother of an adult daughter with Down syndrome. And the article is from the Impact Magazine, published out of Minnesota. The article is titled "Becoming a woman: Teaching healthy sexuality to my daughter."
"An idea that's been important related to sexuality is thinking of my daughter in her chronological age versus developmental age. I have noticed that regardless of her cognitive disability, Anna has been pretty much on track with most everything related to sexuality, physical development, experiencing sexual feelings and crushes, her desire to date, and have a boyfriend and current aspirations to have a serious long term relationship as an adult. She hasn't always understood how to manage these developmental benchmarks or acted appropriately as she moved through these stages. But my job has been to prepare, educate, facilitate and identify her needs for support, as she developed and matured in the same way her peers did. Thinking about her this way has helped greatly. I have noticed that when I think about her chronological age, treat her that age, and have expectations for that age, she has grown and matured in ways I never imagined. She surprises me often. Her developmental age helped me understand how to adapt and modify messages and teaching, so it would be more useful and understandable. But otherwise, it was irrelevant."
I think that's such a great description and a helpful way to keep straight "developmentally appropriate materials" means to adapt it, so that the person can benefit cognitively, physically and emotionally. But that we remember that we're working with adults.
So, we're going to go back to our conversation with Necole Mills from Anixter Center and hear a little bit more about how Anixter is approaching these three areas: assessing for learning needs, working as a treatment team - again, the language from the law, and planning content that fits the individual.
Linda Sandman 34:36
So Necole, thanks again for joining today and sharing some of your thoughts about how things are going at Anixter Center. I wanted to ask you a little bit more about the assessment process. You mentioned that you chose a tool that your organization would use. Can you say more about what attracted you to that tool and how you think you'll begin using it?
Necole Mills 35:00
Sure, Anixter Center decided to use the TALK-SC assessment tool because the tool can be used simply as a pre- and a post-assessment for people participating in relationship training and sex education. The tool, as a pre-assessment, will assist trainers in determining where a person's knowledge base regarding sexuality and relationships have gaps. With this information, the trainers will be able to better target their training to the learner's needs. The tool also has a robust consent process that is thorough and supported the standards of the law. The assessments will also help us understand not only the person's interest, but also their general understanding of knowledge, and knowledge about sexuality. We need to always remember that sexuality is a natural human desire, and not a "behavior." We, how we go about supporting healthy choices and relationships - and not just managing problems - was one of the things that we thought through when we wanted, when we selected this TALK-SC. And through the work of the intern, we were able to really hone in on - this might be the best fit for what Anixter had going on here.
Linda Sandman 36:22
Great. So now that you have your tool, I imagine you started to think about who can do this? How do we form the team that's going to approach this, you know? How - do we involve the individual? Who on the staff is the right person? Talk a little bit about that.
Necole Mills 36:41
So Anixter Center has gone through ebbs and flows around this process. But at this time, we paused our work around assessing who should teach sex education at this time, because we wanted to make sure we have more information from the state and training guidance like this one to help us really decide what direction to go. Should it be the Q? Should it be a DSP? Should it be a clinical staff person? But we really wanted to get a little bit more guidance from the state before we hone in on who is the right person do this work.
And also, too, we wanted to be very thoughtful about the clinical and educational pieces to this work. And, and thinking through the clinical and educational pieces of this work, we had to really think about, okay, if this was going to be a DSP - what about boundary setting? Does this individual want their staff member, who is helping them in the home, teaching them about sex education? So thinking through all of that, at the end of the day, we just want to make sure that people are safe, and that their needs are being met. So we're still thinking through a lot of processes and who those people should be. But again, it's a work in progress.
Linda Sandman 37:58
Yeah, that's so honest, thank you. And I think that that situation could be different, according to the different agencies, right? Because you kind of know your team best, and you know who your personnel are, and, and what, what your, the individuals who, who are receiving services, what they, what they need. Um, thinking about that, say a little bit about your thoughts about how to adapt the learning to how people learn best.
Sure. So Anixter has some unique CILA home settings. So we have two deaf, deaf/blind and hard of hearing CILA homes. And in doing the work with our intern, we had to start asking ourselves those questions: How do we adapt this information, this education, to make sure that the individuals in that home have adequate resources to be able to be educated and to be assessed in regards to the law? And so currently, right now we're looking at, you know, we're working with our internal teams, our Chicago Hearing Society, and bringing in some of our experts in that, in that department. We're also working with our behavioral health, behavioral health teams to talk through trauma and other aspects that we may not be readily available to, to support. And we're also looking at community resources like the YWCA and, and thinking through how to bring them into, to do more training to support the work that we are doing for those homes. But ultimately, you know, we want to make sure that those team members who are working in those homes have information to be able to support the individuals as they learn, then we want to make sure that the information is adapted to the individual in the way that they learn best, whether it be pro-tactile, whether it be Braille, we want to make sure that we have information readily available for them, so that they can get the most out of this education.
Linda Sandman 40:21
Yeah, that's great. And that's, that's another great example of how to really make things developmentally appropriate. What are the adaptations that we need to make sure that the learning is going to be effective, right - that the learning is going to be effective for people?
So I think you've done a great job of kind of showing - this as a big project. We want to be thoughtful. We want to be intentional about what we do. We want to reach out to community partners who can bring in some expertise. We want to set up a good process for assessment and for providing the materials that the person really could benefit from, based on that assessment process. So I think that's really great. I'd love to do this webinar again in a year and sort of see where are you now?
Necole Mills 41:11
Linda Sandman 41:13
But, yeah, that probably won't happen.
So thank you so much, Necole, for sharing about the experience at Anixter.
Necole Mills 41:21
You're welcome. Thank you for having me.
Linda Sandman 41:26
So that was really wonderful to hear from Necole. I want to continue our conversation about planning strategies. And the third element that I had mentioned is: is it inclusive? In Module Three, we talked about universal values and the importance of respect for all people. So, when you plan your sex education program, you need to be thoughtful about how you approach the images you use, the language that you choose, and how can you create a welcoming and respectful environment.
It's always best if you can use images that are inclusive: images of people with disabilities, images of people from different racial and cultural groups, people who identify as LGBTQ+. The images that you choose indicate a great deal about who is welcome and respected. Also, remember to try and use inclusive language. We addressed this in Module Three, as well. Take care to avoid stereotypes and assumptions in the examples and activities you choose.
Some of you may find it hard to keep up with all the different terms used to describe sexual and gender identities. A helpful website is the one I have posted here on the slide GLSEN.org. It's found, it was founded by a group of teachers in 1990. And this organization, GLSEN, works to create affirming learning environments for LGBTQ students. Their website is listed on this slide. And there you can find many resources to help create an inclusive program. Although not specifically limited to issues faced by people with disabilities, several of the resources on this website address the intersection of disability with other identities, like being a person of color, and LGBTQ.
It can help to have another set of eyes look over your lessons and activities, serving as another check for language and stereotypes. I know that's helped me sometimes when I put together a training and I get some feedback - and I realize - oh, yeah, I was kind of casting the male person in a particular role that was a little stereotypical. And so it kind of is a good check to learn how to mix things up a little bit more and avoid some of those stereotypes. It can take some practice to learn how to use some of the new terminology, to avoid those stereotypes and assumptions, but it's really worth the effort.
So one of the strategies, teaching strategies to help establish an inclusive educational environment right from the start is to use group agreements. On this slide, it shows some helpful points about setting group agreements. It's taken from the Facilitators Manual of the Elevatus Training curriculum.
So group agreements are: helpful in establishing how people will treat each other, how to help people feel safe, set up by the people in the group, right? So again, that applies to their lives - and reviewed from time to time and can be added to - so it's a living document, the group agreements.
Group agreements are not: rules set to exclude or shame others, rules that convey judgment and a lack of respect, rules that are set from the top down by the agency management or facilitator only, and rules that are fixed and not open to feedback.
So I think group agreements can really help set that value of being inclusive and welcoming in the community. And as you say, see, this one: "set up by the people in the group" - having self-advocate voices included in setting up how you're going to do the work is extremely important.
And so now, we're going to hear from Anne Thurston and Leanne Mull talking about how self-advocates can participate in planning and teaching sex education.
Leanne Mull 45:53
So, Anne, we get to talk about how to support self-advocates to be a part of the training. And since you and I trained together so much, now we get to tell other people. And so I thought we would start with what, why is it so important that a self-advocate is included when teaching about sex education?
Anne Thurston 46:26
Why it's important? Because sometimes an advocate, like a team lead person will not, they'll say "what are they talking about?" Or "I don't understand this." And then they have to go to, then they get very confusion. And they said, "I don't" - they'll come to say, "I didn't really understand it at all." Or they'll say, "I'm bored with this person telling me what to do." Or, you know, "- what to do." And they have to say, "I didn't understand that class," or "I got bored because they were telling me what to do with myself."
Leanne Mull 47:20
Okay, and so it's important to have a self-advocate there. In case people might not want to ask questions to the staff. Right?
Anne Thurston 47:29
Leanne Mull 47:31
Yes, that, that was great the way that you said it. And so, as people are work - maybe they've never worked with a self-advocate before. Let's talk about some advice that we might have when people are getting ready to set up a training. Do you like it when we practice ahead of time?
Anne Thurston 47:55
Leanne Mull 47:56
Yeah. Do you like it when you're included in planning out what we're going to do in the trainings?
Anne Thurston 48:06
Yes, because I have questions myself.
Leanne Mull 48:09
Exactly. Right. So you figure out the questions ahead of time that other people are going to ask. How about when we're planning it - and once we have figured out the overall class that we're going to teach, do we practice a lot?
Anne Thurston 48:34
Leanne Mull 48:35
Yeah. Do we practice a lot and then practice some more?
Anne Thurston 48:39
More. In between meetings, in between.
Leanne Mull 48:45
Yeah. And sometimes the practicing is just because I'm nervous - and I want practice. And sometimes you, you want practice. And sometimes you're like, "I am done, let's go - do something fun. I'm tired of practicing this."
Um, so when we're actually presenting - once we, once we work together on the presentation - do you like to read off of a script? Or would you rather have an idea of what you're going to talk about, but talk about what you feel at the moment?
Anne Thurston 49:29
What I feel in the moment.
Leanne Mull 49:33
You like to feel in the moment. So we may have an idea of what we're going to talk about that day, and I may be following slides and, and entertaining questions. But then, we kind of get to a slide that says "Anne is talking." Right?
Anne Thurston 49:52
Leanne Mull 49:53
And you always know what you're gonna say. You just don't know how you're going to say it.
Anne Thurston 50:01
Leanne Mull 50:02
Okay. Anything to add to that?
Anne Thurston 50:07
No, that's exactly right.
Leanne Mull 50:11
Okay. Do you like it when the audience asks you questions?
Anne Thurston 50:17
Leanne Mull 50:19
Yeah, yep. And the audience, the audience that we've spoken to, they're not asking me questions. They ask you the questions,
Anne Thurston 50:30
Leanne Mull 50:32
And as you said earlier, people can be more comfortable with you, than they are with the staff trainer. So what other advice do we have? What if there's some self-advocates out there watching this? And they're like, "Hey, I want to do that - at my agency." Do you have any advice for them?
Anne Thurston 50:57
I usually try to say, "Okay, can I talk about, talk to you about it now? Or do you want to talk about it at an appropriate time - like a "Question and Answer"?
Leanne Mull 51:17
Oh, okay. That's great. Because sometimes people interrupt, right? And we may be like, really on a train of thought, and somebody might ask a question without raising their hand. And so we kind of say, "Hey, how about we wait a minute?" And that's okay, right?
Anne Thurston 51:38
Leanne Mull 51:39
Okay. What other advice do you have? How about to staff? What would you say to staff who are going to start teaching - maybe with a self-advocate? Maybe they're teaching about sex education - maybe they're teaching something else? How do you want them to treat you?
Anne Thurston 51:59
With respect and dignity,
Leanne Mull 52:01
With respect and dignity. Because who is the subject matter expert about you?
Anne Thurston 52:10
Leanne Mull 52:12
Exactly right. And who has lived the life that you live?
Anne Thurston 52:20
Leanne Mull 52:22
So who is the most important person that staff need to hear from when they're creating a training like this?
Anne Thurston 52:31
Myself - and others.
Leanne Mull 52:35
Yourself and other people with disabilities. Exactly right. And can you tell people one more time why it's so important for the, for other people with disabilities, to hear from you instead of just from staff?
Anne Thurston 52:57
Because I'm their peer as well. You know, how to explain it? I've been there. And we were going to try to communicate with a lot of questions, with a lot of - because, at times, you might have a staff member who might laugh at your questions, at times. And they'lll be saying, "Oh, you don't know what you're talking about," like a staff member will say, "You don't know what you're talking about." And "I don't want to talk about it, because I don't know what you're talking about."
Leanne Mull 53:46
Exactly right. Exactly right. The self-advocate, or peer educator, is the most important person in the room. Because I can talk all I want, right? And who do people ask questions to?
Anne Thurston 54:10
Leanne Mull 54:14
Or, you! No matter where we're presenting, whether, which we present a lot to staff, right?
Anne Thurston 54:23
Leanne Mull 54:24
They're not asking me questions.
Anne Thurston 54:26
They have to go to me.
Leanne Mull 54:27
They're asking you the questions because you live the life. Alright, anything else you want people to know before, before we say goodbye today?
Anne Thurston 54:42
That I know of, no.
Leanne Mull 54:44
That you know of, no.
Anne Thurston 54:47
No, not yet.
Leanne Mull 54:52
Okay . . .
Anne Thurston 54:53
I'm glad, I'm gonna say, I'm glad I had this baby. It was so great. Doing it with Leanne . . .
Leanne Mull 55:00
Oh, oh, doing the presentation?
Anne Thurston 55:07
Yes, this was a good baby for once.
Leanne Mull 55:09
Ah, okay. And like Linda said at the beginning, you were at the very beginning of this testifying at the meetings.
Anne Thurston 55:20
Leanne Mull 55:21
And now here we are three years later and you get to help teach people how to work with self-advocates and how to include people receiving services in everything that they do.
Anne Thurston 55:36
Okay, I'm glad I did it. Me too.
Leanne Mull 55:40
So we could call this slide "Anne and Leanne's different hair colors" because we like to change our hair color, depending on where we're going. In the upper right hand corner, we are in Tennessee speaking at a, an Employment Conference; lower right hand corner, we are presenting as a keynote at the Arc of Illinois Q Convention. Lower left, we are on a plane on our way to - where were we going?
Anne Thurston 56:24
Going to Cleveland, I think.
Leanne Mull 56:25
Goin' to Cleveland!
Anne Thurston 56:28
Oh, that was a fun trip!
Leanne Mull 56:30
Yep! And upper left, we are in Indianapolis. And those are just four of the places because you, you also have Speak Up, Speak Out every year, too.
Anne Thurston 56:41
Leanne Mull 56:43
So you got about 20 years of experience under your belt as a self-advocate.
Linda Sandman 56:50
So thank you, Anne and Leanne, for all that you do to help people understand that self-advocates have such an important voice for us to listen to. I'm really grateful for that and I'm grateful for you being part of this training today. Thank you.
Leanne Mull 57:13
Linda Sandman 57:14
So again, thank you, Leanne and Anne. It's such a privilege to have both of you participate in this training today. As we continue our discussion, we're going to turn our attention to three specific teaching strategies: Using a variety of formats, Paying attention to pacing, and Repeat, review and reinforce. As we look at these strategies, we'll continue to use examples from the WEAVE and Elevatus Training curriculum, focusing on the sex education topics of public versus private and consent.
This illustration includes a number of formats for teaching sex education: visual support, activities, role play videos, verbal instruction. Do these sound familiar? As you can see, these formats align with the different learning or processing styles that we discussed earlier in this training. One point that I'd like to emphasize here about the variety of formats is that they can be combined. Or you can approach information from multiple formats - the same idea from multiple formats. You could use visual supports to introduce a concept, and then use an activity to explore it further or break it down. You can supplement the same concept with a video or roleplay or use verbal instruction to rehearse the desired behavior. To quote Terri Couwenhoven again, "Repetitive messages from multiple sources is always a good thing."
Here are the images used in the handout from the Elevatus Training on public versus private that we referenced earlier. These images are paired with the words: Public means public places, public speech, and public ways we touch. Private means private places, private speech and private ways we touch. I like the way that this handout addresses other aspects of public and private rather than just the public and private areas of the body. This handout includes examples for each of these areas: public places, speech and the ways we touch for both public and private.
So here's a time again, as we've done in other modules where I want you to pause the recording and think about this question. What are some ways that you can incorporate visual supports verbal instruction, video or activity into this topic area of public and private?
For example, maybe you would just pick one area, as you think about this question from the handout - like public spaces, or maybe private speech, and think about the teaching strategy or format that you could use. If you're taking this training in a group, you can think about your answers and then maybe share with each other. So we'll just kind of pause for a little minute and give you a chance to do that.
Okay, welcome back. So here's some thoughts that I had about ways that you can use these different formats. Be creative. For example, you could use color. Many of the curricula will do things like use red and green and, and yellow as colors that are familiar to people. Red, meaning kind of stop. Green meaning go. Yellow meaning caution. And use this to talk about touching, public and private areas of the body. You might use the thumbs up and thumbs down symbols as another way and sometimes you can even pair color with that. You know, using green for thumbs up and red for thumbs down and talk about relationship behaviors that you would or could do in public versus behavior that would be kept in a private place.
Another thing you could do is use tape on the floor or on a mat to show different levels of intimacy of relationship and the types of touch or other behavior that's consistent with each level of intimacy, the Circles Curriculum, and others, use a series of concentric circles to show the different levels of intimacy. But I've also seen it with like, you know, using tape on the floor. You can also use an activity like this to show boundaries or personal space. How about using music? You could look at lyrics and talk about the meaning: healthy versus unhealthy relationships, self-advocacy, speaking up for yourself, advocating for your rights. There are many examples of where you can take songs and self-advocates will be able to suggest songs to you where you can pull out some of those kinds of messages. And, and, you know, music videos would be another, a way that you can even talk about kind of public and private areas. So, I hope that this kind of brainstorming of different ways that you can use the formats is helpful to you.
So here's an example of taking an actual lesson - it's part of the lesson on public versus private from the Elevatus Training - I took one of the activities from this lesson that's at the beginning, about putting name tags on and I used, I converted it into a video, very short video. And it's just another way to show using multiple formats. This is just a 22 second video. And it's, I used a free platform called Animaker to create this. So let's watch.
Welcome, where would you like to put your name tag? Oh, don't put it on your chest, put it on your arm instead?
What should I do?
It's my body, I decide what is right for me.
So there you have it. A very short video.
And I think since we are in a virtual environment, using a tool like that as a way to bring to life an, an area of the curriculum that you might not be able to do in person is something for you to consider.
So moving on, the next teaching strategy that we want to focus on is paying attention to pacing. By this I mean, how can we focus on breaking down the information into more understandable pieces? This can also help with processing new information. Building in time for people to think about the learning, to see how it applies to their lives is another, is another important element in pacing the sexuality education material. Not overloading too many ideas into the lesson fits well with this idea too. Keeping in mind that you want to emphasize the main points of a lesson and limiting that to maybe just a couple of ideas is really a great teaching strategy - and then come at those points from a variety of formats to help people remember the information and apply it. Let's take a look at some examples of how this can be done by looking at the topics of consent and public versus private.
The consent rules that you see here on this slide come from the WEAVE curriculum. I have changed one of these rules and added the context that we are talking about sexual activity. So for the change: this curriculum is, was developed in Michigan, where the age of consent is 16. In Illinois, the age of consent is 17 years old, so you can see that I changed the number and put it in bold in the fourth rule. And since we are talking about consent in terms of sexuality education, I have also added the word sexual activity to the heading "Five basic rules of consent." I wanted to point out these changes, since they will look different if you go to the WEAVE curriculum content on consent.
So now this slide reads, "Consent is another word for permission. The Five basic rules of consent for sexual activity, and it lists each of these dot points for a different rule of consent. I don't know about you, but this looks like a lot of words on the slide. And it would be kind of a complicated topic to, to teach.
So, I'm gonna ask you, if we think about pacing, and breaking things down - how could you break down these rules to engage people in thinking about consent? Thinking about the teaching strategies, thinking about the learning styles? How would you do that?
So again, pause the recording, and take a few minutes to think about this, maybe jot down your thoughts. If you're in a group, you can share it with other people in the group.
Okay, so the consent homework in the WEAVE curriculum workbook has an activity, which I included here. The three images that you see on this slide are paired with a text description. The instructions say to match the vocabulary words at the top of the slide: Trick, Bribe and Threat with the picture and description. So, in the image at the top of the slide, two people are facing each other. One is handing the other person some money, and the description says: Your bus driver, your bus driver says, "I will pay you $10 to take your shirt off." And then you would pick: Is this a trick, a bribe or a threat?
Based on what you have learned from this lesson on consent, this is a great example of how to break down the information from those five basic rules of consent.
So, like, if you look on this previous slide, this second dot point "Consent has to be free from coercion. Coercion means tricks, threats or bribes." So this activity takes one of those basic rules of consent, breaks it down, pairs it with images, and actual text description to help people think about what that actually means. And this is actually that, an activity that's in the consent homework from the WEAVE curriculum on that, that particular lesson. I think that this really incorporates various learning styles, the visual style is involved here. And it applies to their lives. Certainly, people can see this as an example. I think that it also can be paired if, if a helper is helping to read this out loud, it also kind of includes some verbal instruction. So you can see how various different teaching strategies and learning styles are involved in in this particular example.
In the Elevatus Training curriculum, the topic of consent is approached from another angle. On this slide, you can see some examples of statements that a person might make that represents lying, intimidation, or pressure to consent. I'll read one of these, the one in the middle: "You're such a baby, when are you going to grow up?" And then it tells you this statement is a statement where someone is intimidating the person to get what they want. That is not okay.
I love how this example gives you the words that someone would say and then the reason why it is not okay. And I think it's really important to put words to that. It's in plain language so that people can understand it. You could read these out loud, so people can kind of see how it works. You could have a different person, read the quote, and then a second person read the explanation of why it's not okay.
It's a great example again of breaking down information about consent to help an individual recognize what consent does not look like. It could also be illustrated with images, or perhaps a video. It could be spoken out loud. It brings in adult learning principles. It appeals to a variety of learning styles, both auditory, movement. It applies to their lives and gives individuals a chance to practice and rehearse. It's, it's developmentally and age appropriate.
So the third teaching strategy is repeat, review and reinforce. Remember that brainstorming activity from Elevatus Training that we talked about earlier? This activity is a good example of how you can break down a topic and then repeat, review and reinforce it. Looking at the topic of public places, public speech, and public, public ways to talk. I think that this slide really breaks things down in such a great way and, as we talked about previously, pairing it with different images that people can bring from their lives is a really great way to review and reinforce the learning.
So I'm going to ask you, how can you use multiple formats and learning styles for this activity, for this brainstorming activity to reinforce the learning? Again, write down some of your ideas, and talk about it with each other if you're taking this in a group.
So as I had mentioned, one of the ways to approach this is to take pictures of areas at the agency or group home or community. You can keep those pictures with the label "public" for use in both the group home or, or in the group, classroom setting where you're doing the sex education groups, or also at the particular location. And you can do the same thing for private. This gives a chance to repeat the learning and reinforces it in the real locations of people's lives. It appeals to the learning style of visual learners, movement, it makes it interactive. It's a, it's a really great strategy.
In lesson 12 of the WEAVE curriculum, that's where they address it - the lesson is titled "Female and male private body parts", but that is one of the lessons where they tackle the topic of public and private. The goals of the lesson are here on the slide: learn to identify female private body parts on a picture, a doll or the model (remember I talked about the anatomically correct models); learn to identify the male private body parts on a picture, doll or model; discuss private actions and public actions that relate to our bodies; and talk about personal hygiene as a self-care activity. This is a really great way to bring the learning into people's lives and to practice and reinforce.
Some of the tips in talking about sexual anatomy is to teach about it in the context of the whole body and use medically accurate terms, talk about the function simply and briefly, and introduce and repeat abuse prevention messages as you're doing this. So, I think that those are really important tips to keep in mind when you are working with parts of the body - whether it's through, you know, reproductive system model, or whether it's through one of these anatomically correct dolls, or through even a picture - that you talk about these using medically accurate, accurate terms, talk about the function simply and briefly, and introduce and repeat prevention messages when talking about anatomy.
So we're at the end of today's training module. You've now had part one and part two of "How to be a Sexuality Educator."
In Part One, which was Module Three, we talked about the skills of a sexuality educator, the information and knowledge that one needs to be a good sexuality educator, how to build in respect for all peoples in the education, and how to address both universal values, and personal values, and opinions, and kind of how to manage that, both in the group and for yourself personally.
Today, we talked about strategies for teaching sex education: what are some of those planning strategies, and we got to hear the perspective, from an agency that's very much involved in developing and trying to implement their sex education program. We heard from a self-advocate, Anne Thurston and Leanne, who worked together so closely over the years, to talk about how important it is to have self-advocates involved. Anne really shared that a self-advocate gets it because it's part of their life too. And they can, sometimes people will feel safer coming to them to ask questions. So I think those are such important points to remember.
And then we talked about teaching strategies, how to really work to make the materials inclusive, how to make sure it's developmentally appropriate and age appropriate, and how to bring in multiple formats and break the information down. So those are some of our key points.
You could have lesson after lesson after lesson on this topic. I encourage you for the different curriculums to turn to their Facilitator manuals, or preparation materials to help you think through the best teaching strategies.
And with this training, we've provided the handout that has many resources. You can find the curriculum reviews on the sex education curriculum webpage from the Department of Human Services. There are many tips for educators that are on the Elevatus Training website, as well as the curriculum Facilitator guide and workbook for WEAVE.
And I have more resources listed on that handout besides what you saw on that last slide, so please check it out. Stay tuned for our next training module on Trauma-informed sexuality education.
And as always, feel free to reach out to me or to Cynthia Schierl-Spreen from the Bureau of Quality Management with any questions. I know that Anne, Leanne and Necole asked me, that if you want to follow up with any of them, to feel free to reach out to me and I can connect you. So please jot down my contact information and feel free to reach out. Thank you so much for joining us today. And we'll see you back for the next module. Thanks!