You’ve heard it from us, and if you work as an educator, you’ll likely hear it again: beware of sharing personal values with your students. As sex educators, it’s something we are mindful of all the time. In many contexts, it’s helpful advice. For example, say a student asks you what the best birth control method is. It might be more helpful to answer this question with neutral facts instead of giving your opinion and unintentionally swaying a student towards one method or another.
However, when it comes to human rights, neutrality becomes dangerous. Objectivity becomes an illusion that at best is complicit in upholding the myth of white supremacy and at worst paves the way for harmful consequences. Everything we do as educators sends a message to our students, including what we choose not to acknowledge. Are we, for example, choosing to acknowledge the historical and current violence against Black people by the police? Are we examining how the legacy of white supremacy has affected the way that we teach sex education today?
At RSEI, we have a spotty track record of intentionally thinking about whose voices we are uplifting and how we are doing the internal work to make sure we, as educators, are not contributing to a culture of white supremacy. Additionally, we operate within Planned Parenthood, an organization that seeks to provide accessible and affordable sexual health care while at the same time living with the legacy of its white supremacist origins (sign up for our free July webinar on the racial history of birth control for more info). We know that self-reflection is a long-overdue necessity for us.
As the Black Lives Matter movement comes again to the forefront of our consciousness with a momentum that we haven’t seen in a long time, we are seeing people take on different roles to help defend Black lives. We wanted to use this blog to give sex educators, ourselves included, a starting point for reflecting on how we can incorporate anti-racist work into our teaching. To do this, we have provided reflection questions below along with resources that are relevant to our role as educators. Each prompt is meant to be a starting point for self-reflection, and the resources that follow are tools to help us further reflect on the prompt.
Prompt 1: How does what we say or do in the classroom uphold white supremacy?
- A Tough Pill To Swallow: The Racist Foundations of the Birth Control Movement
- The Bias of Professionalism Standards
Prompt 2: In what ways do we as educators hold power? And how can we use that power for good?
Prompt 3: How can we unlearn the implicit biases that we have?
Prompt 4: For white people and non-Black people of color: how do our racial identities afford us privilege?
- Non-Black People Of Color Need To Start Having Conversations About The Anti-Blackness In Our Communities
- What is White Privilege, Really?
- Who Gets to Be Afraid In America?
We hope that these resources are a helpful starting point. While we are choosing to highlight anti-racist work today, we know that this work did not start nor does it end here. Today and always, sex educators must seek to actively dismantle white supremacy. We want to hear how working through these prompts goes for you – whether you’re doing it on your own or as part of a team, text SEXED to 57890 or email us at Professional.Development@pprm.org to keep the conversation going!