Shrink and sexpert Dr. David Reuben wrote bestseller Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) in 1969. Although American culture is admittedly less afraid to ask about this hot topic these days, there is still plenty of resistance to honest, comprehensive sex education. You only need to look at abstinence-only health classes, school dress code policies that shame girls’ bodies and religious freedom laws that allow businesses to deprive employees of birth control to see that there’s still a lot of work to do when it comes to the S-E-X talk.
That’s where Beer & Bands for Better Sex Ed comes in. Presented by Planned Parenthood New Mexico as a fundraiser benefiting the Responsible Sex Education Institute, the event kicks off Saturday, May 16, at Tractor Brewing Wells Park (1800 Fourth Street NW). The Alibi spoke with Lalita Russ, PPNM’s field organizing specialist, about the event, its importance in New Mexico and why sex ed neither starts—nor stops—in sixth grade.
Hosted by Erica Viking of Coyote 102.5 FM, the evening's lineup includes local groups Lindy Vision, Merican Slang and Beard. Russ explained that "we wanted to include local bands, and all three have been excited about the cause."
Russ says the fundraiser will be "a super fun way for fans of beer, music and sex education to support a great cause, featuring games, food trucks, raffle prizes and a photo op with a special surprise Planned Parenthood guest. Event goers may even learn something new if they join in sex trivia games." Russ said.
Russ feels that New Mexico youth don’t have access to responsible education, which she describes as “developmentally appropriate, medically accurate and comprehensive. It gives young people the tools to make their own informed decisions about their sexual health.”
Russ describes the event as "an opportunity to continue conversations about comprehensive sex education in our state and the difficulty in accessing such education for many young people." Russ feels that New Mexico youth don’t have access to responsible education, which she describes as “developmentally appropriate, medically accurate and comprehensive. It gives young people the tools to make their own informed decisions about their sexual health.”
That’s the motivation behind the Responsible Sex Education Institute, Planned Parenthood’s sex education program. Russ says, “responsible sex education is very important in New Mexico, which has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the nation but does not have good resources in place for teen parents. Because of that deficit, teen parents face issues that can impact their lives in the long term.
“Comprehensive sex education boosts confidence and high school graduation rates, and reduces risky sexual behaviors for young people,” Russ continued.
Most of the time our culture assumes that “young people” equals tweens on the cusp of adolescence—and all of the resultant hormonal chaos that accompanies that. At what age would Russ suggest parents and/or educators start to teach kids about ideas like consent, permission, respect, safety and boundaries? “Parents and trusted adults begin having conversations about boundaries and respect early on—consider the conversation with kids about strangers,” Russ said. “These conversations are ongoing. Consent, safety and respect relate to many parts of a child’s life. Adults should answer young people’s questions when they come up and can use Planned Parenthood’s website as a resource for how to have these conversations.”
When asked if adults could also benefit from ongoing sex education, Russ replies, "Sex education is absolutely a lifelong educational pursuit. Adults having these conversations can keep up to date on information and resources." Russ suggests that adults eager to learn more "can also find resources like Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center, a partner in Beer and Bands."