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Educators Launch Sex Education Workshop for Sonoma County Youth

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Educators Launch Sex Education Workshop for Sonoma County Youth 

While Governor Jerry Brown was busy making sex education history, two Sonoma County natives were already busy planning a sex education workshop series for local teens. Their budding organization, called Iris: Sex Education, intends to set the standard for what sex education looks like in wine country and beyond. 

Gov. Brown recently signed the nation’s first consent bill, SB 695, which mandates all school districts that make health class a graduation requirement include lessons about consent. Yet, while this seems appealing to liberal Sonoma County, the region has faced heated controversy over what public sex education should and should not include. 

Eight years ago Sonoma County was a battleground between abstinence-only advocates and those who believed teens needed more to navigate human sexuality. At the time, Free to Be dominated school auditoriums, pushing a “wait until marriage” message and dissuading teens from even considering contraception and safe-sex practices. 

However, the ACLU of Northern California released a 2006 report tipping the scale in favor of comprehensive sex education, or sex education that includes lessons about consent, contraception, and abortion in addition to those about STDs and abstinence. Their analysis found that 65% of comprehensive sex education curricula “had a significant impact on one or more sexual behaviors, such as delaying the initiation of sex, increasing condom use, and reducing sexual risk-taking.”

Alternatively, abstinence-only programs like Free to Be were found in 2007 to have had “no effect at all on students’ sexual behavior.” In fact, because Free to Be included so many medical inaccuracies and biases about sex and contraception, it was banned from Sonoma County. 

Bianca Licata and Dante Carlozzi, both graduates from local high schools, recognized Sonoma County’s need for sex education that is not only comprehensive, but also interesting, relevant, and accessible for teens. Licata, a local high school teacher with a Master’s in Teaching, and Carlozzi, a recent UCSC magna cumme laude graduate with a Bachelor’s in both Psychology and Sociology, combined their backgrounds to create Iris. 

Their mission is simple and practical: Provide youth with the confidence to make thoughtful decisions about sex; feel secure about their sexuality and gender, and respect others’; and, clearly communicate their wants and needs in order to foster healthy relationships.  

Their first of many workshops, “Basics of Sex Education”, covers crucial elements of human sexuality: sexual anatomy, pregnancy, STDs, consent, rape culture, gender identities, and sexuality. The course caters to teens ages 13 to 17, and will run September 3, 4, 10, and 11 at the Steele Lane Community Center in Santa Rosa from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For curriculum and registration details, visit IrisSexEducation.com, or email Licata and Carlozzi at admin@irissexeducation.com.

To help launch their program, check out their GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/irissonomacounty