Does sex ed conference for students go too far?

Some question material taught at annual adolescent sex conference in Seaside

One of the handouts at the Adolescent Sexuality Conference held in Seaside, April 7-8, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
One of the handouts at the Adolescent Sexuality Conference held in Seaside, April 7-8, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

SEASIDE, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Students as young as 11 from across the state have been attending a sex conference held in Seaside, Oregon, for the past 20 years.

Taxpayers’ money is used to fund the program, which is meant to promote safe sex and prevent teen pregnancy. However, a KOIN 6 Investigation uncovered that there’s a good chance the parents who signed permission slips in order for their children to attend have no clue what is really being taught behind closed doors.

Part of the lesson plan at a workshop at the Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference is an adult website called Virtual Fem. In addition to the content from that website, numerous handouts, such as one that encourages cyber and phone sex, have been passed out to high school and middle school students in attendance.

One of the handouts at the Adolescent Sexuality Conference held in Seaside, April 7-8, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
One of the handouts at the Adolescent Sexuality Conference held in Seaside, April 7-8, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

The pamphlets go on to suggest other ways students can engage in intimate activities without going all the way, including bathing together, shaving each other, wearing each other’s underwear, role playing, buying an extra-large pair of pajama bottoms to sleep in together, lap dances and strip teases.

Another workshop at the conference focuses on how to pleasure someone else over the Internet.

“Teledildonics basically refers to the control of sex toys over the Internet; the remote use of sex toys,” said keynote speaker Cory Silverberg in an audiotape obtained by KOIN 6 News after the conference from an attendee.

Conference director

When confronted about the graphic content, the conference’s director, Brad Victor, declined to comment about one session in particular about performing sex acts over Skype and whether those sessions could potentially be recorded and used against a student later.

“Is this interview going down this line the whole time? If it is, I’m walking out. I’m serious about this,” said Victor.

The Adolescent Sexuality Conference director Brad Victor, October 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
The Adolescent Sexuality Conference director Brad Victor, October 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Victor, a spokesperson and director for Teen Pregnancy Task Force, the organizer of the conference, is partially paid with state funds to put on the program in Seaside.

While he refused to answer KOIN 6’s questions, a student, who wanted to remain anonymous, spoke about what she saw during the conference, calling it shocking.

“I felt really just horrified and unsettled by it all,” she said.

While there was a session on learning how to put on a condom and make a dental dam, a workshop where the speaker brought students to a porn website and taught them to program virtual women really upset the student.

“When you press a certain command, it tells her to perform various sexual acts, um, and so that was very disturbing,” she said.

Audio of keynote speaker Silverberg giving detailed directions on how to make an avatar for virtual sex.

“You can program her to do whatever you want to say, if you don’t want to say, ‘give me a blow job or something,” said Silverberg.

Teachers and parents

This conference isn’t just for students. Teachers, school district healthcare workers and school board members, including Lisa Maloney, have also attended.

Maloney was not representing the St. Helens School District, but she said she was concerned by what she witnessed.

One of the handouts at the Adolescent Sexuality Conference held in Seaside, April 7-8, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
One of the handouts at the Adolescent Sexuality Conference held in Seaside, April 7-8, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

“All kinds of speakers about Internet porn, using Internet sex toys, using meth as is shown in this book for when you’re engaging in sex. It encourages using meth because it helps your sexual drive and what not in here,” said Maloney. “It says in this booklet that was handed out and given out to all young people.”

Indeed, a section of the handout Maloney referred to read: “Meth is widely used for a million reasons to have lots of sex with lots of partners for long periods.”

Lori Porter, a concerned mother, also showed other pamphlets distributed during the conference titled “Dry Humping Saves Lives” and “How to Get Your Groove on Fluid Free.” Another gave tips on masturbation.

“Watch porn, lube, do it in front of a mirror, do it while someone else is watching,” said Porter.

Still, Victor defended the material and said it is not censored.

“The material passed out at this conference is dedicated to preventing teen pregnancy, preventing STD’s and also developing healthy relationships,” said Victor.

When asked whether he thought the suggestions given in the pamphlets prevent teen sex, Victor refused to comment.

“I’m not going to address that question. That question is inappropriate,” he said.

The Adolescent Sexuality Conference was held in Seaside, April 7-8, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
The Adolescent Sexuality Conference was held in Seaside, April 7-8, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

State agencies

Victor has two state agencies supporting him and the conference. On the conference website they list the Oregon Health Authority as a sponsor of the conference. A public information request revealed the Oregon Health Authority has spent more than $1000 of taxpayer money for the 2013 and 2014 conferences, according to OHA. That money was spent for staff members to attend the conference.

The Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference website also lists the Oregon Department of Education on their steering committee. A public information request revealed ODE has paid Victor more than $800 since 2013. That money is in addition to the more than $4,000 Victor received from the federal government since 2013, the Oregon Department of Education says that money goes to his work supporting districts with aligning instruction to state standards. However, Victor is mostly paid by Wise, a private grant from a private foundation, for working to institutionalize sex education.

Superintendents

KOIN reached out to 16 school district superintendents listed as possibly having students at the conference. Of those contacted by KOIN 6 News, 10 said they were unaware such material was being taught.

Of the 10 superintendents, Newberg School District Superintendent Dr. Kym LeBlanc Esparza was the only one who agreed to speak on the record. When she saw some of the handouts she was clearly discouraged.

“This is garbage, so that’s disappointing,” said LeBlanc Esparza.

Material from the conference shown to her, she said, was a far cry from what she was told would be at the two-day program.

“It’s fascinating because of the documentation that comes out of the Oregon Department of Ed and that comes out of the programs, (that) the organizations put out speak specifically to addressing at-risk kids questions and things to help them make good healthy decisions,” said LeBlanc Esparza.

One of the handouts at the Adolescent Sexuality Conference held in Seaside, April 7-8, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
One of the handouts at the Adolescent Sexuality Conference held in Seaside, April 7-8, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Wise, the grant behind the conference, also provides the sex education curriculum for the same 16 Oregon school districts who attend the annual conference.

“The individuals are able to take this professional development opportunity back to their workplace,” said Victor.

Some are concerned it is working too well.

In the Wise curriculum, sixth grade students are asked, “How do people express their sexual feelings?” The answers they’re given to choose from include anal sex, oral sex and sexual fantasy.

Concerned parents say it’s too much too soon.

“If it was an adult sex conference, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, but this is directed to adolescents. We want them to be safe,” said concerned mother Lori Porter.

The next conference

To receive the WISE funding, school districts must attend one of three conferences. So far Woodburn, SKSD, Paisley, Pleasant Hill, Cascade, Clatskanie, Warrenton-Hammond school districts have not turned in the paperwork to attend any of the conferences or to take part in the WISE program at all.

Gervais, Sherwood, Sheridan, Willamina, Bethel, Corvallis, St. Helens, and Sisters have sent in their paperwork to attend this upcoming year. However, when KOIN 6 News contacted St. Helens school superintendent Mark Davalos, he said students will not be attending the conference in the future. On Thursday, the Sherwood district told KOIN 6 News they would not attend.

The Newberg superintendent said the school district will not be sending students. If they go their parents will be taking them, not the school.

“If it’s going to take the route of giving kids information that suddenly our families and our communities are uncomfortable with we’ll have a conversation about what that means for us,” said LeBlanc-Esparza.

The Sheridan superintendent told KOIN 6 News Wednesday the investigation raised serious concerns about the conference and the district is re-thinking its involvement.

The superintendent in Woodburn also contacted KOIN 6 News and said their students will not be attending the conference.

In late November, Gervais schools contacted KOIN 6 News and said they will not attend.

A total of 7 of the 16 Oregon school districts will not be participating in the conference next April.

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