DOE: Sex conference pamphlets ‘not appropriate’

Audio tape captures keynote speaker discussing fetishes, oral sex

Some of the handouts at the Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference in 2014 (KOIN 6 News, file)
Some of the handouts at the Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference in 2014 (KOIN 6 News, file)

SEASIDE, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference has been taking place for more than 20 years. But after a KOIN 6 News investigation in 2014, questions arose about the content provided to the teens and tweens in attendance.

The Oregon Department of Education now admits the pamphlets were “not appropriate for school age students,” but the overall presentations were OK.

Audio from 2014 conference

A picture of Cory Silverberg attached to an audio of his 2014 presentation at the Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference and posted to YouTube.
A picture of Cory Silverberg attached to an audio of his 2014 presentation at the Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference and posted to YouTube.

Audio recorded by an attendee at last year’s conference during keynote speaker Cory Silverberg’s presentation was given to KOIN 6 News.

Silverberg’s educational presentation is over an hour long and focuses on sex and technology, experimenting with fetishes by creating avatars. Students learn about the interactive adult porn site VirtualFem.

On the audio tape, Silverberg is heard saying:

— “You see the film of the oral sex scene.”
— “The pornographers have filmed different women. You go onto the website, you can choose your woman.”
— “This person is engaging in pony play”
— “This avatar human is wearing the kind of gear that you can go into a leather store and buy. It’s basically like giant hooves.”

KOIN 6 News has emailed Silverberg on these issues but has not yet received a reply.

Following KOIN 6 News investigation

Rob Saxton with the Oregon Department of Education sent a letter to school superintendents about the conference. A copy was provided to KOIN 6 News by one superintendent:

“We have reviewed the content delivered by the presenters at the conference and believe their information was appropriate. There have been reports this was not the case, but we found that the reports made about the presentation of inappropriate materials were based on events that did not actually take place.”

Saxton and his staff declined multiple interview requests from KOIN 6 News, but he answered a few questions when he was seen at the Capitol.

An excerpt from a pamphlet handed out at the Oregon Adolescent Sex Conference in 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
An excerpt from a pamphlet handed out at the Oregon Adolescent Sex Conference in 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Asked if he thought it was appropriate to take kids to a cybersex website where they pretend to be ponies, Saxton said that didn’t happen.

“I don’t believe there was anyone who took anyone to a cybersex site in the story you’re talking about,” he said. “I think you have some audio that doesn’t show that. I think what you have is a presenter who is saying here are some negative websites that you wouldn’t want your child to go to.”

What a student attendee said

A student who attended the 2014 Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference disagreed with Saxton.

“It had nothing to do with, ‘Oh maybe this is not a good idea, don’t do it.’ It was all about here’s exactly how to do it and here’s some websites that you can go to and here’s the different kinds of sex toys you can use,” the student said. “It was nothing about warning people this is a bad idea or maybe not good for minors. It was all about how to do it, and there’s no confusing that fact.”

Though Saxton found nothing wrong with the content of the presentations, he did determine the pamphlets “were not appropriate for school age students.”

The material encourages cyber- and phone sex and suggests bathing together, shaving each other, wearing each other’s underwear, role playing and strip tease.

What lawmakers now say

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)

Some state lawmakers are now calling for an investigation into why the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority would back this type of conference for minors.

“There are other state senators along with myself who believe that they need to testify before education and health care committees, both of which I serve on, and to explain themselves about some of the pornographic websites and material that they were showing kids as young as 11,” said State Sen. Tim Knopp.

In a letter to KOIN 6 News, Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin expressed concerns about the conference.

“The Sheriff’s Office will continue to monitor the activities surrounding the sex conference in Seaside to make sure no illegal activity occurs. Hopefully after Oregonians viewed the story on KOIN, they now have a better sense of what was truly being taught and they simply will not send their children to this state sponsored debacle,” Bergin wrote.

Saxton said there are going to be changes to the conference if the DOE is going to be involved.

“If we’re going to continue to participate in the planning we need to make sure that any resources that they are going to hand out we have the right to review before before they get handed to anybody at the conference, that they can be handed out to children,” Saxton said.

“We have the right to review anyone who would present at the conference and make sure we think it’s appropriate. So we’ve put in those stipulations if we’re going to participate in the planning, and at this point in time I’m not sure if we are or not.”

Board members with the Oregon Teen Pregnancy Task Force declined to comment on this story.

The 2014 keynote speaker, Cory Silverberg, has not returned calls from KOIN 6 News seeking comment.

While most school districts are not sending students this year, registration forms and flyers for the conference are showing up at the some of the 68 school-based health centers throughout the state.

This year’s conference is scheduled for April 13-14, 2015.

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