On May 27, the National Coalition to Support Sexuality Education (NCSSE) came together for its biannual meeting at the National Education Association in Washington, DC. The day-long meeting brought in preeminent education advocates and professionals from throughout the nation to share information about important developments in comprehensive sexuality education at the international, federal, and state level. NCSSE is convened by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) and consists of a broad constituency of over 140 national organizations ranging from health care professionals to religious leaders dedicated to advancing medically accurate, age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education for all people.
The meeting featured one of the nation’s top political forecasters, Amy Walter, editor-in-chief of The Hotline, who made a repeat appearance at NCSSE to discuss the upcoming presidential and congressional elections. Pam Chamberlain, senior researcher, Political Research Associates, SIECUS’ Information Coordinator Maxwell Ciardullo, and Amanda Robb, a journalist and author, discussed developments of the abstinence-only-until-marriage movement in America. Pam shared with the coalition information of key government officials and government programs that support and advocate for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Maxwell reported on the changing face of the opposition to comprehensive sexuality education in America. And, Amanda gave a historical overview of abstinence-only-until-marriage advocacy and talked about her upcoming book
State advocates Adrienne Kimmell, executive director of Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, SIECUS' Kate Morrison, state policy coordinator, and Kathie Hiers, CEO of AIDS Alabama, presented information on support for comprehensive sexuality education in the states and the need for a comprehensive sexuality education that addresses HIV/AIDS. Adrienne discussed the Florida state campaign for improved sexuality education that succeeded in getting comprehensive sexuality education through the Florida Healthy Teens Act. Kate presented on an overview of the state funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and some recent state moves in rejecting the funding.
Jessica McNiece, staff member from the Committee on Energy and Commerce, United States House of Representatives, along with Bill Smith, vice president for public policy, at SIECUS, gave a federal policy update on appropriations, germane legislation to comprehensive sexuality education, and the various federal funding streams for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
Finally on the international front, Jamila Taylor, legislative and policy analyst, Center for Health and Gender Equity, discussed the current reauthorization of PEPFAR. SIECUS' Ariana Grebe, international policy associate, discussed the current state of sexuality education in a PEPFAR-recipient country, Zambia. In addition, Ariana presented on the weaknesses and suggested improvements of PEPFAR using Zambia as a case-study.
A new addition to this year’s NCSSE meeting was an interactive small-group work session on brainstorming about the future of sexuality education (FOSE) lead by Danene Sorace, a prominent sexuality education consultant and former director of Answer, Rutgers University. The FOSE project is being spearheaded by SIECUS, Advocates for Youth, and Answer, and is bringing together the best thinking on sex education from across the country to arrive at a shared vision of what needs to be done to secure comprehensive sexuality education in the future.
To learn more about NCSSE, please visit www.ncsse.org. The website’s content is currently being updated but much of the site contains useful information about the coalition. NCSSE is also scheduled to reconvene later this year in the fall for its concluding biannual meeting in New York City.