We’d like to share some additional details and tools for those who couldn’t come to our November 27th event on healthy relationships and sexuality with Katie Thune. Our discussions surfaced a gap between people’s own experiences with sex ed growing up and what we hoped children would know about healthy sexuality and relationships. We hoped for less stigma and shame and for ongoing, consistent conversations rather than an awkward, one-time, get-it-over-with “talk.”
With her rich examples and concrete tools, Katie helped bridge this gap. The neutral language and visuals provided scaffolding for learning.
Scaffolding to structure and support conversations about sexuality and relationships:
- Public and Private Behaviors and Places: Katie categorized behavior in terms of public and private behaviors. She encouraged people to ask themselves three questions in considering whether a place is private: Does it belong to me? Can people see me? Am I alone? Quite simply, if the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then it’s a no go!
- Healthy and Unhealthy = Non-shaming, honest language. Katie pointed out that talking about behavior, body parts, or relationships as “good” and “bad” can bring about a sense of shame. Instead, “healthy” and “unhealthy” are more neutral words that guide us toward understanding ourselves and our needs as well as others’ needs in relationships and in shared spaces.
- Keep Sight of the Heart of Relationships. An intuitive and powerful visual (below, shared with permission) of what constitutes a healthy relationship, Katie’s Heart of Relationships model is a reference point for parents and kids to recognize and discuss healthy and unhealthy relationships. How do each person’s behaviors map onto the pieces of a healthy relationship? Take time to identify and discuss unhealthy and healthy behaviors.
Use these ideas and concepts in social stories and role plays (only modeling appropriate behaviors), in developing plans with individuals and teams, and in crafting clear rules. Repetition and consistency are key and remember to debrief incidences in non-reactive/non-shaming ways to utilize these social learning opportunities.
Finally, here are a few books that align well with Katie’s teachings:
• It’s So Amazing!; It’s Not the Stork!; and It’s Perfectly Normal! (All by Robie H. Harris)
• Listening to My Body and Listening to My Heart (Both by Gabi Garcia). Katie mentioned this book for guiding children to read, interpret, and respond to their own intuitive signals.
• No Means No; My Body, What I Say Goes; and Let’s Talk about Body Boundaries, Consent, and Respect (All by Jayneen Sanders).
Katie welcomes questions and shares videos, resources, and more book suggestions on her website, www.sexualityforallabilities.com.