“Sex and relationships are integral parts of our humanity. I’m excited to partner with Planned Parenthood educators to continue innovating the delivery of sex education through evolving approaches and new technologies — while centering the needs of the diverse people we serve and all the identities they hold.”
New York, NY — Planned Parenthood Federation of America is thrilled to welcome Dr. Sara C. Flowers as the organization’s new Vice President of Education.
Most recently, Dr. Flowers was Director of Youth Initiatives for Love Heals Center for Youth & Families at GMHC. In this role, she expanded existing and launched new programs, as well as oversaw sex education and leadership program curriculum development and revision. She also coordinated quantitative and qualitative program evaluation and reporting; cultivated and maintained community partnerships; and hired, trained, and managed staff and a freelance health education team. Concurrently, Dr. Flowers was an adjunct assistant professor for York College, CUNY while serving a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow for the college’s Collaborative Research Group on Health Policy & Promotion + the UrbanHealth Lab.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Flowers to the team,” said Kim Custer, Executive Vice President of Health Care, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Sara brings not only passion for Planned Parenthood’s mission but a broad range of understanding and expertise to this role, including extensive experience working with organizations on strategy, program and curriculum development, and direct delivery, at a critical time for sex education in this country. Her experience and vision will help drive Planned Parenthood’s sex education work forward into our next 100 years.”
Dr. Flowers’ passion for sex education began as a high school student, when she led the Annual AIDS Awareness Day for her peers at Spring Valley Senior High School in the late 1990s. Since then, she has written, implemented, and evaluated sex education programs and curricula for Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, The George Washington University Student Health Service, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, and Cornell University Cooperative Extension — New York City.
Dr. Flowers joins Planned Parenthood at a critical time. A national survey released earlier this year showed that a significant majority of likely voters support sex education in middle and high schools, as well as federal funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs for young people. The survey found very little support among likely voters for programs that focus exclusively on abstinence only until marriage.
Unfortunately, fewer young people than ever are getting any sex education at all — or they’re getting ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs — and the Trump-Pence administration is actively working to make sex education in the U.S. worse instead of better. At the federal level, the administration has attacked evidence-based approaches to sex education, illegally shortening the grants for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP), which has been shown to help young people postpone sex and use birth control when they do become sexually active. They also announced in two Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) that they plan to radically remake the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) to push ineffective — and harmful — abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
“Sex and relationships are integral parts of our humanity — and sex education is a central component of human development, relevant to everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” said Dr. Flowers. “Right now, it’s more important than ever that we respond to the evolving needs of young people and ensure that they have access to sex education that’s inclusive of all people, sex-positive, shame-free, and skills-based. Planned Parenthood is uniquely positioned to provide sex education and information to millions of people — online and face-to-face in schools and communities — and to respond to the unique needs of the diverse audiences across these spaces. I’m excited to partner with Planned Parenthood educators to continue innovating the delivery of sex education through evolving approaches and new technologies, grounded in behavior change theory and rooted in an intersectional framework — while centering the needs of the diverse people we serve and all the identities they hold.”
As the nation’s largest provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood provides expert information, resources, and guidance for parents, caregivers, and young people, both online and in communities across the country. Every year, Planned Parenthood provides sex education programs and outreach to 1.5 million people in schools and communities across the country.
Today’s technology also makes it possible to reach young people who aren’t receiving enough sex education in schools, and can help to supplement the education that young people are receiving. Planned Parenthood is always looking for innovative ways to meet young people where they are to help them navigate decision-making about sex and relationships, and help them stay safe and healthy.
- Planned Parenthood provides accurate, nonjudgmental information on our Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages, and Planned Parenthood websites in English and Spanish receive more than 73 million visits in a year.
- Planned Parenthood’s Chat/Text program allows young people to have live conversations with trained educators via instant message or texts, reaching them with critical information about sexual health when they are in need of fast, confidential help. It is the largest digital sex education program in the country.
- We’ve had more than one million conversations since the Chat/Text program started, and research has found that Chat/Text has led to increased health center visits, greater use of condoms in addition to another method of birth control (“dual use”), and increased knowledge of and interest in IUDs and implants, the most effective birth control methods for preventing pregnancy.
- Planned Parenthood offers interactive digital tools designed to help middle- and high school-aged young people build decision-making skills around relationships to prevent both unintended pregnancy and STIs, and to help them stay safe and healthy — including helping teens set goals around if/when having children fits into their life plan, resisting peer pressure to have sex, drink, or use drugs, and learning about birth control methods when they are thinking about becoming sexually active.
- Planned Parenthood’s growing library of YouTube videos model healthy communication for young people. The library includes Consent 101, a Webby Award-winning video series designed to help young people have conversations about consent, and a series showing how to talk about safer sex, getting tested for STIs, and disclosing an STI.
“Sex education helps young people develop the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions about their relationships, their health, and their future,” said Dr. Flowers. “It’s more than learning about birth control and sexually transmitted infections. Ideally, sex education should address healthy relationships, decision-making and peer pressure, abstinence, communication skills, consent, gender identity and sexual orientation, body image, and media literacy and critical thinking. Sex education is a powerful tool that not only improves the lives of young people, but also helps dismantle deeply rooted health inequities experienced by people facing systemic obstacles to health care access, including communities of color, LGBTQ+ folks, and people with low incomes. I’m proud to be joining Planned Parenthood at this critical juncture.”
Dr. Flowers has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF).Today, she serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). She is also an active member of Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN), a trainer on emotional intelligence with Equilibrium Dynamics in San Francisco, and a published author. Her most recent publication is “Enacting Our Multidimensional Power: Black Women Sex Educators Demonstrate the Value of an Intersectional Sexuality Education Framework” (2018).
Dr. Flowers holds a Doctorate in Public Health from The Graduate School and University
Center, CUNY, as well as a BA in Psychology and a Master of Public Health degree, both from George Washington University.
Planned Parenthood wants all people to have the information and resources to make healthy decisions about their bodies, their families, and their futures. For over 100 years, the organization has helped educate people about their bodies and health. For more information about sexual health and sex education, or to make an appointment at a health center near you, visit plannedparenthood.org.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.