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It looks like remote learning is coming backat least on some level—for many families in Illinois. The sudden shift to at-home learning in the spring left many parents and guardians scrambling to remember how to diagram a sentence, solve for x, and name the state capitals. Now, as another school year draws near, adults are being called on again to pick up extra teaching duties from home.

In the scramble to cover the fundamentals, an important subject may get put on the back burner: sex ed. But it doesn’t have to. 

This month, Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) is launching a free, virtual education series called Real Talk: Creating Healthy Conversations with Young People. Designed for parents, guardians, and other trusted adults, Real Talk is designed to help you feel comfortable discussing tricky subjects with the young folks in your life.

You’ve all seen those scenes in movies and TV shows. A parent sits down with a child or teen to have “the talk.” After five or ten pained and awkward minutes, the parent leaves the room satisfied that sex ed is complete, while the camera pans to a confused or mortified teenager, who then goes to their friends or the internet to get the real story about sex.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, it shouldn’t be this way. What many of us were raised to think of as ‘the talk’ should really be an ongoing conversation that starts early and continues into young adulthood. Thankfully, PPIL’s education team is here to help.

Each week, Real Talk will cover a new topic related to human sexuality and aim to equip you with the tools you need to start--and continue--these important conversations with the young people in your life. We’ll cover a wide range of topics, including sex and reproduction, gender identity, sexually explicit materials, and more. 

We know families have a lot on their plates right now, so you can choose: join us for all seven weeks or just pop in for the topics that interest you most. 

Real Talk is being offered via Zoom on Tuesday evenings, starting August 11. Registration for the first three sessions is open now:

  • August 11: Sexuality Is More Than Just Sex

  • August 18: Navigating Tricky Topics and Answering Tough Questions

  • August 25: Talking to Young People About Consent

  • September 1: Talking to Young People About Gender & Sexual Identity

  • September 8: Talking to Young People About Birth Control

  • September 15: Talking to Young People About Sexually Transmitted Infections

  • September 22: Talking to Young People About Sexually Explicit Materials

In the meantime, here are some quick tips every adult can to do make at-home sex ed easier and more natural for everyone involved:

  1. Let go of the idea that sex ed can done with a single talk. Instead, embrace teachable moments and create a safe and comfortable environment to discuss sexuality with children over time. 
  2. Recognize & embrace teachable moments. These are those magical moments that come up naturally and offer an opportunity to talk to your child about sexuality, without having to awkwardly declare “hey, let’s talk about sex!” Watching TV, seeing advertisements, listening to music, browsing social media, and talking with friends are family are all moments where conversations can spring up naturally. It’s as easy as asking, “What did you think about….?” This open-ended question gives a child or teen the chance to share their thoughts and feel heard.

Eager to learn more? We hope you’ll join us for Real Talk! Learn more and register for upcoming sessions at bit.ly/ppil-education.

Tags: education, parenting, sex-education, sex-ed