Response to Recent KOIN News Coverage of Conference

The Oregon Teen Pregnancy Task Force (OTPTF) is the fiscal sponsor of the Adolescent Sexuality Conference (ASC) which addresses a broad range of issues that influence how adolescents deal with their sexuality. The conference promotes community-wide awareness and encourages exchange of ideas across many disciplines.

The mission of the Oregon Teen Pregnancy Task Force is to facilitate communication and awareness about teen pregnancy prevention and teen parenting.

OTPTF provides the following in response to a story on the Adolescent Sexuality Conference aired on KOIN TV (Tuesday, November 18).

Conference content is aligned with Oregon’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education requirements which state: “All human sexuality education programs shall emphasize that abstinence from sexual intercourse, when practiced consistently and correctly, is the only method that is 100 percent effective against unintended pregnancy, HIV infection (when transmitted sexually), hepatitis B/C infection, and other sexually transmitted diseases. Abstinence is to be stressed, but not to the exclusion of other methods for preventing unintended pregnancy, HIV infection, sexually transmitted diseases, and hepatitis B/C. Such courses are to acknowledge the value of abstinence while not devaluing or ignoring those students who have had or are having sexual relationships. Further, sexuality education materials, instructional strategies, and activities must not, in any way, use shame or fear based tactics.”

It is unfortunate that the KOIN report took conference material out of context, spliced in pictures of a pornographic nature that were not shown at the conference into their report, and used fear and shame in their reporting. If the reporter would have fully investigated the conference, she would have found that there was a keynote speaker on abstinence, that many conference sessions addressed healthy relationship skills and that youth-adult communication was discussed in many conference sessions. The complete 2014 conference agenda can be found here: http://oregon-asc.org/2014-conference

In a full investigation, the reporter would have discovered that many of the materials highlighted in her story were not distributed to all conference participants nor are those materials designed for or provided for classroom use. The materials are not endorsed by OTPTF.

The ASC provides a forum for open and honest conversation about sexuality. To that end, the conference does not avoid more sensitive topics such as pornography, to which youth have ready access. Having discussions about pornography includes sharing information about such material being illegal.   The conference does not give directives around what youth should or should not do. It provides information for youth to critically decide for themselves. We hope that youth who attend will leave understanding that they have choices they can make – and some of those choices can have negative consequences. We hope that adults who attend will leave with more information about what youth are exposed to in their lives.

About 25% of our conference participants are youth. Minors are required to have an adult chaperone.

OTPTF supports parents’ rights to find out what sexual health education curriculum looks like in their district. There is no mandated state curriculum for sexual health education. Districts select curriculum that aligns with the law and the needs of their students. OTPTF also supports a parent’s right to opt their child out of sexual health education.

We are displeased with the nature and content of KOIN TV’s unbalanced coverage of the Adolescent Sexuality Conference. Conference planning for 2015 continues and the conference committee is working to provide another two-days of keynotes and workshops that increase participants’ knowledge of sexual health and provide skill-building opportunities that ultimately lead to healthy relationships.

The Oregon Teen Pregnancy Task Force would like to thank the city of Seaside, the Seaside Conference Center, the educators and youth service providers who attend the annual ASC, and all of Oregon’s educators and youth service providers who work daily to reduce unintended pregnancy, reduce sexually transmitted diseases, and help young people make positive, healthy decisions.

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