What does a sex educator do?

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What is a Sex Educator?

A sex educator is a person who has extensive knowledge of issues relating to human sexuality, including human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, sexual abstinence, and birth control. The sex educator’s objective is to help people make healthy decisions about sex and sexuality.

These are some specific topics addressed by sex educators:

  • Family planning, contraception, and pregnancy / childbirth
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Gender identity and roles
  • Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues
  • Sexual function and dysfunction
  • Sexual pleasure and sexual variation
  • Sexuality and disability
  • Sexuality and chronic illness
  • Sexual development across the lifespan
  • Sexual abuse, assault, and coercion
  • Sexuality across cultures

What does a Sex Educator do?

Because of the wide scope of sex education, sex educators have the opportunity to pursue a variety of career pathways. This allows each individual educator to work in an environment that matches their skill set, their specific interests, and their teaching style.

A sex educator writing on a chalkboard.

Here is a summary of the career tracks available to sex educators:

School and Youth Track
This track comprises school health teachers, guidance counselors, and educators who work in school-based and community-based programs designed to reduce HIV, sexually transmitted disease (STD) / sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as unwanted pregnancies in the youth population. The school and youth track employs a high number of sex educators and it is a particularly challenging one, as many youth programs are currently required to teach only abstinence until marriage.

Academic / Scientific / Medical Track
Sex educators employed in this sector hold a graduate degree. Some may teach and conduct research at universities or places such as the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. Others may work as medical providers addressing sexual problems, working with gender reassignment candidates, or collaborating with OB/GYN (obstetrics / gynecology) physicians, who diagnose and treat female reproductive tract issues, including the breasts, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.

Academic / Humanities Track
This track includes teaching women’s studies with a focus on sexuality, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender studies.

Community Health Track
Sex educators employed in this sector work in HIV, STI, and pregnancy prevention programs targeted at adults, both in the US and in developing countries. Many of these community health programs promote safe sex among populations at high risk for HIV, and are funded through public health initiatives and grants.

Advocacy / Legal Track
Those working in this area have typically earned a law degree, in addition to having undergone training in the sex and sexuality education sphere. Possible specializations are sexual freedom and obscenity law. Examples of organizations which may hire these lawyers include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Advocates for Youth, and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

Counseling and Therapy Track
Counselors and therapists in the sex education sector include sex therapists certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). In addition, this category has considerable overlap with the above categories, covering such positions as HIV test counselors and school nurses who counsel students.

This track may also encompass ministers or other clergy who help people with issues occurring at the intersection of sexuality and spirituality. Employment opportunities may exist with institutions such as The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing – a progressive American multi-faith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and societies.

Artist Track
People with training in and understanding of sex education may use their knowledge of the subject to explore sex and sexuality themes in their creative work. One example is Eve Ensler’s ‘The Vagina Monologues.’

Adult Education / Sex Journalism Track
This area of employment in the sex education sector includes people who lead seminars and run workshops, write books, articles, or blogs, and write sex columns in newspapers.

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What is the workplace of a Sex Educator like?

Sex educators may teach in the classroom at the elementary, secondary, and higher education levels. They may also provide standalone education for groups of children, adolescents, or adults; training for professionals; and outreach education in community-based, healthcare, corporate, and faith-based settings.

In each of these environments, they may design and conduct workshops, courses, and seminars; contribute to sex and sexuality education literature; develop curricula; plan and administer programs; deliver lectures; and provide one-on-one client education sessions in person or online.

Sex Educators are also known as:
Sex Ed Teacher Sexual Health Educator Sexuality Education Teacher Sex Education Teacher