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Sex ed conference draws response from school officials

Some question material taught at annual conference in Seaside


Photo Credit: KOIN 6 NEWS - One of the handouts at the Adolescent Sexuality Conference held in Seaside on April 7 and April 8.SEASIDE (KOIN 6) — Students as young as 11 from across the state have been attending a sex conference held in Seaside for the past 20 years.

Taxpayers’ money is used to fund the program, which is meant to promote safe sex and prevent teen pregnancy. However, a KOIN 6 investigation uncovered that there’s a good chance the parents who signed permission slips in order for their children to attend have no clue what is really being taught behind closed doors.

Part of the lesson plan at a workshop at the Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference is an adult website called Virtual Fem. In addition to the content from that website, numerous handouts, such as one that encourages cyber and phone sex, have been passed out to high school and middle school students in attendance.

The pamphlets go on to suggest other ways students can engage in intimate activities without going all the way, including bathing together, shaving each other, wearing each other’s underwear, role playing, buying an extra-large pair of pajama bottoms to sleep in together, lap dances and strip teases.

Another workshop at the conference focuses on how to pleasure someone else over the Internet.

“‘Teledildonics’ basically refers to the control of sex toys over the Internet; the remote use of sex toys,” said keynote speaker Cory Silverberg in an audiotape obtained by KOIN 6 News after the conference in April from an attendee.

When confronted about the graphic content, the conference’s director, Brad Victor, declined to comment about one session in particular about performing sex acts over Skype and whether those sessions could potentially be recorded and used against a student later.

“Is this interview going down this line the whole time? If it is, I’m walking out. I’m serious about this,” said Victor.

While he refused to answer KOIN 6’s questions, a student, who wanted to remain anonymous, spoke about what she saw during the conference, calling it shocking.

“I felt really just horrified and unsettled by it all,” she said.

While there was a session on learning how to put on a condom and make a dental dam, a workshop where the speaker brought students to a porn website and taught them to program virtual women really upset the student.

“When you press a certain command, it tells her to perform various sexual acts, um, and so that was very disturbing,” she said.

St. Helens among 16 districts

KOIN reached out to 16 school district superintendents listed as possibly having students at the conference. Of those contacted by KOIN 6 News, 10 said they were unaware such material was being taught.

At a school board meeting Wednesday, Nov. 19, after KOIN’s report on the conference aired, St. Helens School District Superintendent Mark Davalos said that to his knowledge, the district has never sent students to the conference, despite being a WISE grantee. WISE is the grant organization behind the conference.

“We were aware, and the board even came to a summer retreat discussion, about some of the materials that probably were distributed at one of those conferences that some of the WISE participants had students attend,” Davalos said. “I did some research and found that we never directed or sent a group as part of the grant to attend these conferences. If some did through another group organization, we were unaware of it.”

KOIN 6 News reported Tuesday that the St. Helens School District had submitted paperwork to attend the 2015 conference, along with seven other school districts. However, when KOIN contacted Davalos, he said students will not be attending the conference in the future. He reiterated that Wednesday, saying the district is “done with the grant.”

Another superintendent KOIN contacted, Kym LeBlanc-Esparza of the Newberg School District, was clearly discouraged after seeing some of the handouts from the Seaside conference.

“This is garbage, so that’s disappointing,” said LeBlanc-Esparza.

Material from the conference shown to her, she said, was a far cry from what she was told would be at the two-day program.

She said the school district will not be sending students in the future. If they go, she said, their parents will be taking them, not the school.

“If it’s going to take the route of giving kids information that suddenly our families and our communities are uncomfortable with, we’ll have a conversation about what that means for us,” said LeBlanc-Esparza.

A total of 7 of the 16 Oregon school districts will not be participating in the conference next April.

To receive the WISE funding, school districts must attend one of three conferences.

Photo Credit: KOIN 6 NEWS - One of the handouts at the Adolescent Sexuality Conference held in Seaside on April 7 and April 8.Scappoose board member concerned

This conference isn’t just for students. Teachers, school district healthcare workers and school board members, including Lisa Maloney, have also attended.

Maloney was not representing the Scappoose School District at the conference, but she said she was concerned by what she witnessed.

“All kinds of speakers about Internet porn, using Internet sex toys, using meth as is shown in this book for when you’re engaging in sex. It encourages using meth because it helps your sexual drive and whatnot in here,” said Maloney. “It says in this booklet that was handed out and given out to all young people.”

Indeed, a section of the handout to which Maloney referred reads: “Meth is widely used for a million reasons to have lots of sex with lots of partners for long periods.”

Lori Porter, a parent activist, also showed other pamphlets distributed during the conference titled “Dry Humping Saves Lives” and “How to Get Your Groove on Fluid Free.” Another gave tips on masturbation.

Still, Victor defended the material and said it is not censored.

“The material passed out at this conference is dedicated to preventing teen pregnancy, preventing STDs and also developing healthy relationships,” said Victor.

When asked whether he thought the suggestions given in the pamphlets prevent teen sex, Victor refused to comment.

“I’m not going to address that question. That question is inappropriate,” he said.

Victor has two state agencies supporting him and the conference. On the conference website they list the Oregon Health Authority as a sponsor of the conference. A public information request revealed the Oregon Health Authority has spent more than $1,000 of taxpayer money for the 2013 and 2014 conferences, according to OHA.

The Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference website also lists the Oregon Department of Education on their steering committee. A public information request revealed ODE has paid Victor more than $800 since 2013. That money is in addition to the more than $4,000 Victor received from the federal government since 2013, the department says that money goes to his work supporting districts with aligning instruction to state standards. However, Victor is mostly paid by WISE for working to institutionalize sex education.

Spotlight reporter Mark Miller contributed to this report.

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