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What Is a Sex Educator?

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Updated January 17, 2010

Question: What Is a Sex Educator?
Answer:

First let’s distinguish professional from non-professional sex educators.

A professional sex educator is someone who does sex education as part of their paid employment. This doesn’t mean they make a living from it (many sex educators make their living doing other forms of education) but it does indicate that this is part of a person’s chosen and identified work. A professional sex educator should have received training in both education and sexuality. Ideally they will also have received specialized training in how to teach about sexuality.

A non-professional sex educator might be someone who loves talking about sex and sharing their experiences. Because so few people are comfortable talking publicly or privately about sexuality, those who are comfortable can be thrust into a position of teacher or guide. This isn’t any more or less important than being a professional sex educator, however there is a difference between talking and teaching. Educators aren’t just comfortable with their chosen subject matter, they have training on how to educate, and they have chosen to make this part of their life’s work.

Often sex educators receive training in education first, and acquire further knowledge and specialization in sexuality after the fact.

Sex educators teach, train, and write for the purposes of educating individuals, organizations, or governments about a wide range of topics related to sexuality. These topics include things like sexual anatomy and response, sexual health and disease, reproduction, sexual pleasure, sexual politics and culture, sexual function and dysfunction, sexual medicine, sexual development across the lifespan, sexual assault and coercion, and more.

Anyone can call themselves a sex educator, and unfortunately people who have no formal training in education at all and might better be described as salespeople or marketers use the term to describe themselves. Indeed, many retail sex stores have taken to calling their staff sex educators. This would be similar to a car dealership calling their salespeople automobile educators. There is some truth to the description, but it hardly tells the whole story.

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