Last year I finally made it to WisCon, which I’d been hoping to do for quite a while. It was a great weekend; I had more interesting conversations during and after panels than I’ve had at any other convention, I felt like it was a pretty welcoming space, and I met some great people there who I’ve kept up with on twitter and am really excited to see again this year. Because of course I’m going back. I think my partner and I both agreed that we needed to return this year on the flight home the last day.
I appreciated the range of panel topics; I was able to nerd out at panels about Deep Space 9, human/alien relationships, and sexism in fandom, and attend some fantastic political/social justice-y panels as well. Maybe the most emotionally intense one was a panel on inclusion in the fat acceptance movement, but I was most excited to go to the sex ed panel since it’s something I have MANY opinions on and my volunteer work gives me a pretty good idea of what people are (and more often, aren’t) learning in sex ed curricula.
It was very informative; I was able to to learn specific details about how abstinence-based sex ed works and the (very limited) ways parents can push back against it. I left the room feeling more angry about abstinence-based education than before (I was not previously aware that many states do not even specify that any sex education must be “medically accurate,” which is mind-boggling), but it was still good to be better-informed.
At that time I thought “next year if there’s another sex ed panel, assuming I’m still doing Scarleteen work I might ask to be on it.” This year there is, and I did! The official panel description is:
Sex Education for Kids: Consent Mechanics
It can be hard to know exactly when talk to your kids about sex and what to say. Let’s talk about what we’ve tried, how well it worked, and what lessons we’ve learned in the process. The Positive Consent model is different from how things were taught thirty years ago; how can we learn to model and teach it outside the “birds-and-bees” lecture?
I have never been on a panel of any sort, so I’m a little nervous; I made myself put my name in the first day signups opened so I couldn’t chicken out at the last minute. I think I’ve put in enough time at Scarleteen that I feel ready to present myself as some level of expert, or at least someone who’s thought quite a bit about consent and how to incorporate that into sex ed.
Because I’m a huge nerd with a lot of ideas, I started an outline of things I’d love to bring up if I have the time that very afternoon. I can be over-talky when I’m excited about a topic, so my goal is to have well-organized notes I can refer to that can help me be more concise so I’m not stepping on other panelists’ toes. If we don’t get to all of my ideas that’s fine, but it’s fun to come up with my ideal list of subjects I’d enjoy talking about if time permits. I’ll make a post after the con with my thoughts and anything else that comes up during the panel.
I’m confirmed for this panel, which is exciting, and I also volunteered for a Rape Culture 101 panel that needed more panelists; so far I haven’t heard back about that one. I was a bit hesitant about volunteering, even though I know I have a lot to say on that topic and consider myself pretty well-informed on rape & sexual assault issues, but after a few people encouraged me I went ahead and did it. If I’m already a bit intimidated by being on one panel, another one shouldn’t be too much scarier, right? I think it’s a good idea in general to push myself to do things I find intimidating, so this is a great opportunity.
For any of y’all who may be at the con, please come say hi at the Sex Ed panel Saturday at 2:30 and possibly the Rape Culture 101 panel at 8:30am (bring coffee!) Saturday.
Now comes the hardest part: writing up a bio for the program. Those are tough!