Every Wednesday The CSPH highlights a Sexuality Professional you should keep your eye on. Their backgrounds are very diverse in order to bring attention to the wide variety of amazing people working in the field. This week we bring you Roxy Trudeau!
1. What do you do in the field of sexuality?
I am the Outreach & Education Director at a health collective, Chicago Women’s Health Center. In this position I get to both offer sex education in the community as well as work with and support a smart and resourceful group of sexual health educators. I love my job!
2. Where are you based out of?
I’m based in Chicago, the city I adore.
3. What is your focus? What do you do?
I teach comprehensive sex education with youth and adults. Our work focuses on providing age appropriate, medically accurate and affirming education that gives individuals all the information they need to make healthy sexual choices for themselves. We strive to promote body and sex positivity and incorporate harm reduction into our curriculum. There is a lot of work to be done to overcome the fear based approach to sex education that has defined culture.
4. What are your particular goals and passions in the field?
The majority of funding for sex education goes toward work with youth in schools. This work is, of course, highly important and central to ensuring the next generation is equipped with the tools needed to consistantly make healthy choices throughout their lifecourse. However, this means there is very little to no funding for sex education for adults. I LOVE teaching gender, sexuality and healthy relationships to those who we expect to already know this stuff but actually have major gaps in knowledge and skills.
5. Why did you choose to work in this field?
I think this is a field that chooses you. I’ve always been fascinated by the insidious way the media impacts how we all feel about our bodies, identities and, in turn, the sexual choices we make and how those choices impact our lives. Overall, we are a society that simply does not talk about sex enough though messaging about sex is all around us…I have always been drawn to people and places engaged in open dialogue about this.
6. Where did you go for school/training?
I have an MSW in Community Health and Urban Development from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I also have Bachelors Degrees in Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies from DePaul University. Though the most meaningful training I’ve received comes from the world around me, conversations I overhear on the subway, thought-provoking questions young people ask in the classroom.
7. Do you have any literature out (websites, articles)?
I have a forthcoming publication, “Consent Education” for 7-9th graders, in Our Whole Lives Lifespan Sexuality Education Curricula, second ed. This was a collaboration with Eva Ball, a fellow sexuality educator based in Chicago.
I also have a piece in AREA Chicago #12, a publication that focuses on Arts, Research, Education and Activism. The article is entitled, “The Intersection of Pleasure and Prevention in Sex Education”.
8. What would you recommend to future professionals attempting to get into the field?
It is incredibly difficult to find paid employment in this field. This comes from a movement of sensorship of basic, vital information about sex that could save lives and promote sexually healthy adolescents and adults. Abstinence-only funding through Title V of the Social Security Act and Title XX of the Public Health Service Act have defined this profession and opportunities available to sex educators who are unwilling to teach problematic and inneffective fear-based and factually incomplete curriculum. This is a field where we must remain in solidarity with others doing this work, and recognize the reality that many of the best and brightest in this field are doing this work unpaid, underpaid or lacking funding for so much as chalk in our classrooms. The is a field that necessitates activism toward policy change. For those who want to be in this field, promoting healthy sexuality in the lives of those around you means you already are a sex educator, keep up the good fight!
9. What is the most challenging aspect for you working in this career?
I always struggle with taking time off. There is quite literally so much to be done in this field, and so much more we can all be doing to collaborate, share resources, and improve the sexual health movement. Drawing boundaries in this work is difficult because the nature of my expertise is so applicable to social situations…a stranger at a bar finds out you’re a sex educator and they suddenly want you to look at a mysterious rash, it just comes with the job.
10. One must read-what would you recommend? Why?
I highly recommend Tip of the Iceberg: An Illustrated Guide to the Clitoris by extraordinary Chicago artist, Laura Szumowski. This book is beautifully done, hilarious, charming, informative and accessible. We literally teach entire workshops off of this groundbreaking work. Her follow up publication, Cycling: A Guide to Menstruation, is also a must have for any sexual health educator who is frustrated with the quality of anatomy drawings in most curricula.
Follow on Twitter at @Roxy_Trudeau