A controversial sex education conference slated to be held in April has been cancelled and a parent right group is claiming victory.
Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles, had also been working to get the Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference suspended until questions had been answered about the materials being used.
“I have worked with folks at the Department of Education and insisted that the conference either be cancelled, no state money be involved, or the conference dramatically change its focus,” he said. “With the cancellation of this year’s conference I feel like the department has done the right thing and has been very responsive, at least for their part of the conference.”
He said Rob Saxton, deputy director of DOE, has seemed “very willing” to work with him on issues raised by a KOIN TV report and Parents’ Rights in Education.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg and there are still issues to address,” said Lisa Maloney, spokesperson for the parent group that formed in 2011 to raise public awareness about what was taking place at the conference.
“No one has accepted responsibility yet for what has taken place at these conferences and, even though it was funded by taxpayer dollars, it’s been nearly impossible to connect the dots about where the money came from.”
Controversy erupted last fall when KOIN aired a report about the materials being used, and instruction given, at the conference, which was held in Seaside.
The Oregon Teen Pregnancy Task Force organized the event, which was sponsored by ODE and the Oregon Health Authority, which provided nearly $13,000 in funding.
None of the agencies could be reached for comment.
Other sponsors are Planned Parenthood, Cascade AIDS Project and Insights Teen Parent Program.
According to witness statements, one speaker at the 2014 conference encouraged the use of methamphetamine during sex because it enhanced the experience.
A section of a student handout read: “Meth is widely used for a million reasons…to have sex with lots of partners for long periods.”
Students reportedly received an online tutorial in programming a virtual sex partner for gratification.
Pamphlets encouraged students to engage in a variety of intimate activities without intercourse.
On the suggestion list was bathing together, shaving each other, wearing each other’s underwear, buying an extra-large pair of pajama bottoms to sleep in together, lap dances and strip teases.
Students were also given tips on masturbation and urged to try role-playing, such as dressing up as a “nurse, school girls or cops and robbers.”
In February, DOE acknowledged in a written statement that the sex conference pamphlets were “not appropriate” but supported the overall presentations.
Bob Dais, director of Human Resources for North Wasco School District 21, said in December that he had checked in with school principals to verify that no local educators or students had attended.
“As far as I know, we did not send anyone to the event nor are we planning on sending anybody to future events,” he said at that time.
Brad Victor, a contract employ for DOE and director of the teen pregnancy task force, stepped down from his duties with the department that same month.
When approached by KOIN in November, he defended the materials used in the conference and said they were not censored.
“The material passed out at this conference is dedicated to preventing teen pregnancy, preventing STDs and also developing healthy relationships,” he said.
The conference, which is open to all school districts around the state, has been held for the past 20 years for educators, as well as middle and high school youth, although one participant was reported to be 11.
The event has been protested by church groups and parent organizations since 2011.
When contacted by the Chronicle in December, the teen pregnancy task force said all youth in attendance were required to come with an adult chaperone.
The intent of the forum, stated an unsigned email from the task force, was to provide a forum for open and honest dialogue about sexuality.
Maloney said the topics discussed at the conference were given “deliberately misleading” titles such as “Healthy Sexuality” and “Reducing Teen Pregnancy.”
She said parents should ask to see the curriculum for sex education being taught in their schools to make sure it is age-appropriate.
“Because this conference has been going on for years, a lot of this information has infiltrated our school system so parents need to remain vigilant,” said Maloney.
The material used in the conference was reported by KOIN to have come from WISE in Oregon, which provides sex ed curriculum to 16 Oregon school districts.
These were: Gervais, Woodburn, Salem-Keizer, Sherwood, Sheridan, Willamina, Bethel, Paisley, Pleasant Hill, Cascade, Corvallis, Clatskanie, St. Helens, Sisters, Warrenton-Hammond and Tigard-Tualatin.