Planned Parenthood’s “Answering Difficult Questions…” Webinar

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Answering Difficult Questions and Navigating Hot Topics 

PPLM hosted a webinar on May 21st giving tips and practice for answering teen’s questions throughout classes using the Get Real: Comprehensive Sex Education that Works

  • Designed to delay the initiation of sexual intercourse
  • Engages and supports parents as the primary sexuality educators of their children
  • Provides medically accurate and age-appropriate information
  • Built on a Social Emotional Learning approach that emphasizes relationship skills as the key to making healthy decisions about sex
  • Designed to encourage correct and consistent use of protection methods when students become sexually active
  • Encourages institutionalization of comprehensive sex education programming in schools by training and supporting teachers and engaging a community-wide approach to bring the curriculum to the school (from www.getrealeducation.org)

In the Get Real Curriculum, a large part of the learning is based on question and answer sessions where the questions are generated by using an anonymous format. To accomplish anonymity, the instructor passes out a number of index cards to each student and requires them to write down a question, or if they do not have any questions, space fillers like their favorite song or the last meal they ate. The instructor then goes around collecting at least one note car from each student.

Anonymous questions allow the student to ask whatever they need to without being judged by other students.

The following are a template for answering question in the most affirming and effective manner:

1. Make sure you understand the question.

2. Validate the question.

3. Give a simple, concise answer.

4. Admit when you don’t know the answer, and get the answer within a specific time frame.

5. If appropriate, discuss values.

One of the main points the presenters stressed was that it is not appropriate to project your own values onto an answer or to answer personal questions.

However, they pointed out, one can offer a breadth of values opinions or try to answer the factual question behind the personal questions. If there is no real “fact” behind the personal questions, a simple, “That is a personal question, and I do not answer personal questions,” will do.

In the case of values based question, the student can be referred to a member of their faith community (pastor, someone they look up to within their church) for further information. It falls along the same lines as the “trusted person who can help.”

Types of Question

Type of Answer

Information-Seeking-Questions with specific factual answers. Specific and factual
Am-I-Normal-Questions that are specifically related to the askers’ life. Requires a range of answerse.g. “Some people feel like x is the right way to do that, but others think y or z. There are a lot of options, and it is important to figure out what fits you best.”
Permission-Seeking Advice/Values-Questions about a decision the asker is trying to make. Cover a range of beliefs and topicsRefer the student to a trusted adultImportant to point out that it is based on values, so the answer will not be the same for everyone.
Shock Questions-Questions that are sometimes asked to “test” the facilitator or teacher.Can also be another type in disguise. As dry, medical and unsexy as possible.If the question is really based on one of the other types, acknowledge what makes the question shocking (vulgar language, judgmental wording), correct it, and answer the question accordingly

Practice Questions: Identify the type and script your answer.

  1. Is it ok for a 6th grader to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend?
  2. How do Gay and lesbians do it?
  3. What is masturbation and is it bad for you?

From the organizers: a summary and resource links.

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