An Article Review: "We Talked About Sex." "No, We Didn't": Exploring Adolescent and Parent Agreement About Sexuality Communication

By Samantha Lowe

Adolescent perceptions of parental interactions do not get as much attention as they deserve, gone are the days of the common "because I said so" parent reasoning, it is now time for open, honest, and factual conversations about sex and contraception.  Speaking with your adolescents about sexual encounters is important, currently over 40% of adolescents report they had sex before any conversation with their parents about contraception  (Grossman et al., 2017).  Research has shown that having a conversation with your child in early adolescence can post-pone sexual activity along with reducing risky sexual behaviors (Grossman et al., 2017). 

Recently, an article was published in November of 2017, using qualitative and quantitative data to compare thoughts and feeling of 27 parent and adolescent dyads in relation to a discussion about sexual topics.  Agreement between the dyad was analyzed and then given a low, medium, or high agreement rating. Adolescents and parents who had high agreement were more likely to report positive parental approaches to sexuality communication and awareness of parental perspectives (Grossman et al., 2017). 

What were the authors trying to get them to agree on? Basically… if the conversation happened. Nine topics were outlined, and adolescents and parents were presented with open and closed ended questions, these topics included; puberty, the biology of pregnancy, when it's okay to date, avoiding STI's, condoms, when it is okay to have sex, religious beliefs and sex, adolescent pregnancy, and LGBTQ issues (Grossman et al., 2017). Interview questions also addressed perceptions of parental messages about sex, comfort talking with a parent about sex, and perceptions of parental rules for dating and sexual behavior (Grossman et al., 2017). Dyads were divided into high-(6-9), medium-(3-5), and low-(0-2) match groups based on agreement of the nine outlined topics and the adolescents’ perceptions of the quality of the conversation (Grossman et al., 2017).

Demographics: Dyads consisted mostly of mothers and adolescent children, keeping the psychological trend of the "not likely to participate in the study" father alive. Out of 27 dyads, 25 included the mother while the remaining 2 included the father. Twelve dyads (44%) included adolescent females, with an adolescent mean age of 12 years, 19% of the adolescents reported already having sexual intercourse.  52% of dyads self-reported as African American, reporting a moderate level of religious importance  (Grossman et al., 2017).

While dyads were analyzed results focused on the adolescents perception of the conversation, it is the adolescents perceptions, not the parents, that are going to shape their experiences and behaviors (Grossman et al., 2017). Even if a parent believes they are communicating effectively, the perception of the adolescent can be completely different. Focusing on the adolescents perception is key, if they do not feel like the communication was effective then the positive consequences from the discussion (delayed sexual involvement and lowered risky sexual behaviors) could never manifest.

Results: No dyad reported agreement of having discussed all nice topics, the highest level of dyad agreement on if a topic was discussed was for puberty (74%), followed by dating and LGBTQ issues (56%). Lower levels of agreement included religious beliefs about sex (15%), readiness for sex and teen pregnancy (33%) (Grossman et al., 2017). The fact that 56% of dyads had discussed LBTQ issues and only 15% had discussed religious beliefs about sex was amazingly shocking to me, I would like to see how these results changed in an a strictly Appalachian sample. I would predict that the numbers would be reversed, with more conversations about religion and less about LGBTQ culture.  Based off the research I conducted in graduate school I suspect this percentage would be MUCH lower as about 25% of my Appalachian participants did not know how to identify their own sexuality and struggled with the difference between "Asexual" and "Heterosexual". Further research needs to be done within specific sub-populations.

Three main themes became apparent from adolescent responses related to their experience with sexuality communication with their parent: Comfort with sexuality communication, Responses to parents viewpoints, and Awareness of parental perspectives (Grossman et al., 2017). Results when on to show that dyads in the high match group expressed a more positive parental approach, agreed with their parents viewpoints, and could explain why their parent held their viewpoints. Parents were open, honest, and practiced good listening skills (Grossman et al., 2017).

Adolescent quotes from the high match group included:

  • "My Mom is just like all out and makes sure I know everything"
  • "I am very comfortable because she has all the information"
  • "She tells me what happened and why it happened, because it happened to her"
  • "I think it is smart of her, she doesn’t want me to get the wrong information"
  • "My Mom is overreactive because she got pregnant at a young age and she does not want me to do the same and miss out on educational opportunities"

Low match groups exhibited poor listening skills and adolescents felt like parents did not give adolescents enough credit for their understanding of the topic, and their uncomfortableness of speaking about the topic was obvious to the adolescent (Grossman et al., 2017).

Low match adolescent quotes included:

  • "Because she makes jokes about everything"
  • "They talk about it like it is a bad word, like you shouldn’t talk about it and you shouldn’t be doing it"
  • "They talked to me in kiddie talk and say it like I am a little kid"
  • "I don’t think they know about STI's, they only know about the simple ones"
  • "My Mom doesn’t know much about condoms because I don’t think she has used one"
  • "They are too overprotective, I don’t think that they know that I do understand and want to make the right decision"

Topics of dating and puberty seemed to be easier for parents to discuss with their adolescents while topics of pregnancy and contraception seemed to cause some uneasiness in the parent (Grossman et al., 2017). Results in this study show that uncomfortableness, inability to explain why they hold their views and ineffective listening on the parents’ end can doom the conversation. These findings support sex education courses that include both parents and adolescents with in the middle school setting. These programs can provide support for topics of potential discomfort and encourage the parent to be open despite their hesitancies. These courses also open the floor for more than one conversation about sexual topics, as following up about what was heard in the conversation can reduce gaps in communication (Grossman et al., 2017).

The study needs to be replicated with a larger N than 27 so the results are more generalizable. It would be interesting to compare cross cultural agreement and topics between dyads. From previous research we understand some cultural differences, for example in the Netherlands romance and consent are two highly discussed topics between adolescent and parent dyads, which is a stark difference from the typical abstinence, STI, and pregnancy topics covered in American dyads (Grossman et al., 2017).)

The sample was a convenience sample which comes with its own problems, but I don’t believe they need to be discussed. However dyads were thrown out of the study when the parental figure identified as another adult family member. In my opinion, this should not have made a difference as they are still the person who is likely to have this conversation with the adolescent. Future studies should include these dyads as modern families are not likely fit the cookie-cutter mold of the typical nuclear family.


Grossman, J., Sarwar, P., Richer, A. and Erkut, S. (2017). “We Talked About Sex.” “No, We Didn't”: Exploring Adolescent and Parent Agreement About Sexuality Communication. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 12(4), pp.343-357.

2018 Dove Self Esteem Project National Cadre of Trainers

Written by Cairn Guidance in partnership with the Dove Self Esteem Project

It was a bright, temperate December afternoon as Cairn Guidance staff and the 2018 Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP) Cadre gathered for a two-day retreat.  Our sight clearly set on success, we began the day by having the cadre learn about each other.  This was not an icebreaker.  This was a genuine effort to begin developing relationships amongst the trainers from across the United States who will be spreading the DSEP curriculum.

Representation of Dove Self Esteem Project Cadre Trainers

Representation of Dove Self Esteem Project Cadre Trainers

In order to engage and interest educators, it is important to help them understand the underlying core of Confident Me!, the body confidence education program for young girls and boys created by the Dove Self-Esteem Project.  Is it credible?  Is it successful and why?  What is the ease of implementation?  What does it cost?  How is it supported? Cadre members enthusiastically listened as Jessica Lawrence, Cairn Guidance’s Director, modeled a presentation for educators or their decision makers.  It was important for members to see the presentation in action. 

Lights! Camera! Action!  It was now their turn! Divided into groups, members were assigned one of the six Confident Me! lessons.  Their task was to provide an overview of the lesson.  After each group presented and during discussions, Jessica again supported learning by sharing additional tips and suggestions. 

It was a great first day.  Cadre members got to know each other, gained a better understanding of the research and evidence that supports the need and development of the Confident Me! program, had the opportunity to learn more about the lessons, saw modeling, and shared tips.  Did I mention the energizers led by cadre members Danielle Petrucci and Heather Deckard? What fun! 

This day was just the beginning…

The next day began with cadre members experiencing one of the program’s student activities, Find Someone Who…  Members dutifully wandered the room with their list in hand, looking for someone who fulfilled any of the talents or skills listed.  What they found was more than securing a signature on a specific line.  They discovered incredible tidbits shared by fellow cadre members.  They actively listened to each other, asked questions, laughed, and eagerly moved from person to person.  This first-hand experience of the student activity was eye opening for many.

As the sun continued its trek, so did the cadre.  In order for them to do their jobs well, they needed to fully understand their roles and responsibilities.  It was critical for them to have a deep understanding of their purpose and how to navigate through the protocols set-up for their success and the smooth running of DSEP.  It was also helpful for the newest members to hear from the 2017 cadre on their successes and learning opportunities.

Samantha training trainers on how to run the DSEP exhibit booth. 

Samantha training trainers on how to run the DSEP exhibit booth. 

Taking learning into their own hands, members rotated through carousels on professional development, conferences and virtual communication opportunities.  They brainstormed and shared ideas on how to leverage each in order to reach educators and interest them in implementing the program.  Pages of great information were generated and will be typed and shared.  Today’s technology allowed participants to take pictures for immediate use, as they developed their year-long work plans.

The last session saw members rotating through three stations allowing for discussion, practice or strategizing.  The richness of the discussions, enthusiasm in each member’s eyes, and commitment was palpable.

We are ready, prepared, and eager to help educators touch additional student lives in 2018.  This retreat allows us to move forward steadfastly and with sure-footed purpose.  To learn more about DSEP, visit the Dove Self Esteem Project.  Stay tuned!

2018 Dove Self Esteem Cadre Trainers!

2018 Dove Self Esteem Cadre Trainers!




Happy Holidays from the Cairn Guidance Team!

It's been a huge year for the Cairn Guidance team! Below are our personal thoughts on the year, including the organizations/people we hold dear and hope you look them up, follow and support!

From Samantha:
2017 has been a year of growth, both personally and professionally. Travels have sent me across the United States allowing me to become comfortable and confident in traveling alone, while also making me miss a place I was dying to leave a year ago (something I never thought would happen). 2017 has been a year of change, in some aspects it has been terrifying in other aspects it has been terrifying, but with a dash of excitement. So overall, terrifying, but in an enjoyable kinda way. I have felt overwhelmed with acceptance into a company and I am excited to how it will continue to grow within the upcoming years. I am grateful to be able to work with such amazing ladies, and I am super excited to welcome our new team member! I am forever grateful for my first ”adult” position and the ability to influence change. 

From Liz:
Let’s be honest, 2017 was kind of a doozy. But when I reflect back on 2017, I have nothing but gratitude for the people I have gotten to meet and work with. Whether it was school district staff working to improve systems around suicide prevention, health educators helping their students become more body confident, or school nurses finding their strategic vision, over and over again I was reminded of the passion, tenacity and heart of folks working in this field. For me, 2017 has only clarified the need for our work, and strengthened my resolve to be an advocate working side by side with all of the educators, non-profits, and state agencies to to help our young people reach their full potential. This year, I’m supporting the following organizations that embody this many times over.
Women’s Foundation of Oregon
Momentum Alliance
Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette

From Antionette:
Who knew my 2017 would end like this!  I am working with an amazing group of people in a professional life that allows me to experience facilitating professional development and coordinate a cadre of very talented, dedicated individuals.  I am excited about these opportunities and am looking forward to the adventures 2018 holds. There is so much to be done. We have a tremendous responsibility to provide positive, life impacting experiences for our youth.  If we do not have our health and feel safe and loved, so much else is questionable.  Our youth deserve to live the healthiest, happiest lives we can give them and we have to give them the best.
I continue to hold the mission and efforts of the Children’s Home Society close to my heart.

From Jess:
2017 has been our biggest year since Cairn Guidance opened it's doors over ten years ago. Biggest in terms of revenue, staff growth, number of clients and projects. It also meant time on the road. That means our team leaves home, families, dogs and travels for work. Not an easy task. Something we all balance with our love for travel and love for our work, but still takes a toll. I appreciate our small but mighty team and wake up everyday thankful for the work I get to do to create healthier lives! I decided to support the following friends that are running for Governorship and Congress, one a Muslim public health leader and the other, a woman. Not just amazing human beings, but minorities from a political leadership perspective. Something I embrace and value so that all Americans are represented and heard.
David Ermold running locally in my town for County Clerk to mis-seat Kim Davis!
Abdul El Sayed for Governor of Michigan
Haley Stevens for Congress (Michigan)

2017 Cairn Guidance Team Retreat

3 mile hike up Ryan Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park, CA

3 mile hike up Ryan Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park, CA

We celebrated, relaxed, worked, brainstormed, set goals, updated our strategic plan, laughed and enjoyed 3 days in Palm Springs, CA! In order for Samantha, Liz and I to continue the work we do supporting schools in the US to be healthy, safe environments so kids can thrive, we have to be strategic, work hard, align our work to our mission and create balance in our own lives- both personally and professionally. 

We spent 3 warm, sunny days in Palm Springs CA working on setting updated goals and establishing timelines around these three key buckets of our Strategic Plan:

Building a Team Culture of Wellness & Balance
This component of our strategic plan dives deep into how we retain our staff, offering competitive salaries/earnings, offering benefits such as professional development, travel and growth opportunities. Finally, we each set personal wellness goals for the year and check in on these regularly- a component of our employee wellness strategy. We also commit to doing at least two health related activities as a team annually. 

Positioning for Growth & Sustainability
This bucket focuses on the health the business, ensuring we grow with intention, we sustain our staff and clients in order to move the needle in school health. We define what growth is (not always revenue) and determine what support we continue to need to stay a fiscally healthy business. 

Equipping Educators to ISH (Institutionalize School Health) 
Finally, this section of our plan is focused on the products, services and training events we offer. The actual work we do for clients, the products we develop and offer and partnerships we develop that are strategic yet genuine. 

Our team wishes you a Happy Holidays and Happy New Year and we hope we are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with you in 2018! Enjoy a few photos from our time together in CA!

Jess, Samantha, Liz 

Enjoying our time through the strange Robolights installation, a Palm Springs go-to event over the holidays!

Enjoying our time through the strange Robolights installation, a Palm Springs go-to event over the holidays!

Joshua Tree National Park!

Joshua Tree National Park!

Beautiful morning breakfast with views of the mountains!

Beautiful morning breakfast with views of the mountains!

Introducing Our Newest Team Member!

This week, Antionette Meeks will be joining Cairn Guidance as the Dove Self Esteem Coordinator. Below, is her introduction to you!

By Antionette Meeks


Resilient says a lot about who I am. Without a doubt, though, I’ve had my moments of feeling low, but I’ve always bounced back quickly. To say that I have a positive, hopeful, and thankful spirit may be an understatement. The question is, why? What made me so positive and resilient as a child and on into adulthood? How are these qualities connected to my career path?

I am Antionette Meeks, the Dove Self Esteem Project Cadre Coordinator for Cairn Guidance, and I had the proverbial village. My village consisted of people who lifted me up and helped me understand and live two words: “I can.” I am grateful for them.

Who made up my village? Early on, it consisted of my parents, great grandparents, great aunt, siblings, other relatives, neighbors, my dad’s customers, and other adults. Later, my village included friends, teachers, professors, coaches, scout leaders, clergy, and colleagues. Globally, there are historical figures that fought and achieved for themselves and/or others, national figures, and even some celebrities.

Those in my initial village set the foundation. My father taught me to be inquisitive, think, and take initiative. Both of my parents imparted the importance of trying and doing my best. The race was never against another; the race was for me. My parents taught kindness, gratitude, honesty, and respect for self and others. They taught me to stand up for myself and others, and for that which was right.

I learned the value of education, being able to speak coherently, and using facts to support a point. Further, I was taught to respect varying opinions. It was okay to bend, but not break. My great aunt taught compliance to rules that serve purposes.

My great grandparents added giving. They all taught love.

Everyone in my village, without fail, taught, “I can”. Teachers always encouraged, giving additional learning support and using tools to move me forward. Professors helped me succeed by their instruction and one-on-one discussions in the hall or their offices. Coaches taught the concept of teamwork, playing fair, and encouraged me not to settle for less than what I knew I could do. We were all taught to be teammates, understanding what we brought to the team as individuals. We learned the importance of the journey versus focusing solely on the win. The win was the “gravy”.

The village taught me to laugh, laugh at myself, have fun, and not take life too seriously. The expectation, ultimately, was that I was to achieve – do my best. It was okay to fail, learn from it, and move on. The village expected me to find my life’s path – knowing I may walk many on my discovery tour and that was okay. I found my path as a teacher and coach. It just seems natural that I would begin my professional career as a health/physical education teacher. I enjoyed helping 5 of 5 students learn their “I cans”. The opportunity to touch more lives led me to a school district-level role, leading to contact with educators at all of our schools. This new role helped me develop relationships with several local agencies and organizations.

Later, working for the state health and education agencies gave me even greater reach. Returning to my educator roots as an adjunct for undergraduates, graduate, and doctoral students confirmed my reason for selecting this career path. Giving back through board memberships and community involvement added to my path.

Quite simply, I believed in me. I believed in my unique gifts and skill sets. I had people in my life that told me and showed me, “I can”. I chose a career path that allowed me to impact young lives, helping them see and experience their “I cans”. I want youth to feel good about themselves, feel empowered, fell courageous, feel joyful, feel whole. My path, beginning with my village, gave me the tools and desire to be a part of the positive journey of the youth and professionals with whom I have worked.

How one sees themselves, sees their world and sees themselves in the world, makes a difference. See yourselves as beautiful or handsome, smart, talented people.

Everyone doesn’t necessarily have a village, but they do have themselves and often, at least, one person who believes in, cares for and encourages them. I hope I have been that one as I have touched lives along my journey. I know I am looking forward to this journey, working with the Dove Self Esteem project.

Urban School Wellness Coalition

This week, Jamie Sparks and I co-facilitated two sessions of the Urban School Wellness Coalition convened by Action for Healthy Kids. This Coalition, comprised of thirty large urban districts came together in Denver to network, share stories, gain knowledge around Wellness Policies, the WellSATEvery Students Succeed Act (ESSA), Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) and observe WSCC in action at a local school!


Jamie and I spent about 90 minutes Tuesday afternoon on ESSA. We introduced the federal legislation, including key Titles for those unfamiliar with it, shared Cairn Guidance's State ESSA Analysis, and allowed district participants time to review their states' analysis to determine opportunities and challenges within their districts as they move ahead. Yesterday, we spent the morning on WSCC- introducing the framework, sharing effective practices around the school health approach, systems thinking; systems changing, creating buy-in and addressing resistance and brought participants through a variety of engaging activities in order for districts to essentially begin to see how ESSA and WSCC, advocacy, support, implementation are feasible and achievable at home!

We created and share our ESSA/WSCC Symbaloo page- a page that showcases the most current, helpful resources in the school health field. Feel free to share with your colleagues.

We were honored to have the chance to network, socialize, share, train education leaders around the country this week- what a fabulous group truly dedicated to shifting the norms of how we define school success in the United States. 

Since 2013, the Urban School Wellness Coalition brings together urban district health and wellness leaders to facilitate discussion around mutually important issues, provide opportunities to share information, network with peers, coordinate joint efforts, and inform urban educational leaders on the importance of student health as a driver of academic success.
— Action for Healthy Kids

Making School the Heartbeat of the Community

By Liz Thorne, VP of Policy and Programs

I had been anticipating the grand opening of Faubion K-8 School, in Portland Oregon, this Fall for both personal and professional reasons. Most importantly, it is our neighborhood school. My daughter will be starting kindergarten there next year. As someone who works in school health and public health, the opening of Faubion also embodies so many of the practices we know are effective in supporting the health and academic achievement of young people.


A bit of background. Faubion is physically located right next to Concordia University, a private liberal arts college. Concordia has a school of education, and for years they have partnered with Faubion to provide student-teachers with experience in the classroom.

Out of this partnership grew 3 to PhD. The first of it’s kind in the nation, the model aims to create safer, healthier and more educated communities from early learning through Pursuing one’s Highest Dreams (PhD).  In 2012 a Portland Public School bond was approved that included a rebuild of Faubion because of the strong partnership with Concordia and the 3 to PhD program.


The new Faubion + Concordia building houses Faubion K-8 classrooms and Concordia’s school of education. It includes:

  • An early childhood education center for up to 120 children,
  • A 2,500 square foot Kaiser Permanente 3 to PhD Wellness center serving Faubion students and Concordia students;
  • Wraparound mental and behavioral health services by Trillium Family Services;
  • And a food club with healthy, organic foods by basics.

At the grand opening I heard District, City and State leaders and parents stand up at the podium and speak about the importance of health for students to succeed. I heard them say that if we are to close the achievement gap we need to address the needs of the student, family, and community. This is returning the school as the heartbeat of the community.

Partnership. Addressing the needs of the whole child. Involving community partners (parents, business, higher education, health care providers). Preparing the new generation of educators and education leaders to look beyond curriculum and teaching strategies to educate our young people. These are things experts in school health consistently site as the factors that lead to institutionalizing health in education.

So while the new building is truly amazing (the playground! It has a zip line!) it’s these other factors that inspire and excite me, as a professional, parent, and community member.


Health and Physical Education Teacher, Angela Stark shares her experience Attending SHAPE America

Written by Cairn Guidance in partnership with the Dove Self Esteem Project

Angela Stark was thrilled to hear that she was one of two national educators to win the Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP) incentive opportunity. Angela, a health and physical education teacher in Lexington, Kentucky, won an all-expense paid trip to the SHAPE National Convention in Boston in March of 2017.


Angela talked with us about her school demographics. The School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA) has a lot of students who dance. Dancers can feel pressure to look a certain way, so she believed that the Dove Self-Esteem Project might be able to help her dancers and all of her students with their self-image. DSEP tools and resources can provide students an opportunity to not only focus on their physical appearance, but to see the value in their talents, skills, and attributes. The curriculum, with two options – a single-lesson or five-lesson program, helps students hone their skills in analyzing influences to reflect on the impact of unattainable appearance ideals seen in media.

Angela piloted the program in a co-ed classroom with her 6th graders. All youth appreciated hearing from different perspectives and viewpoints on how they feel impacted by appearance ideals.

Angela delivered the lessons in both fall and spring to cover all of her students. She started with the single-lesson in fall and continued using the five-lesson program as a booster and an opportunity for students to practice skills-based instruction around communication, assessing information and analyzing influences.

We asked her what her experience winning an all-expense paid trip to SHAPE America was like and she said, “Awesome! It was great to promote things that I believe in and trust as I do with the DSEP. In addition, growing as an educator to benefit students is essential to being a great educator, so attending the SHAPE convention allowed me to do that.”

Angela shared with us that the connections she made and the information learned from this experience have been priceless! But more importantly, she is thankful for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, which impacted her students in such a positive way.

Thank you Angela for sharing your insights on the Dove Self-Esteem Project!

To find out how you can attend the 2018 SHAPE America Convention, or the national or state conference of your choice, please email for more information.

American School Counselor Association and the Dove Self Esteem Project

Written by Samantha Lowe of Cairn Guidance in partnership with the Dove Self Esteem Project

Cairn Guidance recently represented the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) at the American School Counselor Association in Denver, CO. In attendance was myself, Heather Deckard and over 3,000 school counselors from around the globe. This trip was AMAZING! My boyfriend (Brandon) and I used this as an opportunity to take a road trip, so we loaded up our rental car and drove from Kentucky to Colorado. We arrived in Colorado after about 20 hours of driving. Normal people would want to sleep, but since we arrived early in the day we had to check out the Denver Zoo and the wonderful places to eat!

Before the conference we were slightly skeptical how the program would be received with school counselors, as we had mostly been attending Health and PE conferences such as SHAPE/AHPERDs. This skepticism quickly dissipated as within the first hour our booth was flooded with excited attendees eager to find a comprehensive program focused on supporting the self-esteem of their students.  Many school counselors had utilized aspects of the program before, such as the “Evolution” video. This powerful video was mentioned by counselors from Hawaii to Maine, who expressed what open/meaningful conversation it sparked between adolescent students. School counselors supported our message 100% and were excited to lead by example and join our social media movement! We also interviewed LaKesha Grooms, a school counselor from Georgia who won an all-expense paid trip to ASCA by implementing the DSEP lessons in 2016.

Read LaKesha’s interview and check out the pictures of conference attendees who participated in our #DoveSelfEsteemProject positive social media movement focusing on the attributes that make us unique!

Meet LaKesha Grooms, the School Counselor working on Body Confidence Issues at her school!

LaKesha Grooms is a School Counselor at Henderson Middle School in Jackson, Georgia and one of our 2016 incentive winners for the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP). LaKesha won an all-expense paid trip to the American School Counselors Association’s (ASCA) National Conference in Denver, Colorado in July 2017.

LaKesha spent some time looking for resources to support students that struggled with their self-esteem. She noticed many of her students were struggling with body confidence issues and she happened to find the Dove Self-Esteem Project online.

LaKesha believes the curriculum, which includes a single-lesson and 5-lesson program is a great fit for students taught by school counselors. The program provides resources for students by providing skills-based instruction and learning; guidance on how to implement the program; and how to align the content with the American School Counselor Association standards.

When asked what she thought the impact on her students was, LaKesha said, “Identity! Many kids struggle with their identity. That goes hand in hand with a healthy self-esteem and being comfortable with who they are.” She loved how the program encouraged awesome discussions in class. Her groups really flowed and the kids were able to express themselves by sharing some personal things that they struggle with, such as the need to fit in with a certain group. The impact for her was getting them to start talking about themselves and acknowledging the fact they are different and unique.

She facilitated the program in small groups with about 10 students per group. The students were carefully selected since they were students that were struggling with self-esteem. LaKesha suggests that if implementing with groups versus in a classroom setting, capitalize on the program! Make it grow! You can use it in a variety of ways. They have clubs/flex groups at the end of the day during the last day of the month where students get to go to the class of their choice. You could embed this program into some of your current programs. You can get your science, health and PE teachers involved. She believes that when everyone is involved using the program it spills over!

LaKesha believes implementing the program is worth it and it is worth it for the kids!

Now for the best part, DOVE SELF-ESTEEM PROJECT WAS VOTED BEST BOOTH AT ACSA 2017! Winners were decided by conference attendees voting on the ASCA app, and we were extremely honored as this was the first year Dove Self-Esteem Project was in attendance! Cairn Guidance and DSEP wants to thank ASCA and its attendees for welcoming our mission and we look forward to working with more eager school counselors to help students achieve their full potential!

Now for the best part, DOVE SELF-ESTEEM PROJECT WAS VOTED BEST BOOTH AT ACSA 2017! Winners were decided by conference attendees voting on the ASCA app, and we were extremely honored as this was the first year Dove Self-Esteem Project was in attendance!

Cairn Guidance and DSEP wants to thank ASCA and its attendees for welcoming our mission and we look forward to working with more eager school counselors to help students achieve their full potential!

LGTB Center at University of Louisville

Mike Miller and Jamie Sparks

Mike Miller and Jamie Sparks

Jamie and I were invited by Mike Miller, a former colleague of Jamie's at the Kentucky Department of Education to a beautiful reception at a private residence in Louisville last night to celebrate 10 years of growth for the University of Louisville's LGBT Center. It was an honor to be invited among 150 other guests celebrating the support of sexual minorities on campus.

Over the years, the Center has been ranked as the most friendly campus for sexual minorities in the South. The event hosted at Steve and Karen Hall's home was a celebration of the work the Center provides, an opportunity to connect with others advocating for all young adults and an opportunity to bring awareness of the Center and funds to sustain and grow the work its doing.  The Center works to create a safe, supportive environment for all students including hosting an Ally Campaign in which allies wear a pin demonstrating their commitment to creating a safe environment for all, safe zone training events, and opportunities for healthcare providers to add their names as LGBT-friendly. The Center works to educate, advocate, create healthy and safe learning environments where students can thrive, improving patient care at UofL affiliated healthcare settings and partake in research of LGBT health.

The LGBT Center works to strengthen and sustain an inclusive campus community at the University of Louisville, one that welcomes people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions through support, educational resources, and advocacy. The Center works in partnership with other diversity efforts on campus supporting the Vice Provost for Diversity and International Affairs.

One of the most impressive components of this work is a national model to educate the medical students at UofL on LGBT health cultural competency and responsiveness. The program is called eQuality and you can learn more about it here. This means that when a patient is working with medical staff, of any kind, that staff has had training on how to best support their patients needs. 

This brings me back to our work in K-12 schools. As an Oregon educator, I received multiple training opportunities that built my knowledge and skills around creating a culturally competent classroom and school environment for all students, including the LGBTQ population. I know this isn't happening in most school communities around the US, but there are multiple non-profits working in this area. Teen Health Mississippi, SHIFT NC in Durham, Answer and TransActive are a few of the many organizations providing sexual health support, information, access and education to our sexual minority youth, parents and educators for the K-12 setting. 

It was great to see Stacie Steinbock, our good friend and Director of the LGBT Center Satellite Office on the Health Sciences Center Campus

It was great to see Stacie Steinbock, our good friend and Director of the LGBT Center Satellite Office on the Health Sciences Center Campus

Last night, a few people had the opportunity to talk about why they support the Center. Medical staff shared their experience and growth due to training opportunities. Kim Griffith Diamond, a parent boldly and courageously shared her story of losing her son to depression as a result of the pressures and lack of societal support of being gay. People had the opportunity to speak about why they are allies and how in truth, this all comes down to caring for all human beings, no matter who they are. It was an amazing evening of food, drink, celebration and coming together. 

There are numerous ways to show your support of the programs and policies of the LGBT Center. One way is, of course a donation. There is more information here

As a national leader in LGBT healthcare, the LGBT Center is proud to offer cutting-edge training for health care students and professionals. Our LGBT Health Certificate provides you with the knowledge and skills you need to interact successfully with LGBT patients, and demonstrates to employers and patients your commitment to serving diverse patient populations. It is free to members of the UofL community as well as all community members in Louisville and beyond.