To improve the professional performance of conference attendees by providing high-quality, informative, and skill-building workshops, roundtables, plenaries, and keynote addresses.


  1. Identify at least two specific strategies to create a sex-positive culture;
  2. Determine at least three ways to ensure youth and young adults, including those who are pregnant and parenting, have access to sex-positive education, care, and services; and
  3.  State at least two challenges of supporting sex-positive adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

Conference Tracks

All sessions at SEX+: A Sexual Health Revolution are categorized into tracks based on session content.

Conference sessions in this track will feature cutting-edge programs, strategies, interventions, and research that demonstrate ingenuity, spark intrigue, and provide a glimpse into how the field of adolescent sexual and reproductive health continues to push boundaries by using new educational or methodological approaches, different settings, or creative ways of engaging participants. Innovative approaches consist of creative solutions to existing problems and often offer the opportunity to incorporate context, culture, and youth-centered approaches into tech-based and face-to-face programs and services. The Innovation Track encourages attendees to consider how to integrate innovation into their current efforts and improve outcomes, keeping in mind that tech-based products are not inherently innovative, and traditional programs can host innovative ideas. Examples from past Healthy Teen Network Conferences include:

The Social Media Studio: Recruiting for Health Programs, Studies, and Surveys
Genevieve Martínez-García, Milagros Garrido, & Nick Sufrinko (Healthy Teen Network)

Need participants for a program, study, or short survey? Even if you post your recruitment materials on Facebook, people may not come. Increasingly, social media has been used as a go-to platform to recruit youth to programs and research, but the effects may be unpredictable. This roundtable session will cover the basic concepts of participant recruitment using various social media platforms. We will discuss different types of messages, ads or graphic collaterals, and campaigns specific to multiple social media platforms. We will also discuss what metrics are best suited to monitor the success of your campaign. You may want to bring your own materials to get feedback from our team.

Graphic Content: Lessons From Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf, A Sex Education Comic Book
Liza Bley (Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains)

This engaging workshop will look at the evolution of Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf: A Sex Ed Comic Book from independent youth-based project to published book. Facilitators will then lead a series of hands-on activities focused on incorporating visual arts into sex education lessons. Participants will leave confident in including comics and comic-making in their classrooms.

Magnifying Our Impact: How Integrating a Focus on Our Own Social-Emotional Well-Being Enhances the Capacity to Serve Adolescent Mothers
Bethany Casarjian (The Lionheart Foundation)

It is increasingly recognized that to amplify the impact of our work with adolescent parents and help them acquire effective self-regulatory capacities, it is essential to hone our own social-emotional regulation skills. This workshop presents an innovative “emotion coaching” program designed to foster a wide range of relationship-focused competencies from building an increased awareness of our emotional state when working with youth, to using a variety of individualized cognitive-behavioral strategies to enhance the quality of our interactions. By cultivating these skills ourselves, we model and transmit these capacities to young parents, while magnifying the healing potential of the youth/caregiver relationship.

Practitioners can improve their practice by staying current on relevant research in their field and about populations and areas of interest. Sessions in this track will expand knowledge of programs, strategies, interventions, and research—old and new—that are proven effective.  Attendees will get an up-close look at these approaches, including any supporting materials, and learn how these approaches are implemented in practice. Examples from past Healthy Teen Network Conferences include:

Addressing the Relationship Context in Sexual Health Interventions to Increase Relevance and Potential Impact
Pamela Anderson and Karin Coyle (ETR Associates)

Using romantic relationships as an avenue to promote healthy behaviors and reduce unhealthy risk-taking is an innovative approach to teen pregnancy prevention. Presenters will share data from three longitudinal studies on how relationship characteristics varied among middle school-aged youth across different geographic regions. These data illustrate the importance of accounting for relationships in sexual health programs to increase their potential impact and relevance for youth. Participants will have an opportunity for practical application by identifying critical elements of romantic relationships that affect the youth in their communities and how those elements can be incorporated into programs for youth.

Father Engagement: Strategies for Including Fathers in Our Work
Hillary Turner, Christopher Robinson, and Colbert Williams (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services)

Historically, few public health programs have been inclusive or designed for fathers. Health professionals often struggle to successfully engage fathers, yet establishing effective partnerships with young fathers is critical to supporting the healthy growth and development of themselves and their children. This session will help providers to strategize ways to include young fathers (including teen fathers) in their work, and debunk common misconceptions to serving them:

No Shade: Using the Youth Lexicon in the Classroom
Linsey Cain (Widener University) and Erin Basler (The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health)

It would seem from all of the think pieces on “youth culture” and the language of millennials that the idea of youth using slang is a new one. It isn’t. And neither is the gap in academic achievement between Standard English speakers and those who use dialectical English. In No Shade, Lindsey and Erin make the case for meeting your sex ed students where they are at linguistically. The workshop imparts tools for building a common lexicon, resources for interpreting terms, and ways to incorporate youth language in an authentic, not appropriative, way.


Supporting the health and well-being of adolescents goes beyond the clinic and classroom. Support belongs in the streets as well as legislative chambers across the country. Sessions in this track will spotlight ways in which advocacy, messaging, and social change are inextricably linked and impact our field and the lives of young people. Learn more about how our words and actions are proof that we will stand strong and keep youth at the center of our work. Examples from past Healthy Teen Network Conferences include:

Re-Framing Our Lens: Developing Awareness of Social Stigma, Media Marketing, and Personal Biases Working With Young Families
Marylouise Kuti (New Mexico Graduation Reality and Dual-Role Skills (NM GRADS))

This workshop will provide a space for professionals to engage in meaningful small group activities and group discussions on providing safe, healthy, and respectful messages and imagery when working with youth across the nation. Often times, our own personal history and experiences dictate how we “view the wider world.” This workshop aims to help us identify what our own personal views are and how they impact our ability to connect with youth in our schools and communities as well as strategies for us to reprogram our lens, ensuring the youth we serve are welcomed without judgment, stigma, and shame.

Authenticity and Accountability in Youth Partnerships
Ena Suseth Valladares and Amelia Torres (California Latinas for Reproductive Justice)

Justice for Young Families (J4YF) is a long-term initiative that champions young people’s rights to self-determination and bodily autonomy, including their decisions about whether or not to become parents, as well as their right to parent the children they have within a supportive environment. In this session, presenters will engage in a lively conversation on how to promote the health, equity, opportunity, and dignity of young families and how we can shift our culture, communities, and society to uplift and improve the lives of all youth in order to ensure young people’s rights to education, access, and opportunities:

Alternative Facts: Implementing Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs in Conservative Communities
Tania Connaughton-Espino and Amanda Fritts (SHIFT NC [Sexual Health Initiatives For Teens])

Teen pregnancy prevention efforts in conservative communities can look very different depending on local social and political climates. North Carolina Youth Connected, a community-wide initiative in two NC counties, provides a clear example. The initiative’s roll-out coincided with the [2016] presidential election and passing of NC HB 2, the “bathroom bill.” The impact of this political climate played out very differently in these two communities as they attempted to mobilize the community around teen pregnancy prevention. We will highlight learnings from two years of on-the-ground pregnancy prevention work engaging community leaders and elected officials using data and media messaging.


Sessions in this track will provide youth-supporting professionals the opportunity to learn essential content and skills to improve their practice. By laying a solid foundation of knowledge and skills, and by having support from veterans in the field, professionals attending sessions in this track receive the high-quality professional development critical to nurturing the future leaders of our field. Examples from past Healthy Teen Network Conferences include:

Beneath the Mask: Implementing Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Prevention Education Through a Trauma-Informed Lens
Christine Keys (Klingberg Family Centers, Inc.), Kimberly Casey, and Aria Flood (Love146)

Participants will gain an understanding of the prevalence and impact of trauma on increasing youth vulnerabilities for risk-taking behaviors including sexual exploitation/trafficking and unhealthy relationships; principles of trauma-informed practice and implementation within the classroom or community setting; and lessons learned from the field in working with at-risk youth and confirmed minor survivors of trafficking. Through a guided discussion and group and individual activities, this interactive learning forum will provide participants with an opportunity to develop concrete strategies to implement in their youth-serving programs and gain access to resources for vulnerable populations.

New Approaches on Sex Education for Parenting Adolescents
Laura Pedersen and Paula Lehn (Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services)

Teaching adolescent parents about healthy relationships and sexuality is essential to their future success and to that of their child. It is a critical step towards preventing a rapid repeat pregnancy in this high-risk population. Attendees will be exposed to various teaching techniques used to engage adolescent parents on topics related to teen pregnancy prevention, with a focus on young parents being their child’s first teacher. Ultimately, utilizing approaches that empower adolescent parents to make healthy choices while raising their children will positively impact the negative cycle of children of teen parents becoming teen parents themselves.

Why Can’t We Call It Sex? Comprehensive Sex Education Curricula Must Incorporate All Experiences Including Those of LGBTQ+ Individuals
Ashley McLemore (New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene)

This roundtable begins to look into the ways in which “comprehensive” sex education isn’t always inclusive for everyone. The questions being posed for discussion during the roundtable have been controversial in the past and haven’t typically been a part of the social culture for a room of professionals to discuss with learning ears. This session incorporates the sexual and reproductive justice framework, gender-neutral language, and the importance of bodily autonomy from a comprehensive sex education perspective. This session is intended to spark intrigue and plant the seed for a unique, yet simple, intersectional human rights framework to be incorporated into current programming and services. Who is this for? It’s for everyone, intentionally wide-ranging for any conference participant such as parents, educators, and other professionals who are on the fence (or not) about their comfort level with inclusive comprehensive sex education for youth as early as pre-K.


No longer considered a buzzword, sustainability is here to stay. Whether you are looking at program sustainability, organizational sustainability, or the sustainability of our field—and the professionals who make-up our field—we can no longer dismiss the value of a well thought-out sustainability plan and execution of that plan. The Sustainability Track will offer you the chance to start, expand, and/or refine how you think about the future of your work. Examples from past Healthy Teen Network Conferences include:

GSAs Are Here to Stay: How to Use What Does Not Work as a Way to Plan for Sustainability
Alex Cicalese and Aiden Ramirez-Tatum (Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health)

For many LGBTQ+ youth, school is an unhealthy and unsafe place. Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs)—student-run clubs that provide safe space—have been shown to improve the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth. Building a Movement for Michigan (BAMM) GSAs is an important project working to develop and grow GSAs according to best practices. Presenters will share and facilitate activities and discussion about what does NOT work—lessons learned during the pilot year of direct GSA support. These lessons have proven beneficial in planning and initial implementation of creative sustainability strategies. Youth input and remote/virtual support will be discussed:

Building a Strong Board of Directors
Brigid Riley (Willow Consulting) and Bhupendra Sheoran (Youth+Tech+Health)

The Board of Directors is an integral part of every nonprofit’s governance structure. But a well-functioning Board does not just magically happen. In this interactive workshop, participants will learn strategies for building and maintaining a strong Board of Directors. Presenters will share information about typical stages of board development, and participants will be invited to review, discuss, and reflect on ways of finding, keeping, and getting the most from Board members. This workshop will be of benefit for those new to Board development, and those whose Boards could use some refreshment.

Preventing Staff Burnout
Milagros Garrido (Healthy Teen Network)

Retaining qualified employees is very important in providing quality services and programs, and the best way to ensure success in the future. Employee burnout and turnover is not unique to our field; most industries are facing high employee turnover and a shortage in the workforce. However, successful organizations realize that employee motivation is integral to sustaining their leadership, growth, and influence in the field at-large. Join us for this interactive session, where we will delve deeper into the complex issue of employee motivation and staff burnout.