In 2019 we teamed up with Y-Labs, a global design and research organization working to improve health and economic opportunity for young people, to rethink the way we educate young people about sex. Together we launched a pilot study called La Ventana where we worked with young people, parents and healthcare providers in El Salvador to explore whether pleasure-based sex education can bridge the gap between what young people want to know and what they need to know to have safe, and hopefully more pleasurable, sex. 

Comprehensive sex education doesn’t only help prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, it also helps people navigate sex and relationships giving them tools to avoid becoming vulnerable to exploitation as well as teaching them body ownership and security, which is key to preventing gender-based violence. One sex educator in El Salvador told us that parents often don’t accept that their kids should receive comprehensive sex education since they think it leads to increased sexual activity. Research, on the other hand, shows the opposite and sex education has been found to delay sexual debut.

Established in 2019 with the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, New York Chapter, which fosters creativity and inspires artistic and technical excellence through the renowned Emmy® Award, the Sharecare Awards celebrate the year’s most inspiring and impactful work that spark awareness and action toward better health. La Ventana was one of 56 finalists chosen across 14 categories including health activism, behavioral/mental health, chronic conditions, health/science news and program specials, and COVID-19 care/pandemic response.

We are incredibly excited to announce that La Ventana has been voted the winner of the Sharecare Award in the Health Activism category 2021. This is a huge win for pleasure-based comprehensive sex education.

Sex education, in the UK and around the world, needs to no longer be approached in a negative light, but in a positive, empowering environment that focuses on good safe sex. Emphasising teachings on consent, respect, how to communicate what you want with a partner and overall, how to achieve positive sexual relationships. So, people feel empowered to not only say no but to also communicate how they feel and what they want in a respectful, consensual way. The inclusion of sexual pleasure to create a sex-positive environment when learning about comprehensive sex education has been identified as something extremely important for individual health and wellbeing” (Gruskin et al., 2019).

We know that people with a positive view of their sexuality are more likely to make healthy decisions than those less comfortable with their sexuality. By opening the window to pleasure in conversations around sexual health, we can bridge the gap between what young people should know and what they want to know.

UPDATE from November 2, 2021: La Ventana didn’t just win the jury’s vote for Health Activism – but thanks to the outpour of support from all of you, it won the public vote and became the top scoring entry from all category finalists to receive the 2021 Sharing Care Emmy Award!

Sharecare President, Dawn Whaley, announced the prize with the following, “We all know knowledge is power, and this project shines a light on the gaps in sex education. Sex is the topic we’re sometimes really afraid to talk about. This piece reminds us not only should we talk about it, but that communication and honesty gives us the power over our own bodies and our own lives.” 

We’d like to thank everyone who came out and voted for this project and pleasure-based sex education, our partners at Y-Labs, the creative agency What took you so long?, all the young people and their parents who participated in interviews and co-designing the research project, our amazing partners in El Salvador – and not least – thank you Sharecare for putting pleasure center-stage!

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