As parents across the state fight against explicit books in their children’s schools, one education conference aimed at Texas teachers is promoting “porn literacy” in high school sex education classes.

Every year, the South by Southwest festival sponsors SXSW EDU, a conference held in Austin for teachers and other educators that advertises “learning and discovery for all education stakeholders.” The four-day event features programming based on 11 different themes in education, including Global Initiatives, Accessibility and Inclusion, and Policy and Civic Engagement.

The conference also offers an Equity and Justice track, which addresses “work championing equity, justice, access, diversity, and inclusion in education and beyond, including social and economic disparities, culturally responsive teaching, anti-racism practice, LGBTQ+ issues, restorative justice and more to ensure equitable opportunities and outcomes for all.”

Last week, SXSW EDU announced half of their 2023 conference’s 185 sessions and workshops, including presentations on “Developing Antiracist, Pro-Human Students,” “Counteracting Book Bans Through Libraries,” and “All In: How Educators Can Support Student Activism.”

Another session, entitled “Why Porn Literacy Belongs in Sex Education” and hosted by “clinical sexologist” Avril Louise Clark, calls on educators to include discussions of pornography in sex education classes for minors.

“With the lack of comprehensive sex ed in schools, porn has become the new sex education. … By shedding light on the highly controversial debate on free online porn and today’s online sex culture, we are campaigning for a more educated and alert generation who are prepared and ready to make better choices about their sexual health, driven by knowledge and not by fear or shame.”

The talk’s sponsor, The Porn Conversation, also offers free resources for teachers and encourages educators to discuss STIs and HIV with students ages 8 to 11. Curriculum for students 16 years old and up promotes a “pleasure-based” instructional model and directs teachers to “refrain from using negative or positive porn commentary to create a shame-free environment.”

Although SXSW EDU is still several months away, the organization is calling for teachers and school administrators to register for admission badges and book hotels now. The conference also provides a pre-written “Make the Case Letter” for teachers to send to their school administrators and “convince” them to pay for an entrance badge and travel costs with taxpayer dollars.

Currently, SXSW EDU is offering early registrants a rate of $495 per entry badge. However, a badge only provides access to the conference’s programming and does not cover meals, hotel fees, or other travel expenses.

Last year, four Texas school districts spent thousands of taxpayer dollars to send employees to the SXSW EDU conference. Austin Independent School District spent more than $4,000, Fort Worth ISD paid more than $9,000, and San Antonio ISD sent one teacher for $525. Meanwhile, Round Rock ISD—a district embroiled in controversy—paid more than $12,000 in registration fees to send 30 employees to the education conference.

Concerned parents and citizens can contact their local school district to find out if they plan to send employees to the SXSW EDU conference with taxpayer dollars.

Katy Drollinger

Katy is eager to use her skills in writing and research to accurately report on issues for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.

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