SEASIDE, Ore. – Organizers of a controversial Adolescent Sexuality Conference recently canceled this year’s meeting after a news investigation into the content presented at last year’s event prompted public outrage.
The Oregon Teen Pregnancy Task Force is pulling the plug on its state-sponsored Adolescent Sexuality Conference that was scheduled for April 7-8 in Seaside.
The move comes as the task force faces mounting public criticism over a KOIN 6 investigation that highlighted materials and speakers presented to students as young as 11 years old at last year’s conference.
That investigation focused on pamphlets given to students about bathing together, phone sex, “How to Get Your Groove on Fluid Free,” and other publications the state’s Department of Education has since deemed “not appropriate.”
The news station also released an audio recording of the conference’s 2014 keynote speaker, Cory Silverberg, who gave an hour-long presentation on sex and technology in which he showed students how to use the adult porn site VirtualFem.
The recording captures Silverberg making the following comments to students:
“You see the film of the of the oral sex scene?”
“The pornographers have filmed different women. You go into the website, you can choose your woman.”
“This person is engaging in pony play.”
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“This avatar human is wearing the kind of gear that you can go into a leather store and buy. It’s basically like giant hooves.”
The coverage provoked a fierce backlash from the public, criticism from local law enforcement, and calls from lawmakers for event organizers to testify about the graphic, inappropriate presentations and materials.
KOIN 6 now reports Oregon Teen Pregnancy Task Force has killed this year’s event just weeks before it’s set to start in Seaside April 7.
“The Oregon Teen Pregnancy Task Force Board has made the choice to cancel the 2015 Adolescent Sexuality Conference (ASC),” according to an email acquired by the news site.
“For over 30 years the ASC has provided valuable content and discussion to inform and engage public educators, health professionals, parents and youth,” it continued. “Our mission continues to be focused on facilitating communication and awareness on all facets of healthy sexuality for youth in our community. While remain clear in our vision, we feel current conditions have shifted the setting and our ability to offer open, safe and honest conversations about sexuality. …”
It seems likely that Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin, who oversees the county where the conference is held, is contributing to those “current conditions.”
“The Sheriff’s Office will continue to monitor the activities surrounding the sex conference in Seaside to make sure no illegal activity occurs,” Bergin wrote in a letter to KOIN 6. “Hopefully, after Oregonians viewed the story on KOIN, they now have a better sense of what was truly being taught and they simply will not send their children to this state sponsored debacle.”
Of course, the cancelation could also be due in part to the fact that many Oregon schools have opted against sending students at all this year, KOIN 6 reports.
Increased oversight may also be a factor in the cancelation.
Rob Saxton, Oregon’s deputy superintendent of public instruction, has defended the conference, but he also said the state planned to get more involved and vowed to vet materials given to students at this year’s event.
“If we’re going to continue to participate in the planning we need to make sure that any resources that they are going to hand out we have the right to review before before they get handed to anybody at the conference, that they can be handed out to children,” Saxton told KOIN 6 last month.