Healthy Adolescent Sexuality: Why Gender Matters

Instructors:  Katie Willard Virant, JD, MSW, LMSW & Austin Evans Wilmot, MSW, LCSW

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Virant, Katie 2018Dates: Thursdays, February 21, 28, March 7, 2019

Time:  7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Location: Institute Classroom A, 8820 Ladue Road, 3rd Floor, St. Louis, MO 63124

This course is available via Distance Learning.  Details HERE.

Fee: $80

Course Level:  Introductory

This program, when attended in its entirety, is offered for: 4.5 Credit Hours

Adults often struggle in knowing how best to support teens’ sexual development.  We posit that an understanding of gender norms is essential in helping adolescents navigate sexuality.  This workshop will examine those cultural influences on gender that inhibit adolescents (and Wilmot, Austin 2017adults) from a full exploration and expression of sexuality.  As we consider ways to resist this curtailment of freedom and foster progressive psychological development and identity formation, we will turn to contemporary models of healthy adolescent sexuality.

We wish to gather mental health clinicians, professionals who work with adolescents, and others to learn from one another.  While social science and psychoanalytic articles will be suggested as reading to ground our discussions, we also will include more generally accessible materials, including video clips and newspaper articles.  We stress that everyone interested in these issues – regardless of educational or professional background – is welcome to participate in this workshop.  We believe that participants’ lived experiences are valuable, as we learn with and from one another.


Class 1:  What’s in the Water?

Adolescents learn about sexuality as they learn about gender.  That is, what it means to be a girl or boy influences how we conceptualize and experience sexuality.  We will focus on how the sexual objectification of women harms both girls and boys.

  1. Describe Fredrickson and Roberts’ objectification theory.
  2. Articulate the connection between objectification and mental health risks for adolescents.

Class 2:  I Was a Boy, Too

Recognizing that current gender norms inhibit full personhood, we will consider ways to disillusion and reimagine gender.

  1. Describe Schiller’s concept of disillusioned gender.
  2. Predict how adolescent sexuality would be affected by a cultural acceptance of Schiller’s theory.

Class 3:  Where Do We Go from Here?

We will examine a contemporary model of adolescent sexual development focusing on building skills that nurture all facets of identity.  This model sees sexuality as an integral part of positive personhood rather than as a separate enterprise, arguing for the importance of selfhood, negotiation, and empowerment.

  1. Describe Arbeit’s theory of “sexual selfhood”.
  2. Assess whether implementation of Arbeit’s model will contribute to healthy adolescent sexuality.


 Click HERE for Continuing Education Credit details.