Archive for March, 2015

Teaching Sex Ed Just Got Easier

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Each year, in classrooms around the country, teachers of all kinds are tasked with implementing the National Sexuality Education Standards – a list of seven learning objectives established by leading health officials, researchers and educators in 2011. Yet many of those educators continue to struggle to find engaging and effective tools to teach what can often feel like a complicated topic.

That’s where Straightlaced comes in.

“One thing that continues to impress us about Straightlaced and the accompanying curriculum is that there is nothing else like it out there. We can’t think of anyone else who is addressing gender in such a meaningful way with young people. And gender must be addressed if we’re going to make real change when it comes to dealing with sexism, homophobia and transphobia.”
– Lucinda Holt, Director of Communications, Answer, the national sexual education training organization

In an increasingly diverse world, where harassment, bullying and relationship violence are all too common experiences for high schoolers, teachers need to be ahead of the curve when it comes to discussing gender and sexuality. So we’ve aligned our award-winning documentary film-based curriculum and resource Guide with the national sex ed standards, to make it easier for high school educators to engage their students!

“We believe firmly, as these standards outline, that addressing the constraints of gender norms will help all students live healthier lives.” said Debra Chasnoff, founder of GroundSpark. “Aligning Straightlaced with these standards is about working towards achieving that goal.”

Through our alignment we’ve outlined the specific activities, video clips and lesson plans that can be used to meet the requirements for various grade levels. And because everything connects to our award-winning youth-focused film, we know these interactive lessons are especially likely to resonate with teenagers.

We also know that we can’t afford to wait any longer to implement these ideas and improve sexuality education.

According to a 2011 Dove study, 72% of teen girls feel enormous pressure to live up to society’s beauty ideals. While the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network reports that 85% of LGBT youth in the U.S. are verbally harassed at school each year. These factors can lead to diminished self-esteem, absenteeism and lower grades.

GroundSpark is committed to improving school environments for youth everywhere, and our Straightlaced Curriculum and Resource Guide, now aligned with the National Sexuality Education Standards, is a powerful tool to help us all create safer, more inclusive classrooms.

Download the guidelines here.


Joining Forces With Documentary Film “Read Me Differently”

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GroundSpark is proud to partner with Read Me Differently, an award-winning documentary directed by Sarah Entine, MSW. We’ve just helped Sarah launch the Read Me Differently Initiative, a campaign to spread understanding of how learning disabilities (LD) affect life experiences outside of the classroom.

Read Me Differently is a brave and intimate film that reframes how we talk about learning disabilities, and through this initiative we are working with Sarah to open up more conversations about the crucial underlying issues reflected in the film.

Read Me Differently makes it patently clear that learning differences are much more than simply ‘academic’ challenges,” says GroundSpark’s president, Debra Chasnoff. “We’re honored to be partnering with Sarah Entine to bring more attention to the social, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of grappling with LD as well.”

We are working with organizations involved in education, parenting support, mental health and social service fields to transform this conversation. The Read Me Differently Initiative lays out six core beliefs – ranging from the importance of widespread awareness to the value of social-emotional learning – that can help families, educators, and service providers understand LD beyond their potential impact at school.


The RMD Initiative recommends action steps that organizations and individuals can take to further this vision, including calling on all family members to obtain the education and training to understand how LD affects the family system, and encouraging teachers to be better trained to deal with the spectrum of LD their students may have. 

Over the past 20 years, GroundSpark has pioneered a long-term social change strategy that pairs documentary film distribution with political and community organizing and professional development on how to use their films to make a difference.

“This is one of the first times GroundSpark has brought its experience of harnessing the power of documentary films to ignite change to work on behalf of an outside producer. I’m very excited to have GroundSpark by my side as an organizing partner.”
– Sarah Entine, MSW, Director of Read Me Differently

Learn more about the Read Me Differently Initiative here.