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Gender and Sexuality in PreK-12: Where Have We Been? Where Are We Now? What's Next??

Date: Wednesday - January 15, 2020
Time: All Day
Location: Mohonk Mountain House

Wednesday, January 15 - Friday, January 17, 2020
Speakers: Jennifer Bryan, Deborah Roffman, Justine Fonte & Ricco Siasoco 
Mohonk Mountain House
New Paltz, NY
Phone 845-255-1000

Sold Out

Sold Out - Register Here to join the wait list.

A blend of theory and practice, this program is designed for: 

  • PreK-12 classroom teachers
  • Administrators
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion staff
  • Residential life staff
  • Counselors
  • Sexuality educators
  • Health and wellness teachers and coordinators
  • Nurses
  • Other interested school personnel 

In this, our 7th year of offering the NYSAIS Gender and Sexuality Conference, we explore “the state of the field” to better understand where PreK-12 educators have been in this domain and where we should be headed.

Meeting the identity development needs of students has always required age-appropriate education and caring guidance. Today’s “whole child” approach to education means that engaging with one aspect of identity (e.g. sexual orientation) requires understanding and attentiveness to the highly intersectional nature of all identities (e.g. race, religion, culture, SES).

A baseline understanding of what biological sex, gender and sexuality are (and are not) is the foundation for engaging with our contemporary, complex, ever-changing constructions of identity. For example, how should we think developmentally about cross-gender identification for a 1st grader? 8th grader? Senior? What should we understand culturally if this same student is Black? The parents are Muslim? The family is Korean?  

We recognize that both individual teachers and their school communities are in various places in terms of competencies and confidence. When it makes sense to do so, we will offer more basic and more advanced break-out groups to scaffold participants’ learning.  

The conference is didactic, experiential and interactive, with plenty of hands-on opportunities for participants to apply core concepts to authentic school scenarios, as well as classroom teaching. The overarching goal is to impart the knowledge, self-awareness, and skills needed to create school communities where everyone feels safe and fully included, regardless of how they identify or express themselves. 


All general sessions and home groups in Parlor. All meals in the Main Dining Room. Cocktails and tea in Lake Lounge.



Tea in Lake Lounge. Registration outside Main Parlor

4:30 – 5:15



Session 1: Conference Opening
Jennifer Bryan, Deb Roffman, Ricco Siasoco

  • Introduction to Conference
  • Temporary Learning Community
  • 3 Narratives: 3 Truths
  • Self/School Assessment; Learning Goals 

5:15 – 6:30


Session 2: Building Blocks of Gender and Sexuality
Jennifer Bryan and Ricco Siasoco

  • New Diagram of Intersecting Identities
  • GSD: One Paradigm for Considering Sex, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Old Language, New Language
  • Labels vs. Identity Development
  • Intersectionality (Race, Religion, Culture)


Cocktails in Lake Lounge followed by Dinner in Main Dining Room


7:00 – 7:45

Breakfast  in Main Dining Room

8:00 - 8:15

Introduction to Affinity Groups

  • Pedagogy, Research, Practice

8:15 – 8:40

Affinity Group 1

8:50 - 10:30


Session 3: The 5:5 Paradigm: Five Core Development Needs, Five Corresponding Roles for Adults in Nurturing Healthy Children and Adolescents
Deborah Roffman

  • Affirmation
  • Information
  • Clarity About Values
  • Limit Setting
  • Anticipatory Guidance




Session 4: Mapping Intersectionality onto GSD and 5 Core Needs
Ricco Siasoco

  • Kimberle Crenshaw
  • Multiple Perspectives, GSD & 5 Core Needs
  • Intersectionality in Classrooms, Policies, and Practices
  • Social Justice/Privilege

11:50 - 12:15

Affinity Group 2

 12:20 – 1:20

Lunch in Main Dining Room

1:30 – 2:40

Session 5: Case Studies

Lower School  - Parlor

Middle School - Sunset

Upper School - Suite 61

  • Gender and Sexuality Diversity/5:5
    Paradigm/Intersectionality Application
  • Small Group Case Study Work
  • Share Out: Application of Paradigms; Biggest Challenges
  • Practice; Role Play Biggest Challenges

2:45 – 3:00

StopLight Assessment: Reflection; Synthesis; Questions

3:00 – 5:30

Free Time

5:30 – 6:30


Session 6: Unconference
Facilitator: Barbara Swanson, NYSAIS
Explore topics and challenges that interest you, either within the conference theme or not.


Cocktails in Lake Lounge followed by Dinner in Main Dining Room


7:00 – 8:00

Breakfast in Main Dining Room

8:10 – 9:15

Session 7: Questions, Challenges, Opportunities

9:15 - 9:30

Break / Transition

 9:30 – 11:30
Concurrent Sessions: choose one

Session 7A: Deborah Roffman in Parlor
Lower School: Sexuality Education, PreK – 6

  • Thinking Pedagogically--Not Emotionally--about Sexuality Education for Young Children
  • Age Appropriateness: How to Think about Scope and Sequence, PreK-6th
  • How to Notice and Intervene Around "Subtle" GSD Dynamics in Lower Schools
  • 20 Strategies for Growing and Protecting Lower School Sexuality/GSD Education

9:30 – 10:30
Concurrent Sessions: choose one

10:40 - 11:40

One Hour Sessions

Session 7B: Ricco Siasoco and Jennifer Bryan in Suite 61
Middle School and Upper School 

9:30 - GSD - Intersectionality 101-201

10:40 - GSD - Intersectionality 101-201


Session 7c: Middle & Upper School Porn Literacy 101 in Sunset
Justine Fonte, Dalton School

The prevalence and access to pornography have changed how we understand our bodies, behaviors, and beliefs about sex. How do we promote sex-positivity when pornography is the default sex ed for a lot of young people? This session will interrogate its positive and negative impacts through an intersectional feminist lens. 

The Psych Show Episode on Porn Literacy


11:45 - 12:30 Q and A; Plans for the Future; taking it back to the classroom. 


Lunch in Main Dining Room and Departure


Deborah Roffman, MS, a nationally acknowledged expert on human sexuality education in independent school settings, teaches this topic in the lower, middle, and upper schools at The Park School of Baltimore, and has taught as well as several other schools in the Baltimore/Washington area. She has consulted nationally with more than 300 private and public schools and is the author of three books for parents and teachers, most recently Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ Go-To Person About Sex (Perseus, 2012).

Ms. Roffman is in constant demand as a speaker and workshop leader for PreK-12 parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, and trustees. She brings decades of classroom experience to her presentations and her trainings and consultations around such issues as: barriers to implementing truly age and stage appropriate PreK-12 sexuality education, and how to diffuse them; families and schools as authentic partners in nurturing sexually healthy children and adolescents; the application of values education (including religious values) to sexuality curricula; sexuality education scope and sequence; and best-practice classroom approaches. She presents on a full range of topics connected to sex, gender, and reproduction, including such timely issues as sexual assault and consent.

Debbie is widely known for her ability to help parents and school personnel embrace comprehensive sexuality education from the earliest grades, through her laser focus on clear and present development needs, our collective adult responsibilities in meeting them, and the common ground of values that parents and schools deeply share but often overlook.

Jennifer Bryan, PhD, is a psychologist, consultant, coach, speaker and author with over 35 years of experience working in educational and clinical settings. She earned her masters and doctorate in counseling psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, a BA in creative writing from Princeton University and studied for a year at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. As founder and principal of Team Finch, Inc. she specializes in helping schools and organizations create inclusive communities by understanding and addressing gender and sexuality diversity.

She began her career teaching English and coaching at The Hotchkiss School, taught briefly at Northfield Mount Hermon School and was a graduate level instructor in Group Theory, Dynamics and Practice in the Counseling Psychology department at Teachers College, Columbia University and at the Smith College School for Social Work in Northampton, MA. Because she deeply understands the dynamics of PreK-12 school life, Jennifer is at home working with all constituents. A typical school consultation includes working with the Administrative Team, providing professional development for faculty and staff, conducting a parent education workshop, advising the Board of Trustees, facilitating a conversation with middle school students and reading aloud to second graders.

In addition, Jennifer conducts workshops for Division Directors, Department Chairs, Deans, and Student Life Personnel that focus on leadership development, effective communication skills, and working with groups. She speaks at national and regional conferences, and her book From the Dress-Up Corner to the Senior Prom: Navigating Gender and Sexuality Diversity in PreK-12 Schools. (Rowman and Littlefield, 2012) is a go-to resource for educators and parents. Jennifer also coaches individuals and groups who want to grow their leadership capacities, improve performance and deepen satisfaction in work well done.

In all aspects of her work, Jennifer uses psychological and pedagogical frameworks, skilled group facilitation, and a lively sense of humor to help administrators, teachers, staff, coaches, parents, trustees and students learn and grow. This is work she loves and feels privileged to do.

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco has more than 17 years of educational experience as a diversity practitioner, faculty member, and senior administrator in K-12 independent schools, undergraduate colleges, and a graduate school of education. He is currently the Director of Equity & Inclusion at the Chadwick School in Los Angeles. 

Prior to joining Chadwick, Ricco served as a diversity practitioner and middle/upper school English teacher at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School (go Eagles!). He has also served as the Director of Undergraduate Affairs at Prep for Prep, where he assisted students of color in navigating financial, academic, and logistical concerns. His research interests are anti-bias education, critical pedagogy, gender studies, and indigenous literature. 

Ricco received his MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and has taught at Columbia University, Boston College, and the Massachusetts College of Art. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Center for Fiction, and Lambda Literary. His short story collection, The Foley Artist, is forthcoming from Gaudy Boy in 2019. He is a board member of Kundiman, a nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature. Ricco is completing an Ed.D. in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. 

Justine Ang Fonte is the founder and Director of Health & Wellness at The Dalton School, a K-12 independent school in New York City. She also works as a consultant to schools and speaker for teachers, parents, and students in both public and private school institutions across the United States on feminist-based sex education.

Her work as a teacher began in middle school mathematics which gave her the groundwork to understand the administrative structures in school systems. She experienced first hand the negative impact that insufficient health care and access had on her math students’ learning. She co-authored for the National Association of Independent Schools, Sexuality Education: An Overview for Independent Schools.

She received her Master's in Education from the University of Hawai`i and her Master's in Public Health from Columbia University.

Transportation - buses from Port Authority to New Paltz run frequently.

Registration is a 2-step process. Be sure to do both.
1. Reserve your room with Mohonk - do one of the following.
  • Reserve online
  • Click here to download the Mohonk Residential Reservation Form (room and board)
  • Click here if you will be a day guest at Mohonk (meals only)
  • Or reserve by phone: 800-772-6646
  • Need car service? Please give the Mohonk 24 hours notice, or call a local taxi.
2. Sold Out Conference Registration and Credit Card Payment*

Regular Registration Fees 
    •    NYSAIS Members - $430.00
    •    Non-members - $470.00

Early Discount of $40.00 will apply until 4 weeks before the event.
Late fee of $40.00 will apply within 2 days of the event.

Questions about registration? Email
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© 2013 New York State Association of Independent Schools

site map   |   privacy policy   |   contact us
17 Elk Street (First Floor)     Albany, NY 12207     Tel: 518-694-5500     Fax: 518-694-5501

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