Empowering Through Education: An Interview with Bill Taverner

Empowering Through Education: An Interview with Bill Taverner
Photo: Unsplash.com

By: Travis Hutton

Bill Taverner, a pioneering figure in sex education, has dedicated over three decades to advancing the field with an unwavering commitment to professional development, inclusivity, and social justice. Born and raised in Staten Island, New York, Taverner’s early engagement with community theatre and a profound love for the New York Mets hinted at his future prowess in fostering connections and addressing audiences with empathy and insight. He embarked on his academic journey at the State University of New York at Albany, earning a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, followed by a Master of Arts in human sexuality from New York University. His studies also took him abroad to Copenhagen, Denmark, for a cross-cultural international program, enriching his perspective on global sexual health issues.

As the Executive Director of the Center for Sex Education (CSE) and the founder and president of the Sex Ed Lecture Series, Taverner has been instrumental in creating platforms for educators to share knowledge and resources, especially during challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic. His role as editor-in-chief of the “American Journal of Sexuality Education” further underscores his commitment to academic rigor and accessible education.

Taverner’s extensive publishing record, including over 85 works ranging from curricula to articles and books, demonstrates his versatility and dedication to spreading comprehensive sex education. His latest works focus on demystifying sex education research and advocating for diversity and inclusion within the field.

His advocacy efforts have not gone unnoticed, as evidenced by multiple awards and recognitions, including prestigious acknowledgments from AASECT and the American Board of Sexology. Taverner’s impact extends beyond the United States, with training sessions conducted in various countries, highlighting his global influence on sexual health education.

Beyond his professional achievements, Taverner remains a devoted Mets fan, a loving father to his adult children, and an advocate for a balanced life. His journey from a passionate young actor to a leading sex educator embodies a commitment to lifelong learning, collaboration, and the pursuit of social justice in sexual health.

Q&A with Bill Taverner, Pioneer in Sex Education

Can you share how your early interest in community theatre has influenced your approach to sex education?

My time in community theatre taught me the power of storytelling and how to connect with an audience. In sex education, it’s crucial to engage your audience with compelling narratives that resonate with their experiences. Theatre also instilled in me the importance of empathy and understanding diverse perspectives, which is essential when addressing sensitive topics like sexuality.

What inspired you to pursue a career in sex education?

My inspiration stemmed from a realization of the significant gap in comprehensive, inclusive sex education. This gap included my own lack of understanding, which became quickly apparent with my first undergraduate course in human sexuality. During my studies in psychology and human sexuality, I recognized the profound impact that knowledgeable, compassionate sex education could have on individuals and society. I wanted to contribute to a world where everyone has access to the information they need to make informed decisions about their sexual health and relationships.

How did the Sex Ed Lecture Series come about, and what impact has it had since its inception?

The Sex Ed Lecture Series was born out of a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the community of sexuality educators connected and continuously learning. We’ve hosted over 200 webinars, providing a rich repository of resources for professionals. The impact has been phenomenal, fostering a sense of unity, promoting ongoing professional development, and expanding the reach of comprehensive sex education practices worldwide.

With such a vast number of publications, how do you decide what topics to tackle in your work?

My decisions are often guided by identifying gaps in the current sex education literature, feedback from the community, and emerging trends and needs in sexual health education. I aim to address topics that will have the most significant impact, promote inclusivity, and support educators and learners in navigating the complexities of human sexuality.

Reflecting on your awards and recognitions, which achievement do you find most rewarding, and why?

While each award holds a special place for me, being recently named a Diplomate by the American Board of Sexology stands out. It’s not just a recognition of my contributions but also a testament to the progress and increasing recognition of sex education as a vital field. This acknowledgment fuels my commitment to advancing the field further.

Alternate answer: Every year The Center for Sex Education gives out a Golden Brick Award, named for Peggy Brick, who led the Center before me and was one of my mentors. The award recognizes one’s contributions to sex education throughout the United States. One year, the Planned Parenthood education staff surprised me with an honorary Golden Brick Award, knowing how much Peggy meant to me, and knowing that I would never issue the award to myself! Peggy was a force in my professional career, teaching me how to develop interactive lesson plans that center the needs of the learner.

How do you see the future of sex education evolving, and what challenges do you anticipate?

The future of sex education is digital, global, and inclusive. We’re moving towards more accessible, interactive, and personalized education platforms. However, challenges remain, such as combating misinformation, ensuring equity in access to quality sex education, and continuously adapting to societal changes. The key is to remain flexible, innovative, and committed to inclusivity.

What advice do you have for those aspiring to work in sex education?

My advice is threefold: First, invest in your education and stay informed about the latest research and trends in the field. Second, engage with the community—networking is crucial for growth and learning. Lastly, approach this work with empathy, patience, and an open mind. Sex education is not just about imparting knowledge; it’s about fostering understanding, respect, and compassion.

Key Takeaways

  • Collaboration is Crucial for Success: Bill Taverner emphasizes the importance of collaborative efforts in achieving meaningful progress in sex education. His work, ranging from organizing the National Sex Ed Conference and founding the Sex Ed Lecture Series to editing significant publications, highlights how partnerships and sharing expertise are vital for advancing the field and creating impactful educational materials.
  • Commitment to Inclusivity and Social Justice: Taverner’s career is marked by a steadfast commitment to inclusivity and social justice. His advocacy for comprehensive sex education at congressional briefings, along with his efforts to ensure educational content is inclusive of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, reflects his dedication to creating a more equitable and informed society.
  • Lifelong Learning and Professional Development: Taverner’s journey illustrates the importance of continuous learning and professional growth. Through his extensive publications, participation in global training programs, and leadership roles in educational initiatives, he demonstrates that being open to new knowledge and experiences is key to personal and professional development in the field of sex education.


Published By: Aize Perez

Share this article

This article features branded content from a third party. Opinions in this article do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of Kivo Daily.