January 21, 2019
Sexuality Superheroes: Melissa Pintor Carnagey
It’s time to feature another Sexuality Superhero. This week, our Sexuality Superhero is: Melissa Pintor Carnagey. Melissa is doing some important sex positive work with individuals, parents and children. Happy reading!
How did you find yourself working in sexuality?
It was literally from a draw of a hat! In 2007 I was in an undergraduate social work class and we had to research a particular population’s area resources, statistics, and needs. From a hat, I drew “HIV/AIDS.” It was through completing this research project, which included interviewing people working in the field, and learning how disproportionately affected the Black community is that I knew I wanted to be a part of change. I did a year-long internship at an AIDS services organization, which segued into a ten-year career in the field of sexual health. In 2017 I made the leap from working as a consultant with a state agency to being a sex educator in my own business, Sex Positive Families. I’ve been able to take my expertise in the field and combine it with my lived experience of 20 years of parenting and raising sexually healthy children to do the work I do now educating families. I also teach sex-ed classes to youth via organizations like EngenderHealth and Unhushed. Looking back, the path was very purposeful. I just didn’t realize it as it unfolded.
What is the best part of the job?
Great question! I love creating shame-free spaces for topics that society has stigmatized or deemed taboo. Whether it’s in-person, in classrooms or workshops, or it’s in online spaces, when people truly feel safe to express their curiosities or their real experiences with sexual health topics, that’s when breakthroughs happen and people have the tools and resources to make informed choices.
What is the most challenging part of the job?
Dealing with gatekeepers who don’t want people, especially young people, to have access to accurate and shame-free sex education. They can come in the form of politicians, media, religious leaders, school administrators, or even parents. Knowledge is power, and it’s frustrating when you see people using their influence to inhibit other’s access to the power they can have within their sexual health.
What is your most important piece of advice that has the potential to revolutionize relationships?
Informed kids grow into empowered adults. When children are raised with a foundation of knowledge and support specific to their sexual health, they have the ability to make informed decisions about their body, consent, relationships and sex. Many adults of today lacked early and ongoing education and mentorship in these areas. The #MeToo movement is a direct result of that.
What do you do to decompress and take care of yourself given that you spend so much time helping and caring for others?
I love great food, going at my own pace, affirmations and ASMR.
What do you want people to know about your work as a sex educator, and the founder of Sex Positive Families?
That it’s not just for parents. A great number of the people that follow this work are adults who do not directly take care of children and who share regularly that they find this education and work to be a meaningful part of reeducating and healing themselves, often from childhood traumas.
Where can we learn more about your work?
You can find us online at sexpositivefamilies.com. We have downloadable guides, resources, podcast episodes and blog posts that offer education to help families raise sexually healthy children. One of our most popular resources is our Sex Positive Families Reading List with over 100 curated books about sexual health topics for children and adults of all ages. In February, we are launching an ambassador program which will give sex positive parents and caring adults the education and tools to bring this content into their communities. We continue to book new workshops for 2019 and have a very active online community via Instagram and Facebook, so being plugged in there is the best way to stay connected with us.
Melissa Carnagey is a sex educator and social worker with over ten years’ experience in sexual health. She is the founder of Sex Positive Families, an organization that offers pleasure-positive, shame-free education, workshops and support for families and professionals to strengthen sexual health talks with the children in their lives. Her work has been featured across numerous podcasts, at national conferences and in news outlets such as HuffPost and Unilad. Alongside Sex Positive Families, she teaches sexuality education to middle and high school students with EngenderHealth and Unhushed, and serves as an ambassador for the American Sexual Health Association as well as Erika Lust’s The Porn Conversation. Melissa lives in Austin, Texas with her partner Ryan, raising their three children between the ages of 5-19.