Let’s Talk About Sex
Health educator helps people ask the big questions
By Jessica Laskey
Kara Haug’s big message to everyone she works with as a sexuality health educator and counselor is, “You are worth the awkward.”
The co-founder of Reframing Our Stories, an organization that provides sexual health education, resources and tools for families and communities to normalize conversations around sex and relationships, made a career of easing uncomfortable conversations.
“I became a sex educator because I don’t want people to hurt anymore,” Haug says. “The amount of shame that we hold around sexuality is immense. But we don’t need to hold onto it. It can be let go, and part of that is talking about it and learning how to be educated around it. When we do that, we’re healthier.”
Haug’s interest in sexuality education was piqued in college as an undergrad studying psychology at Hope College in Michigan. She took a seminary class called “Sex and Sensibility” taught by a pastor and therapist that “really opened my eyes and changed me.” Haug realized before she could minister to others, she had to understand her own relationship to sexuality.
“I had to write a paper looking at the history of understanding how we were taught about sexual health, our relationships with our parents and siblings, who we first talked to about (sex), the main events in our life that were impactful,” she says. “I discovered so many cycles within my family system that I thought, whoa! Every single human needs to do this.”
After receiving a master’s in theological studies from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Haug went into youth ministry, where the most common questions she heard involved sex.
Parents came to her office concerned about what their kids were exposed to and how to deal with it. Even though she worked in one of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the nation, she saw kids who “seemed to be on the fast track to experience a lot of life, but didn’t know how to comprehend it.”
The same was true at her next job as a foster home licenser. On the opposite end of the socio-economic spectrum, Haug found the same confusion around sexuality, often compounded by sexual abuse.
“We are doing young people a really large disservice by not talking about sexual health,” Haug says. “People in extremely wealthy areas don’t have information, people in areas considered in poverty also don’t have information. The kids are trying to act out what they see and hear without understanding what’s going on. The cycle will continue until you try to stop it and learn about it.”
Haug returned to school at age 32 to earn a post-graduate certificate in sexual health education and counseling from University of Michigan. When she moved to Sacramento in 2015 for her husband’s job as a pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Midtown, she taught workshops on comprehensive sexual health “without the shame or guilt” under the name Grace Unbound.
She’s taught classes at churches, schools and for private clients all over the country, including Sacramento. One family was so impressed with their private Table Talk workshop that the mother approached Haug about becoming her business partner.
Together, Haug and Jenny Mohler launched Reframing Our Stories in 2020 to continue the work of giving people of all ages, but especially youth, a place to ask big questions.
“Kids often say to me, ‘Why is this class necessary?’ I tell them, ‘Because you deserve it,’” the Land Park resident and mother of two says. “You deserve to have really good relationships. You are worth the awkward. I look forward to the day I’m no longer asked that question.”
For information, visit reframingourstories.com.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.