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July 13, 2018

Patricia Schiller, Sex Ed And Therapy Innovator, Dies At 104

Patricia Schiller, one of the late 20th century’s most innovative sex educators and therapists and author of the book Creative Approach to Sex Education and Counseling, has died of cardiovascular disease at the age of 104, The Washington Post reported last weekend. Much of Schiller’s groundbreaking work in creating new ways to discuss human sexuality without appearing judgmental or uptight took place in Washington, D.C., at a time when sexual topics remained largely taboo or at least highly uncomfortable for Americans. In fact, according to the Post, Schiller found her calling largely by accident when she was a teacher at a Washington, D.C., middle school and became disturbed on seeing the numerous teenage girls who dropped out of school when they became pregnant. Schiller realized that by communicating about sexuality with the girls in a relatable and relaxed way, she could help the teens stay in school and finish their educations, the Post wrote. In 1963, She founded a special school, Webster Girl’s School, specifically for pregnant teens, with the philosophy that the cycle of poverty is perpetuated not only by broken homes, but by lack of information about sex resilting from an attitude that sexuality is shameful and embarrassing. Later, in 1967, she founded the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, America’s first certification organization for sex educators. Her view of sexuality was that it should be a way for people to become more “warm and caring” toward each other, and a “function of being human,” according to a New York Times report on her death. But she did not see sex as the ultimate goal of romantic relationships. “When all there is between people, is sex, it’s time to split,” she once said, as quoted by The Times. “We’re not sexual acrobats, learning all the steps and strokes.” She also displayed a sense of humor about her public image as an advocate of sexual openness. “They say, ‘Ha, ha, there’s the dirty old lady, there’s the sex maniac,’ ” she said in 1978. “But I don’t mind. I enjoy it.” Schiller encouraged her clients and students to take a realistic approach to sex—to take the pressure off when it comes to putting on a stunning performance in bed. Sex need not be “a gourmet dinner every time. It can also be just, well, it can be a sandwich and a Coke.” Schiller was born Pearl Silverman on October 27, 1913, in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. Trained as a lawyer at Brooklyn Law School, she relocated to the nation’s capital in 1941 where she worked for the National Labor Relations Board. In 1990, she moved again, to Palm Beach, Florida, with husband Irving Schiller who passed away in 2007. The couple had been married for 64 years. She passed away on June 29, her family said. Photo supplied to media outlets by Patricia Schiller Family

 
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