Bonnie J. Rough
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Public Speaking


“Bonnie Rough's talk helped kick off our Fall program with a sold-out event for a roomful of enthusiastic parents and educators. Her warm, thoughtful advice and good humor helped our audience shed their inhibitions and think in new ways about teaching sex, consent, and gender equality. It was a pleasure to host!” - Edward Wolcher, Curator of Lectures, Town Hall Seattle

Bonnie J. Rough presenting at Town Hall Seattle, Septe 2018

Bonnie J. Rough presenting at Town Hall Seattle, Septe 2018

Talks that spark ideas

A vibrant, inspiring, and generous presenter who connects authentically with her audiences, Bonnie J. Rough has spoken to groups across the United States and overseas on topics ranging from culture and science to parenting, education, and the writer’s life. Her audiences vary in size and type from thousands of enthusiastic learners at professional conferences to heartwarming handfuls of book lovers gathered in living rooms. Getting right to the crux of those powerful matters that bring deep meaning to our family and civic lives such as sexuality, gender equality, and reproductive and family life, her empathetic, skillful handling of sensitive subjects earns her audience feedback such as “dynamic and funny,” “honest and open,” “clear and focused,” “eloquent and intimate,” “very moving,” and “helpful and encouraging.” Seasoned with authority and leavened with passion, her approachable delivery promises to ignite curiosity, stimulate creativity, and satisfy audiences with fresh, substantial takeaways. Her crowds often linger, sparked to exchange ideas and share the stories that flow from truly transformational experiences. See below for speaking topics.

Bonnie J. Rough speaking with high school students about consent in 2018

Bonnie J. Rough speaking with high school students about consent in 2018

Speaking Topics

Every talk is tailored to a specific audience, taking into consideration the key characteristics that make your gathering unique.

As new cultural movements throw fresh light on gender inequality in American life, parents and educators wonder: How can we raise children with healthy, positive, shame-free and egalitarian attitudes about bodies, gender, sex, and love? With a magnetic, warm, and funny combination of engaging cross-cultural reporting and real-life parenting experience, award-winning American author and journalist Bonnie J. Rough brings the birds and the bees fully into the 21st century, revealing practical, down-to-earth steps and a clear forward path for the growing wave of parents and professionals determined to better support children’s sexual health and overall wellbeing from birth onward at home, in schools, and across our evolving communities.

Parent Education
Customizable for PreK-12 parent audiences, this talk focuses on fresh, pragmatic at-home approaches to some of life’s most important lessons. Are you a first-time organizer of a PTA parent ed event? Bonnie will help walk you through the steps to make your speaker event a success!

Professional Development
For educators, this presentation centers on how schools can successfully bring day-to-day messages up to date and, when needed, how schools can inspire stakeholders to embrace the benefits of world-class comprehensive sexuality education.

School Speaking for Students
For students, Bonnie taps into up-to-the-minute social justice concerns and delivers a supportive message about healthy relationships and consent.

General and Professional Audiences
For blended audiences, Bonnie tailors a combined approach that reveals the fascinating connection between early, open, shame-free sex ed and the roots of equality and social justice.

Book Clubs and More
Bonnie also offers parent workshops, educational consulting, meeting facilitation, community reads, and book-club visits.

Workshops, trainings, and consulting: Bonnie is a trained facilitator; her workshops and professional consulting are uniquely outcomes-based.

School speaker Bonnie J. Rough offers a parent education coffee morning

School speaker Bonnie J. Rough offers a parent education coffee morning


“Thank you again for your work with us! I’ve heard from folks that they were thrilled to learn from you both at the keynote and your session following. For me, one of the most empowering parts of these professional development days is to hear from other humans that this sex ed stuff is completely do-able. Hearing about the Dutch and knowing that their outcomes are SO good, and that this is SO accessible and common sensical from the start is energizing—it really helped to disarm people and get them excited about guiding their kids (and students) in this way. Thanks for your message. — Amy Melchin, Organizer, AIMS MD/DC Sexuality Education Symposium 2018

“When Bonnie came to KapKa, she exceeded all our expectations. Her talk was eye-opening and inspiring, and her message really is beyond the birds and the bees, not only in the sense that it goes much deeper than the awkward and often over-simplified sex-talk we all know we need to have with our children, but also in the sense that it is about far more than sex education. Bonnie’s message is about equality, and it is about empowerment through knowledge; it is about relationships and it is about the conversations that keep them healthy; it is about body positivity and it is about self-esteem: it is about setting boundaries and, above all, it is about consent. In short, it is about normalizing, demystifying, even celebrating one of the most natural, essential, and wonderful aspects of our lives as human beings. Bonnie’s message will definitely help our small school and our families to do a better job raising healthy, wholesome children.”  — Balazs Dibuz, Director of Learning, KapKa Cooperative School

“Bonnie Rough’s visit to Roland Park Country School, an all girls school in Baltimore, MD was energizing and inspiring for our students, parents, and faculty alike. Bonnie’s words to our teenage girls opened their eyes to a world where they could feel comfortable and equal in all settings. Bonnie was easy to talk to, and parents were awakened to consider the power of initiating open conversations about their hopes and dreams with their children about their health and sexuality.” — Carolyn Parker, Director of Counseling, Roland Park Country School

“My students are still discussing Bonnie's visit to our class—months later. Their willingness to raise issues of consent and bodily autonomy and knowledge about their bodies inspires me, gives me hope for their futures, and is truly feminist. Thank you, Bonnie, for sparking this curiosity and self-awareness." — Courtney Caldwell, Director of Teaching and Learning 5-12, Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart

More praise for speaking

"Thanks so much for taking time to speak to our students today! These folks plan to go on to work in research and policy so it is critical that they recognize that their actions will impact real people and families—not just stories they hear or read. Personal revelations are the things that truly impact students!"
-Debra Lochner Doyle, University of Washington School of Public Health

"Amazing! Thank you for the eloquent and moving presentation."
-Member, NSGC Annual Education Conference

“Bonnie Rough is a fantastic storyteller. Her honesty and insight are invaluable.”
-Genetic Counselor/Atttendee, NSGC Annual Education Conference

"I really enjoyed our gathering and the low-key yet skillful way Bonnie facilitated." 
-Elsa, Seattle Parent Workshop participant

"Spectacular! This is the writer I want to be, most polished presenter I’ve ever seen." 
-Write on the Sound Conference attendee

"Helpful, humorous, sensitive, encouraging. Best presentation of the conference."
-Write on the Sound Conference attendee

"Her energy, commitment, charisma, knowledge and experience, and warm, gentle nurturing were just top notch."
-C.R., MFA student, Ashland University

Selected past speaking engagements (for schools, see events)

Science, Culture, and Literature
Town Hall Seattle
AIMS MDDC Sex Ed Symposium
National Society of Genetic Counselors
Edimer Pharmaceuticals
National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias
Motherhood and Words
The Loft Literary Center
Hugo House
Ladywell’s Vitality Spa & Sauna
Public libraries of Minnesota

Writing Conferences
Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP)
NonfictioNow Conference
Write on the River writing conference
Write on the Sound writing conference

University of Washington School of Public Health
University of Washington School of Medicine
University of California Santa Cruz
Texas Tech University
University of Iowa
Ball State University
Whitman College
Hamline University
Ashland University

...and many more, plus book clubs!


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