Washington state sex shop is ‘defiant’ and will continue sex ed classes for young people despite vandalism

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Over the weekend, WinkWink, an adult store in Bellingham, Wash., was vandalized: CCTV footage showed a group of four people throwing rocks through store windows around 3 a.m. Local authorities have few suspects so far, but Jenn Mason, the owner of WinkWink, told Jezebel she is certain the smashed windows are linked to a recent increase in far-right threats against the store. and the sex education it provides to young people in the community.

Mason said she wouldn’t be deterred.

On Wednesday, WinkWink went ahead with hosting his Academy without cringe, an advertised “inclusive” sex ed workshop for tweens and teens of all genders and identities. Classes are separated by age group, with 9-12 year olds and 13-18 year olds receiving different lessons on topics such as consent and communication, the science of puberty and safer sex practices. This week, classes were moved to an undisclosed location due to the onslaught of threats and the anticipation of further violent protests.

“Sex education is essential for young people to have healthy and safe lives,” Mason told Jezebel in a phone interview. “To me, even with this small but menacing group of people harassing us, we are committed to doing the right thing. I am committed to showing up and teaching what needs to be taught and to being a resource for families. I know these far-right people want us to feel so intimidated that we stop, but I don’t negotiate with bullies.

WinkWink, closed since the vandalism, first drew the ire of right-wing activists when Fox News written about an event he hosted in June, a Queer Youth Open Mic night for kids ages 0-18. Of course, like dozens of sex education programs and drag queen story hours across the country, the store was subsequently featured on Tucker Carlson tonight. Carlson specifically criticized Mason, given that she is also an elected member of the Bellingham school board.

“I don’t understand,” Carlson said during his July 5 program. “You speak to my 9 year old son in a graphic way about sex in a public park, I punch you in the face and call the cops. If you do it in a school, I have to pay your salary and shut up?”

According to Mason, the mention was just the start of mostly hostile national attention.

“We faced relentless threats and harassment for weeks,” Mason said. “We basically spent the whole summer recruiting people from all over the country who contacted us and abused our staff, and who sent us threatening emails, voicemails and letters.”

The night before Mason spoke with Jezebel, she said she received an email from someone posing as a parent asking for the location of Wednesday’s workshops which turned out to be affiliated with violent neo-Nazi groups.

“It was actually quite well designed. It almost caught me, but I recut it,” Mason said. “He’s not on the list. And for some reason he used his real name.

Mason, who described herself as “angry” and “defiant” in response to the vandalism, told Jezebel that not only was the store forced to institute additional security measures, but because she was brought upon being a public figure against her will, she is chosen to attend classes in partial disguise.

But even as the investigation into the store’s smashed windows continues, WinkWink’s education continues, thanks in part to the encouragement of local parents who enroll their children in the workshops.

“There are people outside of our community, for the most part, who are trying to take away that education that parents want for their children,” Mason said. “The class has sold out. We had to add additional dates. So we know it’s something that families want. We haven’t had a single family abandon the classroom since media attention or vandalism.

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