Talking about sexuality does not increase sexually transmitted infections, despite what non-experts report.
Contact: Megan Andelloux
Contact: Aida Manduley
In yet another attempt to shut down access to quality sex education, South-Eastern New England conservative advocates hit the sex panic button in a multi-state, email and phone campaign to colleges all over New England last week.
On February 3rd and 4th, certified sexuality educator and sexologist Megan Andelloux (AASECT, ACS) received word that numerous colleges and university faculty received a document stating that colleges who brought sex educators such as Ms. Andelloux onto their campuses were linked to the increasing rate of transmission of HIV in RI. Furthermore, among other misleading “facts” that were “cited,” the author of this bulletin claimed that Brown University was facing an HIV crisis, which is false.
When I was coming of age sexually there was no Scarleteen. And I was fortunate enough not to need it. If there is such a thing as a charmed introduction into one’s own sexuality, I had it. I had an open-minded mother who, without batting an eye, answered questions like “What’s a peckerhead?” when I was 8, and who bought me a copy of Our Bodies Ourselves when I was in my mid-teens. I had little formal sex ed in school but plenty of books at my disposal (including a copy of The Hite Report that I found in the basement in a box of old books). As a younger teenager I masturbated and was not ashamed, and when I decided I wanted to have sex, at 17, with my 22-year old boyfriend, I talked to my mother about it and despite thinking I was too young she understood that it was my decision and she took me to Planned Parenthood. To add to my good fortune, my mother's sister worked as a nurse at our local Planned Parenthood and so my mother and I both had plenty of confidence in the clinic.
I had high school boyfriends who, no more sexually experienced than I, were equally urgent in the fumbling explorations we pursued while never making me feel guilty for not “going all the way.” The aforementioned 22-year old boyfriend was sweet and gentle and playful when I decided I was ready for intercourse, and afterwards we drank milk out of wine glasses and read the comics in his most recent Playboy.
In college I felt free to explore sexually with my bisexual boyfriend and later came to realize my attraction to women in an environment that was open and supportive to that. When I introduced my first girlfriend to my family they were welcoming, and later when I married a man while disavowing monogamy they were accepting of that too.
Debra Haffner, minister, sexologist, and Executive Director of the Religious Institute, just wrote a post called "Adults are the problem with teen sexuality." I couldn't agree more. For very recent evidence she cites the fake prom in Mississippi, the threat by Wisconsin DA Scott Southworth to charge educators with crimes if they teach the state's sex ed curriculum, and the Catholic Church's ongoing inability to formulate a helpful response to the sex abuse scandal in its own ranks.
And then instead of focusing on the critical she turns it around and tells us what she wants teens to be able to expect from adults who are truly looking out for them:
What do I want teens (and the adults who care for them) to know? That forming a sexual identity is a developmental task of adolescents. That adults need to support the teen virgins and the teens who engage in sexual behaviors. That truth telling should be the hallmark of all of our programs. That adults will do everything they can to protect youth from abusive adults, regardless of profession. That young people have the right to ask questions and a right to have answers. That they deserve our respect and our support as they become adults.
Those are among the smartest words I've read about how we should be addressing the developmental needs of teens. At a time when others, guided by moral panic, are focused on keeping information away from teens Haffner understands what they really need: support, truth, trust and respect.
I'm glad there are people of faith out there who understand that sexuality is not an awful thing from which we need protection but rather a part of being human and something we need to cultivate and understand.
A few days ago a Wisconsin District Attorney made headlines by sending letters to all the school districts in the state warning their administrators and teachers that if they adopt the state's new sex education standards they risk being charged with crimes against minors.
How's that, you might ask? The new standards, which are now part of state education law, include teaching about the proper use of contraception. This, according to DA Scott Southworth, means encouraging kids to commit illegal acts. Encouraging someone to commit a crime is itself a crime. Thus teaching teens about the proper use of contraception is a crime. He equates this with teaching minors how to mix alcoholic drinks when they are too young to consume them or serve them.
This would not pass the critical thinking test in my Introduction to Sociology course. It fails on a few levels. Most obviously, teaching people about something is not the same as encouraging them to do it. I can teach about illegal drug use, the dangers of the same, the reasons people use the drugs, the routes that they follow to acquire the drugs, the different philosophies around addressing illegal drug use in communities, and the prevention strategies that work and that don't work. This does not mean I am encouraging my students to use illegal drugs.
A lavishly illustrated presentation
Rebecca Chalker, Ph.D. author ofThe Clitoral Truth
You’ve taken a walking tour of literary New York, Renaissance Harlem and the financial district (watch out for falling facades!) Now it’s time to take a walking tour of women’s least understood, but dynamic anatomical location!
Dr. Chalker provides a surprising “inside” look at women’s genital anatomy, revealing that what is almost universally though of as a pea-sized nubbin is, in reality, a powerful, responsive organ system. Beginning at conception, we’ll learn that fetuses masturbate in utero. Then we’ll explore the visible parts of the clitoris, the parts that cannot be seen, but can be felt, and finally the parts that can’t be seen or felt, and discover how these complex structures work together to produce pleasure and orgasm and why, for some women, orgasm may be elusive.
Sunday, April 18, 3:30 – 5:00 at
Eve’s Garden (http://evesgarden.com)
119 E. 57th St., 12th floor
Between 6 and 7th Avenues
Subways:57t St. @ 7th Avenue:N, R, Q, W.
59th Street @ Lexington:4, 5, 6.
Reservations Online: Enter an order and pay $15 by credit card or Pay Pal in advance and save $5 or check off pay by check and pay $20 by cash or check at the door.
Reservations By Telephone: Call 212-757-8651 and we will reserve your seat.
Seating is Limited... Make reservations now! "For women and men escorted by a woman"
Last night I was at a fundraiser for Madison Young's Femina Potens. The event was organized by Tied Up Events and all I can say is that if you have an event you need planning help with, you need to talk to them. They did a fabulous job.
I was exhausted and caught up in reconnecting with some dear friends and as a result I missed several important opportunities to meet people. Just now, chatting with Diva, I learned that one of those people was Cindy Gallop, whose work I first learned about from her site Make Love Not Porn. Her new project, If We Ran The World, is even more exciting. Please check them out.
Meanwhile, here's her 4 minute TED talk on Make Love Not Porn. I just watched it for the first time, and I think it's an important message: we need to be able to say what we like and what we don't like, and we need to refute at every opportunity the dominant idea that there is some kind of universal "right" way to have sex, and that mainstream porn is its guidebook.
It is beyond irksome that TED, whose tagline is "ideas worth spreading" has a policy that prevents this talk from being posted on its main site because subscribers "including children" would hear explicit language. Given that one of the main points of the talk is that kids need more and better information about sex it seems TED might decide these ideas are important to spread to young people!
I love Scarleteen. I am proud to be a monthly contributor. Why?
Scarleteen is one of the most reliable sources of independent sex education available to teens. By "independent" I mean that they receive no federal, state, or local funds and are also noncommercial.
Scarleteen is designed specifically for teens and presents sexual health information in a clear and nonjudgmental way. It is maintained by people who care deeply about making sure that teens have access to accurate information with which to make decisions about their bodies and their relationships.
From Heather Corinna, the indomitable force behind Scarleteen, I learned just how much use the site gets:
25,000 unique users daily, with an average of 3.5 page loads apiece.
43,000 registered users on their always-moderated message boards. Scarleteen's staff and voluteers have answered every one of teh 63,000 topis teens have posted, providing honest, accurate and nonjudgmental answers.
900 "Sexpert Advice" columns. "Sexpert Advice" is also syndicated on RH Reality Check (another fabulous information resource).
In addition to blog posts and active forms, Scarleteen runs a text message service where teens can text questions to 66746 (keyword "ASKST") and receive answers directly on their phones.
They do all this with very little money and the unbelievable energy of people like Heather Corinna. And because she is Heather Corinna, she has big plans for the future, provided the money is there. In Scarleteen's plans for 2010?
You may recall that Megan Andelloux's Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health was denied its opening at the Grant building in Pawtucket, RI, because according to the city council's zoning board the building was not zoned for educational purposes. Rebecca Chalker wrote about it here:
Megan is appealing that decision and needs your help.
If you live nearby and can attend the hearing please show your support for nonprofit sex education for adults. The details:
I was actually looking for some good sex-ed resources for linking here at SitPS when I recently stumbled across one of the most bizarre and counter-factual rants I've seen outside of the Discovery Institute's network of self-referential web-dust-collection blogs. Admittedly, I don't carouse around the right wing blogs often, preferring to have the straight stuff filtered for me by writers with a firmer grasp on reality. For that reason, I was thoroughly blind-sided by the utter credulity with which some blogger named Jill Stanek breathlessly repeated some pretty outlandish claims by a Canadian child psychiatrist named Dr. Philip Ney. I had never heard of Stanek, but after poking around it seems that she is a leading light of the forced birth/anti-sex-ed religio-political movement.
Apparently, Dr. Ney asserts not only that there is no need for comprehensive sex education for students, but that sex ed is detrimental to their mental health. Stanek doesn't really contribute much to this particular article herself, but opts to simply parrot some of Dr. Ney's "more noteworthy points".
Stanek begins her article with a rather foreboding exclamation.
With renewed debate over how to curb the rampant, irresponsible sexual activity of our youth - the other side pushing more of what sexualized our children to begin with - we thought it a good time to resurrect a good piece on Life Site News last year by Psychiatrist Dr. Philip Ney regarding sex education for children.
Right away, the tone of the article is set by the assumption the reader is supposed to take for granted - that our youth are engaging in rampant, irresponsible sexual activity. Even granting the assumption (a dubious proposition to begin with), the rational response of educating the youth in question is brushed aside without consideration by Stanek. Still, it's not unheard of for scientific findings to be counter-intuitive, so let's take a look at the "more noteworthy points" Stanek points to from Dr. Ney, and the evidence to support them.