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I don't even KNOW right now. WHUT?
D.C.'s Murderous Prostitution Policy

This is the stupidest thing
I’ve heard so far this year.

Anti-prostitution policies in D.C. pose serious threats to health and safety of community members identified or otherwise targeted as sex workers. Two policies stand out in particular: first, “move along” polices geared at cleansing certain neighborhoods of sex workers; and second, the use of condoms and safe sex as evidence to arrest or prosecute someone for prosecution and the related practice of confiscating and destroying condoms and other safe sex materials.


I hardly know where to begin. For starters, as a former HIV/AIDS prevention educator, I think carrying condoms and having them on hand is a terrific idea for anyone who’s sexually active. Period. When my boys are old enough I plan to tell them “the facts of life,” right down to how to protect themselves and their partners from STD’s, unwanted pregnancies, etc.

Sure, as a parent, I’d prefer that they abstain from having having sex until they are old enough and mature enough to deal with all the potential consequences and outcomes. But at the same time, if they’re going to be sexually active, I’d want them to use condoms. I’d want them to have condoms with them. I’d make sure they know how to use them. I’d even go to the drug store and buy condoms, and give them to my boys myself, to make sure they have them.

(I’d do the exact same thing for a daughter, if I had one, because I’d want her to have her own on hand.)
Because I’m a parent, but I’m also a realist. I don’t imagine that not teaching them about condoms, and not they have them is somehow going to stop them from having sex. They’re people. People have sex. People have sex with or without condoms, birth control, etc. People have sex without regard for the consequences, sometimes. And I don’t think my kids should have their lives unalterably changed by an STD or unplanned pregnancies, just for having sex. I don’t think they should sacrifice their lives for having sex. I don’t think anyone should. People have sex. There’s little you can do to stop them.

The Politics of Being Transgender (Seriously Mr. Letterman? Really?)

Barack Obama made the first transgender political appointments that we know of recently–Amanda Simpson, appointed last week as senior technical adviser in the Bureau of Industry and Security in the Commerce Department, and Dylan Orr, special assistant to Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathleen Martinez in the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor–but even David Letterman couldn’t resist making a crack at Simpson’s expense.

The “T” at the end of LGBT often seems like an afterthought, with transgender rights being excluded even when LGBT rights are approved. Today on GRITtv we talk to Julia Serano, author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, Naomi Clark of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and blogger at Feministe, and filmmaker Jules Rosskam of Against a Trans Narrative, featured on GRITtv last summer, about being transgender in the U.S. and how far we still have to go.


The college admissions scam

Faith Leaders To Move Their Money Out Of Bank Of America Unless Demands Are Met HELLS YES. WOOT!!!
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On aging and the right to sex

I just found this article via Amber Rhea, and it broke my heart. It’s about an 82-year-old woman and 95-year-old man (called “Dorothy” and “Bob”) who met in an assisted living facility and became romantically involved. Both had dementia. And everyone thought that their romance was all very cute and lovely . . . until the two of them started having sex.
Because both Bob and Dorothy suffer from dementia, the son assumed that his father didn’t fully understand what was going on. And his sputtering cell phone call reporting the scene he’d happened upon would have been funny, the manager said, if the consequences hadn’t been so serious. “He was going, ‘She had her mouth on my dad’s penis! And it’s not even clean!’ ” Bob’s son became determined to keep the two apart and asked the facility’s staff to ensure that they were never left alone together.
After that, Dorothy stopped eating. She lost 21 pounds, was treated for depression, and was hospitalized for dehydration. When Bob was finally moved out of the facility in January, she sat in the window for weeks waiting for him. She doesn’t do that anymore, though: “Her Alzheimer’s is protecting her at this point,” says her doctor, who thinks the loss might have killed her if its memory hadn’t faded so mercifully fast.
But should someone have protected the couple’s right to privacy—their right to have a sex life?

UN says that Rpae is a tactic of War
Yesterday, (June 21) the United Nations Security Council unanimously declared sexual violence to be a tactic of war. (h/t SAFER)
Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert, a former U.N. peacekeeping commander, told the meeting: “It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in an armed conflict.”
Speakers identified former Yugoslavia, Sudan’s Darfur region, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Liberia as conflict regions where deliberate sexual violence had occurred on a mass scale.
U.N. officials have said the problem is currently worst in eastern Congo. But a recent survey of 2,000 women and girls in Liberia showed 75 percent had been raped during the West African country’s civil war.
A U.S.-sponsored resolution adopted unanimously by the council called sexual violence “a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.”
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From Colorlines Magazine

AS BEFITTING AN ARTICLE about schools, here’s a pop quiz taken from the sex education website Teenwire.org: In 1937,
studies claimed that nine out of 10 children caught masturbating were: a) severely punished; b) told they would go insane or blind; c) threatened with having their penises cut off or their vaginas sewn closed; or d) all of the above.

The answer? d) all of the above.

Now, before you start laughing at the absurdity of life in the 1930s, consider this contemporary statement from the “guardyourself” website of the abstinence-only organization Women’s Clinic of Kansas City/Life Guard, which has received almost a million dollars in federal funds for sex education: “Being able to have sex does not make you any different from a rat in a warehouse. They have sex too. Is that what you want to compare yourself with?”

For the last decade, schools around the country have been badgered and bribed into pumping these sorts of ideas into students’ heads through abstinence-only programs—that is, those relatively few schools that teach sex education in the first place. Beginning under former-president Bill Clinton and escalating under President George W. Bush, more than $1.5 billion in federal and state money has been poured into abstinence-only
education. These programs, by law, have as their “exclusive purpose” teaching about the benefits of abstaining from sexual activity; prohibit schools from talking about contraceptives and condoms; and define healthy sexuality as “a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage.”

Over the past year, this surging abstinence-only education movement has finally shown signs of retreat. Numerous studies have proven it to be ineffective, even harmful, and a growing list of states have turned down federal money when it comes with abstinence strings attached. But as abstinence fades, the increasingly pressing question is this: What will rise in its place? Sex education in public schools has never been a resource priority and has rarely been described as forward thinking. So will the half-hearted sex education that preceded abstinence return in coming years? Will there be anything at all? Or are this country’s policymakers prepared to embrace a comprehensive sex education that goes beyond fear tactics and acknowledges that sexuality is a normal part of life, even for teenagers?

Schools’ failure to help students understand and embrace their sexuality has particular consequence for kids of color, who represent vast majorities in many public schools around the country. Sex and race have always formed a volatile brew in America. Racist stereotypes of hypersexual men and women compete with restrictive mores, coming from both inside and outside of communities of color, to circumscribe sexual expression. Too many young people are left to sort through this maelstrom with little or no guidance, and too many don’t find their way. Blacks and Latinos account for 83 percent of teen HIV infections. Similar disparities exist with nearly every other type of sexually transmitted infection—Black girls are more than four times as likely to get gonorrhea as their peers, and syphilis is skyrocketing among Black teenage boys and slowly climbing among Latino boys. Late last year, federal health monitors announced that teen pregnancy went up in 2006 for the first time in 15 years. The largest spikes were found among Black and Native American girls.

“In essence, our country has viewed youth as hormonally driven accidents waiting to happen, so we give them sex ed that censors information,” frets James Wagoner, head of the Washington, D.C. group Advocates for Youth. “We adults tell them not to have sex until they’re married, and never mind that none of us ever followed that advice.”

Whatever adults are prepared to do, a growing number of teenagers and sex educators are taking matters into their own hands, logging on to the Internet and rabble-rousing in their classrooms to elbow out space for a more honest conversation about sex. They’re fed up with adults’ 1930s sensibilities about their sex lives, and they’ve gone in search of their own resources.


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