edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
- I think the clearest sign yet that the US auto industry is in trouble is the fact that I didn't see a single GM or Ford ad during the Super Bowl. I saw one Dodge ad, and all the rest of the auto ads were foreign brands such as Toyota, Lexus, VW, Audi and Hyundai(!). And the only pickup truck ads I saw were from Toyota.

- I'm impressed with my church choir. Our music director has been out for several days, which meant that we didn't have any choir practice last week and we had to get a replacement organist / choir director for today. Despite the almost total lack of practice (and despite some real flubs during warmups), we pulled off Copeland's "The Promise of Living."

- Today's Boston Globe Magazine included a long article on sex education, Let's Talk About Sex, which featured the Grades 7-9 version of the Our Whole Lives curriculum. And, yes, we do work hard at making OWL a safe enough place for youth to ask questions like "What is sex" without being ridiculed by their peers.
edschweppe: (owl)
I was too brain-fried to blog about this when I got home, but we did this year's Our Whole Lives parent orientation session last night. It looks like we may have as many as thirty youth this year for the Grades 7-9 course - not quite the mob we've had other years, but a crowd nonetheless.

This will be the fourth year running that I've facilitated OWL. The previous three times, we'd covered the curriculum in roughly four months, by running two sessions per Sunday night and having several Friday - Saturday overnight meetings that covered four sessions each. We're trying something different this time around; we'll do one session each Wednesday night from October through April (skipping school vacation weeks) with a couple of Saturday morning double sessions. The original "plan" for this time had been to do single Sunday night sessions; that went out the proverbial airlock once it turned out that our church only had one facilitator (me) who could do Sunday nights. (Two others begged off this year and the other two had already committed to other Sunday activities.) Just to make life even more interesting since our church's DRE [3] left over the summer, and our interim DRE just started a couple of weeks ago. So specific dates, times, locations, etc. are still in a state of flux.

Meanwhile, our choir sang Randall Thompson's Alleluia as the offertory yesterday. We sang it for the first time a couple of years ago as the big highlight of Music Sunday. As I mentioned at the time, it's a seriously tricky piece for an utter amateur such as myself, and we spent a couple of months rehearsing it. Frankly, I thought our music director was nuts for trying to do it on such short notice this time around - but after a mere two weeks of practice, we blew the socks off the congregation. We are getting pretty dang good, if I do say so myself.

[1] With apologies for mangled pseudo-Tolkien. [2]
[2] Well, maybe not that many apologies.
[3] Director of Religious Education, for the non-UUs in the audience.
edschweppe: (owl)
Well, sort of. The Midwest Teen Sex Show isn't porn. It's "a video podcast about teen sexuality", and the episodes to date include female masturbation, "the older boyfriend" ("You're 15. He's 25. No problem, right?"), etc.

As near as I can tell, this isn't being put together by professional sex educators. The cast page describes the host (Nikol Hasler) as a "former expert practitioner of teen promiscuity" and now a "Midwestern mother of three" who teaches high school creative writing workshops. The disclaimer page states bluntly that "All advice given is simply opinion and should not be taken as fact." Plus, there's the unfortunately usual "what is wrong with you sinners" damn-foolishness in the comments.

Still, some pretty cool stuff.

(Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] wcg for pointing this one out.)
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
I've known for some time that fashion magazines retouch their photographs to make the models look "better"; it's something we routinely mention when teaching Our Whole Lives classes. Girls in particular get constantly bombarded by unrealistic and frankly unhealthy media images of the "right" way to look; as OWL facilitators, we try to make sure the youth understand that the media images are in fact falsified.

Well, thanks to this entry of [livejournal.com profile] starcat_jewel's, I've got a classic example, before and after, in animated GIF format:
cut to save the friends' lists of the universe )
That's Faith Hill, the country music singer and mother of three, who's pretty damn good looking in the "before" picture - and not really human in the "after" picture that Redbook used for its July cover. The Photoshop gurus have thinned Ms. Hill's arm, airbrushed away much of her back and apparently surgically removed her clavicle (in addition to the "standard" removal of moles, wrinkles, etc.)

There's more here about the Faith Hill cover and the insanity of the "glamour mag" world in general.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Snarfed from [livejournal.com profile] kightp (who only rated PG-13):

This blog is rated NC-17 (according to mingle2.com)
This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
* sex (13x) * gay (8x) * hell (3x) * screwing (1x)

So mingle2.com rates my LJ as NC-17 ... because I write about facilitating Our Whole Lives. Which involves teaching sex ed. In church settings. To youth in grades seven through nine. All of whom are rather less than seventeen years old.

How's that for irony?
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Just over a year ago, I noted that Mitt Romney (then Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) announced that he was going to have the state apply for Federal abstinence-only education grants, and funnel the money to a specific "faith-based education" outfit. I wasn't particularly impressed, since abstinence-only programs by their nature are required to provide only part of the truth about prophylactics and other contraceptives.

A year has passed, abstinence-only education has been proven completely ineffective at changing teenager's behavior, and Massachusetts has a new Governor (who's not running for the GOP Presidential nomination). Today, Governor Deval Patrick announced that the state was not going to apply for the grants after all:
Governor Deval Patrick wants to end state-sponsored , abstinence-only sex education in Massachusetts, a year after Governor Mitt Romney ordered the Department of Public Health to redirect a long-standing federal abstinence grant to classes that focus exclusively on encouraging teenagers to avoid sexual encounters.
[A] spokesman for the Department of Public Health said the state will not apply for the money.
That's despite a fair amount of lobbying on the issue:
Last year and this year, Raymond B. Ruddy -- president of the Gerard Health Foundation, which has given millions to antiabortion and abstinence groups -- hired lobbyist John Bartley to persuade lawmakers to include the funding in the budget for the program. Ruddy paid Bartley nearly $50,000 last year for his work on this single issue.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm not aware of any controlled studies proving the effectiveness of the Our Whole Lives program that I help teach through church - but the anecdotal evidence I've heard is that OWL graduates not only know enough to make good decisions about sex, but actually use that knowledge and make those good decisions.


Apr. 13th, 2007 08:16 pm
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Well, this has been an exhausting week. Town Meeting Monday and Tuesday nights, plus a loooong choir rehearsal Thursday night, plus trying to pull together a presentation on test-driven development for work, plus coding around the fact that the folks for whom I'm developing the current application still haven't come to closure on what it's supposed to do.

I'm too brain-fried to really go through the results of the study on abstinence-only education released today - but the short answer is that it doesn't work worth a damn. From the Associated Press (via boston.com), the headline is Study: Abstinence classes don't stop sex:
WASHINGTON --Students who took part in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not, according to a study ordered by Congress.

Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes that were reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes. And they first had sex at about the same age as other students -- 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.

The federal government now spends about $176 million annually on abstinence-until-marriage education. Critics have repeatedly said they don't believe the programs are working, and the study will give them reinforcement.
The full study is available here (720Kb PDF). The executive summary makes for interesting reading. So does the timing of the release - late Friday afternoon, when hopefully nobody's paying attention.

Meanwhile, today is the 18th anniversary of my getting out of the Navy (or, as we used to say, "PCS to CIVLANTFLT"). Just like signing up was the right thing to do at the time, so was getting out - although I do sometimes think about how life would have been different had I chosen to remain in uniform.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
From the Los Angeles Times, via boston.com:
States refraining from abstinence-only sex education
LOS ANGELES -- In an emerging revolt against abstinence-only sex education, states are turning down millions of dollars in federal grants, unwilling to accept White House dictates that the money be used for classes focused almost exclusively on teaching chastity.

In Ohio, Governor Ted Strickland said that regardless of the state's sluggish economic picture, he simply did not see the point in taking part in the controversial State Abstinence Education Grant program anymore.

Five other states -- Connecticut, Rhode Island, Montana, New Jersey, and Wisconsin -- have dropped out of the program or plan to do by the end of the year. The program is managed by a unit of the US Department of Heath and Human Service.
Read more... )

As the LA Times notes,
That states are declining such funding alarms abstinence-only groups, which insist that cutting off this source of revenue will close dozens of nonprofit sex education groups and undermine the progress they have made to fight teen pregnancy and curtail the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

"There are kids who don't want to know how to put on a condom, because they don't want to have sex," said Leslee Unruh, president and chief executive of the South Dakota-based National Abstinence Clearinghouse, the nation's largest network of abstinence educators. "So why can't kids who want to abstain have equal time, funding, and education in the classroom as kids who are having sex?"
I suspect Ms. Unruh's real concern is the danger that the "abstinence-only" movement will wither away if it loses its privileged place suckling on the federal teat. I agree with her that there are youth who don't (currently) want to have sex - but that's no reason not to teach the facts. After all, we teach our youth mathematics (even though most students don't want to be mathematicians), history (even though most students don't want to be historians), home economics (even though most students don't want to cook or clean), etc., etc.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Tonight was the final night of this year's Our Whole Lives Grade 7-9 class. As I predicted at the beginning of this year's class, there were some frustrating moments and some awfully long nights. As I also predicted, though, the payoff is worth it. We had some attrition over the course of the last four months, but we still graduated well over thirty youth. And every single one of those kids is armed with factual information about how their bodies work, how relationships work (and sometimes don't work), and how to avoid STIs and unplanned pregnancies - not the deliberately misleading crap that federally-funded "abstinence-only" programs push.

I've done this now for three years running. It's still too early for the youth that I taught the first time to have grown into full adulthood, so I still have to more or less take it on faith that what I've done is really working.

On the other hand, this post's title comes from a couple of OWL alums from before my time. When they'd heard that we were running it this year, they insisted that we needed to give the youth something besides just a copy of Changing Bodies, Changing Lives as a memento. So these two young adults designed and produced "I Survived O.W.L." keychains for all participants. Pretty cool, eh?
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
and yet with such a confused etymology )

This, by the way, is a typical question that we get from the participants in the Our Whole Lives program. At the end of every session, each of the youth is given a blank index card and a pencil. They are each required to write something on the card - either some question that they have, or something along the lines of "no question" - and put the card in a Question Box. We facilitators divvy up the cards that have actual questions, research the answers, and read the questions and answers aloud to the entire group the following meeting. The idea is to provide a completely anonymous channel for these youth (twelve through fourteen years old) to get answers to questions about sex without the embarrassment of having anybody know what they asked.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Today's sermon in church was delivered by a Hampshire College anthropology professor, who just happens to be the daughter of one of the oldest members of the congregation. She was discussing Buddhism in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, and that was reasonably interesting. Her closing, though, struck a powerful chord within me. She was relating a conversation she'd had with an old friend regarding her career choices:
"I thought you wanted to be an activist."
"I am. I teach."
That really resonated with me, especially since tonight was the first night of this year's Our Whole Lives class. Forty-some youth (mostly eighth-graders) have set forth on this journey into fact-based, comprehensive sexuality education, with a dozen facilitators (including yours truly) helping to illuminate the way. I know that there are going to be some frustrating moments ahead, and some awfully long nights. But the payoff is worth it: for the youth, for the adults, and for myself.

I am an activist. I teach.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)

PHILADELPHIA --A woman who was arrested and jailed for three weeks on drug charges for what turned out to be flour-filled condoms has settled a lawsuit against the city for $180,000.

"Under the circumstances, something went terribly wrong," Janet H. Lee's attorney, Jeffrey Ibrahim, said Wednesday. "We're trying to ensure that nothing like that ever happens again."

Lee was a freshman at Bryn Mawr College in 2003 when she tried to take three condoms filled with flour in her carry-on bag on a flight to Los Angeles. They were discovered by airport screeners, and authorities said initial tests showed they contained drugs. Lee was held for 21 days on drug trafficking charges until later tests showed she was telling the truth.

Lee said the flour-filled condoms were a phallic toy students would squeeze to deal with exam stress, and she thought they were funny and packed them to show friends at home. Lee, now a 21-year-old senior, said she did not know that drug dealers often carry drugs in condoms.

A trial had been scheduled to begin Thursday in Lee's lawsuit. Lynne Sitarski, a lawyer for the city, said the city was not admitting wrongdoing or liability.
(From boston.com)
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
So I suppose the idea of spray-on condoms makes some amount of sense. According to Reuters:

BERLIN (Reuters) - German sex educators plan to launch a spray-on condom tailor-made for all sizes.

Jan Vinzenz Krause from the Institute for Condom Consultancy, a Singen-based practice that offers advice on condom use, told Reuters on Thursday the product aimed to help people enjoy better and safer sex lives.

"We're trying to develop the perfect condom for men that's suited to every size of penis," he said. "We're very serious."

Krause's team (spraykondom.de) is developing a type of spray can into which the man inserts his penis first. At the push of a button it is then coated in a rubber condom.

[ ... ]

He said the spray can would likely cost some 20 euros ($26) as a one-off purchase. The latex cartridges -- sufficient for up to 20 applications -- would cost roughly 10 euros, he said.

Krause said he had hit upon the idea when considering the difficulties some people faced using condoms, and drew inspiration from spray-on plasters now used in medicine.
If nothing else, it eliminates the "I don't know what size to get" excuse. On the other hand, I don't see any discussion of removing the condom - which strikes me as a potential issue.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Not a huge surprise, this bit of research, reported by Lindsey Tanner of the Associated Press:
Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found.
Whether it's hip-hop, rap, pop, or rock, much of popular music aimed at teens contains sexual overtones. Its influence on their behavior appears to depend on how the sex is portrayed, researchers found.
Songs depicting men as "sex-driven studs" and women as sex objects, and which have explicit references to sex acts, are likelier to trigger early sexual behavior than those in which sexual references are more veiled and relationships appear more committed, the study found.
Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the next two years, compared with teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.
Among heavy listeners, 51 percent started having sex within two years, versus 29 percent of those who said they listened to little or no sexually degrading music.

The study itself is in the August issue of Pediatrics.

Like I said, the findings aren't exactly surprising - but it does reinforce in my mind the importance of the work my fellow Our Whole Lives facilitators and myself do.

edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
From the Associated Press via boston.com:
Men who have several older brothers have an increased chance of being gay -- whether they were raised together or not -- a finding researchers say adds weight to the idea that sexual orientation is based in biology.

The increase was seen in men with older brothers from the same mother, but not those who had stepbrothers or adopted brothers who were older.

"It's likely to be a prenatal effect," said Anthony F. Bogaert of Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada, who did the research. "This and other studies suggest that there is probably a biological basis" for homosexuality.
Our Whole Lives facilitators such as myself stress providing factually accurate information to our students - including factually accurate information about sexual orientation. We've been teaching that the best evidence is that sexual orientation isn't something you choose, but something you're born with; this study tends to confirm that.

Of course, not everybody is going to accept peer-reviewed research as evidence that their political / religous dogmas are incorrect:
Tim Dailey, a senior fellow at the conservative Center for Marriage and Family Studies disagreed.

"We don't believe that there's any biological basis for homosexuality," Dailey said. "We feel the causes are complex but are deeply rooted in early childhood development."

There have been a number of attempts to establish a physical basis "and in every case the alleged findings have been severely challenged and questioned," he said.

"If it is indeed genetically based it is difficult to see how it could have survived in the gene pool over a period of time," Dailey added.
Alas for Mr. Dailey, the research in question didn't investigate genetic links; Bogaert was looking at the so-called "fraternal birth order effect", where men with older brothers are somewhat more likely to be homosexual than others. On the other hand, Dailey isn't necessarily what one might call an impartial scientific observer. What the AP article doesn't mention is that the "Center for Marriage and Family Studies" is part and parcel of the Family Research Council. According to his FRC biography:
Dr. Dailey received his bachelors' degree in Bible and Theology from Moody Bible Institute, his M.A. in Theological Studies at Wheaton College, and his Ph.D. in Religion from Marquette University. In addition, Dr. Dailey has completed graduate study at the University of Wisconsin; Milwaukee; Jerusalem University College; Jerusalem; and Hebrew University; Jerusalem.
Obviously, his vast scientific training makes him <sarcasm> eminently </sarcasm> qualified to comment on scientific research.

The article in question is currently available from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website at http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/0511152103v1
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Note to self #1: Insisting that the Our Whole Lives facilitators get together and have a debrief on the recently completed OWL program was a Good Idea. (The first time I taught OWL, we said we'd do one, but it never happened.) This time, I insisted that we pick a date for a debrief before we even started the course. We ended up having to change the date later, naturally, but tonight we (four facilitators and three DREs) got together over Thai food and discussed what did and didn't work.

Note to self #2: Dragging my butt out of the office at lunchtime every once in a while is also a Good Idea. Particularly on a nice, sunny day. Even more particularly since my Current Paying Gig is literally across the street [1] from Boston Harbor.

Note to self #3: Yes, it really was that simple to send an ASP.NET page as a PDF. For once, something that Microsoft claimed was easy actually was.

[1] Well, across the Surface Artery, which is what's being put on top of the Big Dig tunnels, and which will supposedly turn into various forms of open public space. Currently, it's still mostly a construction site, so I have to go a block or two out of my way to find a place where pedestrians can cross.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health has kicked off an interesting AIDS awareness campaign. From the BBC News story:
The campaign, from the Federal Health Office's Aids prevention section, features fencers and ice hockey players enthusiastically pursuing their sport.

But there is one unexpected difference - all the players are stark naked.

The contrast of healthy flesh and sharp blades is supposed to hammer home the message "no action without protection".
They've also got a nicely done website at http://www.stopaids.ch which includes the television spot (in MPEG and Quicktime formats), poster downloads, and other goodies. As a bonus, the site is available in four languages (English, French, German and Italian). This looks like a well done, honest and effective campaign. The one irritant is that the site is completely Flash-driven.

Well, actually that's a minor irritant. What really ticks me off is that we'd never see anything that honest and effective coming out of a United States Federal agency.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
No, that's not a Harry Potter reference. As I've mentioned a time or several, I'm a facilitator for the Our Whole Lives lifespan sexuality education curriculum put together by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Since January, four area UU churches (including my own) have been running the grades 7-9 program, and I've had the honor of serving as one of the classes' facilitators.

Tonight, we had our final class. We brought the parents in and did a couple of exercises (the youth beat the parents in the Jeopardy! game). We gave the youth certificates, as well as copies of Changing Bodies, Changing Lives, which is an excellent resource for both teens and their parents. The parents were appreciative, and the youth learned a lot.

And for me? I've done another little bit to make the world a better place. There are sixteen youth out there tonight who have a better understanding of sex and sexuality thanks to me and my fellow facilitators. They're much less likely to make dumb decisions, or participate or acquiesce in abuse. And they'll be sixteen more people who can call bullshit when misinformation circulates among their peers - which will help other youth I'll never meet.

Not a bad few months work, if I do say so myself.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Just wanted to keep this URL handy. It's a rather depressing reminder of just how bad "abstinence-only education" is.

edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
From today's Boston Globe:

Governor Mitt Romney yesterday announced that the state will funnel nearly $1 million in federal funds to a faith-based organization to teach abstinence to public middle school students in a dozen more communities across the state.

"We teach sex education, but there's no portion of sex education which talks about the advantages of waiting ... " said Romney. "We're saying let's provide an opportunity for parents and school districts to add abstinence to the curriculum. It's not abstinence only. It's abstinence also."
It will be the first time that the state will spend federal abstinence education funds in Massachusetts for classroom programs. The state has received $700,000 in abstinence money yearly since 1998, but the money has gone only toward a media campaign urging teens to wait before having sex.

The money will now go to Healthy Futures, a Boston-based agency that already runs abstinence programs in several dozen schools across the state. The program, free to the school districts, will be available to schools in 12 communities with high numbers of teen births, including Boston, Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn, said Rebecca Ray, Healthy Futures program director. The group, which currently gets some federal money directly, will contract with another agency to offer similar programs to students in the western part of the state.

This is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time that Massachusetts has spent federal "abstinence-only" funds on classroom instruction. As I've mentioned several times in the past, I'm a volunteer facilitator for the Our Whole Lives grades 7-9 programs run through my church, so this is a subject of some interest to me. So I took a peek at the Healthy Futures website (http://www.healthy-futures.org) to see what they purport to teach.

As near as I can tell, Romney's claim that "It's not abstinence only. It's abstinence also" is wrong. I can't find the actual Healthy Futures curricula. However, the "themes and topics" of their classroom programs include:
1. Goals and Choices
Students identify goals and discuss how choices now can impact their ability to achieve their goals.
2. Abstinence
Abstinence and sexual activity are defined, stressing that an abstinent lifestyle is possible regardless of past choices. Students learn that sex is wonderful in the context of a faithful, lifelong relationship (i.e. marriage), but that there are physical and emotional risks outside of that context.
3. Physical and Emotional Risks of Adolescent Sexual Activity
Specific sexually transmitted diseases are discussed. Students learn how common STDs are, how STDs are transmitted, as well as the symptoms associated with specific STDs. Condom use is mentioned to raise awareness about the difference between protection and risk reduction.
Students discuss the different options available to a pregnant teen and the possible ramifications of each.
Students learn about the science of sex– how bonding occurs through sexual activity, how men and women bond differently, and the potential impact this bonding has on future relationships.
4. Relationship Education
Students learn to recognize qualities of healthy and unhealthy relationships. They identify creative and fun dating activities as well as ways to show affection that do not involve physical activity. Students also explore the qualities they would look for in a life partner.
5. Skill Building
Students learn about how to deal with pressure from themselves, others, and society through identifying ways to strengthen their willpower, practicing refusal skills, and discussing media messages about sexuality. They develop protective skills that will prepare them to handle pressures they might face by learning how and why to set physical limits in relationships and by discussing the influence of alcohol and drugs on sexual decisions.

There's nothing in there about any form of contraception - apart from condoms, which are only mentioned to "raise awareness about the difference between protection and risk reduction." Nothing about non-sexual physical activity. Nothing about gay, lesbian or bisexual activity, and nothing addressing transgendered issues. For that matter, they stress the risks of sex outside of marriage, without addressing the idea that there might be risks to sex within the context of a marriage. All those topics are addressed in the OWL grades 7-9 curriculum, so I know from personal experience that it can be taught. Further, the OWL curriculum also addresses each of the points in the Healthy Futures "themes and topics" - especially the bit about how one may always choose to abstain from sexual activity, regardless of one's past choices.

Seems pretty obvious to me that Romney is continuing to lay the groundwork for a 2008 run at the GOP Presidential nomination. It's just such a damn shame that he's more interested in placating the GOP right wing than in teaching the truth to the children of the Commonwealth.

Romney's press release: http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=pressreleases&agId=Agov2&prModName=gov2pressrelease&prFile=gov_pr_060420_abstinence_ed.xml

The full Boston Globe story (may require registration):

Healthy Future's description of their classroom programs for 7th grade through high school:
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Wal-Mart has changed their mind; starting March 20, they will stock the Plan B emergency contraceptive at all their US pharmacies. Read more... )
I happen to think that this is good news. Those who want to force women to bear children may well disagree - but I rather doubt there are many such folks reading this.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
According to the Associated Press, via the Boston Globe:
BOGOTA, Colombia --A western Colombian city councilman wants to require everyone in town 14 or older to carry a condom to prevent pregnancy and disease, outraging local priests.

William Pena, a councilman in Tulua, said Wednesday he will present a formal proposal to force all men and women -- even those just visiting -- to always carry at least one condom. Those caught empty-pocketed could pay a fine of $180 or take a safe sex course, he said.

"Sexual relations are going on constantly," Pena told The Associated Press by telephone. "If you carry a condom, chances are you'll use it during the day. It's not going to be there forever."

Tulua has one of the highest rates of AIDS in Colombia, he said. The proposal will be debated by other town leaders and could go into effect by March, he said.

This'll be an interesting story to watch - especially since I'm about to start facilitating another session of Our Whole Lives, where I provide fact-based sexuality education to local eighth graders.

Full story here.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
From today's Boston Globe: Lawmakers override governor's contraception veto
Massachusetts became the eighth state to allow pharmacists to dispense the emergency contraception pill without a doctor's prescription when lawmakers easily overrode Governor Mitt Romney's veto yesterday. But the state's Department of Public Health, which is overseen by Romney, must write regulations to implement it. Sally Fogerty, the associate commissioner of the state agency, could not immediately offer a timetable for the new rules.
[ ... ]
In addition to allowing trained Massachusetts pharmacists to dispense the morning-after pill, the new law requires hospitals to offer it to rape victims. Most of the state's hospitals, 59 out of 71, according to a 2004 poll by abortion rights groups, already offer the pill to rape victims.
The Senate voted, 37 to 0, to reject Romney's veto, and the House followed suit with a 139-to-16 tally. Supporters needed a two-thirds majority in each chamber to overrule the governor.

I particularly like this quote from my state Senator:
"Not only was his veto irresponsible, his argument was based on weak and misguided information," said Senator Pamela P. Resor, an Acton Democrat.

Unfortunately, we don't yet know when this will be implemented. Romney could try and score some more points with the anti-abortion folks by stalling on getting rules written. Still, I happen to believe that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and making this sort of emergency contraception more widely available is a rather effective way of doing just that.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
As [livejournal.com profile] starcat_jewel noted the other day, the right-to-life/anti-choice movement is opening a new front in the abortion wars: having pharmacists refuse to provide contraceptives because they find them immoral - the so-called "conscience clause" idea, as pushed by outfits like Pharmacists for Life.
Today, CNN reported that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has approved an emergency regulation requiring all pharmacies to fill birth control prescriptions quickly:
"Our regulation says that if a woman goes to a pharmacy with a prescription for birth control, the pharmacy or the pharmacist is not allowed to discriminate or to choose who he sells it to," Blagojevich said. "No delays. No hassles. No lectures."
Under the new rule, if a pharmacist does not fill the prescription because of a moral objection, another pharmacist must be available to fill it without delay.
Good for him! A pharmacist who refuses to fill a prescription on "moral" grounds is, IMNSHO, in entirely the wrong line of work.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
In a study published today in the Journal of Adolescent Health, two researchers report that:
young adults who took virginity pledges as adolescents are as likely to be infected with STDs as those who did not take virginity pledges. Bruckner, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Yale University, and Bearman, Professor of Sociology at Columbia University were surprised by these findings. "Pledgers have fewer sex partners than non-pledgers, they start having sex later, and they marry earlier, so they should have lower STD rates, but they don't." One reason is that sexually active pledgers were less likely to use condoms at first sex than non-pledgers.
(Full press release available here.)

Another interesting quote from the same press release:
Pledging may lead some young adults to engage in alternative sexual behaviors in order to preserve their virginity. Among virgins - those who have not had vaginal intercourse - male pledgers are four times more likely to have anal sex; male and female pledgers are six times more likely to have oral sex than non-pledgers. Condom use for anal sex is very low; for oral almost non-existent. Thus virgin pledger engagement in riskier behavior may be a factor in higher than expected STD rates.

As I've noted before, I'm currently one of the facilitators for the Our Whole Lives program for grades 7-9 being run by my (and other local) UU congregations. Last week, we were asking the youth to determine what sort of behaviors would fit under the rubric of "abstinence", and our youth were very clear that oral and anal sex were sex.

I'm not sure that anyone could conclude, based on this paper alone, that OWL-style education works better than the sort of "abstinence-only" stuff that the current Administration in Washington is trying to jam down the throats of America's youth. But it does strike me as a clear indicator that focusing solely on a message of "don't have vaginal sex" is ineffective.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
According to Reuters, a recent study commissioned by the Texas Department of State Health Services shows that abstinence-only "sex education" programs have no impact on teenager's sexual activity.
The study showed about 23 percent of ninth-grade girls, typically 13 to 14 years old, had sex before receiving abstinence education. After taking the course, 29 percent of the girls in the same group said they had had sex.

Boys in the tenth grade, about 14 to 15 years old, showed a more marked increase, from 24 percent to 39 percent, after receiving abstinence education.

Fortunately, the youth I'm working with in the Our Whole Lives program are getting a real education.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
I just got back a little bit ago from my first session as a facilitator for the Our Whole Lives program my church, along with four other local Unitarian Universalist congregations, is running for our youth in grades 7-9.

Wow. )


Sep. 13th, 2004 08:02 pm
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Last weekend was ... busy.
and long, too! )
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Had my grandmother survived, today would have been her ninety-sixth birthday.

Instead, we're having the interment and memorial service tomorrow afternoon.

Then, tomorrow evening, I start a weekend-long training session on teaching the Our Whole Lives curricula for grades 10-12. In one sense, it's a weird transition - yet in another sense, it seems fitting somehow, how different skeins of life and death and learning and love entwine my next several days.


edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Edmund Schweppe

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