Funny Or Die Videos Highlight Glaring Need For Sex Education

When speaking at universities recently, I found that some of the most popular topics were consent, understanding different gender identities, HIV/AIDS, and STI prevention. Most of us weren’t fortunate to have thorough Sex Education growing up, but at least for California, that is starting to change!

According to Forbes.com, Jessica Biel, Joy Bryant and comedian Whitney Cummings have just partnered with nonprofit healthcare organization, WomanCare Global, to create a women’s educational program which addresses topics such as puberty to contraception. Their first initiative, “If You Don’t Tell Them, Who Will?,” is a series of videos hosted on FunnyOrDie.com, and the team hopes the endeavor will educate young people about how their bodies work and destigmatize conversations.

For more information and to read the full article, visit http://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbridges/2015/10/28/funny-or-die-videos-highlight-glaring-need-for-sex-education/

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” takes a look at the current state of Sex Ed

In this hilarious video created by the producers of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” the host takes a critical look at the current state of sex education, and highlights the need to restructure America’s current approach to having meaningful conversations about sex.

To watch John Oliver’s report on America’s sex education system, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0jQz6jqQS0

‘Historic’ Ruling States That Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Isn’t Sex Ed

Originally posted on ThinkProgress.org
Written By Tara Culp-Ressler

In a decision that’s being hailed as “historic,” a judge in California has ruled that health classes focusing exclusively on telling students to remain abstinent until marriage fall short of the state’s comprehensive sex ed requirements.

In his opinion, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black concludes that, given the high rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy in the U.S., medically accurate sexual health information is “an important public right.”

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Black’s decision narrowly applies to about 40,000 students who attend the Clovis Unified School District. However, since his opinion represents the first-ever ruling on California’s decade-old sex education standards, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — whose legal counsel represented the plaintiffs in the suit — believes it sets an important precedent for the rest of the state.

“This is the first time that abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula have been found to be medically inaccurate,” Phyllida Burlingame, the director of reproductive justice policy at the ACLU, told the San Francisco Chronicle. She added that the ruling should send a strong message to other schools that “young people need complete, accurate health information required by law.”

A landmark law implemented in 2003 prohibits California schools from providing sex ed courses that contain medically inaccurate or biased information. It’s one of the strongest state-level sex ed requirements in the country, which vary widely across the U.S. However, previous reports commissioned by the ACLU found that the law hasn’t been implemented evenly across California, and some school districts have continued to provide inaccurate abstinence-based curricula.

The Clovis Unified School District was one of them. In 2012, a group of parents whose kids attended Clovis schools partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and the ACLU to file a lawsuit against district officials, alleging that their kids were receiving inaccurate information in their sex ed classes that could potentially put their health at risk.

The parents objected to the fact that Clovis was using a textbook that emphasized that all adults should abstain from sexual activity until marriage, and that didn’t include any information about preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. They also took issue with the school district’s partnerships with outside groups — including a crisis pregnancy center that disseminates inaccurate information about the risks of abortion — to provide health instruction to students, despite the fact that those groups aren’t qualified to teach comprehensive sex ed.

Plaintiffs alleged that the district was showing students abstinence-focused videos that contained “egregiously inaccurate and biased information,” like comparing a woman who has engaged in sex to a dirty shoe, and suggesting that men are physically unable to stop themselves once they become sexually aroused. One video, entitled Never Regret The Choice, suggested that homosexuality doesn’t exist by encouraging students to adopt the mantra, “One man, one woman, one life.”

The suit was dropped in 2014 after Clovis Unified School District changed its sex ed policies to bring them more in line with California law. Black, however, ruled that the district is still responsible for paying the parents’ legal fees, since their lawsuit prompted the policy changes.

California is hardly the only state where students receive biased health information that focuses solely on abstinence. There aren’t any national requirements for comprehensive sex ed instruction in public schools, which allows 19 states to continue to require health materials to emphasize the importance of engaging in sexual activity only within marriage. In addition to failing to include information about birth control and condoms, abstinence-only programs typically tell kids that having sex will make them dirty — comparing people who have had sex to chewed up gum, used tape, dirty chocolate, and glasses of spit.

Even though a significant body of scientific research has confirmed that abstinence-only curricula are ineffective at convincing students to delay sex, and don’t prepare them to safeguard their sexual health, these programs continue to be propped up with state and federal funding. Just last month, Congress quietly appropriated $25 million in additional funding for the very same type of abstinence education programs that Black ruled violate the public right to medically accurate sex ed.

Queer South Africans Living at the Intersections of Race, Class, and Gender

Originally published on The Daily Beast

Iranti.org founder Jabu Pereira explains why legal rights are not the end, but the beginning, of equality.

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Quorum is a live journalism forum focused on LGBT experiences around the world. Its mission is to lift up the voices of non-Western LGBT activists defining the struggle for justice. Visit Quorum.TheDailyBeast.com for more stories of persecution, triumph, adversity, and strength.

When apartheid fell, Jabu Pereira watched as South Africa granted sweeping equal rights to its LGBT community. In fact, South Africa was the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

“As black queer people and black South Africans we stood in lines for hours and hours and hours and we cast our very first vote,” Pereira recalled at The Daily Beast’s first installment of Quorum: Global LGBT Voices last December. “[It was a] double victory because sexual orientation was guaranteed into our constitution.”

But not all was what it seemed.

“When people say their countries flourish because there are more rights that are guaranteed, I ask them to look closer to South Africa,” says Pereira. “We have ticked all the boxes, but we’re one of the most violent countries in the world [and] HIV infections are at its highest.”

In a video , Pereira shares how their organization Iranti.org documents the voices of queer people living at the intersections of South Africa’s many oppressions. Click *here* to watch the video

Can A Person With Dementia Consent To Sex?

Originally published on NPR
Written by Ina Jaffe

Sexual relationships in long-term care facilities are not uncommon. But the long-term care industry is still grappling with the issue.

There’s no greater evidence of that than a criminal case in Iowa. On Wednesday, a jury in Iowa found a 78-year-old man not guilty of raping his wife, who had Alzheimer’s disease. Henry Rayhons’ wife lived in a nursing home. The staff there told Rayhons that because of her dementia, his wife was no longer capable of consenting to sex. He had been charged with sexual assault for allegedly having sex with her after that.

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But at the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, N.Y., the fact that some people with dementia still have sex lives isn’t news. That facility has had a written policy to help staff manage such relationships for 20 years.
Is the benefit from antipsychotic drugs for people with dementia symptoms worth the risk?

“It was controversial in 1995 and it’s controversial today,” says Daniel Reingold, the CEO of RiverSpring Health, the nonprofit that runs the Hebrew Home.

“We knew that there was intimacy occurring, and we considered it to be a civil right and a legal right,” says Reingold. “We also felt that intimacy was a good thing, that touch is one of the last pleasures we abandon and lose as we age.”

Reingold says the policy protects residents from unwanted sexual contact. And he argues that people with dementia are indeed capable of giving consent.

“People who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are asked on a daily basis to make decisions about their desires,” says Reingold, “from what they eat to activities they may want to engage in,” including intimacy with another person.

But even with a written policy, it’s not that easy for nursing homes to figure out when consent to sex is really valid, says Evelyn Tenenbaum, a professor of law at Albany Law School and bioethics professor at Albany Medical College.

“For example, suppose you have a couple and the woman believes that the man she’s seeing is her husband,” says Tenenbaum. “Then she consents to a sexual relationship. Is that really consent if she doesn’t understand who he is and that she’s not married to him?”

Sometimes in such cases, nursing homes will defer to the wishes of the resident’s family, says Tenenbaum.

“On the other hand, nursing homes are required to take care of the psychosocial needs of their residents,” says Tenenbaum. “Whether psychosocial needs would include sexual relationships is a question.”

And it’s a question with no commonly accepted answer. The American Health Care Association, a trade group representing the majority of nursing homes, only suggests that its member facilities develop their own policies. Patricia Bach, a geriatric psychologist, says when she started looking into the topic she didn’t find much.

“There was very, very little empirical evidence, little data, few research studies and it really was a lower priority issue for long-term care providers,” she says.

So with a colleague, Bach surveyed members of the American Medical Directors Association, which represents physicians who work in long-term care facilities.

Bach found that “only 25 to 30 percent actually had formal training in the area of intimacy and sexuality, as it would pertain to older adults. Thirty percent had no training at all.” The survey also found that only about 30 percent of nursing homes where the respondents worked had formal policies.

That’s something that needs to change, and fast, says Reingold.

“We are dealing with the arrival of my fellow baby boomers,” he says. They’ve “grown up in an environment where sexuality was a much more open conversation and activity.”

And there’s no reason to think that will change, Reingold says, even when those boomers are in long-term care.

Married? Your sex life will ‘rebound’ … in 50 years

Originally published on Fox News
Written By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore

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It’s no secret that most married couples have less sex as the years go by, but those who stick it out tend to see something of a romantic renaissance—it just takes five decades to get there.

Researchers looking at 1,656 married adults ranging in age from 57 to 85 have found there is eventually an uptick in the frequency with which couples have sex.

What’s more, those in first marriages are having more sex than those who have remarried, report researchers from Louisiana State University, Florida State University, and Baylor University in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

However frequently or infrequently couples were engaging in sex, marriage order didn’t appear to influence emotional satisfaction or physical pleasure. “Growing old as a couple, with the experience and knowledge that come with that, may play a part,” one researcher said in a Baylor University news release.

“The expectation that the relationship will continue may give you more reason to invest in the relationship—including in sexual aspects of [it].” While the results about the sex lives of one of the fastest growing groups in the US proved “intriguing,” particularly because it’s a topic that has yet to be studied extensively, the researchers did point out that the 50-year second wind was a slight one, and that relatively few couples make it to 50 years to begin with, thus the sample size was small.

(Some research has found that couples who are more equal tend to be happy but have less sex.)

10 Health Benefits Of Having An Active Sex Life

Originally posted on MTL Blog
Wriiten By: Jeremy Hazan

As if you all needed a reason to have sex other than just wanting to have sex. That’s more than reason enough because let’s face it, sex is awesome. Which makes the entire following list just a big bunch of bonus benefits you’ll be able to enjoy when you’re having regular sex. So if you’ve just been sitting around waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right. get off your ass and find Mr. or Mrs. Right Now! Your health depends on it.

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1. Semen May Have Antidepressant Properties

A study from the State University of New York found that female students who has unprotected sex had less symptoms of depression than those who used condoms. The data suggested that semen may reduce these symptoms as some of the components of semen get absorbed into bloodstream. This means men finally have a decent argument to convince their partners to swallow.

2. Sex Is Good For Your Heart

The British Royal University found that men who were more sexually active also had a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. That’s because the hormones that get released by the body help heal and expand blood vessels.

3. Fights Signs Of Aging

The famous Dr. David Weeks conducted a study where he claimed that have sex 3 times a week will make you look up to 7 years younger. That’s because of the increase of blood flow throughout the body which help you maintain fresh skin, especially in your face.

4. Better Sleep

The women’s wellness center in Beverly Hills found that the endorphins that are released when you have sex help you get a better night’s sleep. You’ll fall asleep faster, stay asleep better and wake up feeling more rested.

5. Intelligence

A study from the University of Amsterdam found that those who have more sex develop better critical thinking skills. They’ve proved that the chemicals released during sex promoted brain cell growth.

6. Fight Colds And Flu

Since having sex raises your level of anti-bodies, your immune system is stronger which means you’ll be protected from common colds and the flu.

7. Help Prevent Incontinence In Women

Regular sex builds up your pelvic muscles and your core depending on your preferred positions. So later on in life you’ll have a far smaller risk of experiencing incontinence.

8. Live Longer

An Australian study found that people who orgasm at least 3 times a week had an overall 50% lower chance of dying of any disease.

9. Be More Attractive.

Studies show that sex makes your body release pheromones that make you more appealing and sexy. So the more you and your partner have sex, the more you’ll want to have sex. When they say people have good chemistry, they’re talking about actual chemistry.

10. Better Self Esteem

Here’s a tricky one. Studies from the university of Texas show that those who had regular sex where also way more confident about their appearance. But then again that just may because those who have a better outer appearance have more sex. It’s the chicken and the egg situation all over again.

Gay men with straight wives are coming out — as happily married

Originally published on Salon.com
Written By: Tracy Clark-Flory

“Mixed-orientation marriages” have always existed, but now they’re in the middle of the marriage equality battle.

On the surface, the question seems simple enough: “Are you sexually attracted to your wife?” That’s what I asked 34-year-old Joshua Weed during a phone call. He breathed in deep. “That’s a really difficult question,” he said. “It’s hard to say that with clarity.” Weed is sexually attracted to men, but he’s married to a woman. “I love her very much and we do have a very good sex life,” he said. “I think she’s beautiful.” But he adds: “I’m gay.”

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Weed’s wife, Laurel, is well aware of his sexual orientation. They grew up together in Utah and she was the very first friend he told about his sexual attraction to other boys. For a while, he considered the possibility of a relationship with another man, but he ultimately decided to pursue relationships with women, despite his lack of sexual attraction to them. Weed is a practicing Mormon and the Church’s current stance on the topic of homosexuality can be summed up like so: “The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is.” While Weed says he does not pass judgment on gay relationships in general, when it came to his own life, he says, “I didn’t feel it was right.” So, he married his best friend.

There’s a term for this kind of relationship: It’s “mixed-orientation marriage.” Sometimes, the men in these scenarios are referred to as “same-sex attracted men married to women.” It’s a demographic that recently came to public attention with an amicus brief filed in opposition of marriage equality by a group that described itself as “same-sex attracted men and their wives.” The petitioners argued that “man-woman marriage laws” are not discriminatory, because, look at them! They managed to marry straight, despite their same-sex attraction. The petitioners added that same-sex marriage would necessarily insult their own marital arrangements, because it would send “a harmful message that it is impossible, unnatural, and dangerous for the same-sex attracted to marry members of the opposite sex,” says the brief.

Note that we’re not talking about so-called ex-gays. In fact, the term “same-sex attracted,” or SSA, has taken off as the notion of “ex-gays” has fallen out of favor. There are some key differences between the two groups: “Ex-gays” believe that they have successfully “cured” themselves of homosexuality. Self-identified SSA men in heterosexual marriages generally accept the reality of their same-sex attractions but have chosen to get hitched to a woman. “Ex-gays” have a rightful reputation for being bigoted, whereas SSAs are not necessarily opposed to homosexuality. I’ll give you a moment to digest all of that, because it gets much more complicated from here. As Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor who has studied this group, told me, “They’re not all the same,” he said. “It is hard to keep it straight.” Ehem.

When Throckmorton surveyed SSA men in relationships with women, he found that the largest sub-group were bisexual. “These were the men who viewed themselves as attracted to women in general and men in general, to varying degrees,” he said. “There was a general attraction to people.”

The next largest group was what he calls “pretty exclusively gay.” He explains, “They didn’t really feel much present attraction to their wives, they didn’t feel a whole lot of attraction to their wife when they married, but they felt they needed to marry, they felt they would grow into attraction to their wives.” Of all the sub-groups, this category of men were most driven by religious pressure.

The third-largest group consisted of same-sex attracted men who experienced sexual attraction to a single woman. “One guy described it to me as, ‘She literally is the only girl for me,’” says Throckmorton. “He didn’t think it would ever happen, he had resigned himself to being gay. He prayed and prayed and prayed and nothing happened — and then he met this girl and they got to be friends, they got to be really good friends.” Even more than friends: “Eventually something changed and he found himself being attracted to her,” he says. “They have a whole complete sex life. He fantasizes about her sexually. But he still fantasizes about men too.” He doesn’t fantasize about other women, because his wife is the only woman in the world to whom he is sexually attracted.

All of which is to say: Taken together, SSAs are an incredibly broad group. If a partner in a heterosexual relationship rates as anything other than 0 on the 7-point Kinsey scale, you arguably have yourself a mixed-orientation marriage. (Note that Kinsey’s “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” found that only 10 percent of men were “more or less exclusively homosexual.”) So, what marriage is not at least to some small degree mixed-orientation? But where things get really interesting are relationships like Weed’s in which one partner is predominantly attracted to the same sex and yet is married to a member of the opposite sex.

Religion is often a strong motivator for these couples. Throckmorton, an evangelical Christian, developed a framework for counseling people whose sexuality is in conflict with their religious beliefs. Although he once supported conversion therapy, about a decade ago he came out against it and does not believe that gay people can be made straight. His therapeutic framework emphasizes that both sexuality and moral beliefs are “important aspects of personality,” and that “the therapist should not attempt to persuade clients about how to value these dimensions but can assist clients to determine their own valuations.” This can mean that a client decides to embrace a gay identity over their religious identity. It can also mean that they choose their religious identity over their sexual desires. Or they might adapt their religious beliefs to allow for the expression of their sexuality. In 2009, the American Psychological Association came out in support of this approach, noting that it can be beneficial for some clients.

I mentioned earlier that SSAs are not necessarily anti-gay. But there are plenty of SSA men who believe that homosexual behaviors are a religious sin — and, as the recent amicus brief shows, some are willing to go so far as to politicize their identity in order to fight equal rights for gays. So it’s no surprise that religious institutions are increasingly embracing the SSA concept. The Mormon church has begun promoting the idea that it’s possible for same-sex attracted men and women to either enter into heterosexual marriage, despite their attractions, or live a fulfilling life of celibacy. There was even a recent TLC documentary, “My Husband’s Not Gay,” about Mormon households in Utah composed of same-sex attracted men married to women. A recent Catholic documentary called “The Third Way” promotes the same choice.

But religion isn’t the only motivator here. “Some men I’ve talked to over the years, and some women too, just prefer a more traditional life,” says Throckmorton. “They just felt it would be more of what they’d always hoped for when they were growing up. They thought it would be easier to get along in society in general, even with the tolerance that exists now.” So they choose a life partner of the opposite sex, while acknowledging that it wholly contradicts their sexual orientation.

This does not sit well with a sex-positive liberal like myself who dreams of sexual freedom and fulfillment for everyone. But Throckmorton urges open-mindedness. “If we’re really going to be tolerant and non-judgmental, that’s what they want to do,” he says. “In some ways, a very religious, exclusively gay man married to an asexual woman, they can have a very nice friendship, a very wonderful relationship in many ways, and it wouldn’t be a family therapist’s dream, but it would be fine for them.” Indeed, it seems fine for Weed: He emphasizes the joy he gets from his friendship with his wife and the three daughters that they’ve had together. Weed, who has never had sex with a man, insists that his sex life with his wife is fulfilling: “Sexuality, I contend, is a lot about intimacy and vulnerability and connection between two human souls and not just about that carnal heat,” he explains.

That said, they do miss that carnal heat. “We both acknowledge that while our sex life and romantic life and emotional life is really, really good, we both at the same time acknowledge it’s missing a component, and sometimes that’s really sad,” he said. “Sometimes we grieve that and wish it could be a different way.”

More Sex Means More Money

Originally Posted on The Daily Beast
Written By: Charlotte Lytton

A new study finds that those who have more sex bring home bigger paychecks. How bedroom behavior deepens your pockets.

Employees with active sex lives perform better at work, a new study reports. Those who get it on two or three times a week earn 4.5 percent more than their less coitus-inclined colleagues, proving that our bedroom and boardroom behaviors are more closely linked than we may like to think.

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Given that the wages and sex lives of Generation Y are in well-documented decline, this could just be the two-birds-one-stone solution we’ve been looking for.

Dr. Nick Drydakis and his team at Anglia Ruskin University in the UK charted data from 7,500 participants analyzing the association between sexual activity and wages. They uncovered a strong correlation between the two areas: ‘Contemporary social analysis suggests that health, cognitive and non-cognitive skills and personality are important factors that affect wage level,’ says the paper.

“The vast medical and psychological literature concludes that sexual activity is associated with good health and improved physical and mental capacities, psychological well-being and dietary habits,” Drydakis said of the study’s findings. Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory claims that the happier and more fulfilled individuals are in their lives, the more productive and successful they will be in their work, translating to higher wages. The theory concludes that people need to love and be loved, sexually and non-sexually, by others. In the absence of these elements, people may become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety and depression—all factors that can affect their working life.”

Lucie, 24, agrees. “If you’re happier at home and feeling confident in a relationship, it makes sense that you’d perform better at work. If a direct correlation was found between sex and earnings, I’d be very happy to sleep with my boyfriend more often to get ahead! Sex and work are both important aspects of life, so being active in both—particularly if it means making more money—is key.”

“If you’re happier at home and feeling confident in a relationship, it makes sense that you’d perform better at work.”

One thing the study didn’t unearth is what comes first: are higher earners better at talking people into bed, or do those with good sex lives feel more confident when it comes to the working world? Either way, the message is clear: getting it on is good for your health, and with paltry wages and graduate unemployment levels sky high, why argue?

Indeed, making an impression in the workplace is tougher than ever for millennials, who are leaving college steeped in debt only to find they can’t get the job they need to start paying their way out of the hole. And it’s hardly a surprise that sex is now a far less frequent feat when so many twentysomethings are still living at home—maintaining a healthy sex life when shacked up with mom and dad isn’t exactly an easy task. If young people can’t get their emotional and sexual fulfillment because they can’t afford to move out, but can’t get a job that’ll enable them to pay rent, how can we expect the situation to change?

When it comes to Drydakis’s research, no: correlation does not equal causation—sex five times a week won’t make your bonus that much bigger. But, if improvements in the bedroom encourage those in the boardroom, who wouldn’t want to put in a little more effort?

Read a professor of medicine’s outraged tweets from her son’s abstinence-only sex ed class

Originally posted on VOX

Alice Dreger, a professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University, has written about the importance of honesty in sex education. So when she learned that her son’s heath class was abstinence-only, she went to see what they were being taught.

Her son let her join him in class, where she sat at the back of the room and live-tweeted the proceedings:

(There’s much more of this on Dreger’s Twitter timeline.)

The federal government spent $1.3 billion on abstinence-only sex education between 1996 and 2009, even though a federally funded study in 2007 found the approach had no effect on when students started having sex, whether they had safe sex, or how many partners they had.