Pupils with learning difficulties are being denied their right to sex education

Originally posted on The Guardian

It’s quiet in Paul Bray’s classroom; only the occasional exclamation from a student punctuates the aura of studiousness. At one table, a teaching assistant cradles the hand of a boy in an adapted chair comfortingly, while another offers gentle encouragement to other pupils.

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(Special needs pupils at Doubletrees school in Cornwall take part in a sex education class. Photograph: Ben Mostyn for the Guardian Special needs pupils at Doubletrees school in Cornwall take part in a sex education class. Photograph: Ben Mostyn for the Guardian)

Each of the two groups in the room has been given drawings of naked male and female bodies and asked to use the smaller pictures supplied to label different body parts. There are labels for knees, legs, and faces, but also for the penis, vagina, testicles and pubic hair.

Bray, the behaviour and PSHE (personal, social and health education) lead at Doubletrees special school near St Austell, in Cornwall – which caters for those with severe and complex learning difficulties – is determined that as many of the students as possible should have sex and relationships education (SRE). Under a new policy, each class is expected to get lessons every year. Two staff have been trained to deliver workshops encouraging parental involvement, and a working group has been set up to monitor implementation.

But if PSHE – within which SRE sits – remains a Cinderella subject in mainstream schools thanks to its non-statutory status, provision for children with learning disabilities seems even further away from going to go the ball. Bray recently completed a master’s dissertation at St Mark & St John University in Plymouth on the barriers to quality SRE for special education needs (SEN) pupils, and found from a survey of three schools, including his own, that almost half the teachers questioned hadn’t provided any SRE (not even the small statutory bit – the biology of reproduction that’s in national curriculum science). Two schools he approached didn’t even want to take part.

Low confidence among teachers was a consistent finding, with only a small proportion having covered SRE as part of their initial training. The picture is no less patchy nationally, according to the Family Planning Association, which has long campaigned for those with learning disabilities to get better sex education.

Attitudes and a lack of resources are the problem, Bray concluded. Just putting the words sex and education together make people twitchy, he says; throwing in children and special needs triggers embarrassment and anxiety, even anger. “We’ve got a real blind spot when it comes to people with learning disabilities and their sexuality,” he says, sitting in the headteacher’s office. “Our guys can’t opt out of puberty.” Yet there’s a widespread misconception – including among policymakers at national and local levels – that turning into a sexual being simply doesn’t apply to them.

Some parents find their child’s developing sexuality hard to accept, or are fearful about the effects of focusing on it. “I think this is true not just of parents but of some staff as well,” Bray says. “It’s almost, if you’re going to start teaching our learners about growing up, puberty and sexuality, then it will encourage inappropriate behaviour. In fact all the evidence shows that it’s completely the opposite.”

While most parents at Doubletrees have supported the school’s work, some have exercised their right to take children out of the lessons. “We have had phone calls where parents have said, ‘This is disgusting, I don’t know why you would want to teach our kids this’,” Bray says.

Much of the work is aimed at keeping students safe, and at the end of the lesson the pupils use the labels to show where people should and shouldn’t touch them without permission. Children with a learning disability are more than twice as likely to be sexually abused than others, says Mencap.

When Bray sent questionnaires to parents of 14- to 18-year-olds as part of his research, none said their child knew the correct names for private body parts, and three-quarters thought their child didn’t have the skills to reject inappropriate attention – or understood their right to say no.

“Not knowing body part names leaves most of our guys unable to explain what’s happened to them, if they’ve got concerns about bodily changes,” he says. “It’s also a child protection issue. There have been examples of students with learning disabilities [who’ve been abused] being classed as unreliable witnesses because they can’t name particular body parts.”

The onset of puberty can be terrifying if you haven’t been warned what to expect or can’t ask questions about what’s happening. Bray tells a harrowing story of a male student who spent months ripping out the pubic hair he had begun to grow. Girls who’ve no idea what their periods are when they start can go through similar agonies.

Pupils are also taught when and where it’s acceptable to touch themselves. Several UK studies have suggested those with learning disabilities are over-represented among young people accused of sexual abuse, with one in 1991 showing that 44% of those referred to a clinic for young people who sexually abused others had a learning disability, with half of those having attended a special school. About 2% of the population are thought to have learning disabilities.

“Masturbating is an issue for a lot of our guys,” Bray says. “We’re trying to move the culture away from [saying] ‘no’ to ‘not here’.” One student began masturbating in the passenger seat as he was driven by a female transport escort. “Thankfully the escort came in to speak to me and we dealt with things how we could here, and with the family,” Bray says. “If that had been on a bus, or anywhere else in public, then the consequences for that young man would have been considerably different.”

Harry Walker, policy and parliamentary manager at the Family Planning Association, says: “At the extreme end you get people banged up in a secure setting because they haven’t been given appropriate education and therefore get involved with the law because they’ve been touching themselves inappropriately in an inappropriate setting – quite simply because no one’s ever told them otherwise.”

Making SRE statutory should force schools to take it more seriously, and improve teacher training, Walker believes. Bray hopes it will improve the availability of teaching resources, especially for those with profound and multiple disabilities. His research, he says, showed that with confident teachers, parental support and resources, pupils made “huge gains” in knowledge around growing and changing, keeping safe and body parts.

In 2013 the department of health produced a framework for sexual health improvement that recognised the lack of SRE for young people with learning disabilities, and recommended more accessible information and support. Yet there seems to be no way of measuring whether that’s being done, Walker says. “It’s partly to do with localism,” he explains. “The department of health will set a national ambition and then will hand it entirely over to local authorities and say, ‘You know best, we’re not going to tell you how to do your jobs’.”

“To put it frankly, the DH framework doesn’t have teeth. It’s a big suggestion document, so that’s a real problem.”

The Family Planning Association wants the health department to rule that sexual health and development should be included in health plans for individuals with learning disabilities. “Politicians are happy to be seen to be taking action to prevent abuse of young people with learning disabilities,” Walker says. “What they won’t want to talk about is sexual health and enjoying sexuality.”

Michelle Lobb, whose son Kieran is in the lesson I observe and is severely autistic, with a learning disability, epilepsy and a sensory processing disorder, thinks the work is brilliant. “For me it’s vitally important because if anything were to happen to Kieran that wasn’t so nice, he would need to be able to communicate that to me,” she says. “If he didn’t know how to, I would have absolutely no idea.”

What does she say to those who think sexuality is not an issue for these young people? “They need to walk a very long mile in a pair of our shoes,” Lobb says. “Kids are kids; everybody’s got these hormones in their body; everybody’s going to have those same feelings.”

Tinder’s safe-sex campaign accused of slut-shaming

Originally posted on Aljazeera America.

“You’re probably not her only match. Use a condom.”

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That’s the message from dating app Tinder’s newly released safe-sex campaign – and it’s being received with mixed reviews, with some calling the ad slut-shaming.

The ad, developed by Israeli advertising firm Great Interactive and made in partnership with the AIDS Task Force, created fake accounts of female Tinder users, portraying them with several different male partners. While the aim of the advertisement is to encourage people to practice safe sex, the delivery came under fire by those who say it singles out women who have multiple partners.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qci-4a63TBs

Many criticized the campaign online:

    • Despite what the ad suggests, it’s always a good idea to use a condom when you have sex with someone you meet on Tinder, regardless of whether you think she’s promiscuous or not. (And even if she is, why assume that she’s not using a condom with her other “matches”? In what universe does “enjoying sex with multiple partners” automatically equate to “reckless, disease-ridden whorebag”?)
    • Put both sexes in the ad! It’s not only a man’s responsibility to be safe, it’s also a woman’s!

Others argued that the ad effectively delivers an important AIDS awareness message on a relevant and popular platform.

  • Although the commercial above only shows examples of female profiles, there may be future ads on the way featuring male profiles for women or gay men to match with. There’s no reason to assume these ads won’t exist, because the issue of safer sex applies to everyone, not just women. It’s not about sluttiness — it’s about protection.
  • Great use of the Tinder application to spread out the message of safe sex.

What do you think?

One woman’s campaign for safe sex in Navajo Nation

Originally posted on Aljazeera America. Written by by Tristan Ahtone.

HIPROCK, New Mexico — She walked past the rows of folding chairs and into the street with the rest of the parade. Motorcyclists rolled slowly down the street on their machines, tossing handfuls of candy to packs of children. The sound of a high school marching band rat-tat-tat-tatted down the street as the horn section struggled to stay in tune. Then a moment of relative quiet descended on the Northern Navajo Nation Fair Parade. She reached into her bag, produced a handful of condoms and held them up for the crowd to see.

“Free condoms!” yelled Keioshiah Peter. “Protect our bodies, protect our people!”

A few young men giggled at the offer, some older onlookers bristled, and still others held up their hands, took what Peter had to offer and thanked her.

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(Keioshiah Peter sees safe sex as another sovereignty issue for Native Americans — sovereignty of their bodies)

“Free condoms!” hollered Peter again.

The Northern Navajo Nation Fair Parade was in its 103rd year as it made its way down the main drag of Shiprock, New Mexico, last fall. For Peter, it was the second year for the Rez Condom Tour — a student-organized sex education event centered on promoting sexual health and expression on the Navajo Nation. Its primary feature: giving out safe sex supplies and educating the public on how to use them.

“Why?” a man yelled angrily as Peter passed by. “Give me an example of why!”

“So we can protect our bodies and protect our people by creating —”

The man shook his head in an irritated fashion and shushed her.

“Who is the one that gave you permission to give out stuff like this?” he asked as he pointed to the condoms.

“It’s coming from the youth, and it’s coming from an organization —”

The man interrupted her again with a wave of his hand. One of his companions urged him to let Peter continue walking. Then he shooed her away with a dismissive hand gesture.

“You just don’t do that in front of little kids!” the man yelled after her.

“OK,” Peter said as she walked away. Then with renewed vigor she yelled, “Free condoms!”
STDs on the rise

The Navajo Nation is bigger in area than West Virginia, with towns as large as Shiprock, New Mexico, population 8,295, and as small as the frontier-style hamlet of Tselakai Dezza, Utah, population 171, deep in the Navajo Nation. However, grocery stores, gas stations, health clinics and other places to buy items like condoms that are common elsewhere are few and far between.

“It’s very hard to get condoms that are cheap, pricewise, and of high quality on the rez because it’s like a condom desert,” said Peter. “Being able to access things like fresh food, vegetables, fruits and condoms — those are really hard to get.”

At the same time, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have been on the rise in Indian Country for years, and American Indians and Alaska Natives continue to face the highest rates of mortality from AIDS than any other ethnic group.

In places like the Navajo Nation, any attempt to keep sexually safe and healthy can run into several obstacles, including geography and poverty as well as a reticence to discuss taboo topics like sex.

“Even if you can get to a place that sells condoms, then you may not have enough money to buy them because your priority is food for the week or you need that extra gallon of gas,” said Alexander White Tail Feather, the executive director of the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center.

In 2010 the Centers for Disease Control estimated that HIV infection was the ninth leading cause of death for Native people ages 25 to 34. In 2010 rates of gonorrhea among American Indians and Alaska Natives was four times the rate among whites, chlamydia had increased nearly 8 percent from the previous year, and syphilis remained 1.2 times the rate for whites. Among Native women, those disparities are even higher.

“These high rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea didn’t happen overnight,” said Lisa Neel, an analyst with the Indian Health Service HIV program. “They’re diseases that count on humans to be people.”

Sovereignty

Since 2011, the Indian Health Service has increased screening for HIV, STDs and hepatitis C at its facilities at the behest of the CDC as well as the United States Preventive Services Task Force. However, barriers to care continue to exist, ranging from access and poverty to mistrust of government health care facilities like the Indian Health Service, which serves over a third of the nation’s estimated 3.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.

“American Indian and Alaska Native gay and bisexual men also face culturally based stigma and confidentiality concerns that might make it harder for them to access education or testing,” said Neel, “especially those who live in very rural communities or reservations where there’s a small population.”

“Beyond statistics — treatment, medication, access to supplies — you can have all those things in front of you, but if you feel stigmatized, if you feel ashamed of your experiences or of your body, if you feel judged by your community for what you’re going through, you’re not going to be in a place to access support,” said Krista Williams of the Canadian-based Native Youth Sexual Health Network. “Stigma, shame and judgment — those are the barriers.”

Another is history.

In 2009 the Canadian Minister of Health reported that HIV/AIDS among the nation’s indigenous people had to be considered in the context of “colonization and historical and persistent marginalization.” Health officials identified poverty, geographic isolation, drug use, limited health care access and a lack of social and political power as drivers of the epidemic. Except for marginalization, history and colonization, the CDC more or less listed the same factors driving infection rates among Native people in the United States.

In other words, for indigenous communities, throwing condoms at the problem won’t change the larger systemic and structural issues associated with the lingering effects of forced assimilation of Native people through religion and education.

“How do and did our ancestors see sexuality and bodies, and how has that been influenced by religion, especially when there is so much shame?” asked Williams.

In the past, colonial authorities and the U.S. and Canadian governments confiscated indigenous people’s lands and resources without consent. Today, demanding input in the process, putting safeguards in place and fighting back have become acts of defiance and expressions of sovereignty. In the realm of sex, indigenous activists are applying the same values: Does everyone involved know his or her HIV/STD status? Will condoms be used? Are all parties happy with engaging in sexual activity?

“What we’re talking about is body sovereignty,” said Williams.

Tough battle

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(A spectator at the Northern Navajo Nation Fair Parade last fall holds up a sign for The Rez Condom tour, a student-organized safe sex campaign.)

Of course, this is easier said than done. For volunteers and activists like Keioshiah Peter, stubborn views on sex remain one of the biggest barriers to having conversations about safe sex practices and promoting the use of materials that could have big effects on rates of HIV/AIDS and other STDs in her community.

“Being out there with my own sexuality, being out there with a handful of condoms, it’s sometimes hard to have people take me seriously,” she said. “They think I’m promiscuous, or they think that I’m looking for multiple partners, and they make certain assumptions about me that are untrue.”

A line of men in cowboy hats made their way along the Northern Navajo Nation Fair Parade route on horseback, carrying the flags of the Navajo Nation, Arizona, New Mexico and the United States.

“Free condoms,” yelled Peter, stepping out of the way of the horsemen and handing condoms to those with outstretched hands. “Protect out bodies, protect our people!”

One man in a wide-brimmed black Stetson and a tan vest called out to her from atop his horse.

“Do you have an extra large?” asked the man.

“It’s not for the horse!” retorted Peter.

“It’s for me,” replied the man with a leer.

Peter laughed politely, then turned back to the crowd and held up the condoms.

“Hey,” said the man. “Come up here.”

The man patted the backside of his horse to show where Peter could sit and she shot him a look that should have cut his throat as crisply as a celery stalk.

“That’s sexual harassment,” she yelled.

The rider grumbled, dug his heels into his horse’s side and rejoined the parade.

By noon along one-and-a-half miles of Shiprock streets, Keioshiah Peter and volunteers handed out over 6,000 condoms, female condoms, dental dams and personal lube packets to Northern Navajo Nation Fair Parade spectators.

Pending funding, the Rez Condom Tour volunteers will begin their third year on the Navajo Nation in June. Although in August, 22-year-old Peter will begin studying for a masters degree in American Studies at the University of New Mexico.

“I want to give back to my community, I want to be able to talk about sex with my peers, and I want to be able to create safe spaces,” said Peter. “Sometimes that’s hard.”

Sex in Britain 2015: The women who have become so dissatisfied in the bedroom that they have NO interest in sex

Written By Professor David Spiegelhalter. Originally premiered on DailyMail.co.uk

  • 50% of women and 40% of men had at least one sex problem in past year
  • Problems include lacking interest in sex, pain and experiencing no arousal
  • Other problems are difficulty in climaxing and trouble keeping an erection
  • But the proportion of men who had a lack of interest, enjoyment and arousal is only half that of women

Cambridge Professor David Spiegelhalter has carried out the most in-depth study ever made into what really goes on in the bedrooms. Here, in part three of the Mail’s fascinating serialisation of the findings, he reveals how many women are left so dissatisfied by sex they’ve lost interest in it…

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Cinematic depictions of sex invariably feature couples consumed by lust who make love with passion and athleticism and are left sated by their experiences. But the truth is always more complicated than fiction.

For the fact is that half of sexually active women and 40 per cent of sexually active men say they have experienced one or more problems in the past year, according to the 2010 British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal).

Problems were identified as lacking interest or enjoyment in sex, physical pain as a result of intercourse, experiencing no excitement or arousal, difficulty in climaxing, climaxing too soon and — for men — having trouble getting or keeping an erection.

Of these women, a third said they lacked interest in sex and one in 12 admitted feeling no excitement or arousal during intercourse, while one in six don’t achieve orgasm or take a long time to get there.

For many women, it may be comforting to know that men have problems, too. The Natsal survey found that around 15 per cent reach climax too soon — otherwise known as premature ejaculation — while trouble getting or keeping an erection, known as erectile dysfunction, affects one in eight. While the chances of experiencing sexual problems increase as we get older, what may surprise you is the proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds who say they’ve had an issue in the past year: 45 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men.

This shows you’re not alone if you’re young and your sex life isn’t perfect. Age remains a key factor for men: while 8 per cent of 20-year-olds had erectile problems, this was a third around 70.

However, the proportion of men who had a lack of interest, enjoyment and arousal is only half that of women.

Perhaps this explains why the most common problem for couples — affecting one in four — is that one partner is more interested in sex than the other.

Other issues include around 15 per cent of men and women reporting sexual difficulties for their partners, while 10 per cent of men and 7 per cent of women said their other half did not share sexual likes and dislikes.

But very few admitted not feeling emotionally close to their partners — just 2 per cent of women and 1 per cent of men — showing that even sexless relationships can be loving.

THE RISE AND RISE OF VIAGRA

It took the world by storm after its development in the late Nineties, but Viagra wasn’t the first treatment for a man wanting to boost his potency.

John ‘Goat-gland’ Brinkley traveled the U.S. in the Twenties promising to restore sexual energy by sewing goats’ testicles into men’s scrotums. Was it a success? The fact he eventually went bankrupt amid numerous lawsuits over the deaths of patients suggests not.

In the previous decade, a Viennese scientist called Eugen Steinach had recommended partial or full vasectomies for enhancing virility, the thinking being it would shift the balance from sperm to hormone production in the affected testicle. Freud and the Irish poet W. B. Yeats were ‘steinached’. Obviously, it didn’t work.

Viagra became available on the NHS in 1999. The cost was estimated at £10 million a year, but by 2012 there were 1.2 million prescriptions costing £30 each — a total of £40 million.

While Viagra is now cheaper — it lost its patent in 2013, meaning other drug companies could produce copies — there’s still a thriving black market.

When Dutch researchers wanted to calculate how much is taken, they sampled sewage from three cities for a week to calculate Viagra consumption. Only 40 per cent could be accounted for by legal prescriptions.
The proportion of men who had a lack of interest, enjoyment and arousal is only half that of women.

The proportion of men who had a lack of interest, enjoyment and arousal is only half that of women.

HOW MANY PEOPLE SAY THEY ARE GAY?

Figures from 2010 reveal that of those aged 16 to 72, 1 per cent of women say they are lesbian and 1.5 per cent of men identify as being gay.

Women, however, are more likely to identify as bisexual — 1.4 per cent — compared to 1 per cent of men.

This would mean that roughly one in 80 adults under 75 is gay or lesbian and one in 80 bisexual. With a UK adult population of around 47 million, this means a total of 1.2 million — the same as the population of Birmingham.

Figures are higher among the younger population, too, especially women. For example, one in 27 women aged 16 to 24 says she thinks of herself as lesbian or bisexual.

But it’s when it comes to sexual behavior with someone of the same sex, figures really soar.

For women aged 16 to 44, the proportions who’ve had same-sex experience — which includes everything from kissing to full sex — has risen from 4 per cent in 1990 to 10 per cent in 2000 and 16 per cent in 2010. What’s the explanation for this? My view is that while women were more willing to reveal sensitive information in 2000 than they were in 1990, the rise in 2010 is down to changing behaviour. One in five women aged 20 says she’s had a same-sex experience, compared to one in 40 aged 70.

And it’s clearly more than just having a kiss like Madonna or Katy Perry: nearly one in 20 women reports having had a same-sex partner — someone with whom you’ve had ‘genital’ contact — in the past five years.

Meanwhile, the number of men ever having a same-sex partner is 7 per cent among 16 to 24-year-olds and 9 per cent among 45 to 54-year-olds.

It’s clear that far more people have had same-sex experiences than say they are gay or bisexual. The most recent U.S. survey shows that the majority of people who report same-sex contact label themselves as ‘heterosexual’.
You’re not alone if you’re young and your sex life isn’t perfect. Age remains a key factor for men: while 8 per cent of 20-year-olds had erectile problems, this was a third around 70

This may well back up Kinsey’s theory that there is a spectrum of sexuality and many people fall in between being completely straight or gay, even if they don’t want to admit it to themselves.

What’s also clear is the more educated you are, the more likely you are to have a same-sex experience: the rates are three times higher among those with further education compared to those with no qualifications. Why?

One possibility is that in liberal circles, people are more accepting of a wide range of behaviour and, therefore, people don’t feel inhibited.

Finally, as a society, we’re more accepting of same-sex relationships than ever. In 1990, 25 per cent thought they were ‘not wrong at all’. Now that figure is over 50 per cent.

THAT MYTH ABOUT QUEEN VICTORIA

It’s a myth that Queen Victoria failed to make lesbianism illegal because she didn’t believe it could exist.

Certainly, far from being a rare occurrence in previous generations, figures from 1929 suggest it was commonplace in some circles, with 14 per cent of single women and 20 per cent of married women reporting sexual contact with other women.

The research, in Katherine Bement Davis’s study Factors In The Sex Life of Twenty-Two Hundred Women, was the first done into U.S. lesbian activity. (Though hers was hardly a random group of women, consisting as it did of liberal university wives.)

Alfred Kinsey was the next to investigate rates of lesbianism, in the Forties. He developed the Kinsey scale in which people’s sexual desires could be plotted on a seven-point scale — from ‘exclusively heterosexual’ to ‘exclusively homosexual’, depending on their experience and desires.

He concluded that ‘at least 37 per cent of the male population has some homosexual experience’, though his research was later criticised because he had not targeted a random sample of the population.

Meanwhile, he decided 20 per cent of women had same-sex experiences, with 13 per cent involving orgasm.

CAN YOU PREDICT SEXUALITY?

A review of scientific studies in 2010 revealed lesbians tend to have relatively smaller index fingers compared to their ring fingers. A longer ring finger in men indicates higher levels of testosterone. One theory is that girls who have more exposure to androgens — hormones that includes testosterone — in the womb are more likely to be lesbian.
The most common problem for couples — affecting one in four — is that one partner is more interested in sex than the other.

The most common problem for couples — affecting one in four — is that one partner is more interested in sex than the other (posed by model)

Additionally, men with more older brothers have a higher chance of being gay or bisexual. It’s estimated that each older brother is associated with an increased likelihood of being gay — three older brothers more than doubles the chance.

It’s not known why this happens, but it’s thought the mother may produce increasing antibodies to male offspring and this somehow influences the sexual orientation of the fetus.

WHY FEWER MEN PAY FOR SEX

One Norwegian survey estimated that a quarter of men born from 1927 to 1934 had visited a prostitute, compared to 6 per cent of those born from 1975 to 1984.

In Britain today, 11 per cent of men say they have paid for sex at some point in their lives, according to Natsal. As for the proportion of men aged 16 to 44 who said they had visited a prostitute in the past five years, that grew from 2 per cent in 1990 to 4 per cent in 2000, but some of this may have been increased willingness to report this activity. Rates have stayed stable since 2000.

Single Londoners aged 25 to 34 are the group most likely to be handing over cash, but this is likely to be because those who live in a cosmopolitan capital will travel more.

Of all men who have paid for sex, two-thirds say they have done so when abroad. Figures for women paying for sex are, unsurprisingly, much lower — in 2010, it was around one in 1,000.

EU AND THE OLDEST PROFESSION

It may surprise you that the people who really want to know about prostitution in Britain work for the Treasury. Because from September 2014, the European Union demanded that the trade in prostitution be included in the assessments of UK Gross National Domestic Product.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) — those tasked with doing the research — there are 61,000 prostitutes in the UK, seeing 25 clients a week, at an average price per visit of £67. That makes 80 million visits a year and £5.3 billion spent on sex.

But it’s likely to be an over-estimate — the number of sex workers was based on London, where there’s a disproportionately high level of prostitution because it’s the biggest city.

It also assumed all sex workers are full-time, which is unlikely. The result? A bill from the EU for £1.7 billion in back- payments because the UK economy was doing better than predicted, partly down to the brisk trade in prostitution. The ONS is revising estimates — I suspect downwards.

TRUTH ABOUT ‘SEX SLAVES’

While MP Denis MacShane might have claimed in Parliament in 2009 that a staggering 25,000 women had been trafficked into Britain as ‘sex slaves’, a survey of 142 sex premises that year estimated the number to be 2,600 across the whole country.

Sex By Numbers by David Spiegelhalter is published by Profile Books at £12.99. © 2015 David Spiegelhalter. To buy a copy for £11.69 (discount until April 4), visit mailbookshop.co.uk or call 0808 272 0808. P&P free for limited time only. Adapted by Clare Goldwin. Case study by Sadie Nicholas.

NGO trains teachers on comprehensive sexuality

Originally posted on *Ghana Web

The Savanna Signatures, a Tamale-based non-governmental organisation, has trained teachers from 10 schools in the Northern Region in comprehensive sexuality.

The aim of the training is to equip teachers to enable them to help educate teenagers at the junior high schools (JHS) to avoid immoral acts that would lead to teenage pregnancies.

The training is under the NGO’s teacher facilitation training programme dubbed ‘My World and My Life’ (MWML), which is being piloted in some schools to equip the beneficiary teachers with skills to carry out education on sexual behaviour.

The Executive Director of Savanna Signatures, Mr Stephen Agbenyo, speaking at the opening of the one-week programme, advised participants to not hide issues of reproductive sexual health from pupils, saying: “The more we don’t tell them the truth about sex, the more they want to explore.”

He said the NGO would continue to embark on projects and programmes that would help improve the welfare and smooth growth of younger persons.

The MWML is a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum developed for pupils from 10-14 years as well as a 14-lesson curriculum comprising sexuality, human feelings and body changes, sexually transmitted infections prevention methods and future plans.

The programme is being piloted in four schools in the Tamale Metropolis and five in the East Mamprusi District where some 18 teachers are being trained by some officials from the Ghana Health Service and the Ghana Education Service so as to make the programme effective.

The Project Manager of Savanna Signatures, Ms Alhassan Fousia Tuah, said the training of the teachers had become necessary because they were in direct contact with the children all the time.

She said though the teachers were trained they needed to receive capacity building in facilitating lessons in their schools in line with the NGO’s aims and objectives to ensure that the programme succeeds.

Madam Sanderijn Van Der Doef, a master trainer of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights from the office of Rutgers WPF in the Netherlands talked about the importance of sex education among the youth especially those at the JHS who were sexually active.

Mr Abu Musah, Programmes Co-ordinator of ASEG, a partner NGO of the project, lauded the project, which is being adapted from Uganda, and told the participants of the enormous benefits that would be derived directly and indirectly from the MWML.

Billboard Company Disgusted By Ex-Gay Ad, Promises To Take It Down

Originally posted on *ThinkOrg.com
Written by Zack Ford

This month, a new billboard in the Dallas area is promoting “Reparative Therapy: Real Therapy… Really Works.” The link on the ad directs toward the therapy practice of David Pickup, a practitioner and proponent of ex-gay therapy who has very publicly fought — unsuccessfully — to defend the harmful, ineffective treatment from being banned for minors.

gtws_Dallas-Ex-Gay-Billboard

Pickup confirmed to reporter John Wright that the Texas billboard was his. Wright also noted that Jeremy Schwab, the head of Dallas ex-gay ministry Joel 2:25, had promoted an image of the billboard on Facebook, proclaiming, “Hopefully, this will help get the Truth to those who can benefit.”

ThinkProgress spoke with Terry Kafka, president of Impact Outdoor Advertising, the small Dallas billboard company that is hosting the ad. Kafka explained that they had been convinced the ad was for couples therapy, having never heard the term “reparative therapy” before. He described the true content of the ad as “repulsive to me personally,” promising that the ad would be coming down by next week at the latest. “If we had known, we wouldn’t have put it up in the first place.”

A billboard ad promoting ex-gay therapy similarly caused controversy in Virginia last month. That ad, posted by the ex-gay organization PFOX, asserted, “We believe twins research studies show nobody is born gay,” featuring two different pictures of the same model, who is not only not a twin but is also openly gay. Though Lamar, a national billboard company, agreed to keep that ad in place, Kafka promised, “There’s no way you’d ever see one of those on our billboards.” He said that at Impact, they have a “live and let live” policy and they carefully assess the messages on controversial billboards before agreeing to put them up.

ThinkProgress contacted Pickup, who explained that his Texas office is the larger of his two offices (despite his involvement challenging California’s law banning ex-gay therapy for minors), which is why he purchased the ad there. He clarified that his treatment is not about suppressing homosexuality, but “resolving issues that cause homosexuality.” He explained that his patients reject the idea that their same-sex attractions are in-born, but instead they stem from childhood “gender identity inferiority” and “unmet male emotional needs” that become sexualized during puberty. His patients tell him that once they resolve these issues, their homosexual feelings dissipate or lessen.

Major medical organizations like the American Psychological Association reject the idea that anything in childhood can “cause” homosexuality and urge doctors not to use any form of ex-gay therapy, because it has been found to be ineffective and harmful. Nevertheless, the Texas Republican Party endorsed ex-gay therapy in its platform last year.

‘My Husband’s Not Gay’ and Pop Culture’s Simplistic View of Sexuality

Originally posted on *The Daily Beast
Written by Parker Molly

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On Sunday night, TLC aired My Husband’s Not Gay, a controversial look into the lives of four married Mormon men from the Salt Lake City, Utah, area. The common thread linking the show’s subjects is that despite being in committed, monogamous marriages with women, they each admit to having at least some attraction to other men.

Almost immediately after announcing the show’s air-date, TLC was hit with a deluge of complaints coming from outraged LGBT individuals and their allies.

Within days, nearly 100,000 people had signed on to a Change.org petition asking the network—which has in recent years distanced itself from its “The Learning Channel” roots in favor of shows about dance moms, pageant girls, failed Alaskan politicians, and laughably large families—to pull the plug on MHNG before it aired.

“As a devout Christian, I understand the important role faith plays in the lives of the show’s main characters,” says John Sanders, the petition’s creator. “It was made very clear to me by the conservative community I grew up in that being gay was considered ‘unnatural’ and ‘an abomination.’ So I, too, did everything possible to hide who I am. I was even subjected to six months of so-called ‘reparative therapy,’ a discredited and dangerous practice that falsely claims to turn gay people straight. I was promised I could change, and told that I should ‘pray the gay away.’”

“This show is downright irresponsible,” wrote GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “No one can change who they love, and, more importantly, no one should have to. By investing in this dangerous programming, TLC is putting countless young LGBT people in harm’s way.”

Sanders and Ellis both make extremely valid points. Reparative therapy is viewed by most medical professionals as being either ineffective or outright dangerous.

Just last month, transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn took her life, leaving behind a heartbreaking note detailing the painful experience she was made to endure at the hands of her parents and their decision to enroll her in one of these “therapeutic” programs.

Even with the justifiable concerns about people feeling the need to “hide” who they are in order to comply with their faith, and worry over the potential that the show would be used to promote reparative therapy, something struck me as odd about the statements aimed at TLC: they were built on the assumption that these men—who admit that they’re attracted to other men—are, in fact, gay.

Maybe they aren’t. Though it’s likely that at least one of these men is bisexual or otherwise outside of the gay/straight binary, that possibility was all but dismissed by the show’s critics, and in itself, is a form of bisexual erasure.

Upon airing, however, it became clear that none of the show’s subjects actually identified as such. When asked whether or not he identifies with the term “bisexual,” one of the men, named Curtis, replied, “I don’t necessarily.”

The men and their wives seem intent on doing whatever mental gymnastics are needed in order to convince themselves that being gay is a “lifestyle choice,” built around exhausted stereotypes and expectations of masculinity.

In one scene, the men suggest that playing basketball connects them to masculinity, and therefore, distances themselves from the “gay lifestyle.” Never mind the fact that it’s while playing basketball that the show’s stars ogle other men, insisting that they be “skins” in a “shirts versus skins” pick-up game; the irony is entirely lost on them.

A number of outlets have reported that several of the show’s subjects are in one way or another affiliated with Voices of Hope, a branch of the Mormon organization North Star International, a group tied to the “ex-gay” movement and it’s controversial “conversion therapy” tactics.

Additionally, a number of the couples have gone on record promoting “non-gay lifestyles” for other men who experience “same-sex attraction.”

The men of MHNG are perfectly within their rights to date and marry whoever they’d like. If that means being with a woman, that’s their prerogative. The way the show was formatted, however, was consistent with TLC’s recent formula for ratings success: take a group of people who are in some way “odd” or “outside the mainstream,” point a camera on them, and watch as a nation gawks at the weirdos.

It’s win-win; the network churns up controversy and ratings, and more progressive viewers are able to pat themselves on the back for being so much more open-minded than the subjects, while those who politically align with the subjects can rally around the opinions shown.

Programs like MHNG highlight society’s frequently-narrow interpretation of sexuality. When asked whether they think gay or lesbian relations between consenting adults should be legal, 31 percent of respondents of a May 2013 Gallup poll answered “no.”

This number is improved over the poll high in 1986, when 57 percent of respondents affirmed their beliefs that same-sex relationships should be outlawed, but it remains a startlingly high number. Unsurprisingly, those in favor of banning same-sex relations are also of the mindset that one’s sexuality is a choice or is impacted by how one was raised.

More socially liberal members of society will scoff at the idea that sexuality is so simple that it can be defined as “men are attracted to women, and women are attracted to men.” Even so, many of these same individuals will find it hard to extend their beliefs in sexual complexity beyond simply accepting that some people are gay.

In truth, whether or not you take the hard-line anti-gay stance that all people are straight, or take the stance that both gay and straight people exist, both views oversimplify sexual orientation and one’s sexuality.

Even in shows that are frequently championed as being LGBT-friendly, we see just how limited our view of sexuality is. In Glee’s season two episode “Blame it on the Alcohol,” Blaine (Darren Criss) tells Kurt (Chris Colfer) that he thinks he might be bisexual after kissing Rachel (Lea Michele) at a party, and that he’s agreed to go on a date with her.

“Acknowledging bisexuality messes with society’s ideas of binaries. All of a sudden it’s not as neat as we like it to be.”

Kurt is taken aback, and Blaine says, “When we kissed, it felt good…I’ve never even had a boyfriend before. Isn’t this the time you’re supposed to figure stuff out? Maybe I’m bi. I don’t know.” Kurt responds by dismissing the very idea that Blaine’s sexuality is anything other than 100 percent gay, saying, “Bisexual’s a term that gay guys in high school use when they want to hold hands with girls and feel like a normal person for a change.”

Kurt’s dismissive attitude towards the thought that Blaine might be bisexual is all-too-common in both media and society as a whole. Kurt argues that Blaine is obviously gay, and Rachel responds by suggesting that maybe he’s straight.

In the end, Rachel again kisses Blaine, he doesn’t like it, and concludes that yes, he must be gay (again, as though those were the only two options available). When asked why he chose to make Blaine a gay character rather than bisexual, show creator Ryan Murphy reportedly said, “The kids need to know he’s one of them,” which again, plays into this limited, dimorphic worldview surrounding sexuality.

Discussing bisexuality and bisexual erasure, Eliel Cruz, a writer who has written extensively on the topics of religion and sexuality, told me, “Acknowledging bisexuality messes with society’s ideas of binaries. All of a sudden it’s not as neat as we like it to be. It’s not black or white. That’s why the trans community has had hardships being recognized. Bisexuality breaks down heteronormativity more so than homosexuality because of the lack of binaries.”

There are a great many misconceptions about bisexuals; one of the most common being that bi-identifying people are “really” straight or “really” gay. Additional fallacies include beliefs that bi individuals are actually just indecisive, or that they can’t be in committed monogamous relationships—more frustratingly, when people bi people in hetero couplings as “straight” and vice versa.

None of this is true. These views stem from a monosexual-normative culture, in which those who don’t conform to the single-gender attraction standards set in the gay/straight binary are rationalized out of existence.

Furthermore, if someone can’t fathom the existence of bisexual individuals, they’re extremely unlikely to be able to accept the existence of sexualities beyond that.

While general-population studies of sexuality are often skewed or criticized as under-representing the true number of LGB-identifying members of society, a survey specific to transgender individuals and their own relationship with their sexualities is one of the more notable examples of just how diverse sexual orientations and identities can be.

According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, more than three-quarters of trans people identify themselves as something other than straight. Straight trans people—defined in this study as trans women who are exclusively attracted to men, and trans men who are exclusively attracted to women—made up just 23 percent of respondents.

Roughly a quarter of those surveyed defined their sexuality as gay, lesbian, or same-gender; another quarter identified as bisexual, 23 percent responded “queer,” and four percent as asexual. These identities extend beyond merely straight, gay, or bi, because sexuality is simply too complex to be limited to just a few terms.

Maybe it’s that trans people tend to be more forthcoming with the especially nuanced nature of sexuality as a result of already finding themselves in defiance of identity expectations. Or maybe it’s that trans individuals often undergo an extremely introspective look at their existence and identity in discovering who they are in terms of gender, leading them to naturally examine their sexuality.

Either way, the survey is proof-positive that like gender, itself, sexual orientation is an infinite, unique spectrum borne of self-discovery.

TLC’s hour-long special ends just as it started. None of the men had any sort of revelation. None of them have cast off their “same-sex attraction.” They’re still men in inexplicably monogamous, heterosexual relationships; this despite the fact that by the end, viewers are left asking, “Why would they do this to themselves?” At this time, TLC hasn’t made any indication that they plan to make MHNG into a full series, but who knows? The network typically trots out new show ideas first as “specials,” and then develops them into complete series should demand call for it.

If this is the TV end for My Husband’s Not Gay, the world will be a slightly less cringe-worthy place. If it continues, perhaps showing us the seedy goings on of Voices of Hope, it’s possible that what began as an unsettling look at men in sexual denial will transform into something far more insidious and misleadingly persuasive.

But before we harangue the show’s stars, the Mormon church, TLC, or anyone else, we must first acknowledge how our own views have been shaped by the world around us. Are we really so far removed from the “narrow” views we criticize?

Women have casual sex for fun, Ottawa study finds — the mushy emotional stuff comes later

Originally posted on *National Post

In a report that should surprise no one, University of Ottawa researchers have determined that women have one-night stands for the sex.

In a survey of 510 mostly Canadian women, “the person’s physical appearance turned me on” was rated as the number one reason heterosexual respondents had opted for casual sex.

Gtws_sheetssex

Although women in committed relationships reported having sex as an expression of love or affection, casual sex was almost purely physical. The number two and number three reasons for casual sex, respectively, were “It feels good” and “I was ‘horny.’”

“To my knowledge, this is the first study to specifically compare physical and emotional reasons for casual sex,” said study co-author Heather Armstrong, writing in an email to the National Post.

Emotional closeness barely even made the list. As per the survey, women are more likely to have casual sex because a man had “beautiful eyes” and “smelled nice,” rather than doing it because they wanted to feel intimate.

Prepared by the University of Ottawa’s Human Sexuality Research Laboratory, the study’s stated goal was to “explore women’s motivations to have sex” — whether it be straight sex, gay sex, casual sex or sex with a spouse.

“As expected, women reported more physical motivations for casual sex and more emotional motivations for sex in a committed relationship,” read the study.

As expected, women reported more physical motivations for casual sex and more emotional motivations for sex in a committed relationship

Namely, committed women were far more likely to have sex with their partners to “show my affection,” “communicate at a ‘deeper’ level” or solidify “the natural next step in my relationship.”

However, even in marriages and long-term courtships, “it feels good” still held the #1 spot as to why a heterosexual woman would take her partner to bed.

Recruited mostly from a “large, urban university in eastern Canada,” the study’s 510 subjects were 78% Caucasian, mostly non-religious and had a mean age of 21.6 years.

Possibly due to the relative youth of the group, it included a high number of current or recent virgins, as evidenced by the #24 reason for having casual sex with a man being “I wanted to see what it would be like to have sex with another person.”

In recent decades, the science of casual sex has been informed heavily by a 1989 study out of the United States. Prepared by researchers Russell Clark and Elaine Hatfield, the study recruited men and women on U.S. university campuses and asked them to approach classmates with random propositions for sex.

Of the men approached by female participants, an incredible 69% agreed. By contrast, not a single woman assented to a man’s random request to “go to bed with me tonight?”

More recently, a 2011 study out of the University of Michigan found that when women can be assured of “safety” and “sexual prowess,” they were just as likely as men to opt for a night of commitment-free sex.

“The extent to which women and men believed that the proposer would be sexually skilled predicted how likely they would be to engage in casual sex with this individual,” read the study.

Asked if she suspected that her study reflected a change in sexual norms, Ms. Armstrong responded that rates of casual sex are likely rising — but that the reasons for it are pretty much the same as they always have been.

“People have casual sex because it feels good and because their partner’s attractive and I think that probably would have been the case in the past as well,” she said.

Reassuringly, among the least-cited reasons for casual sex were “I wanted to reproduce,” “I wanted to make money” or “I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease.”

In fact, survey respondents were more likely to have casual sex to “change the topic of conversation” or relieve a headache than to do it in exchange for money or drugs.

Workouts for a Better Sex Life

Originally posted on *Ask Men

“When on top, you need a strong lower back and hips, as well as strong arms to hold your body in position. Stiff leg dead lifts and moving planks are great sexercises to target these key muscles.”

To get good results with anything (sex or a workout), you need consistency. Being consistent with your workouts and your sex life will not only burn calories and lower your stress level, but it will keep your heart pumping and your partner happy. That said, there is a lot to learn about the subject of sex from a fitness perspective. Here are a few “sexercise” tips you may not know.

Sprints

Why: Stamina in the bedroom will make a lasting impression — let’s make sure it’s a good one. Cardio exercises increase your stamina for both short, intense bouts as well as longer, less intense bouts.
What: Do treadmill sprints for 30 seconds, followed by a slow jog for 2 minutes. Repeat this sprint-jog interval 10 times (25 minutes).

 

Hip Lifts

Why: When on bottom, the key muscles are your hamstrings and glutes. They need to be strong to help you lift up and have the endurance to keep going.
What: Do booty-bridge hip-lift exercises facing up with a weight on your lap. Start with 3 sets of 15 reps with a 10-pound weight and progress to 4 sets of 20 reps with a 20-pound weight. And if you really want to make a lasting impression, try doing these on one leg!

 

Stiff-Leg Dead-Lift Supersets

Why: When on top, you need a strong lower back and hips, as well as strong arms to hold your body in position. Stiff-leg dead lifts and moving planks are great sexercises to target these key muscles. Supersets are a way to build both strength and endurance in the muscles so you have power but can keep going.
What: Start with 3 sets of 15 reps of the stiff-leg dead lift, immediately followed by 30 seconds of the moving plank (left to right), then progress to 4 sets of 20 reps of the stiff-leg dead lift and 60 seconds of moving plank. Try doing them as supersets (perform a stiff-leg dead lift, then immediately do moving plank, then rest).

 

Dead Lift From Floor To Shoulder Press & Wood Chops

Why: When holding someone while standing up — yes, I said “standing” — you need a strong upper back and shoulders to hold them, as well as a strong core to balance you while you’re moving.
What: The dead lift from floor to shoulder press is a great combo sexercise for the back and arms, and wood chops really target your obliques and other key core muscles. Perform them as a superset by starting with 3 sets of 10-12 reps of dead lifts from floor to shoulder press, immediately followed by 10-12 reps of wood chops. Progress to 4 sets of heavier weight for 8-10 reps of dead lifts and wood chops, with less rest between supersets.

The dead lift from floor to shoulder press:

The wood chop:

 

Curls For The Girls

Why: When changing positions, you need strong biceps and a good hand grip to pick her up.
What: Curls for the girls will target the biceps, but lift your elbows up to shoulder level at the top of the curl to build greater lifting strength. To strengthen your grip at the same time, try wrapping a small hand towel or washcloth around the shaft of the dumbbell so your hand and fingers are spread out more while holding the weight; this will make your biceps work harder when you curl.

Common Female Fantasies – Which is #1?

Originally published on *Ask Men

A newly published study out of Montreal, which set out to “scientifically define sexual deviation for the first time ever”, had researchers asking 1,500 Quebec adults (split evenly between men and women) about their biggest sexual fantasies.

Published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, results include facts like 1) Men fantasize more and with greater detail than women and 2) Females are less likely to want their fantasies to come true. But most interesting of all is what researchers found to be the No. 1 fantasy among women: Submission a la Fifty Shades of Grey.

Learn more about domination and several other recurring themes found in common female fantasies by reading on. Remember: Whether you’re dating a puritan or the neighborhood tart, deep down they share the same basic desires and have similar sexual cravings.

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Domination

Your girl doesn’t have to be into whips and chains to fantasize about this one, as it covers a rather broad spectrum of naughtiness, ranging from dominating to being dominated. The latter is a particularly common female fantasy (even for dominant women), which often extends to capture fantasies. Women who fantasize about such things are usually highly sexual, but may feel guilty about their desires. This is guilt which can easily be assuaged with the right kind of encouragement.

Sex With A Stranger

Hot no-strings-attached sex is a common female fantasy for the simple reason that most women wouldn’t have the nerve to engage in this kind of thing without being fully liquored up. The idea likely appeals to her inner feminist because if she walks into a bar and takes a man home for an all-night shag fest, then she’s a modern, sexually liberated woman whom her girlfriends can admire. What keeps this a fantasy for most women is the fear of post-coital self-judgement at having behaved so wantonly. This type of fantasy is usually found in women who would like to be more sexually free than they currently are.

Sex In Public

Society tends to demand a certain level of modesty and propriety from women and that can really get on a girl’s nerves. The idea of being naughty while random strangers pass by can be a massive turn-on for even the shyest of females. The appeal is partly due to shock value (which makes her feel powerful) and partly due to breaking a massive taboo (which makes her feel wild and wicked). It’s hard to imagine anything more sexually liberating than allowing others to watch you have a good lay. If she’s fantasizing about this, it indicates a decrease in sexual inhibition, which probably means she’s ready to take her present level of kink up a notch.

Sex With Two Men

There isn’t a woman on earth who doesn’t enjoy being the center of attention when it comes to the affections of men and this little fantasy doubles the pleasure. The idea of two studs focusing all of their efforts on her sexual experience, making her orgasm over and over again, is a truly common female fantasy. Another facet is being able to fully satisfy two men at the same time, which can make a woman feel sexually potent and powerful. This could just be a fantasy or it could indicate that she feels her current partner isn’t seeing to her needs adequately.

Sex With Another Woman

The vast majority of women, whether bisexual or not, has at least entertained the idea of having sex with another woman. And, of those women, most have fantasized about having hot lesbian sex with a gorgeous, sexy woman. The fantasy may or may not involve allowing a man to watch, but it’s not about having a three-way romp; This is something she imagines on her own, just her and one other female. Fear not: This doesn’t mean she’s into you any less, it simply means she finds the female form sexually stimulating. Surely you can relate?

Role-Playing

This one covers a lot of ground and it’s important to note that the word “role-playing” doesn’t necessarily denote playing dress-up. Yes, common female fantasies might involve dressing up like a hooker and having their man pick them up on the boulevard, but it could also be as simple as imagining herself as a stripper and giving you a private lap dance. By dressing up like someone else, she can act out her salacious fantasies and this can be very beneficial for a relationship, as it can give a woman the courage to do the things she’s always wanted to do, but never had the nerve to. If she’s mentioning this one, she’s likely ready to add some spice in the bedroom and just needs a little encouragement to get there.

Voyeurism

While most women don’t really get turned on by the idea of watching others have sex, most of them do get incredibly turned on by the idea of being watched themselves. Perhaps the most common female fantasy along these lines involves being watched in secret. This allows her to maintain her modesty while still indulging her inner vixen. This fantasy can sometimes mean she needs a bit more in the way of attention or it can mean she simply gets off on the performance, rather than the experience. You can satisfy this urge easily enough by videotaping your next sexual encounter.

Make Her Fantasy A Reality

Each of these common female fantasies can be turned into reality with a relatively small degree of effort on your part. It might take a bit of practice before both of you are truly comfortable acting them out, but the learning stage is just as hot, sexy and satisfying as the fully experienced stage.