Awards Focuses on Sexual Health
November 2, 2006 5:49 PM
SF State's First Annual Champions of Sexual Literacy Awards honored former U.S. Surgeon Generals, and other guest speakers, and invited them to advocate more aggressive approaches to what they called America's sexual health crisis.
“In our society, certainly in political office, you can't afford to speak too frankly about sexuality,” former Surgeon General, Dr. Jocelyn Elders, said at the The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. “Our silence has been deadly.”
Elders said the United States bears six million pregnancies a year, and of those, 33 percent of the women are unmarried, with 13 percent being born to teenagers, and almost half are unwanted. She said only five percent of schools teach comprehensive sexuality in kindergarten through 12 grade, while 81 percent of parents want their children to be taught.
Dr. Elders, and many other guest speakers, said the numbers show that it's time for something new.
“Clearly, prevention needs to be a great priority,” said Director of the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, Anke Heart.
Heart said that promoting abstinence doesn’t have any positive affect. Adolescents who vow celibacy usually only last months longer than those who don’t and they're less likely to use protection when they lose their virginity. Elders agreed.
“Vows of abstinence break more easily than the latex of a condom,” Elders said.
“People have to admit that there are young people having sex,” said former Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher. “We have a responsibility to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering.”
Satcher produced 14 Surgeon General Reports during his term. Of the 14, the Treasurer funded all but one of them titled, “The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior 2001,” which Satcher produced himself.
“People were not comfortable, and that tells volumes about our nation,” said Satcher.
“Why are we so afraid of pleasure?” asked host Dr. Deborah Tolman, director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, and a human sexuality professor. “We have to think about how to make pleasure credible.”
In lieu of Satcher's report turning five years old, and SF State's First Annual Champions of Sexual Literacy Awards, Mayor Gavin Newsom officially declared November 2, 2006 as “Sexual Literacy Day” in San Francisco, even though he could not attend the event.
Students, teachers and other professionals filled the chairs, but stood up to applaud the speakers as they approached and left the podium.
“I just never imagined to be sitting in the same room as some of these people,” said Abi Welssman, who holds a Masters degree in human sexuality. “It made me feel inspired again. It's been such a pleasure.”
“I've never seen Jocelyn Elders before. I was thrilled she was going to be here,” said Maureen McCarthy, a grad student in human sexuality.
Dr. Elders offered an ending alternative to sex: “Masturbation has never got anyone pregnant before, never caused any diseases, never caused hair to grow on your hand, and I always said, ‘You know you're having sex with someone you love.’”
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