Tag Archives: Sexuality

Most people know that sexual orientation can be heterosexual (attracted to the opposite sex), homosexual (attracted to the same sex) or bisexual (attracted to both sexes). However, sexual orientation is actually a scale with most people leaning one way or the other in varying degrees. Additionally, some people are not attracted to either gender and consider themselves to be asexual. Posts in this category explore the spectrum of sexuality.

Presidential Memorandum – Hospital Visitation

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 15, 2010

Presidential Memorandum – Hospital Visitation

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

SUBJECT: Respecting the Rights of Hospital Patients to Receive Visitors and to Designate Surrogate Decision Makers for Medical Emergencies

There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean — a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.

Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides — whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay. Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.

For all of these Americans, the failure to have their wishes respected concerning who may visit them or make medical decisions on their behalf has real onsequences. It means that doctors and nurses do not always have the best information about patients’ medications and medical histories and that friends and certain family members are unable to serve as intermediaries to help communicate patients’ needs. It means that a stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall.

Many States have taken steps to try to put an end to these problems. North Carolina recently amended its Patients’ Bill of Rights to give each patient “the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient’s immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient” — a right that applies in every hospital in the State. Delaware, Nebraska, and Minnesota have adopted similar laws.

My Administration can expand on these important steps to ensure that patients can receive compassionate care and equal treatment during their hospital stays. By this memorandum, I request that you take the following steps:

1. Initiate appropriate rulemaking, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395x and other relevant provisions of law, to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. It should be made clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The rulemaking should take into account the need for hospitals to restrict visitation in medically appropriate circumstances as well as the clinical decisions that medical professionals make about a patient’s care or treatment.

2. Ensure that all hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid are in full compliance with regulations, codified at 42 CFR 482.13 and 42 CFR 489.102(a), promulgated to guarantee that all patients’ advance directives, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, are respected, and that patients’ representatives otherwise have the right to make informed decisions regarding patients’ care. Additionally, I request that you issue new guidelines, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395cc and other relevant provisions of law, and provide technical assistance on how hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid can best comply with the regulations and take any additional appropriate measures to fully enforce the regulations.

3. Provide additional recommendations to me, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, on actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to address hospital visitation, medical decisionmaking, or other health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

Update: ACP being called on their lies

This is a follow-up to my 4/6/10 post Fraudulent Representation of Medical Opinion by Fundie Quacks as reported by the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association:

“On April 12, Dr. Gary Remafedi, MD, MPH, a University of Minnesota researcher, wrote a letter to the American College of Pediatricians holding them accountable for misusing his research. The American College of Pediatricians (ACP) – not to be confused with the 60,000 member American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – has distributed over 10,000 letters to school superintendents containing factually inaccurate information about sexual orientation and gender identity and promoting unsupported and potentially dangerous “reparative therapies” for LGBT students. The ACP is a small advocacy group masquerading as a legitimate medical organization. Founders of the ACP left the AAP after the organization adopted policy rejecting the use of ‘reparative therapy.’

“Last week, the AAP sent letters to state chapter leaders warning them about the letters and the activities of the ACP. This week, AAP state chapters will be distributing letters to state education officials, advising education officials that the ACP’s campaign, “does not acknowledge the scientific evidence regarding sexual identity, sexual health, sexual orientation, or effective health education.” The letter also directs education officials to a report, Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel, a resource developed by the AAP in collaboration with the American Psychological Association (APA) and other prominent national professional associations. The AAP urges education officials to reference this document in communications to school superintendents and other educators in their states.”

Related posts

Stop H8, Support Love protest 4/17

The University of Saint Thomas is inviting Maggie Gallagher, President of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM), and Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, one of the creators of California’s Proposition 8, to its campus on 4/17 to bring their campaign of discrimination to Minnesota.

Join Minnesotans in saying “No!” OutFront Minnesota, All God’s Children MCC, the Univ. of St. Thomas Allies, the Univ. of St. Thomas Law School OUT!Law, the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities, and the Institute for Welcoming Resources (a project of The Task Force) will be out in force to protest Proposition 8 and the discrimination NOM has been fighting for across the country. Wake up early and take part!

Details: Stop H8 – Support Love
Saturday, April 17, 2010
8:30am – 10:00am
University of Saint Thomas
Summit Ave & Cleveland Ave N
Saint Paul, MN

Fraudulent Representation of Medical Opinion by Fundie Quacks

Tom Benton, MD and his flock of other quacks (American College of Pediatricians) have stooped to a new low in their attempt to confuse the public regarding LGBT youth: they recently mailed their innocuously appearing yet truly virulent “Facts About Youth” to school superintendents across the country under the guise of medical expertise. Contrary to the cohesive opinion of numerous reputable medical and mental health organizations Dr Benton peddles the snake oil ideas that same-sex sexual attraction is learned, pathological and treatable.

This counterfeit group of fringe fanatics should not be confused with the renown American Academy of Pediatricians which in fact completely disagrees with the assertions, misrepresentations and frank lies being perpetuated by Dr Benton et al:

An estimated 2 to 5 percent of adolescents are homosexual, the same percentage as among adults. Scientists generally agree that several factors converge to form a person’s sexual orientation. But there is increasing evidence that human beings may be genetically predisposed toward heterosexuality or homosexuality. These tendencies may even be established prior to birth, just as gender, hair color and complexion are all preprogrammed. Contrary to what some believe, we do not choose to be straight or gay. Come adolescence, a person is innately drawn toward one sex or the other.” – American Academy of Pediatricians

For further reading about Dr Benton’s sleazy organization and its assertions I highly recommend the excellent 4/5/2010 Box Turtle Bulletin post by Timothy Kincaid: “Bogus ‘American College of Pediatricians’ distributes deliberately fraudulent anti-gay propaganda to schools.

CNN anchor Kyra Phillips is another perpetrator of misinformation. Under the guise of “balanced” reporting, Kyra recently interviewed Richard Cohen (right), an unlicensed “ex-gay therapist”, in her segment “Homosexuality -is it a problem in need of a cure?” As evident in the photo, one of the ways Cohen “cures” is by encouraging men to hold each other in semblance of father and child and thus address the supposed childhood trauma sustained from being raised by an emotionally-distant father. First asserted by Irving Bieber, MD in the 1960s as the cause of homosexuality, this hypothesis has long since been debunked but remains central dogma of the anti-gay fringe.

Quacks like Benton and Cohen will always exist but the pseudoscience they espouse should be recognized for what it is: snake oil “evidence” that only appear on the surface to support their baseless beliefs. They do not represent the other side of the coin nor the counterweight to a mass in balance. They are in fact nothing more than angry flies buzzing around a mountain of scientific evidence they would rather ignore.

The nation’s leading professional medical, health, and mental health organizations do not support efforts to change young people’s sexual orientation through therapy and have raised serious concerns about the potential harm from such efforts.” American Psychological Association

Related posts

National Drag History Month

January 2010 is the second annual National Drag History Month. In tribute I’ve put together some of my favorite drag videos and movie trailers. Enjoy!

MUSIC VIDEOS

Christina Aguilera – Beautiful (2002)

Jonny McGovern – Somethin For The Fellas (2006)
WARNING: strong language and sexually suggestive content

RuPaul – Cover Girl (2009)

MOVIES

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Girls will be Girls (2003)

Kinky Boots (2005)

More Drag History Month videos from Logo.

Sex and stigma (part I)

I recently had a discussion with a friend regarding the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections and around sex in general. Given the puritanical foundation of our largely paternalistic Judeo-Christian country it is understandable that rigid sexist ideals and social taboos prevail. However, it is also important to note that just below this whitewashed facade lies an occult but rich and gooey truth: humans love sex and few live up to the standards that society attempts to impose. Just look at all the fallen poster boys and girls of the so-called “Moral Majority” (Ted Haggard, Mark Sanford and Iris Robinson to name a recent few). I’ve done a little digging to bring some of that goo to the surface and with the rest of this blog I intend to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the current moral code.
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According to George Michael:

Sex is natural, sex is good
Not everybody does it
But everybody should
Sex is natural, sex is fun
Sex is best when it’s
One on one

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Britney Spears disagrees:

1, 2, 3
Not only you and me
Got one eighty degrees
And I’m caught in between
Countin’
1, 2, 3
Peter, Paul & Mary
Gettin’ down with 3P
Everybody loves ***
Countin’

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But Salt-N-Pepa hits the nail on the head:

Let’s talk about sex, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about sex
Let’s talk about sex
Let’s talk about sex
Let’s talk about sex
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Consider Abstinence Only education. A 2008 comparison study of 3440 nationally representative middle and high school students aged >15 years who, when surveyed in 1995, had never had sex or taken a virginity pledge found the following: (Rosenbaum JE. Patient teenagers? A comparison of the sexual behavior of virginity pledgers and matched nonpledgers. Pediatrics. 123(1):e110-20, 2009 Jan.)

  • The US government spends more than $200 million annually on abstinence promotion programs, including virginity pledges
  • >90% of abstinence funding does not require scientific accuracy
  • 81.9% of pledgers denied taking the pledge 5 years later
  • Pledgers did not differ in the average lifetime sexual partners (3) nor in the age of first sex (21)
  • 73% of pledgers and 76% of nonpledgers had had sex at the 5 year mark
  • Fewer pledgers than matched nonpledgers used birth control and condoms in the past year and birth control at last sex

A 2007 prospective study of 240 heterosexual 18–20-year-old male university students in Tucson, AZ found the following: (Partridge JM. Hughes JP. Feng Q. Winer RL. Weaver BA. Xi LF. Stern ME. Lee SK. O’Reilly SF. Hawes SE. Kiviat NB. Koutsky LA. Genital human papillomavirus infection in men: incidence and risk factors in a cohort of university students. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 196(8):1128-36, 2007 Oct 15.)

  • Only 25% of men reported 4 or fewer lifetime sex partners
  • 25% reported >16 lifetime sex partners
  • Only 20.7% of men reported consistent use of condoms during sexual intercourse
  • 41.0% reported never having used condoms

So what happened with all that unplanned, unprotected sex?

The fact of the matter is that while abstinence may be a lofty ideal for some people it is clearly not a viable option for the vast majority of humans. The insistence on abstinence education only is not only ludicrous but clearly dangerous. It has been nothing more than a complete and utter failure to American youth and a waste of tax payer money.

So just what are our real sexual habits anyway? When do people actually become sexually active? According to the 2002 NSFG data as presented by the CDC (MMWR: Sexual and Reproductive Health of Persons Aged 10–24 Years—United States, 2002–2007)

  • % of teens reporting having had sex:
    • Females aged <15 years: 13.1%
    • Females aged 15-17 years: 30.0%
    • Females aged 18-19 years: 70.6%
    • Males aged <15 years: 14.8%
    • Males aged 15-17 years: 31.6%
    • Males aged 18-19 years: 64.7%
  • Females aged 18-24 years who have experienced involuntary intercourse in the past: 9.6%
  • Females who have experienced forced intercourse in the past:
    • Females aged 18-19 years: 14.3%
    • Females aged 20-24 years: 19.1%
  • 3 in 10 adolescents aged 15-19 years reported having had 2+ sexual partners
  • Among never-married sexually active adolescents aged 15-19 years, 75.2% of females and 82.3% of males reported using a method of contraception at first intercourse
  • Among adolescents aged 18-19 years, 49.8% of females and 35.1% of males had talked with a parent before reaching age 18 years about methods of birth control
  • Among females aged 15-17 years, 88.0% of births were from unintended pregnancies

Yes, virgins do exist but they are few in number. A 2009 case-control study of 210 college-aged men aged 18–23 years in Baltimore, MD found the following: (D’Souza G. Agrawal Y. Halpern J. Bodison S. Gillison ML. Oral sexual behaviors associated with prevalent oral human papillomavirus infection. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 199(9):1263-9, 2009 May 1.)

  • Among college-aged men
    • 9% never engaged in open-mouthed kissing
    • 28% never performed oral sex
    • 30% never had vaginal sex
  • Among the control patients
    • 24% never performed oral sex
    • 2.6% never had vaginal sex

For the rest of us, surprise, surprise! Humans LOVE to fornicate and few of us are virgins on our wedding/commitment days. A 2007 study of the four most recent cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) of men and women aged 15-44 found the following: (Finer LB. Trends in premarital sex in the United States, 1954-2003. Public Health Reports. 122(1):73-8, 2007 Jan-Feb.)

  • By age 20, 77% of respondents had had sex, 75% had had premarital sex, and 12% had married
  • By age 44, 95% of respondents had had premarital sex
  • Among those who abstained until at least age 20, 81% had had premarital sex by age 44

Screw procreation. Straight couples like oral and anal sex almost as much as their gay and lesbian counterparts and are just as neglectful with condom use. A 2007 survey of 12,571 heterosexual men and women aged 15–44 years found the following: (Leichliter JS. Chandra A. Liddon N. Fenton KA. Aral SO. Prevalence and correlates of heterosexual anal and oral sex in adolescents and adults in the United States. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 196(12):1852-9, 2007 Dec 15.)

  • 3/4 of heterosexual men and women have had oral sex
  • 1/3 of heterosexual men and women have had anal sex
  • Condom use during last oral or anal sex was relatively uncommon

Likewise, a 2009 study of heterosexual anal intercourse in 1348 adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 21 years in 3 US cities found: (Lescano CM. Houck CD. Brown LK. Doherty G. DiClemente RJ. Fernandez MI. Pugatch D. Schlenger WE. Silver BJ. Project SHIELD Study Group. Correlates of heterosexual anal intercourse among at-risk adolescents and young adults. American Journal of Public Health. 99(6):1131-6, 2009 Jun.)

  • 8% of boys and 6% of girls aged 15-17 years have had anal sex
  • And 33% of men and 30% of women aged 20-24 years have had anal sex

Finally, it is important to recognize the work of Alfred C Kinsey in bringing the discussion of actual sex experience into the open. His 1948 landmark study on sexual behavior in the human male revealed the following: (Kinsey AC. Pomeroy WR. Martin CE. Sexual behavior in the human male. 1948. American Journal of Public Health. 93(6):894-8, 2003 Jun.)

  • About 60% of pre-adolescent boys engage in homosexual activities
  • At least 37% of the male population has some homosexual experience (physical contact between other males who were brought to orgasm as a result of such contact) between the beginning of adolescence and old age

So in conclusion to part I of Sex and Stigma, humans are social, sensual and sexual beings. We are not very good at abstaining from sex even though socially conservative political forces continue to try to keep sex education in the Dark Ages. If we are truly going to make a difference in decreasing our shameful number of unintended pregnancies (we have the highest rate in the entire industrialized world) and at least slow the transmission of sexually transmitted infections we need to foster an environment where we can be at least honest with ourselves and our kids and have educated discussions about sex. Our middle school and high school students deserve better than abstinence only education. We cannot continue to allow our youthful generations to suffer the consequences of heavy handed pious ideology. Advocate for youth and oppose federal funding of abstinence-only education!

Talk to your kids about sex

Alice Park reports on Time.com that parents are talking with their kids too little too late according to a 2009 study in Pediatrics. In fact, approximately 40% will have sex before their parents finally bring up the subject of “the birds and the bees”. It certainly was true in my case.

I can remember being a teenager and one ordinary day my mother taking up the subject of sex. She just kept going on and on about how important it was to stay a virgin until marriage in spite of my protests “I know, Mom” and attempts to change the subject. Eventually I tired of her lecture and finally blurted out, “Mom, just stop. I’m not a virgin.” I still remember the look of shock in her eyes as she muttered, “I’m so disappointed in you” before walking away.

Frankly, I was disappointed in her. Waiting until your kid is 16 before having this conversation is way too long. I remember kids talking about sex on the playground in elementary school, don’t you? Kids aren’t dumb and kids are curious.

I took a different approach with my kids. Beginning in their toddler years I began addressing the subject of body parts using their correct anatomic names — a penis is not a “peepee” or “junk” nor is a vagina “private parts”. Eyes are eyes and noses are noses, why should sexual organs be any different? As their minds developed I added more to their knowledge, always addressing the subject in a matter of fact way and answering all of their questions. If a child is able to comprehend and formulate a question then s/he is mature enough to receive an answer.

I recently had a conversation with my son who is 11. He told me that now that he is in 6th grade he has to have health and sex education. He seemed rather annoyed by the idea and said, “I really don’t know why I have to learn about it in school, you’ve already taught me all about it.” I just listened and smiled.