An Electronic Newsletter
Written and published by Marty Klein, Ph.D.
Issue #37 -- March 2003
Annual Awards Issue
It's a pleasure to present this year's Sexual Intelligence Awards.
As a reminder, last year's winners were:
* S.F. County Supervisor Mark Leno
* Speak Out! Teen Group
* Dr. Stan Dale
* Marjorie Heins, J.D.
* Dr. Alexander Stulhofer
To read about why they received their awards, click here.
This year's winners span the globe, from Brooklyn to Iraq. They're concerned with matters as small as the human heart and as large as nuclear war. Two mothers in different parts of small-town California and a teenager in Georgia challenged public policy, proving it can be done by anyone, in any community.
Sexuality touches us in an infinite number of ways. Sexual Intelligence is needed everywhere, from a small desert school district to the world stage at the U.N. Once again, I'm privileged to honor examples of sexual intelligence in a variety of settings.
Our regular format of news & commentary will resume next month--our fourth year. I continue to appreciate the overwhelmingly positive response of so many readers. Please keep writing with your comments, delight, criticism, and story ideas. And please give several subscriptions to friends and colleagues--the price is right, and surely you know people who will enjoy it. As always, subscribers' names will never be traded or sold.
This year's Sexual Intelligence Awards go to:
Teen defendant Jesse McClure
As described last month (issue #36), Jesse McClure is the teen who successfully challenged Georgia's fornication law, which criminalized consensual sex between unmarried people.
McClure and his girlfriend were 16 (over the age of consent) when her mother found them having sex in the girlfriend's bedroom at 3 AM. Charged with a crime, McClure was ordered to pay a fine and write an essay on why he should not have engaged in sex. In response, he wrote that it wasn't any of the court's business. With the help of the ACLU, he fought and had the law overturned.
"Invading personal privacy just isn't right," he said after the decision. "It now goes that way for everybody." For risking jail time and ultimately making Georgia the 40th state in which unmarried adults can legally have sex, we honor McClure.
We're ready to honor whoever can make another state the 41st.
U.N. officials Jack McGeorge, Hans Blix, & Kofi Annan
In November, the Washington Post reported that Jack McGeorge, one of the U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, was a national leader of America's growing S/M community.
McGeorge is hardly in the closet about this; he's a founder of the Black Rose support and education group, an officer of the Leather Leadership Conference, and a former Chair of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.
When confronted by the Washington Post about his involvement with S/M, McGeorge was unapologetic. "I have been very upfront with people in the past about what I do," he said, "and it has never prevented me from getting a job. I am not ashamed of who I am--not one bit."
Nevertheless, to protect the work of the U.N. weapons inspection program in Iraq, McGeorge offered his resignation to Chief Inspector Hans Blix. "I cannot allow my actions, as they may be perceived by others, he explained, to damage an organization which has done nothing to deserve that damage.
Blix rejected McGeorge's offer to resign, pointing out that his sexual activities have nothing to do with his competence. Believing McGeorge to be "a highly qualified technical expert," Blix's office said, "We are not aware of any grounds for his resignation."
When the U.N. Secretary General was asked whether McGeorge's S/M involvement might be offensive to Iraqi Muslims, Kofi Annan's office noted that all weapons inspectors are required to be sensitive to local cultures. And that was that.
For his honesty and refusal to hide, we honor McGeorge; for their refusal to discriminate against an irrelevant sexual preference, we honor Blix and Annan.
And if you're thinking that these awards trivialize the "real news" regarding Iraq and the U.N., be reminded that this whole conflict is about a clash of values and civilizations.
New York State Senators Velmanette Montgomery & Carl Andrews
Last month, State Senators Montgomery and Andrews introduced SB 1634, requiring all New York hotels to have condoms available for sale on the premises. They contend that this is part of the larger fight against AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
As long-time readers know (issue #6), the city of Managua, Honduras experimented with providing free condoms in the rooms of 19 hotels several years ago. It was a rousing success.
Unfortunately, many New York hotel operators oppose the condom-availability bill. Says Michael Blackman, general manager of The Michelangelo on West 51st Street, "We have a basket of amenities, razors to nail files to toothbrushes, anything you might have forgotten. I don't think we've ever been asked for condoms." If we gave a Sexual Duh award, Blackman would get it. Since we don't, Montgomery and Andrews get honored for their recognition that we can actually change customs and attitudes with practical policy-making.
Anti-discrimination activists Amelia & Ashley Massey
It all started when someone told Ashley Massey's gym class that 15-year-old Ashley was a lesbian--which Ashley acknowledges. It ended with Ashley's mother Amelia suing the Banning Unified School District for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
In between, Ashley was excluded from gym class for over a week, until Amelia confronted the principal and demanded to know why. No one accused Ashley of behaving inappropriately; her gym teacher and the principal say they were concerned about other girls being uncomfortable. That's the definition of discrimination. The Masseys' suit will be the first of its kind since California passed the Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000, extending civil rights protection to gays and lesbians in public schools.
Ashley acknowledges the experience has turned her into a more political person: "I used to be kind of quiet and keep to myself," she says. "Now that I have news cameras in my face asking what I think, I have to have something to say." On the other hand, she also reports that she's still anxious about going to school, and "I always have my guard up."
Ashley's mom Amelia says the lawsuit is aimed at other schools, too: "A lot of school districts have gotten by with a lot of things. There are kids who aren't going to be strong enough to fight it, and we don't want to have to see other kids go through what Ashley did. We just want the law enforced. You don't take a child and throw her out."
Adds Ashley, "There's a lot of gay and lesbian teen suicide because kids are afraid to come out. I hope other kids see me, and maybe they'll take a stand too. Nobody should have to hide who they are."
And that's the kind of sexual intelligence we're pleased to honor.
Renee Walker: Sex Ed Policy-Challenger
A parent in northern California is fighting to end CryBabies, an abstinence-only program in her local school district that features biased information about abortion. First Resort, the organization that provides the CryBabies program, operates Christian anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers throughout the San Francisco area.
Renee Walker felt that the CryBabies program was biased and inaccurate, and insufficient in teaching how to prevent pregnancy or STDs. Her son learned that one disadvantage of abortion is "killing a baby." At the end of the eight sessions, the seventh-graders can volunteer to sign a pledge to remain abstinent until marriage--as if 12-year-olds are in any position to make such a decision.
School officials responded to Walker's complaint by saying the program provides factual and unbiased information about the consequences of sexual activity and the options for pregnant students. They repeated the common misconception that abstinence is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and STDs--a myth continually contradicted by the fact that vows of abstinence are commonly broken.
Crybabies faced similar criticism two years ago when a parent in the Oakland School District complained about its inaccurate information. California state law requires that if schools teach sexuality education, lessons must be "medically accurate, objective and stress abstinence."
The Mt. Diablo school district has assembled a task force to review the health curriculum, including the CryBabies program. For caring so much about the sexual health of her community's children, and for having the courage to speak out against inaccurate sexuality education, we gladly honor Ms. Walker's sexual intelligence.
Esera Tuaolo, ex-football player
For nine years Tuaolo made his living as a professional nose tackle. In 1991 he made the NFL all-rookie team as Brett Favre's 280-pound teammate with the Green Bay Packers. Four years later he played in the Super Bowl with the Atlanta Falcons. Tuaolo retired in 2000.
Four months ago, Tuaolo became the third ex-football player to announce that he's gay. He did it in both ESPN Magazine and The Advocate, finally integrating his sports life and gay life into a unified personal world.
No active athlete in any professional team sport has ever come out as gay. It would be physically dangerous, especially in football. Teammates depend on each other for their physical safety during practices and games, and a simple mistake--unintentional or otherwise--by an anxious or angry teammate can result in a concussion, spinal cord injury, or disabled limb.
The locker room culture that Tuaolo describes is so hostile to homosexuality that it seems clear that anyone's career would be over the minute he came out. Ex-teammate Sean Salisbury agrees: "There is a big problem with ignorance in the NFL, and I'm not sure the league has any idea how to deal with it." Maybe now, he says, "at their rookie orientations and symposiums, this might be a topic they'll have to cover."
For forcing the NFL to deal with homosexuality--even for a few moments--Tuaolo's sexual intelligence is recognized. An Honorary Award goes to Dave Kopay, the first ex-NFL player to come out. Tuaolo notes that Kopay's 1975 book changed his life when he read it in 1996: "Dave played in the NFL for nine seasons and hid being gay. This was me! His book helped me quit hating myself."
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"Reprinted from Sexual Intelligence, copyright © Marty Klein, Ph.D. (www.SexEd.org)."