Sunday, March 15, 2009

Support Freedom Through Ethics Education

The Woodhull Freedom Foundation recently forwarded this from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.--

Tell Superintendent Ed Turlington: Teach Respect!
Reinstate Teacher Debra Taylor!
A number of organizations have been monitoring a school controversy in Grandfield, OK where a teacher was recently suspended for teaching The Laramie Project, an award-wining play about the murder of Matthew Shepard, a young man in Wyoming who was killed because he was gay.
Debra Taylor, who teaches the Ethics and Street Law class, was using pieces of the play to help her students examine how hatred and intolerance can be justified by attitudes within a community, a church, or in the home. Midway through the unit, Superintendent Ed Turlington told her to stop teaching the material. She held a mock funeral for the play to give her students closure and was subsequently suspended. She has now accepted a resignation agreement, as she feared that she would otherwise be fired.
Her students are standing behind the play and their teacher. “She always taught us to speak our minds and have our voices heard,” said one student. We need to tell Superintendent Turlington that Debra Taylor is a dedicated teacher who is willing to confront issues of respect and acceptance for all people regardless of sexual orientation and that she deserves to be immediately reinstated.

Tell Superintendent Turlington: Teach Respect! Reinstate Teacher Debra Taylor!
Advocates in Oklahoma, Texas, and surrounding states are strongly
encouraged to call or email in support.
TAKE ACTION NOW…call Superintendent Turlington at
580-479-5237 or send an email to and tell him:
“Debra Taylor did not deserve this kind of treatment. Young people need dedicated teachers willing to confront issues of respect and acceptance for people of all sexual orientations. She should be commended for creating a safe space for all her students and should be reinstated immediately.”

Ricci Joy Levy, Executive Director
The Woodhull Freedom Foundation
1325 Massachusetts Avenue
Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005
p: 202.628.3333
f: 202-330-5282
Direct Line: 610.212.5555

Affirming Sexual Freedom as a Fundamental Human Right.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Counter Ageist "Warnings" Before Broadcasts

Another kind of "everyday action" against sex-negativity is prompted by "warnings" like the one I heard at the start of a segment on Weekend Edition Sunday, saying it was "inappropriate for children" because it dealt with sex. I sent them the following message:

Your story concerning a novel about an SS officer opened with a warning that the segment was "inappropriate for children." This statement was false and dangerous.

There is no evidence that information about sex is harmful to children. On the contrary, there is considerable evidence that hiding such information puts them at increased risk for psychosexual problems, and makes them more vulnerable to abuse.

If you feel the need to insure yourselves against complaints by erotophobic listeners, may I suggest you adopt the approach taken by Ira Glass of This American Life? When sexual subject matter is coming up, he advises listeners that what follows "mentions the existence of sex." This warning allows people to indulge their irrational fears without according them any legitimacy.

If you heard this segment too but didn't think to register an objection, it's not too late. (And if you didn't hear it you may be able to online at Sadly, there are sure to be plenty of future opportunities to do so as well.

Eric Hamell