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November 2, 2010

Vote!

Filed under: issues,News,Superheroes — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:14 am

According to this analysis, Superman is a moderate Republican, Wonder Woman a socialist, and Hulk “just want to be left alone” (libertarian). Whatever your leaning, please get out and vote. In a way, it’s your civilian superpower: please wield it (ideally, for good). If you haven’t already, learn about candidates, find your polling place, and remember, voting is a Breakup Girl issue. These folks may have a direct say in:

• how you learn about sex

• how you protect yourself if you have it

• education and law enforcement behind healthy relationships

• what you do with and how you’re able to take care of your body

• how much money you have to spend on dates (or “spa days” with numero uno)

• and, of course, whom you can marry

Please vote for candidates who make choices as sound as you do!

Bonus: Breakup Girl in … Red vs. The Blues!

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October 28, 2010

How sex ed saved my life

Filed under: blogs,issues,Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:07 am

In case you didn’t already know this, Scarleteen is the source for real sex education in the real world. It’s deserving of a shout-out of far more than 140 characters; it’s run and supported by people “who want better for young people than what they get in schools, on the street or from initiatives whose aim is to intentionally use fearmongering, bias and misinformation about sexuality to try to scare or intimidate young people into serving their own personal, political or religious agendas.” And right now, there’s a extra push for cash going on to help Scarleteen keep doing the honest, empowering, and irreplaceable work they do. Read recent testimonials such as “How Scarleteen and Sex Ed Saved My Life,” and “Accentuating the (Sex) Positive: Discovering Scarleteen” — and maybe you’ll be inspired to show Scarleteen a little love yourself.

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October 27, 2010

I’m not gay, but

Filed under: News,Psychology — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:09 am

A new analysis of teen sexual behavior in New York City offers some troubling/fascinating/instructive insights — and not just of the “only in New York” variety.

Published in the latest Pediatrics, the study found (for one thing) that among sexually active adolescent boys and girls, nearly one in ten had had a same-sex experience. But how many called themselves “gay”? Well, of the teens who’d had at least one same-sex partner, 38.9 percent answered “heterosexual or straight.” Which is fine in a hey-who-needs-labels sense — and hooray for experimentation, when that’s what it is — but not fine in a hey-who-needs-condoms sense. That is, the study also found that teens reporting partners of both sexes also reported higher-than-average rates of risky sexual practices, such as not using a condom during intercourse.

Hmm. Especially among those in the “I’m not really gay” camp, could there be a related sense that “it’s not really sex”? And does “I’m not really gay” stem from “Gay’s not really OK?” (“Even in New York”?) “These are kids in New York City where there’s more awareness and perhaps acceptance of non-heterosexual behavior, and you’re still finding such high reports of risk behavior and violence,” Laura Lindberg, senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, told the AP.

Ah yes, also violence. Students reporting same-sex partners also reported higher rates of dating violence. What’s going on there? Back to the AP:

Thomas Krever, executive director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a youth advocacy organization that runs an alternative high school for gay teens in New York City, said the survey results did not surprise him.

Many teens with partners of both sexes lack supportive adults and peers in their lives and may experience depression because social stigma, Krever said.

“Young people who are exhibiting characteristics of depression and lower self-worth can indeed place themselves in more risky situations including risky sexual practices,” he said.

Homework:

1. As advocates continue to stress, sex ed has to focus not on identity/orientation, but on behavior. No matter what you call what you do, it’s safer with a condom.

2. Let kids know we accept them as they are and that they are loved matter what.

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October 5, 2010

Teen pregnancy: not so glamorous

Filed under: Celebrities,issues,media,News,pop culture — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:45 am

Do reality shows like Teen Mom and 16 And Pregnantglamorize” teen pregnancy? That standard hand-wringer has always struck me as weird. Because um, those shows don’t exactly make teen pregnancy/motherhood look awesome.  They (unlike, SORRY, Glee) actually make it look pretty crappy — a lot more so than, say, carrying around a sack of flour for a week. Even when cute teen moms glam it up for celeb magazines (which are guilty of overglamorizing post-teen motherhood), teens — who, turns out, are also better at condoms than grownups — still know what’s up.

And now we have the numbers to show it: according to two brand-new studies commissioned by The National Campaign To Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “most teens (79% of girls and 67% of boys) agree that when a TV show or character they like deals with teen pregnancy, it makes them think more about their own risk of getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy and how to avoid it.” Other findings:

·         Among those young people who have watched MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, 82% think the show helps teens better understand the challenges of teen pregnancy and parenthood and how to avoid it.

·         76% of young people say that what they see in the media about sex, love, and relationships can be a good way to start conversations with adults.

·         About half (48%) say they have discussed these topics with their parents because of something they have seen in the media.

·         16 and Pregnant got young people talking and thinking about teen pregnancy─40% of those in the treatment group said they talked about the show with a parent, 63% discussed with a friend, and 37% discussed with a sibling.

·         93% of those who watched [a particular] episode agreed (53% strongly agreed) with the statement:  “I learned that teen parenthood is harder than I imagined from these episodes.”

This is all information we’re not so sure they’re getting in, say, abstinence-only sex ed — which, while we’re on the subject, glamorizes lies, shame, and fear. (And whose funding just got resuscitated, even as the Obama administration also awarded $155 million in federal grants to support evidence-based, medically accurate sex ed.)

Enough with the mixed messages, as Jessica Wakeman wrote at The Frisky, continuing: “If pregnant teen girls get their moment in the media’s graces, the least we can do is use it wisely. The alternative could be much, much worse.” Of course the media plays a role in the whole teen pregnancy ecosystem, but there are a whole lot of other reasons teens get pregnant, most of which are much, much more complicated and challenging than the simple notion of MTV cause-and-effect (which is exactly why we are reluctant to acknowledge and deal with them).  Teens are smarter than we give them credit for. Sometimes, in fact  — see phrases bolded above — they just want to talk.

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September 23, 2010

Take this sex ed quiz and win awesome prizes!

Filed under: issues,News,Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:41 am

It’s the National Sex Ed Week of Action! Now with PRIZES! (For the first reader who emails me with answers to the quiz below!) But first, a quick true or false:

• The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate among the world’s developed nations.

• According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least one in four teen girls has a sexually transmitted infection.

• Half of sexually active young people in the U.S. will contract a sexually transmitted infection by age 25.

• Approximately 750,000 teenagers in the United States will become pregnant this year.

• The health care reform bill  included a renewal of $50 million per year funding of abstinence-only education for states until 2014.

This Op-Ed by an Atlanta teen about the importance of comprehensive, accurate sex ed is awesome.

Answer key: TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE.

Which, now that we’re all riled up, brings us to the one with PRIZES! Planned Parenthood of NYC, BG’s local affiliate, is giving away a package of safe-sex goodies to the BG reader who emails me with the correct answers to all five of the following (at least peripherally) sex-ed related questions. Pencils ready?

1. In how many states is it still illegal for an unmarried heterosexual couple to live together?

2. What was the name of the first daytime television show to feature a same sex wedding?

3. What famous female advocate founded the first birth control clinic and later founded Planned Parenthood?

4. Japanese love pillows, which usually decorated with life-size animae characters are called what?

5. What species was the famous gay couple who raised an offspring named Tango together?

(And now, New Yorkers, join the campaign!)

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July 28, 2010

Hiding birth control from boyfriends: the video

Filed under: News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:31 am

Serious stuff from BG’s alterego, capeless, on GritTV.

More GRITtv

Further/background reading here.

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April 7, 2010

Teen birth rate down: yeah, but

Filed under: News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 7:58 am

According to the CDC, the teen birth rate has dropped. Whether this is unequivocally good news is unclear, given, for example, the convincing evidence that a preponderance of teens are saving themselves for a vampire. Here’s what Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, had to say:

“The drop in the teen birthrate after a two-year increase is welcome news, but the fact remains that nearly 750,000 teens become pregnant every year, a number that is still unacceptably high. When it comes to preventing unintended pregnancies and keeping our teens healthy and safe, hiding our heads in the sand is not a sound strategy. Our young people need education and support that comes from comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate sex ed.

“That’s why we must continue to invest in commonsense policies that achieve our shared goal of truly preventing unintended pregnancies and lowering the teen pregnancy and birthrate. Full funding for comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education programs will put our nation on a sustained path of decreased teen birthrates.

“President Obama and members of Congress have taken a major step forward in allocating more than $185 million in evidence-based, medically accurate teen pregnancy prevention programs. [Yeah, but…?!] Studies show that these types of comprehensive sex education programs are effective in reducing teen pregnancy.

“As we mark STD Awareness Month and the launch of our Get Yourself Tested, or GYT, campaign with MTV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kaiser Family Foundation (www.gytnow.org), it is imperative that we take the issue of teen health seriously. An investment in comprehensive sex education is an investment in reducing STDs and unintended and teen pregnancies. It’s that simple.”

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February 3, 2010

These abstinence programs aren’t those abstinence programs

Filed under: issues,News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:49 am

The New York Times reports that a study of middle-school students has “found for the first time that abstinence-only education helped to delay their sexual initiation.” Uh oh? The finding “is already beginning to shake up the longstanding debate over how best to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.”

Okay okay! Nobody panic! Keep reading.

“[T]he abstinence-only classes in the Jemmott study…unlike the federally supported abstinence programs now in use, did not advocate abstinence until marriage. The classes also did not portray sex negatively or suggest that condoms are ineffective, and contained only medically accurate information. [This] abstinence-only course was designed for the research, and is not in current use in schools.” [Emphasis added.]

Well, there you go. Look, the debate has never been about abstinence-only vs. “…and, for your homework, please have sex this afternoon.” It’s moralistic, inaccurate abstinence-only vs. comprehensive and realistic: please wait; if you don’t, please be responsible. Though there are those who will misrepresent this research as surely as they misrepresent the effectiveness of condoms, it’s actually yet another vote in our favor.

Update: This (PDF) just in from our heroes at Guttmacher: “While the evaluated program is the first abstinence-only intervention to demonstrate this positive impact in a randomized control trial, it was not a rigid ‘abstinence-only-until-marriage’ program of the type that, until this year, received significant federal funding. The evaluation, therefore, adds important new information to the question of “what works” in sex education, but it essentially leaves intact the significant body of evidence showing that abstinence-only- until-marriage programming that met previous federal guidelines is ineffective.”

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January 26, 2010

Told ya so: Teen pregnancy, birth, abortion all up

Filed under: News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:11 am

BREAKING: Our friends over at the esteemed Guttmacher Institute report news that’s sadly about as unsurprising as the lamented John Edwards being Quinn’s dad. That is: “For the first time in more than a decade, the nation’s teen pregnancy rate rose 3% in 2006 [the most recent source of data], reflecting increases in teen birth and abortion rates of 4% and 1%, respectively.”

2006: Let’s plot that on a timeline of SURELY UNRELATED events in U.S. history. Aha: Turns out a long-term decline in teen pregnancy — due in part to increased contraceptive use among teens — flattened out and then reversed…what’s this? The decline reversed at the same time that the Bush administration and Congress ramped up funding for rigid abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that are prohibited from discussing the benefits of contraception. Coincidence, or…? Yeah, gotta be coincidence.

“After more than a decade of progress, this reversal is deeply troubling,” says Heather Boonstra, Guttmacher Institute senior public policy associate. “It coincides with an increase in rigid abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which received major funding boosts under the Bush administration. A strong body of research shows that these programs do not work. Fortunately, the heyday of this failed experiment has come to an end with the enactment of a new teen pregnancy prevention initiative that ensures that programs will be age-appropriate, medically accurate and, most importantly, based on research demonstrating their effectiveness.”

And: “It is clearly time to redouble our efforts to make sure our young people have the information, interpersonal skills and health services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to become sexually healthy adults,” said Lawrence Finer, Guttmacher’s director of domestic research.

For starters, we’ll need to let them read the dictionary.

(Click here (PDF) for the full report, “U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity,” and click here for Guttmacher’s Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health. Also, find Guttmacher on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.)

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January 5, 2010

Job of the day

Filed under: Treats — posted by Paula @ 10:35 am

Craigslist had this ad up for a female abstinence educator. Note that the job is temporary, replacing someone on maternity leave.

“Only six weeks off and stretch marks. Girls, don’t let this happen to you!”

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