NYC pushing kinky COVID sex!

My little town is reopening in more ways than one. On Monday of this week, the day the city entered Phase 1 of reopening, New York City’s Health Department published a guidance document entitled “Safer Sex and COVID-19.” I am posting it below in its entirely because (1) it’s amazing, and (2) I have no idea whether other states (or countries) are doing anything similar. For instance, I highly doubt Alabama is following suit, since sex toys are illegal there. And something tells me all those conservative panty-sniffers in states where “abstinence-only” non-education is standard fare in public schools would start shooting their elected officials if they dared to publish anything so…so… reality-based.

But in order to appreciate just how good NYC’s safer sex guidance is, it is worth noting how gawdawful it is elsewhere. In case you are blissfully unaware of (or have blissfully forgotten) how disturbingly fucked-up the US is with regard to sex and sexuality, just consider a few facts. According to Guttmacher:

  • only 17 states require sex education programs in public schools to be medically accurate.
  • only 20 states (plus DC) require teaching information on contraception. (Uhh, seems to me if 30 states are not teaching students about contraception, then they really cannot call whatever it is they’re doing “sex education.” FFS.)
  • only 3 states prohibit these programs from promoting religion. (!!!)
  • at least 6 states require only negative information to be provided on homosexuality and/or positive emphasis on heterosexuality, including Alabama (I KNOW SHOCKER!), Arizona, Florida, Illinois, South Carolina and Texas. (W. T. F.)

39 states are on the taxpayer-funded abstinence-only train to STDs and teen pregnancies.

  • 10 states and DC require that abstinence be covered.
  • 29 states require that abstinence be stressed.

This is a good analysis and debunking of the smugly touted “100% effectiveness rate” of abstinence as birth control. All you have to do is measure it by the same standards as other forms of contraception, i.e. rates of “perfect use” and “typical use.” (SPOILER ALERT! Epic fail!)

Since nearly 80% of states have been engaging in this educational malpractice for decades, perhaps that explains why STD rates are at record highs.

And that’s hardly the only damage abstinence miseducation causes:

According to a 2004 report prepared for House Democrats, language used in abstinence-based curricula often reinforces “gender stereotypes about female passivity and male aggressiveness” — attitudes that often correlate with harmful outcomes including domestic violence, the report notes.

Okay, one more – and this one’s personal:

  • 36 states and DC allow parents the option to remove their child from instruction.

Mine did.

There are more jaw-dropping statistics and state-level details at that Guttmacher link, and of course none of this takes into account over a million kids homeschooled by conservative Christians. These benighted children are indoctrinated with sex-role stereotypes and abstinence-until-marriage, under penalty of eternal damnation and hellfire, right along with stories of Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark as explanations for the origins and diversity of life on Earth.

I could go on (and on and on…) but I think this paints enough of a picture of the status quo to contrast with NYC’s…different approach. Please enjoy this reality-based document, and feel free to forward the information and/or the link to anyone and everyone you think may benefit. Especially people in Alabama.

[Read more…]

Perhaps a hint at why right-wingers hate academia.

Yesterday I read about a new study—I cannot read the actual paper itself of course because it is behind a fucking paywall—that examined non-academic characteristics of a sample of incoming freshman to see which factors might predict their success or failure at college. High school grades are the single best predictor of college grades, but they still only account for about 20 percent of the difference between students’ ending up with good or bad college GPAs. The new research focused on outliers: the “thrivers” and “divers” who did much better or much worse in college, respectively, than would be expected based on their high school grades. [Read more…]

Jeezus is just not selling me on this one.

I take tremendous pride in my half-assed, poorly executed, semi-regular attempts to extract $82 billion worth of benefits per year from the Religion-Industrial-Complex on behalf of atheist U.S. taxpayers. I find this to be a worthwhile endeavor not only as a stinging retort to the appalling injustice of $82 billion in yearly taxpayer subsidies to the R-I-C, but also because I thoroughly enjoy mocking one particular church sign in the small town in Northern Maryland where my mother lives. Granted, it may not provide the full $82 billion in amusement value. But we have to start somewhere, people.

Today’s church sign does not disappoint.

churchsignprescool

THE BEST THINGS IN
LIFE AREN’T THINGS
PRESCOOL
ENROLLING NOW

TRINITY WORSHIP 9&11

Now let me underscore here that literacy privilege is A Thing, and generally speaking we should not mock those who do not have it. Earth is home to an astonishing number of amazing and interesting people whose ideas are well worth engaging, even if spelling and grammar are not their personal forte. This could be true for any number of reasons that come to mind readily enough: learning disabilities; neurocognitive effects of injury, illness or environmental toxins; poor nutrition; mental illness, including trauma from homelessness or abuse; and of course late exposure to non-native English. But here in these exceptional United States we have another problem. My friend CaitieCat explains:

Particularly in a US context, where educational options are very strongly influenced by class (and race, in an intertwined manner), riding the xenophobes for misspelling ‘illegals’ as ‘illeagles’, or “Muslim” as “muslin”, what we’re saying is, “You should have been smart enough to get yourself born to the right kind of parents, who’d give you access to the best education, who were educated themselves enough to teach you ‘proper’ English, and who were rich enough to make sure you never had to work after school instead of studying!”

So yeah, let’s not do that. Tempting as it may be to go after the low-hanging fruit, we can and we damn well should mock xenophobes for being racist and conservative and terrible entitled assholes. This way, the splash damage splatters all over racists and conservatives and terrible entitled assholes, not shitty spellers. Really, that’s the very least of our problems with these humans.

With all that said, if you accept (tax-free!) tuition money to indoctrinate educate 3- and 4-year old kids, and your curriculum explicitly states “Our students are exposed to structured centers enhancing emergent literacy skills (reading & writing),” WE GET TO FUCKING MOCK YOU FOR SPELLING PRESCHOOL WRONG.

Have a nice day.