Thursday, April 24, 2008

Panel debates effectiveness of abstinence education April 24, 2008

Dear Magic Eightball,
Will abstinence only education ever end?
Resopnse: Out look is cloudy

By Cheryl Wetzstein
A House hearing on the effectiveness of abstinence education loosed a flurry of statistics, studies and anecdotes, but concluded yesterday with little movement on the contentious issue.

"Maybe we should just have a block grant" and let states use sex education funding for the kind of programs they want, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, said near the end of the four-hour hearing.

The "let the states choose" idea followed powerful testimonies from three panels of witnesses, including one composed of leading medical and public health officials.

Republicans complained that the hearing was lopsided, but the three witnesses who supported abstinence - Sen. Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican; researcher Stan Weed; and Charles Keckler of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - were assisted by friendly comments and questions from numerous Republican committee members who made a point of staying at the hearing.

Most of the health professionals argued that since major studies have not found abstinence education to be effective in changing teens' behaviors, the federal government should stop funding it and instead fund more-effective comprehensive sex education.

Mr. Weed and others brought up successful abstinence findings, and noted that pervasive sex and AIDS/HIV education, which stresses condom use, haven't blunted the nation's growing sexual disease epidemic.

Two witnesses - Max Siegel and Shelby Knox - testified to the harmful effects of abstinence education. Mr. Siegel, 23, said he contracted AIDS from his first sexual experience.

"I took out a condom but he ignored it," he said of his older male partner.

"I knew enough to suggest a condom," Mr. Siegel said, but because abstinence education didn't address the issue, "I had no idea how to discuss condoms with my partner."

Ms. Knox said officials in her Texas school stressed virginity pledges, but in reality, children took the vows because of peer pressure and then felt guilty when they had sex. Children were also shamed, she said.

In one meeting, a teacher asked a female student which toothbrush she would use - a filthy one or a "pristine" one. His message was that "If you have sex before marriage, you are a dirty toothbrush," Ms. Knox said.

In his remarks, Rep. Mark Souder, Indiana Republican, said a popular comprehensive sex education curriculum lists "showering together" and several noncoital sexual activities as safe for teens. Are these things appropriate to teach in schools as an alternative to abstinence education, he asked Rep. Lois Capps, California Democrat, and Mr. Brownback.

Mrs. Capps, who testified against abstinence-only education, demurred, saying she had never seen such messages taught in a school; Mr. Brownback said neither he nor most American parents would want their children taught such things.

Marcia Crosse of the General Accountability Office (GAO) said her agency has found some medical inaccuracies in federally funded abstinence materials, but HHS was actively implementing a system to ensure accuracy. Moreover, she said, while abstinence programs are gathering data on outcomes, this information is insufficient for the GAO to draw conclusions about the programs' effectiveness.

Check out WebMD's take on the issue

Friday, April 18, 2008

Another Robot Learns to Feel

I Want You to Want Me is a project by by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar commissioned by MoMa Ny for the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition. The piece is an interactive art work that gathers information from ever accumulating online dating profiles and organizes that info into an achingly hopeful visual system.

and if you liked that check out We Feel Fine, an earlier project by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, that mined the web for the phrase "I feel."

Who said computers don't have hearts...

Hey there Chlamydia

A little something to make you smile. Whats a PHalligator Friday without some Fun :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fresh Focus finalist creates promotion for InBrief

Folks may remember Cyrene, animator extraordinaire, from ISIS' Fresh Focus Sex-Ed Video Contest where she was a finalist and crowd favorite for her video "Sex Monster."

Cyrene's at it again. She has made ISIS 2 promo videos for our new contest InBrief...what if ur undies had the last word. The boy-boy version hasn't gotten as much play, so here it is for your enjoyment!

And for nostagia's sake, Sex Monster:

And one more thing, please steal these by clicking on the 'share' button and post where ever you see fit. The more people exposed to this contest, the more conversations that will be started regarding sexual health, boundaries between partners and overall sexual happiness!

The deadline to design your winning panties is fast approaching (May 15th). And if you're not feeling creative, vote for your favorite entries or share them with friends.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sex, Film and Videotape: 100 Years of Sexual Health

Mark the date
Thursday May 1st 8pm
at The Roxie
3117 16th St, San Francisco
ISIS presents our first public screening

Sex, Film and Videotape: 100 Years of Sexual Health

Award winning filmmaker and human sexuality expert, Dr Mark Schoen, will be presenting footage of early sexual health films from the 1900s to the present day and he will also provide narration/commentary on the footage concerning the social implications of the films.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Underwear Design Contest launches!

What if your underwear really did have the last word? Too many of us miss the opportunity to talk to our partners about STD/HIV prevention and other ways of maintaining a rockin' sex life.

inBrief is an underwear design contest where you get to design your own STD/HIV prevention slogan or sexual health motto on a pair of boxers, underpants or a T-Shirt. The winning design gets a 1000 bucks and we'll make a dozen pairs of your design! You have until May 15th!

We've partnered with Brickfish to run this contest because (they rock) each entry can be shared in multiple ways. You can email entries, blog them, and bookmark them. This way, sexual health messages can take on a course of their own! Brickfish even maps how viral the entries become and you can follow their progress.

Cyrene, of Fresh Focus Video Contest fame made us this sweet animation. (Check out her previous work, "Sex Monsters"). Feel free to re-post this video. Click 'share' for the embed code. Or, steal our press release.

And now...start making undies.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008