Dreger, Alice

“Alice Dreger is an historian of medicine and science, a sex researcher, a mainstream writer, and an (im)patient advocate. An award-winning scholar and writer, Dreger’s latest major book is Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice, which argues that the pursuit of evidence is the most important ethical imperative of our time.

Funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship and published by Penguin Press in 2015, Galileo’s Middle Finger has been praised in reviews in The New Yorker, Nature, Science, Forbes, New York Magazine, Human Nature, and Salon. It was named an “Editor’s Choice” by The New York Times Book Review and has been recommended by Steve Pinker, Dan Savage, Jared Diamond, and E.O. Wilson (read more). The Chronicle of Higher Education has called Dreger a “star scholar” and describes her writing as “reliably funny and passionate and vulnerable.”

Dreger earned her PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University in 1995, where her work was supported by a Charlotte Newcombe Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Since then, she has embodied the notion of the public intellectual, simultaneously publishing widely-cited major original work in scholarly journals and high-visibility essays in the mainstream press. She has served as a regular writer for the health sections of The Atlantic and Pacific Standard and for the blog of Psychology Today, and her op-eds have appeared in numerous other venues, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, WIRED, Slate, The LA Times, The Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, and The New Statesman.

Dreger’s writing has been selected for Norton’s annual Best Creative Non-Fiction volume, and the UTNE Reader has named her a “visionary.” She frequently delivers keynotes and plenaries, and to date has given about 200 invited lectures. The American Philosophical Association considers her a philosopher of note in the “writing” category, and John Green has named her book One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal as among his favorites. The same book has been praised by Jeffrey Eugenides and Abraham Verghese.

In the spring of 2015, Dreger’s live-tweeting of her son’s high school sex-ed class sparked an international discussion of abstinence-based education and has led to her new book for parents, The Talk: Helping Your Kids Navigate Sex in the Real World. (Read an excerpt at Pacific Standard.) She is a recipient of an Outstanding Leadership Award in Comprehensive Sexuality Education from SIECUS, Planned Parenthood, Advocates for Youth, GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), and the Healthy Teen Network.

Besides functioning as an historian and writer, in the medical world Dreger has served as a patient advocate and as a consultant to pediatric specialists undertaking clinical reform, particularly in the treatment of children born with norm-challenging body types, including intersex, conjoined twinning, facial anomalies, and short stature.

Founding Board Chair of the Intersex Society of North America, she also served as an ethics consultant to an NIH-funded Translational Research Network on pediatric intersex care and co-edited a medical education guide on LGBT and Differences of Sex Development (DSD) for the Association of American Medical Colleges. She has been on the faculty of several major universities, including most recently (2005-2015) as a full professor in Medical Humanities and Bioethics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She resigned that position following censorship by her dean.

Dreger’s TEDx lecture, “Is Anatomy Destiny,” has been viewed about a million times, and she has appeared as a guest expert on hundreds of media programs, including on Oprah, Savage Love, Good Morning America, and NPR, and in many original documentaries, including for A&E, ABC, Discovery, PBS, and HBO.

A native of New York, she now lives in East Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, teenage son, and a pet rat named Darling. She is the founder, board president, and publisher of East Lansing Info, a nonprofit, citizen-journalist local online news organization that, since being founded in 2014, has produced almost one thousand original reports by over sixty citizen reporters. Her hobbies include canoeing, running, weeding, swimming in open water, and trying reliably to cross the clarinet break.” http://www.alicedreger.com/

https://psmag.com/why-isn-t-sex-education-a-part-of-common-core-4a5b1a4deb7f
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Feb 27, 2015
Why Isn’t Sex Education a Part of Common Core?

By Alice Dreger
How many times do we have to teach kids to put condoms on bananas before we get to the important stuff? (Photo: Tomnamon/Shutterstock)

According to a recent PublicMind poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University, 44 percent of Americans believe that sex education is part of the Common Core curriculum. It’s not. The Common Core — national standards aimed at creating better-educated high school graduates — actually covers only mathematics and “language arts,” or what we used to call English.

But why doesn’t the Common Core have a sex ed component? After graduation, more of us are likely to go on to have sex than to engage in algebraic equations or close readings of poetry.

Yeah, I know: Many parents don’t like the idea of other people deciding what their kids will know about sex. Many don’t even like the idea of other people deciding what their kids will know about subtraction.

Still, given that, on average, sex will matter to one’s life about as much as how one uses grammar, one would think we’d have some nationally organized approach to ensure that the basics of sex are covered in public schools.

I can’t believe that after all of the “rape culture” conversations going on, my son’s formal sex ed still seems to have no discussion about consent.

My son is now a freshman in a progressive public high school, and even there what I’d like to see covered isn’t. Most of his public school sex ed seems to consist of warnings about pregnancy and disease, combined with endless lessons about how to put on a condom.

Look, I think it’s fine to teach a kid how to put on a condom correctly. But it is not something you have to teach every year, is it? These are kids who have been successfully putting on their socks for over a decade. Condoms aren’t that different. Granted, a hole in your sock isn’t as risky as a hole in a condom — even this winter, even in Boston — but the time spent on condom usage demonstrations might instead be spent on broader sex ed.

Like what?

Well, I’d start with a really thorough education about parts. I would like to see kids presented with plastic models of roughly average male and female genitalia, complete with plastic pubic hair, so they could see in 3-D what “real” genitals sometimes look like.

This seems especially important where female sex anatomy is concerned. This business of only ever presenting the female sex anatomy as a cut-away side view does not actually tell kids what they will see if they find themselves facing a pudendum. I think it is objectively true that the world would be better off if everybody knew where the clitoris is, and that it isn’t inside the vagina.

Then I would like to see kids taught about genital variation — about how phallic size varies considerably in males and females, as does scrotal size, labial size, genital skin color, shape of organs, etc. Same with breast development, Adam’s apples, facial and body hair, etc.

From there I would move on to what the bit of data we have tells us: Genital size may matter to your career if you are a porn star or if you’re expected to work naked in a job involving pinch-hazard machinery, but it won’t matter that much to your ability to have pleasure from your parts. Most people’s natural parts feel good to them.

Pleasure! Right, let’s talk about that. Could we please frankly explain to children why it is that more of us will be into sex than iambic pentameter verse? Could we unpack why the use of iambic pentameter — like so many other pastimes in life — is actually about getting laid? Face it: It’s not because we want to make babies, but because our evolution has left us programmed to enjoy what might lead to babies (if it weren’t for socks). We are made to want pleasure because the species survives through the pleasure urge.

If I’ve seen anything result from my son’s sex education, it’s a growing and reasonable opinion on his part that most adults don’t tell the real truth about sex, so there’s no point in asking them.

But wait, not everybody feels the urge to cross-sex couple? Great — let’s also talk about that! Why do some people feel the urge to have sex with people with similar parts? Here we could explore some of the possible reasons. But ultimately I think this would be a great entry into a discussion of who cares who you want to have sex with? It’s about consent, stupid.

Consent. I can’t believe that after all of the “rape culture” conversations going on, my son’s formal sex ed still seems to have no discussion about consent: What does it look like, how do you know you have it from your potential lover, who is not capable of consent, how do you clearly signal that you are not giving it or you are withdrawing it? Personally, I’d love it if children explicitly were taught “no” as their first safe word. (They can move on to “cacao” when they are grown-ups.)

What else? OK, I realize that I’m risking my chance of ever becoming surgeon general in saying this, but it sure seems like kids should be taught that masturbation is common, normal, and, if you are not too extreme with your methods, harmless. I’m not suggesting we provide instruction in methodology, but we could go a long way with a little bit of honesty about how many of us twiddle ourselves, and it doesn’t make us go blind or be unable to do division.

And then, of course, we should cover disease and pregnancy prevention — but maybe after the rest of this, after kids feel like we’re being up front with them about the important basics. That way they trust us. If I’ve seen anything result from my son’s sex education, it’s a growing and reasonable opinion on his part that most adults don’t tell the real truth about sex, so there’s no point in asking them. (He could ask his mother, but he knows that then she won’t shut up.)

I’m sure there are some people who will flip out at this proposal. (Paging Rush Limbaugh.) They will say that talking to kids about sex like this will be like engaging them in sex. I actually think there is something to that — that thinking and talking about sex awakens the part of our brain that is sexual. But we have good reason to believe teenagers will think about sex, and (gasp!) engage in sex, whether or not we adults can bring ourselves to talk about it.

Sex is, after all, the ultimate common core of humanity. So maybe it’s time to recognize it in the Common Core.

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Who We Are

Our mission is to ensure that every member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Policies That Matter

Learn about the real action GLSEN is taking on the local, state and federal levels to make schools better and safer, and the policies proven to make a difference.
Research

Our staff researchers have explored LGBT issues in education and the impact of bullying on school climate for nearly 15 years. Their groundbreaking research has identified the problems and found the solutions that work.
Building a Global Movement

Learn how we leverage our 25+ years of leadership and expertise in the U.S. to engage and support our partners abroad.
Act
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Want to take action but don’t know how? Take part in GLSEN programs and events designed to help students, teachers, allies – anyone – take a stand and effect change in their school.
Student Action

It’s easier than you think to get involved and make a difference. Join or start a Gay-Straight Alliance or take part in one of our student leadership programs to make your school a better place.
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Teach
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Press

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 1990

Kevin Jennings, a high school history teacher in Massachusetts, leads a coalition of gay and lesbian educators to form what was then called the Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teacher Network (GLISTN).
The organization began as a local volunteer group of 70 gay and lesbian educators. At that time, there were two gay–straight alliances in the nation, only one state with policy in place to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, and a general lack of awareness of the needs of LGBT students. There were few, if any, resources available for teachers to discuss LGBT issues. However, groups of concerned individuals began to establish chapters across the country, advocating locally and regionally for safe schools for students who were, or were perceived to be, LGBT.

1993

The Governor’s Commission releases its report, Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth. The report leads to the formation of a statewide program—Safe Schools for Gay and Lesbian Youth—the first of its kind in the country.

1994

GLSTN became a national organization with the founding of the first chapter[1] outside Massachusetts in St. Louis.
GLSTN launches the first LGBT History Month in October with official proclamations from the governors of Connecticut and Massachusetts.

1995

GLSTN hired its first full-time staff person, GLSEN’s founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings.
GLSTN accredits Chapters for the first time.[1]

1997

GLSTN staged its first national conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, in response to the legislature’s effort to prevent the formation of GSAs in the state by banning all student groups.
GLSTN changed its name to GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) in order to attract broader support.
Kevin Jennings meets with President Bill Clinton at the White House to discuss anti-LGBT bias in America’s schools—the first meeting of its kind in the Executive Office of the United States.

1998

“Out of the Past,” a GLSEN-sponsored documentary developed as a resource for high school history classes, wins the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and is broadcast nationally on PBS. Eliza Byard, the film’s co-producer, would become GLSEN’s Deputy Executive Director in 2001.

1999

GLSEN conducts the National School Climate Survey—the first and only national study regularly documenting the experiences of LGBT youth in schools. The survey is conducted and published biennially.
GLSEN, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a coalition of national education, mental health, and religious organizations release Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel,[3] which provides authoritative statements about how “conversion therapy” is harmful to youth. Sixteen years later, President Barack Obama would call for an end to the practice.[4]

2000

The Chicago chapter of GLSEN was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.[5]

2001

Students ask GLSEN to become the first national sponsor of the Day of Silence. Participation grows from hundreds of college students to thousands of middle and high school youth.

2002

GLSEN begins a partnership with the National Education Association, which asks school districts to protect LGBT students and staff by adopting policies that protect students from bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

2003

U.S. Representative Linda Sanchez introduces the Safe Schools Improvement Act,[6] an LGBT-inclusive federal anti-bullying bill that includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

2004

GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week launches as an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds.
Vermont becomes the first state to pass an LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying law that includes protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

2005

GLSEN and Harris Interactive release From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, A Survey of Students and Teachers,[7] the first national study of the general population of secondary students and teachers to address LGBT issues. This study documents disparities between LGBT and non-LGBT students and finds that LGBT students were more than three times as likely to not feel safe at school.
GLSEN’s Jump-Start National Student Leadership Team develops an idea that turns into the first Ally Week that is now in schools nationwide every October.

2006

GLSEN launches the “Think Before You Speak” public service announcement initiative with the Ad Council, the nonprofit advertising company’s first LGBT-focused campaign.

2007

GLSEN helps develop the New York City Department of Education’s “Respect for All” initiative.

2008

Lawrence King is murdered by his eighth-grade classmate at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, California. GLSEN’s Day of Silence is held in Larry’s honor as students from more than 8,000 schools participate.
Lance Bass films a public service announcement in the GLSEN office that is viewed more than 300,000 times on YouTube.
GLSEN releases, The Principal’s Perspective: School Safety, Bullying and Harassment,[8] a report conducted in collaboration with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. This survey of K-12 public school principals reveals that a minority of principals believed LGBT students would feel very safe at their school, and yet very few reported that their school provided any sort of professional development or training for educators that addressed LGBT issues.

2009

Eleven-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover takes his life after enduring anti-gay bullying at school. His mother, Sirdeaner Walker, becomes a GLSEN spokesperson and later joins GLSEN’s National Board of Directors.
GLSEN releases Harsh Realities: The Experiences of Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools,[9] the organization’s first report that focuses specifically on the experiences of transgender students. The study finds that transgender youth face much higher levels of harassment and violence than LGB cisgender students, and as a result, miss more school, receive lower grades, and feel more isolated from their school community.
GLSEN releases, Shared Differences: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students of Color in our Nation’s Schools.[10] The study focuses specifically on the school experiences of LGBT students of color and provides insight about the ways in which LGBT students’ school experiences differ based on race or ethnicity. The report finds that the majority of LGBT students of color faced both LGBT-based harassment and race-based harassment at school.

2010

GLSEN officially launches the Safe Space Campaign,[11] designed to give educators the tools to be visibly supportive allies to LGBT students. The campaign goes on to place a Safe Space Kit in every school in the United States.

2011

GLSEN’s Executive Director Eliza Byard participates in the first ever United Nations international consultation to address anti-LGBT bullying in schools.
Several representatives from GLSEN attend the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, pressing for effective federal action to address bullying, and highlighting bullying prevention programs and approaches that benefit all students.
The bipartisan Safe Schools Improvement Act and Student Non-Discrimination Act are re-introduced in Congress with a record number of introductory co-sponsors.
The White House names GLSEN a “Champion of Change,”[12] honoring the organization’s two decades of work to fight bullying, violence, and stigma directed at LGBT people in K-12 schools and for GLSEN’s efforts to prevent suicide among at-risk youth.
GLSEN, the Anti-Defamation League, and National Public Radio’s StoryCorps launch “Unheard Voices,” an oral history and curriculum project that will help educators integrate LGBT history, people and issues into their instructional programs.

2012

GLSEN releases Strengths and Silences: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students in Rural and Small Town Schools.[13] The report documents the experiences of more than 2,300 LGBT students who attend secondary schools in rural areas. Findings demonstrate that compared to LGBT students in urban and suburban areas, LGBT students in rural schools are more likely to hear negative comments about gender expression and sexual orientation; feel unsafe at their schools due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, and experience verbal and physical harassment and assault due to these characteristics.
A Guidestar/Philanthropedia survey of 110 experts on LGBT issues names GLSEN one of the country’s top three LGBT nonprofits making significant contributions on a national level.
GLSEN partners with the leading school mental health professional associations, the National Association of School Psychologists, the American School Counselors Association, the School Social Workers Association of America, and the American Council for School Social Workers, to conduct a national study of school mental health professionals on their preparation and practices related to LGBT youth in schools.

2013

GLSEN convenes first-ever research symposia on LGBT students’ experiences and homophobic and transphobic bullying internationally at the World Comparative Education Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina – with more than 15 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, Israel, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, and Turkey. GLSEN, in partnership with UNESCO, also coordinates an all-day strategic planning meeting with the global group of experts to coordinate collective resources and reduce homophobic and transphobic prejudice and violence in schools globally.
GLSEN publishes Out Online: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth,[14] the first national report to examine the online experience of LGBT youth. While LGBT youth experience nearly three times as much bullying and harassment online, they also find greater peer support, access to health information, and opportunities to be civically engaged.
Transgender Student Rights, a youth-created grassroots organization, becomes a GLSEN program.
By youth nomination, GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard speaks at the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action event at the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Fellow speakers include Presidents Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. GLSEN is the only representative from an LGBT organization to speak at the event.

2014

GLSEN partners with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the Association of Teacher Educators to research and support the inclusion of LGBT issues in teacher preparation.
The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education issues official guidance making clear that transgender students are protected from discrimination under Title IX, stating that “Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.”
The GLSEN National School Climate Survey finds that school climate for LGBT students has improved somewhat over the years, yet remains quite hostile for many. LGBT students in the survey experienced lower verbal and physical harassment based on sexual orientation than in all prior years, and the lowest physical assault based on sexual orientation since 2007.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act,[6] federal legislation that would require schools to adopt LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policies, garners its highest support yet, with 208 bipartisan co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives and 46 in the U.S. Senate.

2015

GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week generates nearly 1,000,000 impressions of #celebratekindness on Twitter.
GLSEN and Chilean partner organization Todo Mejora release a Spanish language version of the GLSEN Safe Space Kit to be used in Chilean schools.

Today

More than 4,000 GSAs have registered with GLSEN, which has approximately forty full-time staff, a governing board of twenty-six members and two advisory committees at the national level.
Nearly forty Chapters are affiliated with GLSEN on local levels.
GLSEN has also hosted many national conferences to bring together student leaders, educators, chapter leaders and activists.

Respect – NY Respect – LA

2015 Johnson & Johnson YouTube
Matthew Morrison Justin Timberlake & Jessica Biel
Jon Stryker Zachary Quinto
Desiree Raught, Educator of the Year Mars Hallman, Student Advocate of the Year
Nixa High School GSA, GSA of the Year

2014 AT&T Danny Moder & Julia Roberts
Janet Mock Bob Greenblatt
Laura Taylor, Educator of the Year Derek Hough
The Park City High School GSA, GSA of the Year Cliff Tang, Student Advocate of the Year

2013 Jason Collins Lionsgate
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Todd Spiewak & Jim Parsons
LZ Granderson Linda Bloodwort -Thomason
Farrington High School, GSA of the Year Laila Al-Shamma, Student Advocate of the Year
Matthew Beck, Educator of the Year
USA Network’s Characters Unite campaign

2012 NBA Marilyn & Jeffrey Katzenberg
Marguerite Kondracke Simon Halls & Matt Bomer
Janet Sammons, Educator of the Year Bob & Harvey Weinstein
Allies 4 Equality, GSA of the Year Luis Veloz, Student Advocate of the Year

2011 Barclays Capital Wells Fargo
Susie Scher & Allison Grover Chaz Bono
Chely Wright Michele & Rob Reiner
Rich Espey, Educator of the Year Rick Welts
Emmett Patterson, Student Advocate of the Year

2010 American Express Modern Family
Pfizer Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
David Dechman & Michael Mercure Dan Renberg and Eugene Kapaloski
Cyndi Lauper Ferial Pearson, Educator of the Year
Danielle Smith, Student Advocate of the Year

2009 KPMG HBO
PepsiCo David C. Bohnett
Mary Jane Karger, Educator of the Year Shonda Rhimes
Austin Laufersweiler, Student Advocate of the Year

2008 DiversityInc Lance Bass
Goldman Sachs Darren Star
Lloyd C. Blankfein Disney / ABC Television Group
Ronald M. Ansin

2007 National Education Association Hon. James C. Hormel
Elizabeth Duthinh Greg Berlanti
John Mack Dr. Neal Baer
Hon. Sheila Kuehl

2006 Citigroup, Inc. James Howe
Kerry Pacer, Student Activist Cisco Systems, Inc.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Dr. Virginia Uribe, PH.D

2005 Lehman Brothers Jeff Quin
Talia Stein Moses Kaufman
Hon. Richard Gephardt & Chrissy Gephardt IBM
Frankie Martinez

2004 Andrew Tobias
Marina Gatto
MTV