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.


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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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Kirkendall, Lester

Lester Kirkendall- co-founder of SIECUS, distinguished lecturer for The Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, past director of The American Humanist Association, financial contributor to the cryptic Temple of Understanding which is connected to the Lucis Trust which published the Lucifer magazine.

Wilson, Kelly

Kelly Wilson, PhD, CHES, Texas State University

“Kelly Wilson, Ph.D., CHES, is an assistant professor of health education
at Texas State University-San Marcos. She is currently a national board
member for the American School Health Association, Eta Sigma Gamma
and the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. She is a
past president of the Texas School Health Association. Throughout her career
working with youth and adolescents in the public schools, Dr. Wilson has been
an advocate for school and adolescent health issues. She has authored seven
peer-reviewed articles and numerous state organization articles. She has offered
more than 40 presentations at conferences nationwide and has been invited to
present at several professional development workshops.
In 2009, Dr. Wilson was awarded the Martha Licata Service Award by the
Texas School Health Association (TSHA). The American Association for
Health Education (AAHE) recognized Dr. Wilson with the Horizon Award
in 2008. In 2007 she was presented the Texas A&M University – Division of
Health Education Alumnus of the Year Award. Over the last five years she
has been recognized with presidential citations awarded by the Department
of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and the College of
Education at Texas State University-San Marcos. She is the proud wife of
James and mother of Emma Lu.” http://a.tfn.org/site/DocServer/SexEdRort09_web.pdf?docID=981


PrEP Education for Youth-Serving Primary Care Providers Toolkit

In March 2016, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), supported in part by funding from Gilead Sciences, Inc., convened an Expert Work Group to address issues surrounding pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) delivery and contribute to the development of an online resource to support primary care providers in offering PrEP to adolescents and young adults under age 25. Expert stakeholders from diverse disciplines convened to identify key concerns as well as barriers to greater primary care provider (PCP) engagement with PrEP. These robust discussions led to the development of the PrEP Education for Youth-Serving Primary Care Providers Toolkit.

The PrEP Education for Youth-Serving Primary Care Providers Toolkit is the only toolkit to date focused on supporting PCPs in providing PrEP to youth. Acknowledging that many excellent resources about PrEP and HIV already exist, SIECUS compiled some of these quality resources and developed new tools to address particular PCP needs in order to create this comprehensive resource.

Each section of the PrEP Education for Youth-Serving Primary Care Providers Toolkit has tools that PCPs can use in delivering PrEP care or in learning about particular aspects of PrEP delivery to youth at high risk of HIV acquisition. The Toolkit includes both original SIECUS tools and existing partner resources offering valuable information to assist youth-serving PCPs become better equipped at educating, counseling, and where appropriate, prescribing PrEP for young people. Download the full toolkit or review the toolkit section by section below.

Section 1: Clinical Tools
Section 2: Billing for PrEP
Section 3: HIV, Stigma, and Social Determinants of Health
Section 4: Youth and HIV Laws and Policies
Section 5: Additional Resources


Introduction and Acknowledgements
Section 1: Clinical Tools

Why PrEP?
1.1 SIECUS Tool: Getting Ready to Offer PrEP
1.2 Tool: Daily Pill Can Prevent HIV (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vital Signs)
1.3 Tool: PrEP Provider FAQs (New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene)

Offering PrEP in Your Practice
1.4 SIECUS Tool: PrEP Clinical Reference Sheet
1.5 Tool: SAMPLE PrEP Same Day Initiation Policy (Philadelphia FIGHT)
1.6 Tool: SAMPLE PrEP for Minors Policy (Philadelphia FIGHT)

Sexual History
1.7 SIECUS Tool: Taking a Sexual History

Adolescent Development
1.8 Tool: Adolescent Social, Psychosocial and Cognitive Development (Sanders, Pediatrics in Review)
1.9 Tool: Male Tanner Stages (Family Practice Notebook)
1.10 Tool: Female Tanner Stages (Family Practice Notebook)
Section 2: Billing for PrEP

2.1 SIECUS Tool: PrEP Billing FAQs
2.2 Tool: Getting Prepped (Project Inform)
2.3 SIECUS Tool: Helping Insured Patients Estimate PrEP Costs
2.4 SIECUS Tool: PrEP-related ICD-10 and CPT Codes
2.5 Tool: Medication Assistance and Co-pay Programs for PrEP (Fair Pricing Coalition)
Section 3: HIV, Stigma, and Social Determinants of Health

Youth and Social Determinants of Health
3.1 Tool: YMSM: The People Behind the Epidemiological Term [Webinar] (Contact Brandy Oeser at the YMSM + LGBT Center of Excellence, btoeser@ucla.edu to inquire about available CE)
3.2 Tool: Our Health Matters: Mental Health, Risk and Resilience Among LGBTQ Youth of Color Who Live, Work, or Play in Boston (Report by Fenway Institute, November 2015)
3.3 SIECUS Tool: Young Women, HIV, and PrEP

Building Cultural Competence
3.4 Tool: Building Cultural Competence (Advocates for Youth)
3.5 Tool: Self-Assessment (Advocates for Youth)
3.6 Tool: Test Yourself for Hidden Bias (The Southern Poverty Law Center)
3.7 SIECUS Tool: Creating a Welcoming Office

Understanding HIV Impact: Quick Reference
3.8 Tool: HIV Among Various Groups—Gay and Bisexual Men, Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Age, Incarcerated Populations, Sex Workers, Economically Disadvantaged (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
3.9 Tool: HIV Among Young Men Who Have Sex with Men (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
3.10 Tool: Vital Signs HIV Among Youth in the US (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
3.11 Tool: Youth of Color-At Disproportionate Risk of Negative Sexual Health Outcomes (Advocates for Youth)
3.12 Tool: Black Americans and HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Family Foundation)
3.13 Tool: Trans HIV Testing Toolkit Module 1: Get the Facts About Trans People and HIV (University of California San Francisco Center for Excellence in Transgender Health)
3.14 Tool: HIV and Injection Drug Use in the US (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Section 4: Youth and HIV Laws and Policies

4.1 SIECUS Tool: Youth and HIV Laws and Policy Considerations
4.2 SIECUS Tool: State Policy Table
Section 5: Additional Resources

5.1 SIECUS Tool: Additional Resources by Topic

Coyle, Karin

Karin Coyle, Board Member of SIECUS

Karin Coyle, PhD, is the Chief Science Officer at ETR. She specializes in the development and evaluation of health promotion programs, particularly HIV, other STD, and pregnancy prevention programs. Dr. Coyle currently serves as the principal investigator on multiple randomized trials, including a middle school randomized trial that is testing the efficacy of a curriculum and social norms program focusing on adolescent relationships and related sexual behaviors (You-Me-Us), and a replication study of an evidenced-based middle school program entitled It’s Your Game. She also plays a lead role in several other evaluation projects.

Dr. Coyle has served as a principal or co-principal investigator on a number of school-based randomized trials to test the effectiveness of HIV, other STD, and pregnancy prevention programs for youth (e.g., Safer Choices, a school-based intervention to reduce sexual risk-taking behaviors among high school adolescents; Draw the Line, Respect the Line, a culturally appropriate, HIV prevention intervention aimed at middle school youth; All4You!, a multi-component intervention that features behavioral skills development and service learning; and All4You2!, a study to examine the individual and combined effects of behavioral skills and service learning).

She received her PhD from UCLA in Educational Research and Evaluation, and holds a MS and BS in Health Science.


In 1964, the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) was launched at the Kinsey Institute. Its objective was to teach Kinseyan ideology as sex education in our schools. SIECUS (which now calls itself the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) imprinted the new Kinsey variant standard on almost all sex education curricula. Its early leader, Dr. Mary Calderone (past medical director of Planned Parenthood) was the direct link between Kinsey’s university-based research, Planned Parenthood’s grassroots outreach, and SIECUS. SIECUS was a “Resource Center [operating] Specialized Programs to Distribute Information about Human sexuality [through] learned journals, research studies, training materials for health professionals and sample classroom curricula.”111 – from Dr. Reisman’s Stolen Honor

“SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, was founded in 1964 by Dr. Mary S. Calderone and a number of other brave pioneers.

During her tenure as the Medical Director for the Planned Parenthood Federation, Dr. Calderone became concerned about the lack of accurate information about sexuality for both young people and adults.

So, at the age of 60, with determination to live in a world in which sexuality was viewed as a natural and healthy part of life, she founded of SIECUS. She was joined by Wallace Fulton, Reverend William Genne, Lester Kirkendall, Dr. Harold Lief, and Clark Vincent. In the next couple of years, SIECUS’ first Board of Directors was established, our first foundation grant was received, and we published our first book designed for teacher training.

In the decades that have followed, SIECUS has become a recognized leader in the field of sexuality and sexuality education, publishing numerous books, journals, and resources for professionals, parents, and the public.

In the 1970s, SIECUS began publication of the SIECUS Report, which is still used as a key resource for thousands regarding critical sexuality issues. We also grew our influence by attending conferences and developing curricula for medical school and college students.

With the discovery of the HIV/AIDS virus, the 80s began a new chapter for SIECUS. In 1984, SIECUS co-sponsored a ground-breaking conference with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and in 1986 we published one of the first educational books about HIV/AIDS: How to Talk to your Children About AIDS.

The 1990s were a time of great advances for SIECUS. We expanded our outreach to policymakers and communities by opening a public policy office in DC, developing a community advocacy project to help fight attacks on sexuality related issues, creating a media outreach initiative to ensure that sexuality related issues are accurately represented by the media. And, we even took our mission global, establishing an international program. SIECUS also published many books and manuals, including Guidelines for Comprehensive Education: Kindergarten – 12th Grade, which was quickly hailed as a major breakthrough in sexuality education. In 1996, SIECUS’ web site went live. Of course, along with SIECUS’ increased visibility came increased attacks from organizations such as “Focus on the Family” and “Concerned Women for America.”
Still we persevered.

By giving families, educators, and policymakers access to fact-based sexuality information through publications, websites, trainings, and myriad other resources, SIECUS is keeping Dr. Calderone’s vision a reality right now—and well into the future.”Dr. Mary S. Calderone


Chitra Panjabi
President & CEO
As President & CEO, Chitra advances SIECUS’ efforts to reshape cultural and societal narratives around sexuality. Leading with an intersectional vision, she is spearheading SIECUS’ work of addressing the impact of sexual stigma and shame on individuals across age, race, gender, gender identity and expression, class, sexual orientation and ability.

Chitra has a professional background in intersectional feminist activism, nonprofit management and fundraising. She joins SIECUS having previously served as Vice President Membership for the National Organization for Women (NOW). While at NOW, she was responsible for managing operations, communications, fundraising and membership engagement. Under her tenure, Chitra increased NOW’s membership by nearly a third in a single year, led the most successful end-of-year online campaign and implemented multiyear strategic planning. In addition to her time at NOW, Chitra has spent much of her career working for progressive nonprofits, including South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT); The Women’s Foundation in Hong Kong; and the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum in Washington, DC (now known as the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument). Currently, she serves on the Board of a local DC-metro area membership organization that is focused on women’s personal and professional development.

Chitra holds a bachelor’s degree from King’s College London, a master’s degree in international journalism from City University, London and a master’s degree in women’s studies from The George Washington University. Born and raised in Hong Kong to Indian immigrants, she spent her formative years in Asia and another five years in London before moving to Washington, D.C. in 2008.

Jesseca Boyer
Vice President

Ms. Boyer joined SIECUS in 2012 leading policy, advocacy, and programmatic efforts in the area of sexual health and rights in addition to providing executive support. Prior to joining SIECUS, Jesse served as the Policy Director for the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA). Jesse’s previous experience includes working for the RAND Corporation as the Office of Congressional Relations’ Health Legislative Analyst; the Government Relations Manager at the American Public Health Association (APHA); and as committee staff for Congressman Henry Waxman. Born and raised in Alaska, Jesseca began her policy career at the state level with opportunities to work for both a state representative as well as for the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education. She has also held field and research positions on two U.S. Senate campaigns. Jesse serves as co-chair of the federal Sex Ed Coalition, is a member of the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership Convening Group, and is on the Advisory Board of Sexual Health Innovations. Jesse received her bachelor’s of arts in political science from the University of Alaska Anchorage and her master’s of arts in political science, applied politics from American University.

Kristina Romines
Policy and Communications Coordinator

As the Policy and Communications Coordinator, Kristina plays an integral role in monitoring and analyzing state policy for SIECUS as well as coordinating strategic communications and publication development towards the advancement of sexuality education and sexual health programs and policies. Previously she was the National Field Coordinator at the National Organization for Women (NOW) where she worked on a wide range of reproductive justice issues. Maintaining an intersectional approach to her work as well as the policies put forth by advocacy groups and legislative entities is Kristina’s top priority. Kristina is a 2015 WIN Young Women of Achievement Award Nominee in the Choice Movement and has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Christopher Newport University.

Taissa Morimoto
Policy Research Fellow

Joining SIECUS in January 2017, Taissa conducts research and analysis of policy activity, contributing to and developing various legislative and policy publications and reports. During her time in law school, Taissa was an organizer for the Restoration of Civil Rights Project in Florida, a volunteer-based organization assisting former felons in applying for restoration their civil rights. Additionally, she worked in a clinic where she advocated for and represented clients in court who were survivors of intimate partner violence. A few months after she graduated, she moved to Washington, D.C. to work in public policy. Prior to joining SIECUS, she was the criminal and economic justice policy advocate at the National LGBTQ Task Force. Taissa received her bachelor’s of art degrees in sociology and anthropology from the University of Florida and her juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

SIECUS Board of Directors

Stephen Russell, Ph.D., Chair
Priscilla Pond Flawn Regents Professor in Child Development
Department of Human Development and Family Sciences
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX

Justin A. Sitron, Ph.D., Vice Chair
Associate Professor & Director of Doctoral Program
Director, Interdisciplinary Sexuality Research Collaborative
Center for Human Sexuality Studies
School of Human Service Professions
Widener University
Philadelphia, PA

Barbara Libove, Treasurer
Director of Social Impact Finance
Freelancers Union
New York, NY

Ralph Chartier
Providence Community Health Center
Providence, RI

Karin Coyle, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Scotts Valley, CA

Lawrence J. D’Angelo, M.D., M.P.H.
Chief, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine
Children’s National Medical Center
Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine
George Washington University
Washington, DC

Nadia Lauren Dowshen, M.D.
Director of Adolescent HIV Services
Division of Adolescent Medicine
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA

Don Flowers
Senior Pastor
Providence Baptist Church
Pool Chaplain
Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, SC

Linda A. Hawkins, Ph.D., LPC
Family Services Specialist, Social Work & Family Services Co-Director
Gender & Sexuality Development Clinic
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA

Keely Monroe, J.D.
Bolder Advocacy Initiative
Alliance for Justice
Washington, DC