Understanding Human Sexuality in a Broad Context

Taken from the Introduction to The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, published May 2015, edited by Patricia Whelehan and Anne Bolin www.encyclopediaofhumansexuality.com

Whelehan - web_resSexuality as an academic, legal, medical, and social subject has become increasingly visible over the past thirty years as attested to by the dramatic increase in the number of courses, scholarly and applied peer-reviewed publications, and other resources on the topic. It has also been an ongoing source of anthropological study since the nineteenth century.

However, recent anthropological interest in sexuality has been heightened as a consequence of globalization, the AIDS pandemic, national and international concerns over issues such as sex education, same sex marriage, transgender issues, and sex work among others.

In response to these widespread concerns and an attendant critical need for understanding human sexuality in a broad context, Wiley-Blackwell has commissioned us to produce an inter-disciplinary three-volume encyclopedia titled The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality (IEHS).  This print and electronic reference work will be an important resource for undergraduate and graduate universities, law schools, medical schools, and public libraries nationally and internationally.  Not only will this encyclopedia cover the essential content areas as do the other widely selling encyclopedias on human sexuality–including human physiology, life-course issues, contraception, and contemporary Euro-American sexuality and ethnic issues– but the Wiley-Blackwell IEHS will contextualize these topics within their socio-cultural milieu and integrate the cross-cultural and global records of other nationalities.

Given the contemporary cultural and academic concerns for cultural diversity in education, we believe that our encyclopedia has the potential to offer new and richer perspectives on human sexual behavior.  No other encyclopedia currently on the market incorporates cultural diversity as a central theme for both the Euro-American and cross-cultural material. In addition, the IEHS’ attention to evolutionary and primatological considerations are attractive to those disciplines that have a biological and evolutionary emphases such as ethology, evolutionary psychology, biology, ecology, medicine, nursing and health among others, providing a deeply historical and bio-cultural lens.

Find out more at www.encyclopediaofhumansexuality.com

Patricia Whelehan and Anne Bolin

Educating the Next Generation on LGBTQ Rights

120px-TangopenguinDo you remember when you first learned what the word ‘gay’ meant? Maybe you had a classmate with two mothers, maybe you saw it on TV, or maybe you heard it being used as an insult on the playground. It’s possible that your first encounter with the LGBTQ spectrum involved an open-minded and mediated conversation with adults, but it’s also possible that you had to discover it on your own and deduce meaning based on context, even if that context was an insult.

There is a pressing need to educate about the LGBTQ experience, through events and forums like this one, but also throughout childhood. It is our responsibility to teach children tolerance instead of prejudice. But who is responsible for this education? Should it be built into curricula or is it the role of the family and the parents to educate on this topic?

LGBTQ education is an uphill battle because of a lack of resources. And Tango Makes Three, a picture book about same-sex penguins mating and raising a baby (based on a true story of penguins at a zoo), is consistently one of the most banned books in the United States. It joins the ranks of the few books published about the LGBTQ experience for children, most of which are frequently banned in libraries and schools. The lack of accessibility to these teaching resources is hugely detrimental to LGBTQ education.

The importance of LGBTQ education in an open and accepting environment cannot be overstated. How can classrooms and families work together to teach children about the LGBTQ experience? How can we ensure that children—both LGBTQ and not—never have to learn about what ‘gay’ means from an insult on the playground?

Samantha Green, Marketing Manager, Wiley
MA candidate in Children’s Literature, Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science


We encourage you to share your thoughts and comments on this post below. If you’re interested on reading scholarly content, made free this month only to support the continuation of conversations surrounding the LGBT Community.

Education and the Classroom

‘No Outsiders’: Moving beyond a discourse of tolerance to challenge heteronormativity in primary schools British Educational Research Journal

The declining significance of homohysteria for male students in three sixth forms in the south of England British Educational Research Journal

Analyzing Talk in a Long-Term Literature Discussion Group: Ways of Operating Within LGBT-Inclusive and Queer Discourses Reading Research Quarterly

“You’re Wearing Kurt’s Necklace!” The Rhetorical Power of Glee in the Literacy Classroom Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy

Moving Beyond the Inclusion of LGBT-Themed Literature in English Language Arts Classrooms: Interrogating Heteronormativity and Exploring Intersectionality Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy

Culturally Diverse Literature: Enriching Variety in an Era of Common Core State Standards The Reading Teacher

Telling our story: a narrative therapy approach to helping lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people with a learning disability identify and strengthen positive self-identity stories British Journal of Learning Disabilities

“So, You Think You Have a History?”: Taking a Q from Lesbian and Gay Studies in Writing Education History History of Education

Special Issue: Lesbian and gay issues in art, design and media education International Journal of Art & Design Education

Queering High School Biology Textbooks Journal of Research in Science Teaching

What Would Universal Marriage Equality Mean for Culture?

640px-Eric_Stonestreet,_Jesse_Tyler_FergusonUntil recently, American culture has been relatively devoid of representations of the LGBTQ couple. In fact, one of the frequent observations made by critics of television programs and films particularly has been the tendency of those forms to depict lesbians and gays as singular figures isolated from continuing relationships or larger community. There are,
one supposes, a few notable (or infamous) exceptions if one wishes to press the issue: Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas had attained a certain celebrity status by the 1920s and 1930s, though their salon days were spent in Paris and not in America. Likewise, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were by all accounts a couple in the 1920s but their infamy as murderers hardly made them role models.  Lesbian and gay couples did exist, to be sure, among them Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, who were together more than five decades before Martin’s death in 2008, and Jorn Kamgren and gay activist Harry Hay, who were together for nearly a dozen years, but they were not well-known.  And novelist Henry James popularized “Boston Marriages” — close romantic relationships between women – in 1886’s The Bostonians, though the sexual nature of these relationships was likely neither universal nor well-understood. Lesbian and gay couples were becoming more culturally visible by the 1970s, thanks in part to a series of efforts by gay couples to marry in Minnesota, Seattle, and Colorado, as well as to their appearance in works such as the play and television series Hot L Baltimore.  Even as LGBTQ characters began to emerge in television and film, on-screen couples remained relatively scarce until the new millennium, with press accounts of states’ legalizing, first, civil unions and domestic partnerships, and eventually marriages.  When the TV series Modern Family debuted in 2009, the gay couple Mitch and Cam soon became audience favorites. The current U.S. Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which seeks to overturn state bans on the conduct and recognition of same-sex marriages, has dramatically increased the visibility of LGBTQ couples. But would universal marriage equality also mean greater cultural visibility or would an end to the legal and political battles over marriage equality lead to normalization and a return to invisibility?

Bruce E. Drushel, Ph.D.
Guest Editor, Journal of American Culture
Associate Professor, Media, Journalism & Film, Miami University

We encourage you to share, comment, and engage with us in the comment section below! Please also check out our free special collection of scholarly articles and books in LGBT studies.

Ageing into Lesbian-Feminism – An Excerpt from a Life

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It was 1969, I was just 12 years old, and Stonewall had not yet happened. My best friend Linda and I hung out at the local schoolyard wearing army jackets with male names emblazoned on the pocket. She was not just my friend, though I had no name for what we were.

When I smacked a boy upside the head who tried to grab my breasts, the home economics teacher said if I couldn’t stop acting like that no boy would ever marry me. I had no vision of what life could be without marrying a boy and gay marriage was still an oxymoron; I decided that marriage was a trap that I would never willingly step into. I mostly still think that.

I discovered feminism with an insatiable hunger. I read every book, bought every woman’s music album and joined consciousness raising groups, and coming out groups.

Today my female students often insist they are not feminists. My feminism is quaint to them, not the radical edge of human transformation, but nostalgia from a bygone generation. In their eyes I am a woman who still thinks that gender matters. Of course they believe in equal rights and equal pay for equal work. Of course they think that “girls” should go to college and become doctors. Their definition of feminism is: a woman who hates men. I try to explain that it was actually men who hated women, and we rebelled, us feminists. I tell them that all they have in their lives today is the fruits of a movement that women planted with our own hands, the soil was our very bodies. Gender, I insist, still matters.

The lesbian-feminist community that reared me does not exist anymore. The small coffee houses, the sense of commonality are relics of another day. Partially the movement that was, has been absorbed into the larger LGBTQQI-alphabet soup movement for queer civil rights. Partially it became transformed into academic women’s studies programs. Partially it has been co-opted, sold out to the dazzle of consumer capitalism and the lure of romantic security, represented by gay business and gay marriage. A friend smiles and says, “We really thought we could change the world,” and I remind her: we did. We changed the world.

I work for transgender rights and argue queer theory, and insist that it is feminism which was the mother of these freedoms. I give credit to women’s liberation for not only changing my world, but for changing the whole world, for starting a dialogue about rethinking gender that continues on today. Like all important tasks, dismembering patriarchy is the work of my many lifetimes.

I am nearly a crone now — more than half a century on this blessed planet, and I’m still doing my work. I still devour feminist books, but I do not allow feminism to devour me. I am critical of some of what has been done in the name of feminism, but I will not let other women define feminism for me, or dictate which acts of mine are feminist and which are colonized. I keep insisting that feminism is not a dirty word, but is a movement that has made possible all that has come since.

I embrace the queer youth of today, and I know they can do what they are doing precisely because we did the work of feminism. I plan to get old, grow my facial hair, get another tattoo, and wear bright red lipstick. Feminism has given me the freedom to be fully myself.

By Arlene Istar Lev LCSW, CASAC

Arlene Istar Lev is a social worker, family therapist, activist, and mother. She is the Founder of Choices Counseling and Consulting (www.choicesconsulting.com), and The Institute for Gender, Relationships, Identity and Sexuality (TIGRIS – www.tigrisinstitute.com). She can be reached at 518-438-2222 or Arlene@choicesconsulting.com.

We encourage you to read more on LGBT and family/child ethics with our special collection here on the blog and to comment below.

The Psychological Burden Associated with the Stigmatization of Homosexuality

imagesThe Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) has long focused on the psychological burden associated with the stigmatization of homosexuality and, in articles over the past decade, explored the roots of public opposition to marriage equality; examined the rights and responsibilities of gay parents; and critiqued the “psychological” arguments that are typically put forward regarding gay rights.

In “Social Advocacy for Equal Marriage: The Politics of ‘Rights’ and the Psychology of ‘Mental Health’, (Analyses of Social Issues of Public Policy, December 2004), Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson argue against the discipline’s dominant narrative regarding homosexuality, with its focus on social stigmatization and the mental health damage or deficit that such stigmatization imposes. They argued instead for a discourse of rights, which “asserts universally applicable principles of equality, justice, freedom, and dignity.” The psychological approach, by contrast, seemed fundamentally “antithetical to the conceptual framework of human rights, as a basis for social justice.”

In “The Rights and Responsibilities of Gay and Lesbian Parents: Legal Developments, Psychological Research, and Policy Implications,” (Social Issues and Policy Review, December 2008), Jared Chamberlain, Monica Miller, and Brian Bornstein enrich the discussion about how courts should deal with gay parents who chose to end their relationship. They argue that children benefit from having continued contact with two parents—even if in gay relationships there may be a biological connection to only one of the parents—and that the children’s well-being is unaffected by their parents’ sexual orientation. The same “best interest” standard that prevails among heterosexual parents in determining child custody should prevail among gay parents, with visitation rights allocated accordingly. A review of the literature reveals that children of lesbian parents showed no differences in terms of “psychological development and family functioning,” exhibited similar levels of self-esteem, and experienced similar gender identity formation processes. They concluded by urging psychologists:

to continue to conduct and publicize the results of research on children of same-sex parents, especially in new areas such as dissolution of the same sex-relationship; they can conduct research comparing families with lesbian gay and heterosexual parents; and they can evaluate children in custodial disputes that result from the breakup of same-sex relationships in the same manner that they work with the children in heterosexual divorce cases.

In “Anti-Equality Marriage Amendments and Sexual Stigma,” (Journal of Social Issues, No. 2, 2011) Gregory Herek summarizes the stigma-based analysis of anti-equality marriage laws and campaigns. He discusses how being denied the legal right to marry because of one’s orientation constitutes an instance of stigma; and being subject to political campaigns promoting anti-equality marriage amendments are a source of heightened stress for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. The personal and political are interrelated: The initial enactment and continuing existence of anti-equality marriage laws depend on the continuing salience of such attitudes among the voting public. He closes by asking two questions: How the process of coming out and discussing one’s sexual orientation impacts one’s friends, relatives, and acquaintances; and second, how and why some heterosexual friends and family chose to become allies in the struggle for marriage equality and related structural stigma and prejudice.

Finally, Melanie Duncan and Markus Kemmelmeier focus on what attitudes fuel opposition to same-sex marriage, in their article “Attitudes Toward Same-Sex Marriage: An Essentialist Approach.” They argue that the negative same-sex marriage (SSM) attitudes are the result of essentialist thinking about marriage—that is, thinking that categorizes marriage as universal, unique, invariant, and not the result of human agency. In fact, “essentialist” attitudes about marriage were a more potent predictor of negative SSM even than essentialist conceptions of homosexuality. In that respect, marriage is often conceptualized as if it predated or had an existence independent of the society in which it is practiced; marriage is viewed by opponents of SSM as if it had an “objective” reality, whose essence is formally enshrined. These attitudes are revealed in studies probing essentialist beliefs about homosexuality and essentialist beliefs about marriage: “Although opponents of SSM may be likely to harbor prejudices against homosexuals, their opposition to SSM seems to be more critically motivated by their essentialist perspective on marriage itself.”

We encourage you to share your thoughts and comments on this post below. If you’re interested on reading scholarly content, made free this month only to support the continuation of conversations surrounding the LGBT Community, read here.

For more from SPSSI, visit Wiley Online Library.  There you’ll find a free sample issue, content alerts, and a host of psychology articles.

The Time Is Now: Bioethics and LGBT Issues

LGBT Cover Image“Bioethics has an obligation to work toward the resolution of real and pressing issues.” that’s where Tia Powell and Mary Beth Foglia start with the ideas and driving force behind their special issue, The Time is Now: Bioethics and LGBT Issues for the Hastings Center Review.  With an ultimate goal of encouraging colleagues to incorporate topics related to the LGBT populations into bioethics curricula and scholarship, the two take on several prominent topics of relevance to the LGBT populations but they know there are many more topics of concern to this population and hope that scholarship continues beyond this collection. Read Free through July.

We feel that bioethics has an obligation to discuss [LGBT] history and to help us as a society take responsibility for it. – Tia Powell and Mary Beth Folia

From Tia and Mary Beth:

Andrew Solomon offers an elegant overview of the challenges that bioethics faces in articulating a solid basis for LGBT rights. Timothy F. Murphy asks whether bioethics still faces issues related to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, given the deletion of homosexuality as a disease and the progress toward same-sex marriage. Jamie Lindemann Nelson’s essay addresses the search for identity for transgender persons and the role of science in that search. Two articles, those by Brendan S. Abel and by Jack Drescher and Jack Pula, take up the complex issue of medical treatment for children who reject their assigned birth gender. Celia B. Fisher and Brian Mustanski address the special challenges of engaging LGBT youth in research, balancing the need for better information about this vulnerable group against the existing restrictions on research involving children. Tia Powell and Edward Stein consider the merits of legal bans on psychotherapies intended to change sexual orientation, particularly in the light of current research on orientation. Mary Beth Foglia and Karen I. Fredricksen-Goldsen highlight health disparities and resilience among LGBT older adults and then discuss the role of nonconscious bias in perpetuating disparities. Stephan Davis and Nancy Berlinger assess the challenges of access to care and health policy for transgender persons. Edward J. Callahan et al. tackle the ways in which diverse aspects of medicine should change to better incorporate the needs of LGBT patients, including through use of the electronic medical record, education of health professionals, and recruitment efforts for LGBT health professionals. Virginia Ashby Sharpe and Uchenna S. Uchendu describe multifaceted efforts within Veterans Administration facilities to create change for LGBT veterans across the largest integrated health care network in the United States. Lance Wahlert and Autumn Fiester find a mixed record in the use of case studies in teaching about LGBT issues

Comment on our blog posts for a chance to win a free book

Blogging today is a dime a dozen, each with an arsenal of snappy, digestible, tips and tricks for everything from career advice to trimming off excess fat. In a world full of click-holes, we often find ourselves falling social media voyeurs; readers of content stopping just short of posting a comment. We’re all guilty at one point or another of this.

We’re about half-way through our month long LGBT takeover here on the blog and we’ve had a variety of guest bloggers write in and share with us their thoughts on the philosophy, ethics, and social situation surrounding the LGBT community but we’re missing something; input from our readers.

Comment on any blog post on LGBT studies from today until July 10th to be automatically entered for a chance to win a free paperback book! Winners will be contacted about their prize individually.

Here’s some of what we’re raffling off:

America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality at the Movies, 2nd Edition
America on Film: Rep.Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality at the Movies
 50 Great Myths of Human Sexuality
50 Great Myths of Human Sexuality
A Global History of Sexuality
A Global History of Sexuality
Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture
Sexuality in Greek and Roman Culture