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Sexuality and Human Rights & Sexuality and Reproductive Rights Expanding the Circle June 2013 Gil Herdt, PhD California Institute for Integral Studies.

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Presentation on theme: "Sexuality and Human Rights & Sexuality and Reproductive Rights Expanding the Circle June 2013 Gil Herdt, PhD California Institute for Integral Studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sexuality and Human Rights & Sexuality and Reproductive Rights Expanding the Circle June 2013 Gil Herdt, PhD California Institute for Integral Studies

2 Rights are in the media

3 What are human rights? To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity. --Nelson MandelaNelson Mandela America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense human rights invented America. America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense human rights invented America. --Jimmy Carter

4 Sexuality Rights Are for Everyone, Not Just Some Our approach is to be inclusive of all peoples regardless of ethnicity, gender, social class, national origin, faith & other factors In the past, when people heard the term “rights” they may have associated it with “special rights” – such as for LGBT people Today, rights are defining a new approach to human sexuality in self, society and culture This framework is going to define future education, research and social justice

5 Research supports the Sexuality Rights approach Research reveals that when people feel safe and secure in their right to pursue their individual sexual pleasure, reproductive potential, and expression of sexual and gender identity, they are healthier in general and are better able to attain their full potential as human beings (Institute of Medicine, 2011; UN, 2012). This is especially true of their sexual health, well-being and behavior (Coleman, 2010; Correa, et al, 2005; Correa, et al 2009; Herdt, 2004; Petchesky, 2003). When sexuality is defined as a right in society, it helps people to do better in life (Aggleton & Parker, 2010)

6 In the classroom: rights and human sexuality 1) Increasingly human rights define how people think and feel about sexual expression – a generational shift is now occurring 2) The great majority of young people, according to polls, endorse human rights and extend them to such issues as same-sex marriage rights 3) Gender identity and reproductive rights are also powerful and while controversial, they provide great teaching moments in the classroom

7 One Good Picture is Worth a Thousand Words US example – Shelby Knox In Texas worked in her own high school to help her community support comprehensive sexuality education because of the epidemic of STIs going around This story opens Chapter 1

8 “ GAY RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ARE GAY RIGHTS.” – Hon. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State (Dec. 2011)

9 The USA Evolves Its Sexual Rights Position Secretary of State Hillary Clinton –United Nations US and other nations have declared discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans, and queer people harmful to health and well-being (2011) In Feb. 2012, President Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage rights Pres. Obama’s Inauguration speech (2013) extends sexuality rights into basic civil rights

10 Defining human rights The freedoms to which all humans are entitled, such as the freedoms of speech and religion, and the most basic right of all, to life. They are based on the inherent rights of freedom, dignity, and equality of all human beings – sexuality included (Aggleton and Parker, 2010).

11 Sexual rights violations Human rights violations include offenses that can destroy sexual well-being, and possibly life itself. These violations may include forcing people to have abortions or to be sterilized, denying people the right to contraceptives, executing or imprisoning people because of their sexual or gender orientations, forcing people to have their genitals altered, as well as many forms of rape and sexual coercion (Aggleton & Parker, 2010; Correa et al., 2009; Hunt, 2007; Joffe, 2009). All these examples are violations of rights related to sex, reproduction, or gender and sexual orientation.

12 Students want to understand Sexuality Rights Today’s students follow social media stories about human rights abuses But students don’t always connect the dots between abuses and people’s needs for holistic sexual well- being Students don’t have a complete language yet for how to talk about Rights in their own lives Sexual literacy and sexual-well being provide one approach for them to integrate these issues into their whole lives

13 Basic sexuality rights* The right to learn and teach about sex The right to respect people’s bodies just as they are The right to be sexually active or not The right to choose when and how to have children—or not The right to pursue sexual pleasure in a safe and satisfying way The right to express your own sexual orientation without fear or punishment *Source: Correa et al. (2009); Irvine (2002)

14 Human Rights and Personal Responsibility As the Surgeon General’s Report (2001) said, having respect, freedom and dignity also comes with responsibility The need to be and act responsibly when it comes to sexual choices and decisions, as for example, the use of a condom to protect a partner from disease or unintended pregnancy This freedom can be used or abused – and so it calls for holistic sexuality into all aspects of someone’s life

15 How holistic sexuality connects to Rights We have defined holistic sexuality as the integration of body, mind, feelings and social life through sexuality When a person’s Rights are denied or undermined, they are unable to achieve holistic sexuality, as for example, when people feel the dignity and freedom to pursue their sexual needs safely Understanding Rights can enable students to see how to better achieve holistic health and sexual well-being in a responsible way

16 Reproductive Rights in the News Increasing numbers of laws to restrict contraceptives Only yesterday, the state of Arkansas passed the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S., banning the procedure after 12 weeks of pregnancy with certain exceptions. We think these policies are based on a basic lack of understanding and sexual literacy in the USA

17 Reproductive Rights Today Experts advise that knowledge of and access to contraceptives is a powerful tool in ensuring sexual and reproductive health and well-being (Cook & Fathalla, 1996; Correa et al., 2009; Petchesky, 2003). Reproductive health rights are often a reflection of women’s status and social position in a society (DiMauro and Joffe, 2009) Women who have sought reproductive choices have often dealt with severe hostility, stigma, and even violence (Correa et al, 2009) This is striking when women decide not to have children in countries that are not very supportive of reproductive rights (Petchesky, 2003) Providing reproductive health and choices that are safe, affordable, and accessible are cornerstones of UN policy (Correa et al., 2005; 2009).

18 Summing Up Sexuality rights is a basic approach to all human sexuality in the USA and globally Research supports this teaching approach A generational shift is occurring among young people that suggests this approach will become increasingly relevant in the future Sexuality and reproductive rights affirms our basic humanity and inclusion of all people

19 Human Sexuality: Building a just society I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice based on sexual orientation. Coretta Scott King


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