Roundup: Texas Prom Police, Hagee and Donohue Kiss and Make Up

Brady Swenson

Texas teen denied entry to prom, Hagee issues apology to Catholics, UK abortion debate heats up.

Post Prom with the Police Dr. Karen Rayne writes about a high school girl in Texas, Marche Taylor, who was refused entry to her senior prom because her homemade dress was too revealing. Ms. Taylor tried to compromise with prom sponsors by offering to wrap her dress’ train around her torso but was still denied entry. She became very upset and was evenutally escorted away from the Sugarland Marriott in handcuffs. Dr. Rayne uses the fiasco to discuss our strange notion of adolescent sexuality in America:

But really, I think people pay attention to things like this because they get
to look at a teenage girl’s body. We are, as a culture, both obsessed and
repelled by teenage girls ‘bodies. We want them to be shown off and considered
sexy in the right ways (like your standard prom dress or a bikini on the beach)
but not in the wrong ways (like Marche or Miley). But teenage girls are never
really given a good, solid list of guidelines and what’s appropriate can change
far too quickly for the average teenage girl to be expected to keep up.

Hagee and Donohue Kiss and Make Up John McCain has been the recipient of some heat for Pastor John Hagee’s criticisms of the Catholic church since McCain accepted Hagee’s endorsement two months ago. Bill Donohue, leader of the Catholic League, has been leading the charge against Hagee and calling for McCain to denounce Hagee’s endorsement. Donohue also refused to speak with Hagee until he apologized for his anto-Catholic sentiments. Yesterday Hagee issued the apology and now the two are scheduled to meet next week for a (politically expedient) reconciliation. Does this apology mean Hagee is now also off the hook for asserting that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for the decadence of New Orleaners?

Sex, Drugs and Alcohol The latest edition of the Midwest Teen Sex Show is available for download on the show’s RSS feed. As always, making time for viewing is highly reccomended.

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Special Dems Democrats have now won three congressional special elections in Republican stronghold districts.

UK Abortion Limits The debate in the UK over amending the 1967 Abortion Rights Act to create a 20 week limitation on all abortion procedures is heating up.



Roundups Sexual Health

Sexual Health Roundup: School to Give Out Condoms at Prom and Studies Look at Loud Music and MTV Shows

Martha Kempner

Sexual Health Roundup: A Brooklyn high school agrees to distribute condoms at the prom though the company sponsoring it found no other takers; a study finds that whether you see MTV's 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom as cautionary tales or unfortunate glamorizations has to do with what your parents taught you about sex; and another study out of the Netherlands finds that Tipper Gore was right—young people who listen to loud music engage in other risky behaviors.  

Brooklyn School Will Make Condoms Available at the Prom

My high school prom was held at the Ramada Renaissance on Route 18. In order to attend we had to sign a promise that we would not rent a room in the hotel.  This apparent attempt at preventing us from having sex on prom night struck even 17-year-old me as ridiculous. The idea that sex was more likely on prom night than say on a random Monday after school seemed like a movie-myth to me and the idea that this high-rise hotel was the only (or even the best) place we could find to do it was just silly. Besides, drunk driving was a bigger risk — you’d think they’d want us to stay put. 

Twenty years later at least one school has changed this tune of “forbidding” teen sex and is instead making condoms available at the prom. The principal of Bedford-Stuyvesant Prep, a small public high school for students who have had academic or disciplinary trouble at other schools, says making condoms available makes sense. He explained:

“…the first thing that should roll off your tongue when you say Bed-Stuy Prep is college. We are trying to prepare you for college and for life. [Getting pregnant] is self-sabotage. It makes it more difficult to move forward and life becomes a struggle.” 

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He added that this decision was simply built on the school’s commitment to teaching about safer sex as well as on New York City’s commitment to making condoms available to students.

In fact, New York City schools were part of one of the peer-reviewed studies that found that making condoms available did not increase the share of students who were sexually active but did increase the share of students who used condoms when they did have sex. Perhaps because of studies like that one the American Academy of Pediatrics says:

schools should be considered appropriate sites for the availability of condoms, because they contain large adolescent populations and may potentially provide a comprehensive array of related educational and health care resources.”

Not everyone agrees. Valerie Huber, the executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association believes that making condoms available sends a mixed message and “further normalizes teen sex.”  Perhaps more telling though is that the company that is supplying the condoms at Bed-Stuy Prep’s prom, NV-Healthcare, a year-old company that makes Nu-Vo condoms, made the offer —which included a safer sex assembly before the prom—to many other schools and had no other takers. 

Take Away Messages from MTV’s Teen Pregnancy Shows May All be in the Eyes of the Viewer

There has been some debate about MTV’s popular shows 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom. Though the producers insist the shows were created, at least in part, as extended public service announcements about how hard it is to be a parent as a teenager its subjects have become stars who are not only seen on TV but grace the covers as gossip magazines as well. Critics have argued that this glamorizes teen pregnancy. As the author of a new study about the shows explains:

“On one hand, the programs do show many of the difficulties teen mothers face. But on the other hand, they sometimes seem to send the message that getting pregnant was all for the best.”  

His study found that which side of this argument one falls on seems to be based on the messages about sex that viewers heard in their own home. 

For this study, researchers surveyed 313 female undergraduates at two universities in the southwestern United States. The study focused on their attitudes about the show, their own sexual behavior, as well as their communication with their parents about sex when they were growing up. It found that: “frequent viewers of the programs whose fathers often communicated about sex with them while they were growing up were the least likely to have recently had sex.” In contrast, frequent viewers whose fathers rarely communicated about sex were the most likely to have recently had sex.

The study also proved its hypothesis that family background determines whether students focused on the positives or negatives portrayed in these shows. The study’s lead author explains that fathers who talk to their daughters tend to emphasize the consequences and those young women who grew up with these messages “should be especially likely to attend to the negatives of being a young mother depicted on 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom.”

Of course, the study didn’t look at my particular pet peeve with the programs which is that they allow the subjects to insist that their birth control (usually condoms) failed rather than pushing them to admit that they weren’t using any or using it right. An admission that could serve as a public service announcement to viewers about the importance of correct and consistent use of contraception.  

Tipper Gore was Right; Study Links Loud Music to Other Risky Behavior

A new study out of the Netherlands found that kids who listen to loud music are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as smoking pot and cigarettes, binge drinking, and having sex without condoms. When I read of this study I couldn’t help but imagine a curmudgeonly old man with a heavy Brooklyn-Jewish accent saying “Kids today with their long hair and loud music, they’re punks, punks I tells you.” But there is some public health value in the research which found links but does not suggest causality. 

Researchers surveyed 944 low-income students ages 15 to 25 at two vocational schools in the Netherlands. They defined students who demonstrated risky music-listening as those who listened  “to music at 89 dBA for at least an hour per day.” Previous research has linked this kind of music listening not only to noise-induced hearing loss but also to “increased feelings of isolation, depression, loneliness, anger, and fear.” In this study researchers compared young adults with risky music-listening habits to those who “listened to music responsibly.” They found that those who frequently listen to loud music through ear-buds on a digital music player were:

  • 1.99 times more likely to say they had used marijuana in the last four weeks;
  • 1.19 times more likely to smoke cigarettes daily; and
  • 1.10 times more likely to have sex without using a condom every time.

In addition, they compared students who attended noisy concerts and clubs to those who listened to music more responsibly and found that they were

  • 5.94 times more likely to have consumed five or more alcoholic drinks in a row at some point in the last four weeks;
  • 2.03 times more likely to have sex without using a condom every time; and
  • 1.12 times more likely to smoke cigarettes every day.

Before we dismiss this as adults just not understanding the lives of today’s teens, the researchers were quick to point out that they weren’t suggesting that loud music was a gateway to these other behaviors or blaming it for causing these behaviors. Moreover, they noted some practical uses for this information suggesting public health experts could use it to “design practical interventions, such as handing out condoms along with earplugs at concert venues, or by printing messages about alcohol abuse on concert ticket stubs.”  Finally, they suggest that this data can be used by manufacturers to create digital music players that produce high quality sound at lower dBA levels. 

Roundup: Follow Up Friday – More on Carhart, Twitter, and The E-Book

Robin Marty

Here's a quick roundup with some additional news for stories we reported on earlier this week.

The anti-choice activists in Iowa are preparing to try and push for new, tighter restrictions after news that Dr. Leroy Carhart plans to open a clinic in Council Bluffs

Via the Des Moines Register:

Iowa abortion opponents say they will work to block a Nebraska abortion provider from opening a clinic in Council Bluffs.

Dr. LeRoy Carhart has been the center of controversy for years because he performs late-term abortions. This week, he told reporters that he intends to open clinics in Council Bluffs, Indianapolis and the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

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Nebraska has a new law banning abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Iowa law allows abortions after the second trimester if a doctor believes the procedure is needed to “preserve the life or health” of the woman.


“Obviously, Carhart sees that as a big loophole or he wouldn’t be planning to come here,” said Jenifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life.

Bowen and other abortion opponents say they will renew their push for tighter Iowa restrictions on late-term abortions. They note that Iowans voted last week to add more anti-abortion politicians to the Statehouse. Those include former Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican who was elected to resume his leadership of the state.

Current Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, supports abortion rights, as did his predecessor, Democrat Tom Vilsack.

“We have a real opportunity this session, as opposed to past years,” said Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for Life.

Also of note in the article is that Carhart says he is not actually closing his Bellevue clinic, but is simply opening new clinics because of the likelihood of a prolonged battle over the constitutionality of Nebraska’s “Fetal Pain” bill.

The conservatives are still reacting to the “#ihadanabortion” twitter thread, now lamenting the fact that no one appreciates the women who regret having one.

Many women have come to regret their abortion, a fact that even the Supreme Court has acknowledged. Why is it that the pro-abortion groups that claim to be the voice of the women in America and say “listen to the voices of women” won’t acknowledge the voices of the women from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign? Those groups would like the Silent No More women to remain silent about their regret, but these women want to reach out to those considering abortion and say, “Listen to our stories.”

Experience trumps rhetoric. So many who now regret their abortion were once saying the same thing as the women who are tweeting that their abortion was a good decision. Eventually, one’s true feelings surface. Abortion is not an empowering decision for women. It causes the death of their child and – like it or not – a part of them also dies.

So there you go — if you don’t regret it, you will, someday.  You just haven’t thought about it enough, apparently.

Finally, Amazon did in fact pull the controversial e-book that was being called a “manual” for pedophilia, and the author is now under police protection.  According to a local NBC News station:

Police are aware of at least one threat against Phillip R. Greaves II that was posted on-line after the story about his book aired Wednesday.

The book, called “The Pedophile’s Guide To Love And Pleasure”, drew national attention– and outrage.

It was being sold on Amazon. But Amazon bowed to the pressure by people pushing for a boycott for distributing it.

The book had more than 2,000 “reviews,” virtually all of them negative.
There was also a Facebook page: “Boycott for Selling How-To Guide for Pedophile.” More than 2,200 people say they like that idea.

Amazon initially defended its sale of the book because it “believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable.”

Greaves says the response to his book is a “knee-jerk reaction” to its title by people who have not read it. But also says he’s learned controversy sells books: prior to Wednesday, he’d sold one copy. After the story hit national news, CBS News reported he sold more than 3,000.

Greaves has now become the target of multiple threats online, according to the news report.

Mini-Roundup:  Daddy I Do” gets pulled from the filmmaker’s local theater, and “For Colored Girls” seems to be the movie least appropriate for those under 18 according to this reviewer, who appears to base that fact on the “explicit implications” of an abortion scene.

November 11, 2010