#MeToo Movement & the News - Dr. Melanie Brewster

“There’s something about the familiarity of news anchors that makes this latest case of sexual harassment feel even more painful,” Melanie Brewster, an associate professor of psychology at Teachers College at Columbia University and co-founder of the “Sexuality, Women and Gender Project” there, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Matt Lauer was someone who was a daily guest in people’s homes, while they were getting ready for work or eating breakfast, and supposed to be a trustworthy and wholesome figure. We are living in a jaded age where, as women, we almost anticipate or expect that male politicians or Hollywood types will be skeezy, but admitting to ourselves that this isn’t just an issue for ‘some men in some fields,’ but men everywhere, across all walks of life, is disheartening. Perhaps this is the reckoning that will lead to women finally being believed and heard.”

Read the full piece here.

Sex Ed: Lessons from the Frontline - Panel Discussion - RSVP NOW!

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Open to the Public

RSVP Now with Eventbrite!

Learn more: https://sex-ed.tc.columbia.edu/

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The following sex education leaders will be featured on the panel:

Brittany Brathwaite (reproductive justice activist | KIMBRITIVE)
Brittany Brathwaite is a reproductive justice activist, community accountable scholar, and justice designer with a deep-seated commitment for supporting the leadership, organizing, and health of girls of color. Brittany has worked to create change through sexual health education, advocacy, policy and research. Brittany is the co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at KIMBRITIVE, a social start-up unapologetically working to educate and empower communities about sexual health, reproductive justice and everything in between. Brittany holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from Syracuse University and a Master of Public Health and Master of Social Work from Columbia University. When she’s not attempting to save the world, you can catch on her co- curating a feminist gift box inspired by women of color, The Homegirl Box. 

Kurt Conklin (sexuality education trainer)
Kurt Conklin, MPH, MCHES began his career at Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania. Later, as Director of Programs at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) he trained school personnel in places as diverse as Mississippi, California, North Dakota, the District of Columbia, and New York City. He is a contributor to the national Teacher Preparation Standards for Sexuality Education, and continues to train teachers to use the National Sexuality Education Standards. He is currently on the faculty of the Montclair State University Department of Public Health. His 2013 research article “’We Can’t Let Chicago Outdo Us, Can We?’ Sex Education and Desegregation in New York City's Public Schools” appeared in the journal History of Education Quarterly.

Lindsay Fram (Children's Aid)
Lindsay Fram currently serves as the Director of Capacity Building for the Children’s Aid Adolescence Division. She has an MPH from Tulane University and served two years in the Peace Corps in Guatemala working with schools on HIV education and prevention. Lindsay then spent several years teaching sexuality education as part of the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (Carrera Program) and then went on to developed a middle school sexuality education curriculum for the Carrera Program titled Above the Waist: Sexuality Education Beginning with the Brain. Lindsay also works as an independent consultant training teachers and parent groups who want to increase their capacity to talk to young people about sex and sexuality. 

Emily Kadar (National Institute for Reproductive Health)
Emily Kadar is the Government Affairs and Advocacy Manager at the National Institute for Reproductive Health and the NIRH Action Fund. In that role, she lobbies for proactive policies that fortify access to abortion, contraception, and sexuality education in New York State and City and manages the organization's electoral activity. She also serves as co-chair of the Sexuality Education Alliance of New York City (SEANYC), a broad coalition that advocates for comprehensive, K-12 sex ed that meets the National Sexuality Education Standards for all New York City youth.

Lindsey Harr (New York City Department of Education)
Lindsey Harr is Executive Director for the Office of School Wellness Programs at the NYC Department of Education. She leads her team in promoting comprehensive health education as essential to student well-being and achievement. This work encompasses advising on systemwide policies, like the sexual health education mandate and the high school condom demonstration policy, as well as developing and implementing school-level efforts to strengthen sex ed. Through free trainings and curriculum, CDC-funded initiatives, the high school Condom Availability Program, and teacher mentoring, Lindsey and her team collaborate with educators and partners citywide to improve student access to quality, inclusive sexual health education. 

Wazina Zondon (sexuality educator and trainer)
Wazina, enters her fourteenth year in the field of holistic sexuality, beginning as a sexuality educator at Planned Parenthood traveling throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley region from high schools to prisons. She spent three years focusing on promoting and training on LGBTQ best practices for with the Empire State Pride Agenda and GLSEN; she returned to the classroom full-time in 2010. Inside and outside of the classroom, Wazina offers expertise on addressing the intersections of homophobia and islamophobia, often traveling as part of Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love, a storytelling performance. Currently she is part of the founding team at the Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA), an all-girl STEAM high school in BedStuy. 

Learn more about our Teacher Training Program, please visit: https://sex-ed.tc.columbia.edu/

For a link to the FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/132071334104176/

To register on the Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sex-ed-lessons-from-the-frontlines-tickets-36676699997 

Hope to see you on December 4th! 

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Female Stereotypes & the Airline Industry - Dr. Melanie Brewster

Melanie Brewster, an assistant professor of psychology and the co-founder of the Sexuality, Women, & Gender Project at Columbia University in New York City, tells Yahoo Beauty that Poole is far from alone in being a woman met with disbelief about her own medical condition. The way in which women aren’t taken seriously in medical contexts is well-documented: Studies have found that women are forced to wait longer to receive pain medicine in hospital settings than men, that extreme menstrual pain described by women to their physicians is frequently dismissed, that women receive less aggressive treatment for heart attacks when admitted to hospitals than men, and that the default in clinical trials for pharmaceuticals is male patients. The sociocultural phenomenon of not trusting women about their own health has made women skeptical of medicine itself, too, further reinforcing a dangerous cycle that leaves women’s concerns about their health ignored.

And Brewster says that she thinks women’s sexuality plays a central role in this problem.

“In psychology we have a framework called Objectification Theory which explains that women are sexualized to such a point that their worth and value is entirely dictated by their outward appearance,” Brewster says. “Women who are in historically sexualized occupations (i.e., flight attendants, hostesses, waitresses, fashion models) are some of the easiest to objectify because their jobs put them on display for consumption.

“And, of course, objects don’t complain; the purpose of an object is to please,” Brewster continues. “This is why men just don’t buy women’s pain; it is repeatedly minimized or dismissed as hysteria or disproportionate whining because it is incongruent with women being happy rays of sunshine, easy to look at and nondisruptive.”

Brewster adds that because of this, for someone like Poole to claim that her own health isn’t being believed is not totally dissimilar to the way in which survivors of sexual assault routinely meet skepticism. These survivors, she says, are too often viewed “as objects” — and as such, “they don’t have power over their own narrative. Men still hold that power.”  

Furthermore, Brewster says, there is something about uniforms in general that helps to invalidate women’s pain. The allegations about the American Airlines uniforms, she says, reflect “a long history of women having to ‘suck up’ pain and discomfort in order to adhere to unrealistic cultural beauty norms.”

For further proof, she says one need look no further than the fact that until very recently (and even today for some airlines), flight attendants were required to wear high heels during their in-flight shifts, despite the known health risks associated with this kind of footwear. This is why Canada went so far as to make it illegal to require the wearing of high heels at work. High heels can cause muscle degradation and hip problems when worn over long stretches of time.

And in many professions where a uniform is required, as is the case for the iflight crews of commercial airlines, these clothing choices reflect a “tacit expectation … [that the female employee] either look ‘sexy’ at work, or find another job.”


Read the full story here.

Calling all health/sex ed teachers!

The Reproductive Health/ Well-being Lab at the Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project at TC is seeking NYC educators to participate in a short online survey about teaching sexual health education. We are passionate about arming teachers with the tools they need in order to ensure all students receive the quality, comprehensive and medically accurate sex education they so deserve. This study will lead to a better understanding of the current state of sex education in NYC and indicate possible areas of development for teacher training. Participation in this survey is voluntary, and one may withdraw from this study at any time without any penalty. No identifying information will be requested of participants.

If you do not teach health/sex education, please help spread the word! We would greatly appreciate any effort (facebook, twitter, linkedin, email listservs) to get our survey out to as many NYC health teachers as possible!

The survey can be accessed here: https://goo.gl/au4dop  

Understanding Roadblocks to Providing Comprehensive Sex Education

Faced by Middle and High School Teachers in New York City

Dear Educator,

We invite you to take a brief online survey for a DOE-approved study that aims to identify the needs of New York City educators who teach about sexual health.

I am writing to you on behalf of the Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project of Teachers College, Columbia University. The current study will provide information about sexual health education to better understand the factors influencing teacher effectiveness in this area.

The link to the online survey is below. It will take approximately 15 to 25 minute to complete, and will ask about attitudes and beliefs regarding teaching about sexual health. Participation is voluntary. Participants may decline to answer any questions presented during the survey. Furthermore, one may decide to withdraw from this study at any time. No identifying information will be requested of participants. Responses will be stored on an encrypted server that is password protected. I assure you that this study has been reviewed and approved by the Institutional Research Ethics Review Board (IRB) at Teachers College, Columbia University as well as the NYC Department of Education IRB Board.

If you would like to participate, here is a link to the survey: https://goo.gl/au4dop

If you do not teach about sexual health in New York City but know of anyone who does, I would greatly appreciate it if you could forward this e-mail on our behalf.

If you have any questions about this study, I can be reached at brewster@tc.columbia.edu. For concerns resulting from your participation in this study, please contact the Institutional Review Board of Teachers College, Columbia University (irb@tc.edu).

Thank you for your assistance in this project.

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Exploring Gender and Sexuality in Everyday Curricular Practices

C&T 5563

Tuesdays 5:10-6:50pm

Nancy Lesko






Queer of Color Critique and Education Praxis
Teachers College: Summer Session B
C&T 5199 Tuesday and Thursday
4:40pm - 6:45pm

*These courses will count towards your elective credits in the SWG Certificate Program


Recruiting Laboratory Volunteers and Coordinator!

Laboratory on Sexual/Reproductive Well- Being

  • Sexuality, Women, & Gender Project
  • Dept of Counseling & Clinical Psychology
  • Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Directors: Aurelie Athan, Ph.D; Melanie Brewster, Ph.D., Riddhi Sandil, Ph.D.


ORIENTATION MEETING: 9/21, 328HM, 2:30-3:30

Description of Research:

The Sexual/Reproductive Well-Being Laboratory will be studying the topic of young adult pregnancy and health education programming. The primary goal is to improve the quality of sexuality/reproductive literacy education. It will review existing programs, survey health educators, and develop a cutting-edge teacher development training platform at TC to disseminate well-validated concepts, topics, and messages that ideally make up a comprehensive and holistic sexuality/reproductive curriculum.

Laboratory Meetings:

Wednesdays weekly: 2:30-4pm.

Orientation meeting: 9/21/16 - 328 HM Conference Room - Orientation, Recruitment/Selection

Please bring copy of your resume and brief paragraph of interest and also email to swgproject@tc.columbia.edu.

Volunteer Research Assistants:

We welcome research assistants to support the various laboratory needs including: literature reviews, survey development, participant recruitment, data analysis, etc. Requirements:

  • Weekly lab attendance + 6-8 hours/week independent work.

  • Interest in issues related to young adulthood/adolescence/emerging adulthood, sex/health education, reproduction & parenting.

  • Priority will be given to students who have demonstrated competency in courses taught by the directors.

  • Knowledge of research databases, and general research skills (e.g. literature searches, data management).

Laboratory Coordinator:

In addition to volunteer research assistants we will be interviewing and hiring a laboratory coordinator. Please attend Orientation Meeting (9/21/16 - 328 HM Conference Room - 2:30-3:30pm). Requirements:

  • 20 hours per week

  • Leadership experience managing projects.

  • Confirmed commitment to this topic as supported by current academic interests and or previous experience.

  • Please bring copy of your resume and cover letter of interest to first meeting and also email to swgproject@tc.columbia.edu. Interviews will be conducted and completed by 9/30.

Ruth Lubic & Call the Midwife

TC's very own Pioneer of Midwifery, Dr. Ruth Lubic

Ruth Lubic

Ruth Lubic

In this month's issue of The New Yorker, the "sneaky radicalism of 'Call the Midwife'" is featured by Emily Nussbaum. Dr. Ruth Lubic of Teachers College pointed us to the article while also highlighting the impact of Public Health Nursing home visits as well clinic appointments. Her own early "eye-opening" experiences during home visits led her to supplement her nurse-midwifery education  at Kings County Hospital with anthropology at TC. She went on to found the Maternity Center Association's Childbearing Center, for which she received a MacArthur "genius" award and to co-found the National Association of Birth Centers which has inspired the creation of more than 325 free-standing birth centers in the United States. Dr. Lubic, a "living legend" according to the American Academy of Nursing, most recently created an endowed scholarship to support TC students in Applied Anthropology, with a preference given to registered nurses or other health care professionals.

To learn more about this mother of the American midwifery movement, read the full TC Today article here.

SWG Project and MOM (Museum of Motherhood) was honored to induct Dr. Lubic into the Motherhood Hall of Fame this Spring.

Image curtousy of The New Yorker

Image curtousy of The New Yorker

Taking Motherhood Seriously - TC Today Magazine

Telling “the biggest story never told” 

Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Dr. Aurélie Athan was featured in the Spring-Summer 2016 issue of TC Today's Alumni magazine as part of it's Early Risers in the field of Psychology.

"The act of parenting changes you. In a world of competition, parenting sometimes teaches us collaboration. In a world of violence, we know our kids respond better to understanding. In a world of distraction, parenthood demands our presence."

To read the full article in pdf, click here. Access her publications here. Visit the Maternal Psychology laboratory here.

OutRight Action International Impacting Lives Globally

Jessica Stern serves as the Executive Director for OutRight Action International, the oldest U.S-based organization focused on LGBTIQ rights internationally (formerly the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission or IGLHRC). OutRight implements a model of change that includes activism, training, and documentation. Working in six regions including Latin America, Asia, North America, Africa, Middle East and North Africa, and Europe and Central Asia, their work continues to provide a voice for the silenced.

Jessica Stern: Executive Director for OutRight Action International

Jessica Stern: Executive Director for OutRight Action International

 While her 12 hour days can become draining she has been able to make tremendous impacts nationally and globally. Previously through her work with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch she investigated advocacy efforts in Iran, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa and United Arab Emirates.  To date, one of her biggest accomplishments at OutRight was publishing a graphic novel titled Yousef and Farhad depicting the struggles for LGBTIQ Iranians.

            While much of Sterns position requires copious amounts of traveling, she still finds time to teach a course titled LGBT Rights Internationally: Contemporary Issues and Fundamental Principles in the school of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. This spring course is one of very few at Columbia addressing the importance of LGBTQI rights internationally.

            With many activists there are several goals they have in mind. Going forward Stern hopes to see gender identity fully accepted, the elimination of intersex surgeries without consent, the decriminalization of sodomy, and no laws against sex workers. As with any non-profit organization, there is a constant struggle for resources. If you are personally moved by the phenomenal work of Jessica Stern and the OutRight Action International Organization, please donate here!

Written by: Kenya Crawford

SWG Internship Opening!

Internship Descriptions

Applications Due for Fall 2016 Term: August 1st, 2016

Outreach Intern


Responsibilities include but not limited:

  • Contacting organizations, programs, and universities to further promote the SWG certificate program at Teachers College
  • Creating and maintaining list of organizations with similar missions to SWG, and further our contacts
  • Assisting the SWG staff on related tasks and are expected to attend bi-weekly meetings with the full SWG staff and attend at least half of SWG sponsored events
  • Weekly commitment between 5-10 hours (flexible depending on program need )

Public Relations/Social Media Intern:

Responsibilities include but not limited to

  • Updating social media sites (Facebook/daily, Twitter/daily, LinkedIn/weekly), enhancing SWG presence on social media, writing blogs related to SWG, and promoting events and similar events through our social media platforms
  • Promoting SWG certificate through social media (Hootsuite and MailChimp experience is plus)
  • Interns are expected to attend bi-weekly meetings with the full SWG staff and attend at least half of SWG sponsored events.
  • Weekly commitment between 5-10 hours (flexible depending on program need)

Fundraising/Grant Writing Intern

Responsibilities include but not limited

  • Searching for grants, funding opportunities and creating and maintaining its database
  • Proposing fundraising events, and finding potential scholarships for SWG projects and students (strong communication skill is plus)
  • *Experience with fundraising or grant writing highly preferred
  • Interns are expected to attend bi-weekly meetings with the full SWG staff and attend at least half of SWG sponsored events
  • Weekly commitment between 5-10 hours (flexible depending on program need)

Graphic Design Intern

Responsibilities include but not limited

  • Producing creative and eye-catching flyers for SWG events assisting in the maintenance of the SWG website (Interest in SWG not required but preferred)
  • Working with Adobe, Excel, MailChimp, and/or graphic design programs (i.e., Photoshop) programs
  • Interns are expected to attend bi-weekly meetings with the full SWG staff and attend at least half of SWG sponsored events
  • Weekly commitment between 5-10 hours (flexible depending on program need)

*All interns are required to attend bi-weekly meeting with the SWG staff and attend at least half of SWG sponsored and co-sponsored events.

*All interns are expected to work between 5-10 hours per week.

*All internships are unpaid