The annual Sexual Intelligence Awards honor individuals and organizations who challenge the sexual fear, unrealistic expectations, and government hypocrisy that undermine love, sex, and relationships—and political freedom—today.
Previous winners include Catholics for a Free Choice; Candye Kane, Red Hot Musician; Robert McGinley, Non-monogamy Activist; and National Center for Reason & Justice. This year’s winners are:
Melissa Fritchle, International Sex Educator
The first miracle was that she was invited to Uganda. The second is that she went. The third is that she made a difference.
There’s an obvious danger to being a sex educator in Uganda. This is the country proposing life in prison for “homosexual acts.” Even counseling a client or family member committing such “crimes” is punishable with jail time. This is the context in which gay rights activist David Kato was recently beaten to death after a newspaper published his photo and home address under a banner reading “hang them.”
A California Marriage & Family Therapist, Melissa shrugged off the terror campaign to create Uganda’s first human sexuality curriculum for professionals. Her students included parts of the country’s bureaucratic infrastructure: HIV/AIDs counselors, military officers, priests, nuns, and school administrators. Never apologetic, Melissa’s approach began with “what does sex have to do with our work?” It concluded with people talking about how to bring new levels of positive sexual awareness to their communities.
As a bonus, Melissa had to deal with local anger at the West’s perceived sexual immorality, fueled by America’s wealthy puritanical Evangelical movement. In a loving conclusion to her work in Uganda, Melissa gifted two university libraries with sex-positive books and media—the only such materials in the country.
Doug Braun-Harvey, Drug/Alcohol Treatment Pioneer
The drug and alcohol treatment field has always avoided sex as much as possible—except to describe it as a danger to sobriety. Discussions of sex have typically focused on abuse, affairs, and impulsivity; pleasure was a foreign concept, a siren call of no value to recovering addicts. The result has been a self-fulfilling prophesy: unprepared to deal with sexuality without drugs or alcohol, sex has been the focus of a lot of relapse and self-destructive behavior for people in recovery.
Doug is changing that.
For 10 years he has been integrating sexual health approaches with drug and alcohol treatment. His collaboration in a three-year, half-million dollar study funded by the California Endowment led to his two books: “Sexual Health in Recovery: Professional Counselor’s Manual (2011), and “Sexual Health in Drug and Alcohol Treatment: Group Facilitator’s Manual” (2009).
Books and seminars like these bring solid thinking to the obvious but previously ignored needs of men and women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Doug has spoken the unspeakable: not only do those in recovery need to get more comfort and skill in dealing with sexuality, so do professionals who treat them. He’s just the one to provide the comfort and skills–and to change the field’s prejudices and philosophy.
Valda Ford, Community Health Activist
Nebraska is the state in which the government’s health website deleted “erection problems” as a marker for diabetes–too controversial. This is the state whose capitol responded to an epidemic of gonorrhea by doubling funding for abstinence-only training. This is the state in which Medicaid deleted its single question about family planning services from their intake form as “unnecessary.”
Into this environment walks Valda Ford, a valiant warrior in inner city Omaha. Chosen to head the county STD Initative because of her skills in nursing and community health, she tirelessly worked public events and gatherings of young people. Offering on-the-spot testing and education, and a message of dignity and self-empowerment, her efforts were bearing fruit—when the county pulled her funding.
Now here’s passion: despite losing the funding, Valda continues this work as a volunteer. Additionally, she was the lead witness in the state legislature hearing on comprehensive sex ed bill for children K-12—and she wowed ‘em.
Paul Federoff, Forensic Psychiatrist
Dr. Paul Federoff is Director of Forensic Research for the Institute of Mental Health Research, and Director of the Royal Ottawa Sexual Behaviours Clinic, which has treated over 3,000 sex offenders since 1983.
For 25 years, the psychiatrist has challenged the popular belief that sex offenders are untreatable. He’s done that by treating them successfully. In the past 10 years there have been no hands-on sex offenses committed by anyone in his program. He has also researched other treatment programs. He concludes that fewer than 15% of sex offenders re-offend—information the government and popular press refuse to accept or popularize.
Paul argues that the problem for most sex offenders and potential sex offenders is not “sex” but rather but a failure to develop pro-social, consensual sexual relationships. So he runs both social skills groups and relapse prevention groups for offenders, as well as group therapy for spouses of offenders, and marital therapy for couples who want to remain together.
In a world in which many people want to prevent sex offenders from ever living normal lives, Paul stands out as a clinician and scientist successful at both healing offenders and protecting society.
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