File Under: Research methods 101 > Survey Construction > Question wording
Constructing a survey on support for the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"? Keep this in mind: Democrats in particular are much more likely to support letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the military than they are to support letting homosexuals serve openly.
Dalia Sussman, writing for The Caucus (the politics and government blog of the New York Times) describes a New York Times/CBS News poll which found that 60% of respondents who were asked whether gays and lesbians should be able to serve openly in the military said yes. On the other hand, only 44% of those asked whether homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly agreed that they should. And Sussman says that political orientation mattered a great deal:
Several months ago I tweeted about things being very busy and very exciting and about some new projects in the works. Now I can tell you about some of that, and, even better, ask you to participate!
The first exciting bit of news is that I joined the Woodhull Freedom Foundation's advisory council over the summer. Woodhull Freedom Foundation is perhaps the only organization I can think of whose mission involves recognizing sexual freedom in its entirety as a fundamental human right. There are lots of amazing organizations that focus on expanding sexual civil rights in one or another direction, or for one or another population. Woodhull's approach is to move beyond identity politics and establish sexual freedom itself as a right. I'm tremendously excited to be working with them!
The second exciting bit of news relates to the first project I was asked to work on. That project is a the first annual report on the state of sexual freedom in the United States. The idea, in the words of Ricci Levy, Woodhull's Executive Director, is to:
publish regular reports on the sexual freedom movement, designed to help identify the social changes taking place, or that must take place for progress to be made, on the diverse issues on which we work. We are particularly interested in recognizing opportunities for already-established sexual freedom issue groups to work together.
It's very important work for reasons that go beyond the annual report, as well. Gloria Brame took the survey in an early stage, provided feedback, and encouraged her readers to take it by explaining:
The survey was very interesting because it made me re-think and prioritize freedoms -- relatively speaking, how important is sex ed? how important is birth control? what about censorship and sexual freedom of speech? or should we all be focused on equality rights for now?
That's really the point. We need to be thinking in creative ways about what are the most important issues and about how they fit together. Please help us do that. We want to know what are the most important changes you think need to occur in order to make sure that sexual freedom is established as a fundamental human right? What are your priorities? What paths toward change do you think are most effective? And what intersections do you see between your priorities and all the other sexual freedom issues that need to be addressed?
Click here to access a relatively short questionnaire and tell us what you think. If you include an email address we will forward you a copy of the report just before it is publicly released.
Margaret Brooks and Donna Hughes of Citizens Against Trafficking (CAT) criticise our lettter to the Rhode Island legislature of July 31st raising concerns about proposed criminalisation of sex work. . In their article "International Sex Radicals Campaign to Keep Prostitution Decriminalized in Rhode Island" they claim the presence of an international conspiracy.
We have previously written about the need for the sex work research community to influence the overall research agenda to ensure that resources are directed to research that is responsible, responsive to need and that informs public and social policy.
"In this present economy, the taxpayers’ dollars are being used by the Board of Regents to inform students about such social topics. … I believe the timing is perfect to eliminate positions of professors and staff who are paid to provide such services.”
Those are the words of Charlice Byrd, a Republican representing Woodstock in Georgia's House of Representatives. She is quoted in a an article in Sunday's Atlanta Journal Constitution and she is not alone. Her colleague Calvin Hill (R-Canton) is "deeply disturbed" by the fact that the University system has experts on male prostitution and on oral sex.
You would think that these representatives and their Christian Coalition supporters (Jim Beck, president of the GA Christian Coalition reportedly wants legislative hearings on the issue) believe that researchers are offering courses in how to become a prostitute or how to perform oral sex.
We are talking about researchers whose research on sex-related topics provides the evidence needed to make smart policy on public health issues. These are exactly the kinds of people states need more of. And the state gets access to highly skilled researchers generally through their work in colleges and universities.
Teens are not having more sex, nor are they having it earlier
The moral panic around teens and sex is uncalled for according to a story in today's New York Times. It is almost as newsworthy that the story, titled "The Myth Of Rampant Teen Promiscuity," by Tara Parker-Pope made it to the Times. Of course it wasn't front page news, but still. Here's what the article has to say:
"Today, fewer than half of all high school students have had sex: 47.8 percent as of 2007, according to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, down from 54.1 percent in 1991.
A less recent report suggests that teenagers are also waiting longer to have sex than they did in the past. A 2002 report from the Department of Health and Human Services found that 30 percent of 15- to 17-year-old girls had experienced sex, down from 38 percent in 1995. During the same period, the percentage of sexually experienced boys in that age group dropped to 31 percent from 43 percent.
The rates also went down among younger teenagers. In 1995, about 20 percent said they had had sex before age 15, but by 2002 those numbers had dropped to 13 percent of girls and 15 percent of boys."
(This doesn't mean there's nothing to worry about. There was an increase in teen pregnancy for the first time in more than a decade, which may mean that while teens are having less sex overall, some teens are having more and are not using contraception as often. ) Click here to read more
Thanks to Viviane for alerting me to a NYT article I'd missed on Tuesday. It announces the release of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force's Final Report to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States.
The task force was made of up of Internet service providers, social networking companies, academics, non-profit child and family safety advocate organizations and was formed in response to a call from state attorney generals for research and policy direction that would help keep kids safer online.
Interestingly the report finds that the greatest threats to kids come from their own peers and that the threat of sexual solicitation by adults, while worrisome and to be taken seriously, is not as great as one would guess based on the media fear-mongering of shows like "To Catch A Predator."
Here are some excerpts from the report's Executive Summary (PDF) :
A lot's gone down in the last year with Sex in the Public Square; I think that Elizabeth and I have accomplished even more than we originally expected to here so far with projects like the sex work forum, and the networking that we've done with people in the real world and all the discussion of news items. Looking at the site as a whole, I'm not only proud of what we've done, but outright amazed.
And there's still so much more that we can do. Recently, we came up with an idea to take us even further: a sex-positive wiki.
One of the things that made this seem like such a good idea to me was the surge of media coverage in the wake of the Spitzer scandal, and especially the Diane Sawyer 20/20 special, which repeatedly seemed to make a deliberate effort to snatch bullshit from the maw of truth.
...working for minimum wage? (And other problems of logic and evidence)
So according to Nicholas Kristof's op-ed today, Eliot Spitzer recently encouraged him to write a book about Spitzer's anti-sex-trafficking work. Perhaps he will. He certainly seems to buy the assumption that tightening penalties for johns will somehow help women who are victimized while working as prostitutes. Actually just the opposite is likely.