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Sex, Drugs, and Teens
P ublic policies relating to things like sex, drugs, crime, and death are often lumped together under the term “morality politics.” To enter the realm of morality politics, an issue must touch on controversial questions of basic principles and involve conflicts over deeply-held beliefs about what is “right” and what is “wrong.” Therefore, in the world of morality politics, issues are always simple. Politicians love issues that appear clear and simple, since that allows them to propose clear and simple “solutions.”
The problem is, life is not simple and that presents a problem when attempting to make policy based on someone’s “morality.” The fantasy that public policy can force everyone to make certain simple choices based on a universal morality is not only dangerous, but doomed to failure. The tragic failures of abstinence only sex education and “Just Say No” drug education illustrate how dangerous and misguided can be the attempts to legislate “morality.” But it’s not enough to focus on why such policies do not and cannot be successful on the terms upon which they have been sold to the U.S. public. More important is to see on what terms they can be predicted to be successful.
T he year 1981 saw the passage of a bill promoting a new approach to teen pregnancy—one emphasizing “morality” and “family involvement.” The bill was AFLA—the Adolescent Family Life Act—and its stated purpose was “to promote self-discipline and other prudent approaches to the problem of adolescent premarital sexual relations.” It soon came to be known as “the chastity bill.”
The 1996 welfare “reform” act signed by President Clinton also promoted the “chastity” idea by expanding the federal government’s role in funding so-called abstinence only sex education. The current Bush administration has framed the issue in stark terms, saying, “The sexual revolution that began in the 1960s has left two major problems in its wake. The first is...non-marital births [and]...the second is the explosion of sexually transmitted diseases that now pose a growing hazard to the Nation’s public health.... To address these problems, the goal of Federal policy should be to emphasize abstinence.”
The way the federal government “emphasizes” so-called abstinence is through the funding of sex education programs. There are three main programs that fund sex ed at the federal levels: (1) AFLA is still around and Bush has proposed $26 million to fund it in the coming budget; (2) Title V of the Social Security Act, which includes an Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage initiative, is currently receiving $50 million per year; and (3) the Special Projects of Regional and National Significance program—the most restrictive of all the programs—for which Bush has requested $186 million for fiscal year 2005. Since 1996, federal funding for abstinence only sex education has totaled nearly $1 billion.
In order to receive federal sex education dollars, school districts must adhere to programs that meet very specific criteria spelled out in federal law (specifically, Section 510 b of Title V of the Social Security Act, PL 104-193). The law spells out clearly, among other things, that “abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage” will be the “expected standard for all school-age children.” Yes, that’s right: all of them.
truth is, whether we like it or not, children are sexual beings
and many of them can and do act on their sexual feelings. The majority
of people have their first experiences with sex during their teen
years, or earlier. Judith Levine, in her book
Harmful to Minors:
The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex
says it plainly:
“Around the globe most people begin to engage in sexual intercourse
or its equivalent homosexual intimacies during their teen years.”
Various studies indicate that the United States is no different
from the rest of the planet in this regard.
In dealing with this reality, people tend to fall into one of two groups. One group believes that sexuality is a natural, normal, healthy part of life, and that children need accurate information about all aspects of sexuality in order to make decisions in line with their individual values and the values of their family and community. Surveys indicate that most people in the U.S.—perhaps 75 percent—are in this group.
The other group believes that sexual expression outside of marriage will have harmful social, psychological, and physical consequences, that abstinence from sexual intercourse before marriage is the only acceptable behavior, and that only one set of values (often based on a particular interpretation of the Christian bible) is morally correct for all students. Perhaps 15 percent of people in the U.S. fall into this group. These are the people who most ardently support abstinence only sex education as spelled out in the law.
Many in this second group attribute all behavior to an adherence to—or a failure to adhere to—the single set of moral values that they claim to “know” and stand for. These people are increasingly in charge of writing the laws so, despite the fact that most people in the country support a comprehensive approach to sex education that helps young people make good decisions, the law calls for an ever-greater share of public funding to go toward the restrictive abstinence only approach.
As communities call for reductions in sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), HIV/AIDS, and in the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions among the country’s young people, a large number of schools have implemented so-called abstinence only programs—programs that follow the federal rules. Are such programs effective in protecting our kids? It doesn’t look like it. Although it is hard to judge conclusively, since teen sexuality is a difficult thing to study (ask any parent), we do have quite a number of studies to go by, and the results are just about unanimous: abstinence only sex ed does not work, even on its own terms.
Most of the studies of abstinence only sex ed programs come to similar conclusions. A 2002 “meta-analysis” of numerous studies concluded that such programs had “a very small overall effect of the interventions in abstinent behavior.” The American Academy of Pediatrics said in August 2001, “Abstinence-only programs have not demonstrated successful outcomes with regard to delayed initiation of sexual activity or use of safer sex practices.” The Journal of Public Health Policy reported, “By 2002, the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control] had identified five ‘Programs That Work,’ curricula that have shown their effectiveness in reducing sexual risk behaviors. No abstinence only approach was found on this list of effective programs.” There are many, many more studies of this type.
There are numerous problems with the abstinence only approach, but part of the problem with the approach as it has been carried out in this country is that much of the “education” it presents is wrong, perhaps distorted by an urge to “scare” young people into following the rules. A recent report from the U.S. House of Representatives found that “over 80 percent of the abstinence-only curricula...contain false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health.”
In addition to generalized hysteria about teen sexuality, right-wing concerns about abortion and gender roles seem to contribute to the distortions found in abstinence only sex ed. One curriculum states that 5 to 10 percent of women who have legal abortions will become sterile; that “[p]remature birth, a major cause of mental retardation, is increased following the abortion of a first pregnancy”; and that “[t]ubal and cervical pregnancies are increased following abortions.” (In fact, these risks do not rise after the procedure used in most abortions in the United States.) Another curriculum teaches that women need “financial support,” while men need “admiration.” Yet another instructs: “Women gauge their happiness and judge their success on their relationships. Men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments.”
Fortunately, there are sex education programs that have proven effective in preventing unintended pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections among our youth, but none of them are of the abstinence only variety. The federal Centers for Disease Control and others have found that the sex education programs that work are comprehensive and “include information about abstinence and contraception within the context of sex education.”
Teen Drug Education: Just Say Know
T here are a number of abstinence-based drug education programs in use in U.S. schools, but by far the most widely-studied program is the program known as DARE, or Drug Abuse Resistance Education. The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles School District launched the DARE program in 1983. A sort of drug chastity effort, the program took its inspiration, in part, from the campaign initiated by Nancy Reagan that encouraged the nation’s youth to “Just Say No” to drugs. DARE preaches an abstinence only message, with program participants pledging to lead a “drug-free life.”
The elementary school DARE curriculum consists of 17 lessons taught by DARE-trained uniformed police officers, with the stated purpose of providing students with decision-making skills, showing them how to resist peer pressure, and teaching alternatives to illicit drug use and violence. DARE is administered in the fifth and sixth grade and short courses at lower grade levels and supplementary junior high school and high school programs are also available.
By classifying any and all drug use as “abuse,” and by presenting what some have called a “bizarre, brazenly exaggerated depiction of drug use,” the DARE program follows the tradition of using “scare tactics” to keep kids from trying drugs.
Andrew Weil, in his groundbreaking 1972 book The Natural Mind , tells us, “The use of drugs to alter consciousness is nothing new. It has been a feature of human life in all places on the earth and in all ages of history.” In the U.S., the most recent data show that 44 percent of 8th graders have used drugs, a number that grows to 77 percent by 12th grade. This includes alcohol, as should any honest reference to “drugs.” If we limit it to so-called “illegal” drugs, the experts say that 22 percent have used them by 8th grade and 51 percent by 12th grade.
So, the fact is that some kids use drugs. The question is, what do we do about it? As with sex education, the responses fall into one of two groups.
One group focuses on reducing the harm that often comes with drug abuse. This approach is often called a harm-reduction, or safety first approach. This group accepts that kids live “in a world in which drugs of all sorts are...widely abundant, legal and illegal, pharmaceutical as well as herbal,” and that they will make decisions about whether or not to use drugs in that context.
For the other group, the idea that there may be “non-dangerous” ways to use drugs is wrong. This group sees all drug use (except, in many cases, for their own use of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, etc.) as anti-social behavior that must be prevented. For people in this group, the decision to use drugs is a personal matter of “self-discipline” and a simple matter of personal “choice.” Here we get back to the “just say no” idea, which implies that the decision is a simple, either/or, yes/no decision to be made by each individual child. This group appears to believe—and to base its drug education policies on—four common myths:
- that experimentation with drugs is not a common part of teenage culture
- that drug use is the same as drug abuse
- that marijuana is the gateway to drugs such as heroin and cocaine
- that exaggerated risks (scare tactics) will deter young people from experimentation
Despite the fact that the ideology of abstinence only drug education is myth-based, a lot of money is spent on it. It’s hard to tell exactly how much money the U.S. spends on the DARE program specifically, because there is no centralized accounting of the funds, expenditures, and resources used to support the program.
Perhaps the best estimate comes from a 2001 paper called “The Economic Costs of DARE” by Edward M. Shepard. Shepard says that the U.S. spends roughly $1.04 to $1.34 billion per year on the program, or $175-270 per student each year. And, as Shepard tellingly puts it, “Some experts in drug education believe that DARE has negative effects on school children. This suggests that there may be additional costs associated with the DARE program which could not be considered in this paper.”
Since school-based drug prevention programs for adolescents, based on scare tactics, zero tolerance, and “Just Say No” have been in use since the 1960s, they have been studied extensively, in many different communities and demographic groups. At this point in history, it is safe to say that they—and specifically DARE, by far the most widely-used program of this type—do not work. That is, they do not reduce rates of drug abuse among our youth.
As the Drug Reform Coordination Network puts it, “Although many evaluations have been done, no scientific study has discovered any statistically significant difference in drug-usage rates between students who had taken DARE and those who had not.”
When it comes to reducing the harm done to kids by drugs, there are programs that work. They are the ones that go beyond “Just Say No” to the more complex and respectful “Just Say Know” that older kids need. What they need, in other words, is honest, accurate, and realistic information about drugs, minus the moralizing and fear-mongering that characterizes so much of what adults currently pass off on kids.
Despite the documented failure of these abstinence only policies, political leaders continue to push them, and they continue to appear to have fairly broad support, or at least to be widely used. Why?
There are three ways in which these “failed” policies are seen to be successful by their proponents:
- They allow many voters to shift responsibility for social problems onto “others”
- They act as powerful social controls
- They reinforce a certain moral system
The dominant culture in the United States emphasizes an ideal of “freedom” or “liberty” that is so extreme that it leaves out any notion of responsibility, a concept that is essential if we don’t want “freedom” to degenerate into unbounded license. In the world of George W. Bush and other promoters of abstinence-based “morality” policies, each individual is alone responsible for his or her decisions. Whatever problems an individual has, in this view, are the result of some sort of moral failing on the part of the individual, whether it be “bad decisions” or “lack of self-discipline” or “weakness” or something else.
And if an individual “fails” repeatedly, then it can be said that the individual is “bad”—that is, essentially bad, or evil—and there is no help for them. In this view, the only responsibility that the larger community—family, school, government—shoulders is the responsibility to tell people what is right and wrong and then to reward them if they do “right” and punish them if they do “wrong.” The fault and the responsibility for the transgression lies with that individual and that individual alone.
As Dana McGrath of George Washington University put it in a presentation at the International Women’s Policy Research Conference in June of 2003, “By constructing the problems that teen mothers, for example, face as the result of ‘bad choices’ rather than preexisting economic or cultural disparities, the government and the larger public can escape any responsibility for creating and perpetuating social inequalities.”
So the average citizen, and the average policy-maker, has an interest in framing social problems as personal moral failings. Then they can say, “It’s not my problem.” That’s an important part of why some of these failed “morality policies” continue to be popular. It’s easy for elected officials to create and maintain policies that absolve their constituents of any responsibility for social problems.
A t the heart of right-wing ideology is the idea that morality is absolute and that it can and should be articulated and enforced by some authority. And who is the “authority?” This is not a simple question, but let’s look at how it plays out in practice. In the case of the anti-drug DARE program, the “facts” presented about drugs are taught to children by uniformed police officers. The Family Council on Drug Awareness (not a supporter of the DARE Program) maintains that “DARE has a hidden agenda. DARE is more than just a thinly-veiled public relations device for the police department. It is a propaganda tool that indoctrinates children in the politics of the Drug War, and a hidden lobbying strategy to increase police budgets.”
They might be right. Certainly there are powerful political constituencies that support the idea of a militarized and repressive “war on drugs” and the large military and police budgets that necessarily go with that territory. It’s not uncommon, when looking at the research about DARE, to see that the arguments in favor of continuing the program are based more on how good it is for the police than how good it is for the kids.
A good example is a major study done a few years back by the Minnesota Prevention Resource Center (“Minnesota DARE Evaluated”). The study “affirmed DARE’s remarkable popularity and support in communities throughout the state.” But it found that support for the program is “not grounded in people’s belief that DARE is effective in preventing alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. Rather, support is based on the belief that the program’s impact can be seen in improved student perceptions of police, better police understanding of students and improved relationships between police and the community.”
Necessary for those “improved relationships” is a greater acceptance of a heavy police presence in the schools (and most other places). Consider, in this light, this point from an article posted on the official DARE website: “When not in a classroom teaching, each DARE officer is a roving, armed, uniformed, radio-equipped officer in the school. Given that many school population’s number in the thousands of students per school, schools are communities of their own. DARE officers protect those communities.” Or, one could say, they give certain influential people the feeling that something is being “protected” from somebody.
The Minnesota report tells us, “Some studies report that the symbolic value of police and school working together is a powerful affirmation of traditional values and an important aspect of the program.” Perhaps support for such “traditional values” explains the fact that “88 percent of...survey respondents agreed with the statement, ‘Even if there is no scientific evidence that DARE works, I would still support it.’” That’s a remarkable finding, as it indicates that the country’s largest “anti-drug” program may not be primarily about drugs at all.
In the case of DARE, the program fails on the grounds of reduction in drug abuse, yet it succeeds in reinforcing a particular form of social control that is based in coercive enforcement of the values of the largely white, largely christian population in this country, whose values we are to understand are “traditional values.”
Progressives tend to want to shape social policy in the service of getting certain results that can be measured or seen, such as a decline in rates of drug abuse, crime, or unwanted pregnancy. For right-wingers, such measurable results may or may not be important, but one thing that is important is that a policy reinforces their moral system.
For example, abstinence only sex education has not been shown to result in more teens abstaining from sex. But what it does do is to send a powerful message about what is “right” and what is “wrong” when it comes to human sexuality. Socially “conservative” educators, parents, and others insist that any expression of human sexuality outside of the context of procreation within marriage is wrong, and that discussion of anything else is “controversial.” Therefore, teachers legitimately fear attack if they stray from the preferred “morality.” Here is McGrath again, explaining the result: “Sex education curriculum is often self-censored in this way, and with the only federal model being upheld based in a strict-abstinence-only message, even modest discussion of such subjects [as sexual pleasure, masturbation, homosexuality or abortion] may be rejected as extreme. [T]he result is that those messages and behaviors objected to or marginalized by some members of the larger society get omitted [from the sex ed curriculum]. The effect is far from devoid of a message, however, as the official silence on abortion, homosexuality and masturbation serves to reinforce a codification of deviance and shame around these topics and the students who have engaged in any of these practices, while at the same time normalizing and naturalizing heterosexual, procreative sexual practice.”
As the right-wing agenda spreads beyond sex, drugs, and crime into all areas of life, what can be expected to be “normalized and naturalized” will be the so-called “traditional values” that just happen to be favored by those in power. It is thus not surprising that so many “failed” policies continue to survive and even to grow in influence. While they may not do what they promise to do, they do allow most people to evade responsibility for what are in large part social problems, while at the same time reinforcing a system of social control that fits well with an authoritarian moral system that is favored by those at the top of the power structure in this country.
A Progressive Alternative
F or someone with a progressive worldview, the world—including the world of teenagers—is a complicated place. Such a person sees the roots of human behavior as a complex mix of factors, of which morality is only one. The factors include the interior world of psychology, spirituality, genetic makeup, mental processes, and so forth, as well as the outer world of economics, religion, education, nutrition, social supports, and much more. In this world, it is assumed that human decision-making is complex and varied and that the context in which an individual is raised and in which he/she acts has a profound impact on the decisions that are made.
Progressive thinking separates the concepts of fault and responsibility, and that’s important. An individual may be at fault for a transgression and they should bear the consequences, but it is understood at the same time that responsibility for the transgression extends far beyond that individual. It is understood that all of us who have together created or perpetuated the culture that forms the context for the decision share in that responsibility, to the extent that we understand it and can do something about it.
For example, if a person living in poverty engages in robbery, they should be brought to justice. At the same time, if we know that there is a correlation between poverty and robbery, then part of the responsibility for that robbery falls upon all of us who allow, or promote, policies that increase poverty. Society is not to “blame” for the robbery, but all of us have some responsibility for changing the conditions that lead to more robberies. One could substitute “terrorism” for “robberies” and the same reasoning would apply.
This article is subtitled “Fantasy Versus Reality” for a couple of reasons. One reason is that the morality policies favored by the president and many of his supporters have been sold on false pretenses. They are not really expected to get the results—i.e., reductions in unwanted pregnancies, reductions in drug use—that we have been told they are meant to get. In this sense, the official arguments are fantasies and the reality is that a different agenda motivates these initiatives. That’s one way in which fantasy and reality butt heads in the realm of morality politics. But there is another, more fundamental point to understand about fantasy and reality.
A policy based on total prevention of certain behaviors is a fantasy. Consider Weil’s claim that drug use (and by this he means the use of mood-altering chemicals) has been a part of human societies since the dawn of history. If this is reality—and I think it is—then any policy aimed at zero tolerance is a fantasy. To the extent that such universal behavior is criminalized and suppressed, it is a dangerous fantasy.
What about sex in human societies? That’s certainly universal, and researchers say that sexual behavior starts in adolescence, or earlier, for most people. If that is reality—and I think it is—then an abstinence only approach to teen sex is also a fantasy. And, to the extent that large numbers of kids are shamed and sanctioned in service to this fantasy—because their sexual experiences or sexual feelings are seen as “wrong”—then it, too, is a dangerous and life-negating fantasy.
Is all this to say that teen drug use or teen sex is without problems, or that whatever kids do is okay? No, it is not. It is simply to acknowledge that kids are people who make decisions, and that the job of adults—acting as parents, or teachers, or political leaders—is to help and guide our kids to make good decisions in the context of their actual lives. That is different than the behaviorist “reward and punishment” approach favored by the proponents of an abstinence only world.
That is the essence of the difference between the right-wing approach to educating teens and the left-wing, or progressive, approach. Where the right-wing approach is based in “right and wrong,” a progressive approach is based on “good decision-making.” The progressive approach, unlike the right-wing one, understands that teenagers make decisions in the context of their lives, so big changes in teen behavior are not likely unless we do what we can to change that context. That means acknowledging the importance of such things as social inequalities, power relations, economic opportunity, and on and on. In short, it means seeing that the solutions to social problems must involve social change, not just individual exhortation.
Basing public policies on a progressive, socially-conscious ideology would result in very different outcomes. Most fundamentally, the policies would be positive, based as they are on the belief that people—teens included—are bundles of goodness waiting to unfold, and the job of society is to unleash that human potential. The right-wing approach, in contrast, is based on the idea that people are bundles of badness—sinners, if you will—and that the job of society is to control and suppress that badness. One ideology is based in this world, and affirms the beauty of human life. The other is based in another world, and focuses on human shortcomings.
Reality and fantasy. The reality is that sometimes kids do things that adults don’t like. The fantasy is that if we tell them not to, they won’t. Our policies should be based in reality while supporting and guiding our kids to make the best decisions they can.
Minneapolis freelance writer and activist Jeff Nygaard publishes an email newsletter called Nygaard Notes .
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AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
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CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.