California Public Schools Will Now Require Teaching LGBT History

Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, 1987 (The Washington Post)

Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, 1987 (The Washington Post)

California has long been one of the most progressive states in the union, fearlessly blazing a trail where other states dare not tread.

OK, maybe I’m biased because I live here.

But California is about to do something (else) no other state has done: require teaching LGBT history in public schools.

Granted, this isn’t a complete shock. Last year, the state voted to pass a new curriculum for history and social studies where children will learn about LGBT history at various points during K-12 schooling. Topics will range from learning about diverse families in elementary school to historical nuts-and-bolts in high school.

(Side note: A public forum was held in 2015 regarding the new curriculum. While there were disagreements over how some religious groups were portrayed, “no one protested the inclusion of the history of LGBT rights.” Progress!)

This measure comes after the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Act (FAIR) Education Act was passed in 2012. This act bolstered the inclusion of minority groups (including the LGBT community) in public education on history. The deadline to include this new information in textbooks was this year.

With California leading the way, I hope other states will follow suit in teaching inclusive history to their students.

 

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Hasbro Reports Sales Boost in Q2 2016 with “Frozen” and Disney Princess Toys

Hasbro's Disney Princess line (Elena's Closet)

Hasbro’s Disney Princess line (Elena’s Closet)

Toymaking giant Hasbro recorded better-than-expected sales in Q3 2016. And they have the Disney Princesses and “Frozen” sisters to thank.

Hasbro won the global rights to make the aforementioned toys from Mattel earlier this year.

The two toy lines helped boost the girls category revenue by 35%, bringing the total to $172M+. The lines also helped partner brand revenue grow by 15% (which was also helped by “Star Wars” toys). And even before the most recent earning report came out, it was estimated that the Disney Princesses line would generate about $60M in Q3 2016.

This demonstrates that girls (and the men and women who buy their toys) have some massive purchasing power. Let’s hope that this is taken into account before “Star Wars: Rogue One” hits theaters, so we actually have some action figures of lady badass Jyn Erso.

 

 

 

Obama Signs Bill That Requires Babies’ Changing Tables in Every Public Bathroom

U.S. President Barack Obama and baby (Winwes)

U.S. President Barack Obama and baby (Winwes)

Earlier this month, President Obama signed a very important bill. The Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation (BABIES) Act requires government and federally-run buildings to provide babies’ changing tables in every restroom on the the premises. That’s right, babies’ changing tables will now be in both women’s and men’s bathrooms.

Previously, there was no such act that mandated changing tables in public bathrooms. And it’s common knowledge that changing tables are a much more common sight in women’s bathrooms than in men’s.

The BABIES Act was proposed in April by Rhode Island Democratic Representative David Cicilline. The measure was co-sponsored by 26 fellow Democrats and one Republican.

It’s fitting that the act was introduced and passed now: The move comes as parental leave, gender equality and division of household labor (which includes childcare) have become top of mind to many people, and a hot topic during this election season.

The new changing tables must be added within the next two years.

The HPV Vaccine is the Most Underused Immunization for Children

HPV Vaccine (Fearless Parent)

HPV Vaccine (Fearless Parent)

Once they’re born, children receive a range of vaccinations against seemingly every possible disease. But one vaccination has been severely under-used: the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), HPV is the “most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).” The virus affects 14M+ people every year, and will affect almost everyone who is sexually active at some point in their lives. HPV causes 90% of cervical cancers, and other cancers associated with orifices used during sexual activity (think vagina, anus, etc.).

A 2014 study done by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of North Carolina (UNC) showed that a “sizable minority” of doctors recommended the vaccine “inconsistently, behind schedule or without urgency.”

Here’s what that translates to numerically:

As of 2014, only 40 percent of girls and 21 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three doses of the HPV vaccine, whereas 88 percent of boys and girls had been vaccinated against tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis and 79 percent had gotten the meningococcal vaccine.

But why aren’t children getting this vaccination? One reason is that doctors may be reluctant to talk about sexual activity with children, even if it’s future sexual activity. The vaccination does not rank high on the list of children’s immunizations, and isn’t required in many states. There also has not been a public health scare to drive home the importance of this immunization to parents.

The virus was only approved in 2006, and can be cost-prohibitive: the three-shot series can run up to $1K.

Children, both girls and boys, should receive the vaccination around ages 11-12. Boys can get catch-up vaccines until they’re 21, and girls can do the same until they’re 26. But the vaccine has proven less effective when given during the later years.

China’s Sex Ratio: How Skewed Is It?

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Late last year, China ended its one-child policy, where each family was only allowed to have…one child. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.) Though its rules have relaxed in recent years, this is the first time the practice has been officially abolished. (But we’ll see how long it takes for the policy to actually die down, data-wise.)

We’ve all heard about how skewed China’s sex ratios are; we’ve heard about how the country overwhelmingly favors male children to the detriment of an equal sex ratio. But what are the numbers behind this phenomenon?

Consulting firm Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. released data in 2010 that revealed that Chinese women bear .71 of female births during their lifetime. That year, men outnumbered women by 50M+. The birth rate at that time was 120 boys per 100 girls, which works out to a sex ratio of 1.2.

If you’re a visual learner, here’s what that ratio looks like, especially in context with other countries:

China's male births compared to other countries' male births ('Business Insider')

China’s male births compared to other countries’ male births (‘Business Insider’)

As Business Insider notes:

That means lots of single, possibly angry males. Hard to imagine anything good coming out of this.

The policy was made into law in 1979, and abolished in 2015. That’s 36 years. Thirty-sex years of selected sex-selection in favor of boys at the expense of girls. (Fun fact: Kim Kardashian West participated in this when she was trying to get pregnant with her now-son.)

Scary, right? We’ll see how the new policy helps attempt to reverse this long-running trend.

 

El Salvadorian Government Advises Women Not Get Pregnant Due to Zika Virus

Baby with microcephaly (Health Then More)

Baby with microcephaly (Health Then More)

Despite arriving on the viral diseases scene just recently, the Zika virus has already made a large impact. The first cases in the Americas were reported in Brazil last spring, where the virus was linked to birth defects that affected brain development. The most commonly cited birth defect was microcephaly, which results in an abnormally small brain. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here in the U.S. have advised that pregnant women should not travel to the 14 countries affected by the virus.

Now, the government of El Salvador (one of the affected countries) is going one step further and advising women of childbearing age to refrain from getting pregnant until 2018. The announcement came after 5K+ cases of the virus were detected in women in 2015 and early this year. Of this number, it’s suspected that 96 women had contracted the virus, but so far, none have resulted in microcephaly. I couldn’t find information on how high-risk El Salvador is for the Zika virus, but this measure would lead me to believe that it looks pretty dire.

The government of Colombia has released a similar warning, but is advising women to wait six to eight months. Colombia has the second-highest rate of Zika infections after Brazil.

In terms of each country’s birth rates (counted as births per 1K people), El Salvador has 16.79. It just edges past Colombia with a birth rate of 16.73. By contrast, Brazil has a birth rate of 14.72. It’ll be interesting to see how El Salvador and Colombia’s birth rates are affected this year by their respective government’s measures.

The Zika virus is transmitted via mosquito, and is characterized by joint pain, fever, rash and red eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

China’s (Now Ended) One-Child Policy: By The Numbers

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Most people have heard of China’s infamous one-child policy. it’s exactly what it sounds like: each married couple is only allowed to have one child.

Now the policy has ended. Actually, it ended on Jan. 1st, less than a week ago.

A lot of people don’t know the story behind the concept, and why it was initially implemented. Here are some numbers that made the one-child policy look like a sensible idea at the time:

China’s total population:

1960: 667.1M

1970: 818.3M

China’s population grew 151.2M in 10 years, or at the rate of 15.12M per year. The government was worried that the population would continue growing exponentially at the same rate, with the country eventually becoming unsustainable.

Fertility rate:

1960: 5.76 births/1 woman

1970: 5.47 births/1 woman

The fertility rate stayed stable (and strong) throughout the 1960s.

Crude birth rate:

1960: 20.9

1970: 33.4

This metric shows the “number of of live births occurring during the year, per 1,000 population estimated at midyear.” The number hit a high in 1963 with 43.4, no doubt sending the Chinese government into a full-fledged panic.

With the above stats as historical context, it’s a bit easier to see why the Chinese government implemented the One-Child Policy, and kept it for the 35 years they did.