Campus: San Francisco State University -- February 6, 2004

New center on gender and sexuality research opens at San Francisco State

SFSU will break new ground in social science research on human sexuality and make findings accessible to a wide audience with the recent opening of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality (CRGS), part of the University's pioneering human sexuality studies program.

Funded by the Ford Foundation, the center becomes the first urban research center in the country dedicated solely to social science research on sexuality.

"Sexuality does not develop in a vacuum and is about much more than one's body and sexual acts," said Deborah Tolman, founder of the CRGS and professor of human sexuality studies. "Our research on sexuality will give people the latest and most accurate information on sexuality so they can make choices that are better for themselves and better for society."

Tolman, a distinguished researcher on adolescent sexuality, was a senior research scientist and associate director at the Center for Research on Women at Wellesley College before joining the SFSU faculty in last year. Her latest book, "Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk About Sexuality" published by Harvard University Press late last year, received the 2003 Distinguished Publication Award from the Association for Women in Psychology.

Tolman said it was important that the center be located at SFSU. "The mission of San Francisco State University is to meet the challenges of social justice," she said. "It's a perfect home for the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality."

Research projects underway at CRGS include an examination of television consumption and adolescent sexual activity, a study titled "Beyond Pregnancy and AIDS: Final Development of a New Conception of Adolescent Sexual Health," and other research initiatives that focus on racism in the gay male community, intimate partner violence and fieldwork-based research on sexuality education and social inequalities.
Other SFSU researchers working with Tolman include Jessica Fields, assistant professor of sociology and an expert on sexuality education; Niels Teunis, assistant professor of anthropology and an authority on racism in the gay male community; and Rita Melendez, who joins the faculty in the human sexuality studies program in fall 2005 and has done work on HIV issues and gender.

The new center will work in tandem with SFSU's National Sexuality Resource Center (NSRC) to expand and disseminate its research primarily through the NSRC's Web site. http://nsrc.sfsu.edu

Gilbert Herdt, director of both the NSRC and the human sexuality studies program at SFSU, said the new center has a valuable role to fill on issues important to Americans. "Research conducted at the center will provide much needed state-of-the-art information needed by academics, policymakers, the media, health service providers and other community-service organizations that are challenged by sexual health, education and rights," he said. "To make America safe for sexuality and to raise sexual literacy, this center fills a long needed gap."

SFSU Provost and vice president for academic affairs John Gemello, speaking on behalf of President Robert A. Corrigan at opening ceremonies on January 30, called the center a major step for the human sexuality studies program. "With Deborah Tolman as director of the center, she will increase respect for issues of gender and sexuality in this country," he said.

Contact: Ted DeAdwyler, (415) 338-7110; tedde@sfsu


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