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SFSU Public Affairs Press Release

Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.

#025--October 14, 1998; For immediate release
Contact: Prof. Gil Herdt 415/338-1343
Rol Risska (after Oct. 25)

Conference at SF State will examine changes in American attitudes about sexuality

Kinsey at 50 conference will bring panel of human sexuality experts together to reflect on changes in American attitudes about sexuality half a century after the Alfred Kinsey studies.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- October 14, 1998 -- Half a century after Alfred Kinsey’s famous 1948 study "Sexual Behavior and the Human Male" made a tremendous impact in shaping post-World War II discourse on gender and sexuality in American society, experts in the field of human sexuality will meet at San Francisco State University Nov. 6 to discuss current attitudes about sexuality and to reflect upon what has changed since that groundbreaking study.

"Kinsey at 50: Reflections on Changes in American Sexuality" will be held from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, in the Creative Arts Building’s McKenna Theatre at San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco. The conference, which is free and open to the public, will include morning keynote speakers anthropologist Carole Vance of Columbia University and sociologist John Gagnon of SUNY-Stony Brook. The afternoon will feature two panel discussions, the first (at 2 p.m.) about per spectives on humanistic studies on sexuality and the second (at 3:30 p.m.) about perspectives on science studies on sexuality. Both panels will explore the future of sex research in the next five years.

The debate is hosted by San Francisco State University and co-sponsored by KGO-TV/ABC-7, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and the San Francisco Labor Council/AFL-CIO. The live studio audience will be by invitation only. Knuth Theatre is located in the Creative Arts building, on Holloway Avenue, at the corner of Arellano Avenue.

"The conference is important because we’re at a critical moment in our society regarding the future of human sexuality," said Gilbert Herdt, chair of the program in human sexuality studies at San Francisco State and organizer of the conference.

"We see how a whole new spectrum of sexuality is opening up—bisexuality, the roles of men and women in their intimate relationships and how they have changed, the rise of the lesbian and gay movement—these have given rise to totally unforeseen possibilities," Herdt said.

Herdt, an anthropologist with a quarter century of scholarly research and experience in the cross cultural understanding of human sexual behavior, will moderate the conference panels and says this will be the first in a series of conferences at San Francisco State that will explore scholarship and research about human sexual behavior.

Vance is a nationally recognized authority on women’s sexuality, pornography, and homosexuality whose research has examined political reactions to sexual and gender movements. Gagnon is the foremost sociologist of sexuality in the U.S., was a member of the original Kinsey research team, and is able to provide a personal and unique perspective on the Kinsey study and what it means.

The program in human sexuality studies at SF State is hosting the visit of the Social Science Research Council (New York) Committee on Sexuality Research, some of whom will be presenting at the conference as part of collaborative discussions about the future of sexuality research.

The conference is sponsored by the program in human sexuality studies at San Francisco State University, inaugurated in 1981 and now serving more than 3,000 students annually. The program, which is the most interdisciplinary and comprehensive of its kind in the country, offers undergraduate minors in human sexuality studies and gay, lesbian and bisexual studies. A master’s degree program in human sexuality studies is being finalized and plans call for it to be offered in the year 2000.

San Francisco State University is a highly diverse community of 27,000 students and 3,500 faculty and staff. It is one of the largest campuses of the nationally-recognized 23-campus California State University system. Founded in 1899, the University is approaching its 100th year of service to San Francisco, the Bay Area, California and beyond.

For more information about the Kinsey at 50 conference call Prof. Gil Herdt, chair, San Francisco State University Human Sexuality Studies Program, at 415/338-1343.


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