Every Wednesday The CSPH highlights a Sexuality Professional you should keep your eye on. Their backgrounds are very diverse in order to bring attention to the wide variety of amazing people working in the field. This week we bring you Elizabeth Boskey!
1. What do you do in the field of sexuality?
These days, I mostly write a lot of educational materials for sexual health. I’m the Guide to Sexually Transmitted Diseases at About.com. On my website, I write educational material about STDs and related issues. I also write for a number of other sites about sexuality more generally. My passion project is a website called “101 Ways You Can’t Get Pregnant” inspired by some of the truly fascinating questions I’ve read or been asked over the year. It makes me laugh and cry in equal measure.
I teach a graduate course in human sexual behavior at SUNY Downstate. The course is designed to teach medical doctors and public health professionals about a wide range of sexual and gender health issues. My goal is to help them get more familiar with their biases so that misconceptions and stereotypes do not affect their practice.
2. Where are you based out of?
I’m based in the New York City metro area.
3. What is your focus? What do you do?
I’m mostly known for talking about STDs, but right now I’m kind of obsessed with the vast gaping divide between the research on sexual health and the way we talk about it in the rest of our lives.
I’m primarily a sexual health writer. I also occasionally teach a graduate course in human sexual behavior. I’d like to get back to doing more direct sex education, but it’s been a few years.
4. What are your particular goals and passions in the field?
Because two graduate degrees and a number of certifications apparently weren’t enough, I’m going back to school for a degree in clinical social work. I want to specialize in working with sexual minority populations around issues of sexual health. This is something I’ve been passionate about for years, and pursuing my AASECT educator certification solidified my desires. Many people in the sex therapy community are still uncomfortable dealing with GLBTQ individuals, not to mention people who live alternative lifestyles. I want to help change that.
5. Why did you choose to work in this field?
I’ve been involved in reproductive health since I was in junior high. My father was a lawyer who specialized in domestic abuse and custody issues, and he sparked my interest. I started off stuffing envelopes at Planned Parenthood. Then after a friend of mine in high school had an HIV scare, my interest shifted more towards STDs. I joined the HIV peer education group in college, and have been working in the field ever since. It’s a subject that I get more passionate about every year.
6. Where did you go for school/training?
I was a peer educator in college. Fortunately they trained us there, but I kept looking for more information. For graduate school, I went to Johns Hopkins. I received my Ph.D. in a basic research lab working on vaginal microbicides. Then I moved over to the school of public health to do an MPH and postdoctoral fellowship focusing on more social and behavioral aspects of reproductive health.
7. Do you have any literature out (websites, articles)?
Yes. My main website is http://std.about.com , but you can find a list of all my articles, books, and book chapters here – http://www.elizabethboskey.com/bibliography. That includes both peer reviewed publications and consumer health work.
8. What would you recommend to future professionals attempting to get into the field?
Find a way to work with sexuality educators who you respect. Then, when you’re seeking out training, make certain that it’s going to teach you both the science and the art of sex education. Neither one alone is enough.
9. What is the most challenging aspect for you working in this career?
Right now, the challenge for me is not getting frustrated by either myself or the people around me. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I feel like everyone should know everything by now! Especially me! Sadly it doesn’t work like that.
The challenge used to be dealing with what people assumed about me when they heard I worked as a sex educator or in “The Sex Lab.” I recognize now that my discomfort was a reflection of my own insecurities. At this point, the people who make assumptions about me because I do this work just make me laugh.
10. One must read-what would you recommend? Why?
Hmm. I’m going to ignore the “one” and give you two.
- Our Bodies Ourselves – still a classic work with great information for the many women who don’t understand their bodies.
- The Guide to Getting it On – not my favorite of all sex education manuals, but a great and reliable reference about almost every topic you can think of – written at a level that almost anyone can read.
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