Science Public Policy News

Psychologists Defend Sexual Behavior Research on Capitol Hill

The 12th Annual Science Advocacy Training workshop was held in response to continuing pressure from Congress urging the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to stop funding research on issues related to sexuality and sexual behavior.

By Karen Studwell

On May 15-17, nine psychologists who conduct research on issues related to sexuality and sexual behavior attended the 12th Annual Science Advocacy Training Workshop sponsored by the Science Policy Office. Participants went through advocacy boot camp training where they learned about the overall legislative process and about specific issues related to congressional interference with peer-reviewed research. The following day, they met with more than thirty congressional offices to urge their Representatives and Senators to oppose legislative amendments or language that seek to restrict funding for peer-reviewed research.

Participants included: Anne Bowen, University of Wyoming; Geri R. Donenberg, University of Illinois at Chicago; Brian A. Gladue, University of Cincinnati Medical Center; Erick Janssen, The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University; Tooru Nemoto, University of California San Francisco; Jeanette Norris, University of Washington; Jeffrey Parsons, Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY); Simon Rosser, University of Minnesota; and Stephanie Tortu, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

The Workshop was held in response to continuing pressure from Congress urging the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to stop funding this research. Last July, an amendment was offered in the House of Representatives that would have cut off funding from five specific grants, including funding for Nemoto's study on HIV/AIDS prevention in San Francisco and Janssen's project on mood and risk-taking behavior. This year, Congress is expected to continue questioning NIH about the appropriateness of funding research that Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) says, "fails the common sense test" and another amendment is rumored to be in the works.

APA and other scientific and public health organizations are continuing to educate Congress about the importance of preserving the integrity of peer review and the need for NIH to conduct research into sexual development, health, and behavior. For more information on this issue or if you would like to get involved, please contact Karen Studwell or visit APA's Public Policy Office.