Dr. Mary Steichen Calderone

(Dr. Mary Steichen Calderone) “What is this film really saying? First of all, that sex is normally and properly a part of each one of us, from babyhood on. Secondly, that understanding and acceptance of the normal sexuality of children of all ages is a must for every adult. What children need from us is information to answer all of their questions. This is a must. Just to protect them against the misinformation and wrong attitudes that are all around us.” In the 1950s, an era when talking publicly about sex was taboo, Dr. Mary Steichen Calderone spoke out about sexuality as an inherent part of being human. As Medical Director of Planned Parenthood, she began to change the way that Americans talked about sex. Because of the climate of the time, her ideas were controversial, especially so because a woman was not supposed to mention such things. But her advice was common sense, applicable to both sexes, and she delivered it with medical acumen, ease, and candor. As a physician, she brought a medical perspective to the subject to explain human sexuality as a natural part of life. Planned Parenthood provided contraception and sexual health information and resources for the public. Dr. Calderone also addressed the concept of separating sex from reproduction. She promoted sex as a healthy, normal part of life, worthy of public discussion. In 1964, Dr. Calderone left Planned Parenthood to create The Sex Information and Education Council of the United States. The Council provided information for schools and for young people. Through her own books, Dr. Calderone advised parents on positive ways to talk to their children about sex. Her efforts helped young people gain the confidence and knowledge to enjoy safe and healthy sex lives in adulthood. Mary Steichen Calderone won many awards, including, the Woman of Conscience Award in 1968, and the Elizabeth Blackwell Award for Distinguished Service to Humanity. In 1971, the Ladies Home Journal named her one of “America’s 75 Most Important Women.” Four years later, she was listed among the “50 Most Influential Women in the U.S.” The atmosphere that is so vital today, that allows for informed discussions about reproductive health, unwanted pregnancy, HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, follows from initiatives begun in the 1950s by Dr. Mary Steichen Calderone. (Dr. Mary Steichen Calderone) “Most of all, children need parents who can show love—for each other, and for their children. For in such a home, sharing knowledge of this great and universal human experience can only serve to strengthen family ties.”