Minnie Joycelyn Elders is an American pediatrician and public health administrator who served as the United States Surgeon General from 1993 to 1994. She was the second woman, the second person of color, and the first African American to serve as Surgeon General. She was a vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. But did you know she lost her job as the Surgeon General because of a controversial comment on masturbation?
In 1994, the United States Surgeon General was fired for stating that masturbation is part of human sexuality and perhaps should be taught.
The Masturbation Issue
President Clinton fired outspoken Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders on Friday after she told an AIDS conference that masturbation might be taught to school children.
In removing the most divisive official in his Administration, Clinton stated that Elders’ comments reflected differences with Administration policy.
In an afternoon phone call, Clinton informed the 61-year-old physician of his decision, who has come under fire from conservatives for her outspoken views on sex education, condom distribution, and drug legalization.
According to White House Chief of Staff Leon E. Panetta, Clinton disagreed with a series of previous Elders’ statements.
There is a record of those statements, as all of you know. Still, some of them involved Catholics having a love affair with fetuses, comments about legalizing drugs, and comments regarding teaching 5-year-olds to use condoms. Is just one too many. Clinton believes notions that schools should teach masturbation are wrong, and feels that’s not what schools are for, And it is not what a surgeon general should say.Leon E. Panetta, White House Chief
(Source: LA Times)
Dr. Minnie Elder’s Resignation
Elders stated that she was not ashamed of her work as the Surgeon General.
I think we all may wish we said things differently, but I have no regrets. Words are strange things. Once they are out, you can’t get them back.Dr. Minnie Joycelyn Elders, Former US Surgeon General
Elders stated that she was asked to resign because of several controversial statements she made since taking office, not just the most recent one about masturbation.
Nothing is ever the result of a single event.Dr. Minnie Joycelyn Elders, Former US Surgeon General
Elders, who served as Clinton’s health secretary in Arkansas for five years before joining the Administration, made her remarks to a crowd of several hundred people gathered in New York last week for World AIDS Day.
During a discussion about AIDS prevention, an audience member inquired about the possibility of masturbation being openly discussed and promoted to keep young people from riskier sexual activity.
I think that it is something that’s part of human sexuality, and it’s part of something that perhaps should be taught. But we’ve not even taught our children the very basics. And I feel that we have tried ignorance for a very long time, and it’s time we try education.Dr. Minnie Joycelyn Elders, Former US Surgeon General
(Source: LA Times)
Image from Newsweek