Pawtucket Opposes Sex, Education

The City of Pawtucket doesn’t like the idea of a new sex education center opening up in its downtown area, and things are getting kind of messy.

Megan Andelloux, the tattooed lady that URI professor Donna Hughes editorialized against back in June, is opening a non-profit sexual education center in the Grant building on Main Street. I’ve seen it; it’s really cute and clean and completely non-threatening in any way. It looks like somebody’s crazy aunt’s kitschy living room, basically, but with a lot more old-timey women’s health magazines. Andelloux plans to teach classes there, as well as providing health-related info and offering an extensive library of books about sex. There’s a few similar places like this dotted around the country, but this was going to be a first for New England.

The grand opening was set for Saturday, lots of guest speakers like Carol Queen were coming in from out of town to speak, and it looked like it was going to be a great success.

Until a busybody stepped in.

Last week, six members of the Pawtucket City Council received an e-mail. “Hello,” it said. “A center for “sexual rights” and “sexual pleasure” is opening in Pawtucket.” And that’s all it said. If you couldn’t guess from the condescending use of quotes, it was sent via the Blackberry of one Donna Hughes.

Hughes, if you’ll recall, is the URI professor who wrote the editorial criticizing Andelloux back in July, though her e-mail to the council members didn’t mention that. Hughes does not live in Pawtucket and she does not work in Pawtucket. But the council, justifiably alarmed by the one-line e-mail, got involved. Then the zoning people got involved. And after giving Andelloux the runaround for a few days, they ruled that the Center couldn’t operate because the Grant, as a commercial space, isn’t zoned for educational purposes. “Without proper zoning and event licenses, I would be arrested if I held the event in Pawtucket,” Andelloux says. “Although I had landlord approval and the building is zoned for retail, business, entertainment, and office use, I was told that I had to get a special zoning application for ‘education’ and approval,” which typically takes up to two months.”

Despite the fact that a chess club and an arts studio both teach classes in the building already, and although the center is located in a mall and has no street presence, Pawtucket politicians don’t want the space to open. Sexgengerbody reports that the city’s director of administration, Harvey Goulet, talked to the Pawtucket Times.

“We are not interested in this type of business. It’s not really something we feel is appropriate for our city.” Goulet further noted that it would be their intention not to allow the business to open, but added, “we have to follow through with the laws.”

The Grand Opening is still taking place, though it’s been moved to Providence. It’ll be taking place this Saturday from 3-6 at The Spot on Thayer Street. The full schedule’s online at the Center’s website.

9 thoughts on “Pawtucket Opposes Sex, Education”

  1. Not only are there already some businesses in The Grant who offer classes, but Megan’s class is not a (entirely) new thing. She was a teacher at Miko in Providence and I’m pretty sure there was no “educational zoning” requirements. This is obviously a case of the people in charge being afraid of what they don’t understand.

  2. Just read Jess’ link. RI has the worst (highest) teen birth rate in New England! I think it is important to open a education center in Pawtucket!

  3. City Hall Main Number: (401) 728-0500
    Mayor’s Office Fax: (401) 723-8620
    Mayor’s Office: Extension 281
    Mayor James E. Doyle: Extension 281
    Harvey E. Goulet: Extension 281
    Government Affairs Office: Extension 358

    Call and complain. So much for Pawtucket’s reputation as a haven for displaced Providence artists. Herb Weiss, where are you in this farce?

  4. Is City Hall zoned for Puritan Zealotry?

    I think the ACLU should hear about this, this is just so ridiculous.

  5. Can you say lawsuit? Food, I knew you could.

    Tha administration in Pawtucket has now shown themselves to be a reactionary idiot.

    And Hughed needs to knock this crap off.

  6. So, are they more cultural ignoramuses, or political cowards? I imagine Prof. Hugues must be feeling a tremendous surge of power from this right now. Wonder how she’ll work it off..

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