Monday, December 20, 2010

A Shining Star of Activism in the Arizona Desert by Bobby Parker

Caleb Laieski, a brilliant, 16-year-old dynamo from the town of Surprise, Arizona is a one-man force for equality and safety for all school children in our state. I don't think there's anyone like him in our whole nation.  I'm giving him my Arizona GLBT Activist of the Year Award...a well-deserved honor.

With the help of the Arizona ACLU, Caleb successfully fought to have his Willow Canyon High School's discrimination policies revised. But he didn't stop there.

A child of the Internet age, on December 1st in a 12-hour non-stop barrage of 3,000 emails Caleb put all individual schools and school districts in our state on notice. He didn't stop there.

Notices were also sent to local city councils, county commissioners, legislators (state and federal) within each district, along with the State Department of Education, Attorney General's office, and the Office of the Governor. So that no one in the state was missed, at the same time he sent a press release to all news outlets in the state.

During the year Caleb contacted all 50 legislatures in our nation.

I am familiar with his comprehensive list of media outlets and personal contacts because due to his efforts the most widely reported GLBT activism event of the year was the recent suicide prevention outreach at the Mormon Temple in Mesa. All the major TV stations carried the story, with one having it as the 10 p.m. news lead story. Caleb communicated personally with each one to assure adequate coverage.

As Executive Director of Gays and Lesbians United Against Discrimination (GLUAD), an organization he founded, Caleb reminded everyone in the state of Arizona involved with keeping our school children safe of the recent spate of suicides of gay teens nationwide, their legal obligations to protect children in their schools, and gave them a comprehensive list of remedial measures they can use to correct failed policies.

However, Caleb went a step further showing that he means business. He said:

If we are acknowledged of any of the following, a suit will promptly be sought:
A suicide attempt or success due to bullying,
Issue of bullying or harassment reported and not handled properly, or inadequate punishment given,
Teacher or administrator failing to intervene or are expressing hate themselves.
He threatened to sue anyone who fails to follow policies to protect our children. He means it!

In case they need help, this is what Caleb offered:

We would be happy to refer you to organizations and experts who could work with you to develop and implement an appropriate long-term plan to create schools that are safe and productive for all children enrolled within the school district.

Please have your counsel contact me no later than Monday, December 20th about the steps and plans to be taken.

I became friends with Caleb via phone conversations around the time of the National Equality March on the Capitol in D.C. When I looked around to see whom in our state was going to coordinate it turned out Caleb and GLUAD were the first to sign up. In talking to him I had no idea he was only 15 years old at the time. His presence on the phone indicated someone in his late 20's.

Later we invited Caleb to the planning meeting as we resurrected the Arizona Stonewall Democrats, to bring us a view from the youth. We've been friends and confidants since. I relate as an activist or grandpa, whichever he needs at the time.

Here are responses from two of Arizona's leading activists re: Caleb:

Caleb came to my attention through his work at creating a national organization to work to promote a positive image of gay and lesbian people (GLUAD). Though he was still quite young, he had the determination and drive to make contact with legislators across the country and in the US Congress - asking them to support equality for all their citizens. In the intervening years, I've seen nothing less than this same level of effort from Caleb. He is a bright, articulate young man who is standing on the side of justice. I think we will find that he is long remembered by those whose lives were bettered because of his work.

- Rev. Brad Wishon, Vice-President, of No Longer Silent: Clergy for Justice

After interacting with Caleb, you have to stop to remember that he is only a teenager. He comes across as a very articulate, motivated, and professional activist who could be mistaken for twice his actual age. A review of his work lends credence to this impression, as he approaches his mission with thoroughness and thoughtfulness that would be the envy of many adults. He is an example of what true motivation and dogged determination can do for people operating in the bleakest of environments, and thus is an inspiration for many.

- Steve Brittle, Environmental Activist and Political Consultant

When he was 15, Caleb wrote the following. Since then he has been successful in changing his school, and is now focusing on all of Arizona's schools. I'm so thankful this time of year for Caleb and what he is doing. In his own words:

My name is Caleb Laieski. I am a 15-year-old gay teenager living and attending high school in Surprise, Arizona.

As a gay youth in a public school system, I have endured a relentless amount of harassment, threats, and bullying simply because I am an openly gay teenager. During my 8th grade year of school, I finally acknowledged to the public and myself that I am, in fact, gay. As the news of my gay "outing" made the rounds at school, anti-gay slurs and intolerance began. Words like fag and homo became a daily way of life for me.

The situation became worse once I started high school. The harassment, slurs, and death threats became bolder, more frequent, and the vast majority of teachers failed to intervene. In fact, one teacher said in front of other students, that all gays are "going to hell." As those issues worsened, I contacted the school district countless times for help. Help never came.

I am not alone in this. A very close friend of mine who is openly gay himself told me about how he is experiencing the same concerns. He once attempted suicide by drinking almost an entire bottle of rubbing alcohol. He has also done other things to harm his body in the past.

All of these issues contribute to the alarming statistics; a member of the LGBT youth community will attempt suicide within the next 40 minutes.

On March 24, 2010, at about 1:45 p.m., while walking home from the bus stop, I was approached by multiple male individuals in a vehicle yelling "F*** you Caleb, you f***ing faggot" followed by "f*** gay people" with finger gestures. 

The Dysart School District also claims that they do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or age, but exclude sexual orientation and gender identity. If the school district were so serious on this matter, without hesitation it would amend and enforce a policy that covers sexual orientation and gender identity. The handbook states that first offense of hate speech will be punished a 2-3 day suspension and eligibility for a police report to be filed, yet they rarely enforce that. Additionally, their handbook claims that teachers and administrators are required to intervene. Again, they often fail to do so.

On May 13, 2010, at lunchtime, I was again confronted by a male student stating "I'm gonna sock you in the face, you f***in homo" followed by the word "Faggot". While the school administration acknowledged the incident, the vice-principal made light of the situation, stating that she knew the student involved because "He's in my office often." She said she would address it with him privately.

Concerns for my safety, well being and emotional stress caused by these repeated incidents were shooed out the door, leaving me to wonder whether or not I would make it through the day without being attacked. I was so scared that I walked out of school that day because I was afraid for my life.

Since that time, I have spoken with the vice-principal and the school district. Nothing transpired. Fortunately, I made it through school that time without any major incidents. But what does my future hold? Will I have to submit to ongoing harassment, threats, and bullying for the rest of my educational career? Will I end up being one of the teens that attempts suicide, develops a drug or alcohol problem; or end up homeless on the streets?

The school bullying resulted in a lack of enthusiasm in continuing the high school experience. It has also resulted in dramatic slipping of grades, failing math, and skipping classes out of fear.

In 2008, I became an activist one month before elections on Proposition 102 (Arizona) and Proposition 8 (California) - both defining marriage as a right only available between one man and one woman. 

After the passage of both propositions, my frustrations led me to begin researching and investigating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) rights and offering my assistance to local and national organizations.

I gained some very essential experience and positive support from these organizations. But there is so much work to be done and I felt the need to start my own organization to achieve substantial positive change sooner!

So, I had the vision of founding my own organization -- Gays and Lesbians United Against Discrimination (GLUAD) to help support the LGBT local and national communities. I worked day and night to make sure this vision became a reality.

In January 2009, GLUAD began writing to legislatures in all 50 states with literature containing insight on LGBT issues. After a year of unexpected challenges, it became apparent to me how critical legislation is in providing essential changes towards LGBT equality. As a gay youth having survived my own issues, I felt that GLUAD could make the most crucial impact by focusing on LGBT youth communities both locally and nationally. I reached out to other LGBT youth.

I continue hearing stories from other students whose lives echoed mine. Their stories have all contained common threads of serious harassment, threats, and bullying. I've also heard stories of unheard victims of violence and abuse. It made me angry! Angry to the point that I began an intensive search for answers that shocked, saddened, and horrified me. These statistics has shown me the alarming amount of homeless teenagers and even worse -the preventable teen suicide rate. 

Currently, GLUAD is in the process of opening a homeless shelter focusing primarily on LGBT runaways or displaced people. We will provide housing for LGBT youth, adults, elderly and other members of the homeless community that have nowhere to go and no one to help them. GLUAD is continuing to work with all 50 state legislatures to address LGBT statistics, background and work for protective legislation.

My hope is to prevent people from experiencing the same type of harassment, threats, and bullying that I had to endure during my teen years. My mission is for LGBT people to have the same rights, goals and dreams of every other person in this country; to have somewhere to go, and someone to turn to when the world turns its back on them!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

PFLAG/LA Founder Adele Starr Has Died by Karen Ocamb

Adele Starr, founder of the large Los Angeles chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gaysdied in her sleep Friday night, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. She was 90.
PFLAG-LA-.jpgStarr founded PFLAG/LA in 1976 - a group that still marches in the annual Christopher Street West Pride Parade every year to grateful applause. Her efforts to education others about LGBT rights included speaking on the steps of the US Capitol during the historic 1979 national march in Washington DC. She became the organization's first national president in 1981 - with her den as national headquarters - just as former California Gov. Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency. She remained PFLAG president through the torturous early years of the AIDS epidemic when gay men such as her son were routinely vilified.
As a stay-at-home mother of five from Brentwood, she fought back and cajoled and sweet-talked whomever she encountered to get equal rights for her gay son, and by extension, the LGBT community. And she told parents it wasn't their "fault" their son or daughter was gay - a prevalent opinion at the time and a feeling of guilt she herself had overcome.

In response to an antigay move by conservatives to take over an Antelope Valley school board in 1995, Starr wrote a letter to the LA Times about how her gay son Phillip deserved the "same rights and freedoms as others," including the right to "legally marry the one he loves." The letter reads in part:
We cannot understand those arrogant people who have decided that a heterosexual lifestyle must be imposed on everyone and that they have a monopoly on morality...The American way is respect for diversity with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
At PFLAG's 10th anniversary conference, Starr explained her activism: "We did it out of love and anger and a sense of injustice, and because we had to tell the world the truth about our children."
Terry DeCrescenzo, founder of the Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services and a friend of Starr's told The Times: "In that time, a lot of us lost hope. Not Adele. And PFLAG became enormously important because it was rock solid.... She was a good woman. She'll be missed."
PFLAG now has more than 200,000 in chapters across the county. Jody M. Huckaby, PFLAG National's Executive Director said in a statement posted on PFLAG's website:
Adele Starr was one of the pioneers of PFLAG. It is because of her commitment to organizing the many people who were working for the common goal of equality for all into the organization that we now know as PFLAG that we have gained the strength, prominence, and ability to become the voice of parents and allies united for equality.
Services will be held at noon Monday at Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles.
Read additional tributes to Adele Starr from past PFLAG presidents.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Loving myself gay, loving myself fat By Rev. Emily C. Heath

I stood stunned at the edge of the football field. Our touch football game had ended and I'd had a brief conversation with a woman who made a significant living off her public reputation as a feminist and LGBT activist. I didn't know her well. We'd had brief conversations in the past, but had never so much as shared a cup of coffee. So I had been surprised when, as we prepared to go our separate ways, she called me back.

"I know this is none of my business, but...."

I braced myself. I knew what was coming next. You see, I've been fat my whole life. My first experiences of bullying as a child were around weight. Since then I haven't gone a day without being aware of the fact that I'm heavy. So, when she recited those magical words that everyone thinks excuses what comes out of their mouth next (I know this is none of my business, but...), I knew it was going to be about my weight.

Now, I'm not going to detail my medical history here because, frankly, it's no one's business. And besides, there would just be the argument from some that fat people use medical issues as an excuse. Those people will say fat people just need to "diet and exercise." And then there are the people who will talk about personal obesity using the rhetoric of a "public health crisis." There has always been plenty of objectification of fat people as either lazy moral failures, walking medical cases, or piteous lesser-thans.

I'm used to that. When I was looking for a position as a pastor I had an experience where a congregation was heavily vetting me. We had great phone conversations and seemed like an ideal fit. And then they met me. The chair of the committee made sure to mention several times that she was a Weight Watchers leader. I received a rejection letter several days later. I could tell ten more stories like this off the top of my head, and I'm sure other fat people could do the same.

But then there is another whole level of rhetoric. The rhetoric of full-blown, undisguised size-phobia.

Recently Maura Kelly, a columnist for Marie Claire, wrote a column detailing her disgust with a new show called Mike and Molly. Full disclosure, I've never been a reader of Marie Claire or any similar magazine and I've never seen Mike and Molly. But the outcry about Kelly's article has been too great to ignore for those of us who are fat. Here's an excerpt from "Should 'Fatties' Get a Room":

"So anyway, yes, I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room -- just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine (sic) addict slumping in a chair."

Suddenly I'm not only fat (or, in Kelly's language, a "fattie") but I'm "gross" and the moral equivalent of a heroin addict. Kelly's analysis is one part junior high mean girl and one part pop psychologist. (And, just for fun, read Kelly's whole article and insert "gay" into every "fat." Sound familiar?)

But, as much as Kelly's words disgust me, they don't personally affect me as much as the very real size-phobia I've witnessed in the LGBTQ community. I'm always amazed that a community that values diversity and respect for others can be so judgmental, occasionally to the point of being bullying, when it comes to weight. Even in the bear community there is a growing, increasingly bitter, separation of "muscle bears" from the "lesser," heavier bears.

Which is tragic. Because, if there's one thing LGBTQ pride should promote it's the idea that we can love ourselves and feel value in ourselves, just as we are. That's the ideal, but it's not the reality.

So, as I walked away from the football field last month, advice on how I should try Weight Watchers ringing in my ears (because, really, I'd never heard of them before), I left with that old familiar feeling of shame. As I met friends for lunch, I beat myself up for wanting a hamburger more than a salad. As I walked the streets of Provincetown, a place where I have always felt good about just being myself, I suddenly felt like everyone was looking me and just seeing a fat person. As I caught up with old friends, I wondered if they saw me or they just saw my weight.

Then I realized how absolutely messed up that was. Here I was, in the middle of maybe the most gay-friendly mile in America, hating myself. And, really, I've spent enough of my life hating myself. I came out because I chose not to hate myself anymore. And I'm not going to hate myself because someone at a football game feels the need to project their fat-phobia on me.

One of the things I've always loved about both feminist and LGBT activism is that both understand that liberation does not come in isolation. As a young activist I learned that racism, anti-Semitism and ageism were now my fights too. Bigotry against any group affects every group.

The same is true around issues of size acceptance. If the LGBTQ community continues to tolerate sizeism in our life together, our community is the less for it. If we continue to tell brothers and sisters that they are somehow less worthy because they are heavy, we lose part of our witness to equality. And if we continue to buy into manufactured standards of what is attractive or acceptable or right, we open ourselves up to criticism on other levels as well.

There are some great activists doing work around size acceptance in our community. One group composed of such activists is NoLose, which hosts conferences and other programs around fat acceptance in the lesbian and trans communities. Other grassroots groups are doing similar activism. I believe our community will be better for their work. But there's still a lot of work to do. As I walked away from the football field on that day, that was all too clear to me.

November 7, 2010

about Rev. Heath

Sunday, November 7, 2010

For those who have been forgotten

While all violence is abhorrent, the violence is usually not based on what you are, but who you are.  GLBT are targeted for what we are.  Some of our "family" are more vulnerable to being a victim of violence.  Primarily young gays and transgender people seem to be targeted much more than the rest of our population.

According to a 2008 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), anti-transgender bias is reported crimes is holding steady, in fact, it has increased 12 percent over the previous year. 1 
Gender Public Advocacy Campaign found that a majority of the victims were killed with violence "beyond that necessary to terminate life."  In some cases, assailants continued to bludgeon, stab or shoot the victims even after death. 2 

 Enter into this picture Ethan St. Pierre, who in 1999 organized the first candlelight vigil in San Francisco, beginning Transgender Day of Remembrance.  On the website  Ethan has this to say,

The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
 During the next few days and into the coming weeks candlelight vigils are being held through out the world.  I'm not sure if every community that is holding vigils are listed.  If you are interested in attending a vigil I would suggest checking with your local GLBT community center.

The more that I read, the more I'm totally convinced that many Americans are unaware of the hatred, bigotry and bullying that our family lives with on a daily basis.  Our plight has been worsened by the religious right spewing hate from the pulpit, that has stymied our attempts to gain civil rights with the might of the ballot box.  Sadly this summer this climate of hate has caused several of our most vulnerable family members to give up on tomorrow.  Criminally the schools blamed the victims, instead of the atmosphere that allowed unchecked bullying.

We all know what the pink campaign has done to raise awareness for breast cancer.  It's time for GLBT to start a rainbow campaign.  It's also time for the patchwork quilt of GLBT civil rights organizations to be stitched into one single and much more powerful organization.  We need corporate backing, famous people to join our cause for civil rights, for our ability to live free and fearless.  I think we should pick the month of June, which has been the traditional month for marriages, high lighting one of our "lost" civil rights.

If you have a belief system, say a prayer for those who have left us, due to suicide, murder, and AIDS.  If not, then pause for a moment in your day, and hold a moment of silence for our missing members.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Reading gives me ideas.......

i'm reading a manga series titled
the main theme is very compelling
a horrible disease racks japan
killing young men and boys
leaving at the end only around 1/4 of the population comprised of men
YIKES! i know!!

but so now the sex roles are reversed
and men are now cosseted and protected
and are sold for huge dowries like women
there are brothels for women to have sex with men
hoping to get pregnant
as many cant afford the dowry to marry

the women do all of the hard physical labor
and rule the land
the shogun is a woman
and she has 800! men in her harem
the books mostly take place in the inner court (harem)
it's made quite clear that many of the men in the inner court
love and have sex with each other
there is also a horrible rape scene
between several of the jealous men of the inner court
and one of the new members thereof
there is throughout the series
female/male love stories as well

but what i found so fascinating about this series
was how their whole concept of society
from the very roots to the rafters
had to be reworked, rethought, remade
which has me thinking..................
what if our world society were shaken in that manner?

not a huge loss of men! i don't want a horror story here!!!!
but something that would force us to remake our world
and there were only two things that came to mind
1. loss of religion of any sort
2. total global acceptance of lgbt humans
which would cause more of a total change in our societies?
and after a great deal of thinking the total acceptance of all forms of lgbt

i think that would cause more of a wide ranging change in our world
because if you could accept sex orientation
gender presentation, or lack of a definable gender
wouldn't acceptance of skin color follow?
acceptance of religion?
acceptance period?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It Breaks Your Heart, by Courage Campaign

This makes me cry, and rage at the same time. The courts have decided over and over again, that discrimination is counter to everything our country is supposed to stand for. It's time for all Americans to stand up against discrimination of LGBT.

This young man, is the voice of the future, and it's an awesome thing to hear him speak. Enjoy the firebrand speech of Will Phillips.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Prop 8 and the Black Community by Gilbert H. Caldwell

Prop 8 and the Black Community

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Prop 8 ruled unconstitutional by Adam Bink

I just finished reading the meat of the decision. Chief Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled Prop 8 is unconstitutional on both Equal Protection and Due Process grounds. Huge win. The decision is likely to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Developing…

UPDATE (1:43 PST): Here’s the conclusion from the decision.

Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis,the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

Plaintiffs have demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that Proposition 8 violates their due process and equal protection rights and that they will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result, see FF 64-66; moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings.

Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8. The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment without bond in favor of plaintiffs and plaintiff-intervenors and against defendants anddefendant-intervenors pursuant to FRCP 58.


The full decision can be found here. Notable segments are on pages

UPDATE (10:46): Other notable segment:


Plaintiffs challenge Proposition 8 under the Due Process
and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Each
challenge is independently meritorious, as Proposition 8 both
unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to
marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of
sexual orientation.

Reposted from prop8trialtracker

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sense of smell is linked to sexual orientation, study reveals By Steve Connor

The Independent

The human nose can not only sniff out suitable sexual partners, but it works especially well for gay men, according to the first study of how body odours are linked to sexual orientation.
The human nose can not only sniff out suitable sexual partners, but it works especially well for gay men, according to the first study of how body odours are linked to sexual orientation.
Gay men showed a strong preference for the body odour of other gay men in the scientific test of how the natural scent of someone's body can contribute to the choice of a partner.
Although previous studies have shown that body odour plays a role in making heterosexual men or women attractive to members of the opposite sex, this is the first study that has investigated its role in sexual orientation. Charles Wysocki of the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia, a non-profit research institute, said the findings underline the importance of natural odours in determining a sexual partner whatever the sexual orientation of the person involved.
"Our findings support the contention that gender preference has a biological component that is reflected in both the production of different body odours and in the perception of and response to body odours," Dr Wysocki said.
The study involved 24 heterosexual and homosexual men and women who for around nine days were subjected to a "wash-out" period when they used scent-free soap and shampoo and did not eat food with garlic, cumin or curry.
After this, they wore sterile cotton pads under their armpits for a day. These were collected and stored to use as a bottled source of their body odour. A panel of 82 heterosexual and homosexual men and women, not including the donors of the armpit pads, were asked to sniff each bottled body odour and evaluate its pleasantness according to a set of criteria. In a study in the journal Psychological Science, the scientists found: "Heterosexual males and females preferred odours from heterosexual males relative to gay males; gay males preferred odours from other gay males.
"Heterosexual males and females and lesbians over the age of 25 preferred odours from lesbians, relative to the odours from gay males; gay males preferred the odours of other gay males relative to lesbians," they say.
Dr Wysocki said the strongest finding was that gay men prefer the smell of other gay men and that lesbians responded differently to body odour compared to heterosexual women. "The overall conclusions are that the body odour you most prefer or least prefer does not depend on where it comes from but it also depends on who you are, in other words, your sexual orientation," Dr Wysocki said.
Gay men preferred the odours from gay men and heterosexual women, but odours from gayman were the least preferred by heterosexual men and women and by lesbians, he said. Other studies showed that body odour is linked with a set of genes involved in controlling the immune system - called the major histocompatability complex - and heterosexual men and women preferred the odour of those with a different set of these genes to their own. One theory is that this could be an evolutionary mechanism to avoid inbreeding. The latest study suggests the genes involved in body odour may also play a role in sexual orientation.
"The bigger picture is that body odour is determined in part by gender orientation which is not something we can have predicted. And it's possible that the genes involved in body odour are also involved in later life in gender orientation," he said.
Tuesday, 10 May 2005

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The truth about men who molest children, by Rob Tisinai

Reposted from prop8trialtracker

This is a good site, full of information about the state of all LGBT peoples civil rights.  Go, look and spread the word.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On the Streets: The Federal Response to Gay and Transgender Homeless Youth

Every child deserves a supportive and loving home. But for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children and youth, that home is not available.* Gay and transgender youth are disproportionately represented among homeless youth in our country, experiencing extreme rates of violence, discrimination, and poor health while homeless.
This is happening at least partly because gay and transgender people are coming out at younger ages as society becomes increasingly supportive of equality. Twenty years ago, most people started coming out in their 20s, well after most had left home and started working. If someone’s family rejected them for being gay or transgender, it may have been emotionally painful, but the person could still likely take care of himself or herself.
Today, the usual coming out age is in the mid-teen years, when youth still depend on their families to meet their material needs and are particularly vulnerable if their family outright rejects them. For gay and transgender youth in these situations, family rejection can lead to a chain reaction of events that sends them cascading through social safety nets that are not equipped to support them.
Indeed, too many youth who come out are rejected by their families, harassed and victimized in schools, discriminated against in out-of-home care facilities, and brutalized in homeless shelters. They often resort to criminal activity, such as theft or “survival sex” in order to survive. The high rates of rejection, violence, and institutional discrimination combined with hostile school environments and social prejudice lead to an over-representation of gay and transgender youth among the homeless youth population.
The federal government can and should do more to respond to this problem. Of the approximately $4.2 billion the government spends annually on homeless assistance programs, less than 5 percent of this funding, $195 million, is allocated for homeless children and youth. Even less actually goes to serve unaccompanied homeless youth.17 Further, each year the federal government spends $44 billion on rental assistance, public housing, and affordable housing programs, yet less than 1 percent of these funds, only $44 million, is allocated for homeless youth housing assistance.
There are currently no federal programs specifically designed to meet the needs of gay and transgender homeless youth, and there are no federal protections, and few state laws, in place to keep these youth from being discriminated against while accessing federally funded homeless services.
What’s worse, federal grant awards for homeless youth services are being awarded to providers without mandating that they not discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity, leaving vulnerable youth open to harassment from staff and other residents. Nor are these grantees required to abide by basic standards of gay and transgender health care. In short, the lack of inclusive policies and targeted resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in federal grants prevents this population from having equal access to federally funded services.
The federal government can take several steps to reduce the incidence of gay and transgender youth homelessness and improve the services and treatment these youth receive if they do become homeless. Specifically, the Obama administration should:
  • Strengthen families with gay and transgender children through evidence-based support services so youth do not become homeless. The Administration for Children and Families should develop programs that help families from all communities support and nurture their gay and transgender children to promote positive development and connection to families and communities.
  • Establish schools as a safe haven for all youth, including gay and transgender youth. The Department of Education should address the role of unsafe schools in promoting youth homelessness, and aggressively address school bullying. They should also take all possible steps to ensure that homeless youth are able to continue their education.
  • Acknowledge and protect those youths who continue to fall through the cracks. The first step to do this is an executive order recognizing both lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender homeless youth and homeless youth in general as special-needs populations, and protecting them from discrimination by federal grantees.
  • Take concrete steps to expand housing options for gay and transgender homeless youth through Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Housing and Urban Development programs.
  • Initiate research in this area as gay and transgender youth homelessness, and the programs to address it, are not being adequately tracked or documented. Affirming data-collection methods for homeless gay and transgender youth should be established for all federal programs serving homeless youth. Programs to address homeless youth must be rigorously evaluated to understand what works.
Taken together, the five steps outlined above would create a coherent and consistent federal response to the crisis of gay and transgender homeless youth, which is critically needed at this time. As our nation’s society becomes more supportive of gay and transgender issues and youth come out at earlier ages, the federal government must step up and respond to the needs of these youths.
This report offers a blueprint for approaching this work. In the pages that follow, we will examine gay and transgender youth homelessness against the backdrop of overall youth homelessness in America and show the extreme levels of discrimination and violence many gay and transgender youth face at home, in school, in youth and adult homeless shelters and on the streets. We will specifically examine the many failing safety nets for these youth, and then demonstrate why our recommendations, if implemented, would do much to help ensure that all youth have a chance at a happy and healthy future.
* In this report the term gay is used as an umbrella term for all youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or queer.

By Nico Sifra Quintana, Josh Rosenthal, Jeff Krehely