Archive | September, 2011

Bigot of the Week Award: September 30, Justice Antonin Scalia

30 Sep

Bigot of the Week

As usual there were an embarrassing number of candidates that could have earned the dishonorable BWA.  The recent speech delivered to Catholic Duquesne University School of Law by the long-standing homophobic bigot Justice Scalia of the Fecal Five earns him this week’s BWA.

Scalia’s speech served to promote a long-standing tradition of homophobic bigotry that he feels should be protected in religious schools:

Our educational establishment these days, while so tolerant of and even insistent upon diversity in all other aspects of life seems bent on eliminating diversity of moral judgment — particularly moral judgment based on religious views… I hope this place will not yield — as some Catholic institutions have — to this politically correct insistence upon suppression of moral judgment, to this distorted view of what diversity in America means.

“Distorted view of what diversity in America means,”  wow!  Talk about an arrogant, rich, white, heterosexual (?) man speaking from great privilege; how on earth did this man get to  be a Supreme Court Justice? Aside from not understanding the definition of diversity, he clearly has no idea of what the definition of Judge is.  Memo to Justice Ginsberg, can you please let Scalia read your copy of the job description for a Supreme Court Justice?   Click here to see the full article. I continue to be amazed at how obsessed Scalia is with gays.

I have to also give a dishonorable mention to Southwest Airlines for their forcing a lesbian couple off the aircraft and proving to all of us there is a clear double standard for heterosexuals and those of us in the LGBT community.

South Worst

Hero of the Week: September 30, The Rodemeyer Family

30 Sep

Heroes of the Week

It takes great personal strength and courage of character to turn a family tragedy into an opportunity for speaking out. This weeks heroes did just that. When Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide on September 19 after enduring years of bullying for his sexual orientation, his family somehow managed to find time for their personal grief and to become outspoken advocates for the thousands of kids suffering bullying around our country.

Given Jamey’s own efforts to be a role model for LGBT youth, including recording an It Gets Better video, this is a wonderful way to honor his legacy. Traci and Tim Rodemeyer, Jamey’s parents, gave an exclusive interview to Ann Curry of NBC’s Today show, describing the circumstances of his life and death and the importance of stopping bullying. Their unflagging support of their son, even in the face of their personal tragedy, took great strength. Sadly, bullies at Jamey’s school didn’t stop after his death, but taunted his sister, Alyssa, at the homecoming dance. To her credit, Alyssa stood up and joined in the family’s message, inteviewing with Anderson Cooper.

I don’t know who would have the heart to disrespect someone even after they’re dead. It’s mindblowing.

This family’s sense of grief and loss is hard to imagine, yet somehow they have managed to honor their son with their words and actions. Taking a page from the Judy Shepard playbook, they demonstrate true courage and heroism.
Honorable mention, must, of course, go to our Laday Gaga, ever vigilant against bullying. She dedicated a concert to Jamey and took the opportunity of this tragedy to meet with President Obama about the tragic number of suicides that this plague of hostility has caused. Brava once again, Mother Monster.

Don’t Filter Me: Celebrating the Freedom to Search

29 Sep

As part of Banned Books Week, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has put together a program to raise awareness about Banned Websites. Although few websites engaging in legal acivity in the United States are literally banned , local practices in many school districts and public libraries effectively ban large segments of content. Wide-scale filtering of web content on library computers is a form of censorship and libraries must be careful to balance legal requirements with their mission to serve their communities.

Because access to Federal funding requires schools and libraries to adhere to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), many jurisdictions are confused about the level of filtering required. Students, teachers, and librarians are frustrated daily when they discover legitimate educational websites blocked by filtering software. Such filtering may also extend to the use of online social networking sites such as FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and Blogger.

Filtering websites does the next generation of digital citizens a disservice.  Students must develop skills to evaluate information from all types of sources in multiple formats, including the Internet. Relying solely on filters does not teach young citizens how to be savvy searchers or how to evaluate the accuracy of information. In order to make school more relevant to students and enhance their learning experiences, educators also need to be able to incorporate the social tools that students use every day into their coursework. Excessive filtering makes this impossible. For a great overview of how libraries can meet the requirements of CIPA and still serve their communitites, read the AASL publication Minors’ First Amendment Rights.

Another unfortunate side effect of aggressive filtering is the isolation of LGBTQ students. Online connections and information allow students to get quality information and helpful resources to understand their emerging sexual identities, regardless of orientation or geography. Many filters arbitrarily block LGBT content, even when it is not remotely sexual in nature. This is a distinct disservice to an already disenfranchised population. The ACLU has mounted the Don’t Filter Me project to help deal with this problem.

The Internet, like the world it connects, can be a scary, sometimes dangerous place. Artificially cordoning off vast swaths of its content “just in case” is not a good strategy, however. Narrowly defined filters (blocking obvious pornography, for example) together with effective instruction  and active student engagement is a much better approach. Let’s remember to help the next generation learn to be a part of their world, not hide it from them.

Homosexuality Does Not Exist: Really?

29 Sep

Obvious that Harvey does not know any gay folk.

Thanks to my friend Jen Carey for inspiring me to write this article. Apparently I do not exist, according to Linda Harvey, the founder of the right wing hate group, Mission America.  I have lost a few pounds from riding my bike. Perhaps I’ve lost too much weight and have now become invisible? Yes, over 35 million people do not exist in the United States.  Candidly, I wonder how do people like Harvey start organizations like Mission America and how do they get followers?

According to Harvey:

There’s one big fact that’s not backed up. There is no proof that there’s ever anything like a gay, lesbian or bisexual or transgendered child, or teen or human. One of the other things you’re gonna see as I mentioned is a big campaign GLSEN’s gonna roll out this year calling for ‘respect,’ respect! Not just for people, but for homosexual lifestyle. The PR campaign to hold up gay as a good thing: the lifestyle, not the person, because there are no such humans.

Wow!  You know it takes a lot to make Michele Bachmann look sane, but I do believe our Harvey has managed to do so.

One wonders if our Harvey lives in a cave, in a tree, on a deserted island? I’m happy to introduce myself, so that Harvey can meet an actual living North American homosexual in my native habitat. I would be able to laugh this off, save that she has a significant following with her organization of hate.  I feel sorry for those that live in Columbus, Ohio and for the state in which I was born, for Mission America and John Bohener have permanently marred the state–that’s just a dirt that won’t come clean!  Judging from her makeup and hair style, I will admit she probably does not know any gay folk because we would not allow her in public with that hair.  Hmm, Michele Bachmann’s hair has been looking good lately, so I wonder who does her hair?  Perhaps her husband, Marcus?

Wednesday Word of the Week, September 28: Polls

28 Sep

This weeks's favorite flavor of tea.

This week’s word is: POLL

the process of asking a number of people their opinions about something, especially a political issue

In an already interminable season of Republican campaigning, this weekend saw a surprising upset in what was considered a very important poll. The Florida Presidency V straw poll, which Florida Criminal-in-Chief, I mean Governor, Rick Scott said “would determine the next President of the United States” was won by Herman Cain.

That’s right, out of all the candidates, relatively obscure former pizza magnate Herman Cain won the poll with 37%, more than second place finisher Rick Perry (15%) and number three Mitt Romney (14%) put together. This shocking event occurred in the wake of Perry’s bumbling performances in the past few Republican debates.

Curiously, Michele Bachmann, who won the Ames straw poll a few weeks ago, finished dead last of the eight candidates, behind even Jon Huntsman. Her star has certainly fallen since Perry’s dramatic official entry into the race, but the disconnect between the two polls is quite startling.

Let’s recap the facts, shall we?

  • Perry still wins national polls about a preferred Republican nominee by a small but comfortable margin.
  • Perry has yet to be ranked a winner of any of the debates and becomes very petty and petulant as they proceed.
  • Romney comes out ahead of the Republican pack in most hypothetical match-ups against President Obama.
  • Bachmann won the Ames poll but has had very negative momentum since then.
  • Cain came from nowhere to win the Presidency V poll but has no real national standing; this could change, of course, as his name recognition skyrockets.
  • Santorum, Gingrich, and Huntsman hardly seem to matter at this point, but can perhaps take heart from Cain’s sudden success.
  • Ron Paul remains an anomaly, polling in the lower reaches but with a strong core of support who seem to trend toward “none of the above” if he’s taken out of the mix.

It’s hard to draw any strong conclusions from this, but one thing is clear: every Republican candidate is flawed and vulnerable and there is no real consensus in the party. The most likely voters want a Teamonster like Perry, but less dogmatic conservatives want someone (reasonably) articulate like Romney or Cain.

It’s early days still, despite the 437 debates the Republicans have held. Early in the 2004 campaign it was clear that the Democratic nomination was Howard Dean’s to lose, which, with the help of a hostile and shallow media, he did. In 2008, nobody thought McCain stood a chance of gaining the nomination, which he did long before the Democratic contest was settled.

In the end, there will be a Republican candidate, and none of the eight clowns in the contest will be good for America. Let’s hope they can bloody each other enough that the victor’s vulnerabilities are clear. Let’s hope that President Obama can demonstrate some real leadership and make the final contest as clear cut as possible. After all, he needs to win at the polls that really matter:

the place where people vote.

Definitions taken from Macmillan Dictionary Online

Celebrating Ann Wager and Prudence Crandall

27 Sep

Prudence Crandall

Today is a very wonderful day in history that I feel needs to be celebrated. Ann Wager was the Founding Head of School “Mistress” of  the Bray School in Williamsburg, VA.  The Bray School was created “for the Instruction of Negro Children in the Principles of the Christian Religion.”  Wager opened the school on September 27, 1760, before the United States existed and before the Abolitionist Movement had a strong foundation.

During her 14 years at the Bray School, Wager taught over 30 enslaved and free black children.  Wager died in 1774, just two years before the colonies declared their independence from England.

I also have to tip my hat here to one of my heroes, Prudence Crandall.  Crandall was also a “Mistress” of a school that firmly believed in educating students regardless of race. Upon admitting 17-year-old African-American to her girls’ school, the white families pulled their daughters.  Crandall, a Quaker, was not deterred. She kept her school open and decided she would have a school exclusively for black girls.

Of course, America, not exactly known for our progressive views, imprisoned Crandall in July of 1883, after the state of Connecticut instated  “The Black Law” prohibiting black students from going to school, without a town or state’s permission. Let’s hear it for women like Wager and Crandall who did the right thing regardless of the personal risk. I am honored to have as a friend, Patty Crone, who continues to fight for racial equality and civil rights in education. We need more champions like this today.

Progress for Transgender Youth

26 Sep

Yesterday, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) released its 7th Edition Standards of Care.  While there are so many fascinating and encouraging pieces of information, what I found particularly interesting and hopeful was the inclusion of expanded guidelines for care of transgender children and adolescents.

Chapter VI (pgs. 10-21) cover the Standards of Care for children and adolescents. This section represents a significant expansion of the guidelines specifically directed at providing competent and supportive care to transgender children and youth.  As soon as I read the full report, I hope to have a better idea of how hopeful we all can be as we try to care for and support our transgender youth.

Click here to see the full report. If you know of a family or of any youth that are in need of support and resources, please contact TransActive. My hope is that with more studies and more information the LGBT community will do better in supporting all of our transgender brothers and sisters.

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