Tag Archives: Children

A Wonderfully Sweet Moment: Redeeming My Faith in Humanity

26 Apr

ChildrenSometimes I have to just grab hold of very sweet moments and treasure them, for they prove to be a salve for my misanthropic woes at times. I suspect many of us have moments when we experience kindness and generosity of heart from someone — this is a great privilege and I hope people cling to these moments and embrace them.

Thursday I was leaving Portland to go to Bend where I teach a graduate class a course called Social Justice. While in the airport in Portland, I went to buy a bottle of water. In this simple process, I somehow cut my finger. How? I have no idea. Sadly, I was bleeding quite a bit — more bothersome than anything else. Being on a blood thinner (Coumadin) makes me bleed more easily and it is then difficult to stop the bleeding. While trying to pay for the water, the cashier looked at me bluntly and said sternly: “You make sure you don’t bleed on the counter.” How rude of me to be bleeding at all!!!  I grabbed the water and went to the gate.

I had a bunch of napkins and was trying desperately to stop the bleeding, for I was now very embarrassed and the napkins were completely red.

Then, a young girl, I would guess four or five, approached me with a cherubic face and voice to match and with a look of concern asked: “Would you like one of my band-aids?”  She pulled out a band aid from her box and handed it to me. I said: “Thank you. Thank you very much. You are very kind.”  The band-aid was rainbow colored and I wondered how she knew I was gay and how appropriate for her to have picked a lovely and sensitive band aid.  She smiled and waited for me to put the band aid on my bleeding finger, knowing she could walk away with her new skill of saving fingers.

I must confess, this touched me in such a way that I started to cry and felt like I was melting. This kindness from this little girl warmed my heart so tremendously, I knew I had to treasure it.

As I was getting off the plane in Bend, I went to grab my bag from the overhead compartment and saw the little girl just three seats behind me. She looked at my bandaged finger and then looked at me. I winked at her and said thank you.  What a lovely little gift. I am so glad I have now recorded it.

May all of you enjoy some happiness today and everyday, in whatever fashion that kindness reveals itself to you. I am thinking of that little girl that made this old man very happy and listening to Sweet Honey in the Rock’s song On Children. I would like to think that if I had had a child, that child would have been as equally generous and kind.

Advertisements

Happy Birthday, Octavia Hill

3 Dec
Urban living pioneer

Urban living pioneer

On this date in 1838 a British pioneer in housing reform, urban space, and social reform was born. Octavia Hill was the ninth child of a merchant banker and his third wife, an educator. Shortly after her birth, her father went bankrupt and the family began to rely on her maternal grandfather’s support. She ended her education at 12 and at 13 was accepted into a guild program for “distressed gentlewomen” –don’t you just love that phrase and the implications? When the guild expanded its program a year later, Octavia was put in charge of the children in the workroom.

She was so distressed by the poverty from which her charges came that she began to study the problem of urban slums. She also took on part-time work as a copyist for critic and philanthropist John Ruskin, and passionately shared her concerns with him. By her mid-20s she had become an expert on the laws Parliament had passed to reform living conditions for the poor and was convinced that the only way to change things was to create a new model for landlords. Ruskin purchased three cottages and put her in charge of the to implement her ideas.

In exchange for reasonable rent in a well-maintained building, tenants agreed not to overcrowd the home and to ensure that their children were educated and well cared for. Hill provided access to a number of after-school clubs and activities for the children. Her program included a weekly rent collection visit, during which her staff got to know the tenants, ensured that the building was in good condition, and verified that the rent conditions were met. Although she had a narrow view of social good that did not allow for self-determination, her true concern for the conditions of the working poor and regular visits to ensure the success of the next generation were an early form of social work.  While not perfect, I think it is worth noting how we see the early start of social work.

Recognizing the need for open spaces, she also advocated for protection of urban parks and green space. Her work in this area, combined with her pioneering ideas about housing reform, set the stage for great improvements in England that served as models elsewhere. She helped to found the National Trust and the organization that grew into the modern charity Family Action. Hill recognized that her work was a starting place. She famously noted,

When I am gone, I hope my friends will not try to carry out any special system, or to follow blindly in the track which I have trodden. New circumstances require various efforts, and it is the spirit, not the dead form, that should be perpetuated. … [more important will be] the quick eye to see, the true soul to measure, the large hope to grasp the mighty issues of the new and better days to come – greater ideals, greater hope, and patience to realize both.

Very much the voice of a social worker!  Today, I hope all of us that are social workers respect self-determination while looking at the intersections of oppression.

Boy Scouts: Molesters Welcome but Gays Need Not Apply

9 Aug

More secrets…less safety

The Boy Scouts of America are having more problems with their hypothetical ethics. The Scouts have consistently relied on a “moral code” defense to explain their refusal to allow gay Scouts or leaders. That same reasoning was trotted out again last month when the organization’s super-secret committee unanimously approved maintaining this bigoted ban. Sadly, the same reasoning doesn’t seem to apply to sexual predators and child molesters. Despite the existence of a super-secret “perversion file” (the Scouts do like their secrets, don’t they?), many men ejected from leadership roles for abuse later return to the organization.

Not unlike the Catholic Church, the Scouts have had a number of high-profile abuse cases in recent years. They have steadfastly refused to open their files, maintaining that the secrecy is what makes them effective. That’s proving a curiously bad arguement. A high-profile case in Oregon — in which the abused former Scout won nearly $20 million — resulted in court decision that the files cannot be kept secret. Prior to the release of those files, the Los Angeles Times used similar information from court cases in California to test the Scouts claim that the secret files protect young Scouts. The paper reported the results of that test this week.

[The] review of more than 1,200 files dating from 1970 to 1991 found more than 125 cases across the country in which men allegedly continued to molest Scouts after the organization was first presented with detailed allegations of abusive behavior. Predators slipped back into the program by falsifying personal information or skirting the registration process. Others were able to jump from troop to troop around the country thanks to clerical errors, computer glitches or the Scouts’ failure to check the blacklist.

In some cases, officials failed to document reports of abuse in the first place, letting offenders stay in the organization until new allegations surfaced. In others, officials documented abuse but merely suspended the accused leader or allowed him to continue working with boys while on “probation.” In at least 50 cases, the Boy Scouts expelled suspected abusers, only to discover later that they had reentered the program and were accused of molesting again.

One scoutmaster was expelled in 1970 for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Indiana. Even after being convicted of the crime, he went on to join two troops in Illinois between 1971 and 1988. He later admitted to molesting more than 100 boys, was convicted of the sexual assault of a Scout in 1989 and was sentenced to 100 years in prison, according to his file and court records. In 1991, a Scout leader convicted of abusing a boy in Minnesota returned to his old troop — right after getting out of jail.

Bill Dworkin, a retired L.A. police expert on child sexual abuse who served as a witness in the Oregon case summed things up succinctly: “Basically, there were no controls.”

So, also like the Catholics, the Scouts demonize gays while allowing predators to move from troop to troop. Relying on faulty secrecy and an outdated “moral” stand that does far more harm than good, this organization allows children to suffer while pretending to protect them. Looks like the Boy Scouts need a pretty thorough overhaul before they can consider themselves “morally straight.”

Think of the Children

13 May

Now that President Obama has endorsed marriage equality, the right-wing crazies will be coming out in full swing. They will continue to spew their broken record rhetoric like, “One man and one woman!” and “Gay marriage will lead to bestiality!” The one that I want to examine today is “Think of the children!”

This statement comes from the premise that homosexuals indoctrinate children and make them think that homosexuality is the only “choice” for them. They claim that after marriage equality is achieved, we will move on to schools putting tolerance into the curriculum which will lead more children to be gay. I can put an end to that claim, because when I was in high school we talked about being gay and gay marriage and no one “turned” gay because of it. People are either gay or they are not, all that changes is their willingness to be open. You can suppress feelings, but those feelings still exist.

The right-wing is so blinded by the premise of indoctrination that they don’t want gay people to adopt, which leaves many children waiting for loving parents. They also think that being gay equals being a pedophile. They try covering up those false claims by saying that a woman and a man who are married make the best possible situation. They continue to say this despite research that shows two parents (no gender specified) are what makes a strong environment for children.

If you look in your history books, you will never find intolerance as a tool for building strong societies. What you will find is that it leads to conflict and bloodshed, but these anti-gay groups continue to claim that intolerance builds societies. Because we, the gays, are the ones that are making societies crumble.

Anti-gay groups are the ones not thinking about the children. They are leaving a legacy of hatred and fear. They are our future history book villains. If they were truly thinking about the children, they would want to build a strong future based on tolerance, which a firm foundation. Instead, they want to build a future where the structure is faulty.

Submitted by TSM Contributor James Queale

Educating People Who Hate Gays: The Right to Love

28 Jan

Right to Love

Thank you to my friend Eric Rosswood for sharing the information on this documentary The Right to Love: An American Family.  This election year has been a particularly difficult one for the LGBT community, with all of the GOP candidates signing a pledge to actively discriminate against an entire marginalized population.  The hypocritical sanctimony coming from all of the GOP candidates is enough to make me want to spit up.

My friend Eric brought to my attention a way to educate people and eliminate the efficacy of the fear-based tactics of millionaire hypocrites like Gingrich, Romney, and the closeted Santorum.  We need to show how similar families really are–how much we have in common as we struggle to have our children become successful and happy adults.  The documentary, The Right to Love: An American Family works to educate our homophobic brothers and sisters.

It is time we started focusing on facts, rather than myths about LGBT families! For more reading, click here to read Eric’s article.

Lead with Love: How to Support Your LGBT Child

11 Dec

Thank you to my friend Erin for inspiring me to write this article.

Regardless of how anyone feels about gay rights, even those that spew bigoted homophobic hate (all of the Republican Presidential Candidates), there is bound to be someone that looks like me in your family.  Yes, this may come as a shock, but it is the heterosexual population that keeps breeding us gays.

Over the course of the past year, I have heard from many parents (mostly moms) about what to do if “my child is gay?”  I’m happy to say that most of the private emails I have received through the blog are from parents who want to be supportive, with only a few from parents that want to learn how to “change” their child.

I was very fortunate to come across an amazing resource for parents.  Lead with Love is a documentary created to help and support parents:

Our goal is to provide comfort, information, and guidance for parents who have recently learned that their son or daughter is lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The film follows four families as they share their honest reactions to hearing that their child is gay, including the intense emotions, fears, and questions that it raised.

Click here for the amazing and powerful trailer.  I wish my parents had this documentary as a resource and I’m so grateful that current parents now have this resource to support and love their lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender child.  All we want is to be loved and treated equally. A huge way to combat homophobia and transphobia is to combat systematic and institutionalized misogyny.  Please click here to learn more about Lead with Love.

%d bloggers like this: