Queer News On Campus [QNOC] Articles Digest
For the week ending 2009.11.08
Brought to you by the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals. http://www.lgbtcampus.org
Archives of the QNOC Digest can be found at http://queernewsoncampus.blogspot.com
Reminder: If you come across articles that should be included in the digest, please email a link to the article to email@example.com
1. The Commentator (Yeshiva University/Sy Syms School of Business) - The Gay Question: Time for Modern Orthodoxy to Take Off the Blindfold
2. The Dartmouth - Alumni reflect on LGBT history
3. The Hoya (Georgetown University) - Student Assaulted in Second Reported Anti-Gay Incident in One Week
4. The GW Hatchet - Two assaulted at Georgetown: Attacks said to be anti-gay hate crimes
5. The Georgetown Voice - New DPS officer to combat hate crimes
6. State Press (Arizona State University) - Nation’s first gay fraternity starting Indiana chapter
7. York Daily Record - GLBT lecture at Lancaster seminary
8. The Carolinian Online (University of North Carolina, Greensboro) - UNCG alumni discusses homosexual equality
9. The Murray State News - Campus panel discusses diversity
10. The News and Observer - Sex-toy study at Duke raises some eyebrows
11. MLive.com - Filmmaker turns down speaking invitation at Hope College because of timing, not ban on gay rights talk
12. Daily 49er (California State University, Long Beach) - Sociologist sees decrease in ‘homo-hysteria’
13. The Daily Targum (Rutgers University) - U. affiliates to address athlete homophobia
14. The Daily Targum (Rutgers University) - Panel pushes progress for LGBT athletes
15. The Kansas City Kansan - 'Two Spirits Tradition' next week at KCKCC
16. The Reflector (Mississippi State University) - Gay adoption complex, controversial issue
17. Chicago Now - Toshi Reagon at Northwestern University: Singer-songwriter to tell the secrets of mixing music with social activism
18. Pacific University Oregon - Performing artist Tim Miller to present 1001 Beds: Art and Activism on Thursday, Nov. 12
19. MLive.com - Talk on LGBT tolerance, family support draws rapt attention in Kalamazoo
20. The Montclarion (Montclair State University) - Transgender Student Assaulted by Three Unknown Men
21. The Montclarion (Montclair State University) - Students Rally Against Bias Crimes on Campus
1. The Commentator (Yeshiva University/Sy Syms School of Business), November 1, 2009
500 West 185th St. New York, NY 10033
The Gay Question: Time for Modern Orthodoxy to Take Off the Blindfold
The scientific mentality and socially liberal outlook of our times has tried the viability of many ancient religious doctrines. In our Modern Orthodox community, we proudly (and hopefully modestly) maintain that our religious beliefs don't run counter to our rational tendencies. Science enriches and adorns our religious lives. Our halachic worldview is imbued with true morality. Discrepancies between modern moral standards and the Torah's edicts are explainable, and don't truly oppose the moral backbone of contemporary society. However, one pressing issue facing the modern world, one which has applied uncomfortable pressure to the Orthodox world, has been shamefully swept under the rug. The moral and religious dilemma that this issue poses has not yet been dealt with in an adequate fashion. That issue is homosexuality.
The number of openly gay individuals in the secular community overwhelmingly outweighs the number of openly gay individuals in our Orthodox community. If we assume that sexuality is not a matter of choice (the most accepted approach today) then we are confronted with an unsettling question: Is it really possible that the Orthodox world breeds fewer people wrought with the inner conflict of sexual identity? Probably not. It seems, rather, that Orthodox individuals grappling to balance their sexual desires, religious values, and social pressures are either forced into hidden lives of suffering or are driven from the derech of Orthodox life altogether in search of happiness elsewhere. Of those who stay in the Orthodox fold, many fall into marriages racked with complications, while others remain single, living bitter lives of quiet desperation. Of those who fall away from Orthodoxy, many are estranged from their families and friends, harboring a deep resentment for the Orthodox community's failure to help them and their loved ones with a painful issue. Allowing such heartache to continue in our midst without open and honest discussion of this issue amongst rabbinical leaders and laymen is a failure to engage in the obligation of tikkun olam and a callous neglect of individual suffering.
I have firsthand experience with the tribulation and confusion that mark the life of an Orthodox, gay individual. I am a member of the Mazer Yeshiva Program in my first year in YU, and I am gay. At age eleven I knew I was gay; it was a realization marked by the same innocence of a fifth grader who has a crush on a pretty girl in class. Since the age of fourteen, I have known that I would eventually have to face unpleasant truths in dealing with my supposedly divergent identities. I am comfortable with myself, but uncertain of the best way to tackle the next few years of my life. I have no long-term plan.
It is a constant struggle to determine what the Creator wants from me. Do I remain in the closet and single for the rest of my life? That doesn't sit well with me. Should I come out and remain single? Should I look for a relationship with a guy with whom I will have no physical contact? Is that possible? Will I someday unceremoniously collapse from the pressure and end up not frum but in a fulfilling relationship? These questions race through my mind in a perpetual cycle every day of my life. The thought of telling my family that I am gay – and probably incapable of getting married and having children – is one that douses me with waves of paralyzing fear. How does anyone bring heartbreak to unsuspecting loved ones ill-equipped to cope with the issue at hand? How does a family cope with the homosexuality of a loved one in a community where the issue is stigmatized and worthy only of hushed, whispered discussions? My situation is not unique. The questions I confront and the distress my family would face if I let them in on my secret are only the beginning of the struggle for all Orthodox, gay individuals.
Ultimately, I am not just writing to raise awareness and lambaste our collective treatment of the issue. I am writing with a rough proposal. Last year, a heart-wrenching testimony was published anonymously in Kol Hamevaser (II:4) by another gay Yeshiva University student. The author highlighted both the existence of gays in the Orthodox world, and the inconspicuous nature of their presence amongst the most frum crowds. He thought that marriage was the most preferable, though seemingly evasive, solution to his problem. Although I salute his strength and conviction, and firmly align myself with his call to awaken others to our existence, I disagree with several facets of his approach. First, the option of marriage for a gay individual is one which demands wary and cautious endorsement. I am cynical about the possibility for success in a heterosexual marriage tainted by homosexual tendencies. The fact that the Orthodox community has historically adopted this approach is problematic. Do we really want to encourage people to enter sexually dysfunctional marriages? Second, I think that the author failed to pressure the Orthodox community to take concrete action in addressing the needs of all individuals faced with the challenge of being gay.
I want to suggest a few baby steps we can take towards helping people like me. The first step we must take towards helping gay men and women in our communities is waking up our leaders. The time has come for our rabbinic leadership to realize that gays are as common in the Jewish community as they are in the secular community. If the rabbinic leadership shuts their eyes and ears, they will not make gays disappear. They will not make me disappear. It is an immature and destructive way to deal with a real problem. I urge the rebbeim of Yeshiva University and other rabbinic leaders to recognize our existence, and to take a proactive role in organizing open discussion of the issue of homosexuality. The attitude of cavalier indifference must come to an end in our community.
This will pave the way for the second, and most important, step I am proposing. We need to eliminate the stigma. In the secular world, interacting with gays and discussing gay issues has become mainstream. I think we need to follow that example. That is not to suggest that we need to accept or embrace homosexual behavior. But we need to cultivate an atmosphere of acceptance and open discussion. If we sincerely work towards this objective, we will create an environment where those confronted with this issue will feel comfortable expressing themselves. Then, we can weave support networks focused on finding comfortable solutions for affected individuals and families. This would be following the model that we embrace for all other communal problems.
The last suggestion I want to make is the creation of a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) on campus. I am, admittedly, a bit skeptical about this last suggestion, but I am curious of the results. GSAs are prevalent on campuses across the country. They are not only found on college campuses, but in high schools and middle schools as well. They promote the comfort of gay members of the school and nurture a sensitive, accepting environment. GSAs also create a forum for discussion of gay issues and concerns. The beauty of a GSA is that it can be started by a straight activist. In fact, all the members can be straight. On our campus, in particular, if someone had the guts to start one, and many people joined it, gays would feel comfortable joining under the veil of being straight. A GSA could become the mainspring in provoking progress on our treatment of homosexuality.
Hopefully, I have drawn some ears and prodded some hearts in Yeshiva University and the Modern Orthodox community at large. Properly dealing with homosexuality in our community will accomplish more than meets the eye. We would be performing a tremendous act of chessed for countless suffering individuals, both in the present and in the future. We would decrease the number of gay individuals that fall away from Orthodox life because they don't see futures for themselves in our communities. We will alleviate the pain of families who have nowhere to turn in dealing with homosexuality. And, finally, we would be true to our own Modern Orthodox values. By honestly approaching the realities we are confronted with and finding ways for our divinely dictated halachic system to solve the issues at hand, we defend the integrity of our religious beliefs. Through an honest and intensive search for the best solution to the gay question we can end a dishonorable period of apathy, and infuse Torah life with fresh credibility and esteem.
The anonymous author of this article can be reached with questions, comments, or concerns at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. The Dartmouth, November 2, 2009
6175 Robinson Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755
Alumni reflect on LGBT history
By Lauren Vespoli
In what event organizers said was an effort to show alumni that support for the LGBT community at the College has increased in the past 25 years, the Dartmouth Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Alumni/ae Association held its 25th anniversary all-class reunion this past weekend.
The reunion included lectures and panel discussions, as well as social events, including an awards dinner on Saturday night.
“Looking back and celebrating 25 years is a great opportunity for older alums to see Dartmouth as open and welcoming and warm from the administration and students,” Kamil Walji ’03, a member of the DGALA board of directors, said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “It makes a difference for alums who might have had bad experiences here.”
Joanne Herman ’75, who graduated from the College as a male student and transitioned in 2002 to live as a female, said that she chose not to visit the College for nearly 30 years after her graduation, believing that it would not be a “comfortable environment.”
“There were no resources; no one was out,” Herman said of her experience as an LGBT student during the 1970s. “How things have changed.”
After a positive experience at the 2004 DGALA reunion, Herman said she decided to come to her own class reunion the next year.
Other alumni also cited difficulties at Dartmouth as LGBT students.
“It’s such a different world now,” Thomas Song ’53, the oldest member of DGALA, said. “Sixty years ago, when I enrolled, homosexuality was a sin, a crime, it was unspeakable.”
Song, who is openly gay, was also one of the few Korean students enrolled at the College during the Korean War.
“My [sexual] orientation was the least of my problems,” he said.
Allen Drexel ’91 and Michael Guzman ’06 led Saturday’s panel discussion, “The DGALA History Project,” touching on Dartmouth’s past. They said administrators and students at the College were not always open toward LGBT students. Drexel said the College’s remote location, as well as its long history as a men’s college, likely contributed to a hyper-masculine culture that was not always welcoming to gay men. Especially during Dartmouth’s all-male period, homophobia used to be seen as proof of one’s own virility, Drexel said.
He said that he felt somewhat marginalized by Dartmouth students as a gay student in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“As a gay man, I hadn’t really had the Dartmouth experience,” Drexel said. “To be LGBT was to lack full citizenship here.”
Guzman said that he knew fewer LGBT students at Dartmouth than in his Connecticut hometown.
“When I was here, there was no support for LGBT students,” DGALA secretary Peter Williams ’76 said in an interview with The Dartmouth. “You would get sent to Dick’s House if they thought you were gay.”
College President Jim Yong Kim discussed the LGBT community’s history at Dartmouth during his speech at the group’s welcome reception on Friday night.
“I understand that at various points at Dartmouth College, life might not have been so sweet for LGBT students,” he said. “The fact that you can come back is very meaningful to us, and we are glad to have you back.”
Gene Robinson, the ninth bishop of New Hampshire, spoke about reconciling perceived differences between tenets of Christianity and the LGBT community in a lecture on “Faith and Sexuality” on Saturday. Robinson, known for being the first gay, non-celibate bishop of a major Christian denomination, gave the invocation at President Barack Obama’s inauguration earlier this year.
“He wanted us to realize that sexual orientation and religion don’t have to be exclusive of each other,” Sarah Burgamy ’00, who helped coordinate the reunion, said.
Acting Dean of the College Sylvia Spears praised the event, although she said there is still room for Dartmouth to improve on LGBT issues.
“It’s wonderful to bring alums and students together to see how the College has changed to be more accepting,” Spears said. “There has been lots of growth, but there is always more room to grow to make Dartmouth better for the LGBT community.”
3. The Hoya (Georgetown University), November 1, 2009
Student Assaulted in Second Reported Anti-Gay Incident in One Week
By Kevin Barber
A student was physically assaulted in a bias-related incident near the intersection of 36th and N Streets, witnesses reported to the Department of Public Safety early Sunday morning. It was the second time in one week a student was the victim of a reported assault that appeared to be motivated by anti-gay bias.
According to a DPS Public Safety Alert, a male suspect repeatedly asked the victim, “Are you a homo?” before physically assaulting the victim. The victim was taken to the emergency room of Georgetown University Hospital by GERMS to be treated for injuries sustained in the assault.
A female student was allegedly physically assaulted on Canal Road last Tuesday by two unknown males after being taunted on the basis of her perceived sexual orientation. She said she was wearing a T-shirt expressing support for gay rights at the time.
The PSA sent after Sunday’s reported assault, which was e-mailed to the campus community on Sunday afternoon, said the incident was reported at about 1:32 a.m. Sunday but did not specify when the incident took place.
The suspect was described as a white male wearing red and white face paint and a black leather jacket. DPS notified the Metropolitan Police Department and an investigation is in progress, the PSA said.
A slur was found posted on the door of the LGBTQ Resource Center on Monday. Shiva Subbaraman, the director of the center, said she found the note, which was directed at her, on the door at 8 a.m. on Monday morning. She said she contacted DPS immediately and filed a report. According to DPS, the note read, “Homo go home to India.”
About 50 students gathered in Red Square at 5 p.m. on Sunday evening to protest the reported assaults. The rally, which was organized by Carter Lavin (SFS ’10), followed by a march from the front gates of campus to the Intercultural Center.
Members of GU Pride subsequently held a meeting in an ICC classroom to discuss campus security, the university’s response to the incidents and the safety of LGBTQ students at Georgetown. About 25 students attended the meeting.
About 200 people attended a vigil in support of the victims of the reported assaults at 8:30 p.m. Monday night in Red Square.
Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Rosemary Kilkenny and Vice President for Mission and Ministry Fr. Philip Buroughs, S.J. sent an e-mail to the campus community at about 5 p.m. Monday evening encouraging students to report suspicious activity to DPS and to use the university’s Bias Reporting System.
The university will meet with representatives of the MPD Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit this week, the e-mail said.
4. The GW Hatchet, November 5, 2009
2140 G Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037
Two assaulted at Georgetown: Attacks said to be anti-gay hate crimes
By Shannon O'Reilly
The recent alleged anti-gay assaults of two Georgetown University students has stirred both the Georgetown and GW LGBTQ communities and raised questions over whether gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender students are safe.
Around 200 people attended a vigil in support of the victims on Monday night in Georgetown's Red Square, and students had gathered there Sunday evening to protest the reported assaults over the past week.
The victims include a female student harassed and assaulted last Tuesday while wearing a T-shirt supporting gay rights.
Georgetown's Department of Public Safety categorized the crime as a "Hate or Bias Related Incident."
The second alleged victim is a male student who was walking near 36th and N streets when he was assaulted early Sunday morning by an unknown male in an act believed to be motivated by anti-gay bias.
The suspect reportedly asked the victim several times, "Are you a homo?" and then fled the scene after physically assaulting the victim, according to a DPS report.
The editorial board of Georgetown's student newspaper, The Hoya, called the attacks "a disappointing wake-up call for us" in a recent editorial.
Michael Komo, president of Allied in Pride at GW, said he was deeply saddened by the recent assaults.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of these victims," he said in a phone interview Tuesday night.
The executive board of Allied in Pride met Wednesday to discuss what to do about the two assaults. Allied in Pride will consult Georgetown University and the Metropolitan Police Department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit before taking action, Komo said.
"We want to make sure that these assaults were actual hate crimes," he said Tuesday. "We don't want to act preemptively."
A statement from MPD spokeswoman Traci Hughes says the investigation into the incidents is ongoing and asks anyone with information about the cases to come forward.
"The GLLU is also working closely with Georgetown DPS, student groups, faculty and administration in order to return a sense of safety to the campus. We are developing a number of safety seminars geared towards personal safety, assault prevention and incident and crime reporting," the statement said.
Patrols by the GLLU and Second District officers will be increased in the area of Georgetown University as well.
"These assaults, on or off campus, are a serious concern for us. We will do everything in our power to bring those responsible to justice. We have aggressive laws in the District to prosecute hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law and we intend to use them," MPD Chief Cathy Lanier said in a statement.
Allied in Pride plans to vote on dedicating Trans Day of Remembrance - a candlelight vigil held every November to honor victims of transgender crimes - to the two recent victims.
Komo explained that although "these crimes were not against transgender people, these individuals are part of the LGBT community."
The Hoya's editorial board wrote Tuesday that the assaults of the past week have demonstrated that the Georgetown University's efforts to make the LGBTQ community feel secure have "come up short."
Komo said he was pleased with the way GW has treated the LGBTQ community.
"We have been fortunate that we haven't seen hate crimes at GW. For that, I am thankful."
Komo attributes the reduction of hate crimes and their likelihood at GW to institutions like 4-RIDE and the University Police Department. Allied in Pride also has a contact within UPD and MPD's GLLU, Komo said.
"We have worked with them and will continue to work with them in order to both educate people on the issue of hate crimes and to prevent them at the same time," Komo said in an e-mail.
With the recent assaults at Georgetown, Komo said, "People are now more aware of the issue if they weren't already."
5. The Georgetown Voice, November 5, 2009
New DPS officer to combat hate crimes
By Lillian Kaiser and Satinder Kaur
The Department of Public Safety has assigned a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Liaison Officer to combat homophobia on campus, according to Associate Director of DPS Joseph Smith.
“[Officer Elizabeth Fendrich] will carry a cell phone so that our campus community can contact her directly,” Smith wrote in an e-mail. “It is important…that the LGBTQ community feels that they have a trusted law enforcement resource in DPS that they can access when the need arises.”
Smith said the officer was appointed approximately a month ago.
The new LGBTQ Liaison Officer is part of a larger effort on the part of the University to better protect Georgetown’s LGBTQ community in the wake of two hate crimes that have occurred in the past week.
The first incident occurred on October 27 when a student wearing a pro-gay rights shirt was physically assaulted by two unknown males on Canal Road, according to a Public Safety Alert. Five days later, another student was hospitalized after a bias-related physical assault on 36th and N Streets NW.
In addition to the two assaults, an anonymous hate note was taped to the door of the LGBTQ Center on Monday, according to Director of the LGBTQ Center Sivagami Subbarata.
Although DPS is taking measures to prevent further violence, the Metropolitan Police Department cannot look into either attack until the victims file police reports. So far, neither victim has done so, according to Executive Director of MPD’s Office of Communications Traci Hughes.
In a Monday night meeting of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, MPD Lieutenant John Hedgecock said the victim of Sunday’s attack did not remember much about it.
“He had really no recollection of what had occurred,” Hedgecock said.
Last night, the Students Concerned about Campus Safety Working Group held a meeting to brainstorm specific solutions for safety concerns. Students suggested measures such as increasing pay for DPS officers and more frequent patrols at night.
Some students have criticized the University’s immediate response to the attacks. Carter Lavin (SFS ‘10) was outraged when he found out about the November 1 incident.
“The safest place to be is the scene of the crime the day after it happens, that’s when all the police are there,” Lavin explained. “If this is able to happen twice in one week, it shows the University didn’t care. Now they’ve done all this stuff. Well, it would have been nice half a week ago.”
When an e-mail went out to the University community on Sunday about the second attack, Lavin organized a flash protest on Sunday afternoon, starting a wave of student activism that included a vigil and several meetings addressing issues of student safety.
At the vigil on Monday night, students, faculty, staff, and administrators called for an improvement of student safety and expressed anger about Georgetown’s atmosphere surrounding homosexuality.
“Georgetown will not tolerate homophobia or any other form of discrimination,” Rosemary Kilkenny, Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity, said on behalf of the administration at Monday’s vigil.
GU Pride President Joseph Graumann (SFS ‘10) conveyed the disillusionment of many LGBTQ students in the face of the attacks.
“They show that Georgetown is not an entirely safe and tolerant community for every student,” Graumann said. “They show that these kinds of crimes can happen to any one of us.”
Many speakers at the vigil made reference to the fall of 2007, when similar crimes spurred Georgetown’s creation of the LGBTQ Resource Center. Subbarata spoke of the Center’s history at the vigil.
“I’m very aware of what made the Center open 14 months ago, but it has been a wonderful 14 months,” Subbarata said. “The fact that there are so many people here is proof that times have changed at Georgetown.”
Speakers at the vigil were adamant that the single event would not be the end of the discussion about homophobia and safety on campus.
“It’s amazing to see the institutional support,” Olivia Chitayat (SFS ‘10) said. “We know we’re not falling on deaf ears.”
6. State Press (Arizona State University), November 3, 2009
950 S Cady Mall, Tempe, AZ 85287-1502
Nation’s first gay fraternity starting Indiana chapter
By April Atwood
The nation’s first exclusively college-based gay and gay-allied fraternity is expanding for the first time beyond its original ASU chapter.
Sigma Phi Beta, which launched at ASU in 2003, is preparing to open its second chapter at Indiana University in 2010 where sophomore Joshua Thomas has begun the process to create the second nationally recognized chapter of the organization.
The organization’s goal is to establish five chapters, which is the amount necessary to join the North-American Interfraternity Conference, Thomas said.
However, establishing five chapters has proven to be more difficult for a gay fraternity than a non-gay-allied fraternity, he said.
“Of course … there is some hesitation. It’s a new idea,” Thomas said.
Sam Holdren, an ASU alumnus who was a member of the founding chapter, is now the director of communications at Sigma Phi Beta’s national headquarters in Tempe.
“I remember first coming on campus, getting involved in the LGBT community, helping to start up the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Coalition at ASU … protesting in the student senate and getting snickers from people in the audience, just at the words ‘LGBT,’” Holdren said. “The campus shifted after that.”
Members of other Greek organizations have changed in their attitudes toward the fraternity as well, he said.
“I think a lot of other Greeks are more open now than they were before,” Holdren said.
Of the many Greek organizations at ASU, Peter Haslag, president of ASU’s Delta Upsilon fraternity, said Sigma Phi Beta brings diversity to the table, adding that Greek life at ASU has been very accepting
“Some guys don’t feel like they would have a place in a regular fraternity … I think they might get treated differently, and this is an opportunity for them,” Haslag said.
The fraternity has offered an opportunity for gay students to take part in everything Greek life has to offer, without feeling uncomfortable or having to hide their sexual orientation, said Michael Begay, the current president of Sigma Phi Beta.
“A lot has changed since I was a pledge,” he said.
The organization won Chapter of the Year at ASU in 2007 and 2008 for the ASU Greek Life Awards and has become very involved in community service.
The organization hit another milestone last Monday when it initiated its 100th member, Holdren said. He attributed the growing number to the unique opportunities for gay men to be themselves within the Greek community.
Thomas said that wanting to become involved in Greek life, but doubting whether he would be comfortable in a traditional Greek setting, was his motivation. He contacted Sigma Phi Beta’s national headquarters to begin the process of establishing a chapter at Indiana University earlier this semester.
Thomas will have to show that he is able to recruit people to join the organization and demonstrate they can be successful at that campus, he said.
“We want to have a comfortable place for everyone of every sexual orientation,” Thomas said.
The fraternity is also open to straight students who are gay-allied, and Thomas said he hopes to have allied members to create a bond and break down segregation between the Sigma Phi Beta fraternity and others on campus.
“There is always going to be some opposition to change … but we have had more support than opposition,” he said.
Thomas works with the Greek Life office at IU to garner support from alumni and students. The organization will hopefully enhance the student life experience for gay students and give them a chance to use philanthropy events to benefit the LGBT community, he said.
Haslag’s said the fraternity’s success at ASU is an example for future chapters.
“It’s definitely a different change, a different feel from traditional Greek life, but if you look at a university that’s larger than most, and see the success we have had at ASU, there is no reason they can’t have success there as well.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com.
7. York Daily Record, November 3, 2009
1891 Loucks Road, York, PA, 17408
GLBT lecture at Lancaster seminary
Dr. Kathryn Tanner of the University of Chicago Divinity School will give the annual LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) lecture at Lancaster Theological Seminary 11 a.m. Nov. 12 in the Santee Chapel.
Her theme will be Unnatural Associations: Christianity as an Experiment in Human Community.
Tanner's books include "God and Creation in Christian Theology" and "The Politics of God." Her latest is "Economy of Grace," exploring the intersections between theology and economics.
The seminary is at 555 W. James St. in Lancaster. For details, visit www.lancasterseminary.edu.
8. The Carolinian Online, November 3, 2009
Box N1 Elliott University Center, UNCG, Greensboro, NC 27412
UNCG alumni discusses homosexual equality
By Craig Veltri
A group of fewer than 50 people bunched in to a small but intimate corner of the Cultural Resource Center at the EUC on Friday to hear about the state of affairs on the civil rights front in North Carolina.
Rebecca Mann, a UNCG alum and community organizer for Equality NC, the Raleigh-based organization which, according to one of their brochures, "… is the only organization representing the needs of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) community to the North Carolina General Assembly," led the discussion that highlighted some of Equality NC's legislative accomplishments and goals for the future. She also discussed how they were able to achieve their agenda through coalition building, lobbying, grassroots advocacy, and what Mann called "legislative champions," the people in the general assembly who vote for the policies they champion.
Mann stated the necessity for state-based representation, because "there is no one size fits all policy in the U.S. ... We definitely need to advocate for pro-LBGT policies, elect leaders who are going to support those, and educate each other, the general public - really all parts of this cycle on these issues. That's how good policies are won and that's how we actually work to make sure that happens."
Among those policies mentioned was the continued lack of a marriage amendment in the state of North Carolina, which Mann considers "redundant" due to a statute that outlaws gay marriage. Mann also mentioned the School Violence Prevention Act, or, as she called it, "My life for the last year and a half." The act requires that all schools in North Carolina define bullying by the standards set by the general assembly.
This presentation was part of the Office of Multicultural Affairs' Human Rights Week, a weeklong series of events that focused on civil rights in America.
9. The Murray State News, November 5, 2009
Campus panel discusses diversity
By Ashlee Cobb
A panel of Murray State faculty, staff and students discussed the many faces of diversity and its impact in higher education Wednesday in New Richmond.
Leon Bodevin, professor of modern languages and faculty head for New Richmond, along with the Richmond Residential College Counsel, organized the open discussion and panel, asking faculty, staff and students from diverse backgrounds to participate.
Each of the panelists presented an aspect of diversity in their own lives, bringing different points of view to the discussion, Bodevin said.
The panelists for the discussion included Ann Beck, professor of government, law and international affairs; Mike Waag, professor of modern languages; Luis Canales, director for the Institute for International Studies; Robin Phelps, senior from Cape Girardeau, Mo.; and Jody Cofer, co-chair of Murray State President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, as moderator.
“When we went to organize this, we got together with Dr. Beck, the RCC of Richmond, Jody and Robin, so the organization of the panel was a collaborative effort,” Bodevin said.
“We wanted to pull together students, faculty and staff to cover the breadth of diversity,” Cofer said. “That is why it is called ‘Not Everything is Black and White.’ There is a lot of gray area there. Diversity is a very broad concept.”
Bodevin said he asked each participant to explain what diversity meant to them and share their personal experiences with diversity during higher education.
Waag said his experience of cultural diversity was exciting, having grown up in the southwest.
“I grew up in a very cultural diverse area of this country in Arizona near the Mexico border,” Waag said. “Cultural diversity was not threatening to me; it was what made life interesting.”
Diversity impacts a large component of life, and Murray State is no exception, Bodevin said.
“We want to promote discussions that students rarely have the opportunity to address,” Bodevin said. “We wanted to give them a space outside of class to voice their opinions.”
Beck said she thinks the younger generation is more tolerant than older generations.
“Younger people tend to be more open to new experiences,” Beck said. “They are turned on by life in general. Every single generation in America has been more open on some issues than the previous ones.”
Luis Canales said discussing diversity is not enough but students and faculty also need to accept diversity on campus and around the world.
“We need to accept diversity and what it brings to campus life,” Canales said. “What sort of environment do we need to create to have a campus where people are not judged or ridiculed for what they believe?”
Morgan Randall, sophomore from Louisville, Ky., said discussions of diversity and tolerance should be campus wide and programs should be implemented to encourage diversity on campus.
“I like the idea that everyone should (be) made to feel discriminated for a day,” Randall said. “It would start discussion. It would make them more open, want more change and more diversity.”
University President Randy Dunn said Murray State President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion is constructing a plan to allow for more diversity on campus.
“The idea of the commission is to go beyond just worrying about compliance, but to be more proactive in figuring out how we can make the campus more responsive and forward thinking in looking at issues of diversity and inclusion,” Dunn said.
The next topic the panel will discuss is globalization on February 11.
Contact Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. The News and Observer, November 2009
215 South McDowell Street, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, NC 27602
Sex-toy study at Duke raises some eyebrows
The Associated Press
DURHAM, N.C. -- A campus religious leader is unhappy about a study at Duke University that invites female students to attend parties where they can buy sex toys.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Friday that the director of the Duke Catholic Center has lodged a complaint with researchers. The Rev. Joe Vetter says the study doesn't promote relationships.
The study asks female students over age 18 to attend the events that are similar to Tupperware parties but with erotic toys, lingerie and games. The women complete surveys about their sexual attitudes before and after the parties and get product discounts.
A spokesman for Duke said the sex-toy party project went through the peer review process. Vetter says he plans to discuss the topic at Sunday mass.
11. MLive.com, November 7, 2009
Filmmaker turns down speaking invitation at Hope College because of timing, not ban on gay rights talk
By Dave Murray, The Grand Rapids Press
HOLLAND — An Oscar-winning filmmaker has declined an invitation to discuss screenwriting with Hope College students, but the decision might have more to do with timing and not an administration prohibition against Dustin Lance Black discussing gay rights.
Black, who won an Academy Award for his original screenplay for “Milk,” is in the Holland area directing a new film, the TicTock Studios production “What’s Wrong with Virginia?”
Some Hope students had requested a screening of “Milk” followed by a forum discussion about sexuality. He also was invited by the college’s English Department to speak to a screenwriting class. Hope leaders nixed the roundtable discussion, saying Black’s “notoriety as an advocate for gay rights would not contribute constructively to the ongoing exploration and dialogue on our campus.”
Administrators said Black was welcome to meet with the class to discuss his craft, but English Department Chairman David Klooster said Black declined.
Attempts to reach Black were unsuccessful, but a representative from TicTock Studios said the decision might be a result of a tight schedule rather than the original snub.
Friday was the last scheduled day of shooting for “What’s Wrong with Virginia,” which is Black’s directorial debut.
Weather issues have caused delays and problems for the film, which stars Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris. Emma Roberts and Amy Madigan also are in the cast.
Filming originally was scheduled to wrap up at the end of October, and scenes were shot in the Holland, Grand Haven and South Haven areas.
E-mail Dave Murray: email@example.com
12. Daily 49er (California State University, Long Beach), November 3, 2009
1250 Bellflower Boulevard SSPA 004B, Long Beach, CA, 90840-4601
Sociologist sees decrease in ‘homo-hysteria’
By Danya Banjoko
Cal State Long Beach alumnus Eric Anderson discussed behavioral links to “homo-hysteria” yesterday in a speech titled “Being Straight is so Gay: The Improving Nature of Straight Masculinity.”
Anderson, an American sociologist at the University of Bath in England, “came out of the closet” on campus at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Student Resource Center.
“I always knew I was gay,” Anderson said.
As a researcher on the topics of men, sport and sexuality, Anderson discovered changing attitudes toward being a homosexual male in different spaces.
Anderson began with a memory from his childhood. He said he felt “electricity” around his male playmates as a child that he did not feel around his female playmates. At the age of 9, Anderson already knew he had to “fashion an excuse for looking [at other boys].”
Anderson’s speech focused on heterosexual behavior and homo-hysteria. According to Anderson, “the mid-1980s was the most homophobic period in history.”
Anderson pointed to three major factors: cultural backlash, the rise of fundamentalist Christians and the AIDS epidemic.
Anderson developed a theory that says “as cultural awareness of homosexuality rises, men will try to distance themselves from being thought gay.”
Homo-hysteria, as described by Anderson, can make a heterosexual man fear that anyone can be gay. Anderson points to the AIDS epidemic as being one of the biggest proponents of this hysteria.
At one point, AIDS had been considered a “gay disease” — but straight men were contracting it, and people began to panic.
“Heterosexuals had to prove over and over again that they were straight,” Anderson said.
Anderson used the phrase “policing heterosexual behavior” to describe what straight men were doing in the ’80s to prove their heterosexuality. He believes body language, clothes, sporting activities and other social interactions became indicators of being a “fag” or “straight.”
Anderson gave the example of a “man-bag.” Anderson recalled attending CSULB in the ’80s and seeing all guys wearing their backpacks on one shoulder.
“Two shoulders meant ‘fag,’” Anderson said.
Through his research, Anderson observed that today, men wear bags slung across their chest similar to women’s purses. For Anderson, this is proof of the changing tone that has been associated with homosexuals for years.
“Men can dress better and behave better because of the redefinition of heterosexual behavior,” he said.
Anderson also said men are now being accepted when they cry; crying is natural and is now becoming a part of masculinity.
“We are large, emotional bags of water,” Anderson said.
Clothing is a big indicator of sexuality, according to Anderson, who lives in England and sees straight men wearing an array of bright colors, including pink and pastel cardigans. According to Anderson, this is because homo-hysteria has decreased.
In 1992-93 there was a redefinition of masculinity. Bill Clinton played his saxophone on "Saturday Night Live." Leonardo Di Caprio became a new sex idol at the time and his thin body changed heterosexual sex appeal.
Anderson also discussed how colors have become a symbol.
“Pink was not an acceptable color to wear [and] was coded as something for fags,” he said. “How does a color become coded for sexuality?”
13. The Daily Targum (Rutgers University), November 3, 2009
126 College Ave. Suite 431, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
U. affiliates to address athlete homophobia
By Mary Diduch
When Sean Smith, a former University swimmer and coach, came out as gay in 2005 during his senior year of college, he struggled to find guidance at the University despite the support of his teammates.
“I always felt like there was a magnifying glass on me, so I was very destructive to myself because I didn’t know where I could go to get help,” Smith said.
While he said his experience with homophobia in college athletics was better than most, he also saw its ugly side, making him an advocate for the rarely-discussed issue.
The University will host an event Thursday raising awareness for the typically taboo subject.
“We R All One Team: Homophobia in Intercollegiate Sports” will feature a screening of the movie “Training Rules” from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of the Cook Campus Center, followed by a panel discussion.
Smith, scheduled to be a panelist, said everyone’s experience is different.
Andrew Germek, who is on the University’s club crew team, said he came out his sophomore year of college.
He worried the relationships with his teammates would change, but they did not.
Instead, he said his team was very accepting.
“Nothing changed; the experience was fine,” said Germek, a Rutgers College senior.
Senior Dean of Students Mark Schuster, an openly gay administrator who teaches a course on sexuality and gender in athletics, said there was resistance in the past dealing openly with the issue.
“We’ve come a very long way, certainly in terms of the University and the athletic department,” said Schuster, who added that the University is one of the top in the nation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender acceptance.
Support is important for closeted athletes to feel comfortable coming out, because homophobia can be prevalent in an athletic environment, Smith said.
“I think it’s a nationwide phenomena that homophobia is still so accepted in the sports world,” Smith said.
Schuster said this is important to address, as this is a group six to eight times more likely to commit suicide.
Germek said during his first year, he heard slurs such as “That’s so gay” in the locker room. This stopped when he came out.
Schuster said the hyper-feminized and hyper-masculinized nature of athletics creates misperceptions and stereotypes about athletes, making it difficult for those questioning their sexuality.
“Even straight-identified or non-LGBT-identified women … if they’re very athletic, the default is they’re lesbians,” he said.
One misperception toward LGBT athletes is that they check out others in the locker room, Germek said. Common team actions such as hugging could also be misperceived.
“We hope that in a college setting, everyone will embrace the diversity of all of those around them,” said University Athletic Director Tim Pernetti in an e-mail correspondence. “Just like with anything else, everyone will react differently based on their own beliefs and values.”
Schuster said the school and state have several methods to support LGBT athletes institutionally, such as the implementation of an NCAA rule.
“The NCAA requires that if an institution does not show ways in which they’ve created safe spaces for LGBT athletes, they could lose their membership with the NCAA,” Schuster said.
The NCAA is also actively seeking acceptance and instruction on the issue, and the state and University have non-discrimination policies to help LGBT athletes feel safe, Schuster said.
“Rutgers athletics and the University follow the same policy prohibiting discrimination and harassment,” Pernetti said. “I can’t speak to what other universities do and how our policy compares, other than to say that Rutgers’ policy has always been progressive.”
Smith said safe places for gay and lesbian athletes still raises some difficulties.
“It’s a very insulated community in an athletic department, so everyone ends up knowing everyone else’s business through the training room,” he said.
A closeted gay athlete might not feel comfortable going for help at these places, as the word could spread faster than the athlete is comfortable, Smith said.
Ten years ago, he helped create Our Group, an online forum to help LGBT college athletes struggling with their sexuality.
“Athletes can go [online], share stories [and] have peers who really understand what they’re going through,” Smith said. “Some of my straight peers were my greatest allies, but I didn’t really feel like they could understand what I was going through … and so Our Group came about to fill that void.”
Germek and Smith said there are bigger changes that need to be made to make LGBT athletes more accepted in society.
There should be more openly gay professional athletes others can look up to, Germek said.
“What we need to have is professional athletes who are OK coming out [and] who are still going to receive sponsorship,” he said.
Smith said LGBT athletes also should not have to make a choice between being gay and being an athlete.
“You don’t have to either be a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender person or an athlete, and right now, I think that’s what most people make the choice of,” he said.
Important steps lie in diversity training for coaches and athletes, cutting down on homophobic slurs in the locker room and getting the administration on board, Smith said.
“I think if you start diversity training, then people might feel more comfortable coming out while they’re still competing,” Germek said.
Smith said the biggest change people could make toward accepting homosexuality is to be conscious of what they and others say.
“But if you can’t do it, how is the gay kid in the corner supposed to be able to do it all the time?” he said.
The movie “Training Rules” examines the dismissal of Penn State University LGBT college athletes under PSU basketball coach Rene Portland’s three rules of no drinking, drugs or lesbians.
“I think it’s terrific that Rutgers is hosting a screening of ‘Training Rules’ on Nov. 5 on our campus,” Pernetti said. “I have seen the film and it does an excellent job in addressing some very important issues, and I hope it further helps those that see it to understand that discrimination of any kind is not something that should be tolerated on a college campus, or anywhere for that matter.”
Sue Rankin will moderate the panel discussion. She was the recipient of the 2008 ACPA Voice of Inclusion Medallion and a former PSU softball coach fired for being a lesbian. She sued the school and won.
In addition to Smith and Rankin, other panelists include: Ted Rypka, director of sports and media for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; John Koblin, a reporter for the NY Observer who studies this issue; Matthew Pletcher, University assistant wrestling coach; and other University student-athletes, Schuster said.
Smith said he hopes the event will bring more awareness to a little-discussed issue.
“No one really knows the answer of ‘how do you protect a minority group when it’s still a taboo subject to talk about,’” he said.
14. The Daily Targum (Rutgers University), November 5, 2009
126 College Ave. Suite 431, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Panel pushes progress for LGBT athletes
By Mary Diduch
Homophobia in college athletics has been gaining more attention and prevention, but more still needs to be done, according to several University affiliates who addressed the issue.
In the Cook Campus Center, a panel of media specialists, coaches and athletes answered important questions last night on how to make gay athletes feel comfortable and the struggles they face after a screening of the movie “Training Rules.”
In the documentary, several female Penn State University basketball players shared their stories playing under head coach Rene Portland’s 30-year tenure and her three training rules: no alcohol, no drugs and no lesbians.
Portland make it clear to her recruits that being a lesbian and associating with lesbians was not allowed, according to the film. If a player was discovered to be gay, they would be discriminated against and — as in the 2005 case of star player Jennifer Harris — dismissed.
Panelist Sean Smith, a University alumnus, swimmer and coach at the University, said his experience in 2005 was similar, but not as a result of having a coach like Portland.
“I think the fear that is built into intercollegiate athletics is already there without a coach,” he said. “It’s already in the locker rooms.”
Smith said the movie brought back a lot of bad memories for him, even though it was the second time he had seen it.
At the University, he felt he had to choose between figuring out his sexuality and being an athlete, which had been a part of him for 18 years.
Matthew Pletcher, an assistant wrestling coach at the University and former wrestler, is heterosexual, but he said homosexuality is common in his sport.
“The fact is that it does exist — in my sport and in all sports,” he said.
But he said he is committed to keeping homophobia and homophobic slurs out of his locker room.
But his wrestlers do slip occasionally, Pletcher said.
“Obviously I can’t be there all the time. … I try to do the best job I can,” he said.
Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, who called event coordinator Senior Dean of Students Mark Schuster yesterday about his support for the event, shows his interest in not hiding this issue, Pletcher said.
“Tim left a higher paying job to be [athletic director] at a diverse university,” Pletcher said. “This is a perfect place to understand that there are different types of student athletes.”
John Koblin, a reporter for the NY Observer, said when he was at the University, it was a controversial issue.
He said it is great that Pernetti seems to be more aware of homophobia in University athletics, but in order for change to be made, there must be extremely proactive steps.
“What it was like at Rutgers was nothing like at Penn State … but it was not great either,” said Koblin, an alumnus who had investigated the issue in a three-part series that ran in The Daily Targum in 2004.
One change starts with the media, said Ted Rypka, director of sports media for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
He said there have been numerous instances where reporters and newspapers have ignored homophobic actions or remarks.
“The media has started to start recording these things and start reporting these things … but we have a long way to go,” Rypka said.
Professional basketball player Sheryl Swoops — the WNBA’s equivalent of Michael Jordan — came out as a lesbian in 2005, but it was not covered, he said. A major reason is because men and women’s sports are not covered similarly in the media.
Several people at the event said change could come from the professional athletic community accepting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes more openly.
But Smith said a lot of people falsely think change will come when professional athletes feel free to come out publicly.
“I honestly don’t think that’s going to be it,” he said.
The NCAA fuels professional athletics, and if high school and college athletes are more accepting of gay athletes and preventing homophobia, it will create a culture change that will transfer to the professional level, Smith said.
In the film, NCAA officials said they created a think tank to try to find a solution for these issues, a project Sue Rankin, a former softball coach at Penn State, never thought would be realized.
Rankin, who researches institutional climate assessment for LGBT people in higher education at Penn State, left her coaching post when she felt she was discriminated against for being a lesbian.
At the University, the Office of Social Justice and LGBTQ education helps gay students deal with problems that may arise with their situation.
Program coordinator Jenny Kurtz said they provide training on homophobia, being an ally and anything else regarding the issue.
She saw last night’s event as a success.
“I think it’s a really fantastic conversation to be happening at the University,” Kurtz said, adding she hopes it will continue at others.
Nobody knows how to make a safe space, Smith said. But the University’s diversity training and language checks are all great starts.
Smith said change also comes from the straight community.
“I think the allies have to take a little more responsibility themselves,” said Smith, as it is difficult for minority groups to defend themselves.
He said Pletcher’s presence on the panel was great for the event.
“You’re going to have a gay athlete on your team … and for every single time you let that stuff fly, it’s going to hurt the success of your team,” Smith said.
As an educator, Rankin said more education is needed and coaches need to be held more accountable for their actions.
Rankin said at Penn State, the film was received positively. On two screenings, there were packed audiences and standing ovations.
Penn State also started to take more decisive steps toward eliminating discrimination toward gay athletes, she said. Portland was also fired.
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences Assistant Dean Penny Carlson said this was an important issue for the University and its diversity.
“I thought the film was excellent,” she said.
But she wished there were greater student turnout, as much of the audience were faculty, staff and alumni.
She said it was important for students to know that faculty and staff are there for students.
15. The Kansas City Kansan, November 4, 2009
7735 Washington Ave., Kansas City, KS
'Two Spirits Tradition' next week at KCKCC
Native Americans Joey Criddle (right) and Crisosto Apache (left) will present a program on “Embracing Two-Spirit Traditions” at Kansas City Kansas Community College Thursday, Nov. 12.
Open to the public without charge, the program will be held from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Room 2325 on the lower level of the Jewell Center.
Sponsored by the OQS Diversity Club, Campus Forum, Intercultural Center and Women’s Resource Center, original “traditional American values” and the personal and cultural perspectives will be presented. A reception will follow.
Native American Two-Spirit Traditions embrace gender diversity and have a positive outlook on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, which is seen as having the gift of two spirits, both male and female. Transgender individuals are seen as even more sacred because of their physical embodiment. As such, Two Spirits have special responsibilities and expectations within their tribes.
One of two founding members of the Two Spirit Society of Denver and co-director for nine years, Criddle is a member of the Jicarilla Apache tribe. The head singer for the society, he is a graduate of Itawamba College in Mississippi and employed as a respiratory therapist in Denver.
Seeing a need for the Two Spirit people to organize in Denver, which has a large Native America population, Criddle helped found the organization which has provided GLBT Native American people with a safe place for the past 10 years as well as a platform for cultural rejuvenation, bonding and education.
A member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, Crisosto Apache was born and raised on the Mescalero reservation in New Mexico. A graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. N.M., he has also attended Naropa University in Boulder, the University of Colorado in Denver and is currently attending Metro State College of Denver while working with disadvantaged youth. Co-director for the Two Spirit Society, he volunteers his time to conduct Two Spirit educational presentations.
16. The Reflector (Mississippi State University), November 6, 2009
P.O. Box 5407, Henry E. Meyer Student Media Center, Mississippi State, MS 39762
Gay adoption complex, controversial issue
By Julio Cespedes
This past Monday, there was a panel discussion in the Dawg House as to whether or not homosexuals should be allowed to adopt children. No one is quite positive about how many children have at least one parent who is gay, but estimates range from 1 to 9 million.
When I was asked if I was interested in tackling an opinion piece on this subject, I admit, I was quite intimidated. How in the world can I, at 20, be so pompous and arrogant to say I have enough information and knowledge to formulate an opinion on this sensitive issue? Further, how can any of us formulate an opinion with the curse of this postmodern world? Nothing can be taken as truth. In every argument for, there are just as many against. But in my quest to formulate an opinion, I have realized an invaluable truth, and it is in the context of this newfound certainty in which my article should be read.
I have realized there is something incredibly valuable about understanding you may not have it right, and it is not until we learn to see multiple facets of issues that we can really be honest with ourselves and our conclusions. How can you be confident in an opinion if you only focus on the side with which you agree?
So where to begin? In 2007, James Dobson of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family wrote in Time magazine, "The majority of more than 30 years of social-science evidence indicates that children do best on every measure of well-being when raised by their married mother and father."
Further, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts cited, "A growing body of research that tells us the child raised without his or her biological father is significantly more likely to live in poverty, do poorly in school, drop out altogether, become a teen parent, exhibit behavioral problems, smoke, drink, use drugs or wind up in jail."
Gary Gates, a senior research fellow at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and an expert on census data involving gay and lesbian households, said the problem with such research is it only compares children of heterosexual couples to those of single parents and not to those belonging to same-sex parent families.
"There are virtually no studies that make a direct comparison with same-sex parents," Gates said, noting census data shows one in four same-sex couples are raising a child under of 18.
In fact, a number of professional medical organizations - including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association - have issued statements claiming a parent's sexual orientation is irrelevant to his or her ability to raise a child.
The American Psychological Association has stated homosexual parents are just as likely as heterosexual parents to provide healthy environments for raising kids, and lesbians are no less able to care for their children than heterosexual women.
Further, in 2002, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported on the psychosocial development of children raised by same-sex parents. The report said, "A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual. Children's optimal development seems to be influenced more by the nature of the relationships and interactions within the family unit than by the particular structural form it takes."
The report also said, "Parents' sexual orientation is not a variable that, in itself, predicts their ability to provide a home environment that supports children's development."
Personally, this argument makes a lot of sense to me. It seems the most important factor in rearing children is not necessarily that parents be heterosexual, but the actual quality of the relationship. I would be more sympathetic in the context of adoption toward a gay or lesbian couple who has been together for a number of years and been married or desire to do so than toward a man or woman who go out and have one-night stands every weekend in which there is no commitment or love involved.
But at the same time, in my heterosexual bias, I feel what a man and woman share would be completely different than what a homosexual couple might feel. Some could argue love between a man and woman means something a little more if its actual love because it is harder and can require more work. That is because in general, males understand other males more easily and vice versa. So, being male and being with a woman and the converse would be a lot harder. Of course, all of that could be a moot point because I have no idea how a homosexual views himself or herself, whether more masculine than feminine, for example, and further, if homosexual relationships usually entail a masculine and feminine partner. This would also point to the question whether a true homosexual relationship is only one in which two masculine or two feminine individuals are together.
How are organizations coming to these conclusions about the effects of gay adoption? For the most part, organizations are relying on a relatively small but conclusive body of research - approximately 67 studies - looking at children of gay parents and compiled by the APA. In study after study, children in same-sex parent families turned out the same as children in heterosexual families.
Gates said, "The problem with these studies is that most of the children are from 'intentional' same-sex parent families, where the parents tend to be better educated, more affluent and more open about their sexual orientation and who deliberately conceive or adopt children with the intention of raising them in a same-sex parent family."
My research suggests that's not the typical gay parent household. In fact, only 6 percent of same-sex parents have an adopted child, and a sizable number appear to be living in some kind of step-family arrangement, in which parents "come out later and have children from an earlier heterosexual marriage or relationship."
It is indisputable white couples of relatively high income have been the focus of most studies while census figures show about 45 percent of same-sex parents are either black or Latino. And most of those same-sex couples with children have household incomes below that of their opposite-sex married counterparts.
Gates contemplates the children who have been pressured by their parents not to talk since "there may be higher levels of stigmatization in minority communities regarding homosexuality." So, gay households could and probably are subjecting their children to possible psychological trauma via continued harassment, teasing, stigmatization and a hindered social life. But we know children can be cruel, and bullying happens in every school and in nearly all groups of preteens and teens. There exists a possibility that children may experience some teasing based on their parents' sexual orientation, but research shows the likelihood of these children being teased doesn't increase due to their parents' sexual orientation. In other words, children will be teased about anything a bully can figure to tease them about.
It is up to adults to try to combat bullying and instill confidence in children who experience teasing. There is no evidence or argument to show gay parents can't be effective in doing those things. Why should the fear of this keep a homeless child from a potential adoptive home full of love, whether that love comes from a homosexual or not, in which someone is willing to sacrifice themselves emotionally and economically?
In fact, there has been more research done on gay parenting than some other non-traditional family structures such as children raised by stay-at-home fathers or grandparents. Abundant research shows most kids of same-sex households describe themselves as heterosexual in roughly the same proportion as conventional families. That is why the APA also concludes gay parents are just as capable as straight parents, and laws barring same-sex couples from adopting have no scientific basis.
Those laws, nevertheless, do exist. At least six states have overt restrictions on adoptions by gays and lesbians: Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Utah, Nebraska and Michigan, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Jesse Levey, a Republican activist raised by two lesbians, poses some interesting thoughts.
"The laws may have been passed to protect the family, but allowing gay people to marry could actually strengthen the family. The conservative argument for family values is that we should be in married couples; I agree. If we want to see children raised by married couples, then we should let gay people get married," Levey said.
A Republican lobbying for same-sex marriages? Yes. Isn't that the essential doctrine of conservatism and libertarianism? The notion of individual freedom?
Why then does no one question the psychological effects of being raised by single or multiple grandparents or a stay-at-home dad? Should we also ban them from adoption because they will not be able to rear a child as effectively as two heterosexual parents? Further, let's argue all the conservative think tanks are right. In this train of thought, a gay household is a "recruitment center" for future gays. Why, from a societal or even a government's perspective, should we care if gay households are pumping out more gays? Are they evil or scary or bad?
"I don't trust that group at all," said Peter Spriggs of the Family Research Council, a conservative group who has dismissed studies cited by the APA, saying the researchers used flawed methodology and self-selected subjects inclined to favor homosexuality. And hey, maybe they are right, but like I said above, why aren't they also questioning the other nontraditional family units?
It is obvious to me then the issue of homosexuality, even with those who are respectful and understanding of homosexuals is, to many, a moral issue with eternal consequences. In this context, in conjunction with the lack of empirical evidence, the push to ban gay adoption could be seen more about gay discrimination than child welfare.
The question I ask myself is this: Does a homosexual couple adopting in Mississippi set up context in which a child can develop in a good way? Does it bring more chaos than good?
Psychologically, which would be worse: to grow up without parents, or with a loving homosexual couple, teasing and some social consequences included? Also, could this discussion really be more about fixing institutions to guarantee that children who don't have parents grow up well regardless?
There. That's all I have to say. I've put that out into the universe now. It's out for all the cosmos to see. So have I effectively destroyed all my future political and economical aspirations now? I hope not. But then again, wasn't it hopeless to begin with? Who would vote or promote a guy named Julio anyway?
Julio Cespedes is a senior majoring in biological engineering. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
17. Chicago Now, November 2009
Chicago Tribune Media Group
Toshi Reagon at Northwestern University: Singer-songwriter to tell the secrets of mixing music with social activism
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Singer, songwriter and gay/lesbian/transgender activist Toshi Reagon has performed with Pete Seeger, Dar Williams and Ani Difranco. On Thursday, Nov. 12, she will perform original music and share her thoughts on songwriting and social activism at Northwestern University.
The free, public event -- titled "So You Want to Write a Song"-- will celebrate the unique place songwriting holds within the genre of writing. Sponsored by Northwestern's Center for the Writing Arts, it will begin at 6 p.m. at the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, Evanston. A question-and-answer session will follow.
Reagon whose mother founded the Grammy Award winning, all-woman a cappella band "Sweet Honey in the Rock" -- began singing as a teen at the Womyn's Music Festival in Michigan. She since has been called a throwback to rhythm and blues artists such as Stevie Wonder and Prince and to old school rock groups such as Led Zeppelin.
In 2008, Reagon performed with her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon, at the 2008 Creating Change Conference of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Meeting. Elvis Costello has invited her and her band, BIGLovely, to back him up on a "Late Show with David Letterman." She left college for a professional music career when rocker Lenny Kravitz asked her to be his opening act on a world tour.
For more on Reagon, visit her web site http://www.toshireagon.com/about.shtml. For more on "So You Want to Write a Song," visit Northwestern's Center for the Writing Arts at http://www.northwestern.edu/writing-arts/events/index.html or call (847) 467-4099.
18. Pacific University Oregon, November 6, 2009
2043 College Way, Forest Grove, Oregon 97116
Performing artist Tim Miller to present 1001 Beds: Art and Activism on Thursday, Nov. 12
By Joe Lang
World-renowned performing artist Tim Miller will present 1001 Beds: Art and Activism at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 in the Tom Miles Theatre on the Forest Grove campus.
Tickets are $10 general admission and may be purchased in advance by calling the University box office (503) 352-2918 Monday through Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. The event is sponsored by the University’s Center for Gender Equity. Pacific University students are admitted free of charge.
1001 Beds won the 2007 Lambda Literary Award for best book in the Drama-Theatre category. Miller’s creative work as a performer and writer explores the artistic, spiritual and political topography of his identity as a gay man.
In addition to 1001 Beds, Miller has authored numerous books and is co-founder of two of the most influential performance spaces in the country:
Performance Space 122 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, Calif. Miller and three other artists successfully sued the federal government for violation of their First Amendment rights.
Since 1999, he has focused his creative and political work on marriage equality on behalf of gay and lesbian couples in America, an immigration rights for gay bi-national couples.
Posted by James Lang (email@example.com)
19. MLive.com, November 6, 2009
Talk on LGBT tolerance, family support draws rapt attention in Kalamazoo
By Kelle Barr, The Kalamazoo Gazette
KALAMAZOO — Some people took notes rapidly, while others nodded their heads occasionally in agreement.
Some took in the intense information silently.
One thing is certain — when Caitlin Ryan presented “Tolerance: Promoting Family Support for LGBT Youth” to a standing-room-only crowd at the Fetzer Center at Western Michigan University on Thursday evening, every one listened. Her speech about families and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth was followed by rousing applause and a question-and-answer session with the group of professionals, family members and community leaders.
“When some kids come out, their families react with rejection,” she said. “Others experience ambivalence among family members and some families are accepting.”
But no matter where the reactions fall on the spectrum, Ryan pointed out that they all come from the same source — love.
“Families don’t want their children to experience discrimination or become the victim of violence,” she said. “Even the families that react violently are doing it because they love that person and they think it will help.”
Ryan wasn’t there to debate philosophy or try to alter anyone’s religious or personal views on homosexuality, but instead to offer help to family members who love their kids and to educate caregivers and service providers who work with youth. She cited the increased risks of suicide attempts, depression and drug abuse, as well as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases among LGBT youth who experience rejection, and urged families to keep their children’s well-being at the forefront.
“Imagine how you would feel if your family didn’t want to be seen with you or made you feel like you shamed them,” she told the crowd. “If a gay child gets beat up at school, some parents actually say things like ‘What do you expect? That’s what happens to gay people — why did you tell anyone?’”
Families, Ryan said, say such things in a genuine attempt to help a child who they hope is going through a phase and can be steered in a different direction. She gave concrete, research-based statistics that families can use to take a healthier approach, providing literature and family resources — organizations including Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG, www.pflag.org) and Gender Spectrum Education & Training (www.genderspectrum.org).
Her most powerful message, however, was delivered via video documentary from a family with a young gay son named E.J.
Identified by first names of Elizabeth and Ed, the parents told their story of personal turmoil, rejection, and, ultimately, acceptance, that began long before E.J. came out.
“I don’t know when the Barbie thing started,” Elizabeth said, reflecting on E.J.’s early years. “But dolls made him happy, especially the Little Mermaid.”
Ed, a Marine of strong Christian faith, said that he used to quietly throw the dolls away and replace them with the G.I. Joe toys he considered acceptable for his son.
“I would put them in the same place that I found the Mermaids,” he said. “But he never liked them.”
Mom did not approve.
“For every Little Mermaid he threw away, I would buy another one,” she said.
It took a bout with alcohol poisoning for Ed to face what was going on with E.J., who confessed that the only reason he hung out with kids who he knew were on the wrong path is because they accepted him.
“People who drink and use drugs love everyone all the time,” E.J. said. “I’d take any acceptance I could find.”
Ed and Elizabeth ending up starting a support group in their home from families and LGBT youth, and found a place of worship where E.J. felt accepted. Ed said that he also came to realized how unfair it was to welcome his other son’s girlfriend into the home without considering E.J.’s love interest, a boyfriend who is included in family activities.
“I just told E.J., ‘It may be awkward for me, but I’ll get through it,’” Ed said. “I believe in my heart that people don’t choose to be gay, they just are gay.”
Tips for families
Below are family behaviors to steer clear of, along with those that can make life happier, healthier and easier for LGBT youth, gathered from Family Acceptance Project research and provided by Caitlyn Ryan.
What to avoid
Family behaviors that increase an LGBT child’s risk for health and mental health problems:
-Hitting, slapping or physically hurting a child because of their LGBT identity.
-Verbal harassment or name-calling because of the child’s LGBT identity.
-Excluding LGBT youth from family and family activities and blocking access to LGBT friends, events and resources.
-Blaming the child when they are discriminated against because of their LGBT identity.
-Pressuring a LGBT child to be more (or less) masculine or feminine.
-Telling an LGBT child that God will punish them for being gay.
-Telling a child that family members are ashamed of them, or that the LGBT child’s appearance or actions will shame the family.
-Forcing the child to keep their LGBT identity a secret from the family; refusing to allow discussion on the subject.
What will help
Family behaviors that reduce an LGBT child’s risk for health and mental health problems and promote their well-being:
-Talk with the child or foster child about their LGBT identity.
-Express affection when the child tells you (or when you discover) that he or she is gay or transgender.
-Support your child’s LGBT identity even though it may cause you discomfort.
-Advocate for a child who is mistreated because of their LGBT identity.
-Require that other family members respect the LGBT child.
-Connect the child with an LGBT role model to show options for the future and bring them to LGBT organizations or events.
-Welcome the child’s LGBT friends and partners to your home and support the child’s gender expression.
-Believe that the child can have a happy future as an LGBT adult.
20. The Montclarion (Montclair State University), November 5, 2009
113 Student Center Annex, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
Transgender Student Assaulted by Three Unknown Men
By Gerald Flores
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” Travis Overstreet said as he sat down on top of a recycling can in the hallways of the Student Center. Overstreet, a sophomore biology major, is a transgender student who was the victim of an apparent hate crime last month outside of the Clove Road apartments. Overstreet hopes that his experience can help raise awareness to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning community throughout campus.
Overstreet recalled using the Clove Road apartments’ laundry room on Oct. 21, at approximately 2 p.m. He claims he heard three men making biased remarks about the LGBT Center and LGBTQ community outside of the building.
“I heard one of them say, ‘I hope all the fags on this campus die,’” said Overstreet, then proceeded to confront the three men sitting at a picnic table. He said that after the intimidation, one of the men called him a “dyke” and hit him in the left side of the face. After Overstreet was laid out on the ground, the same man then proceeded to kick him in the back of the legs.
The three men fled the scene of the crime, according to Overstreet, who was left with a hairline fracture on his face and bone fragments pushed into his sinus cavity. He also acquired other minor injuries, including a bruise on the back of his leg and minor cuts on his knees.
The police could not be reached for comment.
“When it happened, I was ashamed. But with everything that [SPECTRUMS] did, I felt we’re going to reach out to that individual and anyone else who [harms the LGBT community] with love,” Overstreet said pointing at the left side of his face. “I’m trying to make peace with it, but it’s hard to push the anger to the side.”
Overstreet mentioned that he was embarrassed and angry when the incident initially happened, and did not want anyone on campus to know. Scared to meet with an officer at the university police station, Overstreet went to the LGBT Center, where he filed a report with a detective who met him there. Neither University police or the detective who took the report could not be reached for comment.
“I almost felt like I was drawing attention to myself, and that wasn’t a good thing. I was thinking ‘What if I report this, and out of anger someone comes to hurt me or somebody else just to make a point?’” said Overstreet of his initial reaction to the incident.
Now, Overstreet sees the incident as a personal learning experience, and says the he forgives the person who assaulted him. The alleged attackers have not yet been found.
While leaning on the walls of the Student Center hallway, Overstreet says, “I’m not sure what’s coming out of this yet but … I would gladly take one for the team if one person could learn to accept somebody else on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”
21. The Montclarion (Montclair State University), November 5, 2009
113 Student Center Annex, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
Students Rally Against Bias Crimes on Campus
By Gerald Flores
SPECTRUMS held a rally in the Student Center quad on Wednesday, Oct. 28, to raise awareness for a transgender student who was assaulted in front of the Clove Road apartments and a prior incident where a bias note threatening harm to the LGBTQ community was slipped under the door of the LGBT Center, officials said.
“It went beyond hate speech and into a bias crime,” said Associate Dean of Students James E. Harris.
On Tuesday, Oct. 20, a note was slipped under the door of the LGBT Center, which made reference to the Bible and violence toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning community. A day later, a transgender student was assaulted in front of the Clove Road apartments after confronting three people making biased remarks toward the LGBTQ community. Both incidents are being investigated as hate crimes, according to Dean Harris.
“We knew we had to act, and we had to act soon. We couldn’t just let these incidents be unknown and we couldn’t let it be tolerated,” said Catarina Rodriguez, president of SPECTRUMS and one of the organizers of the rally.
Nearly 200 students, faculty and administrators were on hand at the rally, which lasted for approximately two hours. Speakers at the rally included Reverend Charlie Ortman, Harris, Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality and Jhon Velasco, professor and director of the Center for Non-Violence and Peace Initiatives.
“As a part of this [LGBTQ] community … we need to show our support when an act of violence happens. It affects us all, from vice presidents to deans to janitors to students, this is our MSU, and MSU doesn’t tolerate this type of behavior.” said Velasco.
After several speeches in front of the student center, the crowd began to march through campus chanting phrases such as, “Hate crimes have got to go,” and “Stop the violence, stop the Hate.” Supporters also made signs with messages like, “Love has No Gender,” “Gay is Okay” and “Our Silence Will Not Protect Us.” Flyers about the two biased incidents were also circulated throughout campus by supporters.
University police could not be reached for comment.
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