Showing posts with label Gay Teen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Teen. Show all posts

January 19, 2017

Are You gay Teach? Student asks






At no time during my childhood or adolescent years did a teacher ever come out to me as gay — not even once. As an openly gay educator, I am just as disappointed about that fact today as I was three decades ago, when I was an effeminate young boy questioning my sexuality.

On the other hand, my teachers shared a never-ending supply of advice with me in regards to being poor (education is the key to prosperity), a Jehovah’s Witness (society doesn’t understand your family’s religious beliefs), and a Black male (never to backtalk a uniformed police officer). Yet while I can clearly recall several educators who seemed to contradict what it meant to be straight, no one professed to being a gay adult — either to me or any of my classmates. Even worse, school culture consistently conveyed to me that I was never even allowed to ask a teacher, “Are you gay?”

At Marin Country Day School, where I am an educator, never once have I hesitated to come out to a student. However, at a previous school where I taught, administrators announced at school meetings, “If you are gay or lesbian, at no time are you to come out to students.” And when I was a recruitment officer — publicly charged with both identifying and admitting families with LGBTQ parents — many straight parents asked me, “Why are we focusing so much on gay sex?”

Today, we live in a society where attitudes are evolving around what it means to be gay: Many heterosexual adults are supportive of marriage equality, adoption among same-sex couples is measurably increasing, and more employers have taken steps to make the workplace more inclusive for LGBTQ employees. However, even the most progressive educational administrators and parents are often uncomfortable with the idea of a K-12 teacher being openly gay in the classroom.

Unlike straight teachers, LGBTQ teachers must consider the risks of sharing their sexual orientation with colleagues, parents, and students.

Many teachers ask themselves, as I once did, “Will I forever be known only as the gay teacher?” and “What happens if my being gay raises unwarranted suspicions about interactions with students of the same gender?”

In 2014, Gary J. Gates of UCLA’s Williams Institute estimated that “the percentage of adults who identified as LGB or LGBT varied across surveys from between 2.2 percent and 4.0 percent, implying that between 5.2 million and 9.5 million individuals aged 18 and older are LGBT.”

Chances are, of the roughly 50.4 million school-age children currently engaged in early childhood, primary, and secondary education in the United States, most will interact with an LGBTQ adult at least once. Whether through family friends, after-school and weekend activities, or in the classroom, school children will inevitably ask themselves, “How do you know if someone is gay?” or “Which of my teachers is gay?” How a gay teacher responds will shape a student’s perception and understanding of the emotional attraction between two adults of the same sex.




But a gay teacher’s fears about disclosing her orientation to a student or choosing to remain closeted are understandable.

A Nov. 18 report in The New York Times, headlined “Trump Victory Alarms Gay and Transgender Groups,” describes the frantic calls received by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s leading LGBT rights organization, in the aftermath of the election.

“Some callers wondered if they should speed up wedding plans so they could be married before the inauguration, in case a President Trump tries to overturn gay marriage,” an HRC spokesman told the paper. “Others worried that the military would reinstate ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ the ban on openly gay and lesbian service members that ended in 2011.”

Although they may be lauded for their performance in the classroom, even in the most progressive of schools, gay teachers are usually still advised to deny their sexual identity if a student or parent asks, “Are you gay?”

Schools are often slow at keeping up with social change, and many administrators operate under the assumption that a less empathetic parent, or group of parents, will raise concern that an openly gay teacher is out to her students. That reality often leaves LGBTQ teachers distressed, and can unintentionally send the message to all students that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender is unnatural. When Trump comes after Obamacare, puts up the border wall, and re-energizes stop-and-frisk, gay men and women must not return to the closet. Now more than ever, we need to push back and stand proud.

The first time a student asked me directly, “Are you gay?”, I hesitated to answer. While I had already prepared a response for this very moment, I quickly realized three things. One, that this would be the first of many times I would have to come out. (It is not like you come out once, and then everyone knows.) Two, coming out is stressful. (It is stressful for the person being asked, and I imagine it is also stressful for the person asking.) And three, how I respond to questions about my sexuality will shape how a young person understands what it means to be gay.

After what felt like an insanely long and awkward pause, I eventually gave the student my prepared response: “Would it matter if I were gay?”

While I have never been fond of responding to a question with a question, this exception always seems warranted to me. What it does for me is to create a brief moment to consider the student’s motivation for asking the question: Has the student heard something about gay people, either positive or negative, that I have contradicted? Does the student want to ask a question that only a gay person could truthfully answer? Is the student questioning his own orientation?

It also gives me a chance to weigh how to best respond. The “Are you gay?” question, and my subsequent response, play out differently depending on whether the student asking is a third grader or an 11th grader. In the end, my goal is always to show that being gay is as normal as being left-handed, hoping for rainy days, or having a preference for strawberry milk rather than chocolate milk. Over the years, regardless of the student’s gender, ethnicity, age, or religious affiliation, each time I have responded with “Yes, I am gay,” my students have replied, “OK, cool.”

In a June 1 piece for The Huffington Post, “Coming Out to the Classroom, A Teacher’s Story,” blogger and classroom teacher Paul Emerich France makes the best case for why teachers should come out to students.

“Mr. France, the teacher they knew and loved, was gay,” he wrote. “This new fact helped them see me, regardless of my sexuality. It taught them that sexuality is only one piece of an identity. Instead of equating the word ‘gay’ with ‘weird’ or a joke between friends, they equated it with someone they first knew as their teacher: an avid reader, writer, problem-solver, and musician.”

My hope is that every gay woman and man, educators especially, will reflect on their own first few times of coming out to family, friends, or new acquaintances, and remember what gave them strength. Those teachers still weighing whether or not to come out should remember that they are not alone — with every affirmation of our LGBTQ identities, we are reminded that each of us matters.

In December 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed “homosexuality” from the psychological disorders listed in the second edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. December 1973 also happens to be the month and year that I was born. When

I first learned the historic significance of my birthdate, I took it as a sign that I should devote my career to further normalizing being gay.

I serve those within my school community as a proud, openly gay man.

Yes, we live — and teach — in a world where it is neither prudent nor wise for a teacher to initiate a conversation with students about sexual orientation. But when a student asks, we must be confident enough to answer: “Yes, I am gay!”

Vincent W. Rowe Jr. is the director of equity, affinity, and diversity at Marin Country Day School. He has worked in education for more than two decades.

January 10, 2017

In Somalia Teen Accused of Being Gay is Stoned to Death, again



Kangaroo trial in 2014 in which a somali teen is sentenced to be stoned to death for having gay sex



MOGADISHU- Somali Islamist group al Shabaab shot two men and a teenager in southern Somalia on Tuesday, saying one of the men and the 15-year-old had been seen having gay sex, while the other man was found guilty of spying, a senior al Shabaab official said.

Hundreds of civilians gathered in a field in the town of Buale to watch them being shot, the second time al Shabaab has killed men accused of homosexuality, the official said, without giving details of the previous killing.

Homosexuality and gay sex is outlawed in most of Africa’s 54 states and can be punishable by imprisonment.

“The judge read their charges publicly and the three men were found guilty. They were executed according to the Islamic sharia. They were shot dead in Buale town,” Sheikh Mohamed Abu Abdalla, a regional governor for al Shabaab, told Reuters.

A Somali government official said any case of homosexuality in Muslim Somalia would be dealt with according to sharia law, although he did not specify what that would mean in practice.

Al Shabaab militants are fighting against Western-backed government forces in Mogadishu in a bid to impose its strict interpretation of Islamic, or sharia, law.

The al Shabaab governor said 20-year-old Isak Abshirow and 15-year-old Abdirizak Sheikh Ali were found committing a homosexual act by al Shabaab fighters.

Saeed Mohamed Ali was found guilty of spying for Ethiopian troops, who form part of an African force that has been fighting the militants.

The Islamist group once controlled the capital and much of Somalia but it lost control of Mogadishu in 2011 and has slowly been driven back into smaller pockets of territory since then.

 Feisal Omar
Reuters

August 30, 2016

Gay Teens More Important than Religious Law


                                     


  
California’s ban on gay-conversion therapy for teens survived a free-speech challenge back in 2014. Now it’s survived another challenge claiming that the law targets religiously motivated conduct. The decision is legally correct -- but it’s a much closer case than the appeals court acknowledged. And it raises the extremely tricky question of how the state may regulate a psychiatric practice whose foundations are interwoven with religious beliefs.

The key to the free-speech decision from two years ago was that, California isn’t prohibiting speech per se. It’s outlawing a particular medical practice that happens to be accomplished in part through talking. Whether it’s a good idea or not, state legislatures have the legal authority to prohibit licensed providers from performing ineffective and potentially harmful medical treatments.

In other words, California almost certainly couldn’t ban an adult and a teen from sitting down together and talking to each other in a way that both believed would or could change the teen’s sexual orientation. Such a conversation would count as protected speech, outside the state’s authority to regulate. But when the conversation is instead treated as a medical therapy, it comes within the state’s authority to regulate the practice of medicine -- which is a course of conduct, even when it’s accomplished partly by the use of words.

Once they lost on free-speech grounds, the practitioners of gay-conversion therapy didn’t give up. They mounted a further challenge based on the establishment and free exercise clauses of the Constitution.

One advantage of the second challenge over the first is that it comes closer to capturing the subjective experience and motives of the practitioners of what they call “sexual orientation change efforts.” A 2009 report by the American Psychological Association said that “the population that undergoes SOCE tends to have strongly conservative religious views that lead them to seek to change their sexual orientation.”

The same is probably true for the practitioners of such therapy. In an earlier era, the profession of psychiatry saw homosexuality as a curable disease. But now that the profession has largely abandoned this view, those medical professionals who maintain it are often not coincidentally deeply religious. They accept the biblical prohibition on homosexual conduct as morally binding. And they reason that a good God would not have imposed that prohibition unless it were possible for humans to adapt themselves so as to obey it.

It’s not an accident, therefore, that the religiously oriented Family Research Council, for example, advocates gay-conversion therapy.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected the practitioners’ religion-clause claims pretty summarily. The opinion first rejected the argument that the California ban violates the establishment clause by entangling the government with religion. It doesn’t, said the court, because it only targets clinical therapy. People remain free to pray with teens if they believe this may help them change their sexual orientation. This conclusion is certainly legally correct. The fact that some therapists might pray with patients in their sessions doesn’t mean the state can’t regulate the basic clinical course of conduct.

Then the court took on the more subtle question of whether it should matter that those who seek or perform conversion therapy are religiously motivated. The court admitted that there might be a constitutional problem if the law targeted only religiously motivated conduct. But it said that because the law includes all efforts to change sexual orientation, religiously motivated or otherwise, it doesn’t violate religious liberty. In other words, the court said, there wasn’t sufficient evidence to conclude that the primary effect of the law was to inhibit religion.

This issue is actually more complicated than the court made it sound. Suppose all or nearly all gay-conversion-therapy seekers and practitioners are religiously motivated -- an assumption that isn’t ridiculous. And suppose the state passed a law outlawing the practice on the ground that it was medically harmful -- while fully knowing that the practice is grounded in religious belief. Again, the assumption isn’t a heroic one. Would that violate the free exercise of religion?

The answer is controversial even among religious liberty scholars -- but it could well be yes. Compare a humanitarian ban on kosher or halal slaughter. In my hypothetical example, the legislature would know that believers practice such slaughter for religious reasons. The legislature’s own motives would be to make animal slaughter more humanitarian, say by requiring electrocution to kill the animal faster. Yet the overarching intended effect of the law would be to inhibit a religiously motivated practice. It’s possible that such a law might violate the free exercise clause, even if as written it applied to all slaughter, not just kosher or halal practices.

The point is that, when a social practice like medical therapy or animal slaughter is profoundly intertwined with religious motivation, the government can’t necessarily prohibit it just by saying that its own motives are secular -- even assuming they really are.

Yet the reason the court’s decision was nonetheless correct is that religious liberty isn’t absolute. Provided the state has a compelling interest in prohibiting a harmful practice, it’s allowed to prohibit it. The state could, for example, prohibit religiously motivated child sacrifice or widow-burning. Those practices could be entirely religious in nature -- but the state may still ban them because it has a compelling reason to combat the harm.

There’s a strong reason to believe that gay-conversion therapy for teens who can’t themselves fully consent is harmful. The state has a strong interest in prohibiting a potentially dangerous and unproven medical practice on that ground alone. It’s not that religious liberty isn’t implicated. It’s that it is overcome by other, stronger interests.

Noah Feldman

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners; But it does represents the view of adamfoxie Blog

October 15, 2015

The Dismal Struggle of a Gay Teen in Brazil



                                                                                 

Miguel (name changed for privacy) is a Brazilian sixteen-year-old, and although his life is just beginning, he’ll tell you that his “story begins when [he] was about twelve-years-old.” Miguel is gay, and although this wouldn’t affect his life in some places, it dominated it in Brazil.
It didn’t begin to impact him until he was twelve, because that’s when he began to grapple with his sexuality. Miguel says that “up until that point I wasn’t really aware about sexual or gender dynamics…the way ‘gay’ was perceived was generally negative, and I reproduced that mindset. After awhile, I started realizing I had actual feelings for another boy.”

Miguel didn’t accept his feelings at first. He “wondered if [he] might have been confused between friendship and attraction.” Although Miguel acknowledges that “the feeling felt natural,” he still struggled to reconcile his feelings with the homophobic sentiment he was surrounded by. Sexuality wasn’t an everyday topic, but whenever it did come up, Miguel immediately felt uncomfortable.
Eventually, Miguel says he came to terms with his sexuality, mostly through the Internet. Surrounded by homophobia and unsure of what to do with his revelations, Miguel says he “dealt with it mostly online. [He] talked to friends and looked up forums and YouTube videos.” They helped him cope, and “learn how to go about living life, and feel safe about displaying [his] orientation.”

The encouragement he found in friendly, supportive online communities finally gave him the courage to take action offline. After a lengthy internal debate about whether or not it would be worth it, Miguel decided to come out to his father. Unfortunately, his reaction was less than positive. Miguel says he was advised to “for [his] safety and the family’s reputation, keep low about it.”
His father’s negative reaction was discouraging, but Miguel was becoming more comfortable with his sexuality. He says he “didn’t feel comfortable in the closet anymore, and started gradually coming out.” Miguel told a few trusted friends first, and although reactions were mixed, he received a lot of support. The confidence of his friends empowered Miguel. “Since I was experiencing my first crush,” Miguel says, “I developed an unhealthy dependence on him, and once I felt experienced sharing my identity with others, a bit more confident about my orientation and ready to share how I felt with him, I did. I feel like this is where I really started to struggle with being gay.”

To Miguel’s dismay, “he didn’t take it very well.” His crush took the liberty of outing Miguel to the entire school. “I had to learn how to deal with being perceived as gay by other young people, who really knew nothing about gay people,” Miguel says. His classmates taunted him with anti-gay slurs, and physically attacked him. Miguel noted that this could be the result of their inexperience with the LGBT+ community, their upbringing, or any number of factors, but he says he it “didn’t really matter” where their attitudes came from. The point was, “[he] was perceived negatively for being gay and felt unsafe at school because [his] classmates made it clear they dislike gay people.”

Although he had once felt relatively confident in his sexuality, the backlash led him to recant. “I was asked a lot of questions, and fought a lot of stereotypes people brought up, but I always denied being gay,” Miguel says. He felt alone in the world, and again began to question his sexuality. On the subject of his family, Miguel says “My relationship with my parents is something that probably changed a lot. A lot of parents are conservative, and in Brazil as much as other countries, and so I never felt fully accepted. This is probably one of the biggest struggles gay people find, and definitely one of mine.”

Miguel’s goal is to change the way LGBT+ people are perceived in Brazil. Miguel says that growing up, “I was surrounded by stereotypes, and initially that’s what hurt me the most, because people had this imaginary notion of what a gay person is. Example: my classmates associated femininity with being gay, so they believed the gay people always followed a standard.” He recalls an unnerving incident “talking in class about prejudices. One of the girls rose her hand and said, ‘but teacher, everyone has a prejudice against gay people.’ And in that moment I realized just how messed up the education of children on the subject was.”

Since most of the homophobic sentiment he spoke of encountering came from classmates and family, I asked what messages he saw in the media. There, he speaks of a marked improvement. Miguel says that “when talking exclusively about Brazilian media, the image of gay people is mostly shown on soap operas.” Miguel is hopeful for the future of LGBT+ representation though, because he’s seen an increase “in the past few years, exposure and representation of gay people.” He notes that the characters are often wacky and used as comic relief, but in his opinion, “the portrayals are getting more human and realistic over time.”

Some of Miguel’s friendships have ended, and some are still shaky as a result of his sexuality. He insists that he is just one person, and the stories of other LGBT+ Brazilians could be different, but he believes this is important and his story needs to shared no matter what. He notes that in American media much of the focus rests on LGBT+ rights in America, but there needs to be inclusion of other countries. He wants the media to pay attention to the struggle in Brazil, where people are still bullied and beaten for their sexuality and homophobia is the default. Miguel “hopes [sharing his story] helps.”

November 19, 2014

UK Attitude Magazine Coming Out with a Gay Teen Version



                                                                       
The gay lifestyle magazine Attitude has launched a spin-off aimed at teenagers, the first time a gay publication has been specifically aimed at a teen audience. 
The first edition of the digital magazine aTEEN features a photoshoot with the 20-year-old diver Tom Daley, who came out as gay at the end of last year. 
Charlie King, who was on the reality TV show The Only Way is Essex, appears on one version of the cover and writes a “coming out diary” in the magazine, detailing the bullying he suffered at school as well as a period of depression in his twenties. 
An alternative cover features Jaymi Hensley of the boyband Union J who, along with his fiancé, appeared in an advertising campaign for the menswear chain Moss Bros earlier in the year. 
The magazine also carries relationship and dating advice, information about safe sex, and other articles by young gay men.
Though currently only available in tablet form, either with the regular edition of Attitude or standalone, publishers say aTEEN could become a quarterly print magazine if the venture proves successful. 
Christian Guiltenane, an assistant editor at Attitude and former editor of OK!, who was behind the launch, said he wished a magazine like aTEEN had been around when he was growing up as a gay man. 
“There was nothing that appealed to a 16-year-old outside the metropolis - the established gay mags tended to be aimed at an older audience with a large income and a lifestyle far removed from my own,”he said. 
Attitude celebrated its 20th anniversary in March and counts David Beckham, Daniel Radcliffe, Stephen Fry and Sir Ian McKellan as previous cover stars.

August 30, 2014

Family of Georgia Gay teen Turns on him and Kicks him Out



                                                                          



When Daniel Ashley Pierce told his family last October that he was gay, his stepmother seemed to be supportive, and his father had no response.
All that changed Wednesday, when Pierce’s family attempted to stage a delayed intervention, berating the 20-year-old for “choosing” to be gay and demanding that he move out of the family’s home.
But Pierce, who, according to his public Facebook page, is studying business administration at Georgia Highlands College in Rome, might have the last word, as a video he recorded of the confrontation has gone viral.
The five-minute, profanity-laced video, originally posted by a friend of Pierce’s, has logged more than 2 million views, and a GoFundMe site set up to raise money for Pierce’s living expenses has raised over $56,000 in one day. On the video, which doesn’t show faces, a conversation among Pierce and family members escalates into a physical altercation with screaming and profanity. In a Facebook posting about the incident, Pierce said, “What a day. I thought that waking up at 9:48 and being 15 mins late to work was going to be the biggest problem today. But I didn’t know that my biggest problem was going to be getting disowned and kicked out of my home of almost twenty years. To add insult to injury, my stepmother punched me in the face repeatedly with my grandmother cheering her along. I am still in complete shock and disbelief.”
More than 21,000 comments have been left on the YouTube video of the confrontation.
Thursday night, Pierce posted another note on Facebook: “Thank you for all of your support. I need some down time for myself and I am in a safe place.”

(video is been darkened because of brutality but you still  have a clear conversation)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

February 14, 2014

Through The Net Gay Teens are Connected to a Larger Community and it’s Implications





In the past 20 years, the Internet has significantly changed what it means to grow up as a gay kid in this country.

Before the Web, many gay young people grew up in what seemed to be isolation, particularly those in small towns. But with the advent of online chat rooms and Websites dedicated to gay culture, communities formed, and that demographic began finding new support.

That change can be seen in the experiences of two women who grew up in the same town, two decades apart.
Stephanie Sandifer grew up in Sulphur, La., in the 1980s. She says her exposure to people who were gay then was limited to stereotypes. Stephanie Sandifer grew up in Sulphur, La., in the 1980s.
 She says her exposure to people who were gay then was limited to stereotypes. 
'The Only One'

Larry Gross of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communication has been studying gay teens for decades.

"The experience that is so common for people growing up gay in the past is: 'I thought I was the only one,' " he says.

Growing up in Springfield, Ill., in the 1970s, Todd Bentsen never spoke to his high school classmates about being gay.

"Gay people — or people who were thought to be gay — in high school were ridiculed, or worse. So, you know, I kept quiet about it," he says. "I literally did not have contact with people my own age who were gay."

For decades, being a gay kid often meant holding tight to a secret you couldn't share, or having no one to talk to about feelings you might not fully understand. But the Internet, Gross says, allowed gay kids to find each other for the first time.

The Birth Of The Chat Room

Stephanie Sandifer grew up in Sulphur, La., in the 1980s. She says her exposure to people who were gay then was limited to stereotypes.
Stephanie Sandifer grew up in Sulphur, La., in the 1980s. She says her exposure to people who were gay then was limited to stereotypes.

Courtesy of Stephanie Sandifer
Stephanie Sandifer grew up in the small town of Sulphur, La., in the 1980s. "The only exposure that we had to anyone that might be gay were more of what we perceived as the stereotypes of that," she says.

In her mind at the time, gay men were supposed to be hair dressers, and lesbians were supposed to be gym coaches. These stereotypes didn't fit her reality. She had feelings for girls, but there were almost no real images of gay people in popular culture. And she felt there was no one in Sulphur she could talk to about it.

She didn't come out until college and didn't talk to her parents about it until her mid-20s.

"I still remember the first time I saw those Internet chat rooms on AOL," she says. "I was like, this is really different! And then suddenly we were able to get on the Web and find websites dedicated to the culture.”
Emily Kitfield, 16, says she's not sure if she would have been able to come out to her parents and community without being able to reach out to others online. Emily Kitfield, 16, says shes not sure if she would have been 
able to come out to her parents and community without being able to reach out to others online. 
Online Support

Mark Elderkin founded Gay.com in the mid-1990s. "We couldn't keep up with the demand," he says, "and we would hit traffic records day after day. So we knew we were on to something."

And it wasn't just adults on sites like his. For the first time, gay teens in small towns had a place they could come out, a place they could talk.

"They're in their 30s now, these people who came out back then," Elderkin says.

Even today, they find him and thank him. He says the stories he hears are often similar, about how Gay.com helped people come out and feel good about themselves. He also hears about parents who took away their kids' computers for visiting the site.

Before the Web, there was Usenet, listservs and chat rooms.

But the communication wasn't all positive. In the 1990s, there were scares about online predators and moves in Congress to censor the Internet. Some fears were legitimate. Elderkin says Gay.com had special rooms for teens and community monitors to keep kids safe.

Emily Kitfield, 16, says she's not sure if she would have been able to come out to her parents and community without being able to reach out to others online.
Emily Kitfield, 16, says she's not sure if she would have been able to come out to her parents and community without being able to reach out to others online.

Courtesy of Emily Kitfield
Eventually, courts squashed censorship efforts, and slowly gay culture entered the mainstream online — and the world at large. Soon gay kids weren't just connecting on gay-centered sites: Friendster took over, then Facebook.

And today, many parents worry more about online bullying than the Internet corrupting their kids.

Finding The 'Courage'

Sixteen-year-old Emily Kitfield of Sulphur, La., is the kind of kid who uses "sir" by default. This year, the soft-spoken teen came out to her parents and her school.

"I don't think that I could have done it without being able to reach out to other kids and get advice from them," she says, "because it's really hard. I don't think I would have had the courage."

Emily lives in the same Lousiana town where Stephanie Sandifer grew up 25 years ago, but her experience there has been completely different.

by STEVE HENN

January 14, 2013

Duke University in high heels in support of homeless LGBT teens

 BY JAMES WITHERS

Duke_University_student_Jacob_Tobia.jpg
Approximately a month ago, on 15 December, Jacob Tobia ran across the Brooklyn Bridge. Stop rolling your eyes, please. Sure it sounds boring and mundane, but he wore he wore high heels.
'You should not run in high heels,' Tobia chuckled in an interview with GSN. 'If you want to run a little bit try it, but don't train in heels. Use flat shoes.'
Why did the the Duke University sophomore do something he doesn't suggest to others? Easy. He was raising money for the Ali Forney Center. This past fall was difficult for the New York City nonprofit that works with gay homeless teenagers.Hurricane Sandy destroyed the group's walk in  center in the traditionally gay neighborhood of Chelsea (located in Manhattan). The building,  located a block away from the Hudson River, could no longer offer the help it has for the past seven years.
'Our furniture was all all destroyed,' Carl Siciliano, Ali Forney's executive director, said to GSN. 'The storm was a crippling blow.'
Tobia, who was in the city for a term, heard about the organization's troubles and came up with the idea about heels and running as a way to raise money.
'Friends and family donated first and it took off,' Tobia said. 'It went viral in its own way. The success shows how much support there is to address the challenges of homeless  LGBT youth.'
By jogging across the 1.3 mile bridge, Tobia raised $10,000. These funds, plus other donations, helped the center find a replacement building and prepare to offer around the clock services to its clients.
'So many people reached out, that we survived the storm,' Siciliano said. 'The kind of resources we received was great. Two months after the storm and we were able to move into a new space.'
Tobia has returned to campus this term to continue working on a human rights advocacy degree. There's talk of turning his December run into an annual event. Even if that doesn't happen, the sophomore hopes the needs of LGBT teens forced to live on the streets becomes a larger part of the gay freedom movement.
'I credit the response with the really good work Ali Forney does. The needs of LGBT youth are so often neglected in the rights movement. Those who are most vulnerable need the support of our community.'
Below are two videos highlighting Tobia's December run.
gaystarnews.com

September 30, 2012

Fmer Irish Pres, "Catholic Church Drives Teens to Suicide"

 Mary McAleese says the Church's homophobic teachings makes kids feel ashamed when they find out they' are gay   
gaystarnews.com
A former Irish President has said the Catholic Church is partly responsible for the growing number of gay men who take their own lives.
Former Irish President Mary McAleese says the Catholic Church is responsible for the growing amount of gay teen suicides in Ireland.Mary McAleese, who served from 1997 to 2011, said when the research is broken down, it shows young gay teens are one of the most at-risk groups in Ireland.
Speaking to RTÉ Radio, McAleese said many of these young men will have gone to Catholic schools and they will have heard their church's attitude to homosexuality.
She said: ‘They will have heard words like disorder, they may even have heard the word evil used in relation to homosexual practice.
‘And when they make the discovery, and it is a discovery and not a decision, when they make the discovery that they are gay, when they are 14, 15, or 16, an internal conflict of absolutely appalling proportions opens up.’
McAleese said many young gay men are driven into a place that is ‘dark and bleak’, and they feel they only have one option left.
The former president said she met with the Papal Nuncio shortly after Easter this year to raise with him her concern about the growing number of suicides.
However, she said the issue will not be tacked until the ‘omerta’ or code of silence on the issue is broken.
The urgency of the gay teen suicide problem is reflected in studies which show over a quarter of young and gay men have attempted suicide, and four times more men have taken their own life in Ireland than in the UK.
Dublin City University research also found a majority of teachers reported homophobic bullying in their schools, but said they felt less equipped to handle it than with other forms of bullying.


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July 13, 2012

Lance Bass Making Mississippi Safer for LGTB Teens{Watch}



BY: JEREMY KINSER
Entertainer-turned-producer Lance Bass and filmmaker Katherine Linton salute a group of teenagers who held a prom for LGBT students and are becoming visible leaders for equality in their home state in the powerful new documentary short "Mississippi: I Am".
The two were initially inspired by Constance McMillen, the lesbian teenager who sued her Mississippi high school for the right to take her girlfriend to prom. Bass, a native of Laurel, Mississippi, says he grew tired of his home state being so homophobic. "I wanted to send cameras down there and catch what was really happening in the state," he shares. "Yes, we're really homophobic, but the climate is changing and it's being spearheaded by the youth down there." The filmmakers found the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, which ensures that students are safe from being discriminated against and harassed due to their race and sexual orientation.
Linton insists the fear LGBT people in the South feel is very real. "If you're fired because you're gay, you have no power to say anything about that," she says. "The American Family Association runs those [radio] stations. What they grow up with is very pervasive. This idea that we're killing children. Not just that homosexuality is a sing, but that we're destroying them...The idea that young people can stand up in the face of that is remarkable."
Bass also reveals how he's seen his home state evolve since he left and shares how differently he is treated since he came out publicly.
"Mississippi: I Am" will be screened July 14. For tickets and more information go to Outfest.org.
Watch Bass and Linton discuss their film below.                    This is posted as it appeared at  gay.net by Jeremy Kinser



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