Showing posts with label Acceptance in School. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Acceptance in School. 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.

May 14, 2016

GOP Going Down the School’s Pee Pot

Image result for gop down the toilet

The Lieutenant Gov of Texas was saying on my TV that now female students would have to shower with boys. It’s hard to have a debate with people that don’t know the truth and if they know it they don’t use it. When did the fairness to let transgender kids use the bathroom becomes the right of boys to shower with girls? This kind of talk works when people don’t know who the transgenders are but this doesn’t last long because people will get curious and find out. Soon everybody will know who a transgender is and then decide wether they deserve fairness and respect at the expense of ignorance and homophobia.

President Obama has picked the perfect time to enforce a law that has been in the books. Nothing new on the law except the enforcement of it. It started with North Carolina and spreading through Texas and most of the states that fought same sex marriage and equal treatment of the LGBT community by passing their own laws with have been struck down or are in the process of being sent the way of the ‘Martians are Coming’. 

It’s going to be interesting how GOP Senators which have their seats on the line this coming election will deal with this hot potato. Are they going to join the laws being passed by some states which not only knocks down the civil rights laws already in the books and the fairness and dignity to be afforded to transgender kids which up to the moment had no problem with the bathrooms.  LGBT equal protections have either been passed by the courts or by the federal government though executive orders. These governors and local lawmakers decided in some cases that if they were going to be irrational and unfair to the transgender kids, lets bring in the gays into the mix. These Senators trying to defend their seats are going to find a tough time getting elected as people begin to find out who their transgenders are just like when they found out who the gay kids where (their own kids). 

In homophobic states it might not be tough to carry this type of water of denying the bathroom to kids but in most states this wont fly no matter what the main media might be saying through interviews and air time given to these states.

They are interviewing the states with the problem with transgender kids and adults but as you take this issue country wide these GOP politicians wont find friendly faces because polls already show that the majority of the nation wants transgender kids and adults just like gays to be treated fairly. There are politicians running for their seats in those states. Who are they going to defend? The states where homophobia still grows will see this as a protection from Transgender kids. They are so scare for people that are religious. Afraid of the Muslims the Transgender, Gays but they are compared to the whole nation a minority.

There only 8 senators which currently hold the majority in the senate, with this whole non issue based on homophobia and bias might just be the difference for the GOP to loose the senate. This summer and fall the GOP will have to defend “The Donald” without tax returns (first time ever) and his plan to deport Mexicans and Moslems and the bias against the transgender populace against using bathrooms but mainly kids in school. There comes a time in which the septic tank van only hold so much and then cracks and spills because it can’t hold anymore. 

What happens when a biological male who identifies as a female uses the women’s restroom?

The question is at the core of a struggle – and a suddenly intense debate – over the rights of transgender individuals. That battle transcends what happens in bathrooms, certainly, but the issue has prompted a wave of unnecessary fears and unnecessary laws, including North Carolina’s HB 2.

This week, the Obama administration tried to get in front of the clash, first with a Department of Justice lawsuit over HB 2, then on Friday with a letter to U.S. school districts ordering them to acknowledge and accommodate transgender students. The letter doesn’t carry the weight of law, but it does carry a big stick – the implied withholding of federal dollars from school districts that don’t abide by the administration’s guidelines.

That threat is sure to bring more heat to the bathroom debate, but eventually the decree should have the opposite effect. It will bring acceptance, as these measures do, by showing that the answer to what happens in bathrooms is a lot less fearsome than the question.

Republicans in North Carolina have made the most of those fears, framing HB 2 as a law that protects the safety and privacy of women and children. Those safety issues are political fiction – non-transgender men wouldn’t have been allowed in women’s bathrooms under the Charlotte ordinance that HB 2 killed, and the 200 or so cities with similar ordinances have had no incidents involving bathroom predators.

That leaves the issue of privacy and the oft-stated notion of women and girls sharing bathrooms and locker rooms with someone who has different genitalia. It’s an image that’s uncomfortable even for some who are sympathetic to the transgender cause.

The administration’s letter addresses that uneasiness head on, at least with regards to schools. The letter includes a 25-page attachment detailing “emerging practices” at U.S. districts that already are supporting transgender students. Along with policies on issues such as dress codes and transgender student records, the document provides examples of how districts address the privacy needs of all students in bathrooms and locker rooms.

In Washington state, guidelines urge schools to provide all students access to an alternative restroom or changing area. In New York, one principal determined that students could be given more privacy by having curtains installed alongside benches in locker rooms. In Kentucky, one district offered both curtains and private changing areas, plus separate changing schedules for students wanting privacy.

The measures follow a simple premise: Offer those who are uncomfortable a chance to be comfortable, but give choice to everyone instead of taking it away from some.

That Kentucky district and others have discovered something else that’s instructive, by the way: There have been no incidents involving locker rooms and bathrooms because of transgender policies. It is, eventually, a non-issue.

This is what the Obama administration nudged the rest of the country toward Friday. Yes, the thought of male genitalia in girls’ locker rooms – and vice versa – might be distressing to some. But the battle for equality has always been in part about overcoming discomfort – with blacks sharing facilities, with gays sharing marriage – then realizing that it was not nearly so awful as some people imagined.

Intro by Adam Gonzalez

April 22, 2015

How A Lesbian Teacher Convinces Kids to Accept LGBQT

TORONTO,   A primary grade lesbian teacher from an Ontario public school revealed in a workshop at a homosexual activist conference for teachers earlier this month how she uses her classroom to convince children as young as four to accept homosexual relationships.
“And I started in Kindergarten. What a great place to start. It was where I was teaching. So, I was the most comfortable there,” Pam Strong said at the conference, attended by LifeSiteNews.
The conference, hosted by the homosexual activist organization Jer’s Vision, now called the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, focused on the implementation of Bill 13 in Ontario classrooms. Bill 13, called by critics the ‘homosexual bill of rights,’ passed in June 2012 and gave students the right to form pro-gay clubs in their school, including Catholic ones, using the name Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA).
Strong, who is in an open relationship with another woman and who has been a teacher for about five years, focused her workshop on what she called the “power of conversation” for promoting LGBTQ issues in an elementary classroom. She began her talk by relating how she reacted the first time one of her students called another student ‘gay’ as a putdown.
“With [the principal’s] encouragement, we decided that I would go from class to class and talk about what ‘gay’ means, what does ‘LGBTQ’ mean, what do ‘I’ mean,” she told about 40 attendees, all educators, at her workshop.
Strong related how she began with the junior kindergarten class.
“And I read a [pro-gay child’s] book [King and King], and I started to realize that conversations can be very difficult, and they can have the most power when they are the most difficult.”
“But difficult conversations are a part of what we do as teachers, right? And when these conversations are properly supported by teachers within the safety of the classroom, they provide a rich environment for our students as they unpack these complex social issues and they reflect on their own preconceptions, rights, of gender, sexuality, love, all these different things,” she said.
Strong related that as she was reading “King and King” in the junior kindergarten class as a springboard to discuss her sexuality with the kids, she got to the part where the two princes become ‘married’ when one of the boys suddenly shouted out: “They can’t do that! They can’t get married. They’re two boys.”
Recounted Strong: “And I said, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, they can. It’s right here on page 12.”

Some of the pro-gay children's books Strong uses with her students. Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews

To which the boy replied, according to Strong: “Oh, yeah, I know Mrs. Strong, but that’s just a story. That’s not real life.”
“And I said: ‘It happens in real life too. I am married to a woman. I am gay. And I am in love with my wife.”
Strong said the young children “just all kind of went silent.” She then told them: “That may seem different to you, how many of you have heard of that before?”
“Not one hand went up,” she related. “And so I said: ‘That may seem different to you, but we’re not that different. Would you like to know about what I do with my family?”
“Yeah, tell us,” she recounted the children enthusiastically saying. 
“I said, you know, we take our kids to the park. I swing them on swings,” she related, telling conference attendees that she could share things she did with her own children that “mostly likely all of their families did with them.”
Then she told the children: “We laugh together. We go grocery shopping together. I read to them. I tickle them, sometimes until they scream and laugh and when they cry, I hug them until they stop.” 
Strong said that at that point, the boy who had used the word ‘gay’ looked and her and said: “Well, you’re a family.”
“And I said, yeah, we are,” she related. “And off I go to the next classroom.”
Strong said that she went from “class to class to class and continued with these conversations, and they were very powerful.”
‘It’s normal in my classroom’
Strong related an incident that happened last fall involving a new boy who had recently entered her grade 5 classroom. The new boy had not yet been made aware of Strong’s sexual preference for other women.
“All my class is very used to who I am. My family picture is very proudly in my room now. On Mondays they quite often will say, ‘What did you do with your wife?’ It’s normal in my classroom.”
Strong said that a conversation between herself and the students came up one day where it was mentioned that she was a lesbian. The new boy put his hands over his mouth and said, according to Strong: “Oh, my God, I think I’m going to puke.”
“As I took the abuse — personally, as an individual – of those words, I also saw half of my class look at me with incredible concern. One student who was right in front of me already had tears in her eyes. And I noticed several other students who were looking at him. They were just very, very upset with this kid,” she related.
Strong said the boy instantly became aware that “something he had said had just created this unbelievable tension in the room.” She related how she addressed the boy, telling him: “I think that what you might not be aware of is that I am gay, and I am married to a woman, and my family has two moms.’”

The chart Strong uses to show her students that same-sex partnerships are the same as male-female families. Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews

“His eyes just started darting around, and he was incredibly uncomfortable,” she related.
“I looked at the other kids and I said: ‘Ok guys, what I want to ask you is: Am I upset with him?’ And the one little girl in my class put up her hand — that doesn’t usually get into these conversations very much in my classroom — and she said, ‘Mrs Strong, I know you’re not upset with him, because he hasn’t had the benefit of our conversations.”
“And I looked at my little friend, my ‘new’ friend, and I said: ‘But, we’re going to have one now,’” she related.
Strong said that she then directed her class to the board and asked them to write everything she had told them related to LGBTQ.
“And my class all of a sudden popped up. ‘LGBTQ’ was on the board, ‘lesbian,’ and all the different words coming out there. And I sat back and said, ‘Let’s review.’ So, the last year and a half of ‘inclusive’ education came alive in my classroom.”
Strong told her workshop attendees that her “new little friend” is now a devoted champion of diversity. She boasted how he was the one in her class to count down the days to the pro-homosexual Day of Pink that took place earlier this month. When Strong took a photo of all the children wearing pink shirts in her classroom, she said the boy requested to be in the front.
“For me, that is the power of conversations. That’s the power of sharing our stories,” she said.
LGBTQ classroom ‘conversation starters’
Strong called it “key” to develop a “positive classroom culture” — and she mentioned it often takes months — before getting into what she called “difficult conversations” with students about convincing students of the normality of her sexual preference for women.
She mentioned how she spends time “building a common vocabulary” in her classroom of words like “stereotype, prejudice, discrimination” so her students will be able to more readily conform to her pro-LGBTQ message.
“Sometimes with these big ideas there are also very big words that are very hard to understand. I find that whether it’s kindergarten, right up to grade six, visuals help a lot,” she said. 
The lesbian teacher has amassed a collection of “conversation starters” that she says helps get her started when presenting to her students the LGBTQ message. She said pro-gay children’s books are one of her favorites.
“I use current events, news articles, advertisement are great for gender, especially with Kindergarten kids, pink and girl toys and all the rest of it. Commercials are great, I use one right now, the Honey Maid commercial.” The 2014 “Dad & Papa" commercial depicts two male same-sex partners engaging with their children in normal family activities such as making s’mores, eating dinner around the table, and walking in the park.
Strong says she watches the commercial with her students up to three times, asking them to make a list of all the similarities between the gay-partnership and their own families.
“Of course they think it’s going to be so different, [that] this family is going to be so different,” she said.
Strong said the kids notice dozens of similarities, but usually only one difference, namely that the commercial has “two dads.” Other than this, she said the students “could not find one thing in that commercial that was different than their own families.” In this way she convinces the kids that a gay-partnership is identical to a family made up of a male and female. Strong called it a “fantastic lesson for kids of all ages.”
“There was nothing left for me to teach at the end of it. It was a huge learning for some kids,” she said.
‘Recruiting children? You bet we are’
Though homosexual activists claim their efforts in the schools are a way of combatting bullying, a number of homosexual activists have highlighted that the movement’s goal is in fact to “indoctrinate” children into accepting the normalcy of the homosexual lifestyle.
“I am here to tell you: All that time I said I wasn't indoctrinating anyone with my beliefs about gay and lesbian and bi and trans and queer people? That was a lie,” wrote Canadian gay activist Sason Bear Bergman, a woman who identifies as a transgender man, in a March 2015 piece titled “I Have Come to Indoctrinate Your Children Into My LGBTQ Agenda (And I'm Not a Bit Sorry).” Bergman holds nothing back, stating she wants to make children “like us” even if that “goes against the way you have interpreted the teachings of your religion.”
In 2011 U.S. gay activist Daniel Villarreal penned a column for stating that the time had come for the homosexual lobby to admit to “indoctrinating” schoolchildren to accept homosexuality.
“Why would we push anti-bullying programs or social studies classes that teach kids about the historical contributions of famous queers unless we wanted to deliberately educate children to accept queer sexuality as normal?”
“We want educators to teach future generations of children to accept queer sexuality. In fact, our very future depends on it. Recruiting children? You bet we are,” he added.
Homosexual activist Michael Swift wrote in 1987 in the Gay Community News that school children would become explicit targets for homosexual indoctrination. “We shall seduce them in your schools…They will be recast in our image. They will come to crave and adore us,” he wrote at the time. 
Pete Baklinski

March 28, 2015

A Lot of Anguish in North Carolina over 1st Transgender Prom King

Blake Brockington wanted to be an ordinary teenage boy. But it proved too difficult.


For more than two decades, Time Out Youth has been a central, celebratory hub for Charlotte’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens. On Wednesday afternoon, however, the mood at Time Out Youth was less than celebratory. Just two days earlier, Blake Brockington, a popular 18-year-old who was one of the group’s transgender members, apparently took his own life. “He was a leader, not just at our center, but in our community,” Rodney Tucker, Time Out Youth’s executive director, told TakePart.
Brockington’s death comes just weeks after the Charlotte community mourned the passing of Ash Haffner, a 16-year-old transgender teen who committed suicide. In recent months, several transgender teens across the country have committed suicide, driving a broader debate about our society’s understanding, and treatment, of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
 Just a year ago, Brockington drew national headlines for becoming North Carolina’s first transgender prom king. Photos from that night show the short-haired senior at East Mecklenberg High School, in Charlotte, grinning ear-to-ear—with all the trappings of prom royalty: a light-blue button-up shirt, a black tie, a red-velvet coat, a yellow-studded tie.
“Throughout my life, I haven’t always been treated equally as a male, so I’ve always wanted this, and everybody has told me I couldn’t do it,” Brockington told local reporters at the time. Brockington hoped his story would inspire other transgender youth, and said: "Even though you go through some things, and have some negative encounters in your life, anything is possible. You can do anything you set your heart to."
Brockington’s journey toward manhood began early. He was born into a deeply religious home in Charleston, South Carolina. Apparently, he was forced to wear dresses to church and family gatherings. “It didn’t make sense,” he told the Charlotte Observer earlier this year. “I felt like a boy.”
By the time he’d turned 12, Brockington had moved to Charlotte with his father and stepmother. The move complicated the already tricky puberty experience. “When I got my period my aunt told me, ‘Welcome to womanhood.’ I was like “Noooo!” he recounted to the Observer.
Brockington was a sophomore at East Mecklenberg High School when he began his gender transition.  Eventually, he chose the name “Blake,” apparently because it came to him in a dream. He told the Observer that he liked how masculine the name sounded. It was at Time Out Youth’s annual prom that he finally got to bask in being a transgender man, a friend of Brockington, Joanne Spataro, wrote on a local blog. “It was the first time that anybody had referred to me as my preferred name, my pronouns,” he said. “It was the only place where I felt kind of accepted.”
But Brockington’s family struggled to accept his transition. Eventually, he moved in with a foster family. “My family feels like this is a decision I made,” he told the Observer. “They think, ‘You’re already black, why would you want to draw more attention to yourself?’ But it’s not a decision. It is who I am. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
Brockington was caught in a web that’s familiar to many transgender youth. It’s difficult to accurately gauge the size of the LGBT youth population. But researchers have found that some LGBT youth—particularly those who lack family support--are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, and nearly six times more likely to report high levels of depression. Up to forty percent of the nation’s homeless youth are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to some estimates. In some cities, like New York, a significant share of homeless LGBT youth are of color.
The stakes are particularly high for the black transgender community. According to a National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 34 percent of black transgender people reported a household income of less than $10,000 per year, and 21 percent reported being refused medical care due to bias. More than 40 percent of those surveyed had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.
Brockington spoke bravely, and publicly, about his own battles. “I felt like I’ve lived my entire life as a lie,” he says in the trailer for a short documentary about growing up in  Charleston. “I’ve always been kind of different, and it was always a bad thing in my family,” he remembers. Even after winning homecoming king, and after raising more than $2,300 to help build a school in South Sudan, he said his classmates didn’t accept his gender identity. “It’s been really hard, Brockington says in the trailer. “High school’s been really hard.”
A representative from East Mecklenberg High School declined to discuss Brockington’s time there.
But Brockington’s challenges seem to have been magnified after his homecoming win. Articles celebrating his accomplishments  appeared in local and national news outlets. While there was a great amount of support following Brockington’s victory, online critics were relentless. “That’s unfair to young men who were nominated and to the young woman who was voted queen, smh,” wrote one . “Maybe they voted for HER out of pity,” wrote another. “Its homecoming KING and QUEEN not TWO homecoming QUEENS [sic].” The criticism also found its way directly to Brockington. He later told the Observer: “This was single-handedly the hardest part of my trans journey….Really hateful things were said on the Internet. It was hard. I saw how narrow-minded the world really is.” 
Brockington was a politically active member of North Carolina’s LGBT community, and his death is reverberating across the state. “He seemed like a really loving, exuberant person,” recalls Qasima Wideman, a 19-year-old LGBT activist who met Brockington at the first Trans Pride Parade in a nearby city, Greensboro, last year. “I admired how brave it was for him to put himself out there as a black trans man.”
At Time Out Youth, Tucker, the executive director, says there’s been an effort to increase its support transgender youth in recent months. That work includes adding a new weekly transgender support group that’s attracts about 15 participants each week. The recent deaths, Tucker says, “are definitely bringing to the forefront questions of how we can be supportive of people in transition and or who are gender non-conforming.”
 Blake Brockington, North Carolina's first openly transgender prom king, died this week. (Photo: YouTube)
And that support is crucial, as Brockington told reporters before his death. “I’m still a person,” Brockington said. “And trans people are still people. Our bodies just don’t match what’s up (in our head). We need support, not people looking down at us or degrading us or overlooking us. We are still human.”  
Jamilah King is TakePart's staff writer covering the intersection of race/ethnicity, poverty, gender and sexuality. Her work has appeared in Fusion, Salon, The Nation, San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Advocate, Al-Jazeera America, Colorlines, and The California Sunday Magazine.

November 13, 2014

College Crew Team Gets Naked to Fight Homophobia and Bullying

It’s been an enormously exciting week for both the Warwick Rowers and for Sport Allies. And we’re not the only ones excited by last week’s London calendar launch with top actor Sir Ian McKellen – the media have been picking up our story and sharing it all over the world.
We’re all big fans of Buzzfeed here at the boathouse, and we are humbled and flattered that they seem to like us back! Buzzfeed writer Sam Stryker reported that The Naked Rowers are Back and Hotter Than Ever. Sam says: “Just unveiled the 2015 calendar and boy, let’s just say HOMOPHOBIA DOESN”T STAND A CHANCE!” Thank you, Sam!
The mighty Huffington Post also weighed in with Naked Warwick Men’s Rowing Team Make a Splash to Fight Homophobia while The Mail Online headlined the boys with a Phw-oar: Warwick rowers strip off for racy new naked calendar and some prime coverage. As one reader commented: “That just cheered me right up.”
Our local LGBT paper Midlands Zone covered the launch with Sir Ian McKellen and pointed out that Sir Ian is an enthusiastic supporter of Sport Allies.
Winq, the luxury lifestyle for gay men magazine, extensively covered the launch of the 2015 calendar hosted by Sir Ian McKellen at the May Fair hotel in London.
But let’s go back to Sam Stryker’s fun piece in Buzzfeed; how did the Buzzfeed readers rate the photos? It got a 95% YAAASS, which is pretty good.
Now, as Sam says: “it’s your civic duty as a good person to appreciate these British bums.” We agree, and if you want to appreciate our bums, they’re available for viewing in our calendars, films, greeting cards and bonus image downloads. So why not go to directly to our shop and have a look for yourself!
College Crew Team Disrobes to Fight Homophobia and Bullying
Muscled men baring it all to support a good cause? What’s not to like? (Photo by Angus Malcolm for the Warwick Rowers Club)
The guys of the Warwick Rowers Club— the crew team of the University of Warwick in central England — are rocking the boat with a naked calendar that features tasteful nude photographs of their fit bodies to help fight homophobia.
Since 2009, the team has been producing a yearly nude calendar to support its club. But after learning that many of their fans were gay men, this year the team created Sport Allies, a program that reaches out to young people challenged by bullying, homophobia and low self-esteem. 

(Photo by Angus Malcolm for the Warwick Rowers Club)

Managing Editor, Yahoo Health
"With our new Sport Allies initiative, we are making a clear commitment to give an absolute minimum of 10 percent of all profits from every single product we sell," the team said on its website. 
Previous calendars have raised more than $300,000 and are now sold in 77 countries. 
And they are giving more than money. “Equally importantly, everyone involved in the project, including our professional associates, is committing to give contracted minimum volunteering time to making Sport Allies happen,” said the team. 


(Photo by Angus Malcolm for the Warwick Rowers Club)
For its 2015 calendar, the team created a video, featuring outtakes from the shoot (think: spraying hoses at each other) with rowers narrating their story. “We’re getting naked to make a point,” said one rower in the video. 
"Regardless of your gender or sexuality we are inviting you into that moment with us," said another.  
You can purchase the 2015 calendar, or stationery, posters and prints at  

(Photo by Angus Malcolm for the Warwick Rowers Club)
Though the team has become best known for its naked calendars, they’ve been around since 1966 and have produced Olympic and world-class competitive rowers.
The university’s women’s team also bares all for charity, with 20 percent of its calendar sales benefiting Macmillan Cancer Support.

August 16, 2013

Pro Gay Human Rights Dartmouth Nixed Hiring of Bishop Found Out His Views Were Anti Gay

(Dartmouth Hall at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire)
Dartmouth College in New Hampshire has rescinded the appointment of Bishop James Tengatenga of Malawi as dean of a foundation at the Ivy League school over his past comments about homosexuality.
Reached by e-mail on Thursday, Tengatenga said he was “disappointed” by the decision.
Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon said the school revoked the appointment because “the controversy (Tengatenga’s comments) created have compromised his ability to serve effectively.”
Tengatenga had been named as dean of the school’s William Jewett Tucker Foundation, which seeks to educate Dartmouth students “for lives of purpose and ethical leadership, rooted in service, spirituality and social justice,” according to the college’s website.
The appointment drew criticism after it was announced last month because of Tengatenga’s leadership of an Anglican church in Africa that opposed gay rights. He served as diocesan bishop of Southern Malawi and chair of the Worldwide Anglican Communion’s Anglican Consultative Council, a network of 44 churches.
“The issue is that he has championed the church’s official position against homosexuality,” Dartmouth junior Andrew Longhi wrote in a blog post on The Huffington Post website. “The tendency to discriminate against (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people is so diametrically opposed to how I understand faith and religion that selecting a ‘social conservative’ to this post baffles me.”
Tengatenga said in a statement following the appointment, but before his hiring was blocked, that his views on homosexuality had changed.
“Let me state unequivocally and categorically that I consider all people equal regardless of their sexual orientation,” he wrote. “As is the case with many people, my ideas about homosexuality have evolved over time.”
On Thursday, he reacted to Dartmouth’s decision.
“I am disappointed,” he said by e-mail. “It’s a sad for the liberalism they claim. It is what it is. Life goes on.”
He noted changing attitudes toward gay rights, particularly in the United States after the consecration of Gene Robinson as the first openly gay Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.
Hanlon, the Dartmouth president, said the move came after much reflection and consultation with senior leaders at the college and “in light of concerns — specifically surrounding gay rights — expressed by members of our community.”
The college’s support of gay rights, he said, was “complete and unwavering.”
– by Daniel Lovering in Boston

December 24, 2012

LGTB Students An Increasing Pressure on Conservative Schools


More and more LGBT students at conservative Christian colleges and universities are trying to find ways to reconcile their sexual and religious identities.
The New York Timesprofiled Kate Kane, the pseudonym of a blogger in her 20s. The recent graduate of Patrick Henry College, a Virginia school known for its traditionalist pedigree, is a lesbian and runs QueerPHC. The blog is for gay, lesbian and 'otherwise unstraight students and alumni' of the school.
'It was very isolating,' Kane described her experience at Patrick Henry. 'And it was also very confusing, because growing up in a very conservative, fundamentalist environment, and going to a school with a similar environment, my sexuality was very repressed. I didn’t even know I was queer until a few years into my college experience.'
When Kane's site started to get noticed by the media, Michael P. Farris, the school's founder and chancellor, threatened to sue claiming copyright infringement. That warning was walked back and he focused on Kane's alleged honor code violations.
'I am taking a reporter’s word for it that one alumna has self-identified as a lesbian,' Farris said to the paper. 'Does that surprise me? No. Disappoint me? Yes. She violated the honor code for four years. She does not believe what we believe, and she said she did.'
Kane denies the charge, noting  when she was a student she and the scbool were on the same page about LGBT sexuality: no one is created gay by God.
This story highlighted something evangelical universities are going to have to handle. More and more of their students are coming out, either on campus or after graduation.  Earlier this monthPennsylvania State Rep. Mike Fleck, an alumnus of Liberty University, made news by saying he's gay. Rev. Jerry Falwell  is Liberty's founder, and the deceased minister was infamous for his anti-gay politics.

The New York Times article named a number of alumni groups from conservative Christian colleges offering support to LGBT students. There was even a hint that these schools are not what they were 30 years ago. Paul W. Wiens, a retired music teacher from Wheaton College, noted to the paper that three decades ago it would have been impossible for a student to come out. Now he thinks a majority of the faculty of the Illinois college would stand behind civil unions, and gay students talk to the chaplain about their sexuality concerns.

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