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

September 17, 2018

New Findings from SDSU on Gay and Transgender Identities Finds They Begin As Early as 9 and 10

By La Monica Everett-Haynes

As early as ages 9 and 10, about one percent of children self-identify as potentially gay, bisexual or transgender, according to a national study of the sexual orientation and gender identity development of thousands of youth across the nation. 

With the majority of previous studies indicating that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) self-identification generally occurs during the mid-adolescent years, the report by San Diego State University  researchers Jerel P. Calzo and Aaron J. Blashill is providing new insights into early identity development.

“This is such an important stage, biologically and socially,” said Calzo, an associate professor in SDSU’s School of Public Health and lead author of the study. “At 9 and 10, youth—whether through their peers, media or parents—are beginning to be exposed to more information about relationships and interacting in the world. They may not see any of this as sexual, but they are beginning to experience strong feelings.”

The team’s findings were derived from datasets of computer-assisted interviews with more than 4,500 9- and 10-year-old children for the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States. Protocols for the overall ABCD study were approved by the institutional review board at the University of California, San Diego, one of 21 institutions recruiting families for the study, and home for its data collection hub. All interviews were conducted with the consent of the parents. 

The findings were published in the current issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

Calzo and Blashill utilized 2016-17 data collected from the ABCD Study dataset. The study asked children, “Are you gay or bisexual?” In response, 0.2 percent said “yes” and 0.7 percent said “maybe.” About 75 percent said "no," and 23.7 percent said they didn’t understand the question.

To the question, “Are you transgender?” 0.1 percent said “yes” and 0.4 percent said “maybe.” Some 38 percent said they didn’t understand the question; the rest responded “no.”

“One percent is sizable, given that they are so young,” said Blashill, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology. 

“For so long, social scientists have assumed that there is no point in asking kids at this age about their sexual orientation, believing they do not have the cognitive ability to understand,” he said. “This is the first study to actually ask children about their sexual orientation this young. It is important to have a baseline to understand how sexuality develops and how it may change over time.” 

Blashill and Calzo also investigated identity-related stress and how parents perceived their children’s sexual and gender identities. 

More than 13 percent of parents, when asked about the sexual identity of their children, reported their child might be gay and 1.2 percent reported that their child might be transgender, the team found. 

Another finding was that the 9- and 10-year-olds in the study who identified as gay, bisexual or transgender overwhelmingly reported no problems at home or school related to their minority sexual orientation or gender identity, while 7 percent of parents reported gender identity-based problems. 

As sexual and gender minorities experience higher rates of physical and mental health issues than do their heterosexual counterparts, the research may provide crucial insights into resiliency development within the LGBT community. It could also help lead to improved programs and policies to better serve the community, Calzo said.

“If we can understand identity development earlier and can track development using large datasets, we can begin improving research and prevention around risk and protective factors,” Calzo said, adding that he and Blashill purposefully set out to study sexual identity issues among youth at earlier ages than previous research. 

Another key finding is that researchers must identify better ways to explore identity issues among younger populations, as 23.7 percent of those surveyed indicated they did not understand questions about sexual orientation. This will be crucial as researchers seek to explore other issues, such as same-gender attraction and gender expression, in young children. 

“ABCD does plan to include more measures, and other researchers are studying sexual orientation and gender expression,” said Calzo. “We know from other studies that these identities can change over time. This research helps us to understand sexual and gender identity younger, so that we can have a much better understanding of these identities over time.”

The project is supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


July 12, 2018

LGBTI Calls for Hong Kong to Reverse Its Decision to Hide 10 (LGBT-Theme) Children's Books

An international human rights group has called on Hong Kong’s government to immediately reverse its decision to hide 10 children’s books with LGBT themes from public view in libraries, warning the move sent a discriminatory message. 

In a letter to the head of the Home Affairs Bureau and its Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch criticised the move to place the books in the “closed stacks” sections of local libraries. It said the arrangement limited citizens’ access to information about homosexuality and discriminated against LGBT youth based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Discriminatory placement of LGBT content in libraries not only sends a stigmatizing message that LGBT content is inherently inappropriate, but deprives people of their right to access information that could be important to their development, health, and safety,” wrote the group’s LGBT rights advocacy director Boris Dittrich.
Last month, Hong Kong public libraries removed children’s book And Tango Makes Three and nine other titles with LGBT themes to the closed stacks of the children’s section, meaning readers would need to file a request to borrow them.
They did so after an anti-LGBT group, the Family School Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance Concern Group, complained to the LCSD in April about the books’ easy visibility. A gay-rights activist has applied for a judicial review of the decision.

Singapore’s public libraries similarly covered up LGBT-themed books – also including And Tango Makes Three – in 2014, but that was reversed following public outcry. However, the titles intended for children were still kept in the adult section.
Dittrich warned Hong Kong’s move could violate its international obligation to protect equality.
It would also contradict the spirit of Unesco’s public library manifesto, which states it should provide services “on the basis of equality of access for all”, he said.
The LCSD previously said it adhered to the manifesto, but would not use library materials to promote a specific belief or view.
Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu, who sat on the government-appointed Public Library Advisory Committee, said it was alarming for a public library to limit certain books, and that doing so was against the norms of an open society.
He added that public libraries were about to begin buying a new batch of books after the summer and that he hoped the same policy would not be evident in the procurement.

July 6, 2018

Life As A Gay Teenager and Pushed Into Gay Conversion Therapy by His Baptist Parents

Detailing his time in Love in Action, a “gay conversion therapy organization”, for Boy Erased: A Memoir was no easy task for Garrad Conley. Released in 2016, the book begins with a disclaimer that “trauma has made dark what was once painfully clear”, before describing his struggle with his sexuality in a Baptist household in Arkansas, being raped during college – and after he was outed by the perpetrator, the manner in which the intensive intervention tried to turn him straight.
“I hadn’t yet visited Dr. Julie to check my testosterone levels for deficiencies,” he writes at the start of his involvement with Love in Action (LIA). “But I already knew after my first session that I was diseased, possibly incurable.”
Two years on, it pains him to even recall writing the book.
I went into college cranky and mad because I was in that dark world again. To keep myself sane I had to stick to a strict schedule of writing, teaching and running 
“To have to reconstruct all of that . . .” he trails away as we meet in London. “I was teaching in an American college in Bulgaria at the time, and doing writing in the morning then going into work was the hardest thing in the world. I went into college cranky and mad because I was in that dark world again. And my boyfriend at the time had to put up with so much too; to keep myself sane I had to stick to a strict schedule of writing, teaching and running. It was a tough time.”
So when the book was heralded for shining a light on being a gay teenager in America’s bible belt, and director Joel Edgerton (also famed for acting in Red Sparrow and The Great Gatsby) brought it to Focus Films, not even the promise of an all-star cast like Russell CroweNicole Kidman and breakthrough actor Lucas Hedges (Lady BirdManchester by the Sea) could tempt Conley to return to that intense state. 

Nicole Kidman stars as Nancy and Russell Crowe stars as Marshall in Joel Edgerton’s ‘Boy Erased’, a Focus Features release.
Nicole Kidman stars as Nancy and Russell Crowe stars as Marshall in Joel Edgerton’s ‘Boy Erased’, a Focus Features release. 

“I was asked to write the script but I turned it down because I didn’t need to go there again,” he says, shaking the idea away. “I also felt that dramatizing my story in another medium might feel odd, especially as it would be a more fictional account. But I gave feedback on every draft of the script, and I went to visit the set a number of times. My mom, my husband and I were all extras in it. I saw the finished film last week, and it was beautiful.
“People might have a problem with it being told by a straight director, but Joel’s the one who came knocking at my door. He’s the one who completely took the time to understand the story, and it’s in really good hands.”

Happy and confident

We meet over a drink in an upscale bar, and Conley, now 33, looks happy, vivacious and confident enough to turn heads regardless of one’s persuasion. Which is proof enough that his Love in Action “therapy” didn’t work, even without the mention of his husband in New York, or the historical fiction book he’s soon to release (only approved, fundamentalist Christian literature was allowed at LIA). 
His ending is a mostly happy one, though he’s aware that his father, a missionary Baptist minister who prompted Conley to attend LIA, is left in a difficult position. 
“After the book came out, I got some emails that were negative but my dad got the worst of it,” he says, with a soft southern accent. “His work involves going to a lot of churches to energize the crowd, but he’s been rejected from several churches because of me. A good friend of the family stood up in a meeting at one of the churches he used to attend and wanted him out because I was saying all this stuff. 

Garrad Conley and his father at graduation dinner in 2003.
Garrad Conley and his father at graduation dinner in 2003. 

“They’ve faced a lot of scrutinies,” he says. “Randomly, Russell Crowe decided to visit my dad’s church for research for the film. There was no warning, he just took his private jet and his entourage, and went to the church and then talked to my dad for a few hours.
“After that the local media was all over my dad, asking him if they supported his son. That puts him in an awkward position because yes, he supports my career but he still disagrees with me. That’s not a good place for him to be. Especially because he takes care of my mom. She has health issues and the only pay cheque they have is from the church, so I don’t want to jeopardize that.”
It’s a testament to both father and son that they maintain a relationship despite their divergent beliefs, not least as Conley has stepped up to the role of spokesperson against conversion therapy.
I almost killed myself, and a lot of people have killed themselves, and I’m going to speak out in hope that no one else does 
“Some of my family don’t talk to me anymore because they think I shouldn’t share these secrets. It’s a southern thing. Like a lot of rape victims get blamed there, because they’re the ones speaking out,” he says. “They wonder why I’m telling my story and I can’t give my dad an easy life. But it’s because I almost killed myself, and a lot of people have killed themselves, and I’m going to speak out in hope that no one else does.” 
Built on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, conversion therapy treats homosexuality like a disorder, and aims to “cure” patients in-house or, in Conley’s case, while staying in approved hotels under lockdown (“every part of the city was forbidden except for places with the word ‘Christ’ in it, really”.)  
LIA began operating in Memphis in 1994, 20 years before Conley passed through its doors. Nowadays, it operates under the guise of Restoration Path, though the therapy was discredited even before its former director, John Smid, entered a same-sex marriage.

Garrad Conley and his father at graduation dinner in 2003.
Garrad Conley and his father at graduation dinner in 2003. 

Conversion therapy is now partially banned in Canada, Australia and 10 states of America, and fully banned in Malta, Argentina, and Brazil. In Ireland, a prohibition bill passed the second reading in the Seanad in May, with cross-party support. 
“Nice, liberal people are incredulous that it’s happening in 2018, but it’s everywhere.” Has he found his own terms with that too?
The Bible is a strong inspirational text; it’s where I got most of my morality from. It’s a good story 
“When the ‘thought police’ told me that God didn’t love me because of who I was, that was really painful and now I can’t feel comfortable in a church. 
“I still pray. The Bible is a strong inspirational text; it’s where I got most of my morality from. It’s a good story.”
It’s a good story. An innocuous comment, but one which splits him from missionary Baptists, who take a literal interpretation of the Bible – including Leviticus, which says, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind”. But Conley believes that Baptists can change their views towards the queer community. 
“The Bible also says that you can’t eat shrimp, and slavery is in the Bible too. The Baptists used verses to justify slavery and the Jim Crow laws. They’ve since renounced slavery, so why are they incapable of changing this?”
“The really sad part is that LGBTQ issues are ripping the church apart,” he says. “They’re not dealing with it; they’ve farmed it out to places like LIA and trust organizations like Focus on the Family, which was funded by among others Mike Pence, our vice-president, who also supported conversion therapy. 
“But their congregation deal with LGBTQ issues away from church every day because more people are open about it. Now other denominations like the Episcopal Church and the Unitarians are swooping in and accepting people as they are, so people are flocking to them.”
Even Pope Francis seems to have softened his stance towards the LGBT community.
“And you know when the dinosaurs are saying it, you’re doing pretty well,” grins Conley. 
The film, he hopes, will continue adding pressure for reform when it’s released in September. 
“Regardless of how it does, it’s a huge platform to talk about the issues I’ve been trying to highlight,” he says. “It’s a cliché to say it, but even if it helps one person, it will all be worth it.” 
  • Boy Erased: A Memoir is out now. The film adaptation is released on September 28th

July 2, 2018

Mother of 10 Yr Old Who Came Out as Gay Charged with Murder of Her Kid

This is a follow up on this story:


The mother of a 10-year-old Lancaster, California, boy who came out as gay weeks before his death has been arrested and charged with his murder.
Heather Maxine Barron, 28, was charged with one count of murder and one count of torture for the death of her son, Anthony Avalos, by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on Friday, according to a press release by the office.
She also faces one count of child abuse. Barron’s bail was set to $2 million, online jail records show.
Her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, 32, was arrested and charged with Anthony’s murder and torture on Wednesday.
He faces one additional count of assault on a child causing death. His bail was also set to $2 million.
Barron has not yet entered a plea. Her arrangement was postponed to Monday, while Leiva, who is being treated for a laceration in his upper chest, will be arraigned after he is medically cleared, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Anthony died on June 21 after being found unresponsive a day earlier at his family’s apartment.

View photos

Barron initially told police he was injured in a fall, authorities say.
An autopsy is not yet complete that would reveal the exact cause and manner of Anthony’s death, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Wednesday at a news conference announcing Leiva’s arrest.
Officials with the county’s Department of Children and Family Services, which investigated 13 prior allegations of child abuse at the boy’s residence between February 2013 and April 2016, initially raised homophobia as a thread they wanted to investigate in Anthony’s death, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Anthony recently “said he liked boys,” according to DCFS Deputy Director Brandon Nichols, and Anthony’s aunt said it would have been a brave move for him to come out as gay in his home, the newspaper reported.

View photos

But when asked Wednesday if homophobia may have been a motivation in the boy’s death, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Bergner told reporters, “That has not come up in our investigation as motivation at this time, no.”
Sheriff McDonnell added: “We wouldn’t discuss motive at this point [in the investigation]. Too early.”

View photos

June 29, 2018

Gang member Charged with Killing of 10 Yr Boy Who Had Come Out as Gay

Alleged Killer: (Because of men like this is the reason many support the death penalty).

This is a follow up story:

 In memory of Anthony👼 and Gabriel

This story originally posted on  by Kit Ramgopal and Karin Roberts 

A man described as a member of a violent gang was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in the death of a 10-year-old boy in Southern California, officials said. The boy, Anthony Avalos, had recently come out as gay, a county official said, and some suspect that homophobia played a role in his death.
Anthony Avalos was taken to a hospital on June 20 after his mother, Heather Barron, called 911 to report that he had been injured in a fall, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He was not breathing and unresponsive when emergency workers found him in his Lancaster home, and he died the next day.
His body showed signs of physical abuse and malnutrition, child welfare workers said, and his death was classified as suspicious.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Barron's boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, 32, had been arrested on murder charges and was being held on $2 million bail. McDonnell said that while being interviewed, “Leiva made statements that led detectives to arrest him for the murder of Anthony Avalos.”

Image: Anthony Avalos
Anthony Avalos

Before Leiva’s arrest, Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, told The Los Angeles Times that Anthony had “said he liked boys” in the weeks prior to his death. The department confirmed this detail to NBC Los Angeles but declined to provide additional details.
McDonnell declined to discuss a potential motive but he did tell reporters that homophobia “has not come up in our investigation as a motivation at this time.”

Image: Anthony Avalos
Anthony Avalos

However, Avalos’ uncle David Barron, the brother of Heather Barron and a co-worker of Leiva’s, told NBC News that Leiva has a history of homophobia. He recalled a number of times when Leiva said he was “uncomfortable just being around” gay men.
Caseworkers reportedly documented that Leiva was a member of MS-13, the criminal gang frequently mentioned by President Donald Trump during his immigration speeches. At least one branch of the gang, located in El Salvador, reportedly kills members found to be gay.
Before his death, Anthony had suffered years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of family members, according to the Department of Children and Family Services. Caseworkers responded to 12 different complaints between February 2013 and April 2016, including sexual abuse by a grandparent when Anthony was 4, and general neglect.
“In private interviews, Anthony disclosed details consistent with media reports that he was beaten, locked up, and not fed,” Bobby Cagle, the director of the department, wrote in a statement shared with NBC News.
Image: Anthony Avalos

                                                                 Anthony Avalos 

Some of the complaints were substantiated, but others were unfounded or inconclusive, Cagle said. Anthony stayed with relatives from May to December 2014 while his family received in-home counseling, but he was eventually sent back home. Cagle said the last complaint regarding Anthony was in April 2016.
The department said eight children ranging in age from 11 months to 12 years old have been removed from the home of Barron and Leiva “pending further investigation.” They are now in the department's custody. It is not clear whether Barron will be charged in connection with her son's death.
Karla Avalos, one of the boy’s aunts, expressed frustration that Anthony and the other children were ever permitted to return to the home after being removed. “I'm mad, because there was multiple reports done,” Karla Avalos told NBC News. “There were phone calls, and nobody did anything. I don’t know why they thought that was OK for them to go back with their mother.”
“What is wrong with the system?” she asked.
Anthony Avalos’ death bears a striking resemblance to a 2013 case in neighboring Palmdale, less than 10 minutes from Lancaster.

Image: Gabriel Fernandez
Gabriel Fernandez, who was routinely beaten, starved, forced to sleep in a closet and tortured until his 2013 death by his parents.NBC News

Eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez died in May 2013 after being routinely beaten and starved by his mother and her boyfriend. Prosecutors said Gabriel was systematically abused because his mother’s boyfriend thought the boy was gay. Like Anthony, Gabriel was on the radar of the Department of Children and Family Services, though he was never removed from his home.
Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in February and was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, was sentenced to death earlier this month.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl told The Los Angeles Times that the possibility that both Anthony and Gabriel were targeted for being gay was particularly heartbreaking.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Kuehl told the paper. “I know that young people in my community every day find themselves at risk of violence.”
Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, said her organization has been warning the county about the “unique problems that LGBT kids face.”
“This was a sad and tragic murder, but the tragic truth is that it was predictable,” Jean told NBC News. “If nothing is done, it won’t be the last.”

June 27, 2018

10 Yr Old Anthony Came Out Gay A Few Wks Ago Just Found Mortally Wounded At Home

Before his death, 10-year-old Anthony Avalos came out as gay, official says

Anthony Avalos came out as gay in recent weeks, and authorities are now
investigating whether homophobia played a role in the death of the
10-year-old Lancaster boy, a county official said.

Anthony was found mortally wounded at his home last week with severe
 head injuries and cigarette burns covering his body.
Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, revealed in an interview Monday that Anthony “said he liked boys” but declined to provide more details, including whom the boy told and when.
Nichols said the criminal investigation of the deadly abuse is ongoing. Anthony’s aunt, Maria Barron, said it would have taken great courage for Anthony to have announced he was gay in the home.
Anthony’s mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, have not been charged with any crimes related to Anthony’s death. DCFS has determined that Anthony probably died from child abuse. Neither Leiva or Barron responded to requests for comment.
The aunt said she began alerting DCFS in 2015, when she noticed bruises and other injuries that the children told her were caused by Leiva. She said the children also reported Leiva locking them in small spaces where they had to urinate and defecate on the floor. Leiva was convicted in 2010 of domestic abuse.
For the boy to have come out amid those circumstances “only reinforces how brave Anthony was," Maria Barron said.
Heather Barron and Leiva were the subject of at least 16 calls since 2013 from school administrators, a teacher, a counselor, family members and others to DCFS and police alleging child abuse, sources told The Times for an article Sunday.
At least 13 of those calls were received by DCFS and specifically mentioned Anthony as the alleged victim, Nichols said.
In an interview, DCFS Director Bobby Cagle confirmed The Times’ report on Sunday that callers said Anthony or his six siblings were denied food and water, sexually abused, beaten and bruised, dangled upside-down from a staircase, forced to crouch for hours, locked in small spaces with no access to the bathroom, forced to fight one another, and forced to eat from the trash.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call from his mother about 12:15 p.m. Wednesday and found the boy unresponsive inside his family’s apartment.
Authorities said they were told the boy had “suffered injuries from a fall.” He died at a hospital Thursday morning. County officials removed seven other children from the home as the investigation continued.
Cagle said that despite the years of severe abuse alleged in Anthony’s home, it was “premature” to say that Anthony’s case represented a failure of the child welfare system.
“That's a very complex question. It's much more than a black-and-white issue. There are many shades of gray,” Cagle said.
The director promised a deep investigation of any breakdowns and to share any case management errors with the public as they are discovered.
No caseworkers have been placed on desk duty or become the subject of disciplinary action in the case. Nichols said the department will disclose such moves if they occur as the internal review deepens.
“I want to be sure that we are being as fair to them as possible,” Cagle said. “If you are giving up on workers immediately, that only causes more turnover.”
Nichols said that his department’s caseworkers documented years ago that Leiva was allegedly a member of the MS-13 criminal gang, but that information was not classified by the workers as a safety threat necessitating Anthony’s removal from the home, and the department never moved to have him permanently removed.
“Just because someone has some affiliation [with MS-13], in and of itself would not have a conclusive effect,” Nichols said.
The five elected members of the county Board of Supervisors declined interview requests regarding the case.
In a statement, Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents Lancaster, said, “Our partners in child protection are collaborating with law enforcement who are conducting a thorough investigation to identify the circumstances surrounding this unspeakable crime.”
Supervisor Hilda Solis issued a statement that said, “We will be taking a very hard look at how this happened, take all corrective actions immediately, and provide strict and diligent oversight to ensure that the reforms we have started are carried out."
Supervisor Janice Hahn said, “We failed Anthony. I hope to get answers in the coming days as to what went wrong.”
Times staff writer Nina Agrawal contributed to this report.
Therolf is a reporter for the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley and Common Sense News, a nonprofit focused on child well-being.

Featured Posts

NYS State Legislature Bans Gay Conversion Therapy Making It The 15th State To Do So

Albany   By  Dan Avery NBC News The New York State Legislature voted Tuesday to ban so-called gay conversion therapy...