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

September 10, 2019

Teachers on a Christian School in Seattle Quit Over Anti Gay Teachings




       





When students returned to the classrooms at King’s High School in Shoreline last week, something was missing.

Several beloved teachers were no longer there. At least five either felt pushed out or voluntarily quit the private, interdenominational Christian school over summer break in protest of an administrative mandate that they perceived as requiring them to disavow same-sex relationships, both on the job and in their personal lives — and they objected to anti-gay language from Jacinta Tegman, the new leader of King’s parent organization, CRISTA Ministries.

In an interview Friday, administrators at CRISTA and King’s said that families had unenrolled two students in response to what they described not as a new but clarified stance.

“This may not be the place for everybody,” Tegman said. “So if it’s not, we just want to make that clear so people can make a good decision whether they want to stay.”

The school’s public-facing materials tread a careful line: While they mostly don’t mention LGBTQ+ issues explicitly, they do make allusions to things like “the historical biblical standards of morality” or state clearly that the ministries believe “the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments” are “inerrant in their original writings” and “of supreme and final authority.”

Even before the departures over summer, some faculty members had decided to leave King’s amid what they described as a growing tension over how inclusive the school culture should be. Administrators disputed the number of departures — which Tegman said did not register as “earthquake level” — and denied that they asked any teachers to leave, quietly. 

Some did sign nondisclosure agreements in order to receive severance pay — a customary practice at King’s, according to Tegman.

A more than $100 million operation, the Shoreline-based CRISTA runs private schools, retirement communities and radio stations in addition to its international relief work. The schools serve more than 1,300 students, from preschool to high-school.

Tegman, who previously fought to repeal a state gay-rights law and led the opposition to same-sex marriage in Washington, took the helm of CRISTA as its president and CEO in January. She centered her first State of CRISTA address on the need for practical and spiritual reform at the organization.

Echoing biblical language, she specifically cited CRISTA’s belief that “sexual intimacy is confined within the marriage of one man and woman,” according to a transcript of her June address.

A month later, head of King’s schools Eric Rasmussen sent an email to families in July to reaffirm the school’s core values and repeated Tegman’s line that sexual expression only occurs within a heterosexual marriage.

That email prompted questions from faculty and staff about whether they could continue to work at King’s if they don’t fully align with the stances discussed in Tegman’s address. Rasmussen noted that faculty sign a doctrinal statement that details CRISTA’s beliefs — including that the scriptures are inerrant and of final authority — in their annual contract. (That document hasn’t changed since 2007, he wrote in a separate email to a teacher who resigned.)

“You can continue to work at King’s if you are a Christian, confirm understanding and alignment with our doctrinal statement and willingly conduct your personal life and professional role of educating our students in a manner that is not in disunity with King’s theological beliefs,” Rasmussen wrote in a follow-up email to all King’s staff in August.

Since then, students and families have started groups on social media to express their support for children who identify with the LGBTQ+ community and to protest the new direction at King’s school as “Anti-LGBT+”. (LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning, with the + denoting everything along the gender and sexuality spectrum.)

State and federal anti-discrimination laws offer an exemption for religious organizations, many of which hire people only of their faith. In Washington, the state prohibits other employers from discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation, including gender identity, or their opposition to discriminatory practices.

As to whether individuals can disagree with CRISTA and remain an employee, Tegman said Friday, “My question back is: Can you sign this [doctrinal] statement? This is what the conditions of employment are in a Christian organization.”

Megan Troutman, an English teacher, objected to those conditions and worried that such statements from the leaders of King’s and CRISTA risked hurting students questioning their sexual identity. She ultimately resigned and now has a job teaching English at a high school in Bellevue.

“Working at King’s was an amazing experience,” said Troutman.

“However, I cannot, in good faith or conscience, teach in a place that creates policies that negatively impact an entire section of the student population,” she added. “I could not be complicit in a policy that could harm or ostracize any student.”

Colby Crispeno, 17, agreed. He attended King’s since preschool but eventually decided to leave at the end of his sophomore year after coming out to his family as gay.

Even as he struggled with depression and anxiety at King’s, he found solace in a family friend who taught there. She too left the school over the summer.

“The one reason why I really love King’s is the teachers,” Crispeno said.


April 10, 2019

Sec Of Education in England Tell Parents They Can’t Veto Children’s LGBT Lessons in School

Parents and pupils protesting against the No Outsiders programme outside Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, March 2019
The Education Secretary has said that parents cannot veto children taking part in LGBT lessons, as he warns that “myths” are being spread about the content of the classes.
Damian Hinds’ intervention comes amid a row over Relationship and Sex Education classes (RSE), with several primary schools in Birmingham suspending the lessons following protests and petitions from Muslim parents.
Parkfield Community School, along with five primaries run by the Leigh Trust, postponed the "No Outsiders" programme where children are taught  about same sex couples and gender identity.
Mr Hinds has now weighed in to support headteachers, saying that while they should listen to parents’ views, they should not allow them to dictate what is taught at school.
Writing to the National Association of Head Teachers, Mr Hinds said: “I want to reassure you and the members you represent that consultation does not provide a parental veto on curriculum content.
“We want schools to consult parents, listen to their views, and make reasonable decisions about how to proceed (including through consideration of their wider duties) - and we will support them in this.”
Hundreds of parents have protested outside Parkfield Community School, saying that teaching children about LGBT rights and homophobia contradicts their Islamic faith.
Parents protesting against LGBT lessons at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, March 2019
Parents protesting against LGBT lessons at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, March 2019 CREDIT:  DARREN STAPLES
Andrew Moffat, the assistant head at Parkfield Community School, designed the "No Outsiders" programme which aims to teach children about issues such as gender, identity and sexual orientation during RSE lessons.
Mr Moffat, who has been awarded an MBE for services to equality and diversity in education, said he has received threats from parents who oppose the course.
Mr Hinds said: “It is regrettable that myths and misinformation about the forthcoming relationships education changes in primary schools, circulated often by individuals with no links to the education system, are undermining the hard work of head teachers, and the legitimate right of parents to be consulted on what their children are being taught about relationships”.
Hazel Pulley, CEO of Parkfield Community School, has previously spoken out about the “untruths” that have been spread about the content of the classes. These included “using clay models or something to use or show the children something of a sexual nature” which she said the lessons “most certainly” did not feature.  
While parents are allowed to withdraw their children from RSE lessons, they are only permitted to do so for the sex education sections and not for relationship education.
Learning about same sex couples would be part of the latter section, meaning parents who disagree with this are not able to remove their children from classes.  

February 3, 2019

NJ Becomes Second State to Required Schools to Teach LGBT Curriculum




 

CNN)
New Jersey has become the second state to require public schools to teach LGBT and disability-inclusive material.

The measure was signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday and modeled after a similar law that passed in California in 2011.

New Jersey boards of education must adopt instruction that accurately portrays "the political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, where appropriate," according to the text of the law.

Murphy said he was "honored" to sign a bill that will make teaching "about the rich contributions and accomplishments of our LGBTQ community and those with disabilities" mandatory.

"The Governor believes that ensuring students learn about diverse histories will help build more tolerant communities and strengthen educational outcomes," Murphy's office said in a statement.
The material will be in the social studies curricula for middle and high schools beginning with the 2020-'21 academic year. Each board of education will institute procedures regarding the selection of material and how lesson changes will be put into effect.

The law does not apply to private schools.
Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle told CNN Friday that the goal is to have textbooks updated by 2020, but that she hopes that updated instruction will begin sooner.
"It's not an overhaul of buying new textbooks. I think it's fairly accessible to get information online and distribute to the classroom," Huttle said.

"Young people are learning about LGBT people already in schools but their identities are hidden," said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of Garden State Equality, which advocated for the bill over several assembly sessions. "Figures like Bayard Rustin, who was the right-hand man to Martin Luther King, Jr. for civil rights, was a gay man."

Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, an original sponsor of the bill, was one of two openly gay members of the legislature at the time.

"We often see in classrooms across the country the bullying of LGBT students, and this is a way they can incorporate into the curriculum that there are gay Americans that have made vast contributions to this nation," Gusciora told CNN. "This is a way of encouraging students who feel that they're outcasts that they too can make a contribution to American society."

October 18, 2018

Double Service to The Community, First Drag Queens Read Books at Libraries to Foster Acceptance to Those That Know The Least



[[by Kevin Truong]]


For Lindsay Amer, bringing a live performance of their popular children’s web series to the Brooklyn Public Library made perfect sense.
“I feel like libraries are kind of like the YouTube of the real world,” Amer, who uses gender-neutral they/them pronouns, told NBC News. “They’re publicly accessible, they have all of this information that’s kind of just stockpiled there, and anyone can get into it and really dive deep.”
Amer is the creator and host of Queer Kid Stuff — a web series on YouTube dedicated to educating children about LGBTQ topics through vlog-style conversations and original songs. In episodes posted online, Amer and their puppet Teddy explore subjects ranging from coming out as nonbinary to the importance of giving consent.


On a recent Saturday, Amer partnered up with the Brooklyn Public Library to perform a live show of Queer Kid Stuff to an audience of children and parents in the youth wing of the library’s main branch, where Amer read books and performed songs from the popular web series.
The collaboration was one of the latest examples of a public library partnering up with members of the LGBTQ community to help create more inclusive and welcoming spaces within its library system.

Image: Lindsay Amer
Lindsay Amer reading during a live performance of Queer Kid Stuff at the Brooklyn Public Library.Courtesy Brooklyn Public Library

From Brooklyn to Wichita, librarians are helping foster acceptance and understanding through programming aimed at educating both children and adults about diversity, identity and inclusivity
“Librarians in a public, out-of-school setting have the opportunity to create a welcoming space for all the students and families in a community,” said Becca Mui, education manager at GLSEN, a national organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for LGBTQ students.
“Librarians themselves can be role models and advocates by using inclusive language, interrupting anti-LGBTQ comments and implementing inclusive programming,” Mui added.  
Leigh Hurwitz is the outreach librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library and helped plan the recent live show of Queer Kid Stuff.
“We really strive to be a space that welcomes everyone,” Hurwitz said. “I want to make sure [the library] is a welcoming space and also an informed space.”
Hurwitz said it is important for libraries to both serve as a source of knowledge for the community and to also look to the community for knowledge creation.
“That is part of why we do these programs,” Hurwitz explained. “To learn from the community, to have community members talking about their own experiences and sharing resources and information.”
Hurwitz added that because libraries tend to be so embedded within neighborhoods, they have the opportunity to provide a welcoming space for young people who may be struggling with their own identity in some way.
“Because [the Brooklyn Public Library] has 60 branches, we really are all over Brooklyn and can really be that affirming space that has good information and stories and programs that are representative of lots of different identities and experiences,” Hurwitz continued.

Image: Poison Waters
Poison Waters interacting with children at Drag Queen Story Hour.Kevin Truong

Across the country in Portland, Oregon, on the same day as the event in Brooklyn, drag queen Poison Waters read stories to an audience of nearly 100 children, parents and caregivers for a session of Drag Queen Story Hour hosted by the Multnomah County Library.
Kevin Cook, who has performed as Poison Waters for the past 30 years, first heard about Drag Queen Story Hour on social media after events were held in larger cities.
“It’s been an amazing response,” Cook said of his own participation. “On social media, people across the country are like, ‘This is so cool, we’re so glad it’s happening in Portland,’ and the actual response at the events has been just  Cook said he was particularly touched by an encounter he had with a young girl in the audience of a recent Drag Queen Story Hour event outside Portland, in the city of Fairview, Oregon.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to be the only person of color here,’ and there was this little African-American girl that was just so sweet, and she chatted me up through the whole thing,” Cook said.
He said when he left, the girl threw her arms around him and gave him a big hug. “She seemed sad I was leaving, so I was glad I brought some happiness to her,” Cook added. “Whether she saw some of herself in me on some level was great.” Katie O’Dell, programming and outreach director for Oregon's Multnomah County Library, said concepts around diversity and inclusion are central to the library’s priorities.
“The public library is a cornerstone of democracy, a place where all people are welcome and safe to learn, create, express and explore in ways that better their lives,” O’Dell said. “By creating safe and welcoming spaces that honor diversity and inclusion, the public library can honor its traditional mission, while evolving to meet changing needs over time.”
O’Dell said librarians work directly with drag performers to select books and related activities that are engaging and developmentally appropriate, and that the Multnomah County Library was compelled to start hosting Drag Queen Story Hour after seeing peer libraries successfully host the program in different parts of the country.

Image: Drag Family Storytime
Drag Family Storytime at the Iowa City Public Library.Mara Cole

Mari Redington, children's services assistant at the Iowa City Public Library, was also inspired after hearing about Drag Queen Story Hour.
“I’m a huge fan of ‘RuPaul's Drag Race,’ and constantly thought about how all of the colors, costumes and makeup vital to drag would be so appealing to the preschoolers and toddlers I meet every day,” Redington said. “At the same time, I kept coming across some wonderful LGBTQ+ positive picture books.”
After connecting with members of the drag community in Iowa City, the Iowa City Public Library implemented its own version of Drag Queen Story Hour this past summer.
“I wanted to schedule our Drag Family Storytime in June because it was the first year that my library had participated in the Iowa City Pride Parade, so it felt like a great year to introduce a bigger inclusive program of this nature,” Redington explained.
The event was a success with over 150 people attending to hear rhymes, stories, and songs being performed by several members of the drag community.
“The families had an opportunity to ask the Drag queens and king questions about drag, pride and what everyone can do to foster love and acceptance in our community,” Redington said. “There were many moments of laughter and emotion … I experienced an overwhelming sense of joy that I won’t forget.”

August 6, 2018

Is California Forcing Schools to Show Kids Gay Sex?











Q: Is California forcing “schools to show kids ‘gay sex'”
A: No. California law requires the state’s history curriculum to include “the role and contributions of” LGBT people.

FULL QUESTION
Is it true the governor wants gay pornography taught in schools?
FULL ANSWER
With the new school year around the corner, a bogus claim about California’s inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender figures in the state’s history curriculum is making the rounds on Facebook.
Readers began asking us about the issue after pictures of California Gov. Jerry Brown startedshowing up on Facebook with the text: “SODOM AND GOMORRAH: CALIFORNIA GOV. JERRY BROWN TO FORCE SCHOOLS TO SHOW KIDS ‘GAY SEX’ AS PART OF INCLUSIVE LGBT CURRICULUM.”                                                                    

It’s not true.
The claim started out on the notoriously unreliable website YourNewsWire, which posted this story in December 2017: “California Gov. Jerry Brown To Force Schools To Show Kids ‘Gay Sex.’” Since then, it has been shared on 20 different Facebook pages and reached a social media audience of 2.8 million in total, according to data from Crowd Tangle.
A month after it first went up, that story was copied and used with the headline that’s now making the rounds on Facebook.
Although that version of the story doesn’t appear to have been shared widely, the photo and headline that were taken from it have been shared more than 32,000 times since being posted on Facebook on July 9.
The problem is, it’s spreading misinformation loosely related to something that is true.
It is true that California amended its education law in 2011 to require the inclusion of “the role and contributions of” lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans in the study of history for primary school students. The law had previously required the inclusion of contributions of “both men and women, Native Americans, African Americans” and other ethnic groups “to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America.”
The amended law took effect in 2012, but the new textbooks that reflect the curriculum change will be used for the first time in the 2018 school year — the new books were approvedby the state’s board of education in November 2017.
The books will include “a more complete picture of the accomplishments and challenges faced by LGBT individuals in American history and culture, such as astronaut Sally Ride and comedian Ellen DeGeneres,” according to a press release from California’s superintendent of public instruction, Tom Torlakson.
School districts aren’t required to use the books, according to the release. They may choose to use other materials as long as they comply with the law.
And nowhere in the law does it mandate “the use of gay pornography in elementary schools in order to teach children about LGBT sex,” as the YourNewsWire story claims. That’s purely made up.
                                                                         -*-
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk false stories shared on the social media network.
Sources
Adl-Tabatabai, Sean. “California Gov. Jerry Brown To Force Schools To Show Kids ‘Gay Sex.’” Yournewswire.com. 28 Dec 2017.
California Legislature. Education Code — 51204.5. As amended, 2011. Accessed 1 Aug 2018.
California State Board of Education. Minutes for the Nov. 8-9, 2017 meeting. Discussion is on page 19.
Torlakson, Tom. California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “State Board Approves Instructional Materials that Give K–8 Students a Deeper, Broader Understanding of History and Social Sciences.” 9 Nov 2017.

April 13, 2018

Illinois in Line to Be the 2nd State to Require Schools to Teach LGBT Contributions, History





 Illinois senators advanced a plan requiring public schools to teach a unit on the role and societal contributions of gays, lesbians and other LGBT individuals.
The Senate Education committee endorsed the measure 8-2 Tuesday. If enacted, Illinois would become just the second state to approve an LGBT inclusive curriculum.
"People learn about Jane Addams, for example, but don't know she's a lesbian," said Brian Johnson, CEO of the LGBT organization Equality Illinois. "We don't think there is true justice for the LGBT community unless we can learn about our history."
The proposal requires all elementary and high schools to teach a unit studying "the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State."
"People need to see their history to understand that they are a part of our society," said Sen. Heather Steans, the measure's sponsor.
The measure would also have schools use more inclusive and "non-discriminatory" textbooks going forward.
Johnson said the measure is consistent with current law, which requires students learn the contributions of other under-represented groups, including African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans.
School boards would determine how much instructional time is spent on the subject. But the curriculum must reinforce that all people, no matter their sexual orientation, "have a right to be treated with civil, legal and human rights."
Conservative groups have taken issue with the measure, calling it unnecessary and ideologically driven.
"The left's motive is what it always is: it is to normalize homosexuality," said Laurie Higgins with the Illinois Family Institute, a Christian organization.
Higgins said upper level high school students can learn about LGBT issues, but only if schools also present dissenting voices and why some groups oppose what she called "the homosexual movement."
Johnson noted that LGBT kids are aware of those who hold negative views about their sexuality.
He said the legislation is meant to counteract the negativity LGBT students face on a daily basis and give them the chance to learn about their history and find role models. But he added that learning about diversity is an important part of education for all students.
"We think all students are better off when we teach them the full breadth of history," he said. "It makes them more likely to understand that a diverse cast has contributed to our society."
AP__
The bill is SB3249
Online: http://www.ilga.gov

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June 7, 2017

Anti Gay Group in Taiwan Gets Criticized By Demanding Rainbow Be Brought Down



High School in Taiwan displaying the colors.
The battle against intolerance in Taiwan looks set to continue




A prominent anti-gay rights group in Taiwan has been criticized after it demanded a high school stop prominently displaying a large "rainbow" banner.
Students at a high school in Taipei last week raised the banner, the international symbol of LGBT rights, ahead of a graduation ceremony held on June 3.

According to a local media report, in the days before the ceremony, members of the Defend Family Student League (捍衛家庭學生聯盟), a group linked to conservative religious organizations, contacted the high school urging it to remove the flag.

The banner was taken down earlier this week. Students have complained it was removed earlier than planned because of the pressure put on the school by the league. The school reportedly discussed the issue with students on Monday and resolved to take down the flag.


The rainbow flag at the center of the controversy. Image from the Defend Family Student League's Facebook page.

Gay rights advance in Taiwan

The issue comes less than two weeks after a landmark court decision paved the way for Taiwan to become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

On May 24, in a major decision that made waves around the world, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court said the current ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
The court said Taiwan's current Civil Code, which says an agreement to marry could only be made between a man and a woman, "violated" the constitution's guarantees of freedom of marriage and people's equality, AFP reported at the time.

It gave Taiwan's government two years to implement the ruling. If parliament does not make the change within two years, the court said same-sex couples could register to marry regardless, based on its interpretation.

The push for equal marriage rights has gathered momentum in Taiwan with hundreds of thousands rallying in support in recent months.
But there has also been anger among conservative groups, who have staged mass protests against any change to the marriage law.

A timeline of the struggle for same-sex marriage in Taiwan:

1986: Chi Chia-wei requests notarized marriage between two males. He is the first person in Taiwan to call for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan, and his request is denied by the government.

1996: Author Hsu Yu-sheng (許佑生) and his Uruguayan partner Gray Harriman hold Taiwan’s first public gay wedding ceremony.
2000: Chi Chia-wei requests a constitutional interpretation on same-sex marriage, but is rejected by the Grand Justices.
2006: Democratic Progressive Party legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) proposes a same-sex marriage law, but it does not pass the first reading.
2011: Gay rights activist Nelson Chen (陳敬學) and his partner Kao Chih-wei (高治瑋) filed an administrative lawsuit for official recognition of their marriage at the Taipei High Court. They withdrew the suit in January 2013.
2013: The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Partnership Rights drafts a marriage equality bill, a civil partnership bill, and a family bill. The bills passed a first reading in October. The bill stalls after protests from anti-LGBT groups.
2014: The Legislative Yuan’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee reviews the marriage equality bill, the first time in Asia a marriage equality bill is heard at a parliament. However, the review ends with no clear conclusion.
October 2016: Jacques Picoux, a French professor at the National Taiwan University commits suicide, sparking renewed interest in LGBT rights in Taiwan.
November 2016: Draft amendments to the Civil Code to allow same-sex marriage proposed by DPP legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) pass the first reading at the Legislative Yuan.
December 2016: Legislator Yu Mei-nu’s draft amendments pass a review by the Legislative Yuan’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, making it the first same-sex marriage bill to pass reviews at the Legislative Yuan.
March 24, 2017: Taiwan’s Constitutional Court holds a hearing to debate the constitutionality of the Civil Code.
May 24: Constitutional Court verdict announced.
  by AFP.

April 26, 2017

Sen.Enzy from Mars:’Gay Students Invite Violence by What They Wear’




mike enzi Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) 

Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi apologized on Tuesday for suggesting to a group of students that gay people should expect physical violence based on their clothing.

The remarks came last week as Enzi was speaking at Greybull High School during a Q&A with high school and middle school students. One student asked about LGBT protections in Wyoming, prompting the Republican to share a provocative anecdote.

"We always say that in Wyoming you can be just about anything you want to be, as long as you don't push it in somebody's face," Enzi said, in audio recorded by Greybull Standard editor Mathew Burciaga.

"I know a guy who wears a tutu and goes to bars on Friday night and is always surprised that he gets in fights. Well, he kind of asks for it a little bit. That's the way that he winds up with that kind of problem," he said.

Enzi argued that the government can't solve LGBT discrimination with a "one-size-fits-all solution," saying "what we need to have is a little civility between people."


LGBT-rights advocates including the Human Rights Campaign and the Wyoming-based Matthew Shepard Foundation publicly criticized Enzi for the remarks, leading the senator to apologize on Tuesday.

"I believe all individuals should be treated with respect. I do not believe that anyone should be bullied, intimidated or attacked because of their beliefs," Enzi said in a statement published by HuffPost.

He continued:

"No person, including LGBT individuals, should feel unsafe in their community. My message was intended specifically to be about promoting respect and tolerance toward each other. I hope if people look at the entirety of my speech, they will understand that. I regret a poor choice of words during part of my presentation. None of us is infallible and I apologize to anyone who has taken offense. No offense was intended. Quite the opposite in fact, and so I ask for your understanding as well.”


March 26, 2017

RickPerry: A Gay Could Not be Elected to TX.A&M.Bobby Proved Him Wrong




 Bobby Brooks, smart, cute and gay. The W.H. Please…




Rick Perry is a little old fashioned. He thought things were still being run at Texas A&M like on his time. Back then it was how much money and power the family posses not how much intellect the student possesses to attend and then be elected to represent the student body.
                                                        
                                                                         _*_

The political drama over the election of Texas A&M University’s first openly gay student body president continues. 

In a letter signed Friday, Bobby Brooks invited Rick Perry to a meeting after the energy secretary challenged the 21-year-old’s victory in the election for student body president.

Perry, who is also an Aggie, wrote an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle last week that called Brooks' election into question. He accused Brooks’ supporters of "dirty campaign tricks" to disqualify his rival Robert McIntosh, who was denied the presidency over a charge that he omitted donated glow sticks used in a promotional video from a campaign finance report. 

McIntosh had also been accused of voter intimidation in anonymous complaints, Perry wrote, but a student court tossed those charges.

The former governor of Texas and U.S. presidential candidate wrote in the op-ed that McIntosh had unfairly lost the election to Brooks due to “this quest for 'diversity.' "

Brooks, who is scheduled to take office April 21, didn’t address Perry's allegations in a letter published online in student newspaper The Battalion and in the website of LGBT advocacy group GLAAD, but he thanked Perry for his interest in the university "we both love so much."

"It was heartening to see that you described yourself as 'proud' that the student body at your Alma Mater will be led for the first time in our history by a member of the LGBTQ student community," Brooks wrote. "I am indeed proud to be an openly gay student, and I share your pride that my fellow students see my sexual orientation as a simple matter of fact — not something that compromises my qualifications."

In his letter, Brooks told Perry that they share the view that all students should be honored and respected. 
"I would like to invite you to come to Texas and meet with my team and me as we take office later this month to discuss how we can work together to achieve our common vision," Brooks wrote. "We have many students on this campus from all walks of life, whose perspectives I would care to share with you."
Brooks also offered to travel to Washington instead to meet with Perry and "speak about the important issues you raised in your op-ed."

It's unclear if Perry has read the letter and whether he will accept the invitation. Emails and a phone call seeking comment weren't immediately returned Sunday. 
Brooks also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

GLAAD has a petition on its website asking people to insist that Perry meet with Brooks. More than 2,800 signatures have been recorded so far.
Some people inside and outside the university questioned why Perry would wade into college politics. A Texas A&M spokeswoman disagreed with Perry’s assessment that "political correctness" had cost McIntosh the election.

"I'm surprised that he's weighing in. I'm surprised he would have the time to do that," Texas A&M communications officer Amy B. Smith told The Dallas Morning News last week. 
McIntosh is the son of Dallas-based Republican fundraiser Alison McIntosh. The Texas A&M student said through his attorney that he might have lost the election because he is a “heterosexual, white Christian male" and that he's considering a lawsuit.

At least one member of the Texas A&M board of regents plans to look into the election, The Texas Tribune reported. Regent Tony Buzbee told the news outlet that while board members typically don't get involved in student elections, "I would be concerned if the process resulted in an unjust result."
Perry appointed Buzbee to the board of regents in 2013

February 28, 2017

Global Universities Supportive of LGBT






For her graduate studies, Thai national and transgender student Hua Boonyapisomparn chose Trinity Washington University in the U.S. Unsure how welcoming the campus was to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, she decided to visit the school to get a better feel for it.
Boonyapisomparn asked about the school's LGBT policies and whether transgender students are accepted. An admissions officer told her that "Trinity is a progressive campus," she says. 
Depending on the university and its location, LGBT international students may experience varying levels of acceptance and support on campus. Knowing what to expect can make the global university experience more enjoyable.
For prospective LGBT international students, here are three criteria to look for when researching global universities.
1. LGBT-friendly university webpages: Some global university websites have content welcoming LGBT students, with specific emphasis on international students. 
The University of Southern California's LGBT Resource Center website, for example, has a page dedicated to international LGBT students and provides links to its LGBT peer mentoring program, which is open to all students, and its monthly rainbow international lunches, opportunities to meet other LGBT international students.
At some universities, LGBT-friendly information can be found directly through the international student services webpage, such as at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, whose site includes a link to international LGBT support services in its resources section. 

 But just because a school may not have LGBT-devoted webpages doesn't mean students should write off the institution. Many schools, like Yale-National University of Singapore, have nondiscrimination polices on their websites promoting a safe environment for all students. 
"All Yale-NUS students, staff and faculty are valued as equal members of the community, and are not only free but also encouraged to express their singular and/or intersecting social and personal identities on campus," said Sara Pervaiz Amjad, intercultural engagement manager at Yale-NUS, via email.
Some Canadian universities approved a bylaw last fall ensuring their institutions' policies are nondiscriminatory.
Boonyapisomparn recommends prospective LGBT international students contact or visit global universities in person and inquire about their policies. She says Trinity does not discriminate against students based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
2. LGBT support services: Some universities have dedicated LGBT centers and staff to support students. Cardiff University in Wales, for example, offers a variety of support services to LGBT students and staff, earning the school a top rating in the "Gay By Degree 2015" guide by Stonewall, a United Kingdom-based LGBT rights charity. 
"We have an excellent counseling and well-being team that has someone specializing in gender identity and links to specific LGBT+ support," says Karen Cooke, organizational development manager and chair of the Enfys LGBT+ staff network at Cardiff.
Cooke says Cardiff has a number of staff in both the international and student services departments, including individuals who identify as LGBT, who are available to support and talk with LGBT international students. 
She says the school also works closely with its residences team "to provide support and training so that LGBT+ students can be supported in their time in university accommodations."
While some universities may not have dedicated LGBT support staff, available student support services can still be useful. National University of Singapore doctoral student Mukul Prasad, who has not yet come out to his family in India, says he used NUS' counseling services.
"I was depressed after a string of bad dating experiences," he says. "The counselor was really good, and I did tell him about my sexual orientation and it was kept confidential." 
Prasad says the school's "counseling services are excellent" and provide a support system for LGBT students at NUS. He calls the university "a rather safe space for us." 
3. Political activism and awareness: Prospective international students can also look to a university's student groups and related social media presence to gauge its LGBT activism, which can measure LGBT presence and advocacy on campus. 
Stefanie van Gelderen, marketing and communications adviser for international programs at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, said via email that the school supports and partly finances "student initiatives aimed at bringing together LGBT students." These include groups like the A.S.V.Gay student association and UvA Pride, a platform for LGBT students. Both groups are on Facebook. 
Canadian Ian Kenny, a gay grad student at the University of Amsterdam, says he chose the school and the Netherlands because both are open-minded and forward-thinking and that studying there "means getting involved with other like-minded people, whether on an activism side or in the classroom." 
Amjad of Yale-NUS said that student LGBT groups like The G Spot host events on campus "to raise awareness around issues of diversity as well as provide support" for LGBT students at Yale-NUS and NUS. For example, The G Spot, which has a Facebook presence, held an event last fall to raise awareness of living with HIV in Singapore.
Trinity student Boonyapisomparn says while the university currently has no LGBT clubs, having an "openly accepting environment is very critical for the success" of LGBT students. She says this is especially true for LGBT international students who also have to adjust to a new culture.
“You will need to feel welcome, no matter how you identify," says Boonyapisomparn.
Anayat Durrani  | Contributor

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