Showing posts with label Living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Living. Show all posts

August 26, 2017

The Best and Worse Places to Live Gay in America (Aug.2017)

All my life I’ve loved Texas: those big skies, big steaks and big attitudes. I’m there several times a year.

But Texas doesn’t love me back. Certainly its lawmakers don’t, and lately they’ve been hellbent on showing that.

In June the governor signed a bill allowing child welfare groups to refuse adoptions that contradict their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” They can turn away gay men like me.

That same month, the Texas Supreme Court approved a lawsuit challenging the city of Houston’s provision of equal benefits to all married employees, including those with same-sex spouses. Although the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, Texas bucks and balks.

Not New York. My state loves me something fierce. What it did in June was finalize the design of a monument to L.G.B.T. citizens in downtown Manhattan. New York legalized same-sex marriage back in 2011 without any federal nudge.

There’s no such thing as L.G.B.T. life in America, a country even more divided on this front than on others. There’s L.G.B.T. life in a group of essentially progressive places like New York, Maryland, Oregon and California, which bans government-funded travel to states it deems unduly discriminatory. Then there is L.G.B.T. life on that blacklist, which includes Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and South Dakota. 

States with Pro-L.G.B.T. Laws
NUMBER OF POSITIVE LAWS
0
52
States with Anti-L.G.B.T. Laws
NUMBER OF NEGATIVE LAWS
0
6
Source: Human Rights Campaign
The differences between states — and between cities within states — are profound, and while that has long been true, it’s much more consequential since the advent of the Trump administration, a decidedly less ready ally of L.G.B.T. people than the Obama administration was.

The federal government under Donald Trump won’t be rushing in to help L.G.B.T. people whose local governments fail to give them equal rights, a sense of belonging or even a feeling of physical safety. Despite Trump’s happy campaign talk about how fond he was of gays (and, Trump being Trump, how fond they were of him), his record as president has been hurtful and hateful. Immediately after his inauguration, references to the L.G.B.T. community were scrubbed from many federal websites, including the White House’s and the Department of State’s.

Plenty of the people he pulled into his cabinet have long histories of pronounced opposition to gay rights. One of them, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, leads a Department of Justice that recently went out of its way to make clear, in court filings, that it did not consider L.G.B.T. people to be protected by a federal civil rights law that prohibits employment discrimination. The Obama administration had taken the opposite view.



states don’t have laws prohibiting establishments from discriminating against L.G.B.T. customers
states don’t have non-discrimination employment laws protecting L.G.B.T.
states don’t have hate crime laws specifically protecting L.G.B.T.
Source: Human Rights Campaign
Without consulting or even alerting the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, Trump announced a reinstatement of the ban on transgender people in the military, and he’s now finishing the orders for how the Department of Defense should enforce it — within six months. His first Supreme Court appointment suggests that if he is able to ensconce several more, the same-sex-marriage ruling could well be revisited and changed.

But worry not! Ivanka Trump has our backs! She has tweeted as much, and I guess we’re supposed to find consolation in those crumbs.

We’re at the mercy of our ZIP codes: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are often affected most by their municipality, not their state. In Waco, Tex., the lone justice of the peace who presides over weddings recently admitted that she won’t do so for same-sex couples no matter the federal law. But Houston, just a three-hour drive away, has in instances been a pioneer: Annise Parker, its mayor from 2010 to 2016, is the only openly L.G.B.T. person ever elected to lead one of the nation’s 10 most populous cities. And Austin, the state’s capital, is practically Key West, Fla. — minus the coconuts.

state’s capital, is practically Key West, Fla. — minus the coconuts.  
In June the governor signed a bill allowing child welfare groups to refuse adoptions that contradict their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” They can turn away gay men like me.
That same month, the Texas Supreme Court approved a lawsuit challenging the city of Houston’s provision of equal benefits to all married employees, including those with same-sex spouses. Although the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, Texas bucks and balks.
Not New York. My state loves me something fierce. What it did in June was finalize the design of a monument to L.G.B.T. citizens in downtown Manhattan. New York legalized same-sex marriage back in 2011 without any federal nudge.
There’s no such thing as L.G.B.T. life in America, a country even more divided on this front than on others. There’s L.G.B.T. life in a group of essentially progressive places like New York, Maryland, Oregon and California, which bans government-funded travel to states it deems unduly discriminatory. Then there is L.G.B.T. life onthat blacklist, which includes Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and South Dakota. 
The differences between states — and between cities within states — are profound, and while that has long been true, it’s much more consequential since the advent of the Trump administration, a decidedly less ready ally of L.G.B.T. people than the Obama administration was.
The federal government under Donald Trump won’t be rushing in to help L.G.B.T. people whose local governments fail to give them equal rights, a sense of belonging or even a feeling of physical safety. Despite Trump’s happy campaign talk about how fond he was of gays (and, Trump being Trump, how fond they were of him), his record as president has been hurtful and hateful. Immediately after his inauguration, references to the L.G.B.T. community were scrubbed from many federal websites, including the White House’s and the Department of State’s.
Plenty of the people he pulled into his cabinet have long histories of pronounced opposition to gay rights. One of them, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, leads a Department of Justice that recently went out of its way to make clear, in court filings, that it did not consider L.G.B.T. people to be protected by a federal civil rights law that prohibits employment discrimination. The Obama administration had taken the opposite view.
20
29
28
states don’t have laws prohibiting
establishments from discriminating against L.G.B.T. customers
states don’t have non-discrimination employment laws protecting L.G.B.T.
states don’t have hate crime laws specifically protecting L.G.B.T.
Source: Human Rights Campaign
Without consulting or even alerting the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, Trump announced a reinstatement of the ban on transgender people in the military, and he’s now finishing the ordersfor how the Department of Defense should enforce it — within six months. His first Supreme Court appointment suggests that if he is able to ensconce several more, the same-sex-marriage ruling could well be revisited and changed.
But worry not! Ivanka Trump has our backs! She has tweeted as much, and I guess we’re supposed to find consolation in those crumbs.
We’re at the mercy of our ZIP codes: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are often affected most by their municipality, not their state. In Waco, Tex., the lone justice of the peace who presides over weddings recently admitted that she won’t do so for same-sex couples no matter the federal law. But Houston, just a three-hour drive away, has in instances been a pioneer: Annise Parker, its mayor from 2010 to 2016, is the only openly L.G.B.T. person ever elected to lead one of the nation’s 10 most populous cities. And Austin, the state’s capital, is practically Key West, Fla. — minus the coconuts.
Tyler, Tex.
“I came out at 60 ... and I was told I could no longer hold any positions of leadership in my church.”I am—or was—Southern Baptist. After I was invited to share my coming-out story in the public library, patrons complained and the talk was canceled. I stay here because my childreLou Anne Smoot
78, lesbian, retired teacher

Austin, Tex.
“Austin is a little protected bubble: a blue bubble in a red state.”There’s a gay pride parade. There’s a gay pride week. I never had to worry about letting bosses know that I was gay. I’ve been with my current partner for about 11 years. We can kiss on the street corner or in our front yard. 
Charles Castle
  
71, Gay, retired school librarian
Our cities and our states often dictate how easily we can be our true selves at work, buy wedding cakes, construct families — even die. I asked Jon Davidson of Lambda Legal, an L.G.B.T. advocacy group, about current cases that illustrate just how repressive some corners of America remain. He told me about Picayune, Miss., where an 86-year-old gay man passed away last year, leaving behind his 82-year-old husband. They had been together for half a century.

Although prior arrangements had been made with a local funeral home, it refused even to pick up the dead man’s body when it learned of his same-sex marriage, according to a breach-of-contract lawsuit by his husband that hasn’t yet been resolved.

I told Davidson that I thought that such don’t-make-me-touch-it hysteria ended 25 years ago.

“Many parts of the country are 25 years ago,” he responded, drawing special attention to the southeastern quarter, from Texas to South Carolina, which, he said, may well generate more than half of the lawsuits that Lambda becomes involved in.

South Carolina: another state that I love, another state that doesn’t love me back, and the home of Tommy Starling, 45, and his husband, Jeff Littlefield, 61. Starling told me that they live there, in the coastal community of Pawleys Island, because of Littlefield’s job in the insurance business, but they dream constantly of moving somewhere that doesn’t cast them as provocative social experiments, somewhere that doesn’t put and keep them on edge.

They had trouble trying to adopt in South Carolina, so they turned to California and to surrogacy to have their 11-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. Starling said that his family stands out in Pawleys Island in a way that it wouldn’t in Brooklyn — or, for that matter, Atlanta — and disparaging, even menacing, remarks have come his way. To protect his kids from such ugliness, he has created, and works to preserve, a bubble of open-minded people around them.

“But it’s getting exhausting,” he said, adding that the family’s occasional travel sustains him. He recalled a trip not long ago to San Francisco, where his husband reached out to hold his hand in public and he reflexively tensed.

“He had to remind me that it was O.K. there,” Starling told me.

“My fiancé and I get disgusted looks
when we hold hands walking into places.”

Holding hands. Such a small thing — and yet so incredibly big for many gay couples in conservative environments and even for some couples in more liberal areas that can nonetheless seem threatening. That came through poignantly in more than 1,000 responses that The Times received after asking L.G.B.T. readers to share their reflections on the freedoms and limitations of where they live.

“My fiancé and I get disgusted looks
when we hold hands walking into places.”

Holding hands. Such a small thing — and yet so incredibly big for many gay couples in conservative environments and even for some couples in more liberal areas that can nonetheless seem threatening. That came through poignantly in more than 1,000 responses that The Times received after asking L.G.B.T. readers to share their reflections on the freedoms and limitations of where they live.
Laramie, Wyo.
“Wyoming doesn’t have any state laws that protect us from discrimination or hate.”They recently tried to pass a bill letting business owners, on religious grounds, deny service to L.G.B.T. people. It makes me feel very unwelcome. I feel powerless. I feel attacked almost. 
Josiah Masie22, gay, in Laramie, near where Matthew Shepard was fatally beaten in a gay-related hate crime in 1998
Seattle
“I definitely feel as though I can be 100 percent open here.”The comfort is so alien compared to Montana or Wyoming. There hasn’t been a single day that I haven’t seen some variety of pride flag on someone’s car, on their home or in storefront windows. I feel grateful. 
Keleigh Russell23, lesbian, grew up in Wyoming, went to college in Montana 

 .
Keleigh Russell
23, lesbian, grew up in Wyoming, went to college in Montana
Readers were acutely conscious of the absence or presence of employment-related anti-discrimination laws in their cities or states. (Only 22 states have such laws governing all gay and lesbian workers, in both the public and the private sectors, while only 20, including New York, have them for transgender workers as well.) Readers mentioned the vigor, or laxness, with which their local governments patrolled against and prosecuted hate crimes.

And one after another, readers said they wished that a modest public gesture of affection wasn’t a potent magnet for stares, slurs or worse.

From a 45-year-old lesbian in Laingsburg, Mich.: “Sometimes I fantasize about living in parts of N.Y.C. or Provincetown, where I would be able to feel comfortable walking down the street holding hands with my wife, but our roots are here.” From a 34-year-old lesbian in Lubbock, Tex.: “My fiancé and I get disgusted looks when we hold hands walking into places.”

I mentioned Brooklyn earlier when I was talking about climes unlike Pawleys Island because Dennis Williams, an executive with HBO who lives in the borough’s Boerum Hill neighborhood, was on my mind. He, too, is a gay dad, although unmarried. At 44, he’s just a year younger than Starling. But his experience is worlds apart.

Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I get the, ‘Oh, there’s no mom?’ But then it’s like they’re proud of me.”I can’t think of a single instance when anyone has been weird or I’ve had to confront any kind of homophobia. I don’t know that I could find this level of reinforced diversity outside of where I am now. 
Dennis Williams44, unmarried gay father of a 3-year-old
Pawleys Island, S.C.
“Somebody said that our kids should be taken away from us and we should be hanged.”If it wasn’t for my husband’s job, we wouldn’t be here. We’re constantly under a microscope, two dads raising kids. We were featured in a local publication and some comments were really nasty. 
Tommy Starling45, married gay father of two children, ages 4 and 11 and about with his 3-year-old son, Elan, he’s pretty sure it’s because he’s a black man and there has been so much discussion about black children growing up with absent fathers. Acquaintances who learn or know that he’s gay don’t register any surprise or signal any disapproval.

“I don’t take this for granted,” he added, noting that he grew up in Kansas and knows gay men in cities less cosmopolitan than New York. 
Of course there are enclaves in Kansas where Williams would find a warm welcome. The college town of Lawrence has a municipal ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, even though Kansas itself doesn’t. (In 2015, Gov. Sam Brownback rescinded one that covered only public employees.) And there are rural pockets of upstate New York that have none of Brooklyn’s progressivism or diversity.

The geographic variations for transgender
people may well be the starkest.




Rockville, Md.
“We have great equality laws in Maryland, which is unusual in its protections for trans people.”
I’ve been tolerated. I’ve even been welcomed. I have a dog, and I remember one gentleman coming up with his dog and asking, “Are you a transgender?” I said, nervously, “Yes.” And he said, “Well, good on ya!”
Stevie Neal
63, transgender woman living just outside Washington, D.C.

Peyton, Colo.
“I’ve gotten slurs. ‘Y’all should be put to death.’ This is just walking down the street.”
Ten miles away from me is the Focus on the Family headquarters, which we, in the L.G.B.T. community, consider a hate group. I get the feeling there are people who want to hurt me. I’ve had people brandish guns at me.

Jamie Shea
39, transgender woman living near Colorado Springs
On the state level, the yardsticks for measuring respect for L.G.B.T. people include, recently, restrictions on “conversion therapy,” which attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. More and more mental health professionals are speaking out unequivocally about its dangers, and more and more state legislatures are outlawing it for minors. New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island and Connecticut did so in recent months; New Jersey, Vermont, Illinois, Oregon, California and the District of Columbia had previously done so. But that leaves 41 states without any such prohibition.

The geographic variations for transgender people may well be the starkest. Harper Jean Tobin, the policy director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, noted that there are states — Nevada, for one — where changing your designated gender on a government document requires only affidavits from people who know you. “It can be a medical provider, your therapist, your minister, your parent,” Tobin said. But other states, like Tennessee and Alabama, demand proof of surgery and a physician’s signature.

states have laws prohibiting transgender people from receiving I.D.s reflecting their preferred gender identification
states don’t have laws protecting youths from conversion therapy
states don’t have explicit bans on excluding trans individuals from receiving health insurance coverage
states don’t have laws for gender-neutral single-occupancy restrooms
Source: Human Rights Campaign

Ah, Alabama. In May, under the aegis of “religious freedom,” its governor signed a law that allowed taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny the placement of children in homes with gay parents. Patricia Todd, 62, who serves in the state’s House of Representatives, remembers the heated discussion there beforehand, because she played a special role. She’s openly lesbian — the only open L.G.B.T. person ever in the Alabama Legislature.


Alabama
“I’m the only open L.G.B.T. person ever in the State Legislature.”
I tell people, “This is my missionary work, and I want to be in the hardest place to do it, and I will not live in Mississippi.” I love the South: the culture, the food, the people. It’s the politics I want to change.
Patricia Todd
State representative, 62, lesbian

California
“There are four L.G.B.T. people in the Senate and four of us in the Assembly.”
It’s the all-time high. The interesting thing is now our straight allies are carrying a lot of our L.G.B.T. bills. Sometimes even my opponents will say, “I never understood that. That’s a new perspective.”
Ricardo Lara
State senator, 42, gay
“I tried to stop the bill as best I could,” Representative Todd told me. “I practically had the sponsor in tears when we were debating this on the floor.” Why? “Because he really likes me. They all really like me. I said, ‘I want everyone to realize: If you vote in favor of this, you’re telling me that I’m not fit to be a parent. And I want you to look at me. You know me.’ ”

The Alabama House voted 60 to 14 in favor of the bill, after which the Alabama Senate voted 23 to 9.

Fifty years from now — heck, maybe just 20 — that kind of thing won’t happen. There’s only one long-term trajectory here. But in the meantime, it’s not O.K. for the federal government to be as cold to L.G.B.T. Americans as the one we have now is, because some of those Americans live in Alabama — or Texas. And those places don’t exactly brim with love.

Most of this information and some of the pictures and graphs appeared on the New York Times

Photos
Lou Anne Smoot by Mark Graham,  Charles Castle by Tamir Kalifa, Josiah Masie by Dan Cepeda,  Keleigh Russell by Ruth Fremson, Dennis Williams by Chad Batka,  Tommy Starling by Tanya Ackerman, Stevie Neal by Gabriella Demczuk,  Jamie Shea by Matt Nager, Patricia Todd by Chris Carmichael, and Ricardo Lara by Valerie Chiang for The New York Times
Produced by
Jessia Ma and Stuart A. Thompson

March 24, 2017

White Americans Are Dying Faster: What’s Killing Them?




In rich countries, death rates are supposed to decline. But in the past decade and a half, middle-aged white Americans have actually been dying faster. Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton first pointed out this disturbing trend in a 2015 study that highlighted three “diseases of despair”: drugs, drinking and suicide. 
On Thursday, the pair released a deeper analysis that clears up one of the biggest misconceptions about their earlier research.
The problem of dying whites can’t only be blamed on rising rates of drug overdoses, suicides and chronic alcoholism, they say. More and more, middle-aged white Americans are dying for all kinds of reasons — and the underlying issue may have less to do with opioids and more to do with how society has left behind the working class.
“Ultimately, we see our story as about the collapse of the white, high school educated, working class after its heyday in the 1970s, and the pathologies that accompany that decline,” they write.

On the streets of Chillicothe, Ohio: 'Shooting heroin is like drinking beer'

Play Video5:07
Chillicothe, Ohio is grappling with an addiction epidemic driven by opioids like heroin. But some here aren’t letting overdoses rule. (Lee Powell/The Washington Post)
This is slightly different than what they said in their first paper, where they emphasized that the trend of rising white mortality was “largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis.” That's technically correct — but by focusing only on the increase in death rates, Case and Deaton distracted from the larger picture.
The alarming fact isn't just that middle-aged whites are dying faster, but also that mortality rates have been dramatically declining in nearly every other rich country. The United States is getting left behind.
In the last 15 years, a chasm opened up between middle aged whites in America and citizens of European countries like France, Germany and the United Kingdom. While white death rates in America rose slightly, death rates in those other countries continued to plummet. In comparison to what happened in Europe, the situation for American whites starts looks much more dire — and it's a bigger problem than opioids or suicides can explain. It’s not just about what went wrong in America, but what stopped going right. 
Fifteen years ago, middle-aged whites in the United States were neck and neck with their German counterparts. Now, middle-aged white Americans are 45 percent more likely to die than middle-aged Germans.
As Case and Deaton show, the gap in mortality between white middle-aged Americans and middle-aged Germans is about 125 deaths per 100,000 people now. Every year, of 100,000 Germans between the ages of 45 and 54, about 285 die. In the United States, it's more than 410.
Out of those 125 additional American deaths, only about 40 might be explained by the spike in deadly drug use, drinking and suicides. And the rest? It’s hard to say. In their latest paper, Case and Deaton say that heart disease is part of the problem. While other countries have cut down heart disease deaths by over 40 percent in the past 15 years, heart disease remains a significant killer for white middle-aged Americans.
There’s still much left unexplained, but the latest data tell a larger — and more troubling — story. Most of the increase in white deaths is concentrated among those who never finished college. These are the same people who have been pummeled by the economy in recent decades. It’s gotten more difficult for them to find jobs, and what jobs they do come across nowadays don’t pay as well.
Yet, it's not entirely a matter of income either. Some of these same economic trends — driven by globalization and automation — afflicted countries like the U.K. and Germany, where the death rate has been dropping. Besides, according to a Washington Post analysis of recent Census Bureau data, white American men without a college degree still earn 36 percent more than their black counterparts. But the death rate among less-educated black Americans has actually been decreasing. In recent years, the two groups have converged — they are dying at about the same rate — even though white Americans still earn more.
So the theory comes back to despair. Case and Deaton believe that white Americans may be suffering from a lack of hope. The pain in their bodies might reflect a “spiritual” pain caused by “cumulative distress, and the failure of life to turn out as expected.” If they're right, then the problem will be much harder to solve. Politicians can pass laws to keep opioids out of people’s hands or require insurers to cover mental health costs, but they can’t turn back the clock to 1955.

By Jeff Guo
washingtonpost.com

October 8, 2013

Hopefully Marseilles Would Change to The City it Once Was by Curtailing Crime and Constructing Wiser






Schools in the deprived north of the city have reduced the drop-out rate 
Putting poor and sometimes uneducated people in big high apartment buildings does not work. It’s Never work in New York City with “NYCHA” and no reason why it would work anyplace else. In NewYork City Lack of space was one of the reasons about this concept but that is not so in other places. The bunching together of this type of community has to come with certain services for the tenants but for sure colossal structures does not do the trick. It gives the tenants a feeling that they are being trying to be isolated and it reinforces the idea of class warfare. It gives these tenant a feeling of abandonment by the government. If the parents are accepting their kids wont be. Well wishing is not enough but if a little thought was given when this things are being planned and the people architects with governments officials would get impact reports based on experts in the field that study the people in these places they would not be the knife that kills an area or a city. Marseille is too beautiful and important of a city to let it be eaten away by crime and a bad reputation.Adam Gonzalez. Publisher
France's second city, Marseille, has become synonymous with drug-related violence in recent years but local politicians are fighting to change that image.
Between the grey high rises of the northern districts, trains pass every few minutes.
High-speed rail lines dissect these poorer residential areas, passing bridges and tunnels where gangs of young people smoke, talk and risk falling victim to drugs gangs.
It was by the railway tracks that 19-year-old Nabil Badreddine was murdered in March this year, metres from the apartment block where he lived.
His murder was one of 15 in the city this year to date.
From her flat overlooking the spot his mother, Baya Seddik, explains what happened: "They shot him twice in the back. After they'd shot him they poured petrol all over him and set the car on fire."
Nabil was so badly burnt it took days for the police to identify him.
"Because he had been so badly burnt they tested my DNA - and that's how they found out it was him," his mother says.
His killing - still unsolved - was part of a catalogue of crime that has fuelled local contempt for the authorities' inability to stop it.
Murder spike
According to police figures, a third of all the murders in France in 2012 took place in the Marseille region.
Blocks of flats in MarseilleMuch of the violence occurs in the poor northern suburbs
Children in a built-up area of MarseilleParents say young children are vulnerable to the drug gangs
A view of the Tour St Jean in MarseilleThe city fathers want to project a new image of Marseille as a city of culture
Victims are usually in their late teens and twenties. Many of them are thought to have been caught up in organised crime.
Ms Seddik believes her son was innocent. But in a cafe in one of the estates, where a group of men are watching the boxing on TV, one young unemployed man takes a different view.
"When a guy dies it is not for nothing," he says. "Maybe he's the snitch."
The man is a self-confessed drug dealer who claims to know at least 10 people who have been killed.
"It's not the bad guys who are the drug dealers," he says. "We joke with the cops. We sell drugs. We make money. We don't have problems with the neighbours. Everything, it's good."
In spite of a recent spike in the murder rate - there were at least 24 in 2012 and 20 in 2011 - the level of criminality is not as high as it once was.
In the early 1960s, as the war for Algeria's independence ended, hundreds of thousands of French people returned from former colonies in North Africa. Many settled in Marseille where new high-rises were built to accommodate them.
In the ensuing years the city gained a reputation for its vibrant multiculturalism, as well as for its link in the "French Connection", through which gangs trafficked heroin from Turkey to Europe and on to the United States.
'Ghetto feeling'
"The city's geography has a lot to do with its problems," says sociologist Laurent Mucchielli at the University of Aix-Marseille, referring not only to the seaside location, but to social segregation between a poorer north and a richer south.
"The poorer classes traditionally live in the northern districts… meaning that social barriers have been constructed between north and south."
One of the big problems in the northern districts is the school drop-out rate. 
In 2011, one secondary school - College Vallon des Pins - 15% of its pupils failed to reach their final exams.
After a concerted campaign led by its head teacher, Rania Moussaoui, just over 3% of pupils were quitting class before their final exams.
When I ask her why the problem existed, she says there was a lack of opportunities outside school for some children: "Perhaps some of my pupils have the sense that they live in a ghetto because they live alone with their mother? Perhaps she has no driving licence and they can't get around town so easily?
"We try to make the children aware of their surroundings and make sure they have access to a cultural education."
In the run-up to mayoral elections in Marseille next year, opposition parties have taken on the centre-right municipality on issues of social deprivation.
Senator and Socialist mayoral candidate Samia Ghali is campaigning for more extra-curricular activities for children in school to help them avoid falling in with the street gangs.
The far-right National Front (FN) has also seized on the problem and is campaigning hard. Its leader, Marine Le Pen, described the crime wave as gangrenous, telling a party conference last month that it was "the shape of things to come".
Were the anti-immigrant FN to capitalise on the problem in a multi-ethnic city like Marseille it would worry the governing left and the centre-right UMP, which controls the city mayoralty.
Jobs drive
But Laurent Mucchielli says the Socialist French government is finally coming to understand the problem: "They realise it is one of family breakdown, educational failure and unemployment - not one single cause."
He says previous governments have failed to recognise the social factors at root. 
But the city's UMP mayor, Jean-Claude Gaudin, denies his municipality has failed in its efforts: "When I took over as mayor in 1995, unemployment in this city was 21.6%.
"Today it is at 13%. I have not stopped lowering the rate. My political vision is for everyone to live together as a community."
Outside his grand office by the port, new museums and galleries have opened up - all part of Marseille's year as the European Capital of Culture.
It is all a far cry from the north of the city where all the talk is of a lack of investment and unemployment and where, in the stairwell of Baya Seddik's apartment, there is a pungent smell of urine and cannabis.
"Selling marijuana earns a kid 150 euros [£125; $203] - more than me, more than you," she says.
"No wonder that the street is robbing us of our kids. You can educate them all you want but they can easily fall into dealing or even killing. We're talking about little kids, you know?"
Ms Seddik now campaigns for opportunities for young people in her district.
From her apartment, where pictures of Nabil hang on the wall, you can just make out the sound of the trains heading to and from the beating heart of Marseille.
 BBC News, Marseille

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