Monday, November 23, 2015

November is National Adoption Month


Did you know that LGBTQ parents are four times more likely to be raising an adopted child?
And six times more likely to be raising a foster child?
Erroneous Studies
Yet there are judges who still contend that children are better off  (more emotionally and mentally stable) when raised by a mother and a father in the same home?  The erroneous studies used as fodder to break up families are not generally accepted by social scientists.  In fact, the American Psychological Association attests that there is no scientific evidence that gay couples are unfit to raise children.
In the Supreme Court’s marriage decision Obergefell vs. Hodges, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy specifically listed  in his opinion adoption among the rights associated with marriage and wrote that children were harmed when their parents’ unions were not recognized. Yet earlier this month in Price, Utah, a lesbian married couple who have two biological children, twelve and fourteen, and a foster baby who moved in with them in August, were initially ordered by Juvenile Court Judge Scott Johansen to surrender the baby, nine months old, within a week.
Couple Fit, Not Unfit
The foster parents, April Hoagland, 38, and Becky Peirce, 34, were devastated.  Said Hoagland to KUTV, “it’s not fair because I haven’t done anything wrong.” She hasn’t. They are licensed foster parents who are married.  Said the Republican Governor Gary R. Herbert, “the Judge may not like the law, but he should follow the law.”
There has been a public outcry to Johansen’s decision. The Human Rights Campaign filed a formal complaint.  State Division of Child and Family Services and foster moms filed motions asking Johansen to reconsider. Johansen has withdrawn from the case and referred it to Judge Mary Manley.
New Order
The order has been amended and temporarily rescheduled for December 4th.  The new order no longer says “the baby must be placed with a heterosexual couple “and removes the phrase “It’s not in the best interest of children to be raised by same-sex couples.” However, the order still notes “the court cited a concern that children are more emotionally and mentally stable when raised by a mother and father in the same home.”
For now, the baby is with Hoagland and Pierce who want to adopt her.  The biological mother has surrendered her parental rights, the father is in jail.  Child welfare officials say the change could be temporary.  What could be worse than taking the baby from Hoagland –Peirce’s loving home and forcing her to make yet another adjustment? 



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Holidays Not A Good Time For Introductions!


While visiting at Thanksgiving with your new boyfriend in tow may seem like a perfect time for a quorum of your family to meet your special one, think again.  Norman Rockwell, it’s not!
It’s not a pretty picture when you can’t ingratiate your significant other - when everyone is preoccupied with unlumping the gravy and keeping the cheese platter away from the dog who is at eye level with the coffee table!
You don’t want to embarrass your boyfriend, no longer your “friend,” as he was known before, and make him feel as if he is center stage.  He will either be talking over family members between creamed onions and the pumpkin pie or trying to engage them in conversation when they are satiated, snoring from all those heavenly carbs as they watch the football game after the meal. It’s a tough day to compete with a turkey at trying to create an impression!
Pick instead a time when everyone is relaxed and the getting-to-know-you conversation flows. Make sure your partner is OUT to his family and friends! Perhaps a picnic, a restaurant dinner, Charades anyone?  And no formal china to wash, and wash, and wash!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Talking To Your Kids About Sex

Perhaps, it would make it easier for a parent to adapt to the realization that her child is gay if she considers it a possibility from the start. In today’s society, you can’t presume that everyone is heterosexual.  (Sex Education classes that preach abstinence-only or have information only applicable to heterosexuals are missing the mark).  Nor can you assume that your adolescent is not having sex.
Penn State sex researcher Megan K. Maas suggests in her blog “7 Steps to Establish Yourself as an approachable parents so your kids will talk to YOU about sex,”, that parents use the word “romantic partner” instead of  boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” To encourage conversation, rather than close it, and remove stigma as well, phrase a question such as “Do you have a crush on anyone?” rather than “do you have a crush on a particular boy/girl?” The latter will make him feel awkward and ashamed if his crush is not on the opposite sex.
Maas, a National Institutes of Health Fellow, also advises that if you’ve already used the word “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”, it’s not too late to change it. Don’t look back! How were you to know?
                        Don’t Second Guess
I would add that you can’t second guess your child’s sexual orientation.  Nor can you tell him/her how they are feeling.  Sexuality is fluid as Alfred Kinsey discovered as far back as 1948 when he developed The Kinsey Scale that showed people did not fit into neat and exclusive heterosexual or homosexual categories. 
Your college daughter could tell you she’s a lesbian in her single-sex college (LUG, lesbian until graduation), then tell you two years later, she’s a heterosexual.  It happens.
In this case, the child knows best.  The child is, in essence, the parent and is trying to educate you.  Try to refrain from disbelief.  It smacks of denial.   

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

National Bullying Prevention Month Is Almost Over, But Bullies Are Still Hard At Work

School is in full swing now during October, National Bullying Prevention Month, but LGBT students still feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and gender expression. According to GLSEN’s (Gay, Straight Education Network) on-line survey entitled the 2013 National School Climate Survey of students between ages of 13 and 21, 55.5%  of LGBT adolescents feel insecure at their school.  They report higher levels of depression, lower GPAs  as well as self-esteem than heterosexual students. 
Despite the harassment, in schools with a comprehensive policy against harassment, LGBT students are less likely to hear gay used in a negative way, as for example, “that’s so gay.”  But 72% of students with no policy hear “that’s so gay” frequently. 
According to GLSEN, the prevalence of hearing negative remarks about gender expression was at its lowest levels in 2013. What is GLSEN offering schools that is proving to be effective?
·      Provides an Elementary School toolkit called “Ready, Set, Respect.”  This teaches about respect, and focuses on name-calling, bullying and bias, LGBT-inclusive family diversity and gender roles and diversity.
·      Has a guide called “Working With LGBT Students of Color: A Guide for Educators.”
·      Safe-Space Kit – For $20, a school can order a 42-page guide filled with strategies.
·      Information on how to join/start a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) at your school or take part in one of GLSEN’s student leadership programs to make your school a better place.
·      Has Educator guides, lesson plans, and resources ready to download.  
·      Press materials covering Inclusion and Respect for Educators.
·      GLSEN sponsors special events such as A Day of Silence, No Name-Calling Week, Ally Week, Think B4You Speak, and Changing The Game.
On a larger scope, outside the school, GLSEN chapters connect to obtain support locally and bring change to communities. GLSEN UP has a policy action center to contact your elected officials and learn about GLSEN’s current campaigns.  Besides federal laws, such as Safe Schools Improvement Act and the The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), GLSEN supports states’ bills such as Equality Act, Every Child Deserves a Family Act, Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, and The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (suicide prevention).
To be a supportive ally and inspire students to be kind and speak up when they see bullying, look to GLSEN for concrete tips.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

National Spirit Day on October 15

                                               Be A Visible Ally

Coinciding with October’s Anti-Bullying Awareness Month and the seventeenth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death, LGBT allies, including corporations, friends, organizations, will show their support against bullying on October 15th, National Spirit Day.  It’s not too late to pledge your support on-line with a donation, turn your profile purple, the color of “spirit” on the rainbow flag, order Safe Space Kits for your middle or high school, obtain Resource Kits or wear a Spirit Day button.

Observed since 2010, this world-wide Spirit Day has corporate sponsors such as Wells Fargo that makes schools safer havens for LGBT children and their teachers with their Safe Space Kits.  Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West has already pledged to support LGBT kids and take a stand against bullying.

Climate Better But Still A Backlash Against Equal Rights

Even with same-sex marriage being passed as the law of the land last June, and the majority of households polled approving of gay marriage, creating almost a false security that all is well, there is still a backlash in this country from Right Wing organizations such as The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) or The Family Research Council (FRC).  Transgendered individuals seem to be the least understood and share the brunt of the most attacks, physical and verbal.

In our States, did you know that:
Only fifteen states have laws that address hate or bias crimes, but do not address sexual orientation or gender identity.
There is no federal statue explicitly addressing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) reports that over 80% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed due to a real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
LGBT students report missing one day of school a month because of harassment.

For more tips on combatting bullying in schools, see blog posts: “When The School is Lax About Bullying,” 8/31/15, “The 4R’s: ‘Riting, “Rithmetic, and Regulation,” 8/21/15, and “The Legacy of Bullying,” 6/11/15.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

National Coming Out Day

Tomorrow, October 11, you may see more pink triangles on clothing and rainbow flags waving in the air. Rallies, parades may be more prominent.  Why?  It’s National Coming Out Day.  As of 1990, it is observed in fifty U.S. states and seven other countries.


It’s observed annually to celebrate coming out and to raise awareness of the LGBTQ community.  Founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg, a psychologist from New Mexico, it celebrated the second anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbians and Gay Rights when an estimated 500,000 gathered on the National Mall to demand increased funding for HIV/AIDS research, the repeal of anti-sodomy laws and the legal recognition of LGBT relationships. The Human Rights Campaign has resources for National Coming Out Day. See

By sharing stories of coming out, LGBT persons hope to take the stigma out of being “different,” and advance equality. It is estimated that one out of every two Americans has someone close to them who’s gay or lesbian so there is enormous potential for LGBT allies.

When To Tell

However, LGBT people should not feel pressured to come out on October 11th.  Their announcement will not be as newsworthy or glamorous as a moviestar’s or an athelete’s. So, they shouldn’t get caught up in the celebration and reveal themselves before they are ready.

Announce you’re gay when you feel most secure and comfortable.  Perhaps in a quiet living room with no distractions so your family can truly listen and take in your important message.

Weigh The Risks

The average age of coming out, according to a Pew Research Study, is sixteen.  In the 1980’s, it was twenty-one.  A sixteen year-old is still living with his/her parents regulating their social life. So, if your parents disapprove of your sexual orientation, it means that they could, in fact, reject you, tell you to go live elsewhere (40% of homeless youth have been thrown out of their homes) and withhold money that was designated for college for you.  Your teen’s decision to come out should be contingent on his parent’s acceptance and love.  If you hear homophobic slurs at home, perhaps this is not the time to come out to your folks.  You can anticipate indignation.

Better to have a supporter, preferably one who is out himself.  Also, if you are out at school,  think about the likelihood that you will be bullied. .LGBT students, according to GLSEN, Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, get harassed more than their heterosexual peers.  You have to weigh these factors before coming out.

A Word to Parents

Even if you suspect that your child is gay/lesbian, you should not ask.  Give the child some space.  It’s none of your business until he/she divulges this important aspect of his true self. Ask and he/she may think you’re judging – that you noticed something different about him.  Better to create a safe environment where he/she can come out when ready. For example, you might discuss current events, the Supreme Court decision of last June, bullying at school, reveal that you’re all for a diverse society.  Make it easy for him to come out of the closet.

Once he does, it’s wise for you not to come out yourself about his identity without his permission.


Friday, October 2, 2015

"Do I Look Fat?"

“Do I Look Fat?”

Every teen wants to look sharp so they can fit in.  Whether they’re emulating the hottest celebrities or have their own style, they hope their own brand will propel them into popularity and give them persona.

To an LGBT kid whose look may be different than the mainstream, who may feel different being on the fringe, fitting in is not easy.  This state of being different may pre-dispose a gay or lesbian student for eating disorders.  Other factors may include, or are not limited to, according to NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association:

Coming Out: Fear of Rejection/experience of rejections by friends, family, and co-workers.
Experiences of Violence (gay bashing).
Being Bullied

Research Shows LGBT Population Has Greater Eating Disorders

Findings point out that as early as twelve, GLB teens may be at higher risk of binge-eating and purging than heterosexual peers.  There are elevated rates of binge-eating and purging by vomiting or laxative abuse by both males and females who identify as GLB.

What’s A Parent To Do?

Left unnoticed, eating disorders can continue into adulthood.  Gay men are up to three times more likely than heterosexuals to have a clinical or subclinical eating disorder.  Forty-two percent of men who struggle with eating disorders identify as gay or bisexual, according to an article “a hidden epidemic eating disorders in the gay community,” in

Telltale Signs

If your child refuses to eat with the family or you notice sudden weight loss or evidence of laxative abuse, be concerned.  Eating disorders could coexist with other illnesses such as depression, substance abuse or anxiety disorders.

For help with this problem, contact NAMI (National Association of Mental Illness)’s Helpline that can refer you to various organizations.  Their phone number is 800-950-NAMI.