Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Time Is Now To Outsmart School Bullies!

The lazy days of summer are almost over.  Soon, the new backpacks, notebooks come shuffling into school.  And it's time for the bullies to return to your LGBT's child school and make your child's school year a living hell unless you intercept.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, LGBT youth are twice as likely as their peers to say they have been physically assaulted, kicked or shoved at their school.  Ninety-two percent of LGBT youth say they hear negative messages about being LGBT: in school, the Internet, and by peers. No wonder LGBT youth miss as much as a day of school per month, according to GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network).  

Is bullying the same as teasing?  No, it isn't.  It's defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged kids that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.  It includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

According to Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., co-author of When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know, even if parents don't have the shared experience of being in this "out group," it doesn't mean that you cannot develop a 'radar" for discovering whether this is going on and help your child to combat bullying. It takes time to stop bullying.  Be persistent.

Before school starts, help your child devise a plan to feel safe.  Assure your child that being a bullying victim is not his fault.  Says Dr. Tobkes, "many children will feel humiliated and ashamed and think they have brought it on themselves.  Do not BLAME the child for being bullied.  Tell your child to come to you right away if anyone is making disparaging remarks or threats," advises Dr. Tobkes.

How do you get your child to open up?

Listen and focus on him.  It's important for a child to know that their home, school, community will want to protect him.  Emphasize that bullying should not be tolerated.  Everyone is entitled to be educated in an atmosphere that makes them feel safe.


Here are some ways you can keep your child safe:


  • Brainstorm about alternating their route home so that an adult is always present.
  • Do not call the parents of the bully.  It could backfire on your child.  
  • *Role play with your child.  Pretend you're the bully and have your child develop pat answers.
  • *Reverse roles.
  • Model good behavior.

Parents are the most effective deterrent to bullying.  Says Dr. Tobkes,"  I have found that the most important prognostic indicator for a child being targeted for his sexuality is having a safe haven retreat at home."






Sunday, July 22, 2018

Are LGBTQ Teens Better Off Today?

New Study by HRC/UConn. Shows LGBTQ Feel Anxious and Depressed!

The Human Rights Campaign jointly with the University of Connecticut released their findings last May of the survey done of 12,000 LGBTQ 13 to 17 year-olds across the United States. https://www.teenvogue.com/.../new-study-shows-lgbtq-youth-feel-anxious-and-depressed/ The results revealed that most of these LGBTQ teens are experiencing extreme levels of anxiety and stress daily in school and at home.

Here are highlights of the alarming statistics:


  • 77% of respondents reported that they felt depressed in the last week.
  • 95% experience trouble sleeping.
  • More than 3/4 of the people surveyed reported feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, signs of depression.
At home:

  • 67% said they've heard families make negative remarks about their sexual orientation.
  • 78% surveyed responded that those negative comments influenced their decisions to come out.
  • The non-acceptance is worse for LGBT youth of color and trans youth.  They are more likely to be taunted or mocked by their families.
These findings often run counter to the pride that LGBTQ teens feel.  In fact, 91% reported feeling pride in their identity and 93% feel proud to be members of the LGBTQ community.

So, this positivity is not offset by parental rejection, parents can do the following, according to Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., co-author of When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know (Sterling, 2016):

  • Accept that you do not have the power to change your child's sexual orientation. Do not think being gay is a phase or choice.  Accept that your child is definitely and permanently gay.
  • If you reacted badly to your child's coming out, it's never too late to remedy the situation: First apologize.  You might say something like "what you told me last week really came as a surprise to me.  While it may take some time to digest the news, but I will always love you."
  • The only way to alleviate internal angst and achieve a sense of equanimity is through acceptance. 
  • Listen, listen, lister to gain understanding of your child's sexuality.  Put down the cell phone/newspaper. Focus on the individual without any distractions.
  • Demonstrate in both words and acceptance that you will always love and support him/her unconditionally.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

When The Birds and Bees Only Fly Straight

As the parent of an LGBT child, you may not want to leave sex education to your child's middle or high school.  In San Diego, parents picket sex education at their schools because they don't find mention of anal sex, masturbation appropriate for middle schoolers. In conservative Orange County, California, parents can withdraw consent for the whole sex education curriculum or for instruction on HIV and STI prevention.  However, what they cannot do is specifically withdraw their consent for class instruction deemed non-discriminatory on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the California Healthy Youth Act in 2015.

In seven other states, Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas, local or state education laws that expressly forbid teachers of health/sexuality education from discussing LGBT people or topics.  These laws are called "no promo homo." Some laws even require that teachers actively portray LGB people in a negative or an inaccurate way, according to GLSEN, Gay, Lesbian, Education Network.

As LGBT-inclusive curriculums are few, and erratic at best, it's better for parents to be the sex ed. teachers.  A school or doctor can't impart values about sexual relationships as a parent can.  An LGBT student may be embarrassed to ask questions about sexual health in school for fear he will be singled out and harassed.

While you may be uncomfortable discussing sexual practices, birth control, sexual diseases, among other concerns, it will make a favorable impression on your LGBT child. Your home is not a semester-only class.   Do your LGBT homework so you can deliver the material in your home.  It's ok to admit you're embarrassed at first, but the curriculum is yours, and you will know how it's delivered.

Knowledge is empowering.  Contrary to beliefs, frank instruction does not lead to sexual promiscuity.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

If Straight Parents Don't March, Are We Tolerating, But Not Accepting?

June is considered GAY PRIDE MONTH, but not everywhere.  However, you demonstrate acceptance, it should be at your own comfort level.

Many LGBT people themselves do not feel it is necessary to be a crusader for gay rights just as some straight parents don't want to march during the Gay Parades held in major cities.  I am one of those parents.

This does not mean that I'm not sensitive to those minorities who haven't achieved full equality. It does mean that I hate crowds and regard rainbow scanty thongs on gay men on floats as hyper sexualization, narcissitic displays of six-pack abs and perhaps doing a disservice to the greater goals of inclusion and equal rights.

You can be accepting without subjecting yourself to all the revelry.  (However, if your child wants you to attend a Gay Pride event, feel like he is an integral part of the whole movement whose civil rights have been backlashed by politics, then you may want to support your LGBT child by attending).

As a parent, it behooves you to demonstrate to your child in both words and actions that you will always love and support him unconditionally.  One way to show your acceptance is to:


  • Ask your LGBT child the same questions you ask your other children.  Specifically, don't avoid the topic of dating and relationships.  If you ask your heterosexual child about his significant other, ask your LGBT child as well.  
  • Says Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., " If your gay child says that he is dating someone in particular, ask engaging questions about the partner and express an interest in meeting him."  
  • Invite the boyfriend to family dinners as you would for a partner of your straight child.
  • Find out how the boyfriend is doing from time to time.
For more tips on displaying acceptance, see When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know (Sterling: 2016).



Friday, June 8, 2018

The Baker, The Cake, and The Couple Who Ate Crow

Last Monday, the Supreme Court decided the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission No. 16-11.  With just two dissenters, Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayer, the Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, the Christian baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins who were married in Boston.

The Court sided with Phillips, who had lost forty percent of his business because of litigation, and had to fire six of his employees.  The grounds for the outcome, whose majority decision was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, was that the Colorado Civil rights Commission, which had originally ruled against Phillips, had acted hostile as it allowed other bakers to refuse to create cakes that demeaned gays and same-sex marriage.  Consequently, what should have been the neutral and respectful consideration in which Phillips was entitled was therefore compromised.

This five-year battled ended in humiliation for Mullins and Craig who never got the cake even though same-sex marriage has been legal in Colorado since 2014.  Although the 7-2 decision ruled in Phillips's favor, The Court also acknowledged the equal rights of LGBT people.

Not The Big Picture

The Court, in this case, did not tackle the bigger picture: religious freedom vs. civil rights for LGBT Americans.  The crucible:  Can a business discriminate against LGBT persons based on the rights protected by The First Amendment?  Can a business owner invoke their First Amendment Rights when they refuse services to gay customers?

As it is, LGBT people, without a National Equality Law, are at risk for being fired, evicted or denied services in thirty-one states.  While the June 4th Supreme Court decision just settled Phillips's case, Phillips's win sets a precedent.  It doesn't bode well for the future:  what's next?  Will all tangential wedding services such as florists and photographers be allowed to shut their doors to those whose so-called "lifestyle" they disapprove of?

Kennedy acknowledged that business owners generally cannot deny equal access to goods and services under a neutral public accommodations law.  Shouldn't a gay person receive the same services when he walks into a store as a heterosexual would?  Cake is Cake.  It doesn't have to be endorsed by the baker.  Once it is made and showcased, you don't think about the baker's viewpoint of same-sex marriage, as Justice Ginsburg referenced.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Coming Out: It’s Not Your Story!



It’s not a good idea to out your kids.  Let them be the messengers.  Their stories are highly personal and should be revealed in their own time when they are comfortable.

Jeff Ingold at Stonewall explains that publicly outing someone “robs that person of the chance to define who they are, in their own terms and ignores the many valid reasons someone may have for not choosing to be open about their sexuality or gender identity to everyone in their life.”

Genderqueer Star Cambell Kenneford, 23, who transitioned from male to female, explains further why it’s so damaging.  “You feel like someone has taken your identity away from you.  She has been asked if she were a man or a woman while standing in line to a gay club.  She has been humiliated when outed to someone she was flirting with, only to find that person suddenly not interested.

(There are many reasons why an LGBT person, particularly a transsexual, doesn’t want to be open about their sexuality.  Unfortunately, it can incite hate crimes.  Stonewall statistics reveal that one in seven trans people aren’t open about their gender identity to anyone in their family).

Consider yourself privileged if your child has come out to you. Once your child has come out to you, you need to find out whom they’ve told  (most likely, they have told someone before you) and what is their plan to tell other friends and family members, if at all. How did the receivers of the news take it?  Were they supportive or did it cause a rift in the friendship?

Jonathan Tobkes, M.D.. co-author of When Your Child Is Gay (What You Need To Know: Sterling, 2016) suggests that parents may want to help their children devise a plan to tell older family members from a different era if that seems daunting for the child.  You can help, for example, by saying “have you thought about telling Grandma?  If you’d like me to help you figure out how to do that or to be there when you tell her, just let me know.”

You need permission to tell your friends.  If you’re concerned about how your friends and colleagues will react to you having an LGBT child, practice what you are going to say.  Says psychiatrist Dr. Tobkes, “ I have found that most people will react in a way that parallels the manner in which you share the news.  If you seem uncomfortable and ashamed, then they will react awkwardly, but if your share the news  with pride and comfort, they will genuinely feel happy for you.”  If your so-called “friends” make negative remarks, tune them out, and think twice about being with those with shameful feelings.



Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Teacher Appreciate Week May 7-11

Teacher Appreciation Week May 7-11

GLSEN.ORG/thankateacher)

For LGBT youth, school can be an ordeal.  They can be singled out, bullied, feel unsafe in an environment that’s supposed to be free of fear.  In fact, they may elect to miss school as much as a day per month because they are being harassed. Compared to their heterosexual peers, they use illicit drugs disproportionally, are required to attend Sex Education Classes that focus on heterosexual -only contraception or preach abstinence.  They may be scared to use the bathroom of their choice, not the ones that match their birth certificates.  Daily, they may hear “that’s so gay” and other derogatory comments hurled at them.

Yet teachers do not always address the issue of homophobia in their schools.  They may not be trained to do so.  Afraid of losing their jobs if they are outed, some LGBT teachers may not want to be considered “political” and draw attention to themselves.  However, just a few thoughtful deeds is all it takes for  a teacher to ally themselves with LGBT students, he can, for example:

Post a “safe zone” sign in school.
Seek opportunities to include LGBT people such as Michelangelo in Science class.  California is the first state to make its curriculum inclusive of LGBTQ icons and history!
Don’t assume any student is gay.
Organize or encourage district administration to arrange an in-service with a qualified youth advocate.
If the school has a Gay-Straight Alliance, he can volunteer as an Advisor.

These are just a few of the ways that teachers can show support.  PFLAG (Parents For Lesbians & Gays, and now Transgenders) has a “Safe Schools Program” in New York City that hopefully will be adopted by others.  The mission of the “Safe Schools Program” is to promote inclusion, understanding, equality, and non-violence.  To this end, its volunteer speakers help create a learning environment that respects everyone.  The volunteers of all backgrounds include straight family and friends of LGBT people as well as LGBT adults and youth.  They bring family perspective and personal stories to illustrate sexual orientation and gender identity.

PFLAG NYC visits schools throughout New York to work with teachers, parents, administrators, school staff and students to help make sure that discrimination is not present in the classroom. The program:

Addresses students, teachers, counselors, and parents about LGBT issues.
Helps LGBT students find support in understanding their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Helps faculty and staff to understand and approach LGBT issues respectfully and accurately.
Helps parents understand LGBT issues as it relates to the developing sexuality of their children and their children’s friends and peers.
Teaches straight students, faculty, and parents to be allies.

If you are fortunate enough to have a teacher who has your child’s “back,” you are blessed.  Your child will feel protected.  Together, you, as a parent, and your child’s teacher, will act as a team with your child’s best interests at heart so he can thrive.

Be sure to tell your teacher that you appreciate him/her, not just this week, but other times as well.  They are not only influential, but spend almost as much time with your child as you do.