Saturday, May 23, 2015

Which Age Group Resists Marriage Equality?

The latest Gallup poll in early May is certainly encouraging for the support for same-sex marriage. Sixty percent of respondents (5% higher than 2014) say they were in favor of gay marriage.

Only two decades ago, 27% approved and 68% opposed gay marriage.  By 2005, 37% supported same-sex marriage and five years later, 44% were in favor.

Over 65 Group

Yet, despite the snowballing figures reflecting an ever-increasing trend toward acceptance, particularly with the under 30 age group, the one group that is a “holdout” is the 65- and over -age group.

Why? I can only surmise that it’s because they grew up in the 40’s and 50’s, when religion and mores were sharply defined and practiced. There was a low divorce rate, loyalty to school and church, and definite adherence to what constitutes “boy”  and “girl” roles with no room for gender-variance. If their neighbors, co-workers, friends, and the movie stars they saw on the “big screen,” were gay, those who varied from cisgender behavior kept their “dirty little secrets” to themselves.

The Times They Are A Changin’

Next month, it is possible that The Supreme Court will rule that same-sex marriage has as much legitimacy as heterosexuality in the United States. Ireland, a European country that is 84% Catholic, recently passed marriage equality by popular vote (referendum), the first nation in the world to do so.  Father Gerry O’Connor of Dublin said in The New York Times, May 23, 2015, commented that “notions of the traditional nuclear family were changing.”

According to Gallup tracking in the first four months of this year, 3.8 % of the adult population identify themselves as LGBT.  Those 3.8% may be a grandson or niece of a straight 65 year-old or a senior citizen’s friend’s relative who is being bullied in school, being denied an apartment because of sexual orientation.

Support Groups To Help Become Allies

It is not easy to change one’s views, but the modus operandi is education. To be an ally, you have to be informed about the constant changes in our ever-changing world.

Here are some organizations with resources to help educate you about the LGBT community:

http://www.umass.edu/how to be an ally.
http://www.hrc.org. The Human Resources Campaign is the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for LGBT people.
http://www.glaad.org/Glaad is a U.S. non-governmental media monitoring organization founded by LGBT people in the media.
http://www.familyacceptanceproject@sfs.edu. has materials for those reluctant to accept LGBT equality.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

May 17 = Commemoration Day for Victims of LGBT Inequality

What Is International Day (May 17) Against Homophobia?

IDAHot's main purpose is to raise awareness of violence, discrimination and repression of LGBT awareness worldwide.  Its purpose is to educate as it advocates for public policies. (In some countries, LGBT status is punishable by death.)

This year's theme is LGBT youth who are often bullied in school and cyberbullied everywhere. LGBT youth are more prone to suicide, drug abuse, lower self-esteem than their heterosexual peers, according to The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State.  Nearly 40% of homeless youth are LGBT.

History of IDHA HOT

The Day was conceived in 2004 and on May 17, 1990 became a reality when the World Health Organization no longer listed homosexuality as a diagnosis. 

France was the first country in the world to remove transgender issues from its list of mental illness in 2009.  Supported by seventy-five countries and three Nobel Prize winners, this commemoration was co-ordinated by Paris IDAHO.

Activities of IDAHO

There are grass-root actions in different countries for this memorable day.  Street marches, parades and festivals are particularly strong in Europe and Latin America for this event. The website International Day Against Homophobia features numerous ways to act and reports many past activities.

In 2014, IDAHOTB was marked in 130 countries, including 37 with anti-LGBT laws.  Nearly 1,300 organizations reported hosting a total of 1,600 events to mark the day. Over 70% of the world population live in countries that restrict LGBT rights.

Congressional Resolution Introduced by Barbara Lee

More than sixty congressional members introduced a congressional resolution in support of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.  Commented Lee, '' I hope this resolution (that outlines the specifice effects of anti-LGBT violence, homelessness and health disparities, especially related to mental health, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS) is another step in the direction of equality and acceptance for all."







  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Reflections of Motherhood on Mother's Day



Intro to the Davidsons 101

The Davidsons are a motley crew: The parents come from different backgrounds. The husband is a Southerner who learned to fish with a cane pole, but later found his niche on Wall St.  He was brought up with a reverence for and encyclopaedic knowledge of nature, love of family, and learned self-reliance at a young age.  His wife, on the other hand, is a “Nawtherner,” and comes from the Northeast where the emphasis is on where you went to school and manners, manners, manners.

We have two kids, both adopted.  One is straight, the other gay, and they both have their own agendas.  Despite our dissimilar backgrounds, we all get along fairly well.  But as this is an advice blog for straight parents of gay kids, I will share just a portion of what I’ve learned from parenting a gay child, now adult.

“I Should’ve, I Could’ve”

Despite the compatibility of our family, I frequently, usually supine, takestock of myself.  While some do this self-assessment in church where I frequently daydream, I do this in the bathtub or in bed in the wee hours of the morning.
Then I get the nagging thoughts “if only I had done this.”So, here are a few tips on what I would have done differently parenting a gay child.
I wish I had taken my child to a gay-friendly therapist and not a traditional one who doubted my gut instinct that my son was gay and couldn’t read between the lines that my son was in denial.  Had I known that that there was an affiliated organization of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), I could have found him the proper psychiatrist. I would have tried http://www.aglp.org. While not every gay child will want to go a therapist, I feel it’s important as society is not always accepting of gays and lesbians and the child will have to deal with certain issues unlike heterosexuals.
I would have attended PFLAG (http://www.pflag.org), a nationwide support organization, with geographical chapters for parents of lesbians and gays, sooner.
When my son was bullied in high school, I should have done more than call the bully’s father who in turn gave the bully a beating. I won’t mention any names because the father, “a little rough-around-the-edges,” might harass me!
I should have taken the matter up with the school as the bullying happened on their property and did not provide a safe environment for learning.  My son’s case is not unusual. Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, May 6, 2015, Mark Schuster, the lead author of a research letter. states that LGB students were about 91% more likely to be bullied and 46% more likely to be victimized. Schuster reports that differences in bullying and victimization occurs as early as fifth grade.

Yet, GLSEN (http://www.GLSEN.org.), the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, found that most school professionals (teachers, principals) do not come to the defense of bullied students. However, GLSEN does provide safe space kits to schools to teach students and personnel how to respect each other.  If the teaching tools from GLSEN are not effective, the student can contact the Superintendant of Schools and/or the American Civil Liberties Union if he/she feels his rights were violated.  So many options I didn’t know about then, but the climate for acceptance seems better now.

While I could have done more, at least I took some action to ensure his happiness. We all want the best for our kids.  Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s best, especially on a trajectory that has few role models.  That’s why it’s so important for straight parents to learn from others “who’ve been there.”




 




Monday, April 27, 2015

Supreme Court Argues Gay Marriage Tomorrow


What’s At Stake on April 28th?

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the marriage cases from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.  All of these states have marriage bans upheld by the federal appeals court in Cincinnati in November.  That appeals court is the only one that has ruled in favor of the states since the 2013 Windsor decision when the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law that denied a range of government benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Although the United States v. Windsor did not address the validity of state marriage ban, the majority of courts across the United States said its logic goaded them to invalidate state laws prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

For two-and-a-half hours, the court, will hear oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges ( Obergell, legally married to John Arthur, now deceased, is suing because Ohio refused to list him as his spouse on the death certificate). However, the proceedings will not be broadcast on radio or television or live-streamed on the Internet, nor photographed.  What a bummer! We have to wait for tweets from journalists in the courtroom or be satisfied with an audio recording of the arguments by 2 p.m. on the same day.

What Are The Issues?

Question 1:  Does the Fourteenth Amendment (which protects individuals against unwarranted restrictions on their liberty and requires equal treatment) require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? In other words, can states define marriage as the union of a man and woman?

Marriage-right supporters believe that states lack any valid reason to deny the right to marry. State laws that don’t allow everyone to marry violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and make they and their families less than heterosexual couples.  To gay marriage supporters, leaving the states to decide who can marry smacks of discrimination as in Loving v. Virginia, a case in which an interracial heterosexual couple was banned from marriage until the Supreme Court struck down race-based marriage bans in 1967.

Question 2:  Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
States respond that they have always set the rules for marriage. Voters in individual states have settled issues with bans and policies that have changed their constitutions to limit marriage to a man and a woman. They are against courts “imposing” a solution that should be left to the political process and espouse that it is an infringement on states’ rights.

Solicitor Generals and Civil Rights defenders have specific time allotted for arguments and rebuttals for their cases. The Ohio plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges are supported by amicus briefs (friends-of-the-court) from former N.F.L. player Chris Kluwe to the past Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman as well as various religious denominations.

Gallup:  Public Approval of Same-sex Marriage Growing

Today, thirty-six states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage. In 2004, only Massachusetts allowed such marriages. A WashingtonPost-ABC poll released this past week found that sixty-one percent of Americans said they support allowing gays to marry. A Gallup poll released on April 24th found that nearly 2 million adults are part of a same-sex couple, of whom about 780,000 are married.
Although the Supreme Court decision is not expected until the end of June, one can hope that SCOTUS will make gay marriage the law of the land and the states with bans will be forced to end restrictions.  Human dignity is on trial.


Friday, April 24, 2015

LGBTQ Alphabet Primer



About a year ago, April 1, 20014, I write a blog entitled http://www.straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com/2014/01/14/not-your-mother's alphabet-anymore/. A year later, the gender spectrum still confuses readers.  In fact, two days ago, a writer for Psychology Today put an ad on HARO (Help A Reporter Out) seeking a psychiatrist or psychologist to explain the difference between homosexuality and transgender issues for “heterosexuals who frequently combine and confuse them.”

Broad Misunderstood Meanings

People, thinking they mean the same, often confuse the terms sex and gender. Sex refers to biological differences that includes a person’s chromosomes and physical body. Intersex is a word to describe people who are born with both male and female sex markers (genitalia, hormones, chromosomes). It’s a newer term for hermaphrodite.

GENDER

While gender is usually assigned at birth, along with sex, it refers to the behavioral, cultural, and psychological traits typically associated with one sex.  It’s not just about being male or female and being placed in a binary system of male and female, man and woman, and boy and girl. If you are cisgender, your physical body matches your gender identity.

It is possible to be gender-free or agender too.

What Is Gender Identity?

Some people identify as non-binary and consider themselves neither men or women. Gender identity refers to a person’s innate, deeply felt psychological identity as male or female. It can include one’s sex (man, woman, intersex), one’s identification of their sex (transman, transwoman), or one’s location on the masculine/feminine spectrum, and one’s attitude toward gender (genderqueer, gender fluid, etc.) People are gender queer if their gender expression and/or identity doesn’t exactly align with the gender assigned at birth. Gender fluid is gender identity in which one views one’s gender as fluid and constantly changing.

What Is Gender Expression?

Gender expression is connected to gender identity, but one’s gender identity cannot be assumed from one’s gender expression because a person may dress in a more “masculine” or androgenous manner, but identify as female.

What Is Sexual Orientation?

Sexual orientation is a physical or emotional attraction to the same and/or opposite gender. Words used to describe one’s sexual orientation include homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual (attracted to people regardless of gender), asexual (not sexually attracted to anyone), gay, straight, and queer.

Transgender is not a sexual orientation and the most misunderstood.  It is associated with people whose gender identity do not match their assigned birth gender ‘though transgender people may identify as heterosexual. Many transgenders do not feel they are “cross dressing” but rather dressing to reflect the gender with which they identify.  Drag queens and Drag Kings do not necessary identify as trans even though they dress up as the opposite sex.

FTM (F2M) is a female-to-male transgender or transsexual person. FTM is synonymous with the term transman. MTF(M2F) is a male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.  MTF is synonymous with transwoman  A transgender person who has changed their sex through hormones and/or surgery has been said to have had sex- reassignment or sex-change surgery. A transvestite is NOT a transsexual. Think Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire.

The rainbow spectrum is large, and its umbrella term contains many different groups. The terms reflect basically how the individual feels about his actual self.
   
 










Thursday, April 16, 2015

It’s Not Too Late To Be SILENT!


GLSEN’s Day of Silence Is April 17

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, whose mission is to “ensure that every member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender orientation or gender expression” has been holding a Day of Silence in schools annually  since 1996.

Still Need Support In School

Despite the country’s growing acceptance of gay marriage, the President’s recent announcement banning conversion therapy, four out of 5 students are bullied and harassed at school. Did you know that:
61.6% of students who did report an incident in their school said that the school staff did nothing in response.
55.5% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school because of sexual orientation.
68.1% reported avoiding school functions and extracurricular activities because they felt unsafe or comfortable.
              Source: GLSEN’s online 2013 Survey

Silence Brings Attention To Important Issue

With over 8,000 K-12 schools participating, LGBT students and their allies, can take a vow of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. GLSEN supplies safe space kits as well as information on how to set up GSAs (Gay-Straight Alliances) to make schools more LGBT-friendly.

However, if your school is experiencing resistance to GLSEN’s Day of Silence by the Administration or Faculty not allowing the organization of activities for the day, you can report your school by clicking on a site at http://www.dayofsilence.org. to get assistance. Lamda Legal also has developed an FAQ detailing students’ rights to participate in the Day of Silence activities. See http://www.lambdalegal.org/news/us_20140411_day of silence.

Even if your school has no planned support for the yearly GLSEN-sponsored Day of Silence, it’s not too late to print DOS stickers, in both red or black, for example, from Pinterest. (http://www.pinterest.com/GLSENofficial/day-of-silence/ to stand in solidarity for LGBT inclusion.

Silence Can Be Golden

What will you do tomorrow to protest the LGBT bullying and harassment in your school and your community?  It’s not too late! For beginners, you can be quiet. Silence can be more powerful than words!
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Child Abuse Is Not Just Physical



April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month

“The physical wounds  (of child abuse) heal but research is showing that the effects on a child’s social, emotional and future physical health is far more damaging that we once thought,” states Mary E. Jones, MD, child advocacy physician at Loyola University Health System.

Bullied At School

Eighty-five percent of LGBT students, according to GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network), are more likely to be verbally harassed in school – called “faggots,”
“dykes.”  Twenty percent reported physical assaults and not just being pushed into lockers, to the point where they have a higher absentee rate. You can’t assume that teachers and other school professionals will always come to your child’s rescue.

Bullied At Home

With such egregious treatment, an LGBT child needs their home to be a safe accepting haven. However, this is not always the case. Some parents, believing their child’s sexual orientation is "just a phase," will deny their child is gay, a few will even try to convert them (from gay-to-straight) although President Obama wisely banned conversion therapy this week.

Angry and disappointed that their LGBT children don’t fit their master plan of a life envisioned in a traditional manner, some parents go to the extreme of kicking their children out of the house. Nearly 40% of homeless youth are LGBT “throwaways.”

The Better Alternative: Affirmed and Supported

Studies from the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State reveal that parental acceptance can save LGBT children from drug abuse, low self-esteem, depression, even suicide! Gay teens whose parents accept their sexual orientation grow up happier and healthier.
 
Unconditional Love and a Hug Go Along Way!

A nurturing parents makes such a difference!  Your child needs to know from you that he or she is loved and special.