Monday, March 11, 2019

“You’re Bi What?”


                                  

            Most parents and society-at-large don’t understand bisexuality.  Sexuality is fluid, according to Freud.  For a person having a bisexual orientation, the orientation is not chosen even though the sex of the partner may be.  According to social psychologist Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D.,  author of The Psychology of Human Sexuality,  being bisexual doesn’t necessarily mean that you are equally attracted to both men and women.

            Many high school students today don’t like to be pigeonholed into binary roles.  They want to label themselves. Cornell psychologist Rich Savin-Williams, Ph.D., author of The New Gay Teenager, says, according to a new study of his, “straight people don’t exist.”   Your son or daughter may try out different orientations before one feels most comfortable.

            Yet, even from the gay and lesbian community, bisexuals experience prejudice as they do from heterosexuals. They are looked upon as sexually confused and promiscuous.  They are “on the fence” about their sexual orientation.

            While the message for your child is similar to that of a LGT child: listen, don’t try to talk him/her out of their truth, love unconditionally, there are alarming statistics re: bisexuals that you should be aware of:

·      The 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey of U.S. High Students found that in the student risk behavior it examined (planning and attempting suicide), bisexual students reported the highest risk. According to The Bisexual Resource Center (BRC), 45% of bisexual women have considered or attempted suicide. 
·      Bisexuals face intense bullying and harassment and report poorer mental health outcomes than gay, lesbian or straight youth.
·      Over a third of bisexuals reported not disclosing their sexual orientation to any medical provider.
·      Young gay and bisexual males have disproportionally high rates of HIV, Syphilis, and other STDs.
·      Adolescent lesbian and bisexual females are more likely to have ever been pregnant than their heterosexual peers. 
·      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 30% of students who had sexual contact with both sexes: experienced dating violence more than heterosexual and gay students.

However, it is not a good idea to dwell on the potential negativity your child may face.  Here’s what you can do to lessen the impact:

In school:

·      Make sure there is an ally who has your child’s back.  Who knows at school of their bisexual orientation?  Are his friends accepting or bullying?  Does the school have abstinence-only sex education that doesn’t apply to non- heterosexuals? Don’t leave the sex discussions up to the school health teacher. See if the school has a GSA (Gay and Straight Alliance). 
At home:

·      Talk about protection from STIs.  It will help your child make healthy choices.  Also discuss consent of sexual relationships.
·      As most schools have inadequate sex education and many teens are too fearful to tell their doctor that they are not cis-gender, it’s up to  you, the parent to be the sex educator.
·      Provide contacts for your child of the same age who have similar experiences such as PFLAG.

According to https://rewirenews/article/2018/04/04/high-risk-resources-bisexual-kids-lack-help-need- , there are many organizations that are aimed specifically at bisexual youth.  However, The Bisexual Resource Center (BRC), in Boston, Massachusetts, America’s oldest national bisexual organization, has many resources.  This month, the BRC is celebrating its sixth annual Bisexual Health Awareness Month (#BiHealth Month) https://bihealthmonth.org/.  BRC is raising awareness about the bisexual + (bi, pansexual, fluid, queer, etc.), community’s social, economic, and health disparities, advocates for resources, and inspire actions to improve bi+ people’s well-being.  This year’s campaign will focus on bisexual + representation in media, politics, and advocacy, healthcare, and education.   








Thursday, February 28, 2019

A Discriminating Vote by Methodists


                      

This week, the delegates of the United Methodist Church gathered to take a vote on whether to reinforce a ban on gay marriage.  This second largest Protestant Church, with 12 million members world-wide voted 53-47 to discriminate against the LGBT community.

With nearly 7 million Methodists in the United States, the younger parishioners polled (six in ten) believed homosexuality should be accepted by their church.  However, the tightening of enforcement of church law was backed by a coalition of members from African nations.  No surprise there.  Africa has little tolerance for the practice of homosexuality, punishable by death, in some cases. (The strong African conservative vote against Episcopalian gay rights also led to a schism in the Episcopalian Church within the last ten years). 

“The Practice of Homosexuality Is Incompatible with Christian Teaching.”

The current church policy of the Methodists states this.  Doesn’t Christian teaching regard all individuals as worthy of God’s love?  Shouldn’t a church be welcome to everyone?  Church should not be a country club that picks its members. 

The Traditional Plan vs. The One Church Plan

In the Traditional Plan of The Methodist Church, the clergy is punished if it officiates at a same-sex wedding.  This plan won majority support in a preliminary vote this week.

In a One Church Plan, individual churches can decide for themselves whether to hire gay clergy or perform same-sex marriages.  It would eliminate church policy that says that homosexuality is incompatible with Christianity. Consequently, the clergy or the church would not be punished for going against church law.

In the future, I hope to see One Church Plans for the Methodists.  I married a Southern Methodist.  I was raised an Episcopalian, still know the service by heart, second verses of the hymns, but probably have some Methodist blood as my father’s name was John Wesley, same as the founder of Methodism.

But my blood boils thinking about how my cis-gender daughter could get married in a Methodist church, but our son could not.  It’s sinful.  If the Methodists don’t resort to the One Church Plans, we may find ourselves returning to the dark, drafty Gothic Episcopal churches that I miss anyway.



 




Sunday, February 17, 2019

It's Not About You!



                                    It’s Not About You!

In an OP-ED New York Times column entitled “It’s Not a Teenage Fad. It’s Life,” 1/09/19, author Jennifer Finney Boylan remarks that when her daughter came out, she felt as if “this person was now going to be different.  It made Jennifer think, at first, that something precious was being taken away.”

Boylan’s daughter was coming out as trans to her mother, a trans activist, who transitioned twenty years ago. Jennifer had a tougher time with her sexual identity back then.

But even if Jennifer were straight, she might have felt the same way because many parents report grief when they are told their child is LGBT.  However, in effect, parents are not losing a child.  Kids are not here to live out our version of how we want them to live their lives. 

To the contrary, being LGBT has advantages:

·      Children are happier.  They are themselves and don’t have to hide their identities.
·      With a better understanding of your child and honesty in your relationship, you can have a closer relationship.
·      It’s a compliment that your child has shared this important information with you.  It shows that he is comfortable enough to reveal this facet of his self even though he may feel that he may be disappointing you. He feels secure enough with you to come out.

However, if you, at first, regard being LGBT as a disadvantage:

·      You may want to attend a Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, now with Transgender groups) or PFLAG http://www.htttp://pflag.org. meeting at which you discuss why you think being LGBT is “lesser than” being straight even though your child is still the same person with the same attributes?
·      If you’re not comfortable with groups, see a gay-friendly therapist. You can find a psychotherapist at the Psychotherapist Association for Gender Diversity through Gaylesta  https://www.gaylesta.org.
·      Don’t think it’s a phase or choice.  It’s not going away. 
·      To integrate this new information with the concept of the child, don’t reject the child altogether.  Writes Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., co-author of When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know ( Sterling, 2016), “it is very difficult to retract words such as “if you’re gay, you are no longer my child.  Or you can make a choice, continue to be part of this family or be gay on your own.  Even if you disapprove, you should display to your child in both words and actions that you will always love and support your daughter or son.”






Saturday, January 26, 2019

Supreme Court Bans Transgenders in the Military

On Tuesday, January 22, 2018, The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to impose a ban on Transgendered adults in the military.  But it's more complicated.  Previously, lower courts had placed injunctions on the ban, but on the 22nd, some of these injunctions were put on hold so the ban can't go into effect yet.

Nefarious History

In July, 2017, our Commander-in-Chief Trump tweeted: " our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgenders in the military would entail."  Myth:  The military, according to Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post, July 26,2017, states that " the military spends four times as much on Viagra (even for retired military) as it would on transgender troops' medical care. Annually, the military spends 41.6 million on Viagra alone.  

One month later, The White House put out an actual policy.  Trump would return to pre-2016 era  (before Obama's policy that transgender adults could serve in the military) in which trans troops could not serve openly.  And that wasn't the only stipulation: it would also ban the military from paying for gender-affirming surgeries, with some exceptions such as "protecting the health of someone who had already begun transitioning."  It also allowed the Secretary of Defense, after consulting with the Secretary of Homeland, "some wiggle room," to decide what to do with already serving trans service members and let them advise the President on reversing the ban.

The Federal Courts halted the ban from going through, finding in part that trans service members were able to joining the military.  Starting on January 1, 2018, the military has already paid for some trans-inclusive medical services, including gender-affirming surgeries.

In March, 2018, The White House, following a Pentagon review, rescinded the previous ban.  This move was expected to ban most trans people from openly serving in the military with exceptions for people who already begun serving as trans prior to the memo and trans people "who have been "stable for three years in their biological sex prior to accession."  The Lower Courts put the ban on hold.

Some Wiggle Room?

Stanley McChrystal, a retired **** Army General, who lead the Joint Special Operations Command and NATO Forces during the War in Afghanistan, says that the ban on transgender people serving in the military is a "mistake." Kristin Beck, retired transgender Navy Seal, who has multiple Service awards, agrees.  Shane Ortega, 1st U.S.A. transgender soldier, now retired, told MSNBC that the ban perpetuates the "cycle of dehumanization."

McChrystal, Beck and Ortega all prove that transgenders in the military can be what the Pentagon calls "combat effective."  Trans troops, who stay in the closet, will have mental health issues.  It's dangerous for their service and their personal health and safety.  If they are allowed to live openly, they will perform better in the military and not feel as if they are erased.

 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

GENDA to ENDA discrimination & Ban Conversion Therapy in New York State

 New York parents will sleep better knowing that GENDA and Ban on Conversion Therapy passed the New York House and Senate on January 9, 2019.

GENDA or Gender Expression Non-Discrimination bill added gender identity and expression to the state's anti-discrimination laws as a protected class in housing, employment and public accommodations.  Legally, it declares that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming.  

This passage in the Assembly (134-3) and Senate (57-4) is quite a victory for LGBT rights because since 2003, GENDA has been put forward in the New York State Legislature, but died in the Republican-controlled New York Senate.  The bill was sponsored by all new 39 Democratic senators in the new Democratic majority and was sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman, the only openly member of the Senate.

Governor Cuomo is expected to sign this bill as well as the Conversion Therapy ban the week of January 21st.  The ban on conversion therapy would prohibit licensed therapists from trying to change a minor's sexual orientation that The Human Rights Campaign refers to as a "fraudulent practice." (For more information about conversion therapy, see my blogpost https://straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com/2018/11/you-cant-pray-gay-away.html.) Supporters said these two pieces of legislation are the most significant civil rights bills specifically impacting the state's LGBTQ community since same-sex marriage passed in 2011. 

It would be great if ALL states could have these laws, but there is no FEDERAL law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.  Because there is ambiguity in the courts regarding the definition of sex, LGBT citizens are at the mercy of municipal and state law.  In over half the U.S. states, you can still expect discrimination.  Let's hope New York State will serve as a beacon for others.
 


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Your Child Just Told You He's Gay. Now What?


It’s holiday time and your child takes the initiative to come out to whomever is present at your family’s gathering. His rationale may be to “ get it over with” and tell family members all at once. It may not be the appropriate time with so many distractions for such unexpected news. Will your family and friends accept this new information? Or, is he just telling you privately?  Either way, you want to “get your lines right.”

This news can backfire your child’s intent as it could spark emotions such as shock, disbelief, rejection, anger, and confusion on your part.  Rather than reacting too quickly to the news, make the conversation easier. Try these tips:

Stay calm.  The news may challenge your future expectations of your child, but with education and support, you will learn to accept his sexual orientation and gender identity.  Find out what it means to be LGBT.
You may want to work with a therapist who specializes in assisting LGBT teens. Now is not the time to show your disappointment.
Be supportive now even if you have reservations about his sexual orientation. Tell your child that you love him just as much.
Praise your child for having the confidence to reveal his gender identity and to trust you with this important information.
“Be mindful of what you say in the weeks and months following the coming out as he will be sensitive,” advises Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., co-author of When Your Child Is Gay:  What You Need To Know (Sterling: 2016).
Realize that this is just one of many conversations you will have in the future.  Is your child being bullied in school?

Your level of acceptance can make a world of difference in your child’s self-esteem.  Parental alienation can reinforce self-hatred, isolation, even suicide ideation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the suicide rate for young people is up.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24.LGBT youth attempt suicide 5 x more than non-LGBT youth.
If you can’t cope with the coming out, don’t banish your child to the streets or make life so miserable for him that he chooses to leave.

Life on the streets is not only scary but commonplace.  Here are the mind-boggling facts:

LGBTQ young people are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ peers. True Colors Fund.org
One in every 5 LGBT adults is homeless. Statistics from CreditDonkey.com/2/25/18 reveal that as many as 640,000 LEGBT youth are homeless. -
Forty-six of homeless LGBT youth ran away because of family rejection.
Forty-three percent are forced out of homes by their parents. Source: circlecarecenter.org/popular-stories /the-frightening-statistics-behind-lgbt-youth-homelessness.

Once on the streets, roughly 80% of homeless teens use drugs or alcohol and
are most likely trading sex to obtain the drugs/alcohol they use to self-medicate.  As a result, their HIV rates are 3-9 times higher than the general U.S. population.

For parental support, try these reputable organizations:

Everyone is Gay.com
https://pflag.org
https://www.glsen.org
https://ww.hrc.org
https://familyproject.sfsu.edu

For LGBTQ youth support and connections to LGBTQ population:

http://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth/resources.html
https://www.thetrevorproject.com
http://www.samhsa.gov/resources-help-lgbt-youth...
http://www.pflag.org
http://itgetsbetter.org















Thursday, November 29, 2018

World Aids Day 2018: What Does It Mean?



Saturday, December 1st is the thirtieth anniversary of World Aids Day.  While scientific advances in HIV/AIDS research have resulted in anti-retroviral drugs like Prep and more awareness about safe sex contribute to a health problem that is not thought of as the alarming death sentence of the 80’s, AIDS is still a world-wide problem. It’s nothing to be complacent about.

It is estimated that 35 million people have acquired the disease. The symptoms don’t show up initially.  In fact, many people don’t even know they have HIV.  AIDS is caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection which is primarily a sexually transmitted disease.  However, you can also succumb from contaminated body fluids such as sharing needles or even blood transfusions.

Because stigma and discrimination still deter people from taking a HIV test, they often don’t test until they feel symptoms. Often, they are initially too scarred to know the truth.  The disease compromises your immune system and makes your body more prone to various infections such as pneumonia.

The purpose of World AIDS Day is to raise awareness about the importance of knowing your status from testing and to remove all barriers to accessing HIV testing. You will see interested people at United Nations agencies, governments and civil society, including schools joining to campaign around #WAD2018.  They wear red ribbons and brooches to signify their support.

At present, the countries worst hit are Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, South Africa and Nambia.  CIA WORLD Facebook reports that 27.2% of the population in Swaziland is carrying the disease. According to a Joint U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS in 2017, 940,000 people died from related illnesses.  This is the raison d’etre to know your status. It’s important not only for your own health, but also the health of others.

This same joint U.N. Program launched in 2014 contains the 90-90-90 agenda.  The goal was to diagnose 90% of all HIV-positive persons, provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 90% of those diagnosed and achieve viral suppression for 90% of those treated by 2020.

To find out where to get tested and what tests you need in a fast, free, confidential setting near you, visit https://gettested.cdc.gov.