Friday, September 23, 2011

Ding, Dong! The Wicked DADT Is Dead!

The Military Thought You Had To Be Straight to Shoot Straight

Gays in the military have been fighting an uphill battle since 1982 when The Department of Defense officially put in writing that “homosexuality was incompatible with military service.” Between 1993 with the Clinton era compromise “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the 2011 repeal of the ban, 13,000 service members were disgracefully discharged. Why? They engaged in homosexual activities while in the military or told someone about their sexual preferences. Gay men and women who were willing to put their lives “on the line” but not live life in the closet were fired at the alarming rate of approximately 1,000 per year. 

How does the Repeal Affect Gays in the Military?

The lifting of this 18 year-old ban this week affects an estimated 48,500 lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals who serve on active duty or in ready reserve in the U.S. military, while an additional 22,000 are in standby and retired reserve forces.These 70,500 service members make up 2.2% of the total force according to the most recent findings from the Williams Institute at U.C.L.A. in Los Angeles.

“No One Should Have To Die In the Closet”— Mayor Sam Brown of Portland, Oregon

DADT violated equal protection and first amendment rights of service members. Put more simply by Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen in a February 2010 speech in favor of repeal: “it was fundamentally everything we stand for as an institution to force people to lie about who they are just to wear a uniform. We are better than that.”

The American Public Knew Better

Despite Republican senators Orrin Hatch and John McCain’s opposition to the repeal, 57% of U.S. citizens supported an end to the military ban on gays as far back as 1992.

What’s Good for Gay Service Members is Good for the Military

The Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which repealed DADT, could save $200 million and add 41K troops to the U.S. military. A recent Cornell University survey confirmed that keeping DADT would have been a bad choice for the military. Gay and lesbian study participants who were asked to conceal their sexual orientation performed 20% worse on spatial reasoning tests and 50% worse on physical endurance tests as compared to those who were not given this instruction.

Serving Openly, but not Equally

While this week’s repeal is a step towards dignity and respect for gays in the military, the fight for equal rights is far from over. The next battle for homosexuals is to convince the Pentagon to give federally-financed benefits to same-sex couples in the military. Federal  DOMA or Defense of Marriage Act prohibits health insurance, campus housing, certain death benefits, legal counseling, to name a few of the 100 benefits denied to gay couples in the service.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Parental Homework for Anti-Bullying Defenses

On my last post, I gave readers tips and links for parents to practice anti-bullying defenses at home with their teen. Now, I am giving you additional suggestions from Donna A. Henderson, Professor at Wake Forest’s Counseling Department:
  • To find out what’s going on at school, and what types of situations your child may face, have your child describe events that he/she interprets as bullying.
  • Who did what, what happened afterwards, what the school has said about bullying, and what to do when it happens.
  • Next, talk about what works and what doesn’t in those situations. Ask your child whom he has seen handle the bullying well and who hasn’t responded appropriately.
  • Come up with a 2 or 3 step reaction process that’s easy to remember. You might practice his/her defense.  
  • Emphasize that an adult should know what happened and that this shared information is not “tattling.” Mind this is a tough conversation as teen want to protect their parents while proving they can handle their world by themselves.
If you have had any successful experiences with preparing your child at home for harassment at school, please post a comment.

    Anti-Bullying Tactics Begin At Home

    Whether it's “cyberbullying,” or bullying in person, Lisa Furst, LMSW, Director of Education with the Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA-NYC), has these suggestions for parents to practice—yes, practice. Here’s her homework for parents:
    • Talk daily to your teen and find about their school lives and their relationships with friends and peers.  
    • Listen thoughtfully to their answers. Your teen will then know you are interested in his/her emotional state and will later come to you when upset.
    Learn the Signs of Possible Bullying
    • Signs of physical injury
    • Torn clothing or broken or "lost" possessions
    • School avoidance
    • Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches to excuse him/herself from school.
    • Mood changes that exceed "usual" mood fluctuations of teenagers. Note increased episodes of tearfulness, anxiety, irritability or apathy.  
    Teach Positive Ways of Protecting Themselves
    • Walk away from a bully.
    • Avoid physical aggression which may escalate the situation. 
    • Practice verbal assertiveness such as saying "Stop!" to a bully.This demonstrates that the bully's behavior is intolerable. 
    Get Professional Support When Needed
    If your teen is showing the following signs, seek professional help:
    Learn more about this topic in my next blog post, and please share your experiences in the comments.                                                 

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    When the Fail-Safes Fail at Your Child’s School

    Last week, I wrote about the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) which promotes safety in schools through its programs. Unfortunately, as a parent, you can’t assume that these programs will be put into play. Many schools don’t have the interest or the comfort level to implement those GLBT regulations often regarded as inciting controversy.

    The Law and You
    According to the United States Constitution’s 14th Amendment, all students are entitled to equal protection under the law. It’s too bad that some schools don’t feel obligated to intervene on your GLBT child’s behalf. According to several surveys, 4 out of 5 gay and lesbian students say they don’t know one supportive adult at school. And they report that 97% of the time the teachers ignore student harassment.                                         

    Educate the Educators                                                
    Then, how can a parent safeguard his child?
    1. Your first step is to check your school’s policies.
    2. Then make an appointment with your child’s teacher to discuss your child’s abuse.
    3. If you don’t get results from the teacher, next talk to the principal.
    4. Every time you/your child speaks to a teacher or a principal or school official or he/she files a complaint to a school administrator, keep a record. You’ll need them for your case.
    Your Allies Outside The School
    If teachers and administrators do nothing about the bullying, contact these GLBT-friendly organizations:
    Next week, I will share with you ways you can teach your child at home to stand up to bullies. If you have found any solutions to dealing with apathetic school officials or have any reactions to this blog, please leave a comment.