Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Boy Scouts of America Speaks with Forked Tongue


O.K. To Lift Ban On Gay Scouts, But Not for Its Leaders

Last Friday, the Boy Scouts of America proposed ending its ban, that the Scouts defended before the Supreme Court in 2000, on gay youth while continuing to exclude gay adults from staff or leadership roles.  On May 22nd., the 1,400 members at the National Council meeting in Texas will vote on the recommendation.

The BSA came to this conclusion after sending out close to a million surveys earlier this year.  Nearly 200,000 recipients responded.  The results?  Sixty-one percent favored keeping the current policy of excluding gays while thirty-four percent did not agree.  However, a majority of teens and younger parents were opposed to the policy. Most agreed that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting.

A Compromise in More Ways Than One

While the BSA’s proposal may seem like a compromise, it is also a compromise in principals,  especially for an organization whose mission is “preparing young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetime.”  How, pray tell, do you tell a gay scout, at age eighteen, that he can’t be a Scout Master?  Even the Conservative’s Family Research Council spokesman Rob Schwarzwalder, concurs.  “It makes no sense to have a different policy for youth and adults because men who become Scout leaders usually start out as scouts.”

Even though this country has become more accepting of gays and lesbians, the boy scouts are still fearful of gay leaders, equating them with pedophiles. For its proposal, the BSA recently consulted four experts who remarked that homosexuality is not a risk factor for sexual abuse and that there was no evidence that having a gay leader would alter a child’s sexual orientation. According to gay activist Richard Ferraro, Vice-President of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD), The American Psychological Association, has, for more than a decade, dismissed the idea that gay people pose a threat to kids.

Dwindling Membership

Membership in the Boy Scouts has declined by approximately one-third since 2012.  It is estimated that the lifting of the gay ban could cause widespread defections by conservatives and churches, the largest supporters of scouting, and might cost the organization 100,000 to 350,000 members. Corporate sponsors such as Intel have already pulled money out of the organization owing to its gay ban of scouts and their leaders since the 1980s.

While membership is down at The Boy Scouts of America, it’s telling that membership is skyrocketing in all-inclusive troops.  For example, membership has doubled in the past year in an alternative group called Navigators USA. Since March 2012, Navigator’s chapters have more than doubled, with up to 600 boys and girls enrolled in the program.
Take a hint, Boy Scouts! 



   


  

Friday, April 19, 2013

Shhhh! It’s GLSEN’S Annual Day of Silence


April 19th is National Day of Silence

What is The Day of Silence?

The National Day of Silence is a day of action in which students in the U.S. vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Founded in 1996 at the University of Virginia, The Day of Silence by 2008 was in 8,000 middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities across the country. 

Did you know that?

·         LGBT students skip school at least one day per month.
·        80% of LGBT students are verbally harassed each year at school.
·        40% of LGBT students are harassed.
       20% are physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation.

      GLSEN

GLSEN, Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network, an organization that promotes safety in schools, has ways of organizing school events not just for The Day of Silence, but for the entire school year.  Check out Glsen’s website:  http://www.glsen.org.

Know Your Rights

Silent protests are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Case in point:  Amber Hatcher is a sophomore at DeSoto County High School in Arcadia, Florida.  She was suspended last year for participating in GLSEN’s National Day of Silence, because school officials say that peaceful protests, including protesting the bullying of LGBT students, are against school district policy.

Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization working to protect the civil rights of GLBT citizens and people with HIV/AIDS, website: http://www.lambdalegal.org. is suing the school to defend Amber’s right to participate in this year’s Day of Silence.  While you do have a right to participate in the Day of Silence between classes and before and after school, you may NOT have the right to stay silent during instructional time if a teacher requests for you to speak. 

The right to speak, according to Lambda Legal, includes the right to wear buttons or T-shirts expressing support for a cause.  If you think your rights are being violated, or want to report your experience of a resistant administration, you can report it on GLSEN’s website and both GLSEN and Lambda Legal will review your situation.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tyson Bowers, III, you’ve gone too far this Time!




Re:  Facebook story:  “Parents Put 16 Year Old Daughter Up for Adoption After Learning She is Gay”

There’s a new story circulating via Facebook claiming that a 16 year-old girl named April Chadwell was placed for adoption by her parents because she is gay. The story claims the family is in “Southern Carolina” and decided to offer her for adoption after much prayer and advice from their church. Here’s the story, which shows a photo of anguished parents, heads bowed:

A Southern California couple have made national news by being the first parents to put  their child up for adoption due to their sexuality.  Usually parents give up their children because they can’t raise them due to finances or because they are young and don’t have the mental ability to bring up a child.  Kids are also usually given up for adoption at a young age, but April Chadwell is barely16years- old and has been listed as legally adoptable by the state of Southern Carolina.  Mrs. Chadwell released a statement saying “It was a tough choice to give up our daughter to the state, but we don’t know how to handle someone who decides to live a lifestyle that we do not agree with.”  The Chadwells said they had help from their local church, who prayed for weeks seeking guidance for the couple and came to the conclusion that it would be best to let the child go in hopes of being adopted by a gay friendly family.

As the mother of two adopted children, one gay, I found the story most disturbing. In light of the studies that The Family Acceptance Project, led by Caitlin Ryan at San Francisco State, indicate, lesbian, gay, and bisexual children whose sexual orientation during adolescence is not accepted by their families have low self-esteem. They were 8.4 times more likely to report depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs and attempt suicide.  Forty percent of the homeless kids on the streets are GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) and were kicked out of or left their homes because their parents wouldn’t love them unconditionally once they found out their children’s sexual orientation.

This is No Laughing Matter!

Upon googling the author of this story, Tyson Bowers III, I found out Bowers is a pseudonym for Bryan Butvids, part-owner with Kirwin Watson of a site called Christwire.org. It is the leading Internet site for ultraconservative Christian news, commentary, and weather reportage. The site’s basic concept, according to The New York Times, 2008, is “to see how far we can get people to believe our nonsense.”

The Christwire.org. site that attracts 27 million visitors is one big joke. I found this out on snopes .com, but I didn’t find it at all amusing when I read the tale. It could have been true as rejection of GLBT kids is so common, especially in the Bible Belt. I believed Butvid’s nonsense, but truth is had I not delved further into the author and article, I would have carried around the despair for days. For those of us who have adopted children, gay children, the Chadwells hit a little too close to home.

Call it satire, parody, but maybe you need a disclaimer or filter?
    

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My So-Called Full Milk Marriage



At age 27, I, and my husband, soon to be thirty,  wed.  We, knowing of my infertility, walked down the aisle anyway because we wanted to “love, honor, and obey.” Years later, eight to be exact, we adopted a baby boy from a well-known adoption agency in New York City.  Five years later, we adopted an infant girl from the same agency.  Our family was intact and we were entitled to all the federal benefits the government gives heterosexual couples (1,200 federal rights that come from marriage such as immigration equality, veteran’s benefits and adoption rights.) Isn't it a shame that Edie Windsor had what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dubbed a "skim milk marriage" while we had a full one? Edie Windsor's Supreme Court case challenged DOMA two weeks ago because it didn’t recognize her marriage to Thea Spyer in New York state and billed her for for $600,00 in state and federal estate taxes upon the death of Spyer. (Ginsburg was one of seven justices who heard oral arguments last Wednesday about the Defense of Marriage Act, the law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for purposes of federal benefits.) 
  
“Responsible Procreation”

The day before, the Supreme Court heard arguments about the standing of Proposition 8 that denies same-sex marriages in California.  Charles Cooper, representing the proponents of California’s Prop 8, defended his argument that “responsible procreation "was a good reason for not granting same-sex marriage to couples. It doesn’t further the interests of the state and would be redefining marriage in a way that undermines the responsible procreation of children. Yet California allows same-sex couples to adopt children.
  
Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for House Republicans and a solicitor general under President George W. Bush, argued that marriage should be limited to unions of a man and a woman because they alone can “produce unplanned and unintended offspring,” “When same-sex couples decide to have children, “substantial advance planning is required. “ This is also true for heterosexual couples who adopt and are subjected to sometimes two years of interviews, home visits, delayed court cases as I experienced.

What About the Children?

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the case Lawrence v. Texas that struck down sodomy laws, and is considered a swing vote, remarked “there are some 40,000 children in California” with same-sex parents and “they want their parents to have full recognition and full status.  The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?”  

I  am lucky to be in  a heterosexual marriage.  If I had been gay and living in a state where same-sex relationships aren’t legally recognized, my children would have to be adopted by me first and then my husband in order to have two legal parents.  According to the Family Equality Council, only thirteen states and Washington, D.C. allow same-sex parents to petition for “second-parent adoption” statewide, while the availability of the practice is uncertain in most states and can cause what Kennedy calls “immediate legal injury.”  Medical organizations such as The American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association have found that same-sex couples are just as adept in child rearing as heterosexual couples.

My motives for marriage and adoption are similar to same-sex couples, yet I wasn’t punished for trying to realize them.