Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Salvation Army’s Latest Move More Than A Mere Drop In The Bucket

In the past few years, I have avoided the Salvation Army bellringers outside of Publix and the Post Office.  As cute as their volunteers look with their elf-like caps, colorful aprons, and bells in hand, I averted my eyes as I walked past them because I would not give a dime to their organization that discriminates against gays.

Past Discriminations

In 2011, several LGBT advocates advocated a boycott of donations to the Salvation Army.  According to NBC, they cited allegations that the evangelical charity refused to serve LGBT people because it considered them “sexually impure.” Their relationship with the LGBT community has been strained to say the least.

Salvation Army’s More LGBT-Friendly Tone

However, as recently as November 26, the Christian organization is trying to fulfill its new anti-discrimination policy which prohibits the denial of services or employment based on race, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex or sexual orientation. 

In a response to a request from  Truth Wins Out, an LGBT organization, The Salvation Army, on November 26, removed two links to ‘ex-gay’ therapy groups from its website’s resource collection for dealing with ‘sexual addiction.’ Those were conversion sites Harvest USA and Pure Life Ministries that claim to turn gay people straight.

This scientifically discredited practice called conversion therapy or gay-to-straight therapy was outlawed in California last August and more recently in New Jersey.  The “pray-a-way” practice has often resulted in depression and low self-esteem for the gay people who partake and its long-term effects have not been studied.  Last June, Randy Thomas, the Vice-President of the well-known Exodus International, a religious-based conversion therapy program, apologized to the gay community.

New Campaign Against LGBT Discrimination

Executive Director Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out, commended the immediate actions of the Salvation Army to correct itself.  Besen said “this is a step in the right direction and congruent with their anti-discrimination campaign.  We hope this action leads to further progress in gaining the full confidence and trust of the LGBT community.”

The Salvation Army’s director of communications claimed the “ex-gay” links were part of an archived page that was inadvertendtly republished when the organization relaunched its site in October.
Jennifer Byrd apologized in the letter for an “oversight and any confusion this may have caused. The Salvation Army does not consider homosexual orientation a sin.  Please know that we serve anyone who comes to our doors without discrimination.”

Message Rings Truer and Clearer

With the Salvation Army distancing itself from conversion therapy with its more LGBT-inclusive policy, as an LGBT-ally, I’ll change my tone and contribute to their charity. I have my change ready. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What is Sex? Most Parents & Kids Don’t Know

Seems as if people can’t agree on what constitutes sex. It’s whatever you want it to be.  Is the twelve year-old girl who “goes down” on a boy not having sex?  After all, Bill Clinton “didn’t have sex with that woman“when he did similar sexual acts.

Is a high school girl who has had anal intercourse still considered a “virgin” because she hasn’t had penis-in-vagina intercourse, considered the old definition of sex? If two male pubescent boys are mutually masturbating, are they having sex? Not everyone turns to a dictionary for a definition.

Kinsey Study Has Some Clues

A Kinsey study in 2010 surveyed 500 participants to figure out what qualifiers and acts people considered “doin’ it.” This was the first study of a representative sample to assess attitudes about which sexual behavior constitutes having had sex. Ninety percent believed that penis-in-vagina was sex. Thirty percent thought oral sex wasn’t sex despite the fact that sex is in both definitions.

Planned Parenthood’s All-Encompassing Definition

Planned Parenthood on its website considers sex to be penis-in-vagina intercourse, penis-in-anus intercourse, genital rubbing without intercourse, oral/genital contact, and masturbation. As the website says, “the possibilities are endless.”

Sexual experience may be a better term to encompass all sexual behaviors.  If you talk to your kids about sex as if it only applies to penis-in-vagina sex, they may think your words of wisdom do not apply to them; in their mind, they haven’t “gone all the way.” Don’t waste your breath!

Responsibility Associated with Sex

It may be better to discuss other forms of sexual expression as well and label them “sex” too. As you discuss these behaviors, that hopefully you will couch with your values, be certain that you emphasize the responsibility inherent with those choices.  Your children need to make decisions about protection before they engage in vaginal, anal or oral sex to keep themselves free of sexually-transmitted diseases.  And as parents, we have the responsibility to keep the dialogue going.