Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Principal Puts Spamalot Into His Spam


Boy, am I glad my child doesn’t attend high school in South Williamsport, Pa.!  Otherwise, he would not be allowed to watch a high school production of the Tony-award winning play Spamalot that I saw on Broadway in 2009 after its four- year run.

Amusing and clever, the parody was a painless history lesson that featured David Hyde Pierce.  The musical was based on the movie “Monty Python and The Holy Grail.”  The movie contains a subplot about Sir Lancelot, who as a gay man, ends up in a same-sex marriage.

The Brouha

Williamsport High School principal Jesse Smith, cancelled the show because of its supposed gay content.
Not everyone agrees with Smith and had staged a rally this week before the Monday’s Town Board meeting.

You see as far back as June, the principal e-mailed theatrical director Dawn Burch about his reservations regarding scenes in Spamalot.  Burch defends the musical, as do I, as suitable for all age groups.

However, Smith’s objections, quoted in The New York Times: “Pennsylvania Principal Cancels Spamalot,” September 23, 2014, stated that “he didn’t want families to be afraid of bringing small kids because of the content” or force students “to choose between their own personal beliefs and whether or not to take part in a production.”

Get Real

Golly gee, what kid today doesn’t know that there is (gasp!) such a phenomenon as gay men and gay marriage?   They watch television, hear comments from friends. No one is saying that Spamalot is endorsing gay marriage nor is it saying that the viewer must endorse it also. 

However, Williamsport High School is not the only offender.  The American Civil Liberties Union has found that some public school districts in states such as Arkansas and Pennsylvania have censored LGBT websites so students can not access legitimate information.  This web filtering program is discriminatory.

Now that your kids have been in school for over two weeks, you may want to find out what GLBT-friendly programs are in place for your child. So, you can weed out the discriminatory ones.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Who is Caitlin Ryan?


You May Not Know Her Name, But Her Work Has Enlightened Parents

Caitlin Ryan is a clinical social worker with a Ph.D.  She lives in San Francisco and is a lesbian.  If her name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because she, an Irish Catholic, was the focus of an article in the New York Times, September 13, 2014, entitled “ A Social Worker Helps Mormon Families to Accept Gay Children” by Samuel G. Freedman.

Field Work Among LGBT Homeless and Parents of Gay Children

In 2008, she started a program called the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State.  The first of its kind, this project studied the effect of family acceptance and rejection on the mental health and well-being of LGBT youth including HIV/AIDS, homelessness, and suicide. 

The research found that how a parent responds to the coming out of their LGBT children had a profound impact on the child’s psyche, even years later.  What the Family Acceptance Project found that LGBT youths who experience high rejection from their families(when compared with those young people who experienced little or no rejection from their families):
·      Were 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide.
·      More than 6 times likely to report high levels of depression.
·      Were more than 3 times likely to use illegal drugs and more than 3 times likely to be at high risk for HIV or other STDs by the time they reach their early 20s. 
·      In addition, 40% of America’s homeless youth are LGBT.

How does a parent avoid all these undesirable outcomes for their LGBT child?  Unconditional love, without it, the hurt lingers.  Ryan and her colleagues spread that message through handbooks, films, research papers, to name a few outlets.

For tips on how you can be more accepting of your child’s sexual orientation, see http://www.family acceptance project @sfs.edu.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Don't Overlook Grandparents' Support


Today is National Grandparents Day.  In terms of supporting a family with a GLBTQ child, grandparents can play a major role.Who better than the experienced and enlightened grandparent whose advancing years have mellowed attitudes about everything: “seen and done it all?”

Parents Too Close For Objectivity?

While the parents, like many, may react with fear, disappointment, confusion, and anger over a child’s coming out, the grandparent can not only offer the approval and unconditional love that the child needs, but be a shoulder for the parent who needs time to readjust his/her expectations for his child as well. The hard-wired notions of the child’s future has suddenly been upended. The parent’s hopes are withered.

Maybe because the grandma or grandpa doesn’t live under the same roof as the bewildered parent and spends less time with the grandchild, he doesn’t get involved with day-to-day slugfests about dress nor does he hear the exasperated phrases in the household  It’s Just a Phase!  You’re Too Young to Know!” – verbal cyanide for any LGBT child who knows his identity better than anyone.

A Calm Presence

Grandma’s house is not full of tension, stress.  It’s a safe haven.  The same woman who may have made clothes for you, baked cakes with you, is the one now who continues to hug you and tells you you’re great just the way you are. (Even if a parent has been accepting of his GLBT child’s sexual orientation from the git-go, grandparents can supplement this attitude).

Modern Family Redefined

Generally, the grandparent doesn’t care to try and change the child’s orientation, an unsuccessful tactic that only incites anger, confusion and makes the child feel unloved. Coming clean is a personal necessity, a release of an internal pressure he/she can no longer hide.  It’s a compliment that she reveals her true identity.

Even though the grandmother and also the parent grew up in a time when a young woman or could not come out of the closet, unlike the parent, the grandparent usually does not go in the closet when the child announces his sexual orientation.

For unconditional love, the relative with no agenda is often the best, particularly for bruised emotions.