Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Holiday No-Nos for Straight Parents



Christmas is a wonderful family holiday.  A chance to regale about the past get-togethers, to guffaw about the near misses with the gravy.
Subject Verboten, For Now...
However, one topic that should be off limits in this group setting is your daughter’s or son’s sexual orientation.  Even if you are bursting to divulge the news or feel that if you don’t tell, you will look as if you are ashamed and are harboring a “dirty little” family secret, now is NOT the appropriate time to break the earth-shattering news.  Just like you, relatives have to go through a process of adjustment.  They also need space and support to digest this information.
Follow the Lead
In this case, your child should be the one who decides whom to tell when to tell them, and if he should be the only one to “come out.”  Or does he want you both to reveal his sexual identity?
Kevin Jennings, Ph.D., author of Always My Child (Simon and Schuster, 2003). suggests that you “respect where your child is in her/his process.”
You can surmise how your relatives are going to react by how close that family member is to your child and is he savvy about LGBTQ issues?  Is Aunt Susie open to diversity and what are her attitudes about homosexuality?  Hopefully, the relative’s unconditional love for your child will outweigh the initial jolt.
Make A List And Check It Twice
If you are told by your child to reveal his sexual orientation, consider this criteria that Jennings  uses for deciding whom to tell out of the close family members:
·      Evaluate your child’s relationship with so and so and your own.
·      How often does your daughter/son see her?
·      What is the nature of the relationship?
·      Would you feel disclosure not sharing something so important with your sister?

It’s important to pick a private place for this important discussion.  Choose a time to talk when you won’t be interrupted.  Anticipate questions.

‘Begin the Way You Mean to Go’

It makes sense to begin “there’s something I want to tell you.” Leave time for questions and keep the door open for further discussions.  Remember that you are a family who is working toward the same goal: to love and support one another.




Monday, December 21, 2015

When Homophobia Greets You For The Holidays



If you’re LGBT, you know that the holidays can be particularly stressful.  You can feel like an outsider in your parents’ home.  The feeling may be so uncomfortable that you want to crawl back in the closet.
Treated Differently
Your Auntie Claire may not ask you about your significant other, but she inquires your sister about her boyfriend of the opposite sex.  And if your significant other is a guest in your parents’ home, he might be greeted with indifference.
Grandma may be put off by your new buff appearance and comment how she misses the slightly pudgy grandson she knew? “You Can’t Go Home Again?” You can make it easier on yourself if you keep in mind the following:
·      Realize that this too shall pass.  The visit won’t last forever. 
·      If you feel unloved, call a gay friend who has felt similar feelings. Talk out your uneasiness.
·      If you have brought your boyfriend, don’t demand different sleeping arrangements.  True you may be put in your old room with twin beds and school banners on the wall.
·      Don’t respond to your Uncle Joe’s criticism of Hillary Clinton’s platform for LGBT equality.  You can’t win!
·      Be sensitive to your partner’s feelings if he is visiting home with you.
·      Consider playing a family game to “break the ice.” Focus on common interests.
·      Help out with food preparation and cleanup.  The latter, in particular, is greatly appreciated.
·      Take some time for yourself: a visit to a gym, a thoughtful walk, a long shower, can all aid in lowering your blood pressure that is being raised by various family members.

Resources to Get You Through the Holidays
·      PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) http://www.pflag.org. has tips for both straight parents and LGBT children on how to survive the holidays.
·      Family Acceptance Project, a national research, education and training program that helps families to support their LGBT children has advice on-line for parents. http://www.fapa@sfsu.edu
Alternatives
If your visits home at other times of the year when your family isn’t so distracted by the frenetic pace of the holiday yield the same results, you might consider substituting your family for one you build through friends and others who are loving and welcoming. But also be mindful of the fact that parents need time to adjust to your orientation.  How long you can wait for their conditional acceptance is up to you. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

"Stop, Look, and Listen"



The no. 1 complaint I hear from gay teens or adults whom I interview is that their parents don’t listen to them.  When they summon their nerve to come out to their parents and should have the mike, the parents interrupt by saying “You can’t be!” “You’re too young to know!” “It’s just a Phase!” Or, they react with stony silence or  anger as they storm out of the room.
For a parent to be an effective listener, sit still.  Don’t nag, criticize, ask a million questions or lecture.  Watch your body language.  Crossed arms make you appear angry.  Maintain eye contact.  Nodding makes the speaker think you’re listening.
Give your child your undivided attention. Don’t talk on the phone, watch television or check your messages on your cell phone. If you cannot honestly listen at that moment, explain why and ask if you can talk again at another time.
And when your kids talk about their significant other, they want you to not only listen but ask them about their special one in the same way you would inquire about your heterosexual daughter or son’s love interest.  If you don’t show interest in your gay son’s or lesbian daughter’s social life, it connotes that you don’t care about their happiness or you don’t accept their sexual orientation.
If you talk to your friends about your hetero daughter’s dating, you similarly should relay news about your gay child’s relationships if you have his/her permission to do so.
To be a good listener requires patience and diligence.  In our world driven to distraction by multi-media, it is a skill that takes practice.  But when it is achieved, the art of listening speaks louder than words.



 
 

Monday, November 23, 2015

November is National Adoption Month


                       

Did you know that LGBTQ parents are four times more likely to be raising an adopted child?
And six times more likely to be raising a foster child?
Erroneous Studies
Yet there are judges who still contend that children are better off  (more emotionally and mentally stable) when raised by a mother and a father in the same home?  The erroneous studies used as fodder to break up families are not generally accepted by social scientists.  In fact, the American Psychological Association attests that there is no scientific evidence that gay couples are unfit to raise children.
In the Supreme Court’s marriage decision Obergefell vs. Hodges, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy specifically listed  in his opinion adoption among the rights associated with marriage and wrote that children were harmed when their parents’ unions were not recognized. Yet earlier this month in Price, Utah, a lesbian married couple who have two biological children, twelve and fourteen, and a foster baby who moved in with them in August, were initially ordered by Juvenile Court Judge Scott Johansen to surrender the baby, nine months old, within a week.
Couple Fit, Not Unfit
The foster parents, April Hoagland, 38, and Becky Peirce, 34, were devastated.  Said Hoagland to KUTV, “it’s not fair because I haven’t done anything wrong.” She hasn’t. They are licensed foster parents who are married.  Said the Republican Governor Gary R. Herbert, “the Judge may not like the law, but he should follow the law.”
There has been a public outcry to Johansen’s decision. The Human Rights Campaign filed a formal complaint.  State Division of Child and Family Services and foster moms filed motions asking Johansen to reconsider. Johansen has withdrawn from the case and referred it to Judge Mary Manley.
New Order
The order has been amended and temporarily rescheduled for December 4th.  The new order no longer says “the baby must be placed with a heterosexual couple “and removes the phrase “It’s not in the best interest of children to be raised by same-sex couples.” However, the order still notes “the court cited a concern that children are more emotionally and mentally stable when raised by a mother and father in the same home.”
For now, the baby is with Hoagland and Pierce who want to adopt her.  The biological mother has surrendered her parental rights, the father is in jail.  Child welfare officials say the change could be temporary.  What could be worse than taking the baby from Hoagland –Peirce’s loving home and forcing her to make yet another adjustment? 

  

                       

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Holidays Not A Good Time For Introductions!


                       

While visiting at Thanksgiving with your new boyfriend in tow may seem like a perfect time for a quorum of your family to meet your special one, think again.  Norman Rockwell, it’s not!
It’s not a pretty picture when you can’t ingratiate your significant other - when everyone is preoccupied with unlumping the gravy and keeping the cheese platter away from the dog who is at eye level with the coffee table!
You don’t want to embarrass your boyfriend, no longer your “friend,” as he was known before, and make him feel as if he is center stage.  He will either be talking over family members between creamed onions and the pumpkin pie or trying to engage them in conversation when they are satiated, snoring from all those heavenly carbs as they watch the football game after the meal. It’s a tough day to compete with a turkey at trying to create an impression!
Pick instead a time when everyone is relaxed and the getting-to-know-you conversation flows. Make sure your partner is OUT to his family and friends! Perhaps a picnic, a restaurant dinner, Charades anyone?  And no formal china to wash, and wash, and wash!




Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Talking To Your Kids About Sex


          
 
Perhaps, it would make it easier for a parent to adapt to the realization that her child is gay if she considers it a possibility from the start. In today’s society, you can’t presume that everyone is heterosexual.  (Sex Education classes that preach abstinence-only or have information only applicable to heterosexuals are missing the mark).  Nor can you assume that your adolescent is not having sex.
Penn State sex researcher Megan K. Maas suggests in her blog “7 Steps to Establish Yourself as an approachable parents so your kids will talk to YOU about sex,” http://www.meganmaas.com/blog/7-steps-to-take-to-establish-yourself-as-an-approachable-parent/, that parents use the word “romantic partner” instead of  boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” To encourage conversation, rather than close it, and remove stigma as well, phrase a question such as “Do you have a crush on anyone?” rather than “do you have a crush on a particular boy/girl?” The latter will make him feel awkward and ashamed if his crush is not on the opposite sex.
Maas, a National Institutes of Health Fellow, also advises that if you’ve already used the word “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”, it’s not too late to change it. Don’t look back! How were you to know?
                        Don’t Second Guess
I would add that you can’t second guess your child’s sexual orientation.  Nor can you tell him/her how they are feeling.  Sexuality is fluid as Alfred Kinsey discovered as far back as 1948 when he developed The Kinsey Scale that showed people did not fit into neat and exclusive heterosexual or homosexual categories. 
Your college daughter could tell you she’s a lesbian in her single-sex college (LUG, lesbian until graduation), then tell you two years later, she’s a heterosexual.  It happens.
In this case, the child knows best.  The child is, in essence, the parent and is trying to educate you.  Try to refrain from disbelief.  It smacks of denial.   

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

National Bullying Prevention Month Is Almost Over, But Bullies Are Still Hard At Work



School is in full swing now during October, National Bullying Prevention Month, but LGBT students still feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and gender expression. According to GLSEN’s (Gay, Straight Education Network) on-line survey entitled the 2013 National School Climate Survey of students between ages of 13 and 21, 55.5%  of LGBT adolescents feel insecure at their school.  They report higher levels of depression, lower GPAs  as well as self-esteem than heterosexual students. 
Despite the harassment, in schools with a comprehensive policy against harassment, LGBT students are less likely to hear gay used in a negative way, as for example, “that’s so gay.”  But 72% of students with no policy hear “that’s so gay” frequently. 
According to GLSEN, the prevalence of hearing negative remarks about gender expression was at its lowest levels in 2013. What is GLSEN offering schools that is proving to be effective?
·      Provides an Elementary School toolkit called “Ready, Set, Respect.”  This teaches about respect, and focuses on name-calling, bullying and bias, LGBT-inclusive family diversity and gender roles and diversity.
·      Has a guide called “Working With LGBT Students of Color: A Guide for Educators.”
·      Safe-Space Kit – For $20, a school can order a 42-page guide filled with strategies.
·      Information on how to join/start a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) at your school or take part in one of GLSEN’s student leadership programs to make your school a better place.
·      Has Educator guides, lesson plans, and resources ready to download.  
·      Press materials covering Inclusion and Respect for Educators.
·      GLSEN sponsors special events such as A Day of Silence, No Name-Calling Week, Ally Week, Think B4You Speak, and Changing The Game.
On a larger scope, outside the school, GLSEN chapters connect to obtain support locally and bring change to communities. GLSEN UP has a policy action center to contact your elected officials and learn about GLSEN’s current campaigns.  Besides federal laws, such as Safe Schools Improvement Act and the The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), GLSEN supports states’ bills such as Equality Act, Every Child Deserves a Family Act, Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, and The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (suicide prevention).
To be a supportive ally and inspire students to be kind and speak up when they see bullying, look to GLSEN for concrete tips. http://www.glsen.org/educate/resources

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

National Spirit Day on October 15



                                               Be A Visible Ally

Coinciding with October’s Anti-Bullying Awareness Month and the seventeenth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death, LGBT allies, including corporations, friends, organizations, will show their support against bullying on October 15th, National Spirit Day.  It’s not too late to pledge your support on-line with a donation, turn your profile purple, the color of “spirit” on the rainbow flag, order Safe Space Kits for your middle or high school, obtain Resource Kits or wear a Spirit Day button.

Observed since 2010, this world-wide Spirit Day has corporate sponsors such as Wells Fargo that makes schools safer havens for LGBT children and their teachers with their Safe Space Kits.  Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West has already pledged to support LGBT kids and take a stand against bullying.

Climate Better But Still A Backlash Against Equal Rights

Even with same-sex marriage being passed as the law of the land last June, and the majority of households polled approving of gay marriage, creating almost a false security that all is well, there is still a backlash in this country from Right Wing organizations such as The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) or The Family Research Council (FRC).  Transgendered individuals seem to be the least understood and share the brunt of the most attacks, physical and verbal.

In our States, did you know that:
Only fifteen states have laws that address hate or bias crimes, but do not address sexual orientation or gender identity.
There is no federal statue explicitly addressing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) reports that over 80% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed due to a real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
LGBT students report missing one day of school a month because of harassment.

For more tips on combatting bullying in schools, see blog posts: “When The School is Lax About Bullying,” 8/31/15, “The 4R’s: ‘Riting, “Rithmetic, and Regulation,” 8/21/15, and “The Legacy of Bullying,” 6/11/15.








Saturday, October 10, 2015

National Coming Out Day


Tomorrow, October 11, you may see more pink triangles on clothing and rainbow flags waving in the air. Rallies, parades may be more prominent.  Why?  It’s National Coming Out Day.  As of 1990, it is observed in fifty U.S. states and seven other countries.

WHY WE HAVE IT

It’s observed annually to celebrate coming out and to raise awareness of the LGBTQ community.  Founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg, a psychologist from New Mexico, it celebrated the second anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbians and Gay Rights when an estimated 500,000 gathered on the National Mall to demand increased funding for HIV/AIDS research, the repeal of anti-sodomy laws and the legal recognition of LGBT relationships. The Human Rights Campaign has resources for National Coming Out Day. See http://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/national-coming-out-day.

By sharing stories of coming out, LGBT persons hope to take the stigma out of being “different,” and advance equality. It is estimated that one out of every two Americans has someone close to them who’s gay or lesbian so there is enormous potential for LGBT allies.

When To Tell

However, LGBT people should not feel pressured to come out on October 11th.  Their announcement will not be as newsworthy or glamorous as a moviestar’s or an athelete’s. So, they shouldn’t get caught up in the celebration and reveal themselves before they are ready.

Announce you’re gay when you feel most secure and comfortable.  Perhaps in a quiet living room with no distractions so your family can truly listen and take in your important message.

Weigh The Risks

The average age of coming out, according to a Pew Research Study, is sixteen.  In the 1980’s, it was twenty-one.  A sixteen year-old is still living with his/her parents regulating their social life. So, if your parents disapprove of your sexual orientation, it means that they could, in fact, reject you, tell you to go live elsewhere (40% of homeless youth have been thrown out of their homes) and withhold money that was designated for college for you.  Your teen’s decision to come out should be contingent on his parent’s acceptance and love.  If you hear homophobic slurs at home, perhaps this is not the time to come out to your folks.  You can anticipate indignation.

Better to have a supporter, preferably one who is out himself.  Also, if you are out at school,  think about the likelihood that you will be bullied. .LGBT students, according to GLSEN, Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, get harassed more than their heterosexual peers.  You have to weigh these factors before coming out.

A Word to Parents

Even if you suspect that your child is gay/lesbian, you should not ask.  Give the child some space.  It’s none of your business until he/she divulges this important aspect of his true self. Ask and he/she may think you’re judging – that you noticed something different about him.  Better to create a safe environment where he/she can come out when ready. For example, you might discuss current events, the Supreme Court decision of last June, bullying at school, reveal that you’re all for a diverse society.  Make it easy for him to come out of the closet.

Once he does, it’s wise for you not to come out yourself about his identity without his permission.




 

Friday, October 2, 2015

"Do I Look Fat?"

“Do I Look Fat?”

Every teen wants to look sharp so they can fit in.  Whether they’re emulating the hottest celebrities or have their own style, they hope their own brand will propel them into popularity and give them persona.

To an LGBT kid whose look may be different than the mainstream, who may feel different being on the fringe, fitting in is not easy.  This state of being different may pre-dispose a gay or lesbian student for eating disorders.  Other factors may include, or are not limited to, according to NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association:


Coming Out: Fear of Rejection/experience of rejections by friends, family, and co-workers.
Experiences of Violence (gay bashing).
Discrimination
Being Bullied

Research Shows LGBT Population Has Greater Eating Disorders

Findings point out that as early as twelve, GLB teens may be at higher risk of binge-eating and purging than heterosexual peers.  There are elevated rates of binge-eating and purging by vomiting or laxative abuse by both males and females who identify as GLB.

What’s A Parent To Do?

Left unnoticed, eating disorders can continue into adulthood.  Gay men are up to three times more likely than heterosexuals to have a clinical or subclinical eating disorder.  Forty-two percent of men who struggle with eating disorders identify as gay or bisexual, according to an article “a hidden epidemic eating disorders in the gay community,” in www.salon.com/2014/03/02.

Telltale Signs

If your child refuses to eat with the family or you notice sudden weight loss or evidence of laxative abuse, be concerned.  Eating disorders could coexist with other illnesses such as depression, substance abuse or anxiety disorders.

For help with this problem, contact NAMI (National Association of Mental Illness)’s Helpline that can refer you to various organizations.  Their phone number is 800-950-NAMI.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Honor Thy Grandparents

Last week, last Sunday to be exact was an important day.  It wasn’t ushered in with greeting cards last August like Halloween or heralded on television, but nevertheless it was mentioned quietly on Twitter and then left the building.

What exactly was Sunday, September 13, 2015?  It was Grandparents Day, usually the first Sunday after Labor Day.  Google tells me that" it’s a day for young and old to honor each other and an opportunity for civic engagement for all generations."

Its purpose is three-fold:

To honor grandparents.
To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children‘s children.
To help children become aware of strength, information and guidance older people can offer.

Grandparents Are Great Because…

But more importantly, grandparents can provide unconditional love to their grandkids.  They won’t badger you to practice piano, won’t get upset if you get a C+, instead of an A, on an American History exam and won’t ask you daily “you’re going to wear that to school?”

Extended family is so essential for an understanding of yourself but it’s especially valuable for grandchildren who may feel insecure like LGBT kids.  Research shows that LGBT kids are harassed at school with school personnel doing precious little to protect them.

While their straight parents do the best they can to soften the blow of bullying, they themselves may be fearful for their children getting hurt physically and emotionally. Bullying is now 24/7 thanks to social media and does invade one’s home.  If the child has a job, he/she could be fired for being gay on a whim in many states.

As the result of society’s homophobia, the grandchild could have low self-esteem and higher rate of substance abuse than his heterosexual peers.  He/she could use an extra hug, note, Skype from Grandma and Grandpa.

Not only do grandparents provide unwavering support for grandkids, but they can be an enormous help to the straight parent also who may feel overwhelmed trying to deal with the issues raising a gay child.  With no role models of families with gay kids, it is easy for the parent to become insecure in his parenting skills.

By providing a non-judgmental ear as well as shouldering some of the responsibility for raising the child, grandparents can be invaluable.  They can be a parent’s and a child’s best cheerleader!






Monday, September 14, 2015

Have Teen Idols Taken The New Fluidity Too Far?



Last week, The New York Times contributor Charles Blow wrote about “Sexual Attraction and Fluidity” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/07/opinion/charles-m-blow-sexual-attraction-and-fluidity.html in which he called Miley Cyrus’s comments about her OMNISEXUALITY (Cyrus dubs it pansexuality) “charming” and “revolutionary.”

This Is A Role Model?

While Blow, a well-known commentator, points out that Cyrus’s attitude towards sex is representative of recent surveys about fluidity, I find Cyrus has gone a bit too far.  Her latest song “Bang Me Box has downright graphic lyrics bordering on obscenity.

I am sick of her gyrating, sticking her tongue out, and trying to shock.  Madonna and Mick Jaeger entertained the same way, years before she was born in 1992!  While I don’t expect her to remain the squeaky clean Hannah Montana of Disney fame, does she have to appear almost naked at every MTV and Oscar event? She is a terrible role model for teens.

CYRUS Supports LGBTQ Community

I admire her for launching The Happie Hippie Foundation, an organization serving homeless and LGBTQ youth and her song for “Hands of Love, for the movie about two lesbians starring Ellen Page and Julianne Moore, is soft and subdued, I think she was trying to get notorious publicity in her last two interviews.

Cyrus told Elle UK “:  “ I’m very open about it – I’m pansexual.” She also told Paper Magazine: I’m literally open to every single things that is consenting and doesn’t involve an animal and everyone is of age.  I’m down with any adult – anyone over the age of 18 who is down to love me.”

What Recent Studies Say About Fluidity…

Studies by Ritch Savin-Williams, Director of Sex & Gender Lab at Cornell University and author of Lives of Lesbians & Gays, and Bisexuals (1996) point to the fact that the young, in particular, don’t like to be labeled as one fixed sexual orientation.  Their identity doesn’t fit into one box; it’s fluid.  Even Alfred Kinsey knew this in the 1940’s when he devised a sexuality scale, with zero being exclusively heterosexual and 6 being exclusively homosexual.

More recently, YOUGOV asked British adults to plot themselves on Kinsey’s scale.  The results?  The survey found that “while 89% of the respondents describe themselves as heterosexual, the results for 18-24-year-olds are particularly striking, as 43% place themselves in the non-binary area between 1 and 5 and 52% slotted themselves at one end or the other.  Of these, only 46% say they are completely heterosexual and 6 percent as completely homosexual.”

How did Americans surveyed differ?  YouGov found, after using the same scale, “that 29% of under 30’s put themselves somewhere on the category of bisexuality.”

What Parents Can Say…

Yep, the world is becoming more fluid and receptive to sexual experiences that can’t be classified as strictly heterosexual, just mostly heterosexual. Parents, when they discuss sexuality with their teens, may want to discuss fluidity and terms such as pansexuality.  But throw in some morals while you’re at it, you don’t want your child to turn out slut-like Miley, even if he/she worships her!




Sunday, September 6, 2015

National Suicide Prevention Week Starts Tomorrow



World Suicide Prevention Day is September10th.

Being LGBT itself is not a risk factor for suicide, but the negative treatment that many LGBT teens endure can lead to suicidal feelings. LGBT teens whose parents accept them are healthier and will stay that way into adulthood.

The first major study of families of LGBT youth, The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State, showed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents growing up in families that did not accept them as gay were:
8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide.
5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression.
3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs than kids whose families were more accepting.

Know the Warning Signs of Suicide.

With cyberbullying of LGBT teens so prevalent, sometimes resulting in suicide, it’s helpful to memorize this acronym: Is Path Warm?
I – Ideation or having a plan about suicide
S-  Substance Abuse
P –Purposelessness
A- Anxiety
T- Trapped
H- Hopelessness
W-Withdrawal
A- Anger
R- Recklessness
M- Mood Changes

The warning signs of acute risk:
Threatening to hurt or kill himself/herself or talking of wanting to hurt or kill himself or herself .
Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills or other means, and/or
Talk or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.
Source: www.suicidology.org/resources/warning-signs

Preventive Measures Against Suicide

Create a safe and accepting home environment.
Call a mental health professional or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a referral if you see behavior changes in your LGBT child.
If your child is acting in a way that is self-destructive, causing themselves physical harm or speaking actively about harming themselves or others, seek help immediately.
U.S. Suicide Helplines:
The Trevor Project Lifeline: 866-488-7386.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255.

Monday, August 31, 2015

When The School Is Lax About Bullying



o.k.  School has started.  School bullies do not need orientation.  They are hard at work harassing their victim, your gay children, 24 /7.  Your school downplays your child’s horrific experience. You are lucky that your child has come to you with her concerns.  Many are afraid to tell grown-ups as they may be considered tattling or be accused of “asking for it.”

What’s a parent to do?  If you have reached out to your child’s teacher and received a disinterested response, don’t be deterred.  Under state laws, most schools are required to develop policies about bullying.  However, that doesn’t mean the school staff has received training related to their district’s bullying prevention policy. Or they pay attention to messages of inclusion in posters on the brick school walls. Know your school’s policy before you try to get positive reinforcement from it.

How To Get Cooperation for Bullying

You need all adults: parents, teachers, administrators, law enforcement, media to work together as champions for your children.  Continue to contact other school personnel in a chain of command.  If the teacher is uncooperative, call the guidance counselor, school social worker, principal.  If your needs are still not satisfied, contact the PTO, the school board, the superintendant, and if you’re concerned about your child’s safety, call the local police!

Get the Word Out!

Talk to your friends about what is going on.  Reach out to other parents.  Take your message online.  Find the blogging community for support, guidance, and practical advice.

Act Like A Court Stenographer!

To keep all involved parties organized, informed and goal-directed:

Document your child’s incidents of bullying.
Record as much detail as you can.
Prior to meeting with school personnel, write down your goals for the conversation.
Make notes on whom you spoke to at school.
Write down their responses, word for word.
After meeting, put in writing any agreed upon resolutions.
Request that all involved parties signed the document to indicate their agreement.
Keep at it!

Resources to Help You:

Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), http://www.glsen.org/educate/resources
Family Equality .org.
The Stonewall national education project
Human Rights Campaign Foundation
http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/making-elementary-schools-more-LGBTQ-inclusive-this-school-year




Friday, August 21, 2015

The 4R's: Reading, 'Riting, "Rithmetic, and Regulation



School is starting soon.  You’ve probably starting putting the kids to bed earlier so they will be in sync with school hours, maybe having them read an hour a day to get them used to books and not other kinds of texts?

Unfortunately, phone texting is all too familiar with students and is here to stay.  In some cases, that’s fine, but it’s one easy tool that allows for invasion for the cyberbully   Each school year brings fresh, nasty messages that don’t stop at recess but are ubiquitous.

Know The Signs of Cyberbullying

But many who experience cyberbullying don’t tell anyone about it.  They’re afraid that the bully will retaliate if punished, that they will be regarded as causing the harassment.

Did you know that cyberbullying impacts at least 1out of 5 middle and high school students, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center?

If your child will not tell you that he/she is being bullied, how are you supposed to know?  Here are the telltale signs provided by http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/local-education/cyberbullying-takes-old-problems-to-new-levels-/08/18/15:


Does your child unexpectedly stop using his telephone/computer?
Does he/she appear to be angry, depressed or frustrated after going online?
Does he/she appear uneasy about going to school?
Does he/she become abnormally withdrawn?
Does he/she avoid discussion about what he/she is doing online?
Does he/she become unusually secretive, especially secretive, especially when it comes to online activities?

What to Do If Your Child Is Bullied


Talk and listen.

Get facts such as how long the child has been feeling this way. Has there been a past conflict between your child and student?  Ask for evidence.

Encourage the child not to retaliate but tell the offender how he/she is feeling.

Tell someone at school.  All U.S. schools should have a bullying policy that covers cyberbullying.

Contact police if there are physical threats.

Use caution in contacting parents of the bully.  They may be bullies themselves and will just make the student even angrier.

You can meet with the school administration if the bully and your child attend the same school.

Follow up.  Ask for a follow-up conference if there was a meeting between the bully and the victim.  What were the results of the meeting?  How will the school monitor and support the victim?

Take measures online by setting up privacy controls.  Block the bully on all social media.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

How Much Gay Wedding Cake Would A Straight Baker Chuck If A Court Says He Could?

 How Much Gay Wedding Cake Would A  Straight Baker Chuck If A Court Says He Could?

The answer to this riddle is none.  As of  August 13th, baker Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado has to bake cakes for same-sex couples whether he approves or disapproves of their marriages.  So sayeth a state appeals court in Colorado.

Jack Phillips cannot use religious beliefs as an excuse for not making cakes for gays any longer. Phillips contends, however, that he is not discriminating against gays because he also will not bake Halloween cakes for he associates Halloween with Satan.

The complaint that was filed under Colorado law which bars discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation was filed by a gay couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins in July of 2012. The Colorado Civil Rights Administration as well as an administrative law judge ruled that this is illegal discrimination because “the same-sex marriage was so intrinsically related to the plaintiffs’ sexual orientation.”

The decision stated that no one would interpret Masterpiece’s providing a wedding cake for a same-sex couple as an endorsement of same-sex marriage. Instead, it’s a compliance with Colorado public accommodations law.  Baker Jack Phillips is entitled to his opinions on same-sex marriage which can differ from his same-sex customers’s viewpoints, the Colorado Appeals Court ruled.

Refusal to Comply with U.S. Supreme Court 's Decision on Gay Marriage

Ever since the June U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right in every state, cases like this one are cropping up. In New Mexico, Oregon, and the state of Washington, fines have been levied against a photographer, a baker, and a florist for refusing to provide business for same-sex weddings.  Probably lawyers will appeal the decision which these religious owners claim is a violation of their First Amendment rights?  Is this the same concept as forcing a Catholic School to provide contraception?

What do you think?  Are businesses disguising their homophobia by couching it in terms of their religious beliefs?  Are you harming others by denying them the same services as heterosexuals?  Is an objection to same-sex marriage the same as discrimination against a gay person?



Monday, August 10, 2015

Five More Things Not to Say To Your Gay Child



Exactly a month ago, I wrote a post about five things you should not say to a gay child. See http://www.straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com/2015/07/10/-five-things-not-to-say-to-your-gay-child/
Since then, I have either heard or read about common remarks (malapropos) that may not be intended as insensitive, but come across that way.

“That’s So Gay!”  School kids, in particular, hear this all the time, according to GLSEN (Gay, Straight, Education Network). They don’t need to hear it at home, too! The phrase can be translated to that’s inferior!  You don’t want to apply this to anyone, gay or straight.

You were just dating Johnny!” Some gays and lesbians know they are gay as youngsters, some realize their orientation when they hit puberty, still some don’t know until they are adults.  There is no right age for coming out.  Most gays/lesbians, probably hoping they were cisgender or heterosexual  have probably dated the opposite sex, at some point in their lives.


“You’re Too Young To Know!” If your child tells you he/she is gay, believe them.  They have the feelings toward the same-sex, you don’t. Even if they think they’re gay because they are experimenting with the same-sex, as straight persons do, and they could be mistaken, don’t correct them.  Time will tell!

So, Now You’re Bisexual!” Bisexuality gets a bum rap.
The straight population erroneously thinks it means you’re promiscuous because you’re engaging in sex with both males and females.  Society wants the bisexual to choose to be either straight or gay.  But truth is, there does exist bisexuality as a sexual orientation.

“You need to go to church more!” You can’t “pray-the-gay” away. Reparative or conversion therapy doesn’t work – in fact, a few states have outlawed it.  It usually makes the gay person feel worse, resulting in low self-esteem, guilt, and even suicide.  It is a temporary fix that is caused by bullying, usually from religious organizations.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Boy Scouts End Ban on Gay Leaders, but Leave Wiggle Room for Religious Beliefs


On July 27, 2015, The Boy Scouts of America ended its nationwide ban on openly gay adult leaders.  Seventy-nine percent of those who participated in a telephone meeting of the national executive board voted in favor of lifting the ban. The Scouts’ volunteer national president and former Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates urged this legal change to reflect the growing acceptance toward gays in the United States.

First, gay scouts were outlawed from the BSA.  Then, it was voted that a gay scout could participate as a scout, but not a leader. .  Under the pre-2013 law, an openly gay eighteen year-old Eagle Scout would have to leave scouting forever as he could not be a gay Scout leader. See my blog post at 2015/07/17/Maybe-Just-Maybe,the-BSA-Will-Get-It-Right-This-Time . The new law is a logical step as it is common for Eagle Scouts to become adult leaders when they turn eighteen.

What the New Law Means

Under this newly adopted Boy Scout policy, all Boy Scout offices and all paid jobs will not tolerate discrimination based on sexual orientation.  While the new law sounds ideal and progressive, in actuality, it doesn’t go far enough.

The recent law, similar to the June 2015 Supreme Court Ruling that legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States, allows “wiggle-room” for religiously sponsored groups. They would have exemptions.  It leaves the decision to individual troops and councils in much the same way as the Religious Freedom Act gives bakers an out for accommodating same-sex couples or marriage license clerks a say as to whether they will marry LGBT couples.

SCOUTING WILL SUFFER

As most Boy Scouts are sponsored by religious organizations such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints a.k.a. Mormons or the Baptist Convention, the already dwindling Boy Scout enrollment figure of 2.4 million based on 2014 figures will decline even further.

The Mormons have already protested, but haven’t officially voted on the ban as summer recess has interfered.  For more than a century, their church has been deeply invested in Boy Scouts.  The youth program of the Mormon Church is Boy Scouts.  Over twenty-percent of all scouts are Mormon.

With Monday’s decision to allow conservative religious sponsors of local packs and troops to pick their leaders who share their beliefs, you may end up with fewer packs, and heterosexuals as leaders as well as disguised prejudice.

What kind of a message are we sending our youth who are supposed to be learning about values, equal opportunity, and team building?




Friday, July 24, 2015

Fear For Many Parents Will Be Eased

As the straight parent of a gay child, you fear for your child.  Will he/she be beaten up, picked on in school, fired from a job, have to live in certain areas that are designated as gay-friendly just because of his/her sexual orientation? In most of the U.S, states, it is legal to fire and evict a gay person due to his sexual orientation. It’s probably not all that different than a heterosexual parent worrying about their straight child who is black, Hispanic or another minority.  When prejudice rears its ugly head, the LGBT child, and yes, the LGBT adult, will be considered belonging to a minority group and therefore will be targeted.

Add-Ons to Civil Rights Act of 1964

There are civil rights protections in The Civil Rights Act of 1964 yet they do not cover protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. On Thursday, July 23rd, two Democratic Senators Cicilline and Merkley with a co-sponsor Sean Maloney introduced legislation to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its list of already protected classes: discrimination in credit, education, employment, housing, federal financial assistance, jury service and public accommodations.

Compared to the 2013 Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), this federal LGBT non-discrimination Equality Act is much broader.  It covers all areas of law. It had passed the Senate, but was never brought up for a vote in the House by Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio.

Republicans Fear Squelch of Religious Freedom

By amending the Civil Rights Act, some are afraid that you will weaken the Act itself. Conservatives would rather have the First Amendment Defense Act that would bar the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person.  If, for example, that person is opposed to same-sex marriage, she would be protected.  This would include for-profit corporations acting in accordance with their religious beliefs.

The Equality Act would settle some of the debates presented by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by Indiana, by adding LGBT protections in public accommodations.  It would also clarify that the federal RFRA can’t be used as a defense for discrimination.

End Results

If the Equality Act goes through, fewer bakery doors will be slammed in the faces of same-sex couples and straight parents may rest a whole lot easier.






Sunday, July 19, 2015

What Your Gay/Lesbian Child Wants To Hear From You


When Your Child Is Gay

For parents, having your child reveal that he/she is gay can be a jolt.  While some may have an easier time accepting the revelation that their child is gay, all parents can take certain steps to ensure they handle the news that convey they love their child, unconditionally.

Offer Acceptance

Make sure your child knows he or she is loved.

First, try to separate your immediate reaction from your love for your child.
Remember that your kid may be nervous about what he has told you and may be afraid that he will be abandoned.
Do not be judgmental.  This is a supreme compliment that your child has revealed his sexual orientation to you.
You are the parent.  Put your child first.
Just Listen without interrupting.

What to Say

Say “I love you no matter what, and I am still your parent”
It’s o.k. to say you’re worried, but also say you can adjust. Ask for his/her patience. Remind your child that you will learn to accept his/her sexuality. Tell him that it isn’t your feelings for him/her that you are questioning, it is understanding about his/her sexuality.
Remember that this is a process.  Don’t expect that one conversation will resolve everything. Keep the dialogue going.
Ask your child to help you learn more about homosexuality.  This is one area where he knows more than you. Educate yourself on what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Family Resources

Excellent Resource is PFLAG (Parents for Lesbians and Gays), a national umbrella of parent organizations. These are seasoned parents who are helping other parents who are going through it all.
American Psychological Association can provide recommendations for books and therapists for consultation.
Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State has support materials for parents that are downloadable.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Maybe, Just Maybe, the BSA Will Get It Right This Time


On July 27, 2015, the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay scout leaders may be lifted.  The resolution was approved by a 17-member Executive Committee last week and if ratified, will become official policy immediately.

This ban is a carry-over from May 23, 2013, when the BSA Council approved a half-measure that would allow openly gay scouts in troops into the organization, but ban gay Scout Masters. For more history, see my blogs on the topic http://www.straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com/Boy-Scouts-Take-Baby-Steps-for-Gay-Youth/2013/5/29/ and http://www.straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com/Boy-Scouts-of-America-Speaks-with-Forked-Tongue/ 2013/4/24/.

All Those In Favor Of Lifting the Ban

It is common for Eagle Scouts to become adult leaders when they turn 18 in the Boy Scouts of America whose enrollment in scouting is 24 million.

Former Secretary of Defense and President of the Boy Scouts of America Robert Gates said earlier this week that “we cannot ignore the social, political and judicial changes taking place in our country. We must deal with world as it is.”

With the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage throughout the United States and various polls showing greater acceptance of the LGBT population, Boy Scouts should reflect these changes.

 A local troop in Converse, Texas has called on BSA “to reject the BSA anti-gay policy on adults.  A Change.org petition from that troop has 135,000 signatures.

Gaffe from Presidential Hopeful Scott Walker

Republican Governor Scott Walker, a former Eagle Scout, of Wisconsin recently expressed support for a ban on gay Boy Scout leaders because it “protected children.”  He later “covered his tracks” by clarifying that the decision on the ban of gay Boy Scout Masters was “up to the Boy Scouts.” He didn’t supposedly mean that children needed “physical protection” from gay scoutmasters, but rather protection from debate over the ban.

Over a decade ago, The American Psychological Association has dismissed the idea that gay people pose a threat to kids.  Yet this myth of the gay Scout Master as a pedophile has persisted.

Even Rob Schwarz-Walder, the spokesman of the Conservative Family Research Council, said in April 2013, “it makes no sense to have a different policy for youth and adults because men who become Scout leaders usually start out as scouts.”

Conditions In New Legislation

The prospective employees of the national organization could no longer be denied a staff position on the basis of sexual orientation.
Gay leaders who were previously removed from scouting because of the ban would have the opportunity to reapply for volunteer positions.
The new law would allow “wiggle-room” for religiously sponsored groups.  Many troops are sponsored by churches.  These would have exemptions.

Girl Scouts Have Always Seemed More Inclusive

The Girl Scouts of America have no rules against gay leaders.  In May, the organization announced that it would accept transgenders.  True to their beliefs, when a donor tried to give them a $100K donation if they would not help transgender girls, the Washington Girl Scouts refused the offer!

Friday, July 10, 2015

5 things you shouldn't say to your Gay Child

5 Things You Shouldn’t Say To Your Gay Child

Despite this country’s acceptance of gay marriage, many parents are thrown off-kilter when they find out their child is gay.  Without preparation for this often-surprising news, it’s easy for even the most loving parents to blurt out the wrong message.  Not intended, the retort ends up sounding insensitive, particularly to a child who is looking for unconditional love.

Here are some common zingers that shouldn’t be part of your vocabulary.

Are you sure you’re gay?  You’re too young to Know.
 
With kids coming out younger and younger (even in middle school), your child could know he’s gay even before he started first grade.  Or even before he/she lost their virginity.  Still others may be just experimenting and in time will know what their sexual orientation is.  In any case, it’s important to take your child seriously.  Questioning his sexual orientation smacks of denial and accepting his word as the truth.

You just don’t seem that gay to me!

Gays come in all sizes and shapes.  Just look at television or the news and you will see a variety of gays, from gridiron football defensive Michael Sam, to Grammy-award-winning Sam Smith, to CEO of Apple Tim Cook, to Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.  
These achievers do not fit the stereotypical image of a buff fashion-conscious, less masculine/feminine image with a lisp and a swagger.  There’s no one way to “seem” gay.

You’re too Feminine to be Gay!

Just because you’re a lesbian doesn’t mean you’re going to be in the military, teach gym or become a cop.  Not all lesbians are “butch,” with crew cuts, baggy pants, leather jackets and riding on motorcycles.  Some are “femme.”  Think Chely Wright or Ellen Page.  Both wear makeup, have long hair, and look as if they could pass as heterosexual, but they aren’t. Because your daughter may look girly, don’t expect her to be cisgender (heterosexual).

How can you Do This to me?

This isn’t about you.  Your child is not doing this to you.  He/she does not want to disappoint you and knows his coming out is probably destroying your dreams of his future.  Many studies point to the fact that homosexuality is inherited and cannot be changed through reparative or conversion therapy.
Don’t heap guilt on your child; he/she didn’t cause their sexual orientation nor did you!

Don’t Tell Uncle John!

Until your immediate family has come to terms with having a gay child, there is no need to tell anyone!  While there is no shame, there may be relatives who disapprove of your child’s orientation.  Until you can enlighten them and speak of his/her differences in a positive light, it is better to wait!  PFLAG (Parents for Lesbians & Gays) http://www.community.pflag.org/getsupport as well as the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State familyproject.sfsu.edu has materials for parental support. And remember, you can always readdress your remarks and apologize for "flying off the handle."

Of course, you should always get permission to tell anyone; after all, it’s your child’s story, not yours.  So, find out whom your child wants you to tell.  He/she may want to divulge themselves as they are better equipped to answer the questions that may arise!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Government's "To Do" List

“When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free” – Obama

Last month, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in every U.S. state.  It was a long time coming, but reflected the majority of poll takers and the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage.  With the victory now behind us, this country cannot rest on its laurels as there are many LGBT issues that have gone unresolved.

Discrimination

Twenty-nine states lack laws banning sexual orientation discrimination and even more (thirty-two) don’t prohibit it when it comes to gender identity.  There is still no federal law banning discrimination against LGBT Americans in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and credit, as well as in federal lending and jury service.

The only federal antidiscrimination protections exist in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that includes a broad exemption that allows discrimination by a “corporation, association, educational institution or institution of learning, or society” owned by a religious institution (most likely the ones who would discriminate.)  ENDA’s religious exemption is much broader than that of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s Title VII.

Surveys Report Unfair Treatment

In 2013, a Pew Research survey found that 21% of LGBT participants had been treated unfairly by an employer in hiring, pay or promotions. That same year, the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA, reported that between 15% to 43% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers have experienced being fired, denied promotion or harassed. A Gallup survey, also in 2013, found that 35% of LGBT adults reported annual incomes below $24,000 compared to 24% of the general population.

Conversion Therapy

In the majority of U.S. states, conversion or reparative therapy is regularly practiced. Although it was outlawed in California, New Jersey and Washington, religious institutions still use its gay-to-straight ideology that has proven to result in depression, low self-esteem, even suicide in its LGBT population looking to convert. Even one of its proponents, Robert Spitzer, M.D., disclaimed the benefits of reparative therapy.

Hate Crime Laws

Currently, fourteen states with hate crime laws don’t include sexual orientation or gender identity . Six states have no such protections at all.  According to journalist, Radio Show host and author of It’s Not Over (2015), Michaelangelo Signorile, “homophobia hasn’t simply persisted, it has become more public and more violent in response to the increased visibility of gay and transgender people that wins such as marriage equality have brought.”

Health Disparities

The first federal health survey to include gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, in 2014, showed that lesbian and bisexual women had higher obesity rates than straight women , higher rates of psychological stress among bisexuals, and higher rates of smoking and binge drinking among all three groups compared to heterosexuals.

A Kaiser Family Foundation report in 2014 concluded that 47% of gay men have not told their doctors about their sexual orientation.  Many medical doctors were not  trained in medical school about issues surrounding the gay population. Fifty-six of gay men have never suggested an HIV test for their patients.

Diagnosis rates have risen among young gay and bisexual men while the Centers for Disease Control has cut its HIV-prevention budget over the years to gay men.  A majority of those with HIV are unaware of their status.  In order to donate blood, LGBT donors are expected to abstain from sex for a year before donating.

The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State shows that LGBT teens who would rather live on the streets than be shamed at home account for 40% of the homeless even though they are believed to represent less than 10% of all teens.

As you can expect, these rejected teens have less self-esteem, greater depression than their heterosexual contemporaries as well as a higher suicide rate.

Full Parental Rights

Often, with gay couples, only one parent is able to adopt a child or is often turned away  by an adoption agency’discriminatory policies couched in religious exemptions. Toward that end, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (New York) reintroduced The Every Child Deserve A Family Act, a bill that would bar adoption and foster care agencies that receive federal dollars from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

Currently, only seven states ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in adoption and only five explicitly ban discrimination in foster care.

Fighting for LGBT Rights

These are just some of the issues that need to be worked on for full equality.  As it stands now, as Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign points out, it is possible for a gay person to get married in the morning, and by the afternoon, be fired from his job, and evicted from his apartment, just because of whom he loves.



Monday, June 29, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage is a Constitutional Right



In 2013, The Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (defining marriage as between a man and a woman), requiring federal agencies to recognize same-sex marriage performed in states where it is legal.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote that decision in 2013 as well as last Friday, struck down restrictions in thirteen states that didn’t allow gay marriage.

Kennedy’s rationale was “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty… There is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices.”

The Constitution Evolves

“…without recognition, stability, and predictability that marriage offers,
 writes Kennedy, “ the children of these couples suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somewhat lesser.”

“The constitution’s power and endurance rest in the Constitution’s ability to evolve along with the nation’s consciousness,” states Kennedy. In a spring Wall St. Journal/NBC News poll, 77% of Americans said they personally know or work with someone who is gay or lesbian, up from 62% in 2004.

Those Who Dissented

With Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayer in accordance with Kennedy,  and Justices Thomas, Roberts, Jr., Alito, Jr. and Antonin Scaila dissenting, the high court’s 5-4 ruling reflected the country’s shift in public attitudes toward gays and lesbians.

Unlike Kennedy, religious groups do not interpret the constitution as a living, evolving document, but as the Framers originally intended it.  More conservative and religious justices and a number of religious groups are annoyed at Kennedy for failing to mention The First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause.  Religious rites aren’t limited to preaching and teaching , but also entail an individual’s and organization’s “free exercise” of faith, a wide swath of activities that run from sacred ceremonies to performing charitable works and running business according to religious principles.

Evangelicals, who make up about 25% of the country’s population, pledged to fight the legal implications of Friday’s rulings. Kennedy, however, states in his majority opinion, that “it must be emphasized that religions and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”

The Future of Same-Sex Marriage
No doubt, the Conservatives will keep fighting.  In the interim, gay couples, some who have been together for over thirty years, will feel respect and dignity. As one of the plaintiffs Jim Obergefell who was denied signature on a death certificate of his ailing spouse, testified, after the ruling was announced, “ I started to feel a lot more like a full equal American at that moment.”  






Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Pope, The Gay & The Church


Pope Francis has said "gay people should not be marginalized but integrated into society. “ July 29, 2013

On gay priests, His Holiness remarked “Who am I to judge?” If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”  July 29, 2013

Vatican spokesman Father Frederico Lombardi told CBS News that the Pope was “for sure” not just referring to gay priests, but to all gays.

For sure, I’m skeptical about what I thought was a young papacy and his emphasis on a church that is more inclusive and merciful rather than critical and disciplinary.

Just this week, one day after thousands marched in Rome’s LGBT Pride Parade, the Pope made claims that heterosexual marriage is the best option for child-rearing.” Saying that heterosexual marriage is essential for “healthy parenting,” Pope Francis contends that marriage between a man and a woman makes for happier couples.

“Children mature seeing their father and mother happy. Their identity matures being confronted with the love their father and mother have confronted with this difference.”     - June 14, 2015, during his General audience

If you are heterosexual in a heavily Catholic country such as Italy, these words don’t sting.  But for LGBT Catholics, the pope’s comments hurt and are hardly symptomatic of a world-wide religion that is supposed to be embracing. Same-sex marriage as well as adoption by gay parents are verboten in Italy’s Catholic Church but civil partnerships for same-sex couples are being considered by Italian lawmakers.

Goes Against the Grain of Scientific Studies

Two days ago, perhaps too late, to influence the Supreme Court’s decision on nation-wide same-sex marriage, University of Oregon Sociology Professor Ryan Light commented that “the consensus is overwhelming in terms of there being no difference in children who are raised by same-sex or heterosexual parents. “

He goes on to say that this consensus had formed by 2000 and took into effect the psychological behavior or educational outcomes of children in both same-sex and heterosexual marriages.

Light and his co-author Jimi Adams of University of Colorado, Denver, came to these conclusions after scrutinizing new research that looked at 19,000 studies and articles related to same-sex parenting from 1977 to 2013.

The American Public Speaks

In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll,  1,000 adults, between June 14 and June 18, were surveyed about the prospect of the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.  The poll found that 57% were in favor of the Court finding a right of same-sex couples to marry, while 37% were opposed in America.

The Pope will come to Philadelphia soon during his U.S. tour and is expected to meet with LGBT activists.  Perhaps, he can evolve on gay marriage as Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton did.

One can hope.  Right now, with all due respect, on matters of equality for the LGBT population, he is not infallible.