Saturday, May 23, 2015

Which Age Group Resists Marriage Equality?

The latest Gallup poll in early May is certainly encouraging for the support for same-sex marriage. Sixty percent of respondents (5% higher than 2014) say they were in favor of gay marriage.

Only two decades ago, 27% approved and 68% opposed gay marriage.  By 2005, 37% supported same-sex marriage and five years later, 44% were in favor.

Over 65 Group

Yet, despite the snowballing figures reflecting an ever-increasing trend toward acceptance, particularly with the under 30 age group, the one group that is a “holdout” is the 65- and over -age group.

Why? I can only surmise that it’s because they grew up in the 40’s and 50’s, when religion and mores were sharply defined and practiced. There was a low divorce rate, loyalty to school and church, and definite adherence to what constitutes “boy”  and “girl” roles with no room for gender-variance. If their neighbors, co-workers, friends, and the movie stars they saw on the “big screen,” were gay, those who varied from cisgender behavior kept their “dirty little secrets” to themselves.

The Times They Are A Changin’

Next month, it is possible that The Supreme Court will rule that same-sex marriage has as much legitimacy as heterosexuality in the United States. Ireland, a European country that is 84% Catholic, recently passed marriage equality by popular vote (referendum), the first nation in the world to do so.  Father Gerry O’Connor of Dublin said in The New York Times, May 23, 2015, commented that “notions of the traditional nuclear family were changing.”

According to Gallup tracking in the first four months of this year, 3.8 % of the adult population identify themselves as LGBT.  Those 3.8% may be a grandson or niece of a straight 65 year-old or a senior citizen’s friend’s relative who is being bullied in school, being denied an apartment because of sexual orientation.

Support Groups To Help Become Allies

It is not easy to change one’s views, but the modus operandi is education. To be an ally, you have to be informed about the constant changes in our ever-changing world.

Here are some organizations with resources to help educate you about the LGBT community:

http://www.umass.edu/how to be an ally.
http://www.hrc.org. The Human Resources Campaign is the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for LGBT people.
http://www.glaad.org/Glaad is a U.S. non-governmental media monitoring organization founded by LGBT people in the media.
http://www.familyacceptanceproject@sfs.edu. has materials for those reluctant to accept LGBT equality.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

May 17 = Commemoration Day for Victims of LGBT Inequality

What Is International Day (May 17) Against Homophobia?

IDAHot's main purpose is to raise awareness of violence, discrimination and repression of LGBT awareness worldwide.  Its purpose is to educate as it advocates for public policies. (In some countries, LGBT status is punishable by death.)

This year's theme is LGBT youth who are often bullied in school and cyberbullied everywhere. LGBT youth are more prone to suicide, drug abuse, lower self-esteem than their heterosexual peers, according to The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State.  Nearly 40% of homeless youth are LGBT.

History of IDHA HOT

The Day was conceived in 2004 and on May 17, 1990 became a reality when the World Health Organization no longer listed homosexuality as a diagnosis. 

France was the first country in the world to remove transgender issues from its list of mental illness in 2009.  Supported by seventy-five countries and three Nobel Prize winners, this commemoration was co-ordinated by Paris IDAHO.

Activities of IDAHO

There are grass-root actions in different countries for this memorable day.  Street marches, parades and festivals are particularly strong in Europe and Latin America for this event. The website International Day Against Homophobia features numerous ways to act and reports many past activities.

In 2014, IDAHOTB was marked in 130 countries, including 37 with anti-LGBT laws.  Nearly 1,300 organizations reported hosting a total of 1,600 events to mark the day. Over 70% of the world population live in countries that restrict LGBT rights.

Congressional Resolution Introduced by Barbara Lee

More than sixty congressional members introduced a congressional resolution in support of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.  Commented Lee, '' I hope this resolution (that outlines the specifice effects of anti-LGBT violence, homelessness and health disparities, especially related to mental health, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS) is another step in the direction of equality and acceptance for all."







  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Reflections of Motherhood on Mother's Day



Intro to the Davidsons 101

The Davidsons are a motley crew: The parents come from different backgrounds. The husband is a Southerner who learned to fish with a cane pole, but later found his niche on Wall St.  He was brought up with a reverence for and encyclopaedic knowledge of nature, love of family, and learned self-reliance at a young age.  His wife, on the other hand, is a “Nawtherner,” and comes from the Northeast where the emphasis is on where you went to school and manners, manners, manners.

We have two kids, both adopted.  One is straight, the other gay, and they both have their own agendas.  Despite our dissimilar backgrounds, we all get along fairly well.  But as this is an advice blog for straight parents of gay kids, I will share just a portion of what I’ve learned from parenting a gay child, now adult.

“I Should’ve, I Could’ve”

Despite the compatibility of our family, I frequently, usually supine, takestock of myself.  While some do this self-assessment in church where I frequently daydream, I do this in the bathtub or in bed in the wee hours of the morning.
Then I get the nagging thoughts “if only I had done this.”So, here are a few tips on what I would have done differently parenting a gay child.
I wish I had taken my child to a gay-friendly therapist and not a traditional one who doubted my gut instinct that my son was gay and couldn’t read between the lines that my son was in denial.  Had I known that that there was an affiliated organization of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), I could have found him the proper psychiatrist. I would have tried http://www.aglp.org. While not every gay child will want to go a therapist, I feel it’s important as society is not always accepting of gays and lesbians and the child will have to deal with certain issues unlike heterosexuals.
I would have attended PFLAG (http://www.pflag.org), a nationwide support organization, with geographical chapters for parents of lesbians and gays, sooner.
When my son was bullied in high school, I should have done more than call the bully’s father who in turn gave the bully a beating. I won’t mention any names because the father, “a little rough-around-the-edges,” might harass me!
I should have taken the matter up with the school as the bullying happened on their property and did not provide a safe environment for learning.  My son’s case is not unusual. Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, May 6, 2015, Mark Schuster, the lead author of a research letter. states that LGB students were about 91% more likely to be bullied and 46% more likely to be victimized. Schuster reports that differences in bullying and victimization occurs as early as fifth grade.

Yet, GLSEN (http://www.GLSEN.org.), the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, found that most school professionals (teachers, principals) do not come to the defense of bullied students. However, GLSEN does provide safe space kits to schools to teach students and personnel how to respect each other.  If the teaching tools from GLSEN are not effective, the student can contact the Superintendant of Schools and/or the American Civil Liberties Union if he/she feels his rights were violated.  So many options I didn’t know about then, but the climate for acceptance seems better now.

While I could have done more, at least I took some action to ensure his happiness. We all want the best for our kids.  Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s best, especially on a trajectory that has few role models.  That’s why it’s so important for straight parents to learn from others “who’ve been there.”