Saturday, February 25, 2017

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, 1939 Mr. Gavin Grimm Goes to Washington, 2017


In the popular movie of 1939, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Gary Cooper plays an unassuming honest senator from Montana who takes on corrupt Washington politicians. This week, a shy, humble and determined seventeen year-old high school student from Gloucester, Virginia, Gavin Grimm travelled to Washington with his mother to be the lead plaintiff in a case that may settle the whole “bathroom issue” once and for all. 
Wearing a hoodie, emblazoned with A.C.L.U., Gavin left his rural town, his pet pig Esmeralda, to represent himself and potentially other transgendered men and women in a suit involving his usage of his high school bathrooms. This suit may go all the way to the Supreme Court and become a landmark case.  After being on “The View,” last Thursday, where he wore a dress shirt stowed in his makeshift luggage, a large white plastic bag, G.G., as he’s known, is now known as an activist for transgender rights and a hero to many transgenders. 
What’s At Stake: More Than Dignity
Gavin, since he was twelve or thirteen, has identified as a boy even though he was born a girl and a twin. Yet, he is not allowed to use the boys’ bathroom at his school.  Gavin’s school has built single-user bathrooms to try to placate outspoken parents and complaining girls.  “It’s incredibly frustrating, it’s embarrassing, it’s very uncomfortable,” attests Gavin who feels that this discrimination makes him feel different from his peers.  He uses the nurse’s restroom instead and that also feels discriminatory.
(Of course, by the time The Supreme Court decides, Gavin may be out of high school, the Supreme Court could send the case back to the appeals court or wait for other cases to piggyback.)
But that’s not the point.  What is the point is that President Trump on February 22nd rescinded Obama’s Federal Directive on Bathroom Use, instructing public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender, not the one on their birth certificate.  The Obama administration’s guidance was based on its determination that Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education, also applies to gender identity.
About Face For Trump: Feels Overreach Violates Safety & Privacy of Straight People
Soon after Trump took office, he announced that he intended to continue enforcing an executive order Obama issued to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination. Ha!
Without the Obama directive, it will be up to states and school districts to interpret federal anti-discrimination law and determine whether students should have access to restrooms in accordance with their expressed gender identity and not just their biological sex.
Yet, last week, he and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, bowing to the religious right, decided that states’ rights should take precedence.  The Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos did not want to rescind the Obama guidelines, and recognized the severe risk of not having those Federal laws in place.
 Although DeVos told the Political Action Conference, CPAC, on February 23rd, that the “issue was a huge example of Obama administration overreach, one-size-fits-all approach to issues best solved at personal and local levels,” she also admitted that “we have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment.” Even Caitlyn Jenner, a Republican, is annoyed at the Republican response to the federal directive.
GLSEN’s (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) latest national climate survey reported that 77% of trans students experience harassment or bullying in schools and over 50% of trans youth commit suicide.  Those that identify as transgender will not feel safe, but harassed at school.
PFLAG  (Parents for Lesbians & Gays as well as Transgenders) National & GLSEN relaunched, in response, their joint #Claim Your Rights Campaign from 2009.
Statistics aside, I once interviewed a f-t-m ( born female, transitioned to male), who appeared in the “ Fear chapter “of my co-authored book When Your Child Is Gay,” (Sterling, 2016) Miserable in high school, he used to change into baggy amorphous clothes once he got to school so he could feel more comfortable. However, not totally comfortable in his own skin and at war with the sex he was assigned at birth, as soon as he legally could, realizing he was transgender,  he started taking hormones. He attended college where he was more accepted.  He told me that if he could not have transitioned, he would have killed himself. 

 
 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Who Are You Going To Trust? Not Ghost Busters!



It’s hard to trust the liberal media.  BuzzFeed is not honest-to-God news.  The President tweets on four hours of sleep.  We were told last Tuesday that President Trump will maintain workplace protections for gays and lesbians instituted during the Obama Administration yet supposedly leaks within the hallowed halls of the White House said they Trump was preparing an Executive Order to rescind LGBT rights.  His daughter Ivanka was trying to talk him out of this position. At least 40 anti-LGBT bills, using Religious Freedom Loopholes, have been introduced in sixteen states this year.
LGBT Youth Running Scared
According to Michael Radkowsky, PSY.D., Washington, D.C., “the new government administration has increased gay teen fear.”  The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest civil rights advocacy group and political organization, concurs.  A new HRC survey of more than 50,000 young people revealed a troubling post-election spike in harassment and bullying. Since the 2016 election, 70% of respondents reported witnessing anti-LGBT actions.
Resources Parents & LGBT Youth Can Trust
In these scary times, parents and their LGBT youth as well as their straight siblings who overhear LGBT criticism in the media, can take comfort in the following dependable resources:
·      PFLAG. org. (Parents for Lesbians and Gays and now includes Transgender, Intersex, and Questioning). Organization has nationwide chapters:
·      It also has resources: https:pflagnyc.org/support/resources to learn about LGBT issues.
·      PFLAG also has publications on various topics of concern:
·      HRC has a topic-centered website: http://www/hrc.org/explore/topic/children-youth
·      Lambda Legal has a website whereby you can select any state to learn more about its legal protections for LGBT people and their families. http://www.lamdalegal.org/states-regions/in-your-state
·      GLSEN ( Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), an organization for students, parents, and teachers that tries to affect positive change in schools. See 2015 National Climate Survey that for first time includes insights on bisexual school experience, school policies that specifically affect transgender students, and anti-bullying student education:


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Finally, the Boy Scouts of America are Catching Up with the Girl Scouts!



“A Boy Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent and now, as of January 30, 2017, his troop includes transgenders.
This all came about because a mother sued because her transgender boy was excluded from a New Jersey Scouting unit.  Because of her staunch opposition, the issue of determining gender based on birth certificates in the BSA is a moot point in the new BSA policy. Before now, there was limited attention paid to transgenders in the Boy Scouts.
The Boy Scouts seem to invite controversy when in 2013, BSA Council approved a ½ (ass) measure that would allow openly gay scouts into the troops, but not allow gay Scout Masters.  This policy presented a problem for the Eagle Scouts, who once turned eighteen, wanted to be Scout Masters.  Finally, in 2015, the BSA ban on gay scout leaders was lifted.
The Boy Scouts will undoubtedly pay a price for admitting transgender troop members when conservative churches and corporations that are large donors, withdraw their financial support.  But the world and family has changed since its founding, and the BSA should reflect its commitment to the BSA’s Oath to ...”do my duty to God and my country and the obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” 
I’m glad that the organization realizes that you don’t have to be straight to be morally straight!
The Girl Scouts have always been more progressive than the BSA. It addressed this discrepancy as far back as 2012 when it admitted a transgender girl into a Denver troop despite the controversy it ensued from conservative groups who otherwise may have financially supported the Girl Scouts.
In so expanding their inclusion, the GSA was true to their Position statement: “we recognize the basic human rights of all people, including LGBT individuals.  All citizens, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, have the rights to housing, employment, and be free from violence and inequality.”