Monday, April 24, 2017

What Your LGBT Child Wants To Hear From You



You don’t want to be blindsided when your child comes out to you.  Nor do you want to yell at your child (“you can’t be!”) or doubt his revelation ( “it’s just a phase!”).  The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State reports that most coming outs do not go well because parents are not prepared for the news that jars with the expectations they have had for their child since birth or even before in our binary world. 
The most common defense mechanism for parents is denial.  What could be worse for a child to hear that the parent knows best about the sexual orientation that he/she has felt? Who would know better than the child?
Even if you are caught off-guard, your child has mustered up his courage to share this important part of his self, knowing that he probably is disappointing you, so try to be understanding even if it will take you awhile to “wrap your head around” this new identity.
What should you say? Here are 5 possibilities that connote unconditional love:
·      We love you and support you. ( A hug is always appreciated.)
·      We are pleased that you felt comfortable enough with us to share this important aspect of your self.  Thank you for trusting us.
·      Who else knows?  Classmates? Best friends? How have they reacted?
·      How do you envision your future? How has being gay affected your life?
·      Who haven’t you told yet, and what is your plan?  Remember that it is your child’s story and he/she has a right to privacy.
It’s o.k. to say to your child that it may take awhile for you to adjust fully, but that        you will, with his help and others as well.





Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Gender Spectrum Defined


                                

                                      Dictionary 101 for Straight Parents
 Once Upon a Time, we lived in a binary world with Dick, Jane, and Spot.  Girl wore dresses, boys wore pants. Girls were given pink lunch trays in the grade school cafeteria. The boys received blue trays.  The boys went to “shop” and the girls went to “home ec.” There was no blurring of the binary rules.  If a girl wanted to take shop, too bad.  If a guy wanted to try his culinary skills in “home economics, he couldn’t.  If a girl wanted to be on the boys’ baseball team or even if she identified as a boy, she might be regarded as a “tomboy.”  Nobody knew about transgender kids then, their correct pronouns or their desire to use the bathroom they identified with. 
It’s a whole new world now.  For the older straight parent, the terms can be baffling (even Katie Couric had to learn them during the National Geographic Special “The Gender Revolution.” (February 3, 2017). Let’s start with the basics:
·      Asexuality means a person who generally does not feel sexual attraction or desire to any group of people.
·      Bisexual: a person who is attracted to both people of their own gender and another gender. Also called “bi.”
·      Cisgender: Types of gender identity where an individual’s experience of their own gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth.  e..g. straight.
·      Gender is not the same definition as sex.  Sex refers to biological differences that include a person’s chromosomes and physical body. Gender refers to the behavioral, cultural, and psychological traits typically associated with one sex.
·      Gender expression: how we manifest masculinity or femininity.  Our behavior, speech, behavior, movement, and other factors as masculine or feminine.
·      Gender free/agender.  These people may not feel tied to any form of gender identity and often prefer the pronoun “they.”
·      Gender identity. The sense of “being” male, female, genderqueer, agender, Sometimes it lines up with physical anatomy or expected social roles.  Gender identity, biological sex, and sexual orientation are separate. People’s gender identity can shift over time. This means they are genderfluid.  Bigender people may shift between feminine and masculine gender identities and presentations or feel like they are two distinct genders at the same time.
·      Genderqueer: Identities which fall outside of the accepted sexual binary. May also refer to people who identify as both transgendered and queer, i.e. individuals who challenge both gender and sexuality regimes and see gender identity and sexual orientation as overlapping and interconnected.
·      Intersex.  Some people are born with both sexual organs and XXY. Non-binary:  people who don’t identify as either men or women.  It’s possible to be non-binary and identify outside of the male/female divisions, but still identify with a clear gender identity
·      Pansexual: not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.
·      Queer: an umbrella term sometimes used by LGBTQA people to refer to the entire LGBT community. Can be regarded as offensive to some, depending on their generation, geographic location and association with the word.
·      Transgender: umbrella term for all people who do not identify with their assigned gender at birth or the binary gender system.
·      Transsexual: a person whose gender identity is different from their biological sex.



           

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Prepare for GLSEN's Day of Silence, April 21



As a parent, you want to ensure your child is safe at school.  This is also the goal of GLSEN, Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network, the leading national educational organization focusing on safety for all students.  There is a need to raise awareness and fight homophobia in schools because:
·      In a Harris Interactive Study on Bullying, studies said two out of three reasons students are harassed are actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression.
·      According to 2005 report “From Teasing to Torment, School Climate in America,” additionally nearly nine out of ten LGBT students experience harassment.
So, What Is This Day Of Silence About?
GLSEN’s Day of Silence illustrates the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on the LGBTQ students and their allies.  It’s an annual event to raise awareness and protest the silence faced by LGBT people daily. People of all sexual orientations and gender identities who support LGBT rights on April 21st (this year) will take a vow of silence to recognize and protest the silence. Each year, nearly 8,000 middle and high school students register with GLSEN to partake of Day of Silence.  This year, the first 3,000 registered online will receive free swag. all free downloadable posters, organizing resources, and 25% discount off all Day of Silence items like mugs and Tee shirts.
                                    How Can I Get My School To Rally?
First, ask the principal for a meeting and find out if the staff and faculty are interested in joining this project. If your principal is opposed, you have a right to get Lambda Legal involved.
Have your GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) Club or other all-inclusive groups map out the details for the event.  Divide your tasks into Before, During and After as gsanetwork.org/resources/gsa-action/events/day-silence suggests.
BEFORE:
·      Have your GSA prepare a “To Do” List:  Who is in charge of each item?
·      Put up flyers and posters.  Send out e-mail announcement, advertise in school newspaper.
·      How will the school handle a Day of Silence?  Find out if you are to be silent all day or just when you’re not in class.  Should you be silent in the cafeteria and during breaks? Are you to be silent on social media?
·      How will you handle people who are opposed to silence? You have a right to do this.
·      You may want to pass out cards that participants state why they are not speaking.

During:

·      Have a staffed table with resources.
·      Leaders should be visible with same clothing, for example, to group you.
·      Post an announcement explaining the event to be respectful.
·      Do you a designated space for your break on silence?
·      Ask your teachers if they want to do a silent lesson plan.  They can obtain a video “As If It Matters” by calling 415-552-4229 or e-mail info@gsanetwork.org.

After:

·      Write up an evaluation of the event. Remember that next April there will be another Day of Silence.
·      Hold a Breaking the Silence Or Speak Out Activity.  For example, have LGBT population tell their stories of harassment and discrimination after reflecting on the day.
·      Continue the support by educating the community.

For more tips, see glsen.org

 

Prepare