Support Russian LGBT Rights

Boys Town Studios, Gay Porn Company, To Donate Profits To LGBT Charities

 

First published in the The Huffington Post  |  By  Posted: 08/16/2013 12:05 pm EDT  |  Updated: 08/16/2013 12:10 pm EDT

 

boys town studios gay porn

 

Boys Town Studios, an all-male porn company with a charity-based philosophy, will launch this fall as a branch of Monarchy Distribution. All of the profits made from projects by this studio will go to support the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

“100 percent of the profits from all these movies, including DVD sales, video-on-demand, cable and broadcast will be donated to our newly-created non-profit,” said Mike Kulich, owner of Monarchy Distribution, in a statement sent to the Huffington Post.

“Anyone will be able to write Boys Town Studios and tell their stories about how bigotry and homophobia has affected their lives, and we will step into help those victims as much as we can.”

Kulich also highlighted that the profits from the studio’s first film will go towards helping gay Russian refugees, in an effort to subsidize the cost of their relocation as they seek asylum in other countries in the wake of the country’s extreme anti-LGBT violence and legislation.

The studio plans to release two films per month, with the first film, titled “Deep In The Dark,” slated to premiere this October.

Fearless love in a gentle soul

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle – SDGLN Contributor
August 9th, 2013
The Rev. Mervyn Kingston
ENLARGE
The Rev. Mervyn Kingston    The Rev. Mervyn Kingston
Mervyn Kingston was born with many challenges. He grew up in Ireland where it was illegal to be LGBT for half of his life. He grew up in an evangelical Anglican church in Belfast at the height of the sectarian violence and although the evangelical world condemned him for being gay, he ended up his own reconciliation project with Richard O’Leary, who was a Roman Catholic from the Republic of Ireland.
They were a transformative couple over their 24 years together and entered into civil partnership in 2005. He was to all outward appearances a “nerd” and his life as a Church of Ireland clergyman for 34 years was not exactly about setting the world on fire, but behind these appearances was a remarkable man the world is missing already.
More Photos

RGOD2: Fearless love in a gentle soul
RGOD2: Fearless love in a gentle soul

Fifty years in the making

I knew Meryvn since I was 11 years old and we had a lot in common, though we didn’t know that until relatively recently. We attended the same grammar school, “Grosvenor High” in Belfast, and I remember him as a Prefect in the Sixth Form … about five years ahead of me. He was most memorable for a very pronounced stammer and it was butt-clenchingly painful to listen to Mervyn read from Scriptures at morning chapel when it came his turn. Sniggers and pure discomfort were all around and there was a kind of “please Lord – help him just get through this” kind of prayer some of us offered to the Almighty.
My connection with him grew initially from these painful encounters because I too had a stammer and I knew how incredibly difficult it was for Mervyn to stand up in front of an audience of about 1,000 people knowing he was going to stutter on every fifth word! So I was a secret admirer of his courage and shared his wound.
A form of self-sabotage
There are many theories about stammering and some would claim it is a kind of self-sabotage. It is a way of limiting our ability to communicate and between anger and self-knowledge, it was a kind of social disguise of not being too articulate for one’s own good.
People around you could hurt you if you really spoke your mind in this Irish working class and violently homophobic culture of the 1970s. So, like the nerdy, churchy costume that Mervyn wore, I too was influenced by these kinds of survival skills. “The King’s Speech” has wonderfully portrayed the issue of stammering that has been an unexplored taboo for most of my life and there is often a misinformed parallel drawn between stammering and having a learning disability. It is socially and professionally debilitating when a stammer chats and robs you of public speaking skills or simple conversational aptitude. People who stammer don’t when they sing and so Mervyn was a big part of the school’s music program.
Our paths would cross many times and most significantly during the ordination process. I was ordained before he was, even though he was older and I reckon my speech impediment issues were not as much as a concern for the authorities as his were. I worked very hard at overcoming my stammer and what began as my “thorn in the flesh” forced me to develop my communication skills. I love public speaking and preaching and with God’s help, the journey to this place has not been easy, but here we are. We are witnesses of the miraculous in many simple ways and sometimes it is purely about practice and honing skills that others take for granted.
Impediments to ordination to the priesthood
What Mervyn and I did not know about each other was that we were both struggling with issues of sexual identity and its relationship to us becoming priests at a time when being gay was illegal.
In many ways, my stammer was much more a serious practical impediment to my ordination that my sexual orientation given the amount of public speaking and social intercourse required by the work. Yet, I knew God loved me and if God could call a couple of Irish stammers into the priesthood, then he could probably handle my sexual orientation and the men who came into my life over the past 50 years. They too shaped this imperfect priest and God was present in these deep relationships. God always calls the most unlikely people into ministry and leadership and the pattern usually follows that we feel totally inadequate for the task, yet with God’s help and the beloved community around us, we find a way to move shuffle forward.
Moses had a similar speech problem which rabbis claim was most likely a stammer and he is reluctant to take on God’s task of liberating the Egyptian Jewish slaves because he feels he just cannot speak properly. So God provides Aaron to do his public speaking and the reluctant stammerer Moses –reluctantly leads.
Mervyn was a relatively rare and early ecumenist in the sectarian violent Northern Ireland society of the 1970s and 1980s. At his ordination in east Belfast in 1973 he invited a Roman Catholic priest to prominently attend, ecumenical actions he repeated in the 1980s when he was serving in the parish of Glencairn in exclusively Protestant loyalist west Belfast. In sharp contrast his next appointment was as rector to the group of parishes which included overwhelming Catholic and republican south Armagh. Mervyn quickly established fruitful relationships with his Catholic neighbors. Mervyn saw his ministry and social outreach as one for all the people – Protestant and Catholic, loyalist and republican.
A pioneer of LGBT pastoral care and rights in a difficult global context
When I was fired from my work in a parish in the Republic of Ireland in 1980, Mervyn and many clergy friends were sympathetic but the church was a bastion of homophobia and no dissention or discussion on these issues was allowed.
I can understand the religious climate in Russia or Africa where Archbishops still rule with impunity. In Russia today, any LGBT sympathetic clergy are simply excommunicated. It is not that long ago when we clearly had the same experience in Ireland both within Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. I had to leave Ireland and Mervyn and others like him stayed to do the difficult work of transformation. He met Richard O’Leary, a delightfully sweet and self-effacing academic who later taught at Queens University in Belfast, and they began to work really intentionally at bringing Ireland into the 21st century around LGBT rights and faith. His obituary reads:

“The Revd Kingston was a pioneer of the gay Christian movement in Ireland since the early 1980s as well as a member of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association (NIGRA). He was a serving clergyman in the Church of Ireland for over 30 years until he retired in 2003 on health grounds as rector of the Creggan and Ballymascanlon group of parishes which straddled the Irish border. In that same year he co-founded Changing Attitude Ireland (CAI) as a group of Christians, gay and straight, lay and ordained persons, which has campaigned for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the churches.”

Early retirement

In 2002 Mervyn was diagnosed with cancer and retired early at 60 in 2007. He claimed his church pension and sought to establish Richard’s entitlement to a survivor’s pension as his civil partner. He then had to fight the Church of Ireland to ensure his FULL pension rights could be transferred to his legal partner and when I spent two years back in Ireland in 2007, Richard and Mervyn were in the throes of this important battle. Eventually, Richard was given the same right of access to pension that other married clergy are entitled to and the pension policy was changed for other civil partnered couples.
Although Archbishop Alan Harper was pastorally supportive of him, Mervyn’s own bishop refused to license him to preach or celebrate the eucharist in his local parish church. (Ironically, a memorial service was held there this week). The Bishop of Down and Dromore, Harold Miller, is a contemporary of mine and like Mervyn comes from evangelical roots, but this “good cop- bad cop” strategy by our church leaders is a far cry from the ministry of Jesus. I don’t know what version of the Bible these guys read.
I remember often visiting them and walking on the beach near their seaside home and listening to the exhausting effects of a church that simply could not deal with the realities of having to engage fully with a gay person (or clergyperson), even when they had dedicated most of their life to its mission, as Mervyn had done. The courage and the tenacity, the sense of justice was palpable. These were holy men who were engaged in their own process of grief and loss with Mervyn’s terminal illness, while they were vicariously fighting for the rights and dignity of others. It was another remarkable witness behind all the apparent conservative exterior, there was a lion, a tower of strength, a prophet crying in the wilderness. Fearless love in a gentle soul.
Comrades in the global battle for LGBT equality
We continued to communicate when I returned home to the U.S. and worked together on a video and some publications. Mervyn was the editor of “Share Your Story: Gay and Lesbian Experiences of Church” (2010, CAI) and the author of “Church Needs To Listen To Its Gay Clergy” (in “Moving Forward Together: Homosexuality and the Church of Ireland” 2011, CAI). They supported the work of our St. Paul’s Foundation and hosted Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo once in Ireland.
I always considered Mervyn and Richard were bravely dealing with as difficult a religious context as any African country because they remained totally excluded from the life of the mainstream church and were treated as a kind of pariah by many of their contemporaries (especially almost all of the bishops). If these bishops had only approached this situation differently, their legacy and their common humanity might have been more compassionate. These bishops remain on the wrong side of justice and have failed to offer any significant contribution to the public debate, which has now passed them by.
The Church of England mirrors much of this similar response. History will judge these acts of cowardice disguised as a concern for church orthodoxy. Not to permit a dying priest permission to celebrate the eucharist or share the Word of God through preaching just because he is in a legal partnership with another man is simply another form of clergy abuse by Bishop Harold Miller.
Mervyn died on Aug. 2 and was buried in Downpatrick on Tuesday. My love goes out to Richard, who remained at his side even during these tough years when the institutional church failed them.

A tribute to our heroes

In remembrance of Rev Mervyn Kingston

So it has been a difficult week for me with the burialof two LGBT heroes, Eric Lembembe in Cameroon and the Rev. Mervyn Kingston in Ireland. In tribute to both of them and representing the LGBT diaspora, I share one of my favorite poems written by an early LGBT theorist from the late 19th century and Anglican clergyman, Edward Carpenter. These men lived and loved deeply and have shaped who we are and what we are becoming. They rest in the earth’s womb which brought them forth and inspired them to do the kingdom work that we are all invited to participate in doing. Unlikely leaders, yes. But what wounded and challenged them became their strength and shaped their legacies. They shaped us.

”The Lake of Beauty”

Let your mind be quiet, realizing the beauty of the world, and the immense the boundless treasures that it holds in store.
All that you have within you, all that your heart desires, all that your Nature so specially fits for you- that or the counterpart of it waits for you embedded in the great Whole, for you. It will surely come to you.
Yet equally surely not one moment before its appointed time will it come. All your crying and fever and reaching out of hands will make no difference.
Therefore do not begin that game at all.
Do not recklessly spill the waters of your mind in this direction and in that, lest you become like a spring lost and dissipated in the desert.
But draw them together into a little compass, and hold them still, so still.
And let them become clear, so clear- so limpid, so mirror-like;
At last the mountains and the sky shall glass themselves in peaceful beauty.
And the antelope shall descend to drink, and to gaze at his reflected image, and the lion to quench his thirst,
And Love himself shall come and bend over, and catch his own likeness in you.

RGOD2, written by the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle of St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego, looks at faith and religion from an LGBT point of view. Ogle is known around the world for his work in support of LGBT rights and HIV-prevention efforts. He is president of St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation. Donations to the foundation can be made by clicking HERE.

 

Further information links:

 

  1. LGBT History Project
  2. Irish Times – Church of Ireland priest who championed gay rights and ecumenism
  3. Letter to Irish Times from Rupert Moreton (Revd)

The Unfair Criminalization of Gay and Transgender Youth

An Overview of the Experiences of LGBT Youth in the Juvenile Justice System of the USA

SOURCE: AP/Paul Sancya

Two boys hold hands at the Ruth Ellis Center, a drop-in shelter for LGBT – lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth in Detroit, Michigan.

By Jerome Hunt and Aisha C. Moodie-Mills | June 29, 2012

Download this brief (pdf)

Gay, transgender, and gender nonconforming youth are significantly over-represented in the juvenile justice system—approximately 300,000 gay and transgender youth are arrested and/or detained each year, of which more than 60 percent are black or Latino. Though gay and transgender youth represent just 5 percent to 7 percent of the nation’s overall youth population, they compose 13 percent to 15 percent of those currently in the juvenile justice system.

These high rates of involvement in the juvenile justice system are a result of gay and transgender youth abandonment by their families and communities, and victimization in their schools—sad realities that place this group of young people at a heightened risk of entering the school-to-prison pipeline.

Despite the disproportionately high rates of gay and transgender youth entering the juvenile justice system, our nation’s schools, law enforcement officers, district attorneys, judges, and juvenile defenders are not equipped to manage the unique experiences and challenges that these young people face. As a consequence, the system often does more harm by unfairly criminalizing these youth—imposing harsh school sanctions, labeling them as sex offenders, or detaining them for minor offenses—in addition to subjecting them to discriminatory and harmful treatment that deprives them of their basic civil rights.

Angela Irvine of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency in conjunction with the Equity Project, which works to ensure gay and transgender youth in the juvenile justice system are treated with fairness and respect, have both generated groundbreaking research on the experiences of these youth in the system over the past few years. This issue brief offers a high-level summary of some of their findings, as well as others, to explain the disproportionate pipelining of gay and transgender youth into the juvenile justice system, the bias and discrimination they face once within the system, and the steps that the federal government and state and local juvenile courts can take to ensure that gay and transgender youth are treated with dignity and respect.

Why gay and transgender youth end up in the juvenile justice system

Family rejection, homelessness, and failed safety nets

Research shows that gay and transgender youth entering into the juvenile justice system are twice as likely to have experienced family conflict, child abuse, and homelessness as other youth. This trend is partly due to the fact that youth today “come out” at younger ages, often to families that may not accept gay and transgender people. Since these youth still depend on their families to meet their material needs, family rejection can leave them emotionally and physically vulnerable, particularly if they find themselves cast onto the streets with nowhere to turn for support.

Many gay and transgender youth leave their homes of their own accord to escape the conflict and emotional or physical abuse that can ensue—26 percent report leaving their homes at some point—but more often, they are pushed out and into the juvenile justice system by their own families.

Interfamily conflicts stemming from parents’ refusal to accept a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity often result in the first contact these young people have with the justice system. According to the Equity Project, prosecutors frequently file charges against these youth for being “incorrigible” or beyond the control of their parents or guardians, based largely on the parent’s objections to their sexual orientation. This practice unfairly criminalizes gay and transgender youth because of their identity rather than because of their behavior.

Further, family discord that casts these youth from their homes can send them cascading through social safety nets not adequately equipped to support them. Programs designed to keep children and youth off the streets, such as foster care, health centers, and other youth-serving institutions, are often ill-prepared or unsafe for gay and transgender youth due to institutional prejudice, lack of provider and foster-parent training, and discrimination against gay and transgender youth by adults and peers.As a result, many youth run away from these placements, actions that could also land them in the custody of the juvenile justice system.

Gay and transgender youth who flee hostility and abuse at home and in temporary placements are most likely to end up homeless, which is the greatest predictor of involvement with the juvenile justice system. Gay and transgender youth represent up to 40 percent of the homeless youth population even though they only compose 5 percent to 7 percent of the youth population overall, and 39 percent of homeless gay and transgender youth report being involved in the juvenile justice system at some level.

Out of despair and a need for survival, homeless gay and transgender youth are more likely to resort to criminal behaviors, such as drug sales, theft, or “survival sex,” which put them at risk of arrest and detainment. These youth are also at an increased risk of detainment for committing crimes related to homelessness, such as violating youth curfew laws and sleeping in public spaces.

Family rejection, which sets off a tragic chain of events for many gay and transgender youth, is at the core of these issues. Caitlin Ryan of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, whose research has brought to light the negative impacts that family rejection can have on gay and transgender youth, emphasizes the need to provide opportunities to help support and strengthen families in order to promote nurturing environments for gay and transgender children. Early intervention can help families and caregivers reduce the risk of these youth entering the juvenile justice system. It is important that law enforcement officials, district attorneys, judges, and juvenile defenders seek ways to keep gay and transgender youth and their families together, rather than pushing for incarceration.

Biased school discipline policies

Unfortunately, schools do not always provide a reprieve for youth experiencing family rejection. According to the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s School Climate Survey, 84 percent of gay and transgender students report being verbally harassed, 40 percent physically harassed, and 19 percent physically assaulted.

What’s more, gay and transgender students report astonishingly low levels of confidence in their school administrators and often do not report incidents because they expect the situation will not improve or fear it might even become worse. This is not surprising considering that one-third of bullied gay and transgender students who reported bullying to school officials said the administrators did nothing to address the issue.

In fact, school officials in many ways exacerbate these problems and place further stress and burden on gay and transgender youth by disproportionately doling out harsh school sanctions against them for minor disciplinary infractions. The school and juvenile justice systems have become inextricably linked in recent years with schools relying heavily on law enforcement to manage what in the past were school discipline issues. The consequence of this conflated discipline system is that it unduly criminalizes youth of color and gay and transgender youth.

School discipline policies across the United States are under heightened scrutiny because of the disparate impact they have on youth of color, particularly black boys. Data released this spring from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights show that harsh school sanctions—such as zero-tolerance policies, which lead to suspensions and expulsions of students for even the most minor offenses—perpetuate a school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately criminalizes youth of color.

Hidden among these school discipline data are thousands of gay and transgender youth who bear a double burden of disparate impact. A groundbreaking study published in 2010 in the medical journal Pediatrics revealed that gay and transgender youth, particularly gender nonconforming girls, are up to three times more likely to experience harsh disciplinary treatment by school administrators than their heterosexual counterparts.

As with the racial disparities in school suspensions and expulsions, these higher rates of punishment do not correlate to higher rates of misbehavior among gay and transgender youth. What the research suggests is that gay and transgender youth actually face harsher sanctions by school administrators even when committing similar offenses.

Surely bias and discrimination among teachers, staff, and administrators contributes to the unfair treatment of gay and transgender youth in schools. Adults in schools often draw assumptions of guilt based on a student’s physical characteristics, demeanor, dress, or mannerisms, deeming those deviating from an accepted gender norm to be agitators. Such assumptions are not only misguided, but biased against gay and transgender students who do not fall within rigid stereotypes of expression.

Moreover, studies reveal that gay and transgender youth are often the victims, rather than the aggressors in school conflicts, which stem from bullying and harassment. Consider, for example, a gender nonconforming girl exhibiting masculine traits, who is disciplined for fighting but may be defending herself from peers’ taunts. Yet more often than not, school administrators will consider her the aggressor based solely on her physical demeanor and will suspend or expel her despite the defensive nature of her actions.

For many students, suspension and expulsion are the first steps toward time behind bars. This is equally true for gay and transgender youth. Black boys and gender nonconforming girls similarly experience disproportionately harsh punishments and juvenile justice system referrals in schools, but the latter are rendered all but invisible because sexual orientation and gender identity are not included in the federal school discipline data cited earlier in this report. A first step in addressing the unfair punishment of gay and transgender youth in schools is to expand the research and collection of school discipline data to include gay and transgender youth, which will help policymakers and practitioners alike better understand the problem and formulate more supportive school discipline policies.

Unfair criminalization by the system

Once in the juvenile justice system, gay and transgender youth are too often denied basic civil rights, wrongly categorized as sexually deviant simply because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender nonconformity, and even labeled as sex offenders. They are also subjected to the biases and discrimination of law enforcement agents, judges, and other justice system officials that leave them vulnerable to abuse and neglect.

Classification as sex offenders

Gay and transgender youth who end up in the justice system are at-risk of being labeled as sex offenders, regardless of whether they have actually committed a sexual crime. Gay and transgender youth “are more likely to be prosecuted for age-appropriate consensual sexual activity” than their heterosexual counterparts—a lopsided application of the law, which has devastating consequences for gay and transgender youth who would be required to register as a sex offenders in 29 states if convicted. The stigma of being a registered sex offender could haunt them for the rest of their lives, negatively impacting their future employment and life opportunities and causing significant psychological distress.

Many gay and transgender youth charged with nonsexual offenses are also unfairly treated as sex offenders and ordered by the court to undergo sex offender treatment programs or sex offense risk assessments simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This misguided categorization by the courts has led gay and transgender youth, innocent of violent crimes or sex offenses, to be placed in restrictive punitive settings for high-risk youth and to be given longer stays in out-of-home placements.

These restrictive settings not only hinder rehabilitation efforts, they perpetuate the stigma that being gay or transgender is wrong. Additionally, extended stays in out-of-home placements prevent gay and transgender youth from reconnecting with their families, a critical step proven to stabilize their lives and reduce their risk of returning to the system. These unfair practices make gay and transgender youth susceptible to discrimination and harmful treatment while in the system.

Detention as a default

In most incidences juveniles who have been arrested or detained will only be released from custody under the supervision of a parent or guardian. Without someone to claim them, youth can be left to languish in detention centers with youth convicted of crimes, even if they have not been. Gay and transgender youth are most at-risk of detainment by default by the juvenile justice system as they are more likely to be estranged from their families and lack parental support, which leaves them to fend for themselves. As a consequence, these youth are subjected to criminal incarceration while they await foster or group home placements.

Discriminatory and harmful treatment

Segregation and isolation of gay and transgender youth

From the moment gay and transgender youth enter a detention facility they are at risk of being inappropriately classified and housed. Transgender youth, for example, are often placed according to their birth sex rather than by their gender identity in an effort to force transgender youth to conform to societal norms. Doing so can be psychologically devastating and leave them vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse. Additionally, youth facility staff often view them as threatening or sexually predatory, harmful stereotypes that taint placement decisions and influence the treatment of transgender youth.

Some facilities will automatically segregate gay and transgender youth or place them in solitary confinement for their “own safety,” but this isolation perpetuates the stigmatization of gay and transgender youth, casts them as sexually deviant, and signals that they might be of threat to other youth.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, isolation “is a form of punishment and is likely to produce lasting psychiatric symptoms.” Unwarranted segregation deprives gay and transgender youth of educational, recreational, and programming opportunities that they are otherwise entitled to receive, punishing them unfairly and at a particularly vulnerable time in their adolescent development.

Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse

A 2007 study funded by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation found an astounding 67 percent of gay or transgender men have been sexually assaulted by another inmate—a rate 15 times higher than the overall inmate population. Another study found that sexual assaults that occur are not just isolated events, but that 30 percent of all inmates have endured six or more sexual assaults.

Gay and transgender youth are particularly at risk for physical, sexual, and emotional abuse while in detention, by both staff and other youth. Eighty percent of those surveyed by the Equity Project believed a lack of safety in dentition was a serious problem. Some reports suggest that staff have turned a blind eye to incidents of rape and abuse against gay and transgender youth, confusing gay and transgender identity as an invitation for sex. Gay and transgender youth are not only subjected to abuse by their peers but by staff as well, particularly in the facilities that lack training and policies that promote inclusiveness and rely on biases rather than on best practices in treatment and placement decisions. This type of environment allows physical, sexual, and emotional abuse toward gay and transgender youth to happen without so much as a second thought and leaves them with nowhere to turn for help.

Unsafe reparative or conversion therapy

Gay and transgender youth have been subjected to reparative or conversion therapy to change their sexual orientation by both social workers and the courts, even though so-called reparative or conversion therapy has been condemned by every major health organization, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Sadly, the juvenile justice system is rife with examples of misguided interventions. One judge hospitalized a gay youth to stop his same-sex attraction, while another judge with the parent’s approval, had a young lesbian who was caught in a sexual act with another girl placed in a private hospital to be “treated and diagnosed for this behavior.” These examples may be the extreme, but instances such as a 15-year-old boy being given a women’s lingerie catalogue with the purpose of teaching him “appropriate” sexual desires and a male-to-female transgender youth, who was detained in a boy’s facility, being placed on “treatment plan” to “help with gender confusion and appropriate gender identity,” are more common examples of unsafe reparative therapy.

The inclination to change a youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity or force him or her to conform to “social norms” hinders general mental health and causes severe psychological distress. This type of “counseling and other services are virtually worthless [for gay and transgender youth] because they either ignore or criminalize the youth’s sexuality.”

Conclusion and recommendations

Gay and transgender youth are pipelined into the juvenile justice system at disproportionate rates, often stripped of their basic dignity and civil rights, and treated in a harmful and discriminatory manner once in the system. The current policies and practices of schools and the juvenile justice system overlook gay and transgender youth and perpetuate stigma and bias that can lead to their unwarranted criminalization and unfair treatment.

Some of the issues discussed in this report stem from the lack of cultural competency on the part of school officials, law enforcement officers, district attorneys, judges, and juvenile defenders. The individuals who interface directly with these youth must be better equipped to provide respectful, culturally appropriate interventions in order to reduce the number of gay and transgender youth unfairly and unnecessarily pipelined into the juvenile justice system and to improve conditions for them once in the system. A first step toward improving the system will be to institute training standards across the board for all agents of the court.

Moreover, institutional bias is at the heart of the mistreatment of gay and transgender youth by schools and the juvenile justice system, and we recommend broad policy suggestions to address them. The following recommendations are adopted in part from the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Council and the Equity Project. These recommendations are by no means the only recommendations for improvement, but instead offer a start to address the serious issue of the criminalization of gay and transgender youth.

Practical recommendations

  • Promotion of family center interventions

Family rejection drives many gay and transgender youth from their homes and perpetuates negative coping behaviors and unlawful activities, heightening risk of entering the juvenile justice system. Gay and transgender youth who feel a sense of family acceptance report better physical, mental, and educational outcomes all around. Yet families have largely been left out of the equation on reform. Interventions that reconnect youth with their families will reduce their susceptibility to involvement with the juvenile justice system. Moreover, schools and juvenile detention systems should engage in more supportive behaviors that reduce risk and promote the positive development of gay and transgender youth in custodial care.

  • Gay and transgender inclusive training for all juvenile justice professionals

“Juvenile justice professionals must receive training and resources regarding the unique societal, familial, and developmental challenges confronting [gay and transgender] youth … [T]rainings must be designed to address the specific professional responsibilities of the audience (i.e., judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, probation officers, and detention staff).” Furthermore, these professionals must ensure that they and others treat gay and transgender youth with dignity, respect, and fairness and avoid ridiculing or attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • Development of gay and transgender inclusive policies, procedures, and programs

All agencies involved with juvenile justice and all officers of the juvenile court should develop, adopt, and enforce polices that prohibit discrimination and mistreatment of any youth on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity at all stages of the process. Juvenile justice professionals should develop appropriate responses to the behavior of each gay and transgender youth that are tailored to address specific needs and to promote individual well-being by allowing gay and transgender youth to express themselves freely. This would include giving them the choice of name, clothing, hairstyle, or any other means by which they feel comfortable expressing themselves.

  • Gay and transgender inclusive data collection by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Many states and localities are unable to achieve meaningful changes to their juvenile justice systems because the lack adequate data. Therefore, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention should prioritize data collection that is disaggregated not only by race, ethnicity, and gender, but also by sexual orientation and gender identity. Through this type of robust data collection, communities will be better able to develop services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate for youth and their families, especially for gay and transgender youth.

Policy recommendations

  • Dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline for all youth and for gay and transgender youth in particular

As previously noted, gay and transgender youth are disproportionately pipelined into the juvenile justice system by their schools. Yet little data are available to quantify the problem and address it effectively. We can address this by including sexual orientation and gender identity questions in the Department of Education’s school discipline data collection efforts. In addition, it is important that the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, a joint effort between the Department of Education and the Department of Justice aiming to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and currently focusing on race, provide guidance to school systems that bridges the gap for all youth, including those who are gay or transgender.

  • Pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Nondiscrimination Act

The federal Student Nondiscrimination Act would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation against any student in a public school that receives federal funding and would allow individuals to take legal action and be awarded compensatory damages and reimbursement of court costs if judgment is found in their favor under the bill’s provisions. The Safe Schools Improvement Act would require kindergarten-through-12th-grade public schools that receive federal funding to implement policies prohibiting harassment and bullying based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The bill would also require states to report harassment and bullying data to the U.S. Department of Education. Passage of these two pieces of legislation by Congress would help ensure that gay and transgender students do not end up in the juvenile justice system for protecting themselves against discrimination they face on a daily basis at school.

  • Gay and transgender cultural competence in Safe Schools/Healthy Students

The Department of Education’s Safe Schools/Healthy Students program is widely recognized as a model of “effective collaboration across public education, local mental health, and juvenile justice.” Therefore the evaluations of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students program should be inclusive of gay and transgender students needs, including cultural competency training for those who work in the juvenile justice system. Increased training focused on the needs of gay and transgender youth will help decrease arrest rates and referrals of these youth to the juvenile justice system. Currently, law enforcement is 50 percent more likely to stop gay youth than other youth, according to a recent study in the medical journal Pediatrics. Additionally, “girls who identified themselves as lesbians or bisexual reported twice as many arrests and convictions as other girls who had engaged in similar behavior.” Gay and transgender youth in general experience high rates of school violence, which not only interferes with their ability to learn but also can affect their involvement with the juvenile justice system.

  • Amend the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act

Congress should amend the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA, to exclude youth who are convicted of certain sex-based offenses from mandatory sex offender registration. The way the U.S. Department of Justice’s SORNA program is currently set up can disrupt families because both the youth who has to register is stigmatized and the entire family. More importantly, SORNA can have lasting effects on a youth’s identification and treatment. A parent, for example, may delay getting his or her child needed treatment and even go as far as hiding the child’s problem after discovering that the child may have to register as a sex offender for life. Thus, amending this law can help to alleviate the criminalization that is part and parcel of a gay or transgender youth being labeled as a sex offender.

  • Reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act has not been reauthorized since 2002 and is in need of substantive changes to ensure that youth are put on a better path and that our communities are kept safe. In particular, the act should be reauthorized to include three key items that will help gay and transgender youth in the system. The first is to strengthen the Disproportionate Minority Contact core protections “by requiring states to take concrete steps to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system,” rather than just issuing vague requirements with no clear guidance on how to reduce these disparities.

Second, the partnership between states and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention should expand training, technical assistance, and research and evaluation to include of gay and transgender needs and issues.

Third, incentives for the juvenile justice system to ensure that all policies, practices, and programs recognize the unique needs of gay and transgender youth, including accountability measures, expertise on the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act advisory groups, and increased research and information dissemination should be created.

  • Passage of federal legislation prohibiting gay and transgender discrimination in the juvenile justice system

As this brief has shown, the juvenile justice system holds a disproportionally large number of gay and transgender youth, who experience high rates of discrimination and violence. Passage of federal protections that would ensure equality and the end of discrimination against gay and transgender youth is universal and should not be legislated on a state-by-state basis. Therefore, “Congress should pass federal protections against discrimination in all settings based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and create incentives for States to appropriately and effectively respond to [gay and transgender] youth involved in the justice system.”

Jerome Hunt is a Research Associate for LGBT Progress at American Progress and Aisha C. Moodie-Mills is the Advisor for LGBT Policy & Racial Justice at American Progress.

Letters to My Brother

Letters to My Brother

When 18-year-old Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in September 2010, he became an overnight symbol of the fight against cyber-bullying and homophobia. Here, his older brother reclaims his memory from the headlines and pays tribute to his abbreviated life.

Tyler (left) and James Clementi / Photo courtesy James Clementi

I ’m not sure when I first realized my younger brother was gay. I think I knew he was for as long as I knew I was. I had no idea how to bring it up; it was just something we left dangling in the air, unsaid. I was open about my sexuality with friends, but around my family there was this barrier that felt unbreakable. It slowly dawned on me that I wasn’t the only one, that I had a brother who was also gay — my baby brother, whom I had always felt protective and paternal toward. I knew I was in a position to be a confidant, a role model. But I wasn’t ready to do any of that. It would have made it much less lonely for me to grow up with an older brother who had gone through and understood everything I was dealing with — and I wanted to be that for Tyler. I didn’t start to come out to the people in my life until I was in my early twenties, so I always thought Tyler would follow the same timeline and we wouldn’t need to address the rainbow-colored elephant for a few more years. I was terrified to talk to him, accustomed to secrecy and scared I would make everything worse somehow.

The summer after Tyler graduated from high school we made plans to see Toy Story 3 together, and I looked up the schedule online. I walked into his room without knocking to ask what times would work for him, and there was that awkward moment where he realized that I was standing behind him. I realized my little brother was looking at gay porn. Caught off guard, I acted like I hadn’t seen it, and I think he was initially relieved. But from this moment, there was a growing anxiety, an urgent pull from inside myself that was compelling me to talk to him, and I knew it was time — probably way past time. I gave myself a day to stress out over the right words, the best place, the perfect time. And then I just did it.

SLIDESHOW: FAMILY SNAPSHOTS OF THE BROTHERS TOGETHER

It was the Fourth of July. We had spent the day at the movies, the diner, the fireworks. So many opportunities, and I kept chickening out. That night, I found him in the house listening to Katy Perry, and I saw that, if I couldn’t do this now, something was really wrong with me. I overthought it — because it ended up being this simple.

Me: “I’m gay.” Tyler: “Oh. Me too.”

 

It was great because we had always known, but now we could talk about it. I saw so much relief and genuine happiness in his face. It felt like the beginning. We talked for hours about sex, relationships, bars, fake IDs, homophobia, everything that had been off-limits before. I was really taken aback by how assured and poised he was, how much better he understood himself and his desires than I did at 18. It was startling, but it also fit with my sense of him as a young man, still figuring it out but grounded in his own worth and value.

Two months later, he left to start his first semester at Rutgers. I think he left excited to grow up, to live life. I was looking forward to the days ahead and the years of brotherhood still to come.

Pipsqueak,
You were one noisy kid. I remember walking inside and the most beautiful sounds of Tchaikovsky and Mozart would waft through every room. And I hated it.

Remember how I used to bang on your door and scream at you to stop being so loud? It was so unfair that I had to listen to your noise all the time — why couldn’t you just pick up a quieter hobby!? I would refuse to attend your recitals and concerts because I had to listen to you play all the damn time at home. Wow, do I regret that.

It is so quiet now. You were really talented; it was a gift. I’m not sure I ever told you that… maybe you didn’t care. It’s not like you needed my validation; I know nothing about classical music and you knew you were the shit when it came to that damn violin. I just feel really bad for not telling you how awesome you are, how much I respect your skills and dedication. I regret not listening to every note with open ears, not going to more concerts. Fuck you for making me feel bad; it’s not fair that you did that to me. But I would tell you now if I could, I really miss the noise!

Hey Ty,
So the other day I was at Barnes & Noble, trying to find a book to read since I have a lot of free time now that I can’t sleep, can’t hold a job, don’t want to be around friends or family, and pretty much need to escape my life. Anyway, I was browsing at the newsstand and I saw you. I always do. This time you were staring back at me from the cover of People. I keep thinking that I’ll look up and see you for real, the way you should be, but it’s always more reminders of the way you are. I’m sure the other customers found my anxiety attack entertaining. How am I supposed to respond to seeing you on People, though? It’s a lot to digest, you being a celebrity and all. I always knew you would make it big; I just thought you’d be around to enjoy it.

I wonder what you would think, seeing all the commotion you’ve caused. It is surreal and meaningless to see you as a mere story on The New York Times, a brief glimpse at a life with none of the detail. You were a typical college freshman, trying to adjust to a dorm room, make some friends, meet a cute guy, and enjoy your independence, and no one noticed. The headlines tell of how you were violated and ridiculed; your last moments are a cautionary tale, a scandal, something to sell and entertain.

You are on every talk show, newspaper, and blog, being held up as the issue du jour for the masses to “care about,” like they ever read you a story or wiped away your tears or spun you around in the air until you were dizzy. I wish it didn’t take you dying for your soul to know peace. I wish you could read the hundreds of letters we got, hear the thousands who rallied and marched for you, know the millions who followed your story on the 6 o’clock news. You were never alone; it just felt like it.

When you were here with me, you had no idea how important you were, and it took your death to make that point. Now you are gone. How will you know how much I love you, how much we all do? It’s not like you can read your big cover story. It’s not as though you can hear me crying.

 

SLIDESHOW: FAMILY SNAPSHOTS OF THE BROTHERS TOGETHER

Little Peanut,
I always thought that, between you and I, you were the stronger one. That’s why, as protective as I felt toward you, I never worried that much. I saw the best parts of myself in you. Of course, we looked like twins, albeit six years and a foot and a half apart. But — let’s face it — you were better. Where I dabbled (pretty pitifully) in painting, you devoted hours of every day to the violin since you were eight, then picked up the piano, and even taught yourself the freaking harmonica. Never one to be outdone, when I was biking a mile, you were unicycling two. Where I was shy, you were fearless. When I tiptoed out of the closet at 22, you were out and proud at 18.

I remember asking if you had a boyfriend, or if you wanted one, and you scoffed at me. “I just want to hook up.” That’s what you said — and that’s fine — but I think maybe you didn’t see how much more you deserved.

Sometimes I wonder who that guy was, the one in your dorm room. He doesn’t matter. You were so young, and there were going to be others. But in that moment, what did it mean for you? Were you bored, scared, over it, into it, what? Everyone knows their first, but who ever thinks of their last? I’m sure you didn’t even realize that it was the final time you’d be close to someone. He shouldn’t matter, but being the last gives him a strange importance. Did he make you happy?

You had a lot of growing up to do and a lot of baggage to work through before you could really feel comfortable with who you were. You’d roll your eyes at me and dismiss it with one of your “whatevers,” but it’s true. Libidos aside, when you told me you were only looking for hook-ups, I totally didn’t believe you. Sure, sex is amazing, but love is the best part. It was there within your grasp.

Dear Tyler,
I guess I never really told you how much I admire you, how much I wish I was more like you. We came from the same gene pool, the same family, the same town, the same schools, the same church, everything the same. But I always saw a confidence and strength in you that I didn’t
recognize in myself. Where did you get that? When I thought about where I was going to be in five or 10 years, I could never picture it — my mind would be blank. But when I imagined your future, I saw the world at your feet. You were supposed to show me up, do it better than I could. I wanted that for you. I saw amazing professional accomplishments for you, but also personal ones. I know now that you felt so alone, but Jesus Christ — you are so, so easy to love, with your kind eyes and gentle heart. I know so many people you had yet to meet that would one day love you almost as much as I do. Even after what you did, I cannot see you as a sad or depressed or lonely kid. To me, you will always be my sweet, tender little brother.

I’ve heard the story so many times: how you did it, the night you jumped. The first time, and every time I’ve been told about it, read it in a paper, heard it on TV, or dreamt about it at night, it still confuses me. I know you and I know that is not who you are. And that is never how I will think of you, alone and cold and at the end.

You are youth, potential just beginning to unfold. You are blood, my connection to the past, and my hope for the future. You are beauty, fleeting and marvelous. I know there was pain, and I’m sorry for that, but you were joy, too. Your voice, your smile, tiny hands clinging to mine. I will never let go.

A Mom Almost Talks to Her Gay Son

By: Gay.com
5.10.2012

The Non-Normative Conversation:
A Mom Almost Talks to Her Queer Son

Words by The Mothership

I was looking for a parking space in West Hollywood the week before Gay Pride.

“Mom, what’s Gay Pride?” said my eight-year-old daughter, Shannon. I guess she’d read the signs while I was trying to park.

“It’s a big party for gay people,” I said.

“What’s gay people?” asked her brother, Danny, who was five.

Whoa, I thought. This is a Formative Moment.  This is One of Those Discussions They Remember Forever and I am without a thought in my head. How strange.  I have plenty of long-time gay friends, I’ve lived in West Hollywood—I’ve even done summer stock!  I should know what to say.

“Well,” I tried. “Boys who are gay like boys better than girls, and girls who are gay like girls better than boys.”

There was a long silence from the back seat.

“Mom, are we gay?”

Truth is always good, right?

“Well,” I said. “I’m not. But you might be.”

You can cringe if you want. I completely understand. To this day, I’m not sure if I gave the World’s Best Answer or the World’s Worst Answer, or if I just said something stupid. But then that describes all of parenting—you’re never really sure if what you say or do is good, bad, harmful, lame, ridiculous, or might actually make an impact and turn these moldable little creatures into magnificent human beings.

The parental paradigm, in other words, is always shifting.

So when I got the email from Danny, now in college, that started, “Well here’s an email for you, potentially surprising (probably surprising), maybe totally predictable, but read all of it, and understand that things will be different once you read it!” was I surprised? Yes. No. Maybe a little.

Dan apologized for coming out via email. His father had been visiting him at school and he told him the night before. Now Dan wanted me to know. He wrote, “Something about the ‘coming out’ proclamation

seemed totally unsuitable for me, so I never wanted a grand statement. But I think the reality is, this kind of relationship is effectively non-normative, and there is no social apparatus for talking about it (at the beginning) normatively.”

Uh…

Normative (Adjective)
1: of, relating to, or determining norms or standards <normative tests>
2: conforming to or based on norms <normative behavior> <normative judgments>
3: prescribing norms <normative rules of ethics> <normative grammar>

The boy always did love his vocabulary. But I saw he was right. I wanted to find a common language with my son. I wanted to talk about it, normative or not, but somehow like that day in the car, the words just didn’t come as easily as I thought they should.

So Danny and I took refuge in the language of academia. And Google chat. And text messages. Sometimes I think that Danny is impatient with what must feel like my slow grappling with this information. When I asked him if he told his sister, he wrote, “Yeah, yeah. I will. The whole point is to not make it a big production.”

“It’s kind of a big production,” I wrote back.

“I mean,” he responded, “it’s just like there’s not a societal apparatus for having non-normative sexualities. Your difference has to be announced, which is problematic, and useful, to be sure, in a political way.”

And then the killer: “There’s something symbolically violent about the identity game. IS THIS PERSON SO-AND-SO, I TOTALLY KNEW IT.” And then, even more damningly, “Which, for the most part, is done by traditionally straight people, done from a position of stable gender identity.”

That’s me. Stable gender identity. I suppose I have something that Danny, at this point, does not. And even pre-“announcement,” I totally knew he was gay. And I felt so very traditional, almost embarrassed, when I read those words.

A few months ago, I asked Danny if he wanted to come home for spring break, maybe even bring his boyfriend, Scott. (“I prefer partner,” Danny responded, which was refreshingly earnest non-gender-based early-twenties enthusiasm for the current relationship, which will undoubtedly go on forever.) During his previous two years of college, Danny had always politely refused. But this year, he emailed, “You know, I think I would.”

I told Danny I would like to give a party.

“That might freak Scott out,” Danny wrote.

“He’ll deal, “ I wrote back.

“Who would you invite?” Danny asked suspiciously.

“People,” I responded.

“I might not book something yet,” Danny said. “Scott might be totally embarrassed.”

Some general talk about plane fares followed, then “Scott is voicing his anxiety about being thrown a party” and then a plea for money to buy “suit things” for an upcoming interview.

Another message appeared on the screen: “Scott is attacking me for mincing his words. He, in fact, WANTS a dinner party, thus…throw a party!”

I hesitated before sending the invitations. By calling Scott “Danny’s boyfriend” am I making an “announcement”? Turning the event into a “production”? Where are the rules? Where’s the handbook?

I finally settled on “special guest, Scott,” figuring it was about as neutral as I could get.

Immediately, Danny emailed back, “Why is Scott a special guest?”

“Why not?” I answered.

“It’s a little weirdly ambiguous is all, I mean,” he wrote. “I guess our relationship will be news that night!”

The party was a huge success. People either figured it out, or didn’t, or were just glad to see the young man who was once the chubby-cheeked little boy that they knew and loved. But when one friend offered to take Danny and Scott out clubbing in West Hollywood, Danny told me, “I don’t know about that!” Danny was only willing to take his new self so far. The living room was fine—more or less—but Santa Monica Boulevard? Not so much.

And here’s the odd thing, or maybe it’s not: Danny and I have never once spoken in person about his new—ah, what? Identity? Orientation? Newest personality that Danny’s trying on for size? In all honestly, I’m a little worried to talk about it. Gay or straight, it’s not easy to negotiate the ground rules with a newly formed adult. As much as I’m not sure what my role is, I’m not sure he knows what his role is, either.

A few days ago, while I was at work, Danny sent me a message with a link to his newest college project website. I clicked on the link and QUEER CULTURE: ART, STABILITY AND CHANGE in very large letters popped up on the screen.

“Look, everyone!” I said with pride. “It’s my kid’s newest work!”

I told him it looked fantastic.

And he told me that meant a lot.

We stumble on.

Images: Photos.com, for illustrative purposes only.

 

When I read this article it reminded me of this book published in 1975 by Laura Z Hobson “Consentint Adult” – a series of letters from other and son on him coming out, and how impacts on the family.  There are 37 years of history between the book and the article, but in some ways I must ask has society really moved on?

Research on the implications of public spending cuts on LGBT people

We need your help!

The impacts of the Government’s spending cuts are wide ranging. However more information is needed to understand the implications for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The impacts of the Government’s spending cuts are wide ranging. However more information is needed to understand the implications for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

NatCen Social Research, an independent social research organisation, has been commissioned by UNISON to explore whether and how public spending cuts of recent years have affected LGBT people. We are interested in hearing from LGBT people who have used publicly funded services or people who provide services to LGBT people in the last two years.

We are inviting you to contribute your views on the implications of austerity for LGBT people. Taking part is completely confidential and no individual or organisation will be identified. Click on this link http://www.natcen.ac.uk/study/implications-of-austerity-on-lgbt-people-in-public-services  to visit the study website where you can find out more about the research and take part. To take part, click the ‘Take part in the research’ button on the webpage.

 

Yours sincerely

Dr Martin Mitchell

 

 

 

0-0-0-0-0-0

[highlight color=”blue”]Research on the implications of public spending cuts on LGBT people[/highlight]

[highlight color=”pink”]What is the research about?[/highlight]

The implications of austerity (cuts in public and voluntary sector funding and budgets) may be far reaching but little information is available, beyond anecdotal evidence. UNISON has commissioned this study to find out more about how the austerity measures of recent years have affected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

[highlight color=”pink”]Key aims of the study are to:[/highlight]

Explore the way cuts to public and community services may be affecting LGBT people from the perspective of LGBT service users and people who provide services to LGBT people.
Gather suggestions of ways UNISON and its members can respond to cuts in public and voluntary sector funding and budgets.

[highlight color=”pink”]Who can take part?[/highlight]

Any LGBT person aged 16 or over who has accessed publicly funded services in the last two years.
Anyone who has provided publicly funded services to LGBT people in the last two years; either specific services targeted at LGBT people or mainstream services accessed by LGBT people.
If you are unsure if you are eligible to take part, please contact the research team who will be happy to help you. See ‘ How do I get in touch?’ below.

[highlight color=”pink”]Who is funding the research?[/highlight]

The research is being funded by UNISON, one of Britain largest trade unions with members in the public, community and private sectors. UNISON has asked NatCen Social Research to conduct the study on their behalf.

[highlight color=”pink”]Who are NatCen Social Research?[/highlight]

NatCen Social Research is an independent and not-for-profit social research organisation. NatCen designs and carries out high quality research studies in the fields of social and public policy. Learn more about us at www.natcen.ac.uk .

[highlight color=”pink”]What is involved in taking part?[/highlight]

There are three ways that you can take part in the study:
1.      Make a short written submission via a secure website in response to five questions. Submissions can be made at any time up until midday on 30th September 2013. This will involve preparing short written answers to five questions that may take up to 30 minutes.
2.      Take part in a 30-40 minute telephone interview. We would arrange a time and date that is most convenient for you.
3.      Make both a written submission and take part in a telephone interview.

[highlight color=”pink”]Do I have to take part?[/highlight]

Taking part is voluntary.  It is entirely up to you if you want to take part in the research and you can change your mind at any point.

You do not have to give answers to all the questions on the online written submission website or in the telephone interview and you can choose to stop at any time.

[highlight color=”pink”]Who will know what I say?[/highlight]

We will write a report based on what people have said. The names of the people who have taken part will not be in the report and it will not be possible for you to be identified.

If you choose to participate in a telephone interview, we will ask to audio record the discussion so that we have an accurate record of what you say. This recording will be stored securely at NatCen’s offices and only the research team will be able to listen to it.

[highlight color=”pink”]Why take part?[/highlight]

This is your opportunity to have a say. Your views will be important in indentifying whether austerity has implications for LGBT people and will help to inform UNISON’s campaigns, recruitment and other work in this area.

[highlight color=”pink”]How do I get in touch?[/highlight]

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a member of the research team by emailing AusterityandLGBT@natcen.ac.uk or calling our freephone on 0808 178 9054.

'The Laramie Project'

The Matthew Shepard Story

The Matthew Shepard Story

The story of Matthew Shepard
Location and Time:  Thursday 1st August 2012, the Metropolitan Arts Centre theatre; an intimate theatre of approximately 112 seats.

The play was ‘The Laramie Project’ which was written by Moses Kaufmann and members of the Tyectonic Theater Project, but our production was performed and orchestrated by the Dundonald Association of Music and Drama (DAMD) sponsored by the Police Service of N Ireland (PSNI) and The Rainbow Project.
The Laramie Project is a verbatim play about the reaction to the torture and murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998; The Angels during the rallyhe was a young gay man who was robbed, viciously beaten and left tied to a fence to die. Although he was soon found by the police and hospitalized, he soon expired.  Matthew was a student in Laramie, Wyoming and this play is based on a series of interviews conducted with Laramie residents in the aftermath of his murder.  Matthew’s murder focused attention on the lack of hate crime legislation in various states including Wyoming.
DAMD were formed in July 2009 by Melissa Smith.  DAMD’s artistic mission is to engage their community in theatre that makes you think or blink with tears).  ‘If we can inspire, nurture, challenge, amaze, educate or empower artists and audiences b y providing a quality performing arts experience then we retire happily with our bedtime cocoa.’

The stage setting consisted of eight chairs with a ‘goodies’ box beside each containing various individual props, and a stand for the presenter who guided us through the performance.
The performance was riveting, and it indeed did bring this audience member to tears as he remembered the harrowing news items from the time, and how utterly soul destroying the story was as it unfolded, including the trial.  The subsequent theatre production and also the movie release with of the Laramie Project and also the Matthew Shepard Story with Sam Waterston as the father of Matthew kept the story alive and in people minds, and continued to pile pressure on the USA legislature and government and local states.
DAMD’s performance was startling real, the accents were faultless ( at least to my ears), and the minimlist stage setting helped to focus attention on the dialogue, the speakers and the story.
The Laramie Project is often used as a method to teach about prejudice and tolerance in personal, social, and health education and citizenship in schools, and it has also been used in the UK as a General Certificate of Secondary Education text for English literature.  Having just been to an event during Belfast Pride about how our N Ireland Library Service for Schools is currently unable to provide the service needed for LGBT youth, and that a survey of LGBT books in school libraries only returned one item throughout Northern Ireland, it would seem that we need to put on more productions of this play, and especially try to get it seen within our school and college systems.

 

Further links:

  • [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Laramie_Project” blank=”true”]The Laramie Project[/button_icon]
  • [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Laramie_Project_%28film%29″ blank=”true”]The Laramie Project (film)[/button_icon]
  • [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Matthew_Shepard_Story” blank=”true”]The Matthew Shepard Story[/button_icon]
  • [button_icon icon=”camera” url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiKBv29xvS8″ blank=”true”]Youtube: The Matthew Shepard Story [/button_icon]
  • [button_icon icon=”camera” url=”Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1qiTmF0p4A” blank=”true”]The Laramie Project[/button_icon]
  • [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://www.laramieproject.org/” blank=”true” colour=”green”]The Laramie Project Website & Charity[/button_icon]

Are Northern Ireland School Libraries failing our LGBT Youth?

Hmophobia is preventable in schoolOn a Wednesday evening during Belfast Pride I attended a Unison sponsored event ‘on whether our Northern Ireland School Libraries are failing our LGBT Youth?’

After a warm welcome by Fidelma Carolan, we were then given a wonderful presentation by Sally Bridge on the results of her research project undertaken whilst she was at university and completed in 2010.

The audience was actively involved, asking penetrating and supporting questions to expand and to add personal observations to what was already an exciting report.

The report highlighted the following areas of concern:

  • That the school library is seen as a safe haven, but librarians are not trained in providing this space and supporting it.
  • That 84% of schools either have no (52%) or don’t now (32%) if the school anti-bullying policies encompass homophobic bullying.
  • That 20% of libraries felt it was not appropriate to provide LGBT information in a school library; but of the 80% who were, 74% reported that they had no LGBT information in their library.
  • That the DENI circular on Relationships and Sexuality Education Policy in Schools has placed homosexuality in the middle of diseases and pornography, thus further seeming to stigmatized the LGBT community and its youth.
  • 76% of LGBT teenagers did not take part in any discussion about homosexuality whilst attending education.
  • School internal filtering software prevents access to positive LGBT information sites such as GlYNI, Rainbow etc; and as a consequence LGBT youth in education do not feel secure using school facilities in relation to their LGBT needs.

After the presentation the audience then moved into a more informal setting which enabled open discussion, and the exchanging of personal stories and observations.

The NI School LIbrary Service had very kindly organised for two librarians to be at the meeting, and they were in a position to answer some questions, and to expand on some of the findings.  The worrying factor is that it would seem that the School Library service is being run down, and that the role of the school librarian is disappearing with the service, where it will be run, being undertaken by untrained staff or overworked teachers – even dare I say school students who volunteer.

A full copy of the report can be viewed here:   [button_icon icon=”document-word” url=”https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&ved=0CFkQFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcadair.aber.ac.uk%2Fdspace%2Fbitstream%2F2160%2F5714%2F1%2FThesis.doc&ei=Lv3_Ub64EY2n0wWI0YHICQ&usg=AFQjCNF4JKGGrti_m3IOUCDxw9h9e6rR3Q&sig2=KpcSTaSLr12ATkUKm2hVpA&bvm=bv.50165853,d.d2k” blank=”true”]Are NI school libraries failing our LGB&T youth? [/button_icon]

At the end of the evening, it was agreed that a focus group/pressure group would be formed to monitor and to help schools and Government realise that LGBT youth need full support and protection in our schools, and that the school library is fundamental in the provision of this.

This presentation will also be provided during the Newry Pride – all will be welcome to the Unison sponsored presentation, and I hope you will attend.

Australian LGBT Refugees – Stop them sending them to Papua New Guinea

Australia has just guaranteed that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) refugees, who arrive by boat, will be sent to Papua New Guinea – where being gay could get you 14 years in jail.Australia is one of the few countries in the region that openly accepts LGBT people. It has always been a safe haven for refugees fleeing persecution. Now, only weeks out from an election, the government has thrown together this controversial policy in the hope of winning votes. Worse yet, the opposition party are proposing an even more extreme policy.

The policy has already begun to backfire, with Australians taking to the streets in protest and former Prime Ministers publicly denouncing the move. Local outrage has all parties contesting the election scrambling to respond.

Will you join the call for Australia to drop its dangerous new policy that denies hope and safety to those who they need it most?
www.allout.org/australian-home

In Papua New Guinea, it’s a crime to be gay. Because of that, any person seeking asylum there can automatically be turned away. Every LGBT person who arrives by boat will have little choice but to lie about who they are to avoid being sent home.

With their reputation under attack, Australia’s leaders could be pushed to stop violating the Geneva Conventions and protect the most vulnerable.

Sign this petition and tell Australia that you won’t stand for this:

www.allout.org/australian-home

The full policy states that all people arriving by boat to seek asylum will be relocated to Papua New Guinea where their refugee claims will be assessed, and only then allowed to settle in the community. Legal experts have already denounced the plan for breaching international law. It is singling out people on boats for taking the last resort available to them.

Hiding on a leaky boat, crossing some of the world’s most dangerous oceans, is the most difficult way to reach such an isolated country. No one would take such a risky boat journey if their very lives weren’t on the line.

Will you sign the petition against the Australian government’s plan to force people back into danger?

www.allout.org/australian-home

All Out’s first ever campaign successfully halted the deportation of Ugandan lesbian Brenda Namagadde from the UK back to her home country. Since then, we’ve become a powerful movement of over 1.7 million people fighting anti-gay laws around the world. Take a stand against Australia’s unfair targeting of asylum seekers – sign the petition:

www.allout.org/australian-home

Thanks for going All Out.

Andre, Hayley, Jeremy, Marie, Marie-Marguerite, Sara, and the rest of the All Out team.

SOURCES:

UN refugee agency raises more concerns over Labor’s PNG solution – The Guardian,  26 July 2013
www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/26/united-nations-agency-asylum-policy

Rudd plan in tatters as camps labelled ‘gulags’ – Sydney Morning Herald, 25 July 2013
www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/rudd-plan-in-tatters-as-camps-labelled-gulags

Coalition wants military led campaign against people smugglers – ABC, 25 July 2013 
www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-25/coalition-wants-military-led-campaign-against-people-smugglers

How to break the people smugglers real business model – Inside Story, 25 July 2013
www.inside.org.au/how-to-break-the-people-smugglers-real-business-model

More than a legal issue, PNG plan challenges core principles – Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July 2013
www.smh.com.au/comment/more-than-a-legal-issue-png-plan-challenges-core-principles

 

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