Friday, April 30, 2010

Anti-Bullying Legislation

Franklin School District, ARE YOU LISTENING?

from The Advocate:

Minnesota senator Al Franken said Monday that he will introduce an anti-bullying bill addressing LGBT youth.

The Democratic senator recently criticized current anti-bullying laws during a senate education, labor, and pensions committee hearing on Thursday,The Minnesota Independent reports.

“There’s something very specific that has been on my mind… LGBT youth being bullied,” Franken told a panel of education experts in the hearing. “Right now we have laws that prohibit bullying based on pretty much everything, but not on gender identity and gay and lesbian kids. And the evidence is that gay kids are bullied a lot and that their achievement goes down. There’s a lot of absenteeism and even suicide.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You Belong: An ACLU Town Hall Forum on LGBT Rights

The Pittsburgh Chapter of the ACLU-PA is excited to announce its town hall forum on LGBT rights during Pittsburgh Pride week June 4-13, 2010.

“You Belong: At School, in the Workplace, as a Family, and in Politics – Issues and Answers on Law, Marriage, Money and Family Matters”

The forum seeks to offer issues and answers on law, marriage, money and family matters.

The forum will also feature “the Experts’ Corners” – individual and small group conversations with local legal and policy experts on non-discrimination protections at school and in the workplace, civil partnerships, legal rights and tax issues. You definitely won't want to miss this informative, dynamic event!

When: Monday, June 7, 2010, 6:30 p.m.

Where: University Center Connan Room, Carnegie Mellon University (in the 5000 block of Forbes Ave.), Pittsburgh

For more information or to get involved, contact Erin Gill, ACLU-PA Community Organizer at: or call 412-681-7736.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Judge Rules Day of Prayer Unconstitutional

Ruling States Day Amounts to Call for Religious Action; Group Alleges Violates Separate of Church and State

from the Associated Press: A federal judge in Wisconsin ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional Thursday, saying the day amounts to a call for religious action.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote that the government can no more enact laws supporting a day of prayer than it can encourage citizens to fast during Ramadan, attend a synagogue or practice magic.

"In fact, it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual's decision whether and when to pray," Crabb wrote.

Congress established the day in 1952 and in 1988 set the first Thursday in May as the day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison-based group of atheists and agnostics, filed a lawsuit against the federal government in 2008 arguing the day violated the separation of church and state.

President Barack Obama's administration has countered that the statute simply acknowledges the role of religion in the United States. Obama issued a proclamation last year but did not hold public events with religious leaders as former President George W. Bush had done.

Crabb wrote that her ruling shouldn't be considered a bar to any prayer days until all appeals are exhausted. U.S. Justice Department attorneys who represented the federal government in the case were reviewing the ruling Thursday afternoon, agency spokesman Charles Miller said. He declined further comment.

Obama spokesman Matt Lehrich said in an e-mail to The Associated Press the president still plans to issue a proclamation for the next prayer day.

"As he did last year, President Obama intends to recognize a National Day of Prayer," Lehrich said.

The American Center for Law and Justice, which represented 31 members of Congress who joined the federal government as defendants, called Crabb's ruling flawed and promised to appeal.

"It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it," ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said in a statement.

The Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based group of Christian lawyers, issued a statement saying Crabb's ruling undermines American tradition dating back to the nation's birth.

Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Richard Bolton didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

Crabb wrote that her ruling was not a judgment on the value of prayer. She noted government involvement in prayer may be constitutional if the conduct serves a "significant secular purpose" and doesn't amount to a call for religious action. But the National Day of Prayer crosses that line, she wrote.

"It goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context," she wrote. "In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Even After Death, Abuse Against Gays Continues

A Glimpse Of The World That The American Family Association Of Pennsylvania, AFR Radio Station WAWN, And Other Anti-LGBT Groups Are Helping To Create Right Here In The USA

By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI for The Associated Press:

THIES, Senegal -- Even death cannot stop the violence against gays in this corner of the world any more.

Madieye Diallo's body had only been in the ground for a few hours when the mob descended on the weedy cemetery with shovels. They yanked out the corpse, spit on its torso, dragged it away and dumped it in front of the home of his elderly parents.

The scene of May 2, 2009 was filmed on a cell phone and the video sold at the market. It passed from phone to phone, sowing panic among gay men who say they now feel like hunted animals.

"I locked myself inside my room and didn't come out for days," says a 31-year-old gay friend of Diallo's who is ill with HIV. "I'm afraid of what will happen to me after I die. Will my parents be able to bury me?"

A wave of intense homophobia is washing across Africa, where homosexuality is already illegal in at least 37 countries.

In the last year alone, gay men have been arrested in Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. In Uganda, lawmakers are considering a bill that would sentence homosexuals to life in prison and include capital punishment for 'repeat offenders.' And in South Africa, the only country that recognizes gay rights, gangs have carried out so-called "corrective" rapes on lesbians.

"Across many parts of Africa, we've seen a rise in homophobic violence," says London-based gay-rights activist Peter Tatchell, whose organization tracks abuse against gays and lesbians in Africa. "It's been steadily building for the last 10 years but has got markedly worse in the last year."

To the long list of abuse meted out to suspected homosexuals in Africa, Senegal has added a new form of degradation - the desecration of their bodies.

In the past two years, at least four men suspected of being gay have been exhumed by angry mobs in cemeteries in Senegal. The violence is especially shocking because Senegal, unlike other countries in the region, is considered a model of tolerance.

"It's jarring to see this happen in Senegal," says Ryan Thoreson, a fellow at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission who has been researching the rise of homophobia here. "When something like this happens in an established democracy, it's alarming."

Even though homosexuality is illegal in Senegal, colonial documents indicate the country has long had a clandestine gay community. In many towns, they were tacitly accepted, says Cheikh Ibrahima Niang, a professor of social anthropology at Senegal's largest university. In fact, the visibility of gays in Senegal may have helped to prompt the backlash against them.

The backlash dates back to at least February 2008, when a Senegalese tabloid published photographs of a clandestine gay wedding in a suburb of Dakar, the capital. The wedding was held inside a rented banquet hall and was attended by dozens of gay men, some of whom snapped pictures that included the gay couple exchanging rings and sharing slices of cake.

The day after the tabloid published the photographs, police began rounding up men suspected of being homosexual. Some were beaten in captivity and forced to turn over the names of other gay men, according to research by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Gays immediately went into hiding and those who could fled to neighboring countries, including Gambia to the south, according to the New York-based commission. Gambia's erratic president declared that gays who had entered his country had 24 hours to leave or face decapitation. Many returned to Senegal, where they lived on the run, moving from safehouse to safehouse.

In March 2008, Senegal hosted an international summit of Muslim nations, which prompted a nationwide crackdown on behaviors deemed un-Islamic, including homosexuality.

The crackdown also coincided with spiraling food prices. Niang says political and religious leaders saw an easy way to reach constituents through the inflammatory topic of homosexuality.

"They found a way to explain the difficulties people are facing as a deviation from religious life," says Niang. "So if people are poor - it's because there are prostitutes in the street. If they don't have enough to eat, it's because there are homosexuals."

Imams began using Friday sermons to preach against homosexuality.

"During the time of the Prophet, anytime two men were found together, they were taken to the top of a mountain and thrown off," says Massamba Diop, the imam of a mosque in Pikine and the head of Jamra, an Islamic lobby linked to a political party in Senegal's parliament.

"If they didn't die when they hit the ground, then rocks would be thrown on them until they were killed," says Diop, whose mosque is so packed during Friday prayer that people bring their own carpets and line up outside on the asphalt.

Sermons like Diop's were carried on the mosque's loudspeakers as well as in Senegal's more than 30 newspapers and magazines.

Around this time, in May 2008, a middle-aged man called Serigne Mbaye fell ill and died in a suburb of Dakar.

His children tried to bury him in his village but were turned back from the cemetery because of widespread rumors that he was gay. His sons drove his body around trying to find a cemetery that would accept him. They were finally forced to bury him on the side of a road, using their own hands to dig a hole, according to media reports.

The grave was too shallow and the wind blew away the dirt. When the decomposing body was later discovered, Mbaye's children were arrested and charged with improperly burying their father.

In the town of Kaolack three months later, residents exhumed the grave of another man believed to be gay. In November 2008, residents in Pikine removed a corpse from a mosque of another suspected homosexual and left it on the side of the road.

The grave-robbing has shocked even hardened gay activists, such as Nigerian Davis Mac-Iyalla.

"People have done horrible things (in Nigeria). I have seen people spit on coffins and people spit on graves," he said. "But it stopped there."

Among the people who appeared in the photograph published from the gay wedding was a young man in his 30s from Thies. He was an activist and a leader of a gay organization called And Ligay, meaning 'Working together,' which he ran out of his parents' house.

He was HIV-positive and on medication.

When the tabloid published the photograph, Diallo went into hiding, according to a close friend who asked not to be named because he too is gay. Unable to go to the doctor, Diallo stopped taking his anti-retrovirals. By the spring of 2009, he was so ill that his family checked him into St. Jean de Dieu, a Catholic hospital in downtown Thies, says the friend.

He was in a coma when he died at 5:50 a.m. on May 2, 2009, according to the hospital's records. Although the hospital has a unit dedicated to treating HIV patients, the young man's family never disclosed his illness, according to the doctor in charge.

Several gay friends tried to see Diallo in the hospital but were told to stay away by his family, says the friend.

When the AP tried to speak to Diallo's elderly father at his shop on the main thoroughfare in Thies, his other children demanded the reporter leave. One sister covered her face and sobbed. Another said, "There are no homosexuals here."

Hours after he died, his family took Diallo's body to a nearby mosque, where custom holds the corpse should be bathed and wrapped in a white cloth. Before the family could bathe him, news reached the mosque that Diallo was gay and they were chased out, says the dead man's friend. His relatives hastily wrapped him in a sheet and headed to the cemetery, where they carried him past the home of Babacar Sene.

"A man that's known as being a homosexual can't be buried in a cemetery. His body needs to be thrown away like trash," says Sene. "His parents knew that he was gay and they did nothing about it. So when he died we wanted to make sure he was punished."

The video footage captured on a cell phone shows what happened next. His thin body was placed inside a narrow trough in the middle of the bald cemetery dotted with clumps of weeds. Then you hear shouting.

The shaky image shows a group of men jerking around the edges of the grave. One of them straddles the pit and shovels away the fine gray dirt until you can see the shrouded body. It's still inside the trough when they tie a rope around its feet.

They yank it out, cheering as the body bends over the lip of the grave. The shroud catches on the ground and tears off, revealing the dead man's torso.

Rassul Djitte, 48, watched from behind the wall of a nearby school. He had not known Diallo personally, but says he felt a stab. "People were rejoicing," he says. "They dragged him past me and his body left tracks in the sand. Like a car passing through snow."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Arresting Teenagers Doesn't Solve Gender Pressures

by Debra Chasnoff:

It is completely understandable why there has been so much pressure on government authorities in South Hadley, Massachusetts to find someone to blame for 15-year old Phoebe Prince's suicide last month.

But the issues involved in this case, and in the case of Carl Walker Hoover, the ten-year old boy who committed suicide this time last year a few miles away in Springfield, Massachusetts, are far more complex and cultural than a tale of bullies run amuck who need to be dealt with as criminals.

We can lock up perpetrators and institute all the anti-bullying rules and policies we want, but unless the responsible adults in every community--educators, parents, administrators, and counselors--find a way to open up real, meaningful dialogue about gender and sexuality based pressures and bias--what happened to Phoebe and to Carl is likely to continue.

As a documentary filmmaker who has made several films about youth, bullying and prejudice, I have had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of diverse high school students about the internal struggles they face every day to feel good about themselves in our culture.

Invariably over half the students in every high school classroom I've visited--private or public, in rural, suburban, or inner city communities--have jumped at the chance to talk about the pressures they contend with which are connected to societal norms about gender and sexuality.

"Please don't go," a female sophomore begged when we visited her history class. "We never get to talk about this stuff but it's what I think about all the time, every day."

When I read about Phoebe, I thought of the many female students we've interviewed who have confided about the daily stress they face trying to make sense of the mixed messages they receive from the media, their families, and their peers about how a young woman is supposed to look and act.

Young women are constantly told that their value as human beings is determined by how sexy they are, how much skin they reveal, how close to some ideal of perfection their body curves match. And then they are chastised for crossing some invisible line and "going too far."

One high school senior told me about the spiral of pressures that led her to turn to serious drugs. "I feel that people are judging me all the time," she said. "I'm just paranoid, like, what are they thinking, do they think my boobs are big, do they think they are small, do they think my butt's big?"

If girls fail to tow the line, they are invariably subjected to negative slurs and accusations connected to their sexuality--"slut," "whore," "bitch" if they go too far one way, "dyke" if they go the other.

And when it comes to actual sexual activity, it is very challenging to grapple with our culture's double standard. "Like when a man runs around or sleeps with a lot of women, " one girl complained. "He's a player. All the boys give him his props, and they go brag about it. But when a woman tends to sleep around, she's a whore, a slut or a ripper."

Similarly, when I read about Carl Walker Hoover last year, I thought about the boys I interviewed who have shared their worries about how they dress, how physically affectionate they can be with their male friends, the expectations they face to lose their virginity and have lots of sexual partners, the way they talk, the way they hold their bodies when they walk--all to fit some unarticulated norm about the proper way to be masculine. They are painfully aware of how one little slip in behavior or appearance could lead to being the recipient of relentless anti-gay slurs.

"Having your sexuality questioned is a very powerful tool in controlling someone," one male high school junior told me. "And I think that's mainly why people say (things about that). Because it's so easy to control someone by questioning something that they don't know, by making fun of something they can't help."

Arresting those who bully may bring some brief consolation to one community. But it does nothing to create a culture where every single student is able to come of age in a supportive, nurturing way.

We need to demand that our school curricula help all students understand that they do not need to play into these destructive cultural messages and they can be allies to each other as they navigate these muddy cultural waters. And we need to work together to ensure that all young people have the space and respect to develop their sexuality and gender expression in authentic, safe ways that match who they really are inside.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Diane Gramley's Activism in Central Penna. Embarrasses Venango County Yet Again

Following is a letter-to-the-editor in Harrisburg's Patriot-News:

Transgender Issue Story Is Muddied By Comments

by BLAISE LIFFICK, Elizabethtown:

It was wonderful to see Ivey DeJesus' article about the Butterfly Ball ("A place where you can be yourself," March 13).

A generally positive portrayal of transgender issues in a central Pennsylvania newspaper is still surprising, and I'm sure greatly appreciated by the trans community.

However, there was simply no need to muddy the waters by including any comments by Diane Gramley.

Calling what she and her organization advocates "Judeo-Christian values" is a complete misrepresentation of what either Jews or Christians might or might not believe.

This article was an inappropriate place to give her an opportunity to push her anti-gay agenda.

The article was about a group of people being themselves in a safe environment, not coverage of a debate on a hot-button social issue.

Gramley's complete lack of understanding about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and their activities is abundantly clear from her absurd statements.

This sort of inclusion nearly ruined the article, and contributes to why members of the LGBT community do not feel safe being themselves.


Sinead O'Connor's brilliant, and still relevant, '92 performance on SNL:


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sneaky Gays

Will Venango County Take A Stand Against Prejudice and Hate?

Join Web Site's Stand Against Prejudice

from KTVU:

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mayor Gavin Newsom declared April 6th "Not In Our Town" Day, a day dedicated to standing up against hate violence, prejudice and bias.

The proclamation comes on the heels of a new Web site being launched to spread the message of tolerance beyond San Francisco.

The new Not In Our Town site was created by an Oakland nonprofit. The site shows a video recounting the homicide of a young Ecuadorian immigrant in New York who was killed by a group of teenage boys looking for Latinos to assault.

"It was the worst thing in the world. I can't believe something like that would happen," 15-year-old Albie Brown of Mill Valley said about the story of the Ecuadorian immigrant.

Patrice O'Neill, the project's executive producer, said the site provides a new way for the concerned youth to connect online.

"We try to bring out positive stories of people taking action to prevent hate," explained O'Neill.

The Web site also provides tools to deal with school bullies.

"If you're being bullied we have a lot of stories about bullying and how its an epidemic," said Not In Our Town worker Michelle Sit. "It's just for people to know they are not alone."

San Francisco Hate Crime Prosecutor Victor Hwang said there has been a 400% jump in hate crimes in the past six months. He called the Web site a great tool to fight back.

"I think in San Francisco we tend to be complacent -- thinking we are in paradise. But I do think we need to be involved and stand up for each other," Hwang said.

Check out the video HERE

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Right Wing XXX-tremists and Bondage-Gate

Another episode in the "you-just-can't-make-this-kinda-stuff-up" category.

And this in the Grand Old Party, home team for Venango County's own Diane Gramley ... yes, she who flies around the country with dangerous anti-gay whack-nut Peter LaBarbera to take pictures of gay sex parties. Being a "traditional values" activist is a tough job, but someone's got to do it.

from FDL:

RNC Bondage Club Party Scandal Keeps Turning Up More Scandal-y Goodness

Bondage-gate (now there’s a nickname I’ve been longing to apply) just took a hilarious turn. It turns out that Erik Brown, the OC-area operative who filed for the reimbursement of expenses for Voyeur West Hollywood, did so because the RNC staffer’s credit card was denied.

Think about that for a second: you now know Brown’s name, and his business has been literally decimated (more on that in a minute), because he happened to be nearby when the bill came due.

“Please help me out and I’ll be sure you are reimbursed right away by the RNC,” was the request—one most others in Brown’s spot would have answered— and there exists a follow-up email chain to prove it.

And it’s a good thing for him that there is such an email exchange because if not, the RNC might still be demanding that it be reimbursed for those charges, as it thundered in its first reply yesterday morning.

Now think about that one for even more than a second, because it represents the type of thing people hate about politicians in general: CYA and throw underlings to the wolves to protect the boss at all costs.

Basically, the RNC bridge-and-tunnel crowd demanded to go to a hot nightclub, this Erik Brown took them to one, then he had to foot the bill for it up front, then when the charge was discovered he was demonized as a scoundrel.

Are you as amazed as I am that the Republican National Committee has a bunch of jerks in powerful positions?

Now, the RNC, having been caught, dismissed the staffer (presumably the one with the bad credit card who asked Brown to pick up the check), and made a backhanded attempt at an apology to Brown:

It is unfortunate that a loyal GOP donor who has recruited other donors became involved in this incident while merely trying to help what turned out to be the improper request of a staffer who is no longer with the committee.

But the Voyeur incident has ended up obscuring the real problem with the RNC, and actually, I have no problem if that continues. Their burn rate is absurd; they spent more than they took in for FEBRUARY, nine months before the midterm elections. Basically they’re going to be broke by the time voters go to the polls, and free spending like this is the culprit. In a way, I wish nobody ever made it to the club that night, because it made too clear the pathetic leadership of Michael Steele. Someone might step in now and actually run that place competently.

UPDATE: It appears the woman fired by the RNC was the director of the “Young Eagles” program for young donors. Allison Meyers was fired for approving the expense. Um, what about whoever it was that tried to pay for the club bill on presumably the RNC’s credit card?

PFLAG Monthly Meeting

Join PFLAG for: Support, Education, and Advocacy issues for Parents, Friends and Families of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered People.

Next meeting on Monday, April 12th, Monday, 7:00pm-8:30pm.

7180 New Perry Highway
Erie, PA

Bring a Family Member, Friend and yourself, too, of course.

Feel free to bring a treat or refreshment to pass & share.
Coffee, Tea, and Hot Cocoa provided.

For more information, John at (814) 454-1392 or e-mail: PFLAG.ERIE.CRAWFORD@GMAIL.COM

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Science of Animal Same-sex Attraction

Oh Yeah, Science and Knowledge Don't Interest the American Family Association of Penna.

By Julie Bolcer for The Advocate:

The science of same-sex attraction in animals increasingly draws serious scholarship, the subject of a feature story in this Sunday’s issue of The New York Times Magazine.

The article by Jon Mooallem begins with the story of biologist Lindsay C. Young. She studies the Laysan albatross, a seabird that frequents Hawaii and is celebrated for lifelong mating commitments. From the introduction:

“Young has been researching the albatrosses on Oahu since 2003; the colony was the focus of her doctoral dissertation at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, which she completed last spring. (She now works on conservation projects as a biologist for hire.) In the course of her doctoral work, Young and a colleague discovered, almost incidentally, that a third of the pairs at Kaena Point actually consisted of two female birds, not one male and one female. Laysan albatrosses are one of countless species in which the two sexes look basically identical. It turned out that many of the female-female pairs, at Kaena Point and at a colony that Young’s colleague studied on Kauai, had been together for 4, 8 or even 19 years — as far back as the biologists’ data went, in some cases. The female-female pairs had been incubating eggs together, rearing chicks and just generally passing under everybody’s nose for what you might call ‘straight’ couples.

“A discovery like Young’s can disorient a wildlife biologist in the most thrilling way — if he or she takes it seriously, which has traditionally not been the case. Various forms of same-sex sexual activity have been recorded in more than 450 different species of animals by now, from flamingos to bison to beetles to guppies to warthogs. A female koala might force another female against a tree and mount her, while throwing back her head and releasing what one scientist described as ‘exhalated belchlike sounds.’ Male Amazon River dolphins have been known to penetrate each other in the blowhole. Within most species, homosexual sex has been documented only sporadically, and there appear to be few cases of individual animals who engage in it exclusively. For more than a century, this kind of observation was usually tacked onto scientific papers as a curiosity, if it was reported at all, and not pursued as a legitimate research subject. Biologists tried to explain away what they’d seen, or dismissed it as theoretically meaningless — an isolated glitch in an otherwise elegant Darwinian universe where every facet of an animal’s behavior is geared toward reproducing. One primatologist speculated that the real reason two male orangutans were fellating each other was nutritional.

“In recent years though, more biologists have been looking objectively at same-sex sexuality in animals — approaching it as real science. For Young, the existence of so many female-female albatross pairs disproved assumptions that she didn’t even realize she’d been making and, in the process, raised a chain of progressively more complicated questions. One of the prickliest, it seemed, was how a scientist is even supposed to talk about any of this, given how eager the rest of us have been to twist the sex lives of animals into allegories of our own. ‘This colony is literally the largest proportion of — I don’t know what the correct term is: ‘homosexual animals’? — in the world,’ Young told me. ‘Which I’m sure some people think is a great thing, and others might think is not.’”

Houston mayor issues order on LGBT non-discrimination

Any chance one or more municipalities in Venango County will propose and pass a comprehensive and inclusive non-discrimination ordinance soon? Only when people organize to make it happen.

from Gay Politics:

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, an out lesbian, has issued one of the most comprehensive executive orders on LGBT non-discrimination in the country, according to a report in the Dallas Voice.

“The purpose of this Executive Order is to prohibit discrimination and/or retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity at every level of municipal government, including hiring, contracting and/or access to City facilities and programs/activities,” the order states.

“I felt it important that our written policy reflect what has long been the practice of the city, which is we do not discriminate,” Parker told Dallas Voice.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hatred. Derision. Insults. Threats. Harassment. Assault.

Would You Let This Happen to Someone You Love?

What if a kid you loved or your friend had to face this every day at school? What would you do?

Imagine sending your child off to school everyday, knowing once they’re there, they’ll be called names, get threatened and shoved, even kicked or punched.

Imagine if you had a friend who felt so unsafe at school that they started skipping class.

Imagine if your brother or sister, or your nephew, niece, grandson or granddaughter told their teachers about the bullying—and their teachers didn’t do a damn thing about it.

What would you do? Would you give a damn?

Because this is what gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth have to endure at school, every single day. It’s estimated nearly 90% of gay and transgender youth have been verbally or physically harassed or assaulted, compared to 62% of their straight classmates. Approximately 3 out of 4 gay and transgender students are frequently called “faggot” or “dyke” at school. And almost a third of students who reported an incident of bullying said that school staff did nothing in response.
Bullying is a big deal

Maybe you think this is no big deal—just kids being kids. But when 3 out of 5 gay and transgender kids feel unsafe at school, and 1 in 3 have skipped a day of school in the past month because of it, it’s a big deal.

When 2009 saw the brutal assault of a gay teen by a classmate wielding a metal pipe and two suicides—both of whom were only 11 years old—because of homophobic taunting at school, it’s a big deal.

When 95% of secondary school principals report that students at their schools have been harassed because of their gender expression—and nearly one-third of principals acknowledge their staff are poor at dealing effectively with homophobic bullying, it’s a big deal.

And when only 16 states and the District of Columbia have safe school laws in place that protect students from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation, it’s a big deal.

In fact, it’s something to give a damn about. Because ask yourself: Would you allow any of this to happen to someone you love? Or would you give a damn?

It’s well past time to give a damn about the safety of gay and transgender youth in our schools.

Learn More About The Give A Damn Campaign HERE

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sing Away Hate

Perhaps this approach would be a nice response to the hate spewed in Venango County by the American "Family" Association of Penna. and "Christian" radio station WAWN ... not to mention at Franklin High School where allegations of harassment, violence and discrimination by school authorities against LGBT and other students continue unabated.