Showing posts with label High School. Show all posts
Showing posts with label High School. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns' Impassioned Speech on LGBT-Bullying-Related Teen Suicides

     Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns spoke last night about the recent string of LGBT-bullying related suicides.  He makes an impassioned plea to children considering suicide to not give up on life and then to parents and adults to make a difference and end the hate and the bullying.

     His impassioned speech is worth watching in whole.  (It brought me to tears.)  

     Just hold on. It really does get better.
     That's the message Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns shared in an emotional speech during Tuesday night's council meeting, saying his goal was to reach out to youths everywhere who are struggling with being gay.
     During a moving speech, Burns said it tears him up each time he hears about youths taking their own lives somewhere in America after being bullied because of their sexuality or simply struggling with it.
     Burns, who is gay, said he'd like to give his 13-year-old self -- who also struggled with being gay -- glimpses into the future.
     His younger version would see him meeting his partner, being loved by his parents, winning a City Council election, Burns said.
     "High school was difficult, coming out was painful," he said. "I want to tell any teen who is watching this, life will get better. ... Life will get so, so, so much better."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

National Education Policy Center Addresses LGBT-Bullying-Related Suicides

     In reponse to the recent LGBT-bullying-related teen suicides, the National Education Policy Center has released a document entitled "Safe at School: Addressing the School Environment and LGBT Safety through Policy and Legislation."   Kudos to co-authors Stuart Biegel and Sheila James Kuehl, and also to the UCLA Williams Institute and Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, who supported the document's creation..

     The Washington Post listed these summary points from the document:
Below, I [Kevin Welner, director of NEPC] summarize the brief, but I hope readers will click through and read the whole thing. It’s available online at
The brief documents, among other things:
• Recurring examples of traumatic peer mistreatment, often with faculty complicity.
• The resulting harm to the academic achievement and aspirations of LGBT students.
• Lives lost, both directly through assaults and indirectly through suicide.
The brief also presents evidence of structural and institutional failures such as:
• Failure to recognize that LGBT educators can play valuable, positive roles.
• Failure to address the persistent overt homophobia in many school sports programs.
• Misuse of the special education system, which further exacerbates LGBT mistreatment.
• Minimal coverage of LGBT issues in many teacher-education and professional development programs.
The recommendations from Biegel and Kuehl include:
• Adopt proactive school climate initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to inclusive policies and shared values within our pluralistic society.
• End discriminatory disciplinary practices and the inappropriate referral of LGBT students to special education.
• Implement LGBT-specific programs or activities at individual school sites, which may include safe zones, gay-straight alliances, and suicide prevention programs.
• Develop and implement LGBT-related professional development, locally determined and agreed upon by faculty and staff, for all school-site personnel.
• Align classroom pedagogy with shared values and respect for differences.
• Include age-appropriate LGBT-related content in the curriculum.
• Involve key members of campus athletic programs in LGBT-related initiatives.
• Make it clear that homophobic comments and actions by coaches and student athletes are completely unacceptable.
• Encourage student athletes to participate in targeted programs such as initiatives addressing bullying and hate violence, as well as gay-straight alliances, safe zones, and wellness programs.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's Statement of LGBT-Bullying-Related Suicides

     From the U.S. Department of Education:
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today released the following statement:
     "This week, we sadly lost two young men who took their own lives for one unacceptable reason: they were being bullied and harassed because they were openly gay or believed to be gay. These unnecessary tragedies come on the heels of at least three other young people taking their own lives because the trauma of being bullied and harassed for their actual or perceived sexual orientation was too much to bear.
     "This is a moment where every one of us - parents, teachers, students, elected officials, and all people of conscience - needs to stand up and speak out against intolerance in all its forms. Whether it's students harassing other students because of ethnicity, disability or religion; or an adult, public official harassing the President of the University of Michigan student body because he is gay, it is time we as a country said enough. No more. This must stop."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ellen DeGeneres Responds to LGBT-Bullying-Related Suicides. My Take on Where Kids Get This Stuff

     In the past month, there were four teen suicides related to bullying because the teens were or appeared to be homosexual.

     It's starting even younger. An eleven-year-old boy had his arm broken by two other boys because he was a cheerleader.  People wonder where children learn to do such hateful things.  They learn from adults.

     Bullying doesn't stop after high school.  It becomes free speech

     Here's a tweet that rapper 50cent recently posted.

     Don't forget Senator Saxby Chambliss' staffer posting a comment on Joe.My.God saying "All [gays] must die."  (Don't forget the sleazy lies that got good Christian Saxby elected in the first place.)

     Watch the political commercials coming from the Right. They attack gay rights and paint us as sinners, enemies of the family, and less than human. 

     The Catholic Church in Iowa and Minnesota is disseminating flyers and DVDs calling for votes to ban same sex couple's civil marriages. The Tea Party/Republican candidates and senators are campaigning against and/or filibustering gay rights legislation.

    Children see. They learn.

Here's is Ellen DeGeneres' response to recent LGBT-bullying-related suicides.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gay Couple Named Prom King and Queen in New York

     Welcome to Hudson High School, where two gay friends attending the prom together were just make King and Queen of the Prom, and the city is supporting them. Go Yankees!  (Boo Braves and Ole Miss).
     On Saturday night, seniors and best friends, who happen also to be gay, Charlie Ferrusi and Timmy Howard, were honored by their student body

     WNYT reports:
     The two seniors don't just have the support of their classmates. It appears much of the town is pleased with their victory. So much so that their names are displayed on a sign at one of the local businesses and a gaggle of people showed up Thursday evening to watch them be interviewed.
     "People are not ashamed of us they are really excited this happened," said Ferrusi, whose grandfather is the former mayor of Hudson.
     "We're all equal. I've always told my son, since he was little, to do what you believe. It's all in your heart and you are who you are. Just prove yourself and he (Charlie) has done this," gushed Charlie's proud mom, Kathryn Ferrusi.
     Charlie and Timmy say all they did was be themselves. But they're so happy their classmates not only accept them but also support them.
     Way to go, Hudson, New York!  Hopefully, the New York legislature can learn something about equality from your youngsters.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

John McCain Throws Graduates Raised and Educated in America Under the Straight Talk Express Because They Are Undocumented

     John McCain, the Republican, Baptist Senator of Arizona, has done it again.  He's contradicted his younger, more principled self in his desperate bid to win reelection in the face of of Tea Party pressure, and this time, the lives of young people, who were raised and educated in the U.S.A., people as American than you and me, are at risk.

     McCain pulled his support from the DREAM Act, which would offer a path to citizenship for young adults who were brought to the U.S.A. as children by their parents, who were raised in the U.S.A, and who have graduated from high school and seek or have received a college education in the U.S.A.  These children were too young to willfully break any U.S. law, when brought over the border.   (You can see which senators voted for or against the DREAM Act last time it was up for cloture in 2007 by clicking here.  McCain, who supported the legislation at the time, was not present for the important vote.)

     In response to McCain's hypocrisy, students dressed in their commencement gowns staged a sit-in protest yesterday at McCain's Tucson office.  As a result, four were arrested.  Three admitted their illegal status and are being held in Pima county jail for immigration agents and possible deportation, under Arizona's McCain-backed papers-please law.  The arrested activists include Mohammed Alibelik-Abdollani, 24, Yahaira Carrillo, 25, and Lizbeth Faviola Mateo, 25.

     These young adults, who have lived their lives in the U.S., now face deportation to a nation of which they have few or no memories, only because they were born there, something they share in common with McCain, who was born in Panama, while his dad was stationed there.

     The students arrested are members of, which is fighting for the rights of undocumented students.  Here is the link to Dream Activist's YouTube channel, where you can hear the stories of undocumented students and learn how to support them.  

     Mohammed Alibelik-Abdollani, one of the arrested activists, is featured in an embedded video below.  His parents brought him here from Iran.  He is gay and faces deportation to Iran where homosexuals can get the death penalty.  (346 were executed in 2008.)  He's risking death to stand up for what is right, to challenge the injustices of the American Dream that have been tainted by fear and racism.

     These young adults are as American and you and me.  Watch the videos below.  As college graduates, they have a far better vocabulary than the uneducated American masses that preach hatred and fear of immigrants.

     In response to the protest and the arrests, Senator McCain's office released this statement:
     Senator McCain understands the students’ frustrations, but elections have consequences and they should focus their efforts on the President and the Democrats that control the agenda in Congress.
     "Elections have consequences"?  Obviously.  We've seen McCain flip-flop on so many issues trying to get reelected.  The consequence should be that McCain be required to legally change his name, because he isn't the John McCain that people voted into office.

     And, to blame the President and the Democrats?  Please.  The Democrats are at the mercy of the filibustering Republican minority.  They don't have the votes for cloture on anything right now, and with moderate Republicans, like McCain, hypocritically opposing legislation they once supported in a desperate wooing of the Tea Party, nothing is getting through the Senate.  But, yes, blame the Democrats, McCain.  Don't take responsibility for your own actions.  The fact is that both Democrats and Republicans have failed these young Americans, who face deportation to a foreign land that they ony know only by birth.

     The DREAM Act would allow the estimated 65,000 undocumented youth that will graduate high school in the U.S. this year to seek a college education and start the path to citizenship, rather than living in fear of being shipped off to a country and culture foreign to them.
     "The DREAM Act would fix one of the clearest examples of America's nonsensical immigration laws," said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice, an immigrant advocacy organization. "For too long, high school valedictorians and college graduates have been unable to fully live up to their potential."
     But, John McCain would rather throw them under the Straight Talk Express.

   An editorial in the New York Times challenges both Democrats and Republicans for having failed on immigration reform and failing the hundreds of thousands of youth, who despite their places of birth,  are American.  Here's a piece of the editorial:
     Who else has shown such courage in the long struggle for immigration reform? Not Mr. McCain, who ditched his principled support of rational immigration legislation to better his odds in a close re-election campaign against a far-right-wing opponent. Not President Obama, who has retreated to lip service and vagueness in his calls for reform. Not his administration. The Justice Department has stood by as a civil-rights coalition — the American Civil Liberties Union, Maldef, the N.A.A.C.P., the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and others — has swiftly sued to block the Arizona law.
     Other supposed defenders of immigrants, Democrats in Congress, have lost their voices. Senators Charles Schumer, Robert Menendez and Harry Reid, mindful of November elections and frustrated Latino voters, have unveiled a blueprint for immigration reform that parrots Republican talking points about clamping down the southern border and treating the undocumented as a swelling tide of criminals.
     Good immigration reform needs a good bill, and the administration and the president and Democratic leaders haven’t yet offered or convincingly fought for one. The fight for reform is stalled.
     Perhaps it's time we built a danged fence around the Capital building and locked our politicians in, until they learn the value of cooperation, compassion, and compromise for the benefit of all people living in our nation.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thomas Roberts, Sexual Abuse Victim, Speaks Out

     There's a fantastic Q&A in GQ with Thomas Roberts, a survivor of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.  Here's a cut from the article that is the most succinct explanation of the denial and dissassociation that I experienced after having been sexually abused at 14 and then again expoited at 20.
     One of many excuses the Vatican gave in the case of the priest who molested 200 deaf boys was that the incidents exceeded the church's statute of limitations. As someone who waited almost 20 years to come forward, how do you feel about this? Were you in denial?
     Oh, I was in complete denial. I considered myself to be a strong and intelligent person, and to place yourself in the "victim" category is very hard to do. I thought that I had been able to deal with what life had dealt me. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I’m happy that I was able to confront these demons that had been chasing me for a really long time and extinguish them.
     So you came out to your family when you were 27. Later, when you were 33 you began opening up about the abuse. Some people see a causal relationship between abuse and sexuality. Did you worry that people would try and draw those lines?
     For me these are two very separate, distinct issues, and I don’t want them to ever be confused. No one ever asks a woman who was abused as a young girl if she grew up and decided she was straight. I had the complete love and support of my family though, and that was most important thing.
     In a special you did for CNN, you said that the abuse had left you “emotionally frozen.” How did finally telling people affect your relationships?
     Well, my partner of the last ten years is the first person I ever told about it. It had always been a big, scary secret, and I think it allowed me to be more vulnerable and honest in that relationship. We walked through all of this together.
     Here are a few videos of Thomas Roberts telling his story.  He was sexually abused by a priest at the prestegeous Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore, Maryland, where it appears that one of my seminary friends, who told me off when I left the priesthood, is now saying Mass.  I wonder if he still goes for blonds.

Sexual Abuse Victims Thomas Roberts and Sinead O'Connor face off with the Catholic League's Bill Donahue on CNN's Larry King Live

Andersen Cooper's Interview of Thomas Roberts

Monday, April 12, 2010

LGBT Student Non-Discrimination Act Opposed by "Masquerading" Right-Wing Pediatricians

You've got to be taught to hate and fear.
You've got to be taught from ear to ear.
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear.
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before your are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught.

     Did you know that there is no federal law protecting LGBT students in the public schools from discrimination?

     Following the Prom discrimination stories of homosexual high school students, Constance McMillan in Mississippi and Derrick Martin in Georgia, and the attorney general of Virginia's call for the dismantling of LGBT-friendly student organizations in that state's public colleges and universities, once again we see the flaws in discrimination law concerning LGBT persons.  As with marriage law, the federal government has left LGBT students' rights up to individual states.

     This is hypocrisy, for it's illegal at the federal level for public schools to discriminate against students based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or disability.

     The Human Rights Campaign is currently sending letters to Congress in support of the federal Student Non-Discrimination Act, that would protect LGBT students from discrimination in public schools.  (Religious people, whose religious freedom is protected in public schools, can continue to discriminate in their Private religious schools, like Sacred Heart of Jesus in Boulder, Colorado, refusing to enroll children related to LGBT persons.) 

     The religious right is fighting the Student Non-Discrimination Act.  The Human Rights Campaign reported the following in letter sent out this morning:
     This month, a group calling itself the "American College of Pediatricians" (a name clearly meant to be confused with the reputable American Academy of Pediatrics) sent a letter masquerading as a scientific resource to every public school superintendent in the U.S. – telling them LGBT youth can, and should, change their sexual orientation and gender identity.
     When right-wing lies encourage teachers and principals to tell LGBT kids they can be "cured" by therapy, they foster school environments where bullying, violence – and, well, fake proms – are never far behind.
     Without a federal law, school administrators will continue to decide who to expel or suspend for not fitting in. And unchecked discrimination can lead to violence and suicide. These kids need our help.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Separate but Not Equal Prom Held for Homosexual High School Girl in Mississippi

     A few weeks ago, I posted about Constance McMillan who's high school in Jackson, Mississippi, canceled everyone's prom so that she couldn't attend with her date, another girl.  After a US District Court judge ruled that this was an infringement of Ms. McMillan's First Amendment rights, another prom was arranged.  Last weekend, the prom, or I should say proms, took place.

     Constance McMillen did attend her school’s prom Friday night, although many of her classmates partied at an alternate event in Itawamba County.
     McMillen went to the Itawamba Agricultural High School prom at the Fulton Country Club, but she was one of the few to attend the event. McMillen said she arrived at the dance an hour-and-a-half after it began and stayed for about 30 minutes. She said she saw six other students and several school officials while she was there.
     Meanwhile, many more Itawamba AHS students went to an event held at the community center in Evergreen, another community in Itawamba County. McMillen said she knew about that event but that when she asked another student if she was invited, the student told her, “the prom is at the country club.”
     “I took that as no,” McMillen said. “If I wasn’t wanted there, I wasn’t going to go.”
     At a hearing on a preliminary injunction filed by the ACLU, Senior U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson ruled that the district had violated McMillen’s First Amendment rights but that it shouldn’t be forced to sponsor a prom since a group of parents had already agreed to hold an event that would be “open to all IAHS students.”
     Last Monday night, those parents announced they would no longer host that prom. On Tuesday afternoon, school district attorney Michele Floyd said a private prom would be held at the Fulton Country Club, although the exact sponsorship of that event remains a mystery.
     Kristy Bennett, legal director for the ACLU of Mississippi, said her organization was still gathering details about what happened Friday night to determine whether they would ask Davidson for sanctions.
     Thank you prom-canceling parents for taking your children back fifty-six years into the pre-Brown v. Board of Education Topeka era and teaching segregation.  You are true bigots and hypocrites and I hope you have your day in court. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Carefully Taught Students See and Learn from Teacher of the Year Derrick Martin's Dad and Protest Gay Prom Couple

      As the old Rodgers and Hammerstein song from South Pacific says, "You must be carefully taught."

     Guess who was teacher of the year at Bleckley County High? BCH is the school where Derrick Martin has been granted permission to bring his choice of a date to prom, his boyfriend Richard Goodman. Derrick was kicked out of his house by his parents, because the boy spoke about his gay prom date with the news media.

     Bleckley County High's Teacher of the Year is none other than Mr. Martin, every one's favorite math teacher and a father who threw his son out on the street because it became known that his son was going to prom with a boy.  Mr. Martin is a role model for the Christian youth of Bleckley County High and they are following his witness.

     A small group of Bleckley County High School students staged a rally at the courthouse Thursday evening to protest their high school allowing a gay student to take his boyfriend to the prom.  “We knew Derrick was gay,” said Keith Bowman Jr., a high school senior who showed up at the rally. “They don’t want (Cochran) to be known as a pro gay town.”  Most of the dozen attending the rally said they weren’t bothered by Martin being gay or being allowed to attend prom with his partner. But they said the school system’s decision has brought too much attention to their small town.
     Thus, the connection to Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  We know you're gay, but just don't talk about it.  Pretend to be straight.  Sacrifice your integrity for our god and for our version of country.  We don't want to be known as a homo-loving military, like the Netherlands.  Look where it got them

    And they say that kids today don't learn from the examples of their elders.
     “People who don’t know the area will think it reflects on everybody,” said John Smith, a grandfather who owns an air-conditioning business in Cochran.  Before he stopped by the rally, he asked county officials Thursday if a separate prom could be held at the city’s recreation center, he said.
     Grandaddy wants separate but equal proms.  How Strom Thurmond of him!  I wish I was in Dixie.

     Go stick your head in AC unit, Mr. Smith, and turn the unit up to maximum blow.
     The rally’s organizer, Amber Duskin, sent text messages to high school students Wednesday asking them to show up.  The senior said she asked her high school to return her prom ticket money and does not plan to attend because of Martin.   “I don’t believe in going up there and dancing with gay guys like that,” she said. “It’s also not just him bringing a boy. It was bringing all this attention to it.”
     Amber, not to burst your bubble, but you don't "believe" in dancing amidst gay guys.  Have you not read your Old Testament?  David was bi and, in his youth, had a boyfriend named Jonathan, who was killed before they could attend the prom.  

     David and Jonathan were a couple. They wore each other's clothes.  They loved each other more than they loved themselves.  When Jonathan's daddy, Saul, refused to listen to Jonathan's pleas not to kill David, Saul refused.  Realizing they couldn't be together, David went down three times before Jonathan, and then they kissed, and held each other weeping knowing they would never see each other again.   To punsih Jonathan, Saul sent him on a suicide mission where he was killed in battle. 

     In reaction to news of his lover's death, David rent his garments, killed the merciful Amalekite that euthanized dying Jonathan, and sang a song for Jonathan in which he declared: "I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother! most dear have you been to me; More precious have I held love for you than love for women."  (2 Sam 1:26 NAB) 

     More precious than love for women?  It seems pretty clear.  And if singing a gay love song wasn't enough, David also had a thing for dancing.  He danced with abandon (how gay is that?) before the Ark of the Covenant, girt with only an apron, which is pretty close to rave-party naked.  (2 Sam 13-16

     So, Amber, gay love was good enough for the great King David, but it's not for you.
     A group of college students also stopped by the rally but not to protest.“We’re for it,” said Carly Nobles, a Middle Georgia College student. “It takes a lot for someone to come out (as gay). “This is a small town. Some of these students are sheltered, and I don’t think they can think for themselves.”
     Way to go college-educated students!  It's amazing what a little bit of education can do for people.  I wonder if seperate-but-equal-proms granddaddy has a college degree. 
     Martin said talk at school Thursday was that the prom committee may do away with the traditional “walk through” when students and their dates are announced as they enter the prom.
     Who's organizing this prom?  The Archbishop of Washington, D.C.?  If the gays get equal rights, then we'll punish everyone, especially the children.

     My respect and admiration go out to Derrick and Richard.  I hope your prom is absolutely fabulous!

Careful the things you say, children will listen.
Careful the things you do, children will see, and learn...
Careful the tail you tell, that is the spell.
Children will listen.

-Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods

Image credit: Jason Vorhees, The Telegraph

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Teen Derrick Martin Thrown out by Parents for Asking a Boy to Prom

     What would Jesus do to a boy, who wanted to bring his boyfriend to prom?  

     Apparently, the all-loving one would throw his own child out on the street.

     On Top Magazine reports:
    The parents of 18-year-old Derrick Martin, the Georgia student who fought to bring his boyfriend to the prom, have kicked him out of the house, the Macon, Georgia-based website reported. Martin requested approval to bring his same-sex date to the April 17 prom dance in January. Bleckley County High School requires approval in advance for bringing a prom date that is not a student enrolled in the county.  The school's decision to allow Martin to bring his boyfriend to the prom and the ensuing media attention resulted in Martin's ouster from his house. He is reportedly staying with a friend.
     Click here to join the Facebook group: "We Support Derrick Martin Taking His Boyfriend to Prom."

     The school board is allowing Martin to attend with his boyfriend, but not because they endorses his "practice" or "lifestyle."  (See embedded video below.)

     I hate that kind of language. I have a life, not a lifestyle.  I don't practice homosexuality, unless every straight person out there "practices" their heterosexuality.  This type of language is homophobic and gaycist.  It carries a demeaning religious subtext and wreaks of outdated and scientifically disproved psychobabble.    

      US District Court judge ruled yesterday that an Itawamba County, Mississippi, school board infringed upon a high school student Constance McMillan's First Amendment rights when it denied her attendance to the prom because she wanted to wear a tuxedo and attend with her girlfriend.

Here's a video of Derrick Martin speaking about his experience.