Tag Archives: glbtq

Suicide and LGBTQ Youth

Introduction

I just started watching the video Dan Savage does with his partner about teenage glbtq suicide and it started out “I went to an all boys catholic highschool…” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IcVyvg2Qlo). It reminds me of my adolescence, not only because I went to a catholic all-girls highschool, but also because I was becoming comfortable with my sexuality, my non-heterosexuality, my bisexuality, my pansexuality, whatever sexuality is, my sexual nature? Either way, my sexual self. What I knew about my sexual self as a sophomore was that I liked girls, I had crushes on girls. I was incredibly lucky because there was someone who was out who I latched on to and told about my sexuality. Either way, being a non-heterosexual person in highschool can be difficult. Highschool can be difficult. Being gay is difficult in America, most of America, unless you have a strong support network and even then, there are your peers, and community members, and others who might not be so supportive.

A very large issue in the glbtq community is the prevalence or wide occurrence of having depression sometime in life. Depression or prolonged sadness is common for many people and possibly because its becoming less of a stigma, depression is being revealed more, but it seems to be really common for gay youth. For this reason, there are many non-profits that combat and try to prevent glbtq youth from committing suicide (which are among the most likely to commit suicide of the youth population). The reasons for glbtq wanting to commit suicide may range from lonliness, societal stigma, secrecy, constant conflict at school or home, emotional or physical isolation, homelessness, and more. Every person’s experience with depression is unique.

What I am going to talk about in this post is something one of my good friends just brought to my attention, Dan Savage’s organization to prevent youth suicide among the glbtq population through his project called “It Gets Better”.

In Dan Savage’s video (which I provided a link for above) is the message “It Gets Better” and it will and it can. So, you can live a better life when you get out of a tough time. During the video the two (Dan and his partner) share their highschool experiences, how they met, how they have supportive family networks, and how they have an amazing family with their son, DJ. Then they share really cute memories, which you should watch the video to hear about. My favorite message is “you will find love and a community”. Truth Dan, Truth.

It Gets Better Project

Dan Savage, author of the sex advice column and podcast Savage Love, started a campaign called “It Gets Better” with his partner Terry after hearing about the death of Billy Lucas, age 15, on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day (more here: http://www.examiner.com/sex-education-in-national/dan-savage-launches-it-gets-better-project-to-reach-out-to-lgbt-teens).

Savage’s message is that we can spread hope to others, simply through the internet, by being a supportive friend, family member, or community member. After being introduced by another friend of mine to Savage’s podcast “Savage Love” this summer I am extremely supportive of what Savage is trying to do. In his podcast Savage combats heterosexist assumptions about gender roles, relationships, and sex, which is one of the first steps as an individual to combat homophobia.

The Trevor Project

Another project that strives to prevent glbtq youth suicide is the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is based out of Southern California.

On their website (http://www.thetrevorproject.org/about-trevor/organization) it states their vision:

“The Trevor Project is the national provider of life saving resources to LGBTQ youth and their families. We advocate acceptance and help prevent teen suicide by promoting mental health and positive self-esteem through a premiere on line destination, nationwide 24/7 call centers, and empowering social activities”

The Trevor Project is an amazing resource and on their website they state a strategic plan of how they are going to reach their goals of preventing suicide among glbtq youth.

Conclusion

A very large influence on teen depression is homophobia. Homophobia is not always a direct attack, but also comes in assumptions about desire and experience. Homophobia is oppressive, individually and to the lgbtq community because it makes being attracted to a person of the same-sex a stigma and that should not be the case.

When I was home the year before my senior year in college, three people committed suicide in front of train tracks. The city posted police cars at every stop in my city and they saved two kids lives. Our local glbtq organization spoke at a town hall meeting offering their services. I hope they save more kids lives because every life is valuable.

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GLBTQ History Month!

Introduction

October is GLBTQ History Month! Let’s take this month to remember all those who have fought and foraged for glbtq youth today and for the future of sexuality, sexual rights, and sexual/gender identity (and expression) freedom.

Thank you for the paving the way!

To see videos on each person each day, a biography, and more information, visit the website:

http://www.glbtHistoryMonth.com

History

“GLBT History Month was conceived in the mid-1990’s by educators and embraced by major GLBT organizations. In 2006, Equality Forum took responsibility for this communal project and solicits Icon nominations from state, national and international executive directors and other community leaders. The criteria are persons living or deceased, who have distinguished themselves in their field of endeavor, are a national hero or have made a significant contribution to GLBT civil rights.” (http://www.gayagenda.com/2008/10/october-is-glbt-history-month/)

People that are being honored this month

Equality Forum announces the following 31 Icons to be honored for GLBT History Month 2008 in October:

Georgina Beyer, first transgender member of a national Parliament
Mark Bingham, 9/11 hero
Margarethe Cammermeyer, military officer, GLBT service members advocate
Rachel Carson, environmental pioneer
Bertrand Delanoe, first openly gay Mayor of Paris
Melissa Etheridge, Grammy and Oscar Award-winning singer/songwriter
Harvey Fierstein, Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor, playwright and screenwriter
E.M. Forster, author of “A Room with a View,” “Howard’s End,” and “Maurice”
Allen Ginsberg, revolutionary poet and activist
Philip Johnson, innovative, internationally-renowned architect and designer
Bill T. Jones, Tony Award-winning dancer and choreographer
Cleve Jones, GLBT activist, founder of NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt
Sheila Kuehl, first openly gay elected to the California legislature
Tony Kushner, Tony, Emmy and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright
Greg Louganis, Olympic Gold Medal diver
Robert Mapplethorpe, groundbreaking photographer
Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon, founders of nation’s first lesbian organization and first same-sex couple married in San Francisco
Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist and author
Michelangelo, Renaissance painter, sculptor and architect
Rosie O’Donnell, comedian, talk-show host, actress, winner of 11 Emmy Awards
Troy Perry, spiritual leader and founder of Metropolitan Community Churches
Gene Robinson, first openly gay Bishop in the Episcopal Church
Anthony Romero, ACLU Executive Director
Randy Shilts, New York Times best-selling author and groundbreaking AIDS journalist
Stephen Sondheim, theatrical lyricist/composer, multiple Tony Award winner
Gianni Versace, fashion designer and entrepreneur
Alice Walker, author and feminist, Pulitzer Prize winner for “The Color Purple”
Andy Warhol, American pop artist and avant-garde filmmaker
John Waters, filmmaker, actor, and author of “Hairspray”
Jann Wenner, co-founder and publisher of “Rolling Stone”
Tennessee Williams, prolific American playwright, Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner

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Sexuality and Gender based culture

Introduction

When I came upon this topic I did not know what to expect and I guess I am sort of surprised by what I discovered. I thought that activist groups have just begun to emerge, but this entry proves otherwise. There are cultures that have existed for awhile, in Germany, the US, and elsewhere, which are entirely based on sexual and gender identity. This subject fascinates me because I sort of thought our cultures were already based upon on sexuality and gender so it sort of caught me off guard when it meant “the marginalized” sexualities, without even stating it. Most of these subcultures are fetish cultures or within the LGBT communities around the globe. Below is the information I found.

Sexuality and Gender Based Culture

Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures are cultures and communities composed of persons who have shared experiences, background, or interests due to a common sexual or gender identity. Among the first to argue that members of sexual minorities can constitute cultural minorities as well as being just individuals were Adolf Brand, Magnus Hirschfeld and Leontine Sagan in Germany. These pioneers were followed later in the United States by the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis.

Not all persons of various sexual preferences and gender identify by or affiliate with a sexuality or gender subculture. Reasons can include geographic distance, unawareness of the subculture’s existence, fear of social stigma, or personal preference to remain unidentified with sexuality or gender based subcultures or communities. Some[who?] also suggest that the identities defined by the Western heterosexualised cultures, that are based around sexuality, have serious flaws, and since often no space for mainstream men to discuss these flaws of gender and sexuality exists, they just reject these identity in large numbers, often along with disowning their sexual needs that may subject them to be classified under what they may consider misclassified sexual identities.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_and_gender_identity-based_cultures)

The Cultures

“LGBT culture, or queer culture, is the common culture shared by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. It is sometimes referred to as “gay culture”, but that term can also be specific to gay men’s culture.

LGBT culture varies widely by geography and the identity of the participants. Elements often identified as being common to the culture of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people include:

  • The work of famous gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. This may include:
    • Present-day LGBT artists and political figures;
    • Historical figures who have been identified as LGBT. It has often been questioned whether it is appropriate to identify historical figures using modern terms for sexual identity (see History of sexuality). However, many LGBT people feel a kinship towards these people and their work, especially to the extent that it deals with same-sex attraction or gender identity.
  • An understanding of the history of LGBT political movements.
  • An ironic appreciation of things linked by stereotype to LGBT people.
  • Figures and identities that are present in the LGBT community; in Euro-American LGBT culture, this could include the gay village, drag kings and queens, Pride, and the rainbow flag.

In some cities, especially in North America, gay men and lesbians tend to live in certain neighbourhoods.

LGBT communities organize a number of events to celebrate their culture, such as Pride parades, the Gay Games and Southern Decadence.

There is some debate among LGBT people about whether an LGBT culture really exists, and whether it is worthwhile.

Polyamory

The polyamorous community is another sexual minority with an associated culture.

Fetish-based cultures

BDSM activists in Taiwan

BDSM activists in Taiwan

The fetish subculture is a subculture that comprises people with a broad range of sexual fetishes and other paraphilias, who tend to be more tolerant of other fetishists than the general community, even if they do not share the other person’s specific fetish. Alternative terms for the fetish subculture include fetish scene and fetish community.

The most common paraphilias seen in the fetish subculture are BDSM, leather fetishism and rubber fetishism. The fetish community is also generally more accepting of homosexuality, bisexuality, nonmonogamys and cross-dressing than general society.[citation needed]

The fetish subculture supports a strong nightclub scene, in the form of fetish clubs.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_and_gender_identity-based_cultures)

Conclusion

This article that I found on Wikipedia, with its title, seems to lead the reader astray. I thought I was finding countries, societies, that were entirely based on gender, which it seems everything it is, because it is assumed with the “human condition”. I was hoping to find an exception to that condition that people have begun to accept as essential, distinct gender characteristics that make us “unique” and separate from the other. This article seemed to reinforce the fact that what people think of as “sexuality” is the marginalized, the irregular, the abnormal, or so it seems. Maybe what everyone thinks when someone says sex is supposed to be a man and a woman in the missionary position.

The subcultures of sexuality seem to fetishisize even the act of sex as if we never have as much sex as we talk about, but instead represent it, talk about it, but never do it as much as we fantasize about, which is why sex will always be fascinating. No one ever has enough.

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Personal Sexuality Story

Introduction

This is a coming out story, or rather, a story about sexuality. I have been requesting stories from people via facebook ever since I started this blog about how the process of “realizing” their sexuality has been over time, how it has developed, etc. This person emailed me their story and now I present it here.

The Story

I’m twenty years old, and I guess you would call me bisexual if I was forced to label
my sexuality in one word. I used to get frustrated by all the words, all the hype of
labeling sexuality—or, more often than not, NOT labeling sexuality. I understand it
now. “Bisexual” seems an entirely inadequate way to describe my sexuality or how I
feel about it. I feel like the only way to do the word justice is to tell my story from
the beginning as honestly as I can, which is difficult, since the person I’ve deceived
most in this whole journey is myself. But, as always, I’m getting ahead of myself, so
here it begins. I’ve always been of the opinion that one should fall in love with a
person, not a gender. We are, after all, attracted to individuals rather than collective
groups. I’ve differed from my family and peers in this regard, having spent my
formative years in a moderately conservative family while attending an Episcopalian
preparatory academy in America’s heartland. Still, I’ve never struggled with the
notion of whether homosexuality is right or wrong on my own moral compass—to me, it has
always been simple: if it adds love to the world, I’m for it. But I certainly knew
early on that this stance was unpopular and better left in my own heart and head than
revealed to the general public. I grew up for the better part of my first twenty years
dating men, never discounting this theory that gender shouldn’t be a factor, and yet
never considering women as part of the available dating market for myself.

My first year of high school, I discovered a group of friends who would later be the
founding members of my school’s extremely unpopular and highly controversial
gay-straight alliance. An assembly of the school’s freaks and geeks and overseen by
the out of favor liberal school chaplain, I fit right in as a lanky freshman with
oversize purple glasses, rainbow colored braces. And greasy blonde bangs that my mother
curled every morning. They were loud, funny, liberal, and opened the door to the
school’s underground counter-culture, and I loved it. I was the antithesis of a high
school glamour girl, and subsequently entered the ninth grade shying away from the boys I
liked, preferring to keep myself a distance away and journal compulsively later on about
their whereabouts. On the occasions where I did get close enough to talk to one, I found
myself learning to be the picture perfect best friend. In my longing, I would give them
all of my time, love, and devotion, pouring out advice and insight in exchange for the
occasional smile, or in a case where my advice helped them get the perfect girl, a rare
hug and thank you. At less than 100 pounds and a true nerd, I was non-threatening. And
yet, my time as a helpful best friend would eventually pass, when they found a new
audience for their tricks, and they would move on. I, in turn, would pour my heart out
to my loving journal. My first boyfriend ended up being engaged and dropping me quickly
(as a side note, they have since split up, and he is dating her sorority sister). Though
it didn’t take too long to get over him, I’m not sure I ever have recovered from that
kind of rejection. It was around this time that I had my first sex dream. It took place
in a palace of some kind, a Tuscan villa perhaps. I made love to a princess with jet
black hair down to her waist. I awoke unsure if I had been a man or woman in the dream.
The perfection of the lingering image and the confusion I felt in the aftermath would
plague and intrigue me for years to come—a part of me wanting it to return, another
part in sheer terror that it might.

The summer before my senior year, I started finding friends outside of my small Episcopal
school, and it was during this time that I discovered my ideal crowd—gay boys. They
appreciated my nurturing, didn’t let me go out of the house looking disheveled, and
never pretended to be anything they weren’t—a virtual guarantee that they wouldn’t
hurt me. They appreciated all the love I had to share, and could look past the greasy,
insecure exterior. It was the beginning of my understanding that sexuality is much more
multifaceted than who we love; it is a culture. And I loved GLBTQ culture. I didn’t
understand why there was a GLBTQ culture at the time, but I loved it none the less.
Little did I know, this was just the beginning. Upon returning to school in the fall, I
was named president of the GSA, much to the dismay of my mother. Though I preached the
merits of the club and my involvement, she continued to worry that I would be mocked or
ostracized, clearly not comprehending that every day of high school WAS filled with
mocking, and club meetings were my one-hour escape. I learned quickly not to mention my
involvement in the club. During my year as president, we not only did a lot of
programming (some new, some passed on to me from the previous president), I had a handful
of people come to talk to me about their own struggles, and a few students even come out
to me. But I also had the daunting task of facing the real world. After a member of the
club spoke on a “Welcome to high school” panel put on for eighth graders and
mentioned that she had a girlfriend, all hell broke loose. The next week the club advisor
and I faced the dean, headmaster, a number of angry trustees, and a barrage of angry
parents. I was blessed to have the school chaplain who was serving as the club faculty
advisor support me the entire way, but the adult world certainly did not like the work
the club was trying to do, and had no reservations making villains of teenagers to serve
their needs. None the less, the club stayed in tact, and if anything, was strengthened by
the experience. While a lot of people wanted to fight fire with fire, I urged them to be
the mature party, to put the parents to shame with our adult reasoning and calmness of
presence. Much to my surprise, it really put them off, and they eventually lost interest
as long as we didn’t push the limits too much. While I wasn’t thrilled by that
outcome, I reminded myself that this is a journey, and it’s just one little battle at a
time—I’m not going to change the world overnight. I’ve since tried to always use a
calm tone and quiet approach to be heard in situations where people want to close their
ears and minds.

Coming to college in the fall of 2006, I found myself for the first time in my life
fitting into a vocal majority on a lot of social justice issues, and it was
overwhelmingly refreshing. My high school activities—literary magazine, GSA, and
theater prevalent among them—fell to the wayside as I focused on making new friends and
trying new things, like football and tour guiding. While I knew something was missing in
my life, it didn’t occur to me that this missing part was advocacy and the fulfillment
I got out of working with my peers to cultivate tolerance. Fast-forward to sophomore
year, second semester. I can’t tell you how I finally came to the realization, but by
this point in time, it was fairly clear that I was bisexual. One day, I just said it to
myself, and it was right. After years of what were clearly not-hetero thoughts, I finally
stopped justifying and considered the possibility that I wasn’t straight, and it made
sense.

Of course, this revelation brings about a lot of questions. If I’m dating a man, does
that make me less a part of the GLBTQ community? Will dating women now make men in the
future uncomfortable? If I get into a relationship, what if the first person I love or
have sex with is a woman? Will I be okay with losing my virginity to another woman? And
another predicament: coming out. To this day, I’ve come out to only a handful of
people. At school, I’ve chosen people who I knew would take it well and be supportive
to tell, and this has worked well enough. It’s a new enough revelation that I don’t
feel like I’m hiding by not throwing a one-woman pride parade. After coming out to a
few friends at school, I found myself testing the Private College** waters of women, and I felt
more secure in my own definition of my sexuality. With a developing crush, I guess only
time will tell how the dating-in-college story will play out.

At home, I’m careful not to let it out. As for my family, I don’t think they’ll be
finding out anytime soon. Or ever. My relationship with my family is strained enough as
is, and I can’t help but believe that since they are so critical of the things I do,
they would be even moreso about the things I am. Every time my mother hears about
someone we know coming out, she exclaims “Thank GOD my children aren’t gay. Can you
imagine?” I know that in the age of technology, what with everyone being
interconnected, news could quickly get from school to home. I do everything in my power
to keep people who have any sort of connection to my family or home life out of the loop.
While it might seem extreme, I’m financially dependent on my parents, and I feel that
them finding out I’m bisexual could compromise my tuition, as crazy as it might seem.
Mainly, I just hope that my not being out to my family never has an effect on any
relationship I might have.

Conclusion

This person has been very honest and trusting in sharing this story. While you have read it, I hope you could find a place where you could relate because I definitely could. I feel as if everyone, at some point in their lives, questions their sexuality (not necessarily their desire). Questioning, discovering, wondering, and talking about sexuality should not be taboo and hopefully this story will be the first step in uncovering many stories.

**college name changed for confidentiality

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PFLAG Vol. II

Holidays with Parents for GLBTQ

“The holidays can be a stressful time for GLBT people or families with GLBT members, but there are several strategies that you can use to help reduce stress and create a happy holiday this year.


If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender…

  • Don’t assume you know how somebody will react to news of your sexual orientation or gender identity — you may be surprised.
  • Realize that your family’s reaction to you may not be because you are GLBT. The hectic holiday pace may cause family members to act differently than they would under less stressful conditions.
  • Remember that “coming out” is a continuous process. You may have to “come out” many times.
  • Don’t wait for your family’s attitude to change to have a special holiday. Recognize that your parents need time to acknowledge and accept that they have a GLBT child. It took you time to come to terms with who you are; now it is your family’s turn.
  • Let your family’s judgments be theirs to work on, as long as they are kind to you.
  • If it is too difficult to be with your family, create your own holiday gathering with friends and loved ones.
  • If you are transgender, be gentle with your family’s pronoun “slips.” Let them know you know how difficult it is.


Before the visit…

  • Make a decision about being “out” to each family member before you visit.
  • If you are partnered, discuss in advance how you will talk about your relationship, or show affection with one another, if you plan to make the visit together.
  • If you bring your partner home, don’t wait until late into the holiday evening to raise the issue of sleeping arrangements. Make plans in advance.
  • Have alternate plans if the situation becomes difficult at home.
  • Find out about local GLBT resources.
  • If you do plan to “come out” to your family over the holidays, have support available, including PFLAG publications and the number of a local PFLAG chapter.


During the visit…

  • Focus on common interests.
  • Reassure family members that you are still the same person they have always known.
  • If you are partnered, be sensitive to his or her needs as well as your own.
  • Be wary of the possible desire to shock your family.
  • Remember to affirm yourself.
  • Realize that you don’t need your family’s approval.
  • Connect with someone else who is GLBT—by phone or in person—who understands what you are going through and will affirm you along the way.


Additional Resources:

TNET- Support for Trans people

“Transgender people have been included in PFLAG’s support network for over a decade. Our Transgender Network (TNET) includes contacts and regional coordinators for all of our chapters around the country. Their primary mission has been to educate our members and allies about transgender issues – a subject foreign to many, including those parents and significant others surprised by the coming out of a loved one as transgender.

While transgender people have similar needs with regard to support in coming out, education and advocacy as do gay, lesbian and bisexual people, there are some basic differences that might require family and friends to step beyond their comfort levels. You can learn more about these differences here.

Before and during the process of transitioning, however, many difficulties can arise. Transgender people are often denied use of appropriate restroom facilities; they are usually denied participation in sports based on their correct gender. They experience discrimination with regard to employment and housing. And they are too often subjected to cruel harassment and violence at the hands of others.” (http://community.pflag.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=266&srcid=380)

PFLAG Talk

I happened to stumble upon this when I was searching for PFLAG. It is a website sponsored by the AIDS critical path project started by Kiyoshi Kiromiya (if you don’t know who this man is, look him up, he is a truly amazing human being). This site provides webpages and lists to begin dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Here is a brief description:

You have reached the home page of the PFLAG-Talk Internet mailing list.
[To subscribe, follow the links on its name in the last sentence.]The purpose of these lists is to promote the health and well-being of gay, lesbian and bisexual and transgendered persons, their families and friends through:

Blueballsupport, to cope with an adverse society,
Blueballeducation, to enlighten an ill-informed public, and
Blueballadvocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights.

Our lists and webpages provide opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity. On and off the net, PFLAG acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.

Please note, the pflag-talk and tgs-pflag email list, website, and resources found here are collected independently. It is neither managed nor monitored by National PFLAG, although some members of the National Staff, Board, or Regional Directors do participate in the list.

Hosted by the Critical Path AIDS Project. Critical Path was a plaintiff in the CDA lawsuit.


Contact the webmaster, John Lindner, with questions, comments, or suggestions.
Revised February 25, 2007″

(http://www.critpath.org/pflag-talk/)

Conclusion

The PFLAG websites will probably provide more information than I could. I have never experienced a PFLAG meeting so I don’t have the experiences with the members, their programs, events, or attitudes. I have an inclination that these meetings are very helpful and supportive, which is why I have offered information about them on my site. I hope this is helpful and lends hope to all people who need it.

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PFLAG Vol. I

What is PFLAG?

PFLAG stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. By the title it doesn’t seem as if they are all inclusive to bisexuals, transgendered and intersex persons, though they might be. I have not had interactions with PFLAG, though I hear it has been a mostly positive experience. My friend who went to the one in my college town said it consisted of mostly over college-aged people and they were eager to have youth, which I am not sure is an all around problem for them (not having youth). I encourage every one to check out PFLAG’s website which is listed below:

http://community.pflag.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=194&srcid=-2

I hope I can provide everyone who looks at this page with some more support knowing that this is out there or at least the resource. Below I have included some of the basic information about PFLAG, not all. They have an abundance of information on the website from faq, to jobs, advocacy, resources, a shop, newsroom, and education programs.

Mission

PFLAG promotes the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.” (http://community.pflag.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=237&srcid=191)

Vision

“We, the parents, families and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, celebrate diversity and envision a society that embraces everyone, including those of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Only with respect, dignity and equality for all will we reach our full potential as human beings, individually and collectively. PFLAG welcomes the participation and support of all who share in, and hope to realize this vision.” (http://community.pflag.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=237&srcid=191)

Goals

“I. Build the capacity of our organization at every level so that we may have all the resources, in the form of information, people and funding, necessary to move forward in our work with the greatest possible effect.

II. Create a world in which our young people may grow up and be educated with freedom from fear of violence, bullying and other forms of discrimination, regardless of their real or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation or that of their families.

III. Make our vision and our message accessible to the broadest range of ethnic and cultural communities, ending the isolation of families with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender family members within those communities.

IV. Work toward full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons within their chosen communities of faith.

V. Create a society in which all GLBT persons may openly and safely pursue the career path of their choice, and may be valued and encouraged to grow to their full potential in the workplace.

VI. Create a society in which all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons may enjoy, in every aspect of their lives, full civil and legal equality and may participate fully in all the rights, privileges and obligations of full citizenship in this country.

We welcome the participation and support of all who share in our Vision and Mission and who hope to realize our goals.”

(http://community.pflag.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=237&srcid=191)

History

“HISTORY SNAPSHOT

In 1972, Jeanne Manford started an international movement when she marched with her son Mortie in New York’s Gay Pride Parade. Enraged that her son had been beaten at a gay rights protest two months before while police did nothing, she carried a sign at the Pride march that said, “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support of Our Children.”

30 years later, PFLAG has grown to include more than 500 chapters nationwide, over 200,000 members, supporters, and affiliates, representing the largest chapter network in the struggle for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) rights.

For a moving article about Jeanne Manford and her historic step, click here.

The idea for PFLAG began in 1972 when Jeanne Manford marched with her gay son in New York’s Pride Day parade. After many gay and lesbian people ran up to Jeanne during the parade and begged her to talk to their parents, she decided to begin a support group. The first formal meeting took place in March 1973 at a local church. Approximately 20 people attended.

In the next years, through word of mouth and in response to community need, similar groups sprang up around the country, offering “safe havens” and mutual support for parents with gay and lesbian children. Following the 1979 National March for Gay and Lesbian Rights, representatives from these groups met for the first time in Washington, D.C.

By 1980, PFLAG, then known as Parents FLAG, began to distribute information to educational institutions and communities of faith nationwide and established itself as a source of information for the general public. When “Dear Abby” mentioned PFLAG, more than 7,000 letters were received requesting information. In 1981, members decided to launch a national organization. The first PFLAG office was established in Los Angeles under founding president Adele Starr.

In 1982, the Federation of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Inc., then representing some 20 groups, was incorporated in California and granted non-profit, tax-exempt status. In 1987, PFLAG re-located to Denver, under President Ellinor Lewallen. Also in the 1980’s, PFLAG became involved in opposing Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade and worked to end the U.S. military’s efforts to discharge lesbians—more than a decade before military issues came to the forefront of the GLBT movement. And by the late 1980’s, PFLAG began to have notable success in organizing chapters in rural and Bible Belt states like Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas.

In 1990, following a period of significant growth, PFLAG employed an Executive Director, expanded its staff, and consolidated operations in Washington, D.C. Also in 1990, PFLAG President Paulette Goodman sent a letter to Barbara Bush asking for Mrs. Bush’s support. The first lady’s personal replied, stating, “I firmly believe that we cannot tolerate discrimination against any individuals or groups in our country. Such treatment always brings with in pain and perpetuates intolerance.” Inadvertently given to the Associated Press, her comments caused a political maelstrom and were perhaps the first gay-positive comments ever to come out of the White House.

In the early 1990s, PFLAG chapters in Massachusetts helped pass the first Safe Schools legislation in the country. In 1993, PFLAG added the word “Families” to the name, and added bisexuals to its mission and work. By the mid-1990s a PFLAG family was responsible for the Department of Education’s ruling that Title 9 also protected gay and lesbian students from harassment based on sexual orientation. Also in the mid-1990s, PFLAG put the Religious Right on the defensive, when Pat Robertson threatened to sue any station that carried our Project Open Mind advertisements showing examples of his anti-gay statements. The resulting media coverage drew national attention to our message linking hate speech with hate crimes and GLBT teen suicide. In 1998, PFLAG added transgender people and their loved ones.

At the turn of the century, PFLAG began to develop nationally coordinated programs in order to better focus the work of their grassroots network. Programs such as our From Our House to the School House campaign, the Scholarship Program, Racial and Ethnic Communities, Bringing the Message Home, and Welcoming Faith Communities are already showing results. Most recently the PFLAG National office has launched its newest programs From Our House to the Courthouse and From Our House to the State House.

For a complete overview of PFLAG’s remarkable history and growth, click here.” (http://community.pflag.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=267&srcid=191)

PFLAG Education and Programs

“In addition to providing support to families and friends of GLBT people, PFLAG members are advocates for legislation that promotes equality for GLBT people as well as for educational efforts to do the same.

From our House to the School House:Tools for creating safe schools and responding to harassment and bullying are at the center of these programs. (Also includes PFLAG’s National and Local Scholarship programs.)

In addition its programs, PFLAG also advocates and educates about GLBT civil rights and legal protections.

Each Field & Policy Coordinator has specific oversight for policy folios and programs. To find the right contact for an issue or your area, visit the Contact Us page.” (http://community.pflag.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=212&srcid=194)

Advocacy and Issues

See PFLAG’s website for issues and advoacy: http://community.pflag.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=210&srcid=212

Some of the issues include: military, safe space, the work space, marriage, hate crimes, and reparative therapy

News about PFLAG

To find out when, where, how, and about what PFLAG has gotten in the news about, check out this website: http://community.pflag.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=213&srcid=210

Finding support (finding a chapter, support networks for people who have friends in the glbtq community, and support for straight spouses)

“When Jeanne Manford marched with her son, Morty, in New York City’s Gay Pride parade in 1972, her sign read, “Parents of Gays Unite in Support for Our Children.” A year later, 20 people attended what would be the first PFLAG support meeting.

Since that time, the meaning of “support” for PFLAG has grown to include more people than just parents. PFLAG’s support efforts provide encouragement and resources to parents, families, friends, as well as GLBT people themselves. In more recent years, we’ve added special outreach programs for transgender people and their loved ones and straight spouses of GLBT individuals.

Included here are several resources that can help you find the support that you need. For more personalized support services, contact one of the more than 500 PFLAG chapters across the United States today.

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Day of Silence

Introduction

What is the Day of Silence®?
The Day of Silence (www.dayofsilence.org), a project of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), is a student-led day of action when concerned students, from middle school to college, take some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to the name-calling, bullying and harassment — in effect, the silencing — experienced by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students and their allies. This year’s Day of Silence will be held in memory of Lawrence King.

Who was Lawrence King?
Lawrence King was a 15-year-old student from Oxnard, California, who was shot and killed in class on February 12 by a 14-year-old classmate because of King’s sexual orientation and gender expression. The hate crime received little media attention but has served as a rallying cry for the need to address anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment. Organizers have registered more than 100 vigils across the country in remembrance of King at www.rememberinglawrence.org.

The goal of the Day of Silence is to inspire change so that such a tragedy and others like it never happen again.” (http://www.dayofsilence.org/content/getinformation.html)

Why do we need a Day of Silence?


“GLSEN’s 2005 National School Climate Survey found that 4 out of 5 LGBT students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school and more than 30% report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. The Day of Silence helps bring us closer to making anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and name-calling unacceptable in America’s schools.

The Day of Silence is a call to action. Students can use this day, as well as other GLSEN Days of Action, as a means of achieving an “ask.” An ask is a very specific action that calls for a change in school policies, climate, and culture to achieve a larger goal of safe schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Some examples of an ask include: adding sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in your school’s non-discrimination or anti-harassment policy, or training teachers to respond effectively to anti-LGBT bullying, harassment, and name-calling. For more information see: ‘How To Get What You Want With An Ask’ [PDF]” (http://www.dayofsilence.org/content/getinformation.html)

History

“The History of the Day of Silence®

Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. From the first-ever Day of Silence at the University of Virginia in 1996, to the organizing efforts in over 1,900 middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities across the country in 2002, its textured history reflects its diversity in both numbers and reach.

Here’s a brief history.

1996 – The Day of Silence is born. Students organized the first Day of Silence, its original name, at the University of Virginia. With over 150 students participating, those involved felt it was a great success. The Day of Silence received extensive local press coverage and a positive response from the UVA community members, motivating Maria Pulzetti to take the Day of Silence nationally.

1997 – From one, to one hundred, National Day of Silence takes off With a web page and much dedication, Pulzetti and then 19-year-old Jessie Gilliam, developed the project to be used in schools across the country. It was renamed the National Day of Silence, and that year nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. Some schools in Australia heard about the project and modeled a similar day for Australian schools.

1998 – The Day keeps growing, the Project begins Pulzetti and Gilliam realized they could not expand the National Day of Silence alone, so they organized a team of regional coordinators who could assist schools better by working with and understanding local networks. Expanding from a one-day vow of silence to include additional actions and educational events, the Day of Silence was officially inaugurated. That year, for the first time in a recognized number, students in high schools joined the organizing efforts, helping double the number of participating schools to over 200.

1999-2001 – More people, more time, a message of unity sets in Through the sponsorship of Advocates for Youth, Gilliam worked part-time over the summer of 1999 to maintain and expand the Day of Silence. A first in the project’s history, a team of volunteers met for a weekend in Boston to discuss strategy and develop future plans towards assisting schools. The Day of Silence continued to support high schools, colleges and universities around the country with volunteers led by then 18-year-old Chloe Palenchar, as the National Project Coordinator. Over 300 high schools participated that year.

2001 – Day of Silence; still growing, still strong Chris Tuttle, GLSEN’s National Student Organizer, Gilliam and Palenchar developed a proposal to provide the Day of Silence with new funding, staff, volunteers and an official organizational sponsor, GLSEN. To ensure its success, GLSEN developed a first-ever Leadership Team of high school students to support local high school organizers around the country and a partnership with the United States Student Association, to ensure colleges and universities receive equal support.

2002 – Making noise, making history In what has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools, the April 10th Day of Silence was organized by students in more than 1,900 schools across the country, with estimated participation of more than 100,000 students. Representative Eliot Engel introduces the first ever resolution on the Day of Silence in Congress, which received support of 29 co-signers; additionally, Governor Gray Davis of California issued an official proclamation making April 10, 2002 the National Day of Silence. Local Day of Silence® organizing efforts appear in over fifty media stories across the country, including USA Today, MSNBC, CNN, Voice of America and a live broadcast on NPR. Breaking the Silence rallies are organized with tremendous success in Albany, NY, Kalamazoo, MI, Missoula, MT, Ft. Lauderdale & Sarasota, FL, Eugene, OR, Boulder, CO and Washington DC, among other places.

Today – 2008 – This year’s Day of Silence on April 25 will be held in memory of Lawrence King, a 15-year-old eighth-grade student in Oxnard, California, was shot and killed by a 14-year-old classmate because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. Hundreds of thousands of students are expected to participate in this year’s Day of Silence. Their efforts will be supported by hundreds of community-based “Breaking the Silence” events at the end of the day. Together, concerned students will create a powerful call to action in order to prevent future tragedies.

There are simple steps that all schools can take to make schools safer for all students, to end the endemic name-calling and harassment that LGBT students and their allies face every day. We need to act now so that Lawrence King and the countless others who endure anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment will not be forgotten, and so that we can create an enduring legacy of safer schools for all in their names.

Students will hand out “Speaking Cards” which say:

“Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies in schools. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by name-callinmg, bullying and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?”

(http://www.dayofsilence.org/content/history.html)


Has the Day of Silence been successful?
In past years, more than 500,000 students at nearly 4,000 K-12 schools, colleges and universities organized Day of Silence events. These numbers make the Day of Silence one of the largest student-led actions in the United States. The event has drawn significant attention to LGBT issues in schools over the years. For example, GLSEN spokespersons have appeared on national media outlets and there has always been extensive local media coverage from coast to coast, with numerous interviews with students.” (http://www.dayofsilence.org/content/getinformation.html)

Planning Resources

http://www.dayofsilence.org/content/getorganized.html

Opposition to Day of Silence

“In 2005, the Alliance Defense Fund began sponsoring a yearly counter-protest called the Day of Truth.[3] It encourages students to share with classmates their view that homosexuality is an undesirable behavior that can be changed. About 7000 students participated in the 2007 Day of Truth.[4]

Other organizations, including the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Mission America, Traditional Values Coalition, Americans for Truth, and Liberty Counsel, opposed the Day of Silence in 2008 by forming a coalition urging parents to keep their kids home on the DOS if their school was observing it.[5] At least one school saw more than a third of its students skip school on that school’s DOS in 2008. The Rev. Ken Hutcherson, the principal supporter of those who skipped school, said, “We want education, not indoctrination.” Previously, complaints were made that, “the two previous Days of Silence … had coerced participation and subjected to harassment students who wanted to stay neutral.”[6] In another locality, a student said, “I really am uncomfortable with that stuff, and I thought it was wrong they were going to have a gay day and we can’t pray.”[7]

Legally, schools cannot be penalized for refusing to observe the Day of Silence.[8][clarify] Similarly, students have a constitutional right to participate in the Day of Silence, though they must speak if called on by a teacher.[9]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_Silence#Events)

Find more information about this here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliance_Defense_Fund#.27Day_of_Truth.27

Pictures

A day of silence

Members of Pride, Kristofer Wilhelmsen, a sophomore marketing major, and Tessa Stouffer, a freshman music education major, lay in the middle of the south quad Wednesday morning for an hour-long protest in support of the “Day of Silence.” Carrie Hollis/The Daily Eastern News

–>

Kristofer Wilhelmsen lay in the middle of the south quad, wearing sunglasses and all black. He was not relaxing in the sun Wednesday morning, but protesting with duct tape covering his mouth. The tape read, “faggot.” Four other members of Eastern’s Pride chapter protested with Wilhelmsen, a sophomore marketing major, showing their support for the Day of Silence. (0) comments

April 25th, 2008 DAY OF SILENCE
By MistressMissC (18, Connecticut) NOISEmail MistressMissC

Questions you may have

All of the answers I have not including here can be found at this website(s):

http://www.dayofsilence.org/content/getinformation.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_Silence#Events

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