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Bully Attacks Attendees at Anti-Bullying Rally

April 04, 2012 By: jaysays Category: Youth Issues

Flour Bluff School District came under fire last year when its Superintendent refused to allow a Gay Straight Alliance to form on campus. After significant pressure and national media attention, the District tentatively allowed the group to form.  This year, the failures of the administration are again coming into the spotlight.

Teddy Molina, a 16 year old student at Flour Bluff High School, took his own life this past weekend after enduring the wrath of a gang of football players known as “The Wolfpack.”   Although Flour Bluff administrators deny knowledge of The Wolfpack, students have indicated that teachers are certainly aware of the gang and have even asked them to remove their Wolfpack t-shirts in the past.

Teddy was familiar with the Wolfpack.  After being tormented by the group, Teddy turned to his parents.  They withdrew him from Flour Bluff High School shortly before his untimely death.  Some students have stated that the Wolfpack threatened to invade Teddy’s home and harm his mother and sister if “He didn’t do something about himself.”

Of course, none of the accusations can currently be proven, but there is one thing that is clear – Flour Bluff, like many school districts, has a bully problem.

In fact, at an anti-bullying rally this afternoon, things turned violent. One of the students, alleged to be  member of The Wolfpack gang, jumped from the SUV driven by his father and began attacking rally attendees, including family members of Teddy and other students. The gang member’s father, Tommy Martin, accused rally attendees of throwing rocks at them as they passed by.

Video of attack.

Koby Ozias, a District Lead for GetEQUAL TX,  was present. According to Koby, the rally had been going for approximately 2 hours prior to the attack. Several students had noted that members of The Wolfpack gang had been driving by and flipping off the crowd, but no other incidents had occurred.  When the attackers hit children, several rally attendees fought back, while others attempted to seperate the grieving family from the assailants.

After the attack, police demanded the rally attendees leave the site. Although attendees complied, they hope to plan another event for tomorrow.

A Sad Bullying Irony in My Facebook Feed

March 09, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

Two headlines appeared in my Facebook feed one right after the other tonight, in what can only be described as a sad irony (if I use the word “irony” as liberally as most).


If you stop the hate, you can stop the violence.

 

 

http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/03/07/16_Year_Old_Arrested_for_Antigay_Beating/

82nd Texas Legislative Session Welcomed with Anti-Bullying Demonstration

January 12, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Youth Issues

Queer Texas United Anti-Bully "Die In" - Austin, Texas, January 11, 2011

Yesterday marked the beginning of the 82nd Texas legislative session.  To welcome the new legislature, Queer Texas United organized a Homophobia and Transphobia Kills Die-In at the front gate of the Capitol Building in Austin.  The purpose of the Die-In was to support anti-bullying legislation.  The Texas Senate has introduced two bills with respect to bullying and cyberbullying for consideration this legislative session.  Presently, there are two anti-bullying bills in the Senate and one in the House.

Roughly fifty people attended the die-in.  On cue, we all fell to the ground while a litany of names were read aloud by organizers then repeated by participants.  Afterward, Representative Joe Farias of San Antonio spoke about the effect of bullying on his own family.  He recounted the horrible bullying his son experienced and how, upon approaching the school administration, he was met with reluctance and even denial instead of help with confronting the problem.

Rather profoundly, another demonstration was being held simultaneously in front of the Capitol Building.  This demonstration was an anti-death penalty rally.  Several participants of that demonstration joined in with the die-in participants.  Signs reading “Stop the Executions” mingled with signs reading “Homophobia Kills, Transphobia Kills.”  Bullying, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and lethal injection all have the same tragic end; life ceases.

At approximately 6:18 p.m. organizers for the execution rally announced that the prisoner who was to be executed had received a stay.  One woman screamed, “We got a stay!”  Perhaps somewhere out in this world a bullied youth received a stay, too.

Overview of introduced Texas Anti-Bullying Legislation:

Senate Bill 245, filed by Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, would amend the Texas Education Code to not only require policy and program development along with staff and parent training for the prevention and reporting of bullying, but also amend the current definition of bullying to include cyberbullying.  Further, S.B. 245 would require that a student who engages in bullying, at the request of a person with authority to act on behalf of a bullied student, to be transferred to another classroom or campus.  Previously, students victimized by bullying were forced to transfer to a new school or classroom themselves which clearly punished the victim rather than the offender.  House Bill 224, field by Representative Mark Strama, is markedly similar to Senate Bill 245.

Senate Bill 205, filed by Senator John Whitmire of Houston, would require school districts to develop a policy prohibiting bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and intimidation.  The current text of S.B. 205 does not provide for specific consequences for students who engage in bullying, but instead requires that the district develop a program for remedial action, including counseling for the bully and a referral to appropriate services or to the appropriate county or district attorney.

What you can do in Texas to get involved:

National Organization for Marriage Launches NOH8 Campaign???

January 02, 2011 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Lessons for Straight People, Youth Issues

The National Organization for Marriage, (NOM), learned a new strategy in 2010: steal the phrases used by the movement pushing to legalize marriage for same sex couples. It started with “Hate is Not A Family Value.” More recently, they have been offended by the FCKH8 videos, whose purpose is to counter the rhetoric  put forward by groups like NOM.

If you’ve seen them, you’ll notice that, yes, the F word is used and in one particular video,  it is used by children.

NOM has decided to use this as their next marketing campaign. Their slogan? NOH8. Perhaps, in their infinite ignorance, they have never heard of the NOH8 campaign started by Adam Bouska, where people have NOH8 printed on their cheeks, wear duct tape, and are photographed.  I can’t wait for the copyright infringement battle to begin. Better, I can’t wait for NOM to wear duct tape over their mouths. Permanently.

Setting aside their continued lack of originality and twisting of every word, methinks NOM doth protest too much. If you read their blog you would think that the children in these videos are taught to use the F word in every sentence, their parents are awful, and a lawyer should be called to check into child abuse.

NOM has conveniently ignored the true message in this video. That would mean acknowledging the logic, courage, and compassion in the message of equality for all families. Yesterday I checked YouTube. The video has almost 2 million hits and the “Likes” outweigh the “Dislikes” 10 to 1.

NOM as an organization is doing everything in its power, and bank account, to appeal to fear and hate. When asked to back up their position that marriage is between one man and woman, all they have now is “it is special.” When interviewed publicly, they have been forced to retreat from religious arguments that God made it so, marriage is for procreation, or it has been this way for 5,000 years since none of those requirements are present in the law now for heterosexuals.

They have attempted to claim that they do not hate gay people, that this is only about the special institution of marriage. Yet in their blog and their Facebook group, Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman, they continue to promote a misinterpreted Biblical view that homosexuals choose their sexual orientation, they are sexual deviants, pedophiles, and are out to convert all of our children to homosexuality.

When has NOM stood up to protect any LGBT person? When the rash of suicides hit the mainstream media in September, they refused to support actions to stop bullying. If NOM were truly worried about what children are exposed to, they would pay attention to the statistics on bullying of youth and start a campaign to stop bullying and abusive behavior. Do they know that four out of five youth who are called homophobic slurs are actually straight?

Here are statistics on bullying for 2009 from GLSEN, The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. As a mother, I am far more concerned about the real harm that is being done to our children every single day in our schools and communities. It is far more traumatic than the use of the F word in a video. A video that comes with a warning label, by the way.

  • 84.6% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1% reported being physically harassed and 18.8% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
  • 63.7% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.2% reported being physically harassed and 12.5% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression.
  • 72.4% heard homophobic remarks, such as “faggot” or “dyke,” frequently or often at school.
  • Nearly two-thirds (61.1%) of students reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, and more than a third (39.9%) felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
  • 29.1% of LGBT students missed a class at least once and 30.0% missed at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns, compared to only 8.0% and 6.7%, respectively, of a national sample of secondary school students.
  • The reported grade point average of students who were more frequently harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression was almost half a grade lower than for students who were less often harassed (2.7 vs. 3.1).
  • Increased levels of victimization were related to increased levels of depression and anxiety and decreased levels of self-esteem.

I read Brian Brown’s Christmas letter on the NOM blog. He even included a photograph of his family with all of his children. One gay person who commented on the blog, trying to be calm and engage in productive discourse, stated that he disagreed with NOM but wished Brian’s family a Merry Christmas and commented that his children are beautiful. They are.

And so are the children of so many same sex couples that I know. I wonder what Brian would tell one of his children about the value of marriage and family, how special and important it is if that child turns out to be gay. Will he want his  child to have the same rights and happiness as his other children? Perhaps Brian would understand if he had to explain his prejudice to one of his own children. Or will he turn on his child, the same way that NOM has tried to dehumanize and marginalize all people attracted to someone of the same gender?

Note: Tune in for the debate between Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry and Maggie Gallagher, NOM; brought to you by The Economist. Starts January 3rd online.

Wearing Purple Just Isn’t Enough – Wear Fabulous!

October 19, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, LGBT Action Alerts

Me in my purple and yellow scarf

Me in my purple and yellow scarf - yes it's purple, not blue (blame bad lighting)

Tonight, I headed off to my closet to find something purple to wear tomorrow.  I was rummaging through every article of clothing and every corner, including the winter boxes, desperate to answer the Facebook call to wear purple on October 20, 2010 to raise awareness about the LGBT Youth Suicide Epidemic and bullying.  I stumbled upon a very nice button up I had forgotten I owned.  It was an obvious purple, but still conservative enough for a day of business.  I headed off to iron it and realized that the long sleeves were not long enough for my arms.  Back to the closet I trotted.

This time, my eyes stopped on a scarf that was crocheted for me by my dear friend, Crystal, years ago.  The scarf is lined purple and yellow and a bit of an eyesore.  I immediately wished I lived further north where wearing a scarf would be justifiable, but with temperatures in the mid-80’s in South Texas, I knew it would stick out like a sore thumb [an expression I never really understood].

I headed back to the ironing board with another button-up in hand.  This one was less obviously purple, but still purple.  I began ironing it and debating the color.  Someone could easily think my shirt was just another shirt.  It didn’t seem like it would show that I’m wearing purple for a specific reason.  That’s when it occurred to me.  Wearing purple just isn’t enough – we need people to know why we are wearing purple.

There was one problem.  How was I going to engage people in conversation about the Epidemic with a button up, nicely pressed, purple-ish shirt?  The answer was clear – I need to stand out.  I need to wear the purple and yellow scarf tomorrow so that people understand that it isn’t just a garment, it is a statement.  It is a statement that I will not stop fighting for equality until we are EQUAL.  Why?  Because I refuse to lie to our LGBT children.  I refuse to tell them it gets better without first working to make sure it does.

Tomorrow, I challenge all of you (and myself) to engage at least one person in a conversation about bullying and LGBT Youth Suicides.  If you need to borrow my scarf to help jumpstart a conversation, I’m happy to oblige.

LGBT Notable News Happenings (May 18, 2009 – May 23, 2009)

May 25, 2009 By: MJ Category: LGBT News

LGBT NewsRodger McFarlane LGBT Activist Mourned (May 23, 2009)

Rodger McFarlane was a gay activist who set up the first AIDS hotline in 1981, using his own home phone and an answering machine. He went on to establish many other organizations and services to help those with AIDS.  In addition to being an activist, Mr. McFarlane was a very lively man and made seven over-ice expeditions to the North Pole.  Mark Thompson, a Los Angeles author, said, “He was one of those fantastically energetic, self-possessed visionary people who knew what had to be done.”  In 2002 Mr. McFarlane broke his back in an Eco-Challenge race and his health had been deteriorating since then.

CA School Agrees to Settlement (May 18, 2009)

A high school in the Vallejo Unified School District has agreed to pay a former student named Rochelle $25,000, and adopt new policies regarding bullying and prohibiting discrimination.  Sadly, the worst of the anti-gay harassment toward her came from one of the teachers at the school who ridiculed her by saying, “… she did not know whether she (Rochelle) was a boy or a girl.”  Other teachers at the high school also refused to let her into the girl’s locker room.  Rochelle now attends another high school.

Schools Block LGBT Web Sites (May 20, 2009)

The ACLU had been truly hoping to avoid taking court action against the Knox County and Nashville school systems.  Web sites specifically falling into the category of LGBT have been completely blocked from student access, but websites which are anti-LGBT or which promote so called LGBT “cures” are fully accessible.  A system was set up whereby the teachers would have been able to unlock the access to an LGBT web site for a student, but the student(s) would have been forced to “come out” to the teacher in order to request the access.

Report on Harvey Milk Censored by Principal (May 19, 2009)

Sixth-grader Natalie Jones was inspired after seeing the movie “Milk” and decided to write a report about his life and death for her class.  Instead Natalie’s presentation was stopped and she was sent to the office of her principal Theresa Grace.  The Principal of Mt. Woodson Elementary School decided that the sixth-grader’s report would require letters to parents notifying them of a lesson dealing with sex.  These letters offered the parents the option to decline to allow their children to participate in a “sex education” lesson.   The ACLU has responded.

New Lawsuit Filed Against DOMA (May 21, 2009)

The Defense of Marriage Act is being challenged again, hopefully with better results for all concerned.  Dean Hara, a widower, was married legally to former out gay US Congressman Gerry Studds, who died of a blood clot to his lung in October 2006.  Mr. Hara is still fighting for survivor benefits – which would not be a problem in the same circumstances for a survivor of a heterosexual marriage.  Several other widowers and couples are also involved in the newly filed lawsuit.  According to Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor, “It’s far from a slam dunk, but it’s a powerful and plausible case.”  Mr. Tribe is not involved in the lawsuit.

Love Matters More for Former San Angelo, Texas Mayor (May 21, 2009)

They met and got to know each other locally and then it turned into a beautiful relationship.  J.W. Lown and his partner did discover some difficulties and then the newly re-elected fourth term now former Mayor, and his partner, decided it was time for both of them to return to Mexico.  His partner is a citizen of Mexico and Mr. Lown has citizenship in both the U.S. and Mexico.  This is a beautiful story of love and immigration and working hard to follow the law.  For J.W. Lown it was a difficult decision to leave San Angelo, but to him some things do matter more than even a successful political career.

Swastika Used in Hate Crime at Home in Merced, CA (May 22, 2009)

Frances Martin had moved into her new home only a few days ago.  She decided to move in order to take care of her eight year old granddaughter while her own daughter is deployed in Iraq.  Ms. Martin’s son had just mowed the lawn when she realized something didn’t look right.  When she waked out to the sidewalk she was surprised to see a swastika burned into her lawn.  Ms. Martin and her family are African American.  The swastika is a white supremacist symbol, and an emblem of the German Nazi Party, which has been used both hatefully and violently against the LGBT community, African Americans, the Jewish people and other minority groups.  Ms Martin was simply looking for a safer place for her granddaughter.

Much Needed LGBT Center Now at San Jose State U. (May 22,2009)

Seven months ago San Jose State University opened the first center for LGBT students on the campus.  Larry Arzie and David Stonesifer graduated from SJSU back in the 1960’s at a time when there was no center for LGBT students to gather.  Back then, “… students who were wrestling with sexual identity were counseled to undergo psychiatric counseling.”  Fortunately that is no longer the case.  The successful couple, who have been living in Los Gatos, recently gave a very generous bequest to the new LGBT Center at SJSU which is their Alma Mater.

CA Supreme Court Set to Announce Decision (May 23, 2009)

The LGBT community and our allies throughout California and many other locations have been waiting and waiting for this decision.  On this coming Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. Pacific standard time the decision will be announced as well as posted on the web – the website link is included in the article.  Marc Solomon the marriage director of Equality California said, “We hope they rule the right way, but we are prepared to win marriage back at the ballot box.”

LGBT Notable News Happenings (May 7, 2009 – May 13, 2009)

May 18, 2009 By: MJ Category: LGBT News

LGBT NewsMarriage Issues in the UK (May 7, 2009)

Our community has been fighting for lgbt rights around the world, and the UK is no exception.  Looks like our brothers and sisters in Ireland have decided, according to a poll, that Civil Partnerships are not good enough for them either.  The LGBT community in Ireland joins us in solidarity for marriage equality.

Health Insurance Obstacle for Couples (May 8, 2009)

Gay and Lesbian couples, especially those with families, find additional difficulties in obtaining health insurance.  Some employers do offer options for Domestic Partners but those options (when available) can be costly and legally daunting.  Even in states with Legal Domestic Partnerships – some employers end up deferring to DOMA and do not make the insurance available.

Helem Protects LGBT in Beirut (May 9, 2009)

The only overtly gay rights organization in the Arab world is preparing for a campaign to overturn the law which makes homosexuality illegal.   The organization put together what is  believed to be the first gay rights protest in a downtown Beirut square where nearly 2 dozen gays and lesbians gathered.  Helem also assisted last year when a gay man was murdered and the police took his friends into custody in order examine them rectally – to determine if they were gay.  Fortunately Helem was able to secure their release.

Two LGBT Bills in Texas (May 11, 2009)

Texas based LGBT organizations are busy lobbying lawmakers in support of two pieces of legislation.  One of the bills involves protection in schools from bullying and the other bill  would ban employment discrimination.  Erin Moore of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas said, “For the first in a long time, we haven’t had any anti-LGBT bills – so we’ve been able to spend our time working on behalf of good bills.”  The article also includes a link to Equality Texas –  for more information.

Russia Says No to Lesbian Couple (May 12, 2009)

Irina Fedotova and Irina Shipitko, a lesbian couple, applied for a marriage license in a Moscow government office – but their application was denied.  In spite of the denial the two held hands and shared a loving kiss near the marriage registry office.  Fedotova later told journalists, “We won’t stop in midstream”.  The couple said that they will marry in Canada because Russia does recognize marriages registered abroad.  They had originally hoped to be married before the start of Russian Gay Pride activities.

New York Assembly Passes Marriage Bill (May 12, 2009)

Five Republicans voted with the Democrats in favor of the bill. The Empire State Pride Agenda is leading other gay rights groups in a campaign of statewide advertising including commercials.  Two of the Republican Assemblymen who had previously voted against marriage equality changed their minds and voted in favor of the bill.  Richard L Brodsky, a Democrat said, “We do nothing revolutionary or extraordinary today”.  Supporters like Brodsky insisted the bill was nothing earth-shattering.

School District Proposes Lessons to Stop Bullying (May 13, 2009)

The Alameda Unified School District in Alameda, California held a meeting at the City Hall with an overflow crowd.  So many people arrived for the meeting that many were actually asked to leave.  The District has proposed lessons to address slurs and bullying against gays, and were surprised that 200 people had turned in requests just to speak at the meeting.  There will be one more meeting before the school board makes their decision – the decision is expected to be made on May 26th.