>Last week at Durango High School in Colorado, juniors and seniors overheard an Army recruiter using a "gay slur and an expletive" while taking a military-supervised aptitude test. The incident has irked students, faculty and parents alike, leading to an apology from the Army's Denver Recruiting Battalion for the lack of professional conduct.
When these rappers say "no homo," it can seem a bit like a gentleman's agreement, nodding to the status quo while smuggling in a fuller, less hamstrung notion of masculinity. This is still a concession to homophobia, but one that enables a less rigid definition of the hip-hop self than we've seen before. It's far from a coup, but, in a way, it's progress.
He retreats inside himself
Where he lives life itself in secret
Daddy says people go to hell for being
What he is, and he certainly believes him
'Cause there ain't no flame that can blaze enough
To trump being hated for the way you love
And cry yourself to sleep and hate waking up
It's a cold world, y'all, shame on us!
>A note from GLSEN Public Policy Director Shawn Gaylord on the passage of an anti-bullying policy in Birmingham schools that includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity/expression:
I was so excited to see this news from Alabama. Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition gathering and was so aware of the difficulty safe schools organizers face working in some of the more conservative areas of the country. Seeing progress like this in Alabama, as well as last year’s statewide gay and transgender-inclusive anti-bullying law in North Carolina, proves that there are opportunities for safe schools victories everywhere, and I am grateful for the work of Howard, the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition and everyone working to make this a reality.
As we know, enumerated anti-bullying policies are essential to creating a truly safe environment for LGBT youth and having a generic policy is about the same as having no policy at all. Congratulations to Howard for his work to make schools safer for all youth in Birmingham.
>Great news from Alabama! Last week, Birmingham's Board of Education passed two critical pieces of legislation affecting city schools. The first policy--the most comprehensive anti-bullying policy in the state of Alabama--includes enumerated categories specifically protecting students against bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. The second policy protects LGBT teachers from harassment as well.
I first gathered anti-bullying policies from multiple school districts that I felt encompassed what we needed in our policy, and then drafted a policy for Birmingham schools. I then began the long process of having conversation with each board member about why this was important not just as a board policy but also about why it was the right thing to do. I told them my own story of growing up in Birmingham City Schools and being harassed and bullied–and how I carried that pain with me still today. I also helped them to understand how that impacted me and my education. As part of a broader strategic planning process, my fellow board members all agreed that we wanted safer school environments for ALL our children.
- heard biased remarks more frequently and experienced higher levels of victimization in relation to sexual orientation than students in other regions
- were less likely than all other students to report that staff frequently intervened when hearing homophobic remarks
- reported higher levels of other forms of victimization--because of their race, sex, and religion--than students in other regions
>Good news from MI tonight via Todd Heywood of the Michigan Messenger.
A local Shiawassee County school board plans to hold a meeting as soon as Monday to rescind a decision it made Oct. 23 to order the removal of an extracurricular club display honoring gay history month.
“We have violated the First Amendment rights of the students and the Diversity Club,” Maureen Stanley, president of the Corunna Board of Education, said. “We limited their expression.”
Eliza Byard, executive director of the national group Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network, said Tuesday she was very worried about the message the board move sent to students, even after the announcement the decision would be rescinded.
In an e-mail Wednesday, Byard wrote: “We thank the school board for recognizing the damage its decision has done to creating an educational environment where difference is valued and respected.”
At the same time, Byard said, she hoped the board would consider the importance of encouraging diversity in educational settings, saying, “While the clear violations of the law stopped them short, the board members should also be taken aback by the educational impoverishment of a curriculum that erases facets of our common history and the reality of life in a diverse society.”
>GLSEN applauds President Obama and Congress on this historic day for recognizing the critical need to ensure that investigations of biased-motivated violence based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and disability, among the most frequent forms of hate crimes, receive the same federal support as other forms of biased-motivated violence. According to GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey, 22.1% of LGBT students were physically assaulted in the past year because of their sexual orientation and 14.2% because of their gender expression. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act sends a strong message that anti-LGBT violence will not be tolerated in our society and our schools.
While transphobia obviously is nothing new in the media, it is rather shocking to see such a blantant example in the decision to publish this article without any perspective of what it is like to be a transgender youth. As Autumn points out, via GLSEN's research report on the experiences of trangender students in school, Harsh Realities:
- Two-thirds of transgender students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation (69%) and how they expressed their gender (65%).
- Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed (e.g., called names or threatened) in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89%) and gender expression (87%).
- More than half of all transgender students had been physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (55%) and gender
- More than a quarter of transgender students had been physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) in school in the past year because of their sexual orientation (28%) and gender expression (26%).
- Most transgender students (54%) who were victimized in school did not report the events to school authorities. Among those who did report incidents to school personnel, few students (33%) believed that staff addressed the situation effectively.
Seventeen has previously written positively about the Day of Silence and written an article about a former GLSEN national student leader, but after this article it's hard to defend the publication's record on LGBT youth unless they try to make things right and publish a story about the issues and harassment facing transgender youth (with a positive portrayal of a trans youth, of course).
Short of that, even an apology isn't good enough.
A Facebook group has started to encourage a letter writing campaing. Go join and tell your friends.
Queerty also has a good blog post.