Gabe’s Care Map: Cristin Lind, Mom, Illustrates What It Takes To Raise One Boy With Special Needs [huffingtonpost.com]

mindmap

by Lisa Belkin / huffingtonpost.com

Cristin Lind couldn’t find the words, so she drew a picture.

The artistic inspiration hit about a year ago, after she’d been asked to speak to a meeting of primary care physicians, telling them what it took to manage the complex care of her special needs son. Her page was still empty, despite hours trying to collect her thoughts, so she found some colored markers and began drawing circles.

Inside a small purple circle, smack in the middle, she placed a G, for her son Gabe. “He’s not always the center of the universe,” she says with a smile. “But for these purposes he was.”

Around him, she drew another purple circle containing the rest of the family: Cristin, her husband Dan, and their daughter, Dagny. She built outward from there: the health care providers in blue — pediatrics, endocrine, cardiology, orthopedics; school-related specialists in red — everyone from the teacher to the bus driver to the special education director; turquoise for the world of advocacy and support groups; pink for recreation; lavender for those who do the assessments and testing; orange for those who help fight against the rules and for the money.

We each have scaffolding in our lives, usually unseen. We are surrounded by a web we don’t always know is there, but every so often — usually in crisis or its aftermath — makes itself visible. By the time Lind finished drawing, there were 70 labeled ovals on her page, which she calls “Gabe’s Care Map.”

She felt overwhelmed, yet empowered, just looking at it.

Click here to read the rest of the story…

School Tells 13-Year-Old That She Should Get a Breast Reduction to Combat Bullying [jezebel.com]

by Katie J.M. Baker / jezebel.com

Tammie Jackson recently called her 13-year-old’s school to complain that her daughter was being bullied thanks to her large breast size. In response, the school suggested that the sixth grader get a breast reduction.

Great solution, educators! That same logic could be applied in so many other ways: Kids making fun of you because you’re shrimpy? Grow taller! Are your classmates calling you a slut because someone made up a rumor that you gave a bj in the bathroom? Never go to the bathroom! WE HAVE SOLVED THE BULLYING EPIDEMIC.

Jackson, understandably outraged, spoke with FOX:

“It makes me feel like now you are telling me it’s my fault, it’s God’s fault the way he made her. The lady on the phone said they could transfer my daughter and said her boobs were so large she will always get teased. And the only suggestion she had for me is to have my daughter get a breast reduction,” said Jackson.

The school district told FOX that they’re “working” on the bullying issue and looking into the surgery claims. You do that.

Jackson also said her 9-year-old son is bullied to the point where he is suicidal because he has a rare heart condition and surgical scars. Maybe he should get a new heart?

http://jezebel.com/5977748/school-tells-13+year+old-that-she-should-get-a-breast-reduction-to-combat-bullying

Gay teens less likely to be happy, nationwide survey finds [latimes.com]

Even as barriers to equality fall, gay and lesbian teens report they still struggle with harassment and identity issues more than their straight peers do.

By Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times

It’s not easy growing up gay in America, despite the nation’s increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage and other issues of gay equality.

Gay and lesbian teenagers across the United States are less likely to be happy, more likely to report harassment and more inclined to experiment with drugs and alcohol than the nation’s straight teens, according to a new nationwide survey of more than 10,000 gay and lesbian young people.

The survey, which will be released Thursday by the Human Rights Campaign, aWashington, D.C.-based civil rights group, is described as one of the largest ever to focus on the nation’s gay youth. It was conducted online and involved 10,030 participants aged 13 to 17 who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It also included interviews with about 500 13- to 17-year-olds who composed the poll’s “straight” population.

The study paints an often stark picture of the challenges of growing up gay in this country, even as same-sex marriage gains support among many Americans and other legal and cultural barriers to gay equality begin to fall.

The survey showed, for example, that half of all gay and lesbian teens reported being verbally harassed or called names at school, compared with a quarter of non-LGBT kids. About twice as many gay and lesbian respondents as straight teens also said they had been shoved, kicked or otherwise assaulted at their schools, with 17% of LGBT teens and 10% of straight youths reporting such assaults.

Fewer than half of gay teenagers said they believe their community is accepting of people like them, and 63% said they would need to move to another town or part of the country to find acceptance. Just 4 in 10 gay teens reported being happy, compared with nearly 7 in 10 of their straight peers.

And more than twice as many gay (52%) as non-gay (22%) respondents said they had experimented with drugs or alcohol.

Child welfare advocates who reviewed the study before publication praised it for shedding light on a population that is difficult to reach and in need of help from government agencies and others.

Linda Spears, vice president of policy for the Child Welfare League of America, said the study bears out “our worst fears about LBGT kids. These kids are often so vulnerable in the way their lives are being led because of the lack of support they have. They need what all young people need, parents and others who are there for them and nurture their development.”

Chad Griffin, the new president of the Human Rights Campaign and an advocate for same-sex marriage, said the survey “is yet another reminder that we still have a lot to do in this country so that young people can grow up healthy.”

Griffin, who helped organize the legal fight against Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, said he hopes the report will inform policymakers and serve as a reminder to parents, schools and elected officials about the challenges facing a vulnerable population.

“These are young people,” he said. “They worry about which hall they can walk down at school, which table they have to avoid in the lunchroom, what happens at church on Sunday and whether they need to hide their identity from their family.”

But the survey also showed that many gay teens find safe havens among their peers, on the Internet and in their schools. Nearly 3 in 4 gay teenagers said they were more honest about themselves online than elsewhere and 67% said their schools were “generally accepting” of gay people.

In interviews this week at L.A.’s Gay and Lesbian Center, several young people spoke about the survey’s findings and their own experiences coming to terms with their LGBT identity.

Jonathan McClain, a 22-year-old from Altadena, said he identified strongly with part of the study showing that many young gays and lesbians feel forced to change their identities almost hour by hour, depending on where they are and who’s around. Many LGBT kids are more likely to be “out” at school than they are with their families.

“Sometimes you’re out of the closet, sometimes you have to put yourself back in and watch what you say and how you act,” said McClain, who volunteers at the center.

McClain, who came out after he graduated from high school, said he had never directly experienced harassment.

That was not the case with others interviewed, including Edwin Chuc, from Los Angeles, who said he had been beaten up in middle school and ended up with broken ribs. Chuc said he had lived on the streets for several years and abused drugs and alcohol before turning his life around.

Now a confident 19-year-old who will attend USC in the fall, Chuc said his parents are much more supportive now than they were when he first came out. “I’m happy and I have people I can turn to,” he said.

Logan Woods, 18, of Manhattan Beach, said middle school was tough for him too, but high school, at the private Vistamar School in El Segundo, has been much better, with good friends and a strong gay support group among the students.

“It’s getting easier for me to live spontaneously and not feel like I have to plan everything out for fear of being hurt,” he said.

The survey was conducted online from April 16 through May 20. It was advertised through social media, as well as through LGBT youth centers across the country. The researchers said the survey method is not unusual for targeting hard-to-reach populations but may not represent a truly random sample.

http://www.latimes.com/health/la-me-gay-youth-20120607,0,6913489,print.story

Sunday Lite: Kids and Dad Sing Bohemian Rhapsody on Way to School

This is great!

 

Internet, Local Communities Remember Bullying Victim Jacob Rogers [advocate.com]

By Michelle Garcia / advocate.com

An 18-year-old high school senior from Tennessee took his life in his home Wednesday after enduring years of bullying from his classmates.

The harassment that Jacob Rogers of Ashland City, Tenn., faced from other students became so harsh that he dropped out of school last month, according to WSMV News. Rogers, a senior at Cheatham County Central High School, would tell his friend Katelynn Mooningham that he felt tormented by people calling him antigay slurs.

“Jacob told me no one was helping him. He constantly was going to guidance,” she said.

Mooningham said that while school officials knew of the constant bullying, little was done to end it. However, school director Tim Webb told WSMV that he and his colleagues were aware of only one incident, after which the offending students were given warnings. Webb said Rogers did not report any further harassment, but Mooningham said she knew something was still wrong.

After his death, Mooningham found notes that Rogers left, with passwords to his email and phone. The intention was to allow investigators to see the menacing messages he received from classmates.

Along with the funeral on Saturday at Cheatham County Funeral Home, a vigil for Rogers is slated for Thursday night at River Bluff Park. Additionally, bloggers at Towleroad, The Stranger, and Joe My God have created a fund to help the family with the costs of the funeral. Any extra money raised will go to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, the It Gets Better Project, the Trevor Project, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/12/08/Internet_Local_Communities_Remember_Bullying_Victim_Jacob_Rogers/

Activists respond to transphobic National Post advertisement [xtra.ca]

By Rob Selerno / Xtra.ca

Social media outlets lit up on Sept 29 after a transphobic ad from the Institute for Canadian Values ran in the National Post.

The ad revives the “StopCorruptingChildren.com” campaign that launched last year to protest proposed revisions to the physical and health education curriculum that would include more sex education for younger children.


Under a picture of a young girl, the ad asks “Please don’t confuse me. I’m a girl. Don’t teach me to question if I’m a boy, transexual [sic], transgendered, interesexed, or two spirited [sic].”

The ad calls on the leaders of the three major Ontario parties competing in the Oct 6 election to “stop teachers from confusing” the little girl, as she “face[s] enough in the world already.”

It then quotes extensively from a Toronto District School Board curriculum resource document called “Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism,” presenting these optional lessons as mandatory.

Hundreds of tweets about the ad went out under the #canqueer hashtag on Twitter in less than 24 hours.

The National Post’s manager of advertising sales Enzo Loschiavo says the newspaper has received many complaints about the ad and he’s not sure how it ended up in the newspaper.

“The Post wouldn’t generally run this,” Loschiavo says. “We’ll probably take a stance on not running it again.”

Loschiavo says the Post is investigating how the ad got booked and printed without being stopped but he wouldn’t specify what the Post’s advertizing standards entailed.

“We obviously don’t want to offend anyone, but we also understand that everyone has a freedom of speech,” he says.

Trans activist Chase Joynt was quick to respond to the ad by creating a spoof of it with his own face in place of the little girl’s.

“I thought it was manipulative to use the face of a small child,” he says. “Where the ad is doing the most damage is in not only presenting trans identities in any form as invalid and shameful, but also to rely on the education system to disseminate these lies.”

The Canadian Values campaign is particularly disappointing given that the province has yet to restart consultations or reintroduce its new curriculum as it had promised when it postponed the launch last year.

At the time, the Progressive Conservatives wanted the curriculum scrapped and the New Democrats wanted it implemented. The Liberals have said that they would revise and reintroduce the curriculum following wider parent consultations. Former education minister Kathleen Wynne has told Xtra she expects the curriculum to survive consultations unchanged.

Joynt says the curriculum is necessary to help kids understand their own identities and how queer people fit into the community.

“What’s crucial about any curriculum in regard to identity politics is that it’s providing a breadth of options and potentially the inclusion of LGBT rights in any curriculum at any level is that it affords another opinion,” he says. “ While I think there is opportunity to speak to things such as when is age appropriate, the ability to learn about those identities is integral to our success as educators.”

Charles McVety, whose Canada Christian College houses the Institute for Canadian Values, says he doesn’t believe the add is homophobic or transphobic.

“We’re upset that the Ministry of Education would force our children to learn things that we don’t agree with and secondly that they will not allow us to withdraw our children [from the lessons],” McVety says. “Eight year olds are very impressionable and to confuse an eight year old is egregious.”

He also says the new curriculum is not an appropriate way to deal with homophobic bullying or the rash of gay teen suicides.

“If you are going to deal with the issue of bullying, which I think needs to be dealt with, you deal with bullying. You don’t deal with other topics in the name of bullying. My daughter has red hair, she gets bullied because of her red hair,” McVety says. “There’s so many reasons why a child can be bullied, you don’t teach every little aspect. That appears to be the wedge to get this indoctrination into our classrooms and we’re upset about it and I don’t think it’s civil I don’t think it’s respectful.“

The ad is not currently running in any other newspaper or magazine, but is viewable on the campaign’s web site. McVety says he is “not sure right now” if he’ll try to place the ad elsewhere in the future.

Joynt has created a Facebook page to organize critics of the ad to coordinate a response. More than 150 people have joined.

He says his hope is to raise enough money through the group to buy a full-page response ad in the Post.

Queer Ontario has also urged its members online to file complaints with Advertising Standards Canada, the national advertising self-regulating body.

In an open letter to the National Post, Cliks lead singer Lucas Silveira writes that he is asking the Ontario Human Rights Commission to pursue a hate propaganda investigation against the Post and the Institute for Canadian Values over the ad. Current interpretations of Canadian human rights legislation tends to exclude consideration of advertisements in the media, according to Silveira’s lawyer.

http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Activists_respond_to_transphobic_National_Post_ad-10837.aspx

Los Angeles Unified School District Passes Resolution to Make Schools Safer for Gay Students [patch.com]

by James F. Mills / Patch.com

The Los Angeles Unified School District is aiming to make schools safer for gay students.

At its biweekly meeting held Tuesday afternoon, the seven-member LAUSD school board unanimously passed the “LGBT and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Anti-Bullying Resolution,” which takes specific steps to ensure a safe environment for LGBT students.

The resolution sponsored by Steve Zimmer, who represents the LAUSD 4th district that includes West Hollywood and much of Hollywood, will ensure an LGBT-inclusive curriculum.

“As a teacher, I know how important it is for students and families to be included and recognized in school,” Zimmer said. “We’ve seen the cost of invisibility and rejection. Last year there was a spate of suicides across the country attributed to anti-gay bullying.”

Zimmer added that LAUSD has an ongoing commitment to creating safe environments for LGBT students. “We want our youth to feel that school is a protective factor, not a risk factor,” he said. “And we won’t rest until all students are safe.”

Click here to read more of the story…

Mother of transgender girl says adults, not children, taunt her [pinknews.co.uk]

The mother of a ten-year-old transgender girl in Worcester has told how adults, rather than children, taunt and harass her daughter.

The 36-year-old woman, who has not been named to protect her daughter’s identity, told the Worcester News that while the girl’s classmates had largely accepted her, other parents and adults had not.

The ten-year-old was born physically male and has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Her family took the decision over the summer to allow her to return to school as a girl and say her headteacher has been “fantastic” about the issue.

Her mother, who said the child had shown signs of being transgender at two, said her daughter was called a “freak” by an adult when she went to a local shop during the summer.

Although she said there had been some bullying from other children, most had accepted her daughter as a girl.

But she said: “We went to a performance at the school and my daughter went as herself.

“Some of the parents were unhappy she was allowed to go into the school. They were walking past, coughing, and saying, ‘That’s that freak family. That’s that freak child’.”

She added: “I don’t expect people to understand. I just don’t want people abusing my child.

“I don’t want her to be called a freak. I want her to be left alone.”

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/09/12/mother-of-transgender-girl-says-adults-not-children-taunt-her/

Gov. Brown signs bill requiring teaching of GLBT accomplishments [latimes.com]

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday that makes California the first state in the nation to require the inclusion of the contributions of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans in school history lessons and textbooks. The legislation addresses omissions in history books, according to Gil Duran, a spokesman for the governor.

Brown issued a statement in which he called the legislation an “important step forward for our state.’’ “History should be honest,’’ Brown said. “This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books.’’

“It’s an important step forward for the state of California,’’ Duran said. “It revises existing law to make sure people are not excluded from history books. History should reflect reality.” The bill by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) had sparked hot debate in the Legislature where it was pushed through by the Democratic majority. Republicans argued it forces a “gay agenda” on students, but Leno said it would reduce bullying by educating young people about the accomplishments of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community. “Today we are making history in California by ensuring that our textbooks and instructional materials no longer exclude the contributions of LGBT Americans,” Leno said. “Denying LGBT people their rightful place in history gives our young people an inaccurate and incomplete view of the world around them.’’

The governor’s decision was criticized by Benjamin Lopez of the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition, who said the schools should be focusing on doing better on important skills such as reading, writing and math. “It’s a sad day for the state of California,’’ said Lopez, legislative analyst and advocate for the group. “We have failed at our core educational mission and yet we are now going to inject gay studies into the classrooms. It’s absurd and offensive.’’

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2011/07/governor-signs-bill-requiring-textbooks-to-include-gay-accomplishments.html

A Transition Story: The High School


by Helen Hill LMFT


It was a long time ago, and yet I remember it like it was yesterday. I prepared as best that I could. For three months I worked with the director of Human Resources to ensure that my “transition” (aka “sex change”) would go as smoothly as possible at the school district.

You see, this was back in the time when there was no legal protection about gender in the workplace. They could have fired me immediately. Thankfully, the school district chose to keep me employed. Since I was their first transsexual, I would be under a magnifying glass. If I screwed up, as the director said, “no one will save your arse.” Being 40 years old and facing myself was scary enough. Letting others see me as well, for who I am, was beyond scary.

If not for my therapist, I’m not sure how well this would have gone. I love her for that. She saved my life. She inspired me.

Those who needed to know were informed. Since I worked with nearly 700 people at the area schools that meant the principals and the direct reports who work with me needed to be informed. On D-day, after preparation and meetings, Helen showed up for work.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Approximately three months had passed since D-day when a voice-mail was left on my phone asking for help from one of the high schools. Now this particular high school was very tech savvy and did not require much help at all. But when they did call, it was always important, and urgent. I drove over to the high school and walked into the administration building.

Within moments I was surrounded by the staff. The tension was so thick “you could cut it with a knife.” I was not allowed to go do my job. A crowd was building. In the background was one of the staff administrators on the phone. What I would learn later is that she had called my boss and said, “Please come get David Hill. He showed up in drag!”

It seemed like forever, but which was probably no more than a couple of minutes, and it dawned on me that the staff did not know about my “transition.” At this point I was fighting back tears and shaking. I said to the very discombobulated colleagues, “You don’t know, do you?” “Know what?” replied one. Their principal failed to inform them. I then gave them the 30 second spiel of my decision and my transition.

Taking a breath I said to the assembled staff, “Now, please, I’d like to go do my job.” And like the parting of the Red Sea, the staff opened a path and let me through.

After I finished I returned to my car and bawled my eyes out.  I may have cried for well over 20 minutes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You see, it wasn’t whether or not people were good or bad; it was a question of what they knew and had been prepared to contemplate and deal with an employee making a huge change in their life that would also effect them.  The principal had not done his job.  It was left to me to take people who were confused and afraid and to allay their confusion and their fears.  It was the most difficult thing I had ever done.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But don’t miss the point of this story.  The point of this story is NOT to stop transition. The point of this story is NOT to stop being honest.  The point of this story is to PREPARE those you care about, are employed with, or otherwise interact with in your daily life, as much as possible.  Because TRANSITION goes so much better when people are PREPARED!

If you hide your life, then when people are confronted with the truth, they might react as anyone would; with surprise and confusion.  But if you prepare people, then you will find out how INCREDIBLY good people can be; how they can rise to the humanity one may have thought not possible.  It is indeed possible.

I believe, and it has been proven to me time and again, that people are good when give the chance, when informed, and when not surprised.  Their capacity for compassion, empathy, and acceptance are far more than you would ever think possible.

But are you willing to trust them that they can accept you?

Are you willing to trust that you can accept yourself?

-h .

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