30 July 2015

Hetero Pride: A Parade Of One

It's been a long time since I've taken a course in mathematics or economics.  But I think I still remember the basic concept of a zero-sum game accurately: When one person gains, another person loses.  So, if you order a pizza pie to share, each slice one person takes is one less slice for everyone else.

Some people seem to think that human rights are like that pizza pie.  The people who seem to think that are those who don't realize how much they take those rights for granted.  Whenever laws are passed to prevent people from being fired from, or denied jobs because of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, they think something has been taken from them.

Even an expression of self-esteem from a black or transgender person raises their hackles.  They see the main streets of their cities being closed to allow  a parade or march for "pride" (unless it's for their group of people, e.g., the St. Patrick's or Columbus Day parades) as "special treatment".   They're the ones who whine "White lives matter, too!"

So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that someone organized a Heterosexual Pride parade. I'm a little surprised that it was held in Seattle.  Then again, I guess nothing will raise some people's hackles more than living in proximity to the ones they believe are receiving "preferential treatment".   

Then again, Seattle is full of enlightened people.  How do I know that?  Well, for one thing, Marci Bowers has lived and practiced obstetrics and gynecology there for decades.  For another, they stayed away from the "parade".

Yes, parade organizer Anthony Rebello was all by himself.  Not even his girlfriend showed up.

Well, whatever else you want to say about him, he knows a thing or two about damage control.  Knowing he had egg on his face, he declared that his Parade of One was just a "warm up" for next year's event.

Mr. Rebello:  There are all sorts of other things you can do by yourself!  And you don't have to do them in public!

28 July 2015

LGBT Foster Kids

When I was co-facilitating an LGBT youth group, I couldn't help but to notice how many of those young people had lived, or were living, on the streets or in shelters.  The reasons for that were, of course, that they were kicked out of their homes upon "coming out" or they faced abuse from family members (and, too often, bullying in school) and ran away.

Those phenomena have since received attention in the mainstream media as well as in LGBT policy circles.  However, there is another phenomenon I noticed--nearly a decade ago--about which I've still heard or read very little:  LGBT kids who spend time in foster care.  It's more common than people realize, essentially for the same reasons why too many queer kids end up on the streets or in shelters.  Worse yet, they sometimes face the same problems in their foster homes to which they were subjected when they were living with their biological families.  And, of course, they get bullied in school or in their neighborhoods.

With those things in mind, Shaun Osburn of Equality California created this infographic to bring some of the cold, hard numbers to life:

27 July 2015

The Boy Scouts Are Getting There....

As of today, the Boy Scouts of America has lifted its ban on openly gay Scoutmasters, other adult leaders and employees.  This comes a little more than two years after the ban on gay Boy Scouts was ended.

However, BSA will still allow Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout dens chartered by religious organizations to exclude gay adults from serving as leaders or camp counselors.

This change is important and necessary for a number of reasons.  One is that in certain areas, such as small towns and the countryside of the Midwest and South, the local Boy Scout troop or Cub Scout den is one of the few places besides school where boys can meet other boys their own age.  And, in many communities, especially the inner cities, Scoutmasters and other adult leaders are among the few adult male role models many boys have.

Study after study has shown that isolation kills.  The last thing kids who might feel isolated and alienated need is to be further isolated and alienated through exclusion from one of the few social outlets available to them.

Moreover, the old stereotypes about gay boys are dying.  They're not all effeminate and they don't all lack interest in sports or outdoor activities.  And they will probably strive for the same sorts of careers and (mostly middle-class lives) their straight peers want.   So, they need the same sorts of adult role models.  What could be better for a gay kid if that adult is also gay?

Finally, as a former Boy Scout, I can attest that there are a surprising number of ways boys of all kinds can express their talents and pursue interests.  For example, I earned merit badges in reading, writing,scholarship (basically for keeping up a B average) and photography.  Unless things have changed dramatically, there are a number of other merit badges in areas that most people wouldn't associate with Scouting.  

And, finally, there were community service requirements, if I remember correctly, for advancing from one rank to another.  There's certainly not a lack of interest in such things among gay kids--or adults.  

So the Boy Scouts of America is getting it right, I think.  Notice that I said "getting":  It's still a process.  Next....transgender scouts.  If the Girl Scouts can allow trans girls, why can't the Boy Scouts allow trans boys?