Saturday, April 12, 2014

Commentary Tidbits

Stuff Fundies Like: Gangland Christians

Homeschoolers Anonymous: Plowshares into Skyhooks: The Evolution (Intelligent Design?) of Bible Games

Washington Post: Same-sex marriage is new test for Catholic institutions used to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

Huffington Post: Protecting Our LGBT Youth From Conversion Therapy

Media Matters: Fired Fox Sports Employee Is Now Working For An Anti-Gay Hate Group

Think Progress: 5 Offensive Analogies Abstinence-Only Lessons Use To Tell Teens Sex Makes Them Dirty

Friendly Atheist: This Is How Bizarre and Ineffective Sex Education Is In Mississippi Schools

Defeating the Dragons: Why purity culture doesn’t teach consent

News Tidbits

WWLTV: Bill would name the Bible as Louisiana state book

Pennlive: Toomey and Santorum give conservatives what they want at annual Pennsylvania gathering

Dallas Morning News: Religious conservatives warn GOP against holding convention in Vegas

Edge Boston: ’Conversion Therapy’ Ban Defeated in Illinois House

Huffington Post: Mike Huckabee: 'I'm Not A Hater. I'm Not Homophobic.'

Masslive: Scott Lively, anti-gay Massachusetts candidate for governor, gets Pink Brick Award for 'significant harm to the LGBT community'

MSNBC: Gubernatorial candidate Scott Lively: Homosexuality is similar to alcoholism

Raw Story: Pro-LGBT church turns tables by using ‘religious freedom’ to save gay Boy Scout leader

Washington Post: Africa’s anti-gay movement spreads to Ethiopia

The Advocate: LGBT Ugandans In Hiding, Suicidal Following 'Jail the Gays' Law

Friday, April 11, 2014

The 2014 Day of Silence: Whose Side Are You On?

Today is the 2014 Day of Silence, an annual event sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) meant to protest anti-LGBTQ bullying. Students across the nation are silent for the day to raise awareness of the silencing impact of homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools.

Homophobic and transphobic bullying is an ugly reality for many LGBTQ youth. Research shows that LGBTQ youth report disproportionate rates of bullying, sexual harassment, and harsh school discipline. Lowered quality of life and negative psychological outcomes, such as depression and suicidal thoughts, are the all-too-common results.

LGBTQ youth deserve better than this. All students deserve safe, respectful school environments in which they can learn.

The Day of Silence is a thorn in the side of the Religious Right, many of whom refuse to take anti-LGBTQ bullying seriously. For example, several Religious Right groups have endorsed the Day of Silence Walkout, an event created in resistance to the Day of Silence. Also, Focus on the Family sponsors a rival event called the Day of Dialogue, which encourages students to talk about "the truth about God’s deep love for us and what the Bible really says about His redemptive design for marriage and sexuality". On the surface, the Day of Dialogue discourages bullying, but its true purpose is to enshrine binary gender and heterosexual marriage as the only legitimate expressions of gender identity and sexuality.

Anti-LGBTQ figures continue to ignore the facts, but the reality is that LGBTQ youth face an uphill battle, and we have an obligation to support them. Here's to ending homophobic and transphobia in schools and in society as a whole.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Commentary Tidbits

Edge Boston: Truancy Trumps Tolerance: Religious Right Tells Kids ’Stay Home on Friday’

Salon: Christian right mega-church minister faces mega-mutiny for alleged abusive behavior

Doctors of the World: World Vision USA’s gay marriage U-turn is callous and cowardly

Huffington Post: I Was Blocked From Hiring a Gay Person at World Vision Canada

Guttmacher Institute: Contraceptive Coverage at the U.S. Supreme Court: Countering the Rhetoric with Evidence

Right Wing Watch: Scott Lively Releasing New Edition of The Pink Swastika to Expose Gay 'Pinkshirts'

RH Reality Check: A Global Look at the Right’s Anti-Gay Rhetoric

News Tidbits

Huffington Post: Jacquelline Fuller, Google Executive Resigns From World Vision Board Over Gay Marriage Decision

New York Times: New York City Can Block Religious Services in Public Schools, Appeals Court Says

KFOR 4: ‘Leaving in a hurry,’ hundreds of residents chase Westboro protesters out of Oklahoma town

Oregon Live: Gay marriage 'a sin, just the same as murder,' says GOP candidate for Oregon governor

Los Angeles Times: Sex education stumbles in Mississippi

Radar Online: Alleged Victim Pleads With The Duggars To Stop Supporting Ministry Where Founder Was Accused Of Sexually Harassing More Than 35 Women

Charlotte Observer: Nearly 1,000 attend Charlotte Catholic meeting on nun’s speech

The Local: France wakes up to 'new age of extreme right'

Monday, April 7, 2014

Linda Harvey: Homeless LGBT Youth Are "Stubborn" and "Would Rather Drift"

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adolescents make up a disproportionate percentage of homeless youth, struggling on the streets after running away or being kicked out of their homes. Despite ample research on LGBT youth homelessness and heartbreaking personal accounts from survivors, some Religious Right figures still lack compassion for LGBT youth on the streets. A recent post at Right Wing Watch shows that Linda Harvey, host of the Mission America radio show, is such a figure.

During the April 4th edition of Mission America entitled "Homosexual Health Issues Part 2", Linda Harvey discussed a Kaiser Foundation report on LGBT health. Health Care Access and Coverage for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community in the United States: Opportunities and Challenges in a New Era, released in February, explores health issues faced by the LGBT community, particularly as they relate to health care coverage and the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, Harvey seemed more interested in disparaging the LGBT community than dissecting the report's findings.

Harvey depicted the LGBT persons as sinners mired in unhealthy lifestyles, ignoring the wider context of health issues facing the LGBT community. She reminded listeners that gay men and transgender women -- "biological men who want to be known as women", as she described them -- have higher suicide and HIV rates due to the "risks of homosexual living".

At the 2:21 mark, Harvey alleged that the Kaiser report ignores personal responsibility. She refused to give serious consideration to the role of trauma and bigotry in LGBT health problems, insisting that LGBT people "still choose sin". Harvey showed little compassion to LGBT homeless youth, whom she accused of running away out of spite when their parents set boundaries.
"In this Kaiser report, the reason is not personal responsibility or poor choices, but always the family's fault or society's rejection and discrimination. And I just want to say that while of course the reaction of other people has a big impact on anyone, the bottom line is these people still choose sin. The picture is one where the sinful behavior is the most important thing of all. These are often complicated situations that can't be put in a box called everyone-else's-fault. When we're talking about people who are reported elsewhere in this Kaiser paper as having more mental health issues, that means they often have serious instability that results in poor decisions, sometimes tragic ones. Let's talk about homelessness, for instance, which sadly, this report tells us is high among self-declared homosexual and gender-confused adolescents.

‘Kids are kicked out of their homes just for being who they are,’ is how the saying goes. Well, let me offer another possibility that I’ve heard far too often. A parent learns that a son or daughter is claiming to be gay, but an underage child still lives at home, so the now-heartbroken parent puts new restrictions on some of the activities, like for instance, the teen is no longer going to be having sleepovers with that same-sex friend, or if that friend is a college student or has an apartment, visits over there will not be permitted. What does the teen do? It may become a fight where the teen storms out by choice and leaves voluntarily because the homosexual relationship is more important than that of his or her parents. And when that all-important relationship ends, the teen is too stubborn or already too involved in alcohol or drugs or the premature independence of the homosexual life, and he or she would rather drift than return home. It’s not always the case, of course, but personal decisions are at the heart of these issues."
If Harvey had taken the time to learn about runaway and homeless LGBT youth, she might have more empathy. Multiple studies suggest that many LGBT youth run away from home to escape abuse, or find themselves kicked out by homophobic or transphobic parents.

According to a 2012 Williams Institute report on service providers who serve LGBT homeless youth, 43% of homeless LGBT youth have been forced out of their homes by their parents because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Equally disturbing was the report's finding that 32% were on the streets to escape emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse at home, and 14% were on the streets because of emotional or financial neglect from their family. According to another study, 50% of gay males received a negative reaction from their parents when they disclosed their sexual orientation. In a quarter of those cases, the parents demanded that the youth leave home. To boot, one third of LGBT youth were assaulted by a family member when they came out. Yet another study found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual homeless adolescents were more likely to have been physically and sexually abused by their caretakers. Finally, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that LGBT youth were more likely than heterosexual youth to leave home due to physical abuse.

Once on the streets, LGBT youth find themselves in dangerous, sordid surroundings. Homeless LGBTQ youth are at higher risk of physical assault, sexual victimization, substance abuse, and mental health issues than their heterosexual counterparts, according to one study. Other studies suggest that gay, lesbian, and bisexual homeless youth are at greater risk of contracting HIV than their heterosexual counterparts, due in part to high-risk survival strategies such as transactional sex.  If many LGBT homeless youth have endured traumas at home and on the street, it should not surprise us that some develop depression or anxiety as a result, or that others anesthetize their pain with alcohol and drugs. Without access to safe spaces and services, many homeless youth are vulnerable to violence and forced to take desperate measures to survive. These young people need help. not bigotry.

LGBT adolescents aren't storming out of their homes in a huff because their parents laid down rules, nor are they living on the streets to spite their families. These youth are being driven out of frightening homes by bigoted parents, abuse, neglect, and fear. These youth -- all homeless youth -- deserve services, safe spaces, and compassion. They also deserve families and communities that accept them, respect them, and provide them with safe sanctuaries. Linda Harvey and her ilk are doing LGBT youth no favors by blaming victims or by obscuring the real roots of LGBT youth homelessness.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

Truth Wins Out: Linda Harvey Says Homeless LGBT Teens Are Just Being ‘Stubborn’

Queerty: Linda Harvey Attacks Homeless LGBT Youth, Continues Descent Into Evil

Commentary Tidbits

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests: BJU should investigate charges re Rev. Gothard

The American Jesus: We Need New Wineskins (Or Why Evangelicalism Needs To Be Abandoned)

Mother Jones: It's Not Just Hobby Lobby: These 71 Companies Don't Want to Cover Your Birth Control Either

Gay Star News: How Girl Scout cookies got caught up with abortion and gay rights

Al Jazeera America: The Bitter Tears of the American Christian Supermajority

News Tidbits

Washington Post: Social conservatives are mobilizing in France, leading to talk of a tea party

Washington Post: Anti-abortion company Hobby Lobby reportedly invests retirement funds in abortion drugs

Edge Boston: LGBT Activists Protest Homophobic Harlem Church

National Catholic Reporter: USCCB's clergy sex abuse audit finds decline but 'major' limitations

Washington Blade: Mississippi legislature approves ‘turn away the gays’ bill

Buzzfeed: Uganda Celebrates Anti-Gay Law With Five-Hour Ceremony

The Sunday Mail: Zimbabwe evangelist says gays, lesbians "mentally sick"

New Zimbabwe: Gays blast Makandiwa for "mentally sick" comments

Two Hard-Hitting Videos on Clergy Abuse

I'd like to share two hard-hitting videos on clergy abuse and the Catholic Church. First, the New York Times recently posted a 12-minute documentary entitled The Shame of the Church, which offers an overview of the U.S. clergy abuse crisis and the evolution of anti-abuse advocacy.

Second, Al Jazeera America Presents recently aired a special on financial malfeasance in the Catholic Church. Holy Money explores the Catholic Church's financial controversies, including money laundering, embezzlement, poor oversight, the financial dimensions of the clergy abuse crisis, and Pope Francis' efforts to bring about financial reform.

Both are must-see films for anyone who wants to understand the Catholic Church's clergy abuse scandals.