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September 27, 2010 / lezebelinchief

YES!

Bozeman, Montana just UNANIMOUSLY passed the city’s equality resolution!

August 21, 2010 / lezebelinchief

Glenn Beck Needs His Ass Kicked

I could probably write an entire book on the reasons GB needs his ass handed to him, but today I want to focus on just one of them. Beck is organizing a “non-political” rally to honor the troops and servicewomen/men for August 28 in Washington, D.C. Now why would this matter so much, you might ask? Well, August 28 just so happens to be the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Is this just a coincidence? Nope!

Beck has decided to “restore honor” to King’s legacy by holding this rally on the Lincoln Memorial, the same place King gave his speech 47 years ago. Beck believes he better understands MLK’s intentions, and will rally the American public behind Beck’s “vision” for America. MLK’s dream speech is a sacred piece of American history, and he’s about to piss all over it. Did I mention this “rally” of Beck’s was originally designed as a well-orchestrated publicity stunt for his new book launch? Yeah. Classy. To read up on Beck’s plan, you can check out the official website. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention this — one Sarah Palin is a guest speaker. It just keeps getting better, dontchaknow.

Want to help crush this idiot? You can hop on over to Celebrate The Dream, and check out their plans for the counter-rally, honoring the Civil Rights Movement and King’s legacy.

Need another reason to stop this? Bill O’Reilly promised Glenn Beck that if 100,000 people show up to Beck’s rally, he will hand over his coveted time slot on Fox News. Meaning, Beck’s viewership would rise exponentially. *SHUDDER*

July 30, 2010 / lezebelinchief

Queer News Roundup

I’m about to go on vacation, so instead of a big post on an issue currently facing the Queer community, I have decided to do a Queer News Roundup instead! Enjoy!

July 27, 2010 / Cactus

Roundup? I’ve got nothing…

After an unfortunate incident with my laptop (it exploded), I’ve had to delay today’s’ post. Check in again tomorrow for your weekly European update. I’ll be bringing you the latest burka news, details of Germany’s Love Parade investigation and an across-the-pond look at the reaction to WikiLeak-gate; all from the comfort of my local library. Support your local library, kids!

July 22, 2010 / lezebelinchief

Penises, Vaginas and Fingers! OH MY!

I was perusing Facebook last week for the usual summer trip and photo updates from my friends when something exploded on my Newsfeed. Apparently, Helena, Montana is considering the adoption of a new health curriculum that includes a human sexuality component. As an educator originally from Montana, I had a hard time believing the sensational headlines could be true. Here’s one example of what showed up on my Newsfeed:

foxnewsheadline

First-graders would learn about gay sex?!? In Montana?!? That can’t be right, I thought.  So I did a little investigating. The controversy lies in the details of the proposed curriculum. Various news sources have inaccurately described the content of the curriculum as teaching kindergartners about gay sex, and fifth-graders how anal penetration works. Bill O’Reilly threw his hat into the ring last week with this obviously well-informed piece:

The Fox News article from above states that kindergartners would be taught such terms as penis, vagina, breasts, nipples, scrotum, etc. (which is clearly a rehashing of this article from the AP). Incidentally, when I went back to a friend’s Facebook page to track down the original Fox News link that came up on my Newsfeed, I discovered they changed their headline to something a little less sensational (and inaccurate). Another area of the curriculum that is taking heat: the teaching of “erotic art” to high school students.

The truth is, the document in question is a 62-page K-12 Health Enhancement Curriculum in detail. The human sexuality component is only five pages of this curriculum. If you’re interested in reading the whole curriculum for yourself, here it is. The Human Sexuality portion of the curriculum is on pages 45-50.

So let’s address some of the controversies people have highlighted in these various news stories.

1) Teaches kindergartners the correct anatomical terms for the human sexual anatomy.

FALSE: The topics covered in kindergarten are: a) decision-making regarding clothing, toys, and friends, b) that children need adult help to make some decisions and c) a healthy relationship has respect and boundaries.

2) Teaches first-graders about “gay love.”

TRUE: The curriculum states that children will “understand people can love people of the same gender, or of another gender.” (Emphasis mine.)

3) Teaches fifth-graders the different ways in which people have intercourse.

TRUEish: The actual language of the curriculum is not nearly as sensational as it would appear. By fifth grade, students should “understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to, vaginal, oral or anal penetration.” Now, I could see how this might ruffle some feathers. However, from reading the entire human sexuality component of the curriculum, I surmise that intercourse is mentioned briefly in fifth grade, but not explained in detail until sixth and seventh grade, which seems quite normal, considering the age at which sexual maturation begins.

4) Teaches high school students about “erotic art.”

NOT EXACTLY: This one perhaps gets me hottest under the collar. The misrepresentation of what the language of the curriculum actually means here is outrageous. High school students should “understand erotic images in art reflect society’s views about sexuality, and help people understand sexuality.” Do you see what they did there? The creators of this curriculum are attempting to address that how we see sex portrayed in the media effects what we think about sex. Instead, it’s been misconstrued by “reporters” to say that teenagers will be learning about porn at school. Give me a break.

5) Teach about sexual performance anxiety.

Well, now this one is just ridiculous.: As close as I can tell, this one came from the standard that states high school students should “understand seeking professional help can be a sign of strength when people are in need of guidance.” I assume this standard is actually referring to identity issues and/or rape, which leads me to what is really AWESOME about this proposed curriculum.

The human sexuality component, though a very small portion of the overall health curriculum, does delve into some extremely important issues not otherwise covered or discussed with students. Here are my favorite areas of the curriculum:

1) Teaches second-graders that making fun of people by calling them “gay,” “fag,” “queer,” “homo,” etc. is disrespectful and hurtful. (No comment needed on this one.)

2) Teaches third-graders that the media presents “an unrealistic image of what it means to be male or female, what it means to be in love, and what parenthood and marriages look like. Now Suzy, who lives at home with her single mother and three cousins, no longer feels like the outcast. And Tina, who thinks Edward Cullen is OMG!!1! TO DIE FOR!!1!, understands that perhaps that really isn’t what falling in love looks like.

3) Hammers home the concept of consent from seventh grade on!

4) Teaches sixth-graders that sexual identity is part of one’s personality, and that coming out is a difficult journey.

5) And my favorites: teaches high school students that sexual abuse is not limited to touching and intercourse, but also includes being forced to see things you don’t want to see, and that coercion is not just physical, but also emotional and mental.

My list of favorites could actually go on and on. The curriculum appears to pretty extensively cover issues of contraception, STI & HIV prevention, women’s rights, laws, etc. Am I surprised that this is drawing such outrage from parents in Montana? Absolutely not. I do take umbrage with O’Reilly’s stereotyping of Montana. Montana is a conservative state, this is true, but it is also one filled with people who believe wholeheartedly in an individual’s right to live however he or she wants to live (within reason, of course). And we’re realists. We know teenagers have sex, and we know they need to learn how to do so safely. Did I get some double and triple looks when I walked down the streets of Bozeman hand-in-hand with my girlfriend? Of course I did. But that was it. No name-calling, threats, shameful looks, or the general ass-hattery I’ve experienced in the “liberal” state of Washington.

I understand if some of the curriculum is tamed down a bit over the coming weeks, but I hope the majority of it stays as is. It is a science-based curriculum that follows State and National Standards concerning Health & PE curricula. I hope the Big Sky State I know and love will ignore the criticism and media attention from the outside, and focus on what’s best for Helena’s students.

July 20, 2010 / Cactus

UK and European News Roundup 

Welcome to today’s UK and European Roundup. This week I’ve linked to some fascinating opinion pieces as well as the top political news stories of the week. I also want to apologise for some of UK-centric aspects of this post. It’s been a busy week and a lot of news flies under my radar. Remember, use the tips page if there’s anything you’d like me to cover.


Greek investigative journalist shot dead

Sokratis Giolias was murdered outside of his home in Athens yesterday. His death has been linked to the far-left terrorist group ‘The Sect of Revolutionaries’ after police confirmed that that bullets and casings from the shooting matched those found in other Sect of Revolutionaries attacks. Mr. Giolias was a contributor to a well know political scandal blog and it has been suggested that prior to his death, he had been working on allegations of business and political corruption.

Big Society or a budget cut distraction?

David Cameron is pressing ahead with his plans for UK ‘Big Society’ despite doubts over funding and criticism from various charities and unions. The ’Big Society’ scheme aims to engage and empower people within their local communities but critics have argued that the real aim is to cut government responsibilities and rely heavily on voluntary and non-profit organisations at a time when budgets are being cut. Ed Miliband who is currently running for the position of Labour leader stated: “The problem with what he is saying today is it comes at the same time as there are very big cuts in funding to the voluntary sector, This is essentially a 19th century or US-style view of our welfare state which is cut back the welfare state and somehow civic society will thrive. That is the reality.” The scheme will initially run in four areas of the country.

Legal action taken to clarify the law on ‘mercy killing’ in the UK

Tony Nicklinson suffers from ’Locked-in’ syndrome and wishes to end his life but the only legal option would be to refuse food and liquid. He wants his wife to administer a lethal dose of drugs but under current laws, this could leave his wife open to a murder charge. So-called mercy killing is a very grey area in UK law and an action taken by Mr Nicklinson’s lawyers will ask the Director of Public Prosecutions to clarify the law’s stance. The DPP issued Assisted Suicide guidelines in February but these do not extend to either mercy killing or euthanasia.

What would you do with £20bn?

A dispute has erupted in the British cabinet over funding for the new Trident missile system. The Ministry of Defence has argued that as Trident is a matter of national security, it should be funded by the Treasury. The MoD is worried that the cost of Trident would make it very difficult to maintain the MoD’s other responsibilities, especially at a time when cuts to the armed forces are highly probable. Trident is estimated to cost £20bn over the next decade.

French troops called in after village riots

There were riots in the Loire Valley on Sunday after a gendarme shot and killed a traveller who was driving through a checkpoint. A group of travellers then responded by attacking the local village police station. Troops have since been patrolling the area. In Grenoble, youths clashed with police after the death of Karim Boudouda. Mr Boudouda had been shot by police during a chase.

Lockerbie Bomber “should have died in jail”

David Cameron seems to have sold out the Scottish Government with his recent comments regarding the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. “I will say to them (the senators) that I agree that the decision to release al-Megrahi was wrong. I said it was wrong at the time,” he told National Public Radio in Washington.

“It was the Scottish Government that took that decision. They took it after proper process and what they saw as the right, compassionate reasons. I just happen to think it was profoundly misguided.”


Articles you should check out this week:

Hamburg Mayer Ole Von Beust resigns

Whilst the news that Ole Von Beust has resigned is not particularly shocking, it has come hot on the heels of several other high profile resignations. The linked Spiegel article looks at the changing nature of German ‘Feet First’ politics and what it might mean for Angela Merkel’s party.

Warsaw Europride 2010

This weekend saw pride marchers hit the streets of Warsaw. The linked article is a brief but interesting look at the acceptance of gay rights in modern Catholic Poland.

Warsaw Europride 2010

Royals and Racism

Yasmin Alibai-Brown’s opinion piece on the wastefulness of the British Monarchy and the reaction to British Black and Asian Republicans.

July 16, 2010 / lezebelinchief

What Hawaii’s Civil Union Defeat Really Means

Earlier this month Hawaii’s Governor, Linda Lingle, vetoed a civil union bill granting same-sex couples in Hawaii similar rights as heterosexual married couples. This turn of events was a bit surprising, considering Lingle waited until the last minute to exercise her veto, and because Hawaii was the first state in the United States to offer same-sex couples any kind of State recognition (Hawaii enacted the Reciprocal Beneficiary Registration in 1997). She reasoned that House Bill 444 was “essentially marriage by another name,” and that the people of Hawaii should be given the opportunity to vote on such an important social issue.

Putting aside the asinine logic of placing the oppressive majority in charge of the rights of the oppressed minority, Lingle’s statement concerning marriage is perhaps the most upsetting part of this ordeal. Let me get this straight—we can’t have marriage, because that’s a religious institution, but we can’t have civil unions because they look like marriage? Time and again, same-sex marriage detractors have stated that they believe homosexuals should be allowed some form of relationship recognition, so long as it’s not called “marriage.” This makes Lingle’s decision all the more troublesome. If civil unions are too close to “the real thing,” then what is it we deserve?

This past fall I worked on the Approve 71 campaign here in Washington State. Referendum 71 was a measure that would expand domestic partnerships to resemble marriage as closely as possible; it was even nicknamed the “Everything But Marriage Bill”. When it came time to campaign, this name proved to be quite the struggle to overcome. Fortunately, Referendum 71 passed, but it was the first time in United States history that a comprehensive recognition of same-sex couples was approved by voters. I worry this splitting of hairs in Hawaii will be too difficult to overcome. Where is the line drawn between marriage and a relationship that looks like marriage? And who is in charge of determining that difference? I’m afraid I’m not going to like the answers to these questions.

So where does that leave us? Well, this past week we’ve seen some really awesome progress on the equality front. First, a federal district court judge in Boston ruled that sections of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are unconstitutional, particularly those that infringe upon individual state’s rights. This in and of itself does not overturn DOMA, but it does open the door for new strides towards doing just that. Also, today the DC Court of Appeals struck down an attempt by anti-equality groups to put a same-sex marriage ban on the November ballot, which would have invalidated the recent legalization of same-sex marriage. And, in the best news of the week, Argentina legalized same-sex marriage, despite an incredible amount of opposition from the Catholic Church.

Certainly we have a long way to go on the road to equality, but history is on our side. Let’s hope Hawaii, and the rest of the US, stands on the side of love come November.

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