Control freaks.

That’s exactly what anti-LGBT organizers and activists are. They honestly believe that they, and only they, can claim the role of moral arbiter of right and wrong. Their opinions. Their religion. Their interpretation of Scripture.

Have a different point of view? Too bad. Actually think all people — including gays — should be treated equally (as in, the dictionary’s definition of “equal”)? Tough luck.

Charlotte Hays of Independent Women’s Forum takes issue with the White House’s recent anti-bullying summit. She writes:

Okay, bullying is wrong. But this isn’t entirely about bullying, is it?

This is partly about promoting acceptance of alternative lifestyles. Most of us today are pretty accepting of these lifestyles, and all decent people know that it would be wrong to be unkind to anybody because of sexual orientation. Decent people don’t bully. But a kid who is a Christian is more likely to face censure in some schools. Why aren’t Christian kids on the president’s no-bullying list?

[..snip..]

My problems with the no bullying campaign are twofold: it is ideologically driven, second, this really isn’t what government should do. This is an issue for a family. Families teach children to behave decently-or they don’t. Stable families instill civility, but ideological anti-bullying campaigns instill ideology.

As if Hays’ idea of an anti-bullying program wouldn’t be any less ideological. Ha.

There was a time — and for many LGBT kids, that time is still now — when schools’ anti-bullying campaigns or policies were designed specifically to exclude them. That’s the kind of anti-bullying campaign I can see Hays supporting. Why shouldn’t Christian kids be able to torment gay kids day-in and day-out, telling them they are going to hell and excluding them from dodge ball games. After all, we all know that gay kid is condemned anyway. We might as well let the Christian kid tell him so.

0

Not in the least bit surprised

Sing with me… It’s that time of year, when I sit at my desk and research the year, sifting through… o-old stories of important ga-ay news!

I was in the office late last night putting our Dec. 12 print issue of Q-Notes to bed. I wanted to get in the office and start work on our last issue of the year. Our Dec. 26 print issue will include a run-down of the LGBT Carolinas’ most important news and happenings over the past year, as well as a profile on Q-Notes‘ Person of the Year 2009.

This will be my third “retrospective,” year-end issue since joining the staff in the fall of 2007. As with the previous two years, I’m looking forward to and will enjoy sifting through each of the preceding 25 issues of this year’s papers.

Continue reading this post…

Good news from my childhood hometown and school system: The North Carolina Senate passed a “local bill” on Monday, changing current Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education elections from partisan to non-partisan. Already passed by the House and not in need of the governor’s approval, the bill is now law. The Winston-Salem Journal has the full report.

This welcome change from partisan to non-partisan elections is a longtime coming. Starting in 2010, non-partisan elections will benefit Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school children and open the door to electing more fair-minded and LGBT-friendly candidates like Sandra Mikush, who ran unsuccessfully on a non-partisan ballot in 2006.

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education has long been dominated by conservative, anti-gay Republicans. Among the most outspoken have been Buddy Collins, Donny Lambeth and Jeannie Metcalf.

In a Feb. 4, 2003 Journal article, Metcalf was quoted saying, “I think homosexuality is a sin. If they want to make fun of them, I don’t have a problem with it.”

By their very essence, non-partisan elections create an atmosphere in which more people untainted by the gotcha games of party politics have a better chance of being elected and serving their communities. If left to partisan politics, the Winston-Salem board would have surely remained as anti-gay and conservative as it has always been.

It remains to be seen whether the change to non-partisanship will bring about the much more needed change for the area’s LGBT students, who remain without fully-inclusive anti-bullying and non-discrimination protections. My guess is that non-partisan elections will bring those students closer to safety than ever before — if the General Assembly, by passing the School Violence Prevention Act, doesn’t do it for them first.

0

Creating change through film

LGBT filmmaker Debra Chasnoff speaks with The Windy City Times:

We asked who they most admire, and a lot are saying they admire the transgender student at the end of the film. I was in North Carolina at a screening and I sat behind three male, teenage students. The film started and they were giggling making fun of it a little. The film went on and one of them started doing it again and the other turned to the him and said, “Shut up, I want to hear this.” They were absolutely quiet for the rest of the film, and they were applauding wildly at the end. I think we are in a era in this country where there is potential for people to look at things and each other differently. I hope this film can bust wide open the very entrenched expectations that we have for males and females in this culture by helping teenagers rethink the assumptions about how they have to be just because they are male or female.

2

AFA and OneNewsNow contradicting itself?

On March 15, the radically anti-gay American Family Association-backed OneNewsNow.com reports that abstinence-only education is working (past post):

“The teen pregnancy rate has dropped by a third since abstinence education was started,” he points out, “and the teen abortion rate has been cut in half.”

Seven days later, it isn’t working as thought and more of it needs to be taught:

“We have said to a whole generation, almost two generations now, of young people, ‘Just be careful and use a condom,’ and that’s the only advice we are giving them,” she adds, “and I think that’s so unfair and it’s so misleading for our young people because we’re downplaying the consequences of casual sex.”

Consistency is certainly not a principle that this “news” site  and writer Charlie Butts values.

All is not calm on the American Family Association front. Their “news” website, OneNewsNow.com, published a “story” (read: horrible piece of journalism) on the issue of comprehensive or abstinence-only sex education in North Carolina.

While the writer, Charlie Butts, gives plenty of speaking time for the N.C. Policy Research Council’s Jere Royall (nice guy, by the way) to spout out some talking points, Butts fails to mention why the story is even a story: The N.C. General Assembly is currently hearing a bill called the Healthy Youth Act. It has already passed through some preliminary committee hearings. If it becomes law it will replace North Carolina’s abstinence-only education with abstinence-based comprehensive sex education.

But, the real story of the OneNewsNow.com piece lies in the comments. It seems all the blind sheep at AFA’s propaganda machine aren’t all blind:

Preaching abstinence is not education, it is preaching. And it does not work. All the information that is available needs to be supplied to children. The role of the parent and educator is to supply information and teach them to make good decisions, not to withhold information.

More sticking their heads in the sand as states with abstinence only educations have the highest teen pregnancy rates.

In Gaston County, North Carolina, 500 teens became pregnant 2007. Gaston County students are only exposed to abstinence education, and contraception options are not added to the curriculum. Even the Gaston County Health Director, Colleen Bridger, admits that without better sex education, teen pregnancy numbers in the county will not drop. Bridger goes on to say: “Counties in North Carolina that teach comprehensive sex education have lower teen pregnancy rates than Gaston County. Research shows abstinence-only education doesn’t work, and I think it is time for Gaston County to try what the research shows works.”

Oddly enough, 9 out of the top 10 states with the highest teen pregnancy rates were red states which leaned heavily on abstinance-only education. They also were southern “Bible-belt” states.

There’s really no way to know if these are conservative folks making comments or progressive folks. I’m just suprised they haven’t been censored away yet.

In almost every tragic, major act of school violence, anti-LGBT harassment, bullying and rejection has been an underlying or contributing cause.

It’s happened again (h/t DailyQueerNews):

A single gunshot fired into the torso of one 15-year-old by another in a crowded hallway at Dillard High School immediately ignited concerns about violence in South Florida’s public schools.

But smoldering under the surface is worry from some community activists about what might have sparked the shooting — a girl stung by rejection, struggling with her sexual orientation, with no one to turn to.

How long can we ingore this epidemic. How many more boys or girls will turn to violence after being taunted, abused, beaten and rejected for their real or perceived sexual orientation after having no one to turn to after years of socially and religiously accepted and encouraged psychological terrorism?

4

It’s only gay if…

I was reading one of the hundreds of blogs and websites I check out each week and ran across this blog by a gay parent working and living in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Discussing how his high school-aged son told him about a few of his acquaintances attending the NC Pride Parade and Festival in Durham, the son told his father that one of his friends was gay. While the following discussions sounds silly — really, nothing more than high school hilarity — it does kind of bring to the surface some real issues surrounding sexuality and gender, and how straight men identify themselves in the face of their own sexual actions.

Continue reading this post…

2

What’s wrong with Kansas?

My attention was drawn to an article from a Kansas TV station this morning while browsing The Washington Blade‘s website. A teen in a small town of about 800 people was severely beaten inside his home by a classmate who had heard rumors he was gay. The rumor was false. The perpetrator also had with him a small explosive. His intent: To kill the 16-year-old boy.

Continue reading this post…

On Monday I posted again about the N.C. Christian Action League’s misleading words and tactics regarding the School Violence Prevention Act (HB 1366). That was after first exposing their inaccurate op-ed written by Mary Frances Forrester, wife of anti-gay, anti-marriage amendment supporter state Sen. Jim Forrester (R-Gaston).

Late last evening, the Christian Action League sent out an action alert on the bill and I immediately noticed one major problem with it, besides the obvious double talk.

Of the more than 600 words in the alert, written by the League’s executive eirector Mark Creech, only one time — yes, one — did Creech speak about the children:

The bill was passed by the House last year, but the Senate wisely removed the list of enumerations such as “race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, physical appearance, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory disability.” The Senate concluded that no enumerations were needed to effectively protect all of the state’s children. Bullying should be prohibited for any reason.

It seems as though the bill’s supporters, those like Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) and Rep. Earline Parmon (D-Forsyth), have spent much more time and energy talking about North Carolina’s public school children and the need to provide them with a strong anti-bullying bill. The bill’s opponents, those like the Christian Action League, the N.C. Family Policy Council and Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Wake), have spent the majority of their time balking over the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender-identity.

Again, from the action alert:

The evil of this legislation is that it elevates “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” on the same levels with race, color, ancestry, national origin, gender, physical appearance, mental, physical, or sensory disability,” which clearly are immutable or unchangeable characteristics. Homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender are not immutable or unchangeable. But approval of this legislation would be a societal affirmation to that end. Moreover, it would also elevate a sexual perversion on the same level with the sacred – religion – which generally speaking defines homosexuality as sinful. What better way to negate the two strongest voices of criticism against homosexuality in society – elevate an individual’s sexual preference to the same level as immutable characteristics and religion and by statute say it deserves the same recognition and protections.

If this legislation should pass it would essentially require North Carolina public schools to teach these behaviors are normal and perfectly acceptable. The premise for this contention would be the law itself.

The Christian Action League’s next statement — “Certainly, every conscientious Christian is opposed to bullying persons in all circumstances.” — is an empty one. Just two paragraphs prior they just called LGBT youth’s identity “sexual perversion” and called the bill that would protect them from bullying by peers and teachers “evil.”

While the Christian Action League and other anti-gay organizations are busy balking over anal sex and man-on-man romance, thousands of LGBT kids will be waking up this morning afraid to go to school. If they do decide to go, and not skip class like many do, they’ll face a barrage of verbal insults and physical abuse. If a teacher is present, she might be like the teacher Rep. Parmon had to discipline when she found the teacher not stopping the physical abuse of a gay student. Finally, if teachers and staff continue to ignore the abuse (because there is no law telling they can’t), these students might drop out.

Out of a 600 word action alert on a bill about protecting kids, the Christian Action League mentioned children only once. The rest of their time was spent bashing the existence of these youth. That should tell us where their priorities lie.

Take Action…
You can call your state senator and ask him to push his colleagues and Senate leadership to vote on the final conference report for the School Violence Prevention Act (HB 1366). You can also help EqualityNC reach out to the members of the Conference Committee. Click here to go to EqualityNC’s website and email the House and Senate Conference Committee members.

My letter to Sen. Daniel Clodfelter (D-Mecklenburg):

July 7, 2008

Dear Sen. Clodfelter,

My name is Matt Comer. I am 22 years old and moved to Charlotte at the end of September 2007 to take a job as editor of the lesbian and gay, bi-weekly newspaper based here. I switched my voter registration soon after moving here so that I could be able to vote in the primary and general elections.

It is very important to me that the Senate hear and vote on the conference report for HB 1366, the School Violence Prevention Act. I hope that you can push your colleagues and the Senate leadership to take a stand and vote on the conference report for this very important piece of legislation before the end of this year’s session.

I graduated from R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, N.C., in 2004. As an openly gay student I was constantly made the victim of a barrage of daily insults. Physical abuse by my peers was also common. Because my school system and the board of education chose to do nothing to protect students like me, I was forced with my friends to advocate on our own behalf. No student should ever have to beg for safety in schools. It should be a given… a promise… a guarantee.

The enumerated categories including sexual orientation and gender identity are needed in HB 1366. Without them, schools systems like those in Winston-Salem will continue to ignore gay students. Leaders, such as Forsyth County Board of Education member Jeannie Metcalf, will continue to be able to say, “I think homosexuality is a sin. If they want to make fun of them, I don’t have a problem with it” (Jeannie Metcalf, Winston-Salem Journal February 4, 2003).

Please push your colleagues and the Senate leadership to hear and vote on this final conference report for HB 1366.

Thank you,

Matthew M.H. Comer