A classic fall high school story. Oak Reed, from Muskegon, Michigan, ran a facebook campaign for Homecoming King at Mona Shores High school and won.
The problem, for the administration, is that Oakleigh Marshall Reed used to be named Oakleigh Marie Reed. So, despite the common belief that Oak earned the most votes, the school principal invalidated his candidacy on a technicality. The school records still indicate that Oak is a girl.
Another story of young people being affected by the short sighted policies of adults. It seems everyone in the school community is aware of Oak’s gender identity, including the teachers who use male pronouns and even the administration who selectively allows Oak to act on his gender expression.
There is an interesting twist to this story, one that gives us hope for future generations. It seems the student body, band parents, and Oak’s mother have been incredibly supportive. Some students even created an Oak is my King facebook group and are intending to wear solidarity tee-shirts on October 1st.
Kudo’s to Oak for sharing his story with the world and living openly and honestly and to the supportive students at Mona Shores High School.
Our friend Mark Anthony Dingbaum at The Victory Fund sent us this incredible video unveiling their new campaign today.
Many of us have spent a great deal of time feeling disappointed in our elected representatives when they don’t follow through on promises or perhaps aren’t the “fierce advocate” they claimed they would be. But this November, we can’t let our frustrations make us complacent.
We need to hold our elected officials accountable, this is an absolute. But we also need to make sure the elected officials we put in office are those who will listen to us. Check out this video and find a way to get involved.
Today I had the unique opportunity to take part in Marriage Equality New York’s 7th Annual Wedding March. Around 2000 LGBT people, their families and allies rallied downtown and then marched with a rainbow of solid-colored umbrellas over the Brooklyn Bridge. We were joined by The Real Housewives of New York, and Claire Buffie – Miss New York, 2010, who is the first Miss America contestant to run on a platform of LGBT equality.
I was reminded of former Miss America Kate Shindle, who spoke at a marriage equality rally right after Proposition 8 passed. Kate is a straight, Republican Broadway performer who is for equality for all people. When she spoke at City Hall back in 2008, she reminded us that we can’t count people out. Our allies come in all shapes and sizes and we never know where we are going to find someone sympathetic to our cause – so keep building those bridges by talking about equality – you may be surprised what you find.
Enjoy some of our photos from today’s events!
Reflecting on the recently departed summer an alarming and largely undiscussed trend emerges: a wave of violence against our community. On college campuses, busy streets, in gay neighborhoods, parks, and many other spaces across Washington, DC there have been a string of alarming hate crimes. Tracking the locations of these incidents demonstrates that it is a city-wide problem:
And that’s just a small sample of the reported crimes. As you can see, these attacks are happening in high traffic areas and places where people traditionally feel safe. So what are we doing about it?
There are many resources available for information and several organizations are attempting to tackle the issue. This evening in Dupont Circle, which has faced the sharpest increase of hate crimes, there is a free self-defense class put on by a new organization: OutWatch. OutWatch is a community watch group which is attempting to highlight bias-related crimes and to be a vigilant community presence. This week at The DC Center Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) will hold their next meeting, and the center is also promoting a self defense class.
This change has to come from us. Only by educating ourselves on the situation and letting the perpetuators of violence know that we are paying attention can we create the safe spaces we need.
Who’s streets? Our streets.
Last week, 15 year old Billy Lucas from Indiana walked into his Grandmother’s barn and hung himself when the anti-gay bullying became too much for him to bear. Anti-bullying laws are being enacted all over the country – but not quickly enough for this young boy.
Being a freshman in high school is tough enough as it is. Add on to those usual stresses that the world around you tells you endlessly that something is wrong with you. Add on to that a belief that you will never, ever be happy because of this perceived defect. No kid should have to go through this.
While anti-bullying laws are slowly spreading throughout the country, we have to do more than this. We need to be responsible adults and create change by educating everyone we meet. We need to create the world where these children know there is nothing wrong with them, a world where there is ALWAYS a better solution. If we don’t talk about it, nothing will change.
This is exactly the kind of campaign that can move people. It cuts to the heart of why equality matters, to Dan and Terry and to their audience. We want to create a world where LGBT kids can be themselves safely.
Dan Savage says it all the time and he’s right: It gets better.
Spreading hope and making change by sharing your story. Thats what’s going to turn it around for future generations.
Via Change.org, there’s an Indianapolis bakery that only wants dough from the straight kids.
The family-run bakery claims that since it is so “family-oriented,” that selling cupcakes to a gay students’ organization would somehow damage the example they are trying to set for their own young children. They prefer to teach their children that hatred and bigotry against other children is acceptable.
As Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young said so eloquently – “Teach your children well…” These adults are teaching their children that intolerance is a family value. If we teach our children the truth about others, if we teach them that blind hatred is wrong, if we teach them that equality is only equality when it covers everyone, maybe the world will be a better place. There’s nothing that tastes sweeter than a world full of Equality…and maybe cupcakes. But mostly Equality.
The bakery in question is now claiming they didn’t take the LGBT Student organization’s order because they apparently “don’t do” special orders. Of course this is what is said by the wife of the husband-wife owners of the bakery a few days after the husband was interviewed as saying “We have our values…and for instance if somebody wants a cookie with an obscenity, well we’re not gonna sell that.” comparing some rainbow treats with someone requesting cookies with “F*CK YOU” written on them.
One of the highest priorities we should have as a community is ensuring that our young people have safe environments to grow. There are many ways to create safe and nurturing environments but seemingly the most obvious is during the school day. It’s where our young ones spend the most time and for most of us it’s the first place we experienced the first taste of the discrimination to come.
Stories like this are all too common. LGBT Youth have the highest rates of suicide. For many children school is a place where they can be safe and protected so they can learn and grow.
Not so for kids all over the country who are perceived as different. You would think a profession dedicated to developing the lives of children would take measures to ensure that everyone in the classroom has the same right to safety and security. And yet the problem persists.
So what can we do?
On October 5th, 2010 there is a National Day of Action planned to call attention to this issue. Can your community commit to creating this safe environment? Visit the page to find out how.
Our stories are the most compelling and effective way to drive the changes we want in society. Every great movement has a narrative and every participant has a story to tell.
That’s why we’ve launched Talk About Equality. It is our sincere belief that our words, ideas, and stories can inspire people to act. We can empower our great community to take an active stand for our rights.
Through the sharing of information and opening up dialog across our movement we can delve into the issues we need to face, we can share the values that unite us, and we can move the hearts and minds of those that stand in our way.
The conversation starts now. Join us.
This is the new Talk About Equality blog. Here we hope to make you aware of the stories we have to tell to gain our equality.
We will post news stories, commentary and stories that will help others Talk About Equality. We believe that through conversation and education, we can take a major bite out of the discrimination that occurs everyday in this country.
If you have a story you’d like to share, please email us at EqualityStories@gmail.com
Thanks! And welcome to the blog!