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All I Want for Christmas is EQUALITY, EQUALITY, EQUALITY!

7 Dec

We want to implore all of you to join us in using our holiday spending to help some of our organizations stay afloat in this current economic environment. Each of these organizations is having trouble with funding. We need to make sure that they continue on so that our rights are won!

The Ali Forney Center for Homeless LGBT Youth is an incredible organization that is currently under attack by those who oppose us, including New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Mayor has proposed unbelievable cuts that would close several help centers for these kids -many of whom have been kicked out of their homes for being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender. NYC has just cut their support of the Ali Forney Center greatly and they need your help. These kids are OUR responsibility. Help them out.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is doing incredible work on our behalf and will most certainly be responsible for Marriage Equality coming to this country through their court challenges to California’s Proposition 8.

Friendfactor is reaching out to our allies in ways we never thought possible. The new organization is focused on activating our straight allies. Very few groups are reaching outside our own community to find support, but we here at Talk About Equality believe that Friendfactor holds a special key to finding our equality. We cannot do this without our allies. We are a minority and without the help of our friends and family, we are lost.

The National Center for Transgender Equality is one of the leading organizations fighting (uphill at times) for the Employment Non-Discrimintation Act (ENDA). Though this seemed like an easy fight, ENDA has seen several setbacks, essentially from our realization that our country fails to see Transgender people as equals. The National Center for Transgender Equality is doing incredible work to educate our government and our citizens on our equality. And make no mistake, this movement would be years behind without the T in LGBT.

The Victory Fund is responsible for more than 106 LGBT candidates being elected to public office in 2010. More than any other electoral period in our country’s history.Harvey Milk once said “…you’ve got to keep electing gay people…to know there is better hope for tomorrow. Not only for gays, but for blacks, Asians, the disabled, our senior citizens and us. Without hope, we give up. I know you cannot live on hope alone, but without it life is not worth living. You and you and you have got to see that the promise does not fade.” Make a contribution if you can.

GetEQUAL is doing incredible work in activism. We may not all be cut out for cuffing ourselves to the White House fence, but this organization is getting notice. One of this organization’s leaders, Robin McGehee was arrested one day at the White House and the next day was invited to a meeting there. One of the ideas that GetEQUAL embraces is that all of us can make a difference, no matter what our tactic – just keep the pressure on, and we can make a difference.

There are dozens of other organizations out there that need our help. Please take a moment to research what is important to you and encourage your friends and family to make contributions to these groups in leiu of your holiday gifts this year. When our kids live in a world with equality, they’ll thank you for it.

Transgender Athletes Not Breaking Stride.

7 Dec

The world of sports is a frontier for conversations about equality.  As we’ve written before, openly LGBT athletes force a discussion in the world of professional sports, the administration of sports associations, and among fans.  Our mantra is that with greater visibility comes greater acceptance and Transgender athletes are breaking new ground and winning victories in this regard, on and off the field.

Last month a George Washington University Basketball player came out to the public as Transgender.  Kye Allums, formerly known as Kay-Kay to teammates and fellow students, decided at to announce his gender identity via outsports.com, and has received overwhelming support from teammates and the university administration.  After a difficult decision to announce his gender identity, Kye has become the first NCAA Division One college basketball player.  Kye, protected under Washington, DC’s anti-discrimination laws, is also supported by the NCAA, and has paved the way for fellow college athletes to follow in his footsteps.

Earlier this month the LPGA voted to remove its “female at birth” requirement after Lana Lawless, a transgender woman, filed a federal lawsuit claiming the policy violated California civil rights law. The suit also includes the Long Drivers of America, who barred the former Long Drive Champion under the LPGA’s “female at birth” rule.  The LGPA voted on its own to remove the policy and it seems the players are doing just fine with the change. Christie Kerr told the Associated Press:

We don’t need to comment on this because it’s a dead issue, she can compete if she can qualify. We certainly don’t want to discriminate against anybody, that’s not what the LPGA is about. And if she can qualify, she’ll be able to play. We’re like, the last sports organization to do it, it’s just we’ve never really had to look at it before.

The public at large has a lot of questions about transgender issues, and transgendered individuals have been making great strides to raise visibility.  Vital to the struggle for LGBT equality is public education and just by being open and honest about gender identity in sports we can wrap the conversation in an experience that is familiar to the public.

Repeat after me: with greater visibility comes greater acceptance.

LISTEN: Bigot Radio Host has History of Anti-LGBT Rants

17 Nov

As we reported here last week, KLIF radio personality, Chris Krok made a particularly homophobic and bigoted diatribe against openly-gay city council member Joel Burns.

We all remember Joel from his extraordinarily moving and courageous speech in front of the City Council on bullying and LGBT teen suicide.

This week, GLAAD stepped in and made a phone call to station manager Jeff Catlin, who apologized for Krok’s attacks and assured GLAAD that Krok had been “disciplined.” The nature of that discipline was of course not discussed with GLAAD as Catlin doesn’t believe in discussing employment practices per his note to TAE reader Bob Witeck:

It is corporate policy that we do not share internal disciplinary matters with the general public. I wouldn’t expect your boss to share with me when you get in trouble at work.

Catlin went on to tell GLAAD that Krok has not spoken about the Joel Burns speech since his original bigoted rant. We’re not sure if Catlin just took Krok at his word when he said he hadn’t mentioned Burns since that show aired, or if he actually went back and listened to the tapes, but some of our fantastic TAE readers beg to differ with the account that Krok never mentioned it again.

These following clips are reportedly from the two days following Krok’s bigoted rant against Joel Burns.

Krok Speaking out against Bullying Legislation, referring to a Transgender Girl, Andy Moreno who wanted to participate in the Homecoming Queen contest as a “dancing queen,” and pokes fun at someone who tells a story about the student having books thrown at her. Additionally, he continues a rant against Joel Burns.

Another rant against the Trans teen and Joel Burns

Please continue to contact Jeff Catlin and demand a responsible disciplinary action take place against Krok.

214-526-2400 Is the Main Office number of KLIF

or email the Operations Director, Jeff Catlin at  jeff.catlin@cumulus.com

****************************************

UPDATE FROM GLAAD:

Krok Apologizes on-air

Krok apologized for his rant about Joel Burns, but never mentioned his attacks on the trans teenager he also berated. This level of anger and hyperbole should be met with more than a simple apology where Krok reiterated that his opinion was still correct, but his use of words was too personal.


On Blame and Suicide

21 Oct

Being a teen is hard.  Being a gay teen is harder still.  Many of our LGBT teens live in a harsh and dangerous environment.  Last month’s well documented teen suicides have raised the issue to the national level.   By now many of us are well aquainted with the Trevor Project and the Make It Better Project, and we have hopefully all seen the It Gets Better Project videos.  Even Hillary Clinton recorded a video for the project:

Just in the past few days we have lost two more young people to suicide.  Terrel Williams, 17, hung himself after a violent encounter at school.

Corey Jackson, 19, hung himself in the woods near his university.

And again, these are just the reported cases.  We will never know how many countless others have taken their lives because of the world adults have created for them.

Suicide is an awful and complicated tragedy.  Lets be honest: there’s plenty of blame to go around.  Does the blame rest on the bullies who drove some of these youths to the edge? Are our school administrators to blame for not providing a safe environment, on and off campus? Do we need to examine our parenting and family support systems? Are lawmakers responsible for not codifying youth protections in the law? Might anti-gay religious leaders be at fault for deliberately mis-informing their followers about homosexuality?  Can we be doing more as a community to support our youth? And, yes, we do need to ask what responsibility those in question had in making their situations better.

It’s a hard reality, but every single person who could have done something to change the circumstances surrounding these tragedies shares some of the blame.

Without a doubt anti-gay religious leaders contribute to an environment that is detrimental to the mental health of LGBT youth and fuels the fires of bullies all over the world.  Two Thirds of Americans share this view, according to a brand new CNN Poll.  Mitchell Gold writes about this influence:

People of faith must ask whether they are complicit in causing such devastation and whether their beliefs give them the right to judge and condemn others–even when those beliefs may convince a young person that he would rather be dead than gay.

Certainly bullies share a good portion of the blame for the circumstances they create, like the five kids who bullied Terrel Williams the day he hung himself.

Our schools need to be safe, and it is the job of administrators to ensure that safety extends to every child.

Congress is sitting on two important pieces of legislation which could help, and it looks like they aren’t going anywhere.  Chris Geidner writes:

Discussion of LGBT bullying and youth suicide has led to increased efforts by organizations and individuals to eliminate – or, at least, lessen – both. The Congress, however, has taken a recess so that members can campaign for the upcoming midterm elections, so little discussion has focused on legislation in Congress that could help.

There are so many contributing factors to this harsh environment that it is unfair to blame any influence solely.  But combined, all are complicit.  Until we can create an environment where every youth is given an equal chance at a healthy and nurturing environment the suicides will continue.

No one is blameless in this.  We can all do more.

Even me.

Oak for King!

27 Sep

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.
Oak Reed for Homecoming King!

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.