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Student Writes Heartfelt Letter To Gay Teacher After Lesson On Bullying

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 4.08.56 PMA 9-year-old student wrote a heartwarming letter to her teacher after he told his students he was gay during a lesson on bullying reports Pink NewsThe letter comes after the teacher, listed as Mr. R., was teaching a lesson during the school's anti-bullying week and asked the Head of the school if he could tell the class that he was gay after learning that nearly the entire class heard the word "gay" used as an insult. The Head of the school supported R. and allowed him to share his life with his students; he was thrilled with the results after confiding his sexuality.

Said R.:

"The reaction was fantastic – there were a lot of gasps and shocked looks and some basic questions – do you have a boyfriend, etc., but after a couple of minutes they were over it and we moved on to the rest of the lesson."

A few days after sharing his sexuality with his students, one of them slipped him a letter. Names in the letter have been blocked out for privacy.

The letter in its entirety:

"Dear Mr. R.

"Even though you’re gay, I will always treat you the same way as I do now. I still think about you the same way as I used to. You’re a great teacher and these are just some of the word’s (sic) that I would describe you as: great, amazing, fantastic, brilliant, awesome and brave.

"The reason why I say brave is because you shared a personal secret which was very brave.

"You don’t have to feel scared because I know that everyone in the class feels the same way as I do.

“From A x x

PS. Mr. R., We are proud of you”

The letter brought R. to tears, and upon thanking her for the touching letter she simply replied, "It's just your life." For R. it's a relief to finally unveil a part of his life that he kept hidden, and use it as a compassionate educational experience for his students.

Said R.:

"For my class it was a surprise sure but, to them, it was just something simple and easy to file away as another piece of information. There was no judgement, no follow up, just acceptance.

"Now, I can mention my fiance as easily as any other teacher and my class know me a little better. I’ve had a lot of letters and cards over the years, but this one I know I’ll keep forever." 


Lesbian Basketball Players Sue Pepperdine University For Discrimination, 'Mental Anguish' - VIDEO

Pepperdine

Pepperdine University basketball players Haley Videckis and Layana White are suing their head coach and the school for alleged civil rights violations regarding their sexual orientation, reports OutSports.

Pepperdine, a private religious school in California which is allegedly in receipt of some public funding, says its purpose is to pursue the highest academic standards "within the context that celebrates and extends the spiritual and ethical ideals of the Christian faith."

Back in 2012, the Malibu-based university blocked the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance called 'Reach Out' because Dean of Students Mark Davis said homosexuality is against "God's Will".

Videckis and White claim they were harassed for being in a relationship with each other. They allege the mental anguish ultimately led to a suicide attempt by White.

The two are suing coach Ryan Weisenberg and the university for violating their civil right to privacy and for violations of a 1972 California law which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities.

The complaint alleges that coach Weisenberg said "Lesbianism is not tolerated on this team” and is “a big concern in women's basketball."

In a statement released over the weekend, the university said”

“We take allegations of this kind very seriously. We conducted an immediate and thorough investigation and found no evidence to support these claims. The University remains committed to a diverse and inclusive environment.”

Watch Videckis discuss a game victory back in February, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lesbian Basketball Players Sue Pepperdine University For Discrimination, 'Mental Anguish' - VIDEO" »


Ottawa School Backtracks On Decision To Ban Student Project On Gay Rights

Quinn Maloney-Tavares and Polly Hamilton

A Catholic school in Ottawa has backtracked on a decision to not allow two grade 6 students to present a social justice project on gay rights following complaints from parents, reports CBC News.

In a statement explaining the ban in November, the Ottawa Catholic School Board (CSB) said:

“Our Family Life curriculum (Fully Alive) covers all topics around personhood, relationships and sexuality and is developed and taught in an age-appropriate manner. The Board ensures that a pastoral approach is used during the learning process. Parents are notified before sexuality topics are taught in class.

“The principal's decision was made in this context and with the understanding that the project was going to be presented to younger students.​

“Our Board's focus on equity and family life programs ensures students are taught within the context of our faith, with a focus on the dignity of personhood.”

St geoge school ottawaFollowing the ban, students Quinn Maloney-Tavares and Polly Hamilton met with Jeremy Dias of Jer’s Vision, an activist organization that seeks to eliminate homophobia and transphobia in schools and youth communities.

The decision to now allow the project to go ahead comes following a meeting between the girls, their parents and the principal of St. George School near Tunney’s Pasture.

Following the decision, the CSB said:

"The girls will be doing a project on how the topic of gay rights is addressed by a Catholic high school’s equity club. The girls will be welcome to present their project at the social justice fair."

Quinn’s mother Ann Maloney said:

"One person can make change because they came up against a roadblock and took some action and they were able to change the way people think. I think that's a pretty powerful feeling for them to have at such a young age."

Maloney added that although she has received positive messages from parents, some messages have been “very unpleasant.”


Florida State University Lecturer Resigns Following Racist, Homophobic Rant - VIDEO

Deborah O'Connor

Florida State University College of Business senior lecturer Deborah O’Connor has resigned from her position following an outburst last week on Facebook in which she used racist, Islamophobic and homophobic slurs, reports the Tallahassee Democrat.

Eborah O'connor 2In response to a post by hair stylist Colin Lively last Thursday on the police killings in Ferguson, Staten Island and Cleveland, O’Connor’s comments included:

“YOU elected POTUS, Holder et al. And they are supposed to represent all Americans, not just blacks … why don’t these ass clowns insert themselves into their stories?”

“Take your Northern fagoot [sic] elitism and shove it up your ass.”

“I teach at a University, you asshole. What do you do?”

“You are an intellectual fraud, just like your Messiah. Obama has single-handedly turned our once great society into a Ghetto Culture, rivaling that of Europe. France is almost at war because of his filthy rodent Muslims who are attacking Native Frenchmen and women.”

O'Connor has confirmed her decision to bring a planned retirement next spring forward as “the path of least resistance.” Her comments have since been deleted.

Lively said:

"I'm surprised her employers weren't aware of her and hadn't done something about it. I feel very bad for any woman who carries that kind of rage inside her heart. I feel very bad and sorry for her."

Watch a report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Florida State University Lecturer Resigns Following Racist, Homophobic Rant - VIDEO" »


Trans Teen Wins Discrimination Lawsuit Against Maine School District

MainesNicole Maines, a 17 year-old transgender tenager from Orono, Maine, has won her discrimination lawsuit against the Orono school district after being forced to use a staff-only bathroom. A lower court awarded Maines and her family a settlement of $75,000 having found that the school district was in clear violation of the Maine Human Rights Act. The award will be split between the Maines family, their legal representation, and the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders organization.

“A significant portion of the monetary award will go to the Maines’ family,” Carisa Cunningham, spokeswoman for GLAD, explained Monday. “We’re grateful that it was resolved favorably, not only for Nicole and her family but for all transgender students who are just seeking to get an education like every other student.”

The Maines family first raised the issue of their daughter’s discrimination to the Maine Human Rights Commission in 2009 while Nicole was still in middle school. Together the family and the Commission brought a lawsuit against Regional School Unit 26  in Penobscot County Superior Court where the family won their initial case. In 2012, however, a Superior Court Justice William Anderson reversed the decision and ruled in favor of the school district. In January, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court further review the Maines’s case and ultimately ruled in their favor.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” Nicole’s father, Wayne Maines, said of the years long legal struggle. “We just want to move on. We just want to be normal.”

Watch Nicole Maines describe her fight to end discrimination at the 2011 GLAD Spirit of Justice Ceremony AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Trans Teen Wins Discrimination Lawsuit Against Maine School District" »


Lambda Legal Targets Anti-Gay 'No Promo Homo' Laws In 8 States, Calls Them Unconstitutional

NoPromoHomo

Amid the controversy over Russia's anti-gay law earlier this year, it was widely reported that at least eight US states have laws on the books that are similar, though perhaps less far-reaching. 

Donteraseus_v6Now, Lambda Legal has launched a campaign targeting those laws, which the LGBT civil rights group says violate the guarantee of equal protection in the US Constitution. 

The laws, often referred to as "no promo homo" laws, restrict or prohibit the discussion of LGBT issues in the classroom, according to Lambda Legal's #DontEraseUs campaign:  

These laws are harmful and stigmatizing to LGBT students. For example, Alabama and Texas specifically mandate that, in curriculum related to sexual health education, students must be taught that being gay “is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.” Meanwhile, Arizona prohibits instruction that “portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style” in certain curriculum. Other states with anti-LGBT curriculum laws include Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah.

Lambda Legal says many of the "no promo homo" laws were passed in the late 1980s and early 1990s as part of legislation related to sexual health education and HIV/AIDS. However, while they may apply only to health education, they are often misinterpreted by teachers and administrators — and could even be used to prohibit instruction about Harvey Milk in a history class or Walt Whitman in a poetry class. 

What's more, the laws actually are likely to increase the spread of sexually transmitted diseases by promoting stigma that leads to risk-taking. For example, Arizona's law prohibits instruction that “some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.”

And by creating a climate of discrimination, the laws contribute to the bullying of LGBT youth, who are already at a greater risk for suicide:  

LGBT students in states with these laws report hearing more homophobic remarks from school staff and are less likely to report incidents of harassment to school staff, according to GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey.

The obvious difference between a group like GLSEN taking on the "no promo homo" laws and Lambda Legal doing so is that the latter has a team of attorneys to back it up. The #DontEraseUs campaign doesn't explicitly threaten litigation, but Lambda Legal clearly states that it believes the laws constitute unlawful discrimination by the government:  

By comparison, imagine if there were laws that barred classroom discussion of people of a particular ethnic descent in a positive light, or required schools to teach students that having a particular religious background is “not acceptable to the general public.” These laws would treat students in those groups differently and violate their constitutional rights to equal protection.

Unfortunately, litigation may be the only way to halt implementation of the laws in many of the states, where there is little or no hope for legislative repeal in the near future.  

Lambda Legal is asking people, especially students, to join the #DontEraseMe campaign by speaking out against the laws and helping the group better understand how they're being applied. To join, go here. For frequently asked questions about the laws, go here. And for the full text of each of the eight laws, go here.   


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