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Posts Tagged ‘discrimination’

My love for the NY Times magazine just seems to grow with time. This weekend’s issue includes a story by Benoit Denizet-Lewis (who wrote a fabulous piece last year about young, gay married couples) called “Coming Out in Middle School.” The article documents the struggles as well as the triumphs that young gay adolescents have experienced as they try to navigate their way through the terrifying world of middle school.

 

What is clear is that for many gay youth, middle school is more survival than learning — one parent of a gay teenager I spent time with likened her child’s middle school to a “war zone.” In a 2007 survey of 626 gay, bisexual and transgender middle-schoolers from across the country by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educators Network (Glsen), 81 percent reported being regularly harassed on campus because of their sexual orientation. Another 39 percent reported physical assaults. Of the students who told teachers or administrators about the bullying, only 29 percent said it resulted in effective intervention.

I think this article does a great job in describing both the progress that has been made in schools (formation and protection of Gay Straight Alliances) while also explaining how far we have to go before gay adolescents truly feel safe coming out to all of their peers and teachers rather than just a handful of close friends.

What always shocks me the most about accounts of discrimination and harassment of gay adolescents is how frequently their teachers ignore the discrimination and even participate in it. It’s one thing for schools to put anti-bullying measures in place that prevent bullying among students, but I personally would like to see more towns and states taking action to prevent teachers from being complicit in the discrimination and harassment. Every student, whether gay or straight, should be able to view his or her teachers as role models and people that he or she can trust – I know I wouldn’t have made it through high school without the support of a few fabulous teachers. For schools to not take action against teachers who are not providing this kind of support is appalling.

This article is also lacking a discussion of transgender adolescents and the different kinds of discrimination and harassment they face at school. These children are often misunderstood, and their gender identity is not taken seriously. Any school that seeks to address LGBT discrimination must make sure that it is specifically addressing the “T” in addition to the “LGB.”

It gives me some hope when articles like this are published in the NY Times (although I do realize that it has quite a liberal reader base), because I like to think that it will make readers more aware of these issues than they have been before and incite some people to action.

For further research and reading here are some organizations with great information about LGBT Youth:

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Jezebel has a great post today on women in sports. The post discusses two recent articles published in the New York Times and The Daily Beast where the authors spend most of the articles talking about the beauty and maternity habits of female athletes. The post states:

Female athletes seem to serve as a never-ending well of material for those obsessed with both the female body and the importance of femininity. There seems to be a real difficulty marketing athletic women to the general public without resorting to these tricks, which continually reiterate that this is about a woman in sports, a female athlete, someone with two X chromosomes.

I think this is a fascinating issue, one which I am not very well-versed. But with my new internship at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), I have been exposed to some great information about women in sports thanks to Helen Carroll, a truly amazing woman. Other great sites to check out are: It Takes A Team and Pat Griffin’s blog.

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I am going to take a minute to re-post the most recent post on one of my favorite blogs [disclaimer: the authors are two of my closest friends], entitled New Haven Firefighter’s Test (Imgained).  In this post AS imagines what the questions on the controversial New Haven Firefighter’s Test (the subject of a recent Supreme Court decision) must have looked like (she calles it a combination of “Stuff White People Like” and discriminatory SAT questions).

Here’s a sample:

1. You arrive at a yacht that is engulfed in flames in the marina. The yacht owner tells you his wife is trapped aft. The yacht owner means his wife is trapped:

A) In the front of the yacht.
B) In the back of the yacht.
C) On the left side of the yacht.
D) On the right side of the yacht.
E) Under the yacht.

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