High School GLBT WIN!

High school sucks for a LOT of people. The tiniest, silliest differences can be called out and used as an excuse to ostracize kids and egg on bullies. Being gay or transgender is a seen as a pretty big difference and many GLBT students suffer isolation and harrassment in school.

Most of you are aware of the rash of suicides by GLBT youth that occurred across the country last year; Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota suffered THREE suicides by gay students in 2010. And here’s a heaping of extra salt in the wound: An anti-gay group consisting of anonymous members and calling themselves the Parents Action League sprouted up last July to insist that sexual orientation not be taught as part of sexual education in Anoka-Hennepin High Schools. Although their website currently appears tame, claiming only to support a “focus on core academics” and leaving the teaching of sexual orientation to “individual family homes, churches or community organizations”, the Minnesota Independent reported last August that the website promoted distinctly anti-gay messages:

It wants the district to “respect traditional family values” and to “provide valid resources for students (and their families) struggling with sexual identity and/or same-sex attraction.” It seeks to “ensure that all health curriculum teach healthy sexuality and promote abstinence until marriage.” The group also wants the district to “promote the Day of Truth” each year.

The Day of Truth is an event organized by Exodus International, a group that says it can turn gay people straight through Christian prayer.

Blech. So being gay in the Anoka-Hennepin school district probably sucked extra hard last year.

But 2011 is starting out differently, with a big, gay, FABULOUS win!

Champlin Park High School Snow Days is an annual celebration and it has a royal court – 24 students chosen by the student body become the Snow Days court.  This year both women of a lesbian couple were chosen to represent the senior class, and were excited to walk together during the coronation ceremony.  The school administration was less excited for them and enacted a decision to separate the court members so that they would file in individually with an adult chaperone.  Speedy movement by civil and GLBT rights groups and a lawsuit filed on behalf of the couple led to a change of heart by the school, and this year the tradition of students walking in as couples will continue at the Champlin Park Snow Days celebration.

Congratulations to Desiree Shelton and Sarah Lindstrom on their victory, and thanks to them for standing up for their rights. Kudos also to the students who were interviewed by the Star Tribune who stood up for their classmates.  Students everywhere, take note – Champlin Park High, you’re doin’ it right.

High School GLBT WIN!

Congrats, Dan Choi!

Dan Choi is a former infantry officer in the United States Army.  He’s a West Point graduate, he served in combat in Iraq (2006-2007), he’s fluent in Arabic and has a degree in environmental engineering.

Oh yeah, and he’s gay.  He was discharged from the Army in 2009 for violating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).

DADT is very, very close to being repealed and we as a nation are very, very, very close to allowing openly gay men and women to enlist and serve in the United States military.

From Adam Levine, CNN
October 19, 2010 4:05 p.m. EDT

Washington (CNN) — The Pentagon has advised recruiting commands that they can accept openly gay and lesbian recruit candidates, given the recent federal court decision that bars the military from expelling openly gay service members, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The guidance from the Personnel and Readiness office was sent to recruiting commands on Friday, according to spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

The recruiters were told that if a candidate admits he or she is openly gay, and qualify under normal recruiting guidelines, their application can be processed. Recruiters are not allowed to ask candidates if they are gay as part of the application process.

The notice also reminded recruiters that they have to “manage expectations” of applicants by informing them that a reversal of the court decision might occur, whereby the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy could be reinstated, Smith said.

Later Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips in California denied the government’s request for an emergency stay of her order barring the military from enforcing its ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly. The government is now expected to go to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Groups representing gays and lesbians have warned against coming out to the military because the policy is still being appealed in courts.

Today, Dan Choi re-enlisted in the Army.

This is a well-editted video of Dan Choi’s experience down at the recruiting office in NY Times Square (it’s only 4:10 vs. the 8:44 that is going around). It’s over at the Maddow Blog – clicking on the image below will take you to the original blog post and video.

Congratulations, Dan Choi!  I’m glad to have you back, and grateful for your activism that has helped bring us to this point.

Congrats, Dan Choi!

Congrats to Simon Singh

Simon Singh has won his defense against the British Chiropractic Association’s libel lawsuit.

Rebecca Watson from Skepchick breaks the story ——-> here.

And someone has already been kind enough to update Simon Singh’s Wikipedia page:

In 2008, Singh was sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association for criticising their activities in a column in The Guardian. A “furious backlash” to the ongoing lawsuit has resulted in the filing of formal complaints of false advertising against more than 500 individual chiropractors within one 24 hour period, one national chiropractic organization ordering its members to take down their websites, and Nature Medicine noting that the case has gathered wide support for Singh, as well as prompting calls for the reform of English libel laws. On 1 April 2010, Simon Singh won his court appeal for the right to rely on the defence of fair comment. On 15 April 2010, the BCA officially withdrew its lawsuit, ending the case.

The legal fight took a LOT of money on Simon Singh’s part, and I would like to thank him for his dedication, effort and willingness to see this court battle to its end. Also a giant thank you to him and to all of his supporters (here, here and here) for sparking the larger issue of UK Libel Reform, which has affected – and continues to be able to affect – people world-wide. 

References are available on the wikipedia website for the claims and assertations made in the wiki post above.

Congrats to Simon Singh