Bullying and harrassment are still problems in our schools

When I went to West Des Moines Valley High School during the 1980s, it was common to hear people call someone a “fag” or say disparagingly, “That’s so gay.” I didn’t know of a single kid in our large graduating class who was gay or lesbian. I remember our school newspaper doing a feature on two gay guys at my school–only the writer and the newspaper adviser knew who they were, and apparently they both had girlfriends for cover. They certainly didn’t feel safe enough to come out of the closet when we were in high school.

While high school students today are more aware than they were 20 years ago, bullying and harassment of gay teens or those perceived as gay remains a problem. Friday, April 25 was the national Day of Silence, “a nationwide event to protest harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students”. According to the Des Moines Register, students at about 40 Iowa high schools planned to participate.

We shouldn’t be content to let teenagers tough this out, hoping that life will get better someday. A tolerant atmosphere can make the difference between life and death for some young people. Daily Kos user “a girl in MI” wrote this moving diary today to mark the sixth anniversary of her own suicide attempt.

In the comments to her diary, BrooklynWeaver posted a link to the Trevor Project:

The Trevor Project operates the nations only 24/7 crisis & suicide prevention helpline for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. If you or a friend are feeling lost or alone call The Trevor Helpline. There is hope, there is help.

The Trevor Helpline number is 1-866-4-U-TREVOR, or 1-866-488-7386.

On a more positive note, I got an e-mail from One Iowa promoting their upcoming “May Day Mayhem” event for LGBT professionals:

May Day Mayhem!

Bring in Spring with other LGBT Professionals! Join One Iowa for Happy Hour!

Free Food, Cheap Drinks. Enjoy your May Day with other LGBT and progressive professionals.

Special guest Evan Wolfson from Freedom to Marry

Thursday, May 1

5:00 – 7:00 PM

Star Bar, 2811 Ingersoll, Des Moines

Light appetizers, cash bar, and a chance to mingle with other LGBTA Professionals.

RSVP by April 30th

One Iowa would like to thank Wells Fargo Pride for sponsoring the Mayday Mayhem Happy Hour.

Continue Reading...

Kevin McCarthy reinforces a right-wing frame

The passage of the Civil Rights bill by the Iowa legislature is undoubtedly a victory for progressives.

I was very disappointed, though, when I opened up the Des Moines Register today and read the article on page 1 of the Metro section. Here’s the third paragraph:

“It is a historic vote,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Des Moines Democrat. “I also think it was a mainstream vote. This was not some sort of liberal social agenda. This is just saying that under housing and employment, people should not be discriminated based upon their real or perceived sexual orientation.”

What have Des Moines Register readers just learned?

1. the “liberal social agenda” is outside the mainstream

2. mainstream = good, “liberal social agenda” = not so good

3. even that Democratic guy is kind of embarrassed about the liberal social agenda

I understand what McCarthy was trying to say: this is not gay marriage, this is not even civil unions, this is no-brainer anti-discrimination protection. This should not be controversial.

But when Democratic Party leaders reinforce the idea that things supported by liberals are outside the mainstream, they are continuing the work of those like Newt Gingrich who have tried for decades to demonize liberals.

Imagine Chris Rants bragging about the passage of a bill by saying, “This was a mainstream vote. This was not some sort of conservative social agenda.”

That would never happen, because Republican leaders know better than to frame their party’s base as on the fringe of public opinion.

McCarthy could have said something along the lines of, “This was a mainstream vote. This reflects the growing consensus in the United States that it’s not ok to discriminate against someone because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.”

Continue Reading...
View More...