L.G.B.T. Students in Oregon Were Bullied and Forced to Read Bible, Report Says

In the hallways of a rural Oregon high school, gay and lesbian students were taunted with homophobic slurs. In the cafeteria, students pelted a transgender student with food.

And when gay and lesbian students got into trouble, the school’s principal assigned a specific punishment just for them: readings from the Bible.

Students detailed those allegations in recent state investigative reports into the North Bend School District, a coastal area about 100 miles north of California. In the reports, gay and lesbian high school students described years of harassment and bigotry from school employees and other students, and a deeply religious culture that silenced their complaints.

The two reports, completed in March by an investigator in the Oregon Department of Education and made public this month, found that top officials in North Bend had for at least the past two school years fostered hostile conditions for gay and lesbian students, hesitated to intervene after reports of sexual harassment and retaliated against a school counselor who had cooperated with the state investigation.

The state found “substantial evidence” of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students at North Bend High School. “The department finds that discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation may have occurred,” the investigator wrote.

In schools across the country, L.G.B.T. students are more likely to be bullied and suffer depression than their straight peers, studies have found. It is no different in Oregon, gay and lesbian activists said, despite the perception of the state, and particularly places like Portland, as a progressive paradise.

In the state reports, the district denied that students had been mistreated and said that when they had reported cases of harassment, it resolved them promptly and appropriately.

School officials initially denied that students were required to read the Bible as punishment. But they later told investigators it was true, adding that they handed down the punishment not to promote a religion but “to assist students in understanding the effects of certain behaviors.”

The state ordered North Bend in March to settle with a pair of female students whose complaints to the State Department of Education led to the investigation. But no deal was reached, so the state has scheduled a hearing on May 24 with both sides to help mediate a resolution.

North Bend’s superintendent, Bill Yester, said Wednesday that the district disputes many of the state’s findings and will present its evidence at the hearing. He said the Bible was used as punishment only once.

by Matthew Haag, New York Times, May 17, 2018

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How Same-Sex Couples Divide Chores, and What It Shows About Modern Parenting

When gay and lesbian couples have children, they often begin to divide chores as heterosexual couples do.

When straight couples divide up the chores of daily life — who cooks dinner and who mows the lawn, who schedules the children’s activities and who takes out the trash — the duties are often determined by gender.

Same-sex couples, research has consistently found, divide up chores more equally.divide chores

But recent research has uncovered a twist. When gay and lesbian couples have children, they often begin to divide things as heterosexual couples do, according to new data for larger, more representative samples of the gay population. Though the couples are still more equitable, one partner often has higher earnings, and one a greater share of household chores and child care. It shows these roles are not just about gender: Work and much of society are still built for single-earner families.

“Once you have children, it starts to almost pressure the couple into this kind of division of labor, and we’re seeing this now even in same-sex couples,” said Robert-Jay Green, professor emeritus at the California School of Professional Psychology in San Francisco. “Circumstances conspire on every level to get you to fall back in this traditional role.”

Such circumstances include employers who expect round-the-clock availability, and the absence of paid parental leave and public preschool. It’s also smaller things, like pediatricians, teachers or grandparents who assume that one parent is the primary one.

“For, me, the choice to stay home seems easier than us both working and both stressing about who’s going to do what,” said Sarah Pruis, who is raising five children with her wife, who works full time, in Cheyenne, Wyo. “That just seems impossible.”

Gary Becker, the Nobel-winning economist, proposed a theory that marriage was about efficiency: Husbands specialized in earning and wives in homemaking and child rearing. But in recent decades, as women have gained reproductive rights and a foothold in the labor force, marriage has become more about companionship.

Yet women married to men — even when they work and earn as much as or more than their husbands — still do more domestic work, and social scientists have found that the duties are gendered. Feminine chores are mainly indoor and done frequently: cooking, cleaning, laundry and child care. Masculine chores are mostly outdoor and less frequent: taking out the trash, mowing the lawn or washing the car.

by Claire Cane Miller, New York Times, May 16, 2018

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Why we need to break the silence around domestic violence in LGBTQ families

In seventh-grade health class we watched a movie about alcoholic parents.

It was the first time I saw anything that resembled my family in a movie — the same yelling, crying and sporadic violence — except my parents never drank. I knew something was terribly wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. It would be three more years before I’d learn that the problems in my family resulted from mental illness. My mother’s partner had bipolar disorder.lgbt domestic violence

There was no health-class movie about bipolar parents, no helpline to call back in the 1980s. Even if there were one, I couldn’t have called it. My family was in the closet — my mother was a lesbian, and if people found out, she or her partner could lose their jobs. If they lost their jobs, we’d lose the house, and my biological father would have a very large weapon if he decided to fight for custody. There was another layer to the problem, too. There were so few visible lesbian families that I knew that confessing my family problems would reflect negatively on the whole queer community, people who were constantly struggling to be seen as equal to their heterosexual counterparts.

As a child of lesbian parents, I felt like I needed to be normal, well adjusted and heterosexual. My parents told me that many people thought gay people were perverts who wanted to hurt children or turn them gay. I understood that it was imperative not to throw my family like chum into the shark-infested water; doing so would be risky not only for our family but for all other queer families.

When I talk about the problems in my family, some people — usually heterosexual ones — are quick to point out that it’s important for me to clarify that not all lesbian families are like mine. But this should be a given. If a friend has a bipolar or alcoholic father, I don’t assume that all heterosexual men are alcoholics or suffer from mental illness. One family should never be singled out as a representative of their entire culture, but with so few visible gay families, it’s hard not to be treated as a voice for the movement.

by Lara Lillibridge, The Washington Post, May 8, 2018

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Unsung Heroes: Surrogate Mothers to Same-Sex Couples

Let’s give a nod to the surrogate mothers who simultaneously help queer people start families and move the needle on tolerance.

I loved my small-town upbringing, but even in that somewhat sheltered environment I always had a curiosity about other places, other people, and other experiences. Now as a gay fertility doctor often working with LGBT people to build their families, it’s rewarding to see the effect this LGBT family-building is having on changing the perspective about our community in small towns across the country.

Much of that change comes from an unlikely place.surrogacy

What I have learned in my work is that everyone involved in gay family-building becomes an ambassador for change. The gay parents, their family, and their child all open hearts and minds simply by living their lives.

Yet some of the most powerful agents of change are the surrogate mothers who spend nine months openly dedicated to helping people have children.

A large percentage of the surrogates I work with live in small towns across America. They often live in conservative areas that offer little interaction with LGBT people outside of whatever passes across their TV screens. Whether the hopeful parents I’m working with are gay, straight, bi — same-sex or opposite-sex couples — we rely on the willingness of women across the country to carry the babies of people who can’t otherwise have children.

I’ve found incredible enthusiasm from so many women when they learn the child they would be carrying is for a gay couple. Their dedication to helping other people build their dream family does not know prejudice. These women are a backbone of LGBT family-building, and their love has no bounds.

Yet their role in our movement extends beyond carrying the child for an LGBT person or same-sex couple. These women bring incredible pride to the service they provide others. They bring that message to their families, their friends and their local communities.

Even in those conservative small towns across America, they bring their pride in helping LGBT people have children.

Walking in the grocery store in their seventh and eighth month, people stop them to ask about the baby. At a friend’s house for dinner, they explain why they won’t be having any wine and a conversation about gay parents ensues. Their own husband and kids have to adjust a bit as mom’s lifestyle shifts for the baby she’s carrying.

The women I work with don’t hide from anyone the fact that it’s a trans woman or a gay couple whose baby she’s carrying.

I hear from the surrogates about these exchanges. They find it’s an opportunity to open people’s hearts and minds, often people who’ve never known an LGBT person.

by Dr. Guy Ringler, Advocate.com – May 11, 2018

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LGBT Couples Could be Denied Adoption on Religious Grounds in Kansas and Oklahoma

Lawmakers in Republican-controlled legislatures in Oklahoma and Kansas approved bills granting legal protection to faith-based agencies that refuse adoptions to LGBT families on religious grounds.adoption ban

Supporters of the legislation believe that the new regulations will help address the need for foster families by attracting more adoption agencies to their state and protect religious liberties. Critics such as the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign (HRC) believe the laws give “license to discriminate.”  

In Oklahoma, bill SB 1140 was approved by the House of Representatives in a 56-21 vote on Thursday without discussion or debate, Reuters reported. The abrupt move was vocally opposed by Democrat lawmakers.

“The abomination of process & justice in the OK House of Reps makes me weep for democracy,” Representative Cory Williams, a vocal critic of the bill which he described as “homophobic and bigot,” wrote on Twitter about the vote.

Newsweek.com by Sofia Lotto Persio, May 4, 2018

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Colorado Anti-LGBTQ Adoption Bill Fails in Senate

This morning, the Colorado Senate considered a bill that would not only endanger children, but would allow adoption and foster care agencies to turn away any potential parent or family from providing a loving home to a child, simply because that parent or family doesn’t meet their religious requirements.

When debated before the full Senate, Senate Bill 241 failed on 2nd reading by a voice vote. Senator Kevin Lundberg, sponsor of the bill and perennial proponent of anti-LGBTQ measures, pushed an amendment to revive the bill. But all members of the Colorado Senate Democratic Caucus, and Senators Cheri Jahn, Don Coram, and Beth Martinez Humenik voted no, ensuring the bill’s defeat by a vote of 19-16.colorado anti-gay

Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families, released the following statement on the bill’s defeat:

“I commend the State Senators who came together to vote down this harmful and mean-spirited legislation. After seeing a very similar bill just pass in Oklahoma, I am pleased to see that a bipartisan group of Senators united to defeat this bill, sending a clear signal that hateful legislation like this has no place in Colorado.”

May 1, 2018 – one-colorado.org

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