Archive for October, 2008

CA Corporations Step Up To Say NO to Proposition 8

October 23, 2008

California-based mega-companies are uncharacteristically coming forth to speak out on a political issue.

Yesterday Apple publically came out against Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative to reverse the state’s recent legalization of gay marriage by amending the state constitution.

Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.

In September Google did the same, stating

…while there are many objections to this proposition — further government encroachment on personal lives, ambiguously written text — it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. While we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 — we should not eliminate anyone’s fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love.

For more information visit No On Prop 8. For some outrageous/head-shaking/hilarious propaganda (depending on your viewpoint and/or mood), check out the interview of

“Robb and Robin Wirthlin, the Massachusetts parents who courageously decided to fight the system after teachers began teaching second graders about gay marriage in public schools.”

at ProptectMarriage.com. Because as everyone knows, “protection of marriage” is all about protecting the poor little children! Seriously, God-fearing Robb can barely choke out the words “homosexual” and “gay.” He pauses then practically whispers them. What’s wrong with these people?

Helping Individuals is Good, Changing Society is Better – On Chicago’s Proposed Gay-Friendly High School

October 13, 2008

NPR just did a piece on the Social Justice High School Pride Campus – a proposed high school specifically for LGBT & allied students in Chicago. The website explains its objective as, in part:

The Greater Lawndale Little Village School for Social Justice believes that, to further the mission and vision of the school, it should replicate the successful components of the Social Justice High School and create a new high school campus to address the needs of the underserved population of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth and their allies (LGBTQA youth). Research shows that there are low attendance rates and high drop-out rates among LGBTQA youth, and they struggle with harassment, depression, poor academic achievement, and suicide. Our goal is to provide a school with a safe, affirming, and supportive environment where every student — particularly LGBTQA youth — would develop the knowledge and skills needed to create better lives for themselves and their families and to succeed in their post-secondary pursuits.

My problem with this is that we should be working to make all schools “safe, affirming, and supportive environment(s) where every student…would develop the knowledge and skills needed to create better lives for themselves.” Why is bullying and harassment against LGBT (and questioning youth and allies…) accepted as so inevitable that the best recourse is to remove kids from “mixed” schools? “Separate but equal” springs to mind, although I realize no one would be forced to attend Pride Campus.

The idea of a temporary “safe haven” just doesn’t make sense to me. We obviously still live in a world where these teenagers are treated with intolerance and bigotry – so how are we best serving them by sheltering them from this conflict, when upon graduation they will only be returned to it?

Efforts should be directed at the climate of hatred and intolerance that prevents these schools from being safe and supportive for everyone. If you have a certain population that skips classes and drops out because of the aggression of another population – the answer cannot be to reward that aggression by removing the persecuted kids from the school!

A message needs to be sent that the problem is NOT LGBT teenagers, but the bullies who abuse them. If the very people in the public school system who support LGBT teens won’t hold the student aggressors accountable, who will?

CNN reports a study released Wednesday by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN):

The national study, which the group says is the most comprehensive report ever on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students nationwide, found that 86.2 percent of those students reported being verbally harassed, 44.1 percent physically harassed and 22.1 percent physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.

Hey kids! Adults! LGBT’s are a part of your community – YOU, whoever you are. So take the stick out of your ass and get used to it! What are we still in the days of Brown v The Board of Education?

Instead of segregation, I’d rather see heightened awareness and support programs along with higher discipline for harassers. I’d rather see a community, a school system that says “We don’t accept this behavior. We don’t want our children mired in the hatred of an entire group of people. This is NOT okay!”

New York City expanded its partnership with GLSEN last month in a training initiative called “Respect for All.” According to press release on GLSEN’s site:

Having already trained more than 1,000 New York City educators, the Respect for All Initiative will now include additional interventions to reduce bullying and harassment of students in city schools. The program began last school year training school staff to identify and address bias-related bullying and harassment, including bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

New components of this year’s program include the designation of a Respect for All liaison in every school and the school-wide distribution and posting of Respect for All materials, mandatory incident reporting and a requirement that every principal have a plan for the full implementation of the Chancellor’s Regulation and the Respect for All initiative.

A liasion is a fantastic idea – especially since students aren’t the only ones that mishandle themselves when it comes to the treatment of and attitudes toward LGBT’s.

This is a hard issue. If I was a LGBT high schooler afraid to attend classes, I’d be pretty happy about the Pride Campus. But as someone who expects more from society, I just can’t help but see it as a step backward.

Then again, there’s the Harvey Milk School in Manhattan (named for New York native and California’s first openly gay politician), which admits only LGBT teens who are at risk of dropping out. Their graduation rate is 95%, much higher than the state average of 58% (in 2003). More striking is the fact that the majority of HMHS students are black or Latino, and graduation rates for this demographic average 35.5% in New York State. Whatever else I feel about the concept of separate schools as a solution, HMHS takes near high-school drop outs poised to fall through the cracks and helps them transform into 60%+ college students!

I think my reaction comes down to this – I appreciate that these teenagers are being given a resource that will help them live the kind of lives they deserve, but I don’t like the fact that it’s being done in a way that allows a hate-filled segment of society to carry on as usual. Helping individuals is good, changing a society is better.

“Compassionate Conservative or Dangerous Kook?” Wasilla Project Seeks the Real Sarah Palin

October 10, 2008

A group of friends in the film industry  ventured up to Wasilla to document resident’s views on Sarah Palin. They describe The Wasilla Project as follows:

When McCain nominated Palin for VP, we were especially intrigued. The stories from the right and the left have flown back and forth furiously and it’s been hard to know what to believe.

So we decided to go to Wasilla to find out for ourselves.

What do the people of Wasilla really believe about Sarah Palin? Who is she? How was she as an executive in Wasilla? Is she a religious fanatic? A competent administrator? A compassionate conservative or a dangerous kook?

By taking a credible, authentic look at the real Wasilla, and the real Sarah Palin, in the first person voices of the people who really know her, we hope to counter the mythical “narrative” with something a lot more nuanced and valuable.

The first short was just released and it dealt with the rape kit controversy.

NOTE: I know nothing about the people involved in the Wasilla Project. They could be interested solely in discrediting Palin and unwilling to document any glowing endorsements they might come across. I don’t know – I’ve only seen the one short. What I do know is that the facts presented in the film can be verified ten times over in the mainstream media – and no where have they been blatantly refuted.

See for yourself:

ANOTHER NOTE: I realize that my blog is beginning to look like a Palin hate-space as of late. I don’t hate Sarah Palin, I just don’t want her holding the second highest position in the country and the possibility of that is something I guess I’ve yet to recover from.

Most of this stuff is being passed by on the election trail, I suppose to keep things from devolving into the tit-for-tat finger pointing of “Reverand Wright!” “Pastor Hagee!” “Reverand Muthy!” (Which candidate’s clergy are the craziest? Um…ALL of them.) But since it doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s minds when discussing who’s voting for whom, I feel compelled to talk about it here. I assume the people behind the Wasilla Project had a similar motivation.

READ THIS: “How to Rig an Election” by Allen Raymond

October 3, 2008

I thought I was observant, informed, and cynical enough to recognize the reality of behind-the-scenes electoral politics. I was wrong. So I was savvy enough to realize that elections are about manipulating public perception, spinning the truth, and using under-handed tactics when deemed neccessary. Reading “How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative” by Allen Raymond showed me I clearly had NO IDEA.

The book is laugh-out-loud funny and, despite his questionable ethics in the years described in the book, Raymond is a likeable guy who, cheating aside, you somehow want to win. I found myself morally repulsed yet endlessly fascinated. What would he do next?

You might remember the New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal in 2002. That stunt caused higher-ups involed to summarily throw him under the bus and earned Raymond federal jail time, although phone jamming seems down-right banal (and bi-partisan, by the way) in the world Raymond describes.

Read this book and you’ll never look at a campaign ad or operative talking point the same way again.

“Women voting for McCain-Palin is like chickens voting for Col. Sanders”: Richards on Palin and Women’s Rights

October 3, 2008

At Huffington Post, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has some cutting questions for Govenor Palin about her stance on reproductive rights and her comprehension of birth control methods.

Her answers on reproductive health issues, such as criminalizing abortion, exceptions for rape and incest, and what exactly the morning-after pill is, were a rambling mix of contradictions and platitudes, much like her answers about Russia bordering Alaska, the bailout, health care, and the economy.

The post is brief, but worth checking out.