gay rights

gay rights

How to Come Out to Your Parents

scrabble board with "Dear Mom"One of my friends recently told his parents that he is gay and has been in a same-sex relationship for the past year. His parents are very conservative and were less than thrilled to learn this information about their son. At first, there was a big fight and my friend stormed out of his parents house. However, he recently had another discussion with his family and things went much more smoothly.

Coming out to family and friends is a really important step for homosexuals, but it can also be very difficult. Things usually go one of two ways: your friends and family react positively and accept you, or they react the way my friend’s parents did. Of course you hope that the important people in your life will accept you, no matter what, but that is not always the case. However, there are some steps teens and young adults can take to ensuring that when they do come out to their parents, it will go smoothly and not end up causing World War III.

1. Pick a good time. It’s not a good idea to come out to your friends or family when either you or they are stressed, frustrated, or upset about something else. For example, you should never come out during an argument or in order to hurt the person you are telling. Instead, wait for a time when you can sit down together and calmly discuss the matter. You might even want to tell them ahead of time that you have something important that you need to tell them and ask that they prepare themselves for the conversation.

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University of Iowa Plans to Establish First Gay Fraternity on Campus

university of iowa logoThe University of Iowa has been working hard to establish a progressive attitude on its campus towards gays and it seems only logical that one step in the process would be to create a gay fraternity. So, that’s exactly what the school is considering doing.

“Current Greeks have talked about it and supportive,” said Kelly Jo Karnes, associate director of the university’s Center for Student Involvement & Leadership. “We have been feeling out other students who might be interested, and they have been really excited about the idea.”

Although the fraternity will not have a house on campus, it will serve as a way for gays on campus to get to know each other and form friendships in a niche community.

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Elmhurst College First to Ask Incoming Students’ Sexual Orientation

Elmhurst College is your typical Midwestern college. Affiliated with the United Church of Christ, the school has more than 100 student organizations on campus, including Greek organizations, honor societies, and religious organizations. However, Elmhurst College recently did something that makes it unique and different from every other college in the USA: it began asking incoming students about their sexual orientation.

The school started putting the optional question on its college application: “Would you consider yourself a member of the LGBT community?” The school is doing this in order to achieve its “diversity goals.”

“We took this step in an effort to better serve each of our students as a unique person,” said S. Alan Ray, the president of the school. “It also allows us to live out our commitments to cultural diversity, social justice, mutual respect among all persons, and the dignity of every individual. These are among the core values of this institution. They provide the foundation for all our academic, student and community programs.”

The school’s Dean of Admission, Gary Rold, also feels that this is a step in the right direction of making students feel more comfortable and accepted on the school’s campus.

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Minnesota Schools are Investigated After Seven Students Commit Suicide

A public school district in Minnesota is being investigated by federal authorities due to “allegations of harassment and discrimination in the Anoka-Hennepin School District based on sex, including peer-on-peer harassment based on not conforming to gender stereotypes.” This investigation will delve into a serious issue that is facing many students today: bullying. Specifically, it came about after seven students from this school district committed suicide in less than two years after they were possibly bullied about their sexual orientation.

In 2009, the Anoka-Hennepin adopted a controversial policy that says the staff must “remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation” because “such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches or community organizations.” Supporters of the investigation claim that this policy prevents teachers from stopping bullies from attacking students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or have another form of sexual identity.

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Gay Education Becomes Mandatory in California Schools

Although California was not the first state to legalize gay marriage in the USA, it will be the first to require gay history in its public schools as part of the social studies curriculum.

On July 14, 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will require schools to include the contributions of American gays and lesbians in their instruction and textbooks. Schools must start implementing this new change in curriculum in their schools by January 2012; however, textbooks probably will not be updated for several years.

“This is definitely a step forward,” said Mark Leno, an openly gay state senator from California. “I’m hopeful that other states will follow. We are failing our students when we don’t teach them about the broad diversity of human experience.”

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Yale and Columbia Reinstate the Navy R.O.T.C. Program

For decades, there has not been any type of military presence on Yale University‘s campus. R.O.T.C programs across the country were kicked off college campuses during the Vietnam War, when students protested against the war. However, more recently, these programs have been kept off campuses at many schools due, in a large part, to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuality, which many students disapproved of. This policy was recently overturned, and now, Yale officials have signed an agreement with the Navy to reinstate a R.O.T.C program at the school, starting in the Fall 2012 semester.

The idea to reinstate a R.O.T.C program began last fall, when a student survey found that a majority of Yale students were in favor of renewing the relationship between the Navy R.O.T.C program and the school. A vote by Yale’s faculty in early May sealed the deal, allowing R.O.T.C to become a part of campus life again.

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Lesbian Cadet Rejected for Readmission to West Point

Cadet Katherine Miller

Cadet Katherine Miller

A lesbian cadet resigned last year from West Point due to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, a law that bans openly gay soldiers from serving in the military. Katherine Miller, 21, who ranked ninth in her class, applied again to the military school, but sadly, even after the law was repealed, was denied readmission.

“While the don’t ask, don’t tell policy was recently changed and will be repealed, the effective date has not yet been determined,” Lt. Col. Sherri Reed, the academy’s director of public affairs, said in a statement. “Due to this situation, West Point is unable to offer her readmission at this time.”

Though Miller’s admission is currently being denied, Reed said that she will be able to be readmitted, but it will take some time.

“While at the academy Ms. Miller remained in good standing and had done exceptionally well academically, militarily and physically,” she said. “The choice to seek readmission is available to her once the repeal process is completed.”

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White House Holds Anti-Bullying Conference

President and First Lady Obama posted a video on Facebook this week to discuss issues of bullying in schools. The message addresses the responsibility of students, parents and teachers to discourage bullying and promotes the anti-bullying conference that will take place at the White House on March 10, 2011.

The conference will include experts from around the country with experience in anti-bullying strategies. Students, parents and teachers will also be included in the event. Discussions concentrating on signs of bullying, outcomes of bullying and prevention of bullying will take place. This conference will be made available to be watched live on stopbullying.gov from 10:30am to 3:30pm EST, and at home viewers are encouraged to participate in the conversation.

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Hope College Accepts Gay Students, but Not Gay Groups

Hope College is a private school that is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America. The school prides itself on its religious heritage and has had a long-stranding opposition to homosexuality. However, on February 1, 2011, the school announced plans to lift its ban on the study and discussion of homosexuality. Hope College will still not support any groups that support gay rights and issues.

The change of policy came about because of pressure from Hope alumni. The alumni asked the school to reconsider the original policy, which did not condone homosexual acts nor would it provide financial support for homosexual groups or groups that support homosexual acts.

The alumni decided to take action when Hope administrators refused to allow Dustin Lance Black, an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, to show his film “Milk” on campus because the main character is gay man. The alumni created a group called “Hope is Ready,” which is “dedicated to full inclusion and open dialogue on Hope’s campus.”

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Lesbian Couple Overcomes Obstacles to Walk in School Assembly

It’s the Snow Days Pep Fest at Champlin Park High School, located in a suburb of Minneapolis. The energy levels are sky-high and everyone is excited to see which couple of the royalty court will be crowned. One of the couples in particular is highly excited about being named as royalty. Their names: Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton.

The lesbian couple were celebrating a victory as they walked into the pep rally. Earlier that week, a school policy had been changed in order to prevent them from walking into the assembly together, as a couple. Instead, all court members would be required to walk into the assembly alone or with a parent or favorite teacher.

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