Thursday, March 18, 2010

Queer News-Nepal Wants You, Gay Seniors Get Dollars, GBLTQ Chileans Feel The Damage, Gays Get Excluded Again, The EC Does It One More time

Pink Everest: Nepal Appeals For Gay Tourists

Nepal wants you! Well, they want your money. Nepal is still considered a fairly conservative Hindu nation, but they are willing to put that aside if you want to visit. They badly need a piece of the multibillion-dollar gay tourist market because they believe it may help pull the nation out of poverty. So they have launched an international campaign to draw GLBT travelers to destinations in Nepal. Pretty amazing for a place, that just a few years ago,  had police beating GLBT folks in the streets. Now, the issue of gay rights is almost not an issue at all. With many terribly progressive measures being singed into law, some of them focused on GLBT citizens, and with further expansion encountering little opposition, it is obvious Nepal is set to make lasting change for GLBT people.

Government Funds GLBT Senior Resource Center

Tuesday, the White House announced in February that it will issue a three-year, $900,000 contract to a coalition of GLBT senior organizations, including Boston’s LGBT Aging Project. This will be the first federally funded national resource center devoted to providing support and education for GLBT elders. 
The Center will be responsible for educating mainstream service organizations about the existence and unique needs of the GLBT elder community; it will  educate GLBT organizations about the existence of gay, lesbian bisexual, and transgender senior citizens, and it will also educate the GLBT community about planning ahead for future care needs as they age. I's say that's a plan for our future.

"We are delighted to be part of this groundbreaking collaboration," Lisa Krinsky, director of the LGBT Aging Project, said. "We are so pleased that the Administration on Aging has recognized LGBT older adults and caregivers. We look forward to working with our colleagues across the country to create this first-ever national Resource Center for LGBT elders."

Chilean LGBT Infrastructure Damaged By Earthquake

Reports are now coming in on how much the infrastructure for GLBT citizens in Chile has been disrupted since the earthquake. Chile’s forefront gay rights group, Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement), just released preliminary findings on earthquake damage to the GLBTQ community infrastructure in Chile. The homes of many Chilean GLBTQ activists are in poor condition and many other activists are still missing. The Frida Kahlo Lesbian Cultural Center was completely destroyed and the command center of the Chilean AIDS Prevention Corporation and ACCIONGAY in Valparaíso was heavily damaged and is "ready to fall down." South of Santiago, in Paine, the gay pub Vunker "was rendered completely uninhabitable." "The most serious problem we are facing is that various activists have lost their relatives and friends," MOVILH said.

Report Questions Excluding Gays fFom Some Studies

It looks like some people still just want GLBTQ people to not be seen, not be heard, and not be counted. Three scientists, from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, in a letter in the New England Journal of Medicine, have pointed to several dozen studies which require participants to be "in a reciprocal relationship with a person of the opposite sex." Now, there are lots of studies that should be exclusive, for scientific reasons, but the three scientists found restrictive studies on a drug for attention-deficit disorder, a treatment for those erection problems after cancer surgery, studies on sexual function in persons who have diabetes, depression sufferers, and benign enlargement of the prostate gland as men get older. None sound like they need a cloistered sample to be scientifically sound. One reason for this bias is that when a researcher seeks federal funds for their work, they must disclose why a study excludes a group based on gender, race or ethnicity. But guess what, we don't have that protection. No explanation is needed for exclusion based on sexual orientation. This cycle gets further perpetuated when future studies include participation criteria from earlier trials on a similar subject. It si a subtle form of discrimination, but it is still discrimination. 

Episcopal Church Approves 2nd Gay Bishop

The Episcopal Church, further expressing its' support of GLBT folk, has approved the election of a lesbian assistant bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Rev. Mary Glasspool of Baltimore is now the second openly gay bishop in the Anglican global fellowship, diocese officials said Wednesday. She is taking a lot of heat for her confirmation and having to endure some pretty ugly verbal abuse from conservatives, but said this in a printed statement, "I am ... aware that not everyone rejoices in this election and consent, and will work, pray and continue to extend my own hands and heart to bridge those gaps, and strengthen the bonds of affection among all people, in the name of Jesus Christ." Glasspool has a partner, who she met while working in Massachusetts. The two have been together since 1988. I'd say a celebration is in order!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Texas Textbook Massacre And My Thoughts On The Subject

Information to be included in textbooks, around the nation, comes from two sources right now, California and Texas. Recently, Texas began its' debate about what education information should be included, deleted, and altered in Texas textbooks for the coming years. Each time this debate emerges, in Texas, it is always heated and generally the decisions have a conservative leaning, as you might expect. Decidedly, this time the majority of the board over seeing this task was ultra-conservative, and though I respect their right to a differing opinion, I am disgusted by most of the changes, deletions, and additions to the information that will inevitably make its way into classrooms all over the nation.

The linked articles cover many of the gross changes made by the board. Follow them to get more information about the changes, than I will provide here.The first change that makes no sense is revising history to include more coverage of  ultra-conservative ideology, without an equal balancing effort to also cover ultra-liberal ideology.  The board decided to take Thomas Jefferson out of the world history standards on Enlightenment thinking. The board thinks a religious icon, John Calvin, is a better person to cover, than one of our nation's founding fathers. They would choose a religious figure over a founding father; I think it is pretty clear where this is going and how destructive this line of thinking could be. They also included provisions to make sure that students learn about the conservative movement of the 1980s and 1990s. Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the National Rifle Association will all have coverage in Texas textbooks, and President Ronald Reagan will have greater prominence than he now has. The Dallas Morning News stated that high school students will learn about leading conservative groups from the 80s and 90s, but not about liberal or minority rights groups. I don't fear those inclusions, however I do bemoan the exclusions of progressive figures.

The second glaring change can be sumed up in what board memebr Davis Bradley said at the meeting.  He said, "Teachers in Texas will be required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state. I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state.” He says this simply isn't in the constitution. He may think so, but that is irrelevant. The courts have said repeatedly that it does exist. David Bradley has every right to think what he wants to, but the courts have found that there is a separation of church and state. If I have to deal with corporations being treated as individuals(as the high court recently ruled), David Bradley is going to have to deal with the separation of church and state.

The third unforgivable change has to do with equality. Anyone reading this blog knows how much that ideal means to me, and the board's decisions show just how much they hope equality never exists. The Board refused to require that students in classrooms learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others, they decided hip-hop was an irrelevant cultural phenomenon, they deleted a requirement that students "explain how institutional racism is evident in American society,"  they would not allow any additions of Hispanics of importance to textbooks, including Tejanos at the Alamo and the additon of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and finally they pushed through an amendment heralding "American exceptionalism." When you exclude members of our society, most importantly minorities, dismiss their contributions, and minimize their historical significance, you do great harm to the body, mind, and soul of our nation and our world.

The last change I want to cover is extremely hurtful because it is an open attack on the GLBTQ community and sexual progressives throughout the nation."Board member Barbara Cargill, objected to a standard for a high school sociology courses that addressed the difference between sex and gender. It was eliminated on a 9-to-6 vote. Absolutely scandalous isn't it? She was concerned that a discussion of that issue would lead students to think about "transvestites, transsexuals, and who knows what else.'" Though that statement and the elimination of the standard seem tame, they expose the systemic hatred of sexual progressives and blind sexual bigotry that afflicts Barbara Cargill and this nation as a whole.

Education is about learning as much as you can, from as many different sources as possible, and eventually coming to you own determination about a subject. The exploration of history, math, literature, science, art, music, etc. should be broad, far reaching, and mind expanding. That expedition is supposed to build  a person not imprison them. To be a strong nation and a strong world, we cannot afford to be like the Upsons from Auntie Mame, dry, vain, restricted people, who are Aryans, from Darien, with braces on our brains. But it seems in Texas there are many who want not only Texas to check their hearts and minds at the schoolhouse door, but they would like to see the national soul molded from lies and omissions with a hollow center filled with nothing but hatred, bigotry, and tattered, outmoded cliches and incomplete information. Turning our backs on education is turning our backs on our future.

UK Government Rebuked- 'Bedtime Stories' On Climate Change Cause A Stir

Leave it to the Brits to run a series of awareness ads, that make people think, by hitting them where it hurts the most, their kids. Bedtime stories are naturally scary, so this ad makes perfect sense. I absolutely loved it. We wrote the beginning of the story, our kids will have to finish it, and we should be prepared to give them truthful answers. That's honest.

Vertical Farms: The Future Of Sustainable Farming?

Take a look at some of the concept designs for vertical farming on the table right now. Vertical farming is one of the ways we may be able to meet future food demands, more efficiently distribute food in dense population centers, and retrofit cities to be sustainable entities.