Ladies Home Journal on anti-gay bullying

The 9th largest monthly magazine, Ladies Home Journal, has an article out on newstands today which addresses anti-gay bullying. The article by Kenneth Miller is titled, “Gay Teens Bullied to the Point of Suicide” but covers the entire topic of anti-gay bias and religious tolerance. The subtitle, “It’s a shocking trend. Isn’t it time for all of us to encourage compassion and respect, no matter how we feel about homosexuality?” captures the tone of the piece aimed at the moderate to conservative readership of LHJ. I think Miller and the LHJ staff did a nice job of bringing in a variety of voices to urge a united voice against anti-gay bias and bullying. Full disclosure: I am a bit biased since I have a couple of quotes in the piece. The article sets the stage by calling out the extreme rhetoric used by some social conservatives:

“Despite recent cultural shifts, kids still get the overwhelming message from society that homosexuality is not acceptable,” says Scott Quasha, PsyD, a professor of school psychology at Brooklyn College. It’s not uncommon to hear fierce condemnation from politicians and preachers as they debate gay civil rights. Homosexuality is compared to incest, bestiality, even violent crime. “This trickles down into the schools, where bullying occurs,” says Dr. Quasha. “A gay child is an easy target for classmates looking to make trouble.”

Antigay bullying is something all parents should be concerned about, says Merle Bennett Buzzelli, who oversees the public school antiviolence program in Akron, Ohio. “The victims are not just students who are actually gay,” she points out — the abuse is also directed at straight kids who don’t quite fit gender norms. Tomboyish girls and guys who show interest in, say, gymnastics or dance are often called the same names — and subjected to the same ostracism and attacks — as their gay and lesbian classmates. There’s no evidence that Billy Lucas was gay, but he was “different,” classmates said. Because of that, bullies called him “fag” and told him he didn’t deserve to live. Of course, for kids who do experience same-sex attraction, the use of the word gay as an all-purpose put-down is just one more painful indication that they don’t fit in, whether or not they look or act any different from their peers, says Dr. Quasha.

Dr. Quasha is making a simple but effective case for the disruptive nature of stereotype threat. Stereotype threat, in this context, refers to the fear of being considered gay by others, usually more socially powerful peers. Stereotypes about gays are consistently negative among young teens, often held as a global, diffuse negative attitude.

I am not sure about this, but I think stereotype threat operates in two broad ways. For students who are sure or pretty sure they are gay, the threat is that the social group will believe or assume every negative stereotype about gay people. For non-gay or unsure teens, I think the threat is that they will be considered gay and that such assessments are negative. Hopefully, a school environment tolerant of differences and intolerant of harassment will make improve life for both categories of students.

The article considers people who hold all shades of beliefs regarding homosexuality with a money quote from Dr. Caitlin Ryan:

After almost a decade of research on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens, Dr. Ryan’s group has found a clear pattern: The more supportive the parents and family, the better kids do over the long run. “That doesn’t necessarily mean changing your deeply held beliefs,” Dr. Ryan explains. “It means finding a way to balance those beliefs with the love you have for your child.”

Parents are called on to seek that balance all the time. Children do all kinds of things parents do not like or approve of but the role of parent involves providing love and direction. These values have to be balanced and carefully woven into an attachment that is like no other.

Ryan continues:

Even parents who can’t be fully accepting can find ways to be supportive. “You can say, ‘I think this is wrong but I love you and I’m going to be here for you,'” Dr. Ryan suggests. “Be willing to listen. Give your child a hug.”

This advice won’t please everyone but seems a reasonable compromise. In some cases, the agree to disagree approach leads to mutual respect and the maintenance of a solid attachment. In other cases, as noted in this article, parents become more accepting, even supportive.

I appreciate that the author reached out for comment from people of various faiths, in order to highlight the value of mutual respect and tolerance.

We all need to speak more carefully, says Father Mike Tegeder, pastor of the Church of St. Edward in Bloomington, Minnesota. “The Catholic Church teaches that each person has dignity, whatever their race or gender or sexual orientation,” he says. “We don’t need to agree with one another, but we have to respect one another’s dignity as children of God.”

And many religious groups agree. Exodus International, a conservative Christian organization that had previously encouraged kids to speak out against homosexuality, changed direction after the recent string of suicides, deciding to advocate “biblical tolerance and grace” instead of confrontation. For Warren Throckmorton, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College, a Christian school in Pennsylvania, the group’s reversal was an obvious choice. “It seems to me that Christians should be first in line in saying that everyone should be treated the way you yourself want to be treated,” says Dr. Throckmorton, a traditional evangelical who recently developed The Golden Rule Pledge, a program specifically designed to help conservative churches prevent antigay bullying.

The article provides resources for parents and community groups, including the Golden Rule Pledge and provides a clear message that respect for the dignity of all is a virtue about which we all should be able to agree. Let me ask social conservatives who want to criticize this article. What do you have to offer instead? How can the Golden Rule be wrong or inadequate? Do you like to be stereotyped or to be the target of demeaning rhetoric? I assume not, so don’t do it to other people.

UPDATE: Sigh, just after I posted the above, I saw this article in the Christian Post, describing the efforts of “an interfaith coalition” to block the NJ Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. Instead of demonstrating respect during the Week of Respect mandated by the bill, the coalition wants to have their own week, called “Morality Awareness Campaign.” The coalition was also glad to have private religious schools exempted. Watch this and ask yourself if that was such a good idea. Really, watch this…

FBI: Hate Crimes, 2009

I know, all crimes are hate crimes but here is what the FBI reports about the categories of crimes involving bias toward some characteristic of the victim:

Of the 6,598 single-bias incidents, 48.5 percent were motivated by a racial bias, 19.7 percent were motivated by a religious bias, 18.5 percent were motivated by a sexual-orientation bias, and 11.8 percent were motivated by an ethnicity/national origin bias. Bias against a disability accounted for 1.5 percent of single-bias incidents.

Two quick observations – Sadly racism is alive. Also, seems to me that people of faith and sexual minorites have some common ground here.

New Ugandan university publication keeps up war on gays

Tabloids fighting the war on gays is a growth industry in Uganda. I am aware of the Red Pepper, Rolling Stone and the Onion. Now comes a Makerere University publication called the Campus Nail. Published by the same printing house that printed the Rolling Stone (Blue Magic Inc), the Campus Nail has another so-called expose of recruitment on the Makerere University campus. With a big picture of Martin Ssempa and the headline “Homosexuals Recruit 1000 Makerere Students,” the full page article follows the same type of writing found in the Rolling Stone. Click the image to read the article. Thanks to Thomas Muyunga for the image.

 When you click the image, you will read about alleged efforts of a person called “Timothy” to recruit unnamed students into homosexuality.

According to this story, gays are mad and so are getting back by recruiting and sending graduates into the high schools to recruit some more. 

The article quotes “a doctor in Colorado USA” that says that homosexuality is more dangerous than smoking. Paul Cameron’s name is not used but his “studies” are cited to demonstrate that homosexuality cuts 24 years off one’s life. Recently, David Bahati told Canadian radio a similar statistic. I guess we know where the Ugandans are getting their information.

Martin Ssempa, thought by some observers to be mellowing, makes an appearance and gets his anti-gay on in a big way, saying that “The war has just started.” Ssempa, a member of the Oral Roberts University Board of Reference, is representing the university in Uganda as a “renowned anti-gay pastor.” Perhaps that could be listed under his name on the ORU website.

AOL News gets it wrong on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

In what is otherwise a report on a tiny sect from the US in Uganda, the AOL News mischaracterizes the status of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. With the reporting from CNN, etc., it is difficult to see how this reporter missed it.

Jenkins’ view breaks from that of the American Christian evangelicals who arrived in Uganda last year claiming homosexuals were conspiring against the traditional African family. That helped whip up anti-homosexual hysteria in Uganda and led to the drafting of anti-homosexual legislation, which originally called for the death penalty for homosexual offenders.

In May, a government committee determined that Uganda’s anti-gay bill possessed “technical defects in form and content,” and anti-homosexuality fervor has quieted considerably since then.

Not so. To several news outlets as well as here, bill sponsor David Bahati and most recently Minister of Ethics and Integrity Nsaba Buturo both say the bill is on deck for action and still contains the death penalty.

Bryan Fischer makes the RidicuList

The honors continue to roll in.

Bryan Fischer yesterday dug himself in a little deeper with a second effort to explain why the Medal of Honor has gone femme. He just can’t seem to understand what the fuss is about.

The fuss does continue. Opponents of Fischer are using his strange words to put some heat on his allies. Yesterday, Bob VanderPlaats, the pastor who led the charge in Iowa to overturn judges he didn’t like with the help of Bryan Fischer, distanced himself from the AFA spokesman’s comments.

The last night on CNN, John Roberts, sitting in for Anderson Cooper, added Mr. Fischer to the RidicuList. I watched the end of the brief segment where Roberts correctly noted that Guinta and other recent Medal of Honor recipients have indeed inflicted casualties on the enemy, in contrast to the worry of Mr. Fischer. And then he noted Medal recipient Thomas Hudner, Jr, a Korean War vet, who was recognized for his brave attempts to save another pilot.

I wonder what part III will say?

By the way, here is the commentary by Bill McGurn that Fischer keeps referring to. You would not recognize it from Fischer, parts 1 & 2.

UPDATE: I don’t have to wonder about Part 3 anymore; it is out. No matter how many parts, the title of the series says it all. Fischer finds a “disturbing trend” where there is no trend, gives the trend a name – feminization – and then uses it to denigrate the Medal of Honor. When he writes now for the third time, the “Feminization of the Medal of Honor,” he does not mean that as a good thing.

David Bahati on Canadian radio

Listen here…

He is giving a consistent narrative to what he told me last week.

He also told me that China and other countries are watching what they do.

In this interview with the CBC, he said the bill is next up for consideration. I doubt it gets action this week or next however, as they go on recess on Nov. 25.

He also says in this interview that gays reduce their lives by up to 20 years (thanks Paul Cameron and Scott Lively). 

He misleads again on the purpose of the death penalty. The law in 2007 does not specify the sex of the perpetrator and the bill now does not limit the punishments to defilement.

Bahati also quotes the Bible and says he has encouragement from the US and the UK, but they do not want to be quoted.

Here again is the link…

Obama on Medal of Honor winner – “This is what America is about”

Illustrations of grace under fire are hard to come by, but here is one. Most vitally, his heroics on the battle field are medal worthy, but I also admire Salvatore Guinta’s stunning humility and grace as he receives the Medal of Honor. Staff Sgt. Guinta is only 25 (!) Watch and learn:

I hesitate to mention this in a post about a great American but contrast is sometimes a good teacher. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has something to say about the Medal of Honor and as is true to form, it is not good. Fischer says that because Guinta saved lives and didn’t take them in combat, the Medal of Honor has become feminized. First, Guinta did kill an insurgent to free a fellow soldier (watch the clip). Second, why would anyone waste one word trying to diminish the honor of the award and Guinta’s bravery?

I spoofed Fischer in a prior post but I think now he may have become parody-proof.

Usual suspects out in opposition to New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights

New Jersey is very close to passing what may be the most comprehensive bullying prevention law in the nation. In the works, for about a year, the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” would amend current law and establish a “Week of Respect” as well as require districts to keep track of bullying incidents and provide penalties for school staff who ignore bullying. 

Sadly, the New Jersey Family Policy Council has expressed opposition to the bill because it retains a list of characteristics often associated with bullying behaviors. More precisely, New Jersey law prohibits bullying based on sexual orientation. In this Christian Post article, NJFPC staffer and PFOX board member Greg Quinlan elaborates:

Greg Quinlan of family advocacy group New Jersey Family Policy Council praised the effort, proclaiming, “We need to put a culture of dignity and respect in schools.”

But he lamented that the bill has some holes that may limit its effectiveness. Quinlan, a director of government affairs for NJFPC’s legislative arm, Family First, said the bill is “segregated” to prevent and treat bullying of particular groups.

The bill enumerates classifications such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, gender identity and expression as it relates to homosexuality, and mental, physical and sensory disability as characteristics that generally cause bullying, harassment and/ or intimidation.

Quinlan pointed out, “Obesity is not on the list. Ex-gays like myself are not on the list.”

He stressed that “bullying is bullying” and all forms of bullying should be recognized in the bill language.

Staff of the bill sponsors pointed out that the detailed list of bullied characteristics is simply stated as examples. The bill also carries catch all language which includes “any other distinguishing characteristics.”

Nevertheless, Quinlan is worried that the bill will censure teachers and students from exercising their first amendment rights to express their beliefs for fear that it may lead to disciplinary action. He noted that a teacher who might say, “There is no gay gene,” may be written up as a expressing a bullying comment. Also, expressions of faith may be construed as excluding or berating other faiths.

You can read the bill here (A-3466). The list of characteristics are reproduced below. Note that the discrepancy between the list in NJ law and what Quinlan describes in the article. Homosexuality is not mentioned anywhere in law or A-3466. Bracketed words will not be kept in law; underlined words are what is added by A-3466.

“Harassment, intimidation or bullying” means any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory [handicap] disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic, that takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function or on a school bus and that:

a. a reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, will have the effect of physically or emotionally harming a student or damaging the student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm to his person or damage to his property; [or]

b. has the effect of insulting or demeaning any student or group of students in such a way as to cause [substantial] disruption in, or [substantial] interference with, the orderly operation of the school;

c. creates a hostile environment at school for the student; or

d. infringes on the rights of the student at school.

First, let’s understand that this list is already in NJ law. Second and in contrast to what Quinlan says, all students are covered by this list. On point, obesity would be included in either the section on “physical disability” or via “any other distinguishing characteristic.” Ex-gay is on the list via sexual orientation or even religion, since ex-gay most often means behaviorally resisting same-sex desire for religious reasons. 

I have little sympathy for his concerns over first amendment rights to say “there is no gay gene.” Nothing in this bill removes first amendment rights to say a true thing. Now, if a teacher or staffer says to a student, “there is no gay gene, therefore, you can and should change your sexual orientation,” this would be a different matter. One, such a statement would not be based in fact. Two, it could be imposing a religious view on a student and three, it may indeed create a hostile environment. Therefore such a statement would be met with heightened scrutiny.

It seems to come back to the problem some Christians have when addressing anti-gay bullying — they want to make sure they maintain the right to speak disapproval of homosexuality. That right is not eliminated by this  bill. However, to me, this right is of lesser importance than the need for kids to have a safe place to go to school.

Interview with David Bahati: Ugandan lawmaker defends Rolling Stone outing campaign, says bill will be considered

Last Friday (11/12), I interviewed David Bahati, the Ugandan Parliamentarian who authored the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (a bill that would lead to a death sentence for HIV positive gays, and life in prison for others). During the interview, Mr. Bahati defended the Rolling Stone’s “Hang Them” campaign. He also laid out a schedule for what he believes will be the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. 

I asked Mr. Bahati if he thought the court was correct in their ruling to stop the campaign or if the paper should be allowed to continue.

Well I think if we really had passed this bill, it [the Rolling Stone campaign] would have been very helpful to law enforcement of these people; , it would have been a great source for law enforcement.

I may not agree with every word they wrote, but I think if the group of young people who are concerned about what is happening in their country, that they are concerned by the damage being done by homosexuality in this country. It has been a very underground movement and we have come now and say no, this must have a stop.

Over the past month, the Rolling Stone released photos of suspected gays until a Ugandan court stopped the practice. A Ugandan newspaper, The Observer confirmed one attack on a lesbian couple linked to the outing campaign. The first issue of the campaign carried the title, “Hang Them” referring to the homosexuals named in the paper.

Bahati also claimed that action on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is imminent, saying that the Parliamentary committee responsible for the bill will place it on their agenda before the end of this Parliamentary session.  

“The last time I talked to the chairman,” Bahati said referring to the chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, “what he assured us is that he is going to work on this for sure.” Bahati added that the timing is unclear. “But if it will come up before recess, I am not certain.” The Parliament is slated to recess for nominations on November 25. Bahati told me that there were other bills in committee that would need action before his could be considered.

Contradicting reports that the bill had been shelved, Mr. Bahati sounded confident. “What I know for sure is that the bill will be debated in the lifetime of this Parliament.” Uganda’s Parliamentary session expires on May 20. Bahati added that the people of Uganda and the international community want to see a resolution to the matter, saying

…the people of Uganda want this to get out of the way. The international community would want to see where this is going and we need to stop the promotion of homosexuality in our country…. We need to clear this and start taking actions on some of these things that are taking place.

I asked Mr. Bahati if the gays or suspected gays outed in the Rolling Stone would be arrested when the bill passes. He replied

It depends on the provisions which pass, it depends on the activities, but they will if they are involved in homosexuality, they will. If they are involved in promotion, they will. 

Clearly, anyone who speaks about homosexuality in some other manner besides negatively might be in some difficulty if the AHB passes. One would not need to be gay, or even “involved in homosexuality” to be arrested. Foreign nations might need to open their doors for asylum.

Bahati said that he might be open to a recommendation from the committee to remove the death penalty, but did not want to speculate on other changes, saying

At the stage, before the committee starts its work, cause now the bill is the bill of the house, it is now the document of parliament, as the sponsor of the bill, I will wait for the committee to make some adjustments and then they will be consulting with me to know whether I am comfortalble with what they are suggesting. But I think there is one thing that comes out clearly, There has been an outcry on the punishment of death, that is something that one would be willing to, if there uis an amendment that one would be willing to accept that and move on.

Mr. Bahati sounded a confident tone about the AHB. He expresses strong belief that there is time to get the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee to have public hearings and write a favorable report. He says he has been assured of this by the committee chair. He believes then that the second reading would take place and then as is often the case in the Ugandan parliament, the third reading would take place the same day.

The election season has begun there and the Parliament recesses on November 25. Bahati was not sure when the Parliament would be called back but it is possible that a session could be convened sometime before the February 18 Polling Day. According to Bahati, the schedule is at least somewhat at the discretion of the Speaker. It does seem that there will be time to move it, either now or after the elections.

Those opposed to the bill and concerned about the safety of GLB people as well as health and mental health personnel, missionaries, NGOs, human rights workers need to carefully consider their positions and make their voices heard.

Uganda’s Rolling Stone blames terrorist attacks on gays

Escalating their war on homosexuality, Uganda’s Rolling Stone is blaming the Kampala bombings on gays, as well as making up links to terrorist Joseph Kony in the North. The following images are from the November 15-22 issue out now.

Click on the image on the right to read the Rolling Stone’s claims. As you will see, no sources are offered, no proof is provided. Perhaps in a nod to the recent court ruling in Uganda, the editors said that none of the bombings were carried out by people named in previous issues. That might be the only accruate statement in the entire article. However, a variety of terroristic activities are blamed on gays without any evidence whatsoever.

The article has no author and cites unnamed sources, but claims that the July attacks in Kampala during the World Cup were plotted by “deadly homosexuals living abroad.” The article claims homosexuals are angry that the government won’t respect their rights. The article claims without awareness of the contradiction that the government sent troops to Somali to cover the real story. The tale gets taller when the paper claims that homosexuals from the Middle East paid Somali terror group Al-Shabaab to bomb Kampala due to outrage over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Finally, gays are blamed for funding the Lord’s Resistance Army who have committed atrocities in the North.

This is another disturbing development in a series of such happenings. I will have more to say about this Monday, but I spoke yesterday with the mover of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Hon. David Bahati, and he confirmed to me that he expects the bill to be considered during the lifetime of this parliamentary session. It seems likely that the Rolling Stone’s campaign is designed to increase pressure on the Museveni government, facing a surprisingly strong opposition heading into upcoming elections, to move the Anti-Homosexuality Bill toward passage (e.g., read the Rolling Stone’s editorial).

UPDATE: Boxturtlebulletin also has these images as well as images of one of the other tabloid focused on gays, The Onion. BTB provides one article acknowing that Martin Ssempa has lost support over his support of the AHB.