Teen Given Human Rights Award

Posted in Uncategorized on December 9, 2011 by gmahanna

I read this today about a teenager in Winnipeg, Canada, who was recently given the Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth Award for her work in minimizing homophobia in her Christian school.

Rebekah Enns, 16, created a Gay-Straight alliance at her high school. Enns said that when she came out of the closet, it was hard, but being a religious institution and coming out was, unsurprisingly, difficult. Thats when she decided to create her schools GSA.

“People have always have very set ideas about homosexuality and now I am poking at people’s ideas and making them think twice.”

This was a fantastic award to give this young woman. Especially since this is a Christian high school. I did not go to a religious high school, but McPherson College is part of the Church of the Brethren, so I do get flares of very strong ideals pretty frequently.

The nice thing about McPherson is that the college is pretty liberal in their ideas about homosexuality. But, as many people have realized, Christianity is sometimes not perceived well by the LGBTQ community. Enns GSA club is one small step of many that show that not all Christians have negative attitudes when approached with the LGBTQ lifestyle.

Keep up the great work, Enns!

Elijah and Troy’s Mayor

Posted in Uncategorized on December 9, 2011 by gmahanna

So, I got shown this video today, and it really made me giggle. As I posted before, presidential hopeful Michelle Bachmann doesn’t really have the greatest relationship with the LGBTQ community.

I’m fairly certain that Elijah, the child “activist,” was told to do this by an adult figure, and while I don’t condone getting children involved into sociopolitical arguments, it was pretty hilarious to see Bachmann be caught off guard by the little boy’s comment.

In other news of people saying things they probably shouldn’t, The mayor of Troy, Michigan, cause quite the controversy when she updated her Facebook status and used an anti-LGBTQ slur. Then, unsurprisingly, several protests formed infront of Troy’s City Hall. This is what the controversial status update was:

Image taken from PrideSource.com 

At the protests, Daniels was quoted as saying:

“I’m a good person, I really am. I said one word that you don’t like. One word.”

She went on to tell the protesters that she isn’t a bully and she really is a nice person. She did end up apologizing for using the slur (but not the sentiment), and unsurprisingly, the protesters are still upset.

It makes sense that they are. What Daniels did was way beyond the boundaries of making a personal statement. When someone uses the word “queer” as a derogatory term along with saying that they would remove ties with an entire state for the “queers” being able to wed, it’s crossing the ever-shady line into hate speech.

There would have been a much better way of saying she doesn’t agree with same-sex marriage. As a person, she is entitled to do so. But, saying that opinion with no apparent sense of self-restraint is not only unkind and down-right mean, but it is also hurting her credibility.

It’s not as thought she just happened to forget that “queer” is a slur, like accidentally calling someone a nickname that they hate. That is a very specific word that has strong emotional ties to people. And, even if she did accidentally use that slur, it is the internet. You have to click “post,” so she had time to proof-read her status before she submitted it to the World Wide Web. Which, as an elected official, one’s public relations and image is a pretty high priority.

My point is: what mayor Daniels said was wrong, and while she apologized for using the word “queer,” what she ended up doing was representing the entire town of Troy, Michigan on an issue that is obviously all across the board. I mean, her job is to represent the interests of the citizens of Troy.  When she said “I think I am going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there,” the entire sentiment was plastered to the town of Troy.

Moral of the story: think before you speak.

World Aids Day and Hutchinson’s GSA

Posted in Uncategorized on December 5, 2011 by gmahanna

Last Thursday was World Aids Day. That is when we take a moment to educate ourselves about what aids is, what we can do to prevent it, and how people who are effected with aids live today.

Among the things that came out of World Aids Day was this picture:World Aids Day

Photo by Elysia Conner. Taken from Casper Journal, 2011

This photo was taken at the United Church of Christ at Casper, Wyoming. Students in the GSA organized and sponsored the event to celebrate the lives of those who have passed away due to HIV and aids as well as pray for those who are afflicted with it. One of the things that really tugged on my heart strings was that Robert Tate, one of the GSA leaders, said he was inspired from seeing older and younger folks commemorating together.

While World Aids Day is a day of education and action, it is fantastic that people make a point to remember the lives and celebrate the memory of folks who have passed on from the disease. It is a very hopeful and optimistic day.

Something else that makes me optimistic was this recent story in the Hutchinson News about Hutchinson Community College’s (HCC) GSA posters being torn down by people around campus. Well, let me explain why this is optimistic.

Since HCC’s GSA program was chosen to be initiated and recognized by the Student Government Association, the number of people signing up for this program has dramatically increased. Even when the discrimination and anger towards the group rages on.

This means that they are making an impact! Even when the poster of upcoming events are taken down, people find other ways to get the information out. For one, in the aforementioned article, they state that they also put a calender of events for the program in the school news paper, The Collegian (another example of the power of journalism).

That is why this is a great thing. HCC’s GSA is making people realize that there is a support group for people out there, and the more people make a fuss about the program, the more people will recognize it exists and they will utilize it.

I guess the best way to sum it up is: “no publicity is bad publicity.”

Zach Wahls’ Speech and Michelle Bachman at Iowa Waverly High School

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2011 by gmahanna

This video has spread through the internet like a wildfire. It is a speech by Zach Wahls, 19, a student at the University of Iowa, who spoke at the Iowa House of Representatives about the House Joint Resolution: 6 and growing up with two mothers as his parents.

Wahls spoke about his upbringing and clearly defined that his mother’s sexual orientations had no effect on him. He even went onto say that “if I was your son, Mr. Chairman, I believe I would make you very proud,” in an attempt to urge the repeal of the House Joint Resolution: 6. Unfortunately, Iowa passed this resolution 62-37.

While this speech by Wahls happened in February, it is definitely a look into how some of the current government representatives view who can and cannot be wed.

Michelle Bachman spoke at Waverly High School in Iowa, she was asked by a woman what she would do for the LGBTQ community. Bachman proceeded to dance around the issue and say that the governments role was to protect civil rights. Then, Bachman was asked why can’t same sex couples wed. Bachman said that they can, but only if a man marries a woman or a woman marries a man.

This news bothers me. What Bachman, a Republican Presidential candidate, is saying is that same-sex couples do not have the right to get married. Why is it that the powers that be are afraid of same-sex couples?

At least I know who I won’t be voting for next year.

Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs Benefit Students

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2011 by gmahanna

In the past week or so, a few new articles have surfaced telling the benefits of middle and high schools having an active Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). They mention that students who are active and participate in GSA programs often have an improved mental health, are less likely to drop out, and more likely to attend college.

While this is a fantastic finding, I do wish that more rural schools would take the initiative to provide GSA (or GSA related) programs into their districts. I remember growing up in my small school (my graduating class had 30-some kids), the only time LGBTQ issues were discussed was when someone was verbally ridiculing them (teachers and students alike).

Regardless, any chance that children, young adults, and even school faculty and staff can get to receive exposure to the LGBTQ community, in a healthy environment, and also encourage acceptance and tolerance is absolutely wonderful.  And, extremely imperative. Especially since school districts have invested so much time and energy into anti-bullying programs. GSA clubs go hand-in-hand with that campaign.

These findings make me optimistic and hopeful. Any small step that is taken will eventually become a giant leap, it will just take time.

SB 48 to Start January 1st in California

Posted in Uncategorized on November 25, 2011 by gmahanna

The new law, SB 48, that would make it mandatory to teach K-12 schools contributions in history from LGBTQ individuals, is starting January 1st in California. The new bill will include sexual orientations of historical figures and it would highlight the LGBTQ culture.

While this is a fantastic new way to teach tolerance and acceptance of the LGBTQ community, there have been several attempts to repeal SB 48. Some anti-Sb 48 groups are still going strong, and thankfully, some have “Fought The Law, and The Law Won…”

What really boggles my mind is how opponents of SB 48 have declared that this new law is teaching contradictory values to ones faith, yet seemingly forgetting an even bigger value of Christianity.  This is what Richard Rios, the chair of the Christian Coalition of California, said in an interview:

“It’s not a homophobic issue. It’s an issue of the requirement of the teaching of something that’s contradictory to one’s faith.”

Rios then goes onto say that any union between anyone other than a man or a woman “is not a godly relationship.”

I feel as though many of the anti-SB 48 campaigners are thinking that the new law will somehow indoctrinate or encourage homosexual behavior, which is absolutely missing the point of the new law.

(Also, since McPherson College is a Christian college, I feel as though it is my duty to point out that the Bible, over and over, commands us to love one another, unequivocally and unhesitatingly [Mark 12:31, Luke 6:31, Romans 12:9, 1 Corinthians 13:13, etcetera].)

Regardless of any different Biblical interpretations, this is the exact same road we’ve trekked before with woman’s rights and civil rights. It is just another obstacle we’ll have to overcome to make the United States more accepting.