LGBT Youth Allies’ Global News Roundup #8

Posted by MK on Sep 21, 2012 @ 1:14 pm
Russian LGBT Equality Advocate Nikolai Alexeyev, Arrested in 2010

Nikolai Alexeyev, pictured here in 2010, has been a tireless advocate for LGBT equality in Russia

In today’s LGBT Youth Allies Global News Roundup, we’ve linked to stories from, among other places, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Dominica, France, Malaysia, New Zealand and Russia.

We’ll start with the U.S.:

•   The Windy City Media Group has published this inspiring story about a young man, Caleb Laiesky, who is working as a youth and diversity liaison in the office of the mayor in Phoenix, Arizona. The Media Group reports that Caleb “will work to raise awareness about bullying and diversity and serve as a point of contact for youth issues.” Caleb has first-hand experience with bullying, having been forced to withdraw from high school to avoid the attacks and threats. He earned his GED and has been an advocate for youth ever since.

•   According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Orange County School Board in Florida has “indicated support of a policy to protect students, employees and applicants from discrimination based not only on sexual orientation but also gender identity or expression.” The issue will be back before the board in a couple of months. I reported on some other good news out of Florida earlier this morning. And in other news from the Sunshine State, a college paper reports that students, faculty members, and alumni marched to support a University of Florida professor who was a victim of a hate crime last week.

•   The Advocate reports on some good news out of Kentucky and Tennessee: Students at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky, and teacher James Yoakley from Lenoir City High School in Tennessee, have received the annual Courage in Student Journalism Award. The Kentucky students started an underground paper after being censored for writing about LGBT issues. James, a former yearbook and newspaper advisor, printed an op-ed by a gay student. The Student Press Law Center hands out the awards.

•   A judge in Maine is considering a lawsuit brought on behalf of a transgender child.  It is apparently the “first case in Maine to address a transgender student’s right to use the bathroom of the gender with which he or she identifies.

•   According to the 2013 rankings from a company called Unigo, the colleges with the “Best LGBT Scenes” are (1) Bennington College in Vermont, (2) NYU, (3) Amherst, (4) Brown, and (5) Syracuse. Click here for details and the full list. Another story about Bennington College appears here.

The Green Bay Press Gazette in Wisconsin offers this story about a support group for parents of gay children. As the story notes, parents of LGBT youth often go through their own coming-out process when they learn they have an LGBT child.

Paris Hilton Sorry for Anti-Gay Comments

Paris Hilton is very sorry (as she should be).

•   Celebrity and non-role-model Paris Hilton has apologized profusely and extensively for some nasty comments she made about gay men. She says, among other things, that she is “sorry from the bottom of [her] heart,” that she feels “absolutely horrible,” and that gay people are among “the most inspiring” she has known.  “I cannot put into words how much I wish I could take back every word,” she adds. Though I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Paris, I do appreciate that she has issued what appears to be a real apology. It seems that she realized she actually hurt people (a realization that many celebrities fail to have even after they are forced to retract offensive statements) and that she really is sorry. Still, the comments were pretty bad, so I’ll leave it to readers to decide whether she should be forgiven. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has more about her apology here.

•   The Minister of Education of Dominica, a small nation in the Caribbean, has announced an initiative to “save the young people of Dominica” from “homosexuality and deviant behavior.” Gay Star News has more details here.

•   Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the newly appointed Minister of Women’s Rights in France, met with members of the LGBT youth organization Mag earlier this month. The Prime Minister has named Vallaud-Belkacem to coordinate a government effort to fight discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. At her meeting with the young activists at Mag, Vallaud-Belkacem emphasized the links between discrimination based on sexual orientation, sex discrimination, and gender stereotypes. More details (in French) appear here.

•   Controversy continues in Malaysia over some laughable-yet-frightening guidelines distributed to parents about how to check their children for “symptoms” of homosexuality. In yet another example of the link between gender stereotyping and homophobia (something I commented on in a post earlier this week), the guidelines at issue in Malaysia explain that the “warning” signs for gay males include “wearing V-neck” clothing and carrying “big handbags, similar to those used by women, when hanging out.”

•   In New Zealand, students and parents have expressed outrage at the firing of a popular Catholic school teacher, who lost his job after expressing support for gay rights. An August 29 post at LGBT Youth Allies commented on the teacher’s initial suspension. Additional coverage appears here.

•   There are conflicting reports out of Russia about a ruling from the country’s Supreme Court. The court recently issued a ruling regarding bans on public LGBT events—bans which are typically justified in Russia as a supposed effort to protect minors. Government-controlled media outlets portrayed the ruling as a victory for Russian LGBT groups, while the country’s leading LGBT activist, Nikolai Alexeyev, called the ruling “terrible.” Under the ruling, some LGBT events might no longer be considered illegal under an anti-gay “propaganda” law, but the anti-gay law itself has been held valid. Speaking to Gay Star News, Alexeyev criticized reports from Russia Today, a government-controlled station: “Russia Today’s announcement,” he said, is “completely misleading and itself nothing more than propaganda designed to make the Russian authorities look as if they are fair and do not discriminate.”


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