Welcome to the letter “S” in my blog LGBTQ Resources: A-Z. Show, Shift, Shape are the three words I am using to support my TEDx talk on February 13th, 2020. Shameless plug, sorry! Here’s the link: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/lakeland/
Lisa’s TEDx talk in Plymouth, WI satrts at 7pm CST
Soooooooo, here are three ways you can become an even better ally. Allies Save Lives by Showing you are an ally. SHOW you are an ally by wearing a rainbow ribbon, displaying a rainbow sticker or exhibit your allyship with a rainbow pin. Why is a rainbow so important? Thanks for asking! A rainbow symbolizes safety, family and hope to those of us in the LGBTQ population. Thank you, Gilbert Baker!
SHIFTING mindsets and perceptions is a Second way to SHOW you are an Ally. Let’s talk about being an ally for a Second. I want to believe that most everyone is an ally or truly wants to be an ally. When ally is spelled starting with a small “a,” it states you are somone who could be an associate, a friend, or a colleague. A small “a” ally might hear a homophobic joke, and, even though deep in their soul it’s not a nice joke, a small “a” ally might not say anything. What if we were to SHIFT that small “a” ally to an “A” Ally? Let’s take that homophobic joke example and see what an “A” Ally would do. SHIFTING mindsets and behaviors, an “A” Ally will say something about the homophobic joke. An “A” Ally might say, “not cool” or “knock it off” to the person telling the joke. When others witness this, their mindsets and perceptions SHIFT. My hope is that SHIFT will help up in SHAPING inclusive policies and procedures.
SHAPING policies and procedures is not always a simple stint (had to use an “s” there). Seeing yourself enumerated (listed) out in policies is something I find extremly important. When I was searching for a school counseling position, I looked at the district’s policies to see if sexual orientation was listed as a protected class and if they had any policies protecting students not identifying with the popular culture. I continue to use this technique in my daily life regarding where I spend my money, volunteer my time, and share my talents.
In my TEDx talk, I share my SHIFT brought about by a seventh grade student. Because of that student and another family in our district, we were able to advocate for more inclusive policies regarding pupil non-discrimination. I certainly could not have done it solo. We became the Seventh (can’t make that “s” up) district in the state of Wisconsin to have such inclusive policies. It was a big win!
By reading this article, you are truly an ALLY, dare I say an
“A”LLY? Thank you for continuing to SHOW your allyship. Thank you for continuing to SHIFT mindsets and perceptions, so that we can start SHAPING some new policies and procedures for the LGBTQ community.
Welcome to the letter “R” of our LGBTQ Resources A-Z! You haven’t heard of the Riddle Scale? No worries, not everyone has, let’s Relax, Rewind, and Review…again, see what I did there? I crack myself up! Even though this isn’t a riddle, ha ha!
Remember, I like to start with a definition, so here ya go. The Riddle scale was a psychometric scale that measured the degree to which a person is or is not homophobic. The scale was frequently used in tolerance education about anti-discriminatory attitudes regarding sexual orientation. It is named after its creator, psychologist Dorothy Riddle. Wikipedia
Isn’t it sad that I am measured by levels? Growing up, did your parents have the “talk” with you about being repulsed or nurtured? Mine sure didn’t with me. When a baby is born, the dreams are of course to be a happy and healthy baby. I know that my mom had dreams of me getting married (to a boy), giving her grandbabies, and probably to not be repulsed.
I did get married (to a girl) and my mom was there because my aunts and uncles are the best. I had written a letter to my father asking him to bring my mother, but, to no avail. My sister didn’t even come and that still hurts. I didn’t invite my brother (see past articles for why I didn’t). So, let’s do the math: Father = Repulsed (1), Brother = Repulsed (1), Sister Tolerated (3) but didn’t show up, and Mother = Supported (5). As you can see, no Admiration (6) , no Appreciation (7) , no Nurturance (8) . I don’t tell you this to feel sorry for me, but rather to explain why I advocate for those lower on the Riddle Scale. I have chosen my family as many LGBTQ people do. Let’s strive to support, admire, appreciate and ultimately nurture, shall we? Right?
Who was Dorothy Riddle? Great question. During the early 1970s, she was part of an American Psychological Association Task Force which was ultimately responsible for the official change in the status of homosexuality from a psychiatric disorder to a lifestyle. She also developed the Riddle Scale, a tool for measuring homophobia that is now being used to measure changes in a range of other social attitudes. I am including a picture of her and here is the link to more information about her. She looks like my cousin, Jane…really!
Hmm, so, 50 years ago as I was growing up in the 1970’s, I was a psychiatric disorder, now, I can hope for a Level (4) Acceptance. How about you?
Throughout my school counseling career, one of my favorite resources for social justice and equitable education was (and still is) Teaching Tolerance. Teaching Tolerance (Level 3) for those of you playing at home, is based out of Atlanta as part of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Teaching Tolerance was founded in 1991 to prevent the growth of hate. Here is a quote from their website: Tolerance is surely an imperfect term, yet the English language offers no single word that embraces the broad range of skills we need to live together peacefully. https://www.tolerance.org/about Resources below!
For my Wisconsin friends, Teaching Tolerance has a free DVD resource called “Bullied.” It is based upon the true story of Jaime Nobozny growing up in Ashland, Wisconsin. Jamie was severely bullied in middle and high school and the district did nothin to protect him. He sued the Ashland School District in 1996 anda jury awarded him $962,000 in damages. Right in our backyard…WOW! This case made national headlines and was a catalyst for new anti-LGBTQ bullying laws.
Our calls to action this week include:
Reaching to Level 8 and Nurturing EVERYONE, espcially if they are LGBTQ
Hey, Lisa, isn’t the term Queer offensive? Why are you writing about that word? Thanks for asking, dear reader. I will give you a Quick history of the term Queer later on in this article. Questioning is another term we use for the “Q” in our acronyn LGBTQ. Questioning was used early on in my school counseling career by middle schoolers, but today, I hear more students identifying as genderqueer or transgender, skipping right over Questioning.
I would be curious to see your reaction when you saw this title. Some will want to read and learn, others will quickly quash and scroll past this article. Thank you for those of you still reading, you are my people!
Miriam Webster defines Queer: of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation. My generation doesn’t use Queeras much as the generations following mine use it. Here is my article on Genderqueer if you’d like more information. Please feel free to share with everyone!
Perhaps this will bring a smile to your face? Have you seen the cable show “Queer Eye?” Queer Eye is an American reality television series that premiered on the cable television network Bravo in July 2003. Originally Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the title was later shortened to broaden the overall scope (Wikipedia). What I love about the show is how the Fab Five as the main cast are known as help others. It’s not about the Queer lifestyle or focused on Queer relationships, it’s about paying it forward. Who is your favorite character? Original cast or lastest cast?
I promised you more on the history of the term Queer. Historically, queer meant not straight (ha ha). If you have ever ridden in a car with me, I use the term “gayly forward” rather than straight when it comes to directions. By the early 1900s, “queer” became used to reference homosexuals both by people within the community (Gertrude Stein in her poetry, for example) and people outside of the community (newspapers, for instance). Marissa Higgins writes this in an article for Bustle.com. In the 1950s, the term queer held a negative connotation like dyke or faggot. Enter the 1980s and the LGBT world worked to reclaim the word and offer it as a more inclusive umbrella term for our population. Higgins writes, A word like “queer” encompasses sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression concisely. Read her entire article Here.
So, should you use the term Queer? I would probably ask someone how they identify. If they use the term to identify themselves, then you can probably use it when talking with them. If they don’t use it, you don’t use it. Questions? There won’t be a Quiz, I just had to use as many “Q” words as was Quantifiable.
Quite lovely of you for reading your “Gay for the Day” article!
Welcome to the letter “P” in our weekly blog of LGBTQ Resources A-Z. This week we’ll talk about why the term Pride is so important to us, and why PFLAG is such an amazing resource, especially in Wisconsin!
June is Pride month for the LGBTQ community. According to Wikipedia, Gay pride or LGBT pride is the promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a social group. Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBT rights movements. Here is a link to one of my first articles on Pride.
Unfortunately, the rise of social media has spawned an increase in hate-filled attacks on virtually every marginialized group. It can be tempting as an LGBTQ individual to live a life hidden in the shaddows, not sharing who we are and who we love for fear of the types of social media attacks that are rampant across the Internet.
Pride plays an important role in sharing ALL of who we are as individuals. Pride to me means greeting my wife at the airport with all the affection and love that a straight couple shows. It means coming out to my students at the beginning of each semester without fear of losing my job for being gay. And it means being accepted by everyone, family and stranger alike. Unfortunately, not all of the above are true for me, and those are especially not true for all LGBTQ people both in the United States and around the world. Luckily, we have allies like you advocating along side us every day.
In the Madison area, we have one of the best farmer’s markets in the midwest. A staple on the farmer’s market square is PFLAG. Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays = PFLAG. These people epitomize what unconditional love is all about, Charlie Brown! Check out their Facebook page! Thank you, https://www.pflag-madison.org/
According to http://www.pflag.org, PFLAG nationally has 500 chapters and more than 200,000 members. The concept of PFLAG began in 1973 when the mother of a gay man marched in New York’s Pride Parade to show public support, pride and love of her son. She urged parents to unite in support of their gay children. The Madison chapter started about 20 years ago.
PFLAG lives its three part-mission: First and foremost, to support parents and families of lesbians, gays, transgender, and bisexuals who are having problems accepting their relative’s sexual orientation. Additionally, they support the spouses of newly out LGBTQ people. Secondly, they strive to educate themselves and others about LGBTQ issues. Thirdly, they are visible advocates for issues affecting the LGBTQ family, such as discrimination in the workplace and housing. They work for equality of all their civil rights.
Your call to action this week? Thanks for asking! If you live in the Madison area and if you visit the Dane County Farmer’s Market on a Saturday, please thank the volunteers from PFLAG for their advocacy. If you don’t live in the Madison area, please spread the word about PFLAG and the Positive work they Provide! Reach out to them for yourself or a friend that needs their support — or to expand your ally-ship even further! Thank you!
My guess is that my mom would have been a Proud PFLAG mom! (I love you, Marlene!)
Welcome to the letter “O” of LBGTQ Resources A-Z. As a disclaimer, everyOne Owns their Own coming Out story, I will give you a glimpse into my story. Thanks for Opening this article.
In the LGBTQ world, we are born this way (just ask Lady Gaga), yet some of us stay in the closet for safety and to not be Ostracized. Coming Out is a process, not just a one-time event. The privilege I have is the color of my skin and my lot in life. I don’t HAVE to come Out to people. You can’t see gay like you can see skin color or ability. That’s where the being in the closet comes in.
From Urban dictionary, in the closet is a term used to describe a homosexual person who has not told anyone of their sexual orientation. I was in the closet until my sister told me I was gay. Yep, true story! It was Thanksgiving 1996 and I was 27 years old. Kind of a late bloomer — I know, I kno!. All I remember is that my sister said, “That’s because you’re gay. Please pass the carrots.” I started crying. It actually made a lot of sense after I stopped to think about it. The END. Well, not really. I like carrots!
For a long time I wasn’t OUT to my students as a middle school counselor. After having a 7th grade student tell me it was easier pretending to be a boy than it was to be gay in the small town we were in, I needed to do something differently. The difficult part for me was being afraid to lose my job because I was gay. I was also a girl’s basketball coach and refused to ever go into the locker room so I wouldn’t get accused of anything. I wanted people to respect me as a school counselor…who just happened to be gay. Every time a started in a new school district, I had to do my research to see if they were open and affirming of my lifestyle. This was Not always fun!
I am happy to say that I am now OUT and proud, which isn’t to say that everyone I meet knows I’m gay. Being LGBTQ means that you have to come out daily — potentially every time you meet someone new. The stress can be too much to bear for some people. My goal with this blog is to save lives by offering resources to support our LGBTQ population. I am excited to expand my speaking career on my birthday as well as my TEDx talk on February 13th, 2019. If you’re in the area, please join us!
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog. My call to action is to NEVER NEVER OUT anyone else — it’s their story to tell. So, if someone asks you if someone is gay, bisexual, transgender, etc…you tell that person to ask the source. Even if you know, it is NOT your story to tell. NEVER out anyone!
Welcome to the letter “N” in this week’s edition of my LGBTQ blog. These are terms you might have heard, if not, you will. Let’s nudge our way into the definitions…ha ha, that Never gets old! NEVER!
How many of you have ever gone through a drive-thru at a fast food restaurant? I loved taking my niece and nephew when they were younger. When we would order a meal that made us happy, the worker would ask if we wanted a toy for a “girl” or a “boy.” A heavy sigh from Aunt Lisa, every time as my non-binary radar was alerted. Can we just have a non-binary, non-conforming gender neutral toy? Gender binary is the classification of gender into two distinct, opposite, and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine, whether by social system or cultural belief. (Wikipedia,2019)
If you remember, I was an early non-conformer when it came to stereotypical gender toys. A tractor & my G.I. Joe were my favorites. Why can’t there just be one toy that ALL kids can play with? And how about not making them pink or blue? Boys can play with dolls and girls can play with trucks! Right? Think twice before you buy that baby a new toy, please?
Non-binary is an umbrella term who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely female nor entirely male. It’s ok if you don’t understand what this is, I’m just glad you’re still reading! You’re an ALLY!
When I wear a tuxedo to a formal event, I am an example of gender non-conforming. The older I get, the less I enjoy wearing “left-handed” zippered trousers. Most of the world would know them as female trousers. I prefer to wear dress pants that I get at a thrift store in the men’s section. Have I lost you yet?
During my time as a middle school counselor, I had one student who identified as gender-fluid. I would greet the student at the door in the morning to determine their identity for the day. I would say, “Good morning, __________?” and wait for the student to give me their identified name for the day so that I would then send out an email to the student’s teachers informing them. That was a tricky one!
Gender Neutral Bathrooms make sense to me. Think about going to a concert, or an event in a big stadium. How long are the lines to the women’s restrooms compared to the men’s. If you haven’t noticed the lines, you probably haven’t stood in the LONG line.
As more people become comfortable with their identities, we will see the need for more inclusivity in the workplace. It used to be that middle school students would start by saying they were bisexual if they we’ren’t sure of their identity. Then the term questioning/queer came along. Queer is still here, most often used in genderqueer. Now, I believe more and more young people will identify as trans in the coming decade. As more and more famous people come “out” as trans, we will see more teens identifying as non-binary and non-conforming. As Rachel Maddow would say, “Watch this space.”
Thanks for learning more about the letter “N” this week! Please feel free to share this article and maybe save a life!
Hello friends! Did you notice I didn’t say ladies and gentleman? In the LGBTQ+ world, greeting a group of people with “Ladies & Gentlemen” can be considered a microagression. Yes, I know it’s what we were taught to say, but maybe it’s time to be more inclusive!
As a former middle school counselor, it always bothered me when I would hear teachers greet a class by using “boys & girls.” How about using the term, “Scholars” or even “First hour?” So, that is in a school setting, how about in a workplace?
This past week, I was honored to keynote the Iowa School Counselor Association Conference. Their theme was “All In.” What a fantastic group of school counselors learning how to go “All In” for their students! After the Keynote, I presented a workshop called “Equitable Treatment of ALL Iowa’s Students in Three Steps.” Let’s learn more about microagressions, shall we?
According to Wikipedia, Microaggressions have been defined as brief and common daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental communications, whether intentional or unintentional, that transmit hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to a target person because they belong to a stigmatized group. Did you know there are three types of Microagressions? I didn’t until writing this article.
Microaggressions seem to appear in three forms: microassault, microinsult, and microinvalidation. Almost all interracial encounters are prone to microaggressions; …. literature that represents various racial groups. My main goal is to not greet with gender specific labels like “Ladies & Gentleman” or “Boys & Girls”.
I have been called a man, or sir, more times than I can count. I used to let it go, but now, I will correct the person and remind them that girls can have short hair. After being labeled as male, the shock on their eyes when I turn around is always the same. Call it gender non-conforming, call it whatever you will, I call it being my true self! When you aren’t sure of a person’s preferred gender, just call them, “Friend.”
Thank you, friend for taking the time to read this article. Please feel free to share it. Maybe you’ll save someone’s life!
Let’s give it up for the letter, “L” this week! What a Lovely Letter that has Literally Labled Lisa (me) as a strong Lady! In case you didn’t know this, my mother named me after a soap opera…true story. Eileen Fulton, played the character Lisa Grimaldi on “As The World Turns.” Lisa was a strong female character, and that’s what my mother wanted me to be…BINGO! Looks just like me, right?
Lesbian is the first “L” in LGBTQ+. Raise your hand if you know where that term derives from. It’s ok, I can’t see your arms, but if you played along, you’re FUN and LIVELY. Let’s travel to the Northeastern Aegean Sea to find the third largest of the Greek Islands, Lesbos.
The word lesbian is derived from the name of the Greek island of Lesbos, home to the 6th-century BCE poet Sappho. From various ancient writings, historians gathered that a group of young women were left in Sappho’s charge for their instruction or cultural edification. Little of Sappho’s poetry survives, but her remaining poetry reflects the topics she wrote about: women’s daily lives, their relationships, and rituals. She focused on the beauty of women and proclaimed her love for girls. Before the mid-19th century, the word lesbian referred to any derivative or aspect of Lesbos, including a type of wine. Cheers to Wikipedia!
Pop culture lesson = Check! Geography Lesson = Check! History Lesson = Check! Now, let’s go into some modern political lessons. Let’s start with a Law called Title VII (that’s a 7 in fancy Roman numerals) of the Civil Rights Law of 1964. Stay with me, sometimes we have to know our history as to not repeat it…thanks for still reading along. You’re LOVELY!
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. It generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state and local governments. Title VII also applies to private and public colleges and universities, employment agencies, and labor organizations.
(Dark Green) State law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (21 states, 2 territories + D.C.)
(Strike through Light Green) State explicitly interprets existing prohibition on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and/or gender identity (see note) (2 states, 0 territories)
(Light Green) State law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation only (1 state, 0 territories)
(Tan) No explicit prohibitions for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in state law (26 states, 3 territories) this is the scary one
(Gavel) State is in a federal circuit with a ruling that explicitly interprets existing federal prohibition on sex discrimination (under Title VII) to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. (26 states, 3 territories)
What does this mean having Wisconsin in Light Green with a Gavel? According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, I can’t be discrminated in hiring or firing for being gay…Hooray! Here’s your human resource lesson for the day! If you are reading this and you don’t live in Wisconsin, please check out your state in the aformentioned information. Thanks & I hope you still like our cheese! https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/er/civil_rights/discrimination/sexual_orientation_protection.htm
Sexual Orientation Protection
The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act prohibits employers, employment agencies, labor unions, licensing agencies, and other persons from discriminating against employees, job applicants, or licensing applicants because of their membership in specific protected categories, including sexual orientation.
The Wisconsin Fair Employment Law defines “sexual orientation” as having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, having a history of such a preference or being identified with such a preference.
What actions are covered?
When an individual’s sexual orientation motivates the decision related to an employment action or licensing action, it becomes unlawful discrimination.
Specifically, the law prohibits discrimination in recruitment and hiring, job assignments, pay, leave or benefits, promotion, licensing or union membership, training, lay-off and firing, and other employment related actions.
The Wisconsin Fair Employment Law defines “sexual orientation” as having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, having a history of such a preference or being identified with such a preference.
The Fair Employment Law prohibits any inquiry that implies or expresses any limitation because of a protected basis, including sexual orientation. Marital status discrimination is also prohibited under Wisconsin law and questions about marital status that are designed to detect a person’s sexual orientation may violate both marital status and sexual orientation provisions of the law.
Yes, the definition includes being identified with a preference for a particular sexual orientation. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against someone based on perceived sexual orientation, even if the perception is wrong, for example, it would be a violation of the law if an employer assumes a man is homosexual because he is effeminate and discharges him because of that perception.
The Supreme Court heard three cases earlier this month that ask whether it is legal to fire workers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity (Title VII). That alone is enough to make those three of the most important employment discrimination cases in many years. But there are additional layers to these cases, layers that could imperil all workers regardless of whether or not they are LGBTQ. Only 22 states prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and only 21 prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. So if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the employers in Zarda, Bostock, and Harris Funeral Homes, millions of LGBTQ workers will be left without legal protections. Read on, my friend. https://www.vox.com/2019/10/2/20883827/supreme-court-lgbtq-discrimination-title-vii-civil-rights-gay-trans-queer
Let’s see, Lisa was named after a soap opera and might lose protections because she’s a lebian? Looks like a little scary scenario to me and for my other LGBTQ+ friends. Why do we need to legislate kindess and decency? That is a direct quote from my wife, Angela. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
My call to action this week is to think about how you would feel if you were fired for having brown eyes instead of blue? What if you lost your health benefits because you were left-handed? I was born this way, who says Little Lisa from Loganville should be legislated against? Please show your rainbows, please stop homophobic jokes, and please register to vote!
This week’s blog will not be a long one, but rather paying homage to Kevin Jennings who founded the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Oh, and he was a school counselor! YEP, that’s right, a school counselor. He is just one of the famous LGBTQ+ activists we can learn about during this month, OH, that’s right, October is National LGBTQ History Month. Click here to learn more about our famous people! Kool!
Kevin, as I like to call him, went to Harvard, no big deal, and in 1988 he started America’s first Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at the Concord Academy in Massachusetts. Today, there are thousands of GSAs in our schools. There are other names for GSAs including Gender Sexuality Alliance and many others. Read on to learn more about Kevin Jennings in these exerpts from the National Education Association’s, Cindy Long.
When Kevin Jennings taught history in Rhode Island 10 years ago, he saw students verbally bullied and harassed to the breaking point. It reminded him of the torment of the endless name-calling he suffered when he was in school.
But when the bullying among his students began to turn physical, he decided he had to do something to make school a safer place for everyone. That’s when he founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
GLSEN is a national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN works with educators, students, and the community to help children learn to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
I have used GLSEN for numerous resources and applaud the organization for celebrating our community, especially the youth. Here is my article on GLSEN, “Geez, That’s alot of “G’s.” The “S” in GLSEN stands for straight, without our straight allies, we would be facing an uphill battle every day! In 2015, I was a national semi-finalist for GLSEN’s National Educator of the Year…how’s that for a fun fact? Sorry I didn’t win…oh well.
Kevin Jennings was named Lambda Legal’s CEO in 2019…watch for more on that maybe next week as we explore the letter “L”. Lovely! See what I did there?
Short and sweet for the letter “K” this week. Your call to action? Please learn more about famous LGBTQ people during October. Let’s get some of them in our school curriculum, right?
Please check out GLSEN’s website for free resources, to register your school for educational materials and to mark your calendars for these awareness weeks:
You might have noticed the title includes the letter “K.” Knope, Knot a typo, just letting you know that this week’s blog is meant to be brought to you by the letter “K,” but there were other more important messages to share.
October 11th every year is National Coming OUT Day. If you know my story, you’ll remember that my national coming out day was Thanksgiving of 2016 when my sister told me I was gay. Oh yeah, and “Please pass the carrots.” Can’t make that up, and of course I cried, and then ate my carrots.
Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter “J” and the amazing Jazz Jennings. Jazz, in her own words from her Facebook page, “My name is Jazz and I’m transgender which means that I was assigned male at birth but was a girl right from the start. I expressed myself as a girl to my family by gravitating towards dolls, dresses, sparkles, and everything feminine. I didn’t just like girly objects, but I heavily insisted that I WAS a girl. All my family wanted was my happiness and they assured that by providing me unconditional love and support. As kindergarten approached, I would be heading to a new school and a fresh start was coming. We took this opportunity to begin my transition as a girl. I finally blossomed into my authentic self. Although this seems like it might’ve been the end of my story of me finally becoming a girl, it was only the beginning…”
I was lucky enough to meet Jazz in Portland, OR, at the Human Right Campaign’s “Time to Thrive” conference. She was coming back from Voodoo Donuts with her mom as we were heading out to get our own donuts. She was poised as gracious when I told her how proud I was of her. And of course I had to hug her! Why didn’t I get a picture with her? ARRGGG, I guess I thought these otters were cute…
Times are changing, but I still can’t imagine the strength, courage and support Jazz had and still has to this day. She knew she was born in the wrong body when she was 6 years old. When I was 6, I was playing with my tractors and my G.I. Joe, not appearing on television next to Chaz Bono. Read on to see how Jazz and Wisconsin crossed paths…
In 2015, the Wisconsin State Journal reported on the reading of I am Jazz in the small Wisconsin town of Mount Horeb, population 7,421: MOUNT HOREB — In a turnout that stunned organizers, nearly 600 people filled the library here Wednesday night to hear a public reading of a children’s book about a transgender girl, with many in the crowd expressing strong support for a local family with a transgender child.
The library event — and another reading at the high school on Wednesday morning that drew about 200 — followed the cancellation last week of the reading of the book “I Am Jazz” at the Mount Horeb Primary Center, a public elementary school where a 6-year-old student had just transitioned from a boy to a girl.
School staff said they sought to read the book to the girl’s classmates to help them understand what was happening to a fellow student, and to help the girl feel safe and accepted.
The school canceled the reading after a conservative Florida-based group threatened legal action.
The centerpiece of the library program was the reading of “I Am Jazz” by its co-author Jessica Herthel, who flew in from California to support the family. As a straight parent, Herthel said she wrote her book with Jazz Jennings, a transgender girl who stars in a TLC reality show, in part because she felt there were not enough resources for parents like her to teach their children about acceptance.
She said she was overwhelmed by the community response in Mount Horeb.
“I think it’s a barometer of where we’re at as a society,” she said in an interview. “I think we’re more ready to hear about this issue from a child’s perspective, because we know a child isn’t making a political statement or rebelling against society. Kids don’t know not to tell the truth, and we’re getting more comfortable with that idea.”
“When people take the time to read the book, they realize that ‘I Am Jazz’ is about identity — who you are. Not sex — who you are attracted to. And the book’s message of ‘Be who you are, no matter what’ applies to all children,” Herthel said. Read the full article here.
Two Eleanor Roosevelt quotes come to mind when I think about Jazz’s journey: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” and “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” Jazz knew who she was at a young age, she is a courageous trailblazer.
Want to learn more about this amazing person? You can read her children’s book I am Jazz, you could watch her on YouTube, or check out “I am Jazz” on the TV channel TLC. In 2017, the Tonner Doll Company announced plans to produce the first transgender doll. Please notice we use the term transgender and not transgendered. A person is a noun, not a verb! Right now in 32 states there is no state law protecting transgender people from being fired for being who they are. Only 18 states (CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IL, IA, MA, ME, MD — effective Oct. 2014, MN, NJ, NM, NV, OR, RI, VT and WA) and D.C. currently prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.Transgender FAQ from the Human Rights Campaign.
In our every day lives, you will hear more people identify as transgender or trans and becoming their true selves — comfortable in their skin and their bodies for the first time in their lives. You’ll have multiple opportunities to embrace and enhance your ally-ship, and I invite you to turn to me with any questions along the way. Ask questions, and share resources like this blog post with others. Please check out the book I am Jazz, or buy it and donate it to a school library. Thanks in advance!
Given the events scheduled for this week, we’re taking a break from our usual posts to bring you a special announcement. (I’ve always wanted to say that!) For those of you playing at home, perhaps you were expecting the letter “J” today? I promise you will have information on Jazz Jennings next week. Stay tuned…
This week’s contribution is brought to you by GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network). Learn how to be an Ally to LGBTQ Students, Trans and Gender non-conforming students, LGBTQ Students of Color & LGBTQ Students with Disabilities. I encourage you to register and learn more at GLSEN’s site. Did I mention it’s FREE? Get some cool swag and stickers to show your support as an Ally. Need a refresher on what an Ally is? Check out my blog “Ally or Ally.” from July 15th. Note that these tips can apply to any marginalized population, not just LGBTQ. We are also celebrating Latinx Heritage Month (September 15-October 15). Because Bi Awareness Day is on Monday, September 23, let’s kick off Ally Week by being in solidarity with Bi Net in bringing visibility to bisexual identities! (glsen.org/allyweek)
On Your Own: Intervene when you hear anti-LGBTQ language or remarks. Be conscious of your privilege and speak from your own experiences, rather than assuming the experiences of LGBTQ students and other marginalized folks. Sign up for GLSEN UP to take policy actions in support of LGBTQ students on the local, state, and national level.
In Your Student Club: Create a student bill of rights describing the climate of respect and inclusion you’d like to see at your school. Create a bulletin board to display at school about what allies can do to support LGBTQ youth. Do an inventory of LGBTQ-inclusive resources at your school, like Safe Space stickers. Talk to your advisor about how to bring more resources to your school!
As an Educator: Collect LGBTQ-inclusive books for your classroom/library. A shout out and HUGE Thanks to Mande Shecterle and Laura Frost for always being amazingly LGBTQ supportive Library Media Specialists and providing a rainbow of resources for staff and students. Need suggestions? Check out the American Library Association’s Rainbow Lists and Stonewall Awards. Learn about how to become an advisor to your school’s GSA or other LGBTQ student club. Learn about the experiences of LGBTQ students from GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey.
Here is the Student Guide resource for everything you need to know plus ideas for organizing your Ally Week!
This blog goes out to Dr. Erin Mason in Georgia. When I was seeking advice on what topic I should present on next, Erin said, “Intersectionality.” A fairly new term to me in 2017. So, what is intersectionality? Let’s find out and as always…thanks for asking!
According to Merriam Webster: Intersectionality—the complex, cumulative manner in which the effects of different forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect
Update: This word was added in April 2017.
That’s a lot to take in, so let’s break it down. While the concept has been around since the late 1980’s but intersectionality is a word that’s new to many of us. It’s used to refer to the way that the effects of different forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) can combine, overlap, and yes, intersect—especially in the experiences of marginalized people or groups.
The term was coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in a 1989 essay that asserts that “antidiscrimination law, feminist theory, and antiracist politics all fail to address the experiences of black women because of how they each focus on only a single factor.” Crenshaw writes that “[b]ecause the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated.”
Though originally applied only to the ways that sexism and racism combine and overlap, intersectionality has come to include other forms of discrimination as well, such as those based on class, sexuality, and ability.
So, there ya have it from the technical side of things. As a white able-bodied, priviledged lesbian, that would be my intersectionality. I will continue to educate myself more on supporting all populations including those with intersectionality and those identifying as intersex. Intersex flag is below in yellow with a purple circle in the middle.
Let’s talk about a secondletter “I” for today: Intersex. Have you heard of this term? “Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types—for example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY.
Did you know that more people are born intersex than have cleft pallets? Truth. The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) is devoted to systemic change to end shame, secrecy, and unwanted genital surgeries for people born with an anatomy that someone decided is not standard for male or female. This is why I am not a fan of gender reveal parties! Consider gifts of something other than pink or blue for babies, or kids in general. You don’t know what the intimate details of a family might be, and the small act of using gender neutral colors like green, yellow, or purple might just help a new parent feel better about their new baby. Plus green and yellow are Packer’s colors!
If you’d like to learn more on the term intersex, here’s an excellent, award-winning video. One hour in length. Thanks for reading & feel free to share!
Welcome to the letter “H” in my Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning/Queer (LGBTQ) blog. My first thought was to give you information on hetero vs. homo. Then I read an interesting article I had to share along with giving a shout out to the Human Rights Campaign — one of my favorite organizations — and to my friend Dr. Vinnie Pompei who works tirelessly for our collective rights.
Usually I end my posts with the action you can personally take to make a difference. Today, I have a save the date for you right up front! Mark October 10, 2019 on your calendar for HRC’s exclusive broadcating partnership with CNN. They’ll host a town hall meeting with democratic presidential candidates to discuss LGBTQ issues. My DVR is already set to record!
From the article: “This historic town hall event, entitled Power of Our Pride, will take place on Thursday, October 10 at The Novo in Los Angeles, California. The event is set to take place on the eve of the 31st annual National Coming Out Day, a celebration of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) or as an ally. The first National Coming Out Day was held on October 11, 1988 on the first anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights as a way of celebrating the power of coming out and promoting a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly. (HRC.org)” You can read the full story here.
Oh, and my friend, Dr. Vinnie Pompei? He is a rockstar working for HRC. He and I met in San Diego at a CESCAL’s (The Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership) Supporting Students- Saving Lives conference. I love the networking opportunities my friendship with Vinnie has given to me. My goal is to pay it forward and give you resources to save lives. One of the best ways to grow your knowledge is to attend HRC’s Time to Thrive conference. I was fortunate to speak at the conference previously, and I’d love to see you in Washington D.C. this February.
One of my early LGBTQ consultations was with a private Catholic high school. I was asked to help their school counseling department create a safe and welcoming environment. We discussed using rainbows as a universal sign designating the school counseling office as a safe zone for those identifying as LGBTQ. After thinking about what the Catholic Diocese would think about rainbows, that idea was squashed. We had to go back to the drawing board. I mentioned the Human Rights Campaign equality sticker. Only $3 at the time of this article. Rather than the blue and yellow colors in the HRC equal sign sticker, they decided to use their school colors with their school mascot behind the equal sign. Use your imagination, but please know you might be saving a life through your efforts!
HRC is a wonderful organization. Directly from their website (notice I didn’t say straight from their website? tee hee): “The Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 3 million members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.” http://www.hrc.org
Your actions to becoming an even better ally this week:
(1) Save the Date, October 10, 2019, to watch CNN’s coverage of HRC’s democratic presidential LGBTQ debate.
Fantastic! Finally, Fun with Flags! Fabulous! Ok, enough of the alliteration, let’s get to the facts (ha). With our journey into LGBT frequently asked questions, today we will discover the + that often gets put at the end of LGBTQ+ (see what I did there?)
A shout out to Target for their celebration of PRIDE month (June), especially the first week of June. Last year, we were able to pick up many small flags that I posted in my office. Rainbow (Gay), pink/blue/white (transgender), and a bisexual flag (remember that from our letter “B” post?)
ICYMI, this is a nice summary of Gilbert Baker’s original flag from 1978 (Thanks, Pinterest!)
Today, the hot pink and the turquoise have been dropped and here is what we see most often today:
Now, let’s jump into the plus (+) of other flags an who they represent.
This graphic from Live Loud Graphics gives more insight on the different terminology in the LGBT+ community and the different flags that help give a voice to our identities. There may be groups you’ve never heard of — that’s fantastic! There may be groups that give voice to an identity you’ve experienced and didn’t realize there were others like you — that’s exciting! The purpose isn’t to divide an already marginalized group; it really is to highlight all of the different facets that make up our community and to celebrate each one.
This week, I encourage you to take the time to read through the resource above from Live Loud Graphics and educate one other person on something you learn. As their motto says, “Education is the cure for homophobia.” Thanks for helping us spread education and love!
Welcome back to my LGBT FAQ blog. This week, we look at the difference between the terms equality and equity. By definition, equality is ensuring individuals or groups of individuals are not treated differently or less favorably, on the basis of their specific protected characteristic, including areas of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age (check out that Enumeration!). While equity means the quality of being fair or impartial (dictionary.com). These terms can be confusing, so you’ll often see different analogies to help make the difference a bit easier to understand. Which one is your favorite?
My favorite is the shoe analogy (and they’re rainbow!). Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits. – Naheed Dosani
I would even go a bit further to add inclusion meaning that everyone has a shoe that fits, is comfortable and matches their sense of style. The first time I heard the shoe analogy to represent Equality vs. Equity was at a training called “Courageous Conversations.” This training was early in my school counseling career and reminded me of growing up with an uncle who had polio. His physical limitations were perhaps equal to those needing the specified parking space, but his brilliant mind gave him equity in his place of work.
Perhaps you have seen the analogy of the people watching a ball game and there are three boxes. Each individual is of a different height trying to see over the fence. Equality is that each person has a box upon which to stand. Equity is that the tallest person can see over the fence without a box, the middle person has one box and and can now see over the fence and the third person is standing on two boxes in order to see over the fence. What if we removed the fence all together? Let’s consider taking away barriers in order to promote equity.
Using the word “versus” in between Equality and Equity shouldn’t be seen as a competition. Depending upon where you are in your cultural awareness, or how your life experiences have shaped the lens through which you view the world, I might suggest that we all strive for Success for ALL! When you’re just starting your journey, equality is a good place to start. However if you look at the illustration below, you’ll see that while many might benefit from one solution, through an equitable solution(shoveling the ramp first), everyone will benefit using the ramp.
Ahhh, good old Wisconsin winters…but this illustrates the difference between equity and equality. Equity is good for ALL. Think about those registration forms I refer to in earlier blog posts. By asking for adult 1 or caregiver 1 rather than “mom” and “dad“, you are now including grandparents, foster parents, or another relative caring for that student. Oh, and not everyone is a husband or a wife or a mom or a dad!
Cheryl Wheeler is a singer songwriter and just happens to sing one of our favorites, “Ghandi & Buddha.” In this version, she introduces the song sharing how she was happy to finally be able to marry her wife. She apologizes — tongue in cheek — for how our gay marriages have ruined all of the heterosexual marriages. In other words, by giving everyone the right to marry, whose marriage has that hurt? AND now we have access to the 1,100 protections and laws that heterosexual couples have enjoyed throughout time, while not taking a single protection away from hetero couple’s marriages. Win-win when love wins!
So, in terms of equality, we can equally get married as all can. On the other hand, equity is felt in some areas more than others. We chose to live in Madison, Wisconsin, which for the most part is a very welcoming city. It’s nice when I call to make an appointment for my wife that I only get asked a couple of questions. Not sure if we were a male and a female if I would face the same questions, however I don’t get push-back or a negative reaction that can occur in some less-equitable areas. However when we go out to dinner as a couple, we still get asked if we want separate checks, even if we’ve been holding hands across the table throughout our meal.
Thanks for reading this article. I hoped you enjoyed the song by Cheryl Wheeler. Your call to action is to do something GREAT to make things more equitable in your work space! Stand up for those without a voice. Take the time to educate someone needing that lesson on how to treat people! Think about this… intelligence is distributed equally, but opportunity is not!
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates. The focus will be answering Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on LBGTQIA+ issues & advocacy. Not sure what all of those letters represent? Stay tuned here and subscribe!