Students at a Pennsylvania high school allegedly staged a protest of the Day of Silence, which included intimidation and physical harassment of LGBT students and a ‘lynch list’.
The Day of Silence, an annual event that raises awareness of LGBT bullying, produced a loud backlash from students at a Pennsylvania high school. A group of students at McGuffey High School allegedly organized an “Anti-Gay Day” in response to the peaceful protest coordinated by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.
A local news station reports that the clique encouraged others who were antigay to wear flannel and write “Anti-Gay” on their hands Thursday, the day preceding the Day of Silence. But the backlash did not end with sartorial choices. Participants also targeted LGBT students, hanging posters on their lockers and physically harrassing them in the hallways of their school.
“There was pushing, posters hung on homosexual students’ lockers. Teachers were having to run out and take them down,” Zoe Johnson, a student at McGuffey High School, told the news station. “It hurts me to see how rude and cruel, and some of these people were my friends before this started,” she added.
The antigay group promoted the event on social media, posting a photo of the flannel-clad participants. “Anti-Gay Day” was to be the first of a planned week-long series of antigay events, which would use clothing to signal their animosity toward their LGBT peers. “Flannel anti-gay day only a few of many tomorrow is red day,” a student wrote in the caption.
Nationwide, animosity toward the Day of Silence has been encouraged by groups like Focus on the Family and the Illinois Family Institute, which organized antigay events like the Day of Dialogue as well as walkouts in protest of GLSEN’s “homosexuality-affirming dogma.” GLSEN reports that 56 percent of LGBT students felt unsafe at school due to their their sexual orientation. In addition, 38 percent felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
Administrators at the McGuffey School District are investigating the incident. Dr. Erica Kolat, the superintendent, released a statement saying that the school “will follow our Student Code of Conduct, and file legal citations, as warranted. We will resolve to ensure that all children can grow and learn in a safe, supportive environment free from discrimination.” However, some students do not feel safe returning to the school.
“It’s sad to me. It’s a high school. We should feel safe here. We don’t, and it’s starting to get worse,” Johnson said. Among the reasons for this fear was a “lynch list” circulating around the school, with a growing list of names.
They lived through bar raids, blatant discrimination and isolation and are still around to tell about it. A group of gay and lesbian seniors from a LGBT Community Center have teamed with YouTube personality Davey Wavey on a video to share memories and advice.
US-based Vice, known for its controversial documentaries, has released a three-part documentary investigating gay conversion therapy – a practice that has been denounced by medical communities and partially banned by several states. For the documentary, Vice sent their cameras to Journey Into Manhood, a gay conversion program, where men pay more than US$600 to attend a weekend retreat where they participate in exercises and activities to ‘cure’ themselves of their attraction to other men.
Dr Joseph Nicolosi, the founder of reparative therapy, is seen saying in the film, ‘Everyone is heterosexual. The idea that some people are naturally homosexual, or naturally gay, is just a social construct. So when you have individuals with same-sex attraction, we see it as something went wrong developmentally and we try to resolve the issue and put them back on the path toward their natural heterosexuality.’
It also investigates the controversial legal battle to fight conversion therapy for children.
Sam Brinton, a survivor of reparative therapy who is today a nuclear engineer as well as co-chair of Born Perfect which works to end reparative therapy, spoke of being physically tortured during his therapy sessions during which he was shown erotic pictures of men while his hands were ‘wrapped in hot coils’ and ‘shocked with electricity.’
The documentary also travels to the annual Gay Christian Network Conference in the US and speaks with former ‘ex-gay’ leaders including John Smid of Love in Action, who is now married to his gay partner. He says in the documentary, ‘Today I’m very offended at the concept of change therapies for homosexuality because the message that someone who is gay has something intrinsically wrong with them is a shame-producing, negative message that hits at the core of a human life and I’m offended that the message is still in any way communicated.’
On a weekend afternoon, 13 kids between the ages of five and 13 were sat down & asked to watch two gay couples get engaged. After that, they were interviewed about how they view gay relationships and laws banning LGBTI rights in the US and the rest of the world. The results will warm your heart.
The Guardian has teamed up with writer Kieran Yates and director Marcus Plowright to produce a short documentary on the small but tight-knit community of London’s Muslim drag queens.
At 12-minutes long, the film takes us behind-the-scenes as Ali, a gay Pakistani asylum-seeker, prepares to perform for the first time. “Ali fled Pakistan, where he was persecuted for being gay, but now faces abuse from his neighbours in London,” reads the blurb. “Mentored by Asifa Lahore, the UK’s first Muslim drag queen, Ali is determined to overcome his fears and express himself in a dance performance at the UK’s biggest ‘gaysian’ club night.”
“Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better,” the note reads. “The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender.”
16-year-old Leelah Alcorn died Sunday morning at 2:20 a.m. in a suspected suicide. Police believe she had walked three or four miles from her parent’s house in Kings Mill, Ohio to Interstate 71 where she leaped in front of a truck.
Following her death, a suicide note appeared on Alcorn’s Tumblr blog that suggested that she intended to kill herself. The missive offers a heartbreaking glimpse into the life of a teenager struggling with being accepted by her family and unable to see a hopeful future for herself:
If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.
Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.
When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.
My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.
When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.
I formed a sort of a “fuck you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.
So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.
At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a shit about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.
After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like shit because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.
That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a shit which one. The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.
Goodbye, (Leelah) Josh Alcorn
After her daughter’s death, Alcorn’s mother posted a message on her Facebook page that said: “My sweet 16 year old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn went home to heaven this morning. He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.”
Ireland has set a month for a referendum on marriage equality. Groups both for and against same-sex marriage will rally as they prepare for the public vote in early May 2015. No specific date has been announced as of yet. The issue was discussed today by Ministers at their final meeting before Christmas. Recent surveys suggest that more than two thirds of the country’s population support marriage equality. The Guardian has more on the topic.