Periodical Political Post *65

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This Is Me: A Pride Anthem

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During Sunday’s L.A. Pride parade, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles danced past the cheering crowd to perform a choreographed rendition of “This Is Me.” To the spectators present, the joyous moment officially confirmed the song as an anthem of Pride, which will undoubtedly be replayed throughout the month of June.

The song’s journey to the parade may be unexpected. But it has all of the requisite ingredients for this distinction. “This Is Me” was written by a gay man, Benj Pasek, and his writing partner, Justin Paul. The two are known for their original songs for Smash, La La Land,and Dear Evan Hansen, the latter of which won them a Tony Award for Best Original Score.

In addition to these queer credentials, the anthem in question is from The Greatest Showman, a 2017 musical film starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum. In the production, “This Is Me” is sung by Keala Settle, who portrays a bearded lady in the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Her experience, articulated through the song, is one of resilience in the face of hardship — which, after all, is what Pride is all about.

“I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, this is me,” Settle sings in an unapologetic declaration of identity that all queer people can relate to. She adds, “I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me.”

A Kid Like Jake

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Loving parents Alex (Claire Danes) and Greg (Jim Parsons) are faced with the daunting task of applying to private kindergartens in New York City for their 4-year-old, Jake.

Competing in this cutthroat environment means focusing on what is most unique about a child, forcing Alex and Greg to consider Jake’s love of dresses, fairy tales, and princesses. These qualities never seemed unusual before, but when Jake begins to act out in preschool, Alex and Greg—suddenly at odds—must find a way to support Jake’s identity without losing each other in the process.

American Trans Kids

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As the debate continues over which bathroom transgender people should use, a more complex question is emerging about how early the medical transition begins for trans kids. Families and doctors are rewriting the rules as they decide when and how to start medical intervention before transgender youth hit puberty.

About 2 percent of American youth identify as transgender, and that estimate is conservative since the population is likely underreporting. “I feel comfortable saying that any survey of LGBT identity likely underestimates the full population because it only accounts for one part of sexual and gender minority status, ‘identity’,” said Bianca Wilson of the Williams Institute, a national think tank at the UCLA School of Law that advances sexual orientation and gender identity law.

In addition to fighting for acceptance, transgender children and their families are faced with medical questions that could be life-changing. These decisions are even harder for those young trans and gender nonconforming people who don’t have family support. Estimates show that about 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT.

This documentary explores the emotionally charged and rapidly evolving issues faced by trans youth and their parents in a time of drastic political and societal change.

What did You learn at School today? Homophobia.

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Keeping LGBT issues out of schools is a fool’s errand. Some seven percent of millennials—who now account for the majority of the U.S. workforce—now identify as LGBT. The legalization of same-sex marriage has ushered in sweeping cultural change, too. Fewer teachers will feel like they have to hide who they are, or like they must leave the LGBT history untaught.

And yet, in recent weeks, there have been a rash of national news stories about LGBT issues—and, indeed, LGBT people—being pushed out of schools. LGBT teachers are getting suspended or fired. Some parents in Illinois are working themselves into a tizzy over LGBT history making its way into textbooks. And across the border in Alberta, there is considerable controversy over the fact that gay-straight alliances do not have to notify parents if their children come to extracurricular meetings.

Taken together, these stories paint a depressing picture of the state of LGBT acceptance today: For some Americans, the fantasy persists that schools can and should be LGBT-free zones. Age-old fears about teachers indoctrinating children, or “turning them gay,” still have power. And even some parents who consider themselves to be allies of LGBT adults will draw an uncrossable line in the sandbox. Read on…

Queer Kids & Homelessness

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New research found that American kids & teens that are LGBTQ are twice as likely to face homelessness than straight youth, and those who are homeless are at a significantly higher risk of violence and death compared to straight youth.

The study, from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, included a phone survey of 26,161 youth as well as 215 in-depth interviews with LGBTQ-identified homeless kids. This is the second in a series of briefs done as part of the Voices of Youth Count project, attempting to link evidence and action in an effort to end youth homelessness.

Queer youth were shown to face a higher percentage of risky conditions on the streets, including being 15% more likely to be physically harmed, 10% more likely to self-harm, and 18% more likely to exchange sex for basic needs.

Discrimination both within and outside their family was also far more likely, with 64% of Queer youth reporting such from their family, and 60% outside of it. This compared to “only” 37% of straight youth reporting either.

Further, race also played a part, with youth who are black or multiracial and LGBTQ being 16% more likely to be homeless, versus only 4% for white, straight youth.

Matthew Morton, the principal Investigator for Voices of Youth Count, wants to offer up a silver lining.

“The findings are a bit grim, but hopefully it will galvanise communities to help these young people. This is a very resilient population, and many expressed hope that they can rise above their circumstances. The message here is really from the youth themselves – if we listen to them and offer help where it’s needed, they can make great progress.”

Periodical Political Post *64

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Alex Strangelove

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Next month, Netflix is premiering Alex Strangelove, a new teen sex comedy with a gay lead character directed by Craig Johnson, the writer/director behind True Adolescents starring Mark Duplass and Skeleton Twins starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader.

Alex Strangelove is about Alex Truelove, a straight-laced and driven high school senior with a wonderful girlfriend and a bright future ahead of him. After his buddies discover that he and his girlfriend, Claire, haven’t had sex yet,

Alex becomes obsessed with losing his virginity. But things get complicated when he meets Elliot, a handsome and charming gay kid from the other side town, who unwittingly sends Alex into a sexual identity panic. What results is a hilarious and moving exploration of love, sex and friendship in modern high school.