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American Psychological Association endorses use of singular “They” pronoun

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The American Psychological Association (APA) now endorses the use of “they” as a singular pronoun. They are the latest major organization to provide style guidelines around “they,” meaning that scholars, writers, and scientists will be mandated to use they/them pronouns when needed within their professional and educational fields.

It’s just one step towards the legitimization and standardization of the singular “they” pronoun, validating those who use it as a gender-neutral option within a major medical context.

“This means it is officially good practice in scholarly writing to use the singular ‘they,’” APA’s Content Development Manager Chelsea Lee writes in an APA Style blog post. Style and grammar guidelines for use of the singular “they” now appear in the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and the APA Style website.

APA is America’s largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists, with over 118,000 members. Its Publication Manual is followed by a vast amount of professionals, educators, and scholars, who work in the social or behavioral sciences, medical field, and other related fields.

APA Style would have previously accepted the use of the phrase “he or she” to indicate a gender-neutral subject; for example: “A person should enjoy his or her vacation.” But Lee writes that this usage “presumes that a person uses either the pronoun ‘he’ or the pronoun ‘she,’” which might not always be the case since some people use other pronouns such as “they,” “zir,” “ze,” and “xe,” among others. “When readers see a gendered pronoun, they make assumptions about the gender of the person being described,” Lee writes. “APA advocates for the singular ‘they’ because it is inclusive of all people and helps writers avoid making assumptions about gender.”

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The rise of young adult books with LGBTQ characters

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When Amy Rose Capetta started writing her young adult novel “Echo After Echo,” she wasn’t sure if it would be embraced by the publishing industry.

Though she had already published two books, “Echo After Echo” was different: The mystery, set on Broadway in New York, features a romance between two teenage girls. As she searched for a publisher, Capetta, 34, said she was never explicitly told to tone down her characters’ sexuality, but she did wonder if editors who said they were “not able to connect” with the characters were really saying that the same-sex relationship might not appeal to straight readers.

“I wrote ‘Echo After Echo’ in breathless fear that I was tanking the career I’d been dreaming of and working toward,” she said. “That story took three years, which is a long time to be breathless.”

Yet instead of diminishing her career, “Echo After Echo,” which was published in 2017, did the opposite. It was a Junior Library Guild selection and established Capetta, who identifies as queer, as an LGBTQ young adult author. She’s scheduled to have three books published in 2019.

The market for YA books featuring protagonists who identify as LGBTQ is growing, as publishers and authors tap a rising demand among young readers for a broader diversity of characters and storylines.

Publishers including Simon & Schuster and Alfred A. Knopf said they do not track the number of YA books with LGBTQ protagonists, but they have observed an increase in the genre over the last few years.

“In years past, you would see a concentration of distribution in the institutional and education markets, as well as independent stores,” Justin Chanda, vice president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, wrote in an emailed statement. “Today, there are many, many books featuring LGBTQ+ characters being published in various genres that are being carried in large numbers by all accounts.”

Some of those books — including works by Amber Smith, Christina Lauren and Tim Federle — have become best-sellers. Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s 2012 book “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” — a story about two Mexican-American boys navigating family relationships, race and sexuality — has been one of the Simon & Schuster’s best-selling backlist titles for the past several years, Chanda said.

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Facebook & Instgram ban ‘suggestive’ use of emojis 💦

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After banning all kinds of nudity in pictures and even talking about your sex life, Facebook and Instagram are not done yet. In their dystopian quest to rid the internet of any trace of sexuality they’re now going after the “suggestive use” of certain emojis like the peach and the aubergine…

The new rules are part of their new Community Standards which were implemented at some stage between 7 September and now, according to XBIZ. These absurd new rules were brought to public attention by BBC journalist Thomas Fabbri who covers issues relating to sex workers.

The new terms supposedly aim to prevent “sexual solicitation” on Facebook and Instagram. The guidelines mean that a person’s account can be flagged for “sexual solicitation” if they use the aubergine or peach emoji in a post with any kind of sexual context.

Under the new guidelines, users are warned not to either offer or ask for content that is “implicitly or indirectly” related to nude imagery, sex or sex chat. They are also banning “mentions or depictions of sexual activity” including drawings that is related to “sexual solicitation”.

They do not list what emojis are considered to have a sexual use – however, they are presumably referring to emojis such as the eggplant, the peach and drops of water, which are all typically used on social media in sexual contexts.

Periodical Political Post *122

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Periodical Political Post *121

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Queer teens need more than anti-bullying statutes

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On October 20, 2010, offices, classrooms, and social media profiles around the world became awash in the color purple, the stripe of LGBTQ+ pride flag associated with “spirit.” It was the first observance of Spirit Day, the now-official LGBTQ+ holiday devoted to anti-bullying advocacy. But before the spirit of Spirit Day moved millions to voice their support for queer youth, it moved a high school sophomore from Vancouver to speak out. Her name was Brittany McMillan, and it was her viral Tumblr post decrying the homophobic bullying that influenced the suicides of five teens across the country that inspired the international event we recognize today.

Nearly a decade since McMillan’s original call to action, Spirit Day has become a global phenomenon, with participants from Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown to drag queen Peppermint to queer icon Paula Abdul joining LGBTQ+ community members and allies in offering empathy and support to LGBTQ+ youth who have experienced bullying. Yet perhaps the most stirring take from this year’s Spirit Day so far has come from Pose star Angelica Ross. “We all need to take a stand against all forms of bullying. But we have to go beyond just turning our profile pictures purple,” she told GLAAD. “I see a lot of folks out there giving us lip service.”

Spirit Day may be bigger than ever, but as Ross suggests, queer and transphobic bullying is as prevalent as ever, too — and calls to action may not be enough to curtail it. While events like Spirit Day are no doubt essential for spreading awareness, it’s going to take both structural, state-level legal reforms and school-by-school policy changes to curb LGBTQ+ youth bullying. Recent studies have shown that neither on their own will be enough.

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UK’s porn block dead for now but might come back even worse

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Plans to introduce a nationwide age verification system for online pornography have been abandoned by the UK government after years of technical troubles and concerns from privacy campaigners.

The climbdown follows countless difficulties with implementing the policy, which would have required all pornography websites to ensure users were over 18. Methods would have included checking credit cards or allowing people to buy a “porn pass” age verification document from a newsagent.

Websites that refused to comply with the policy – one of the first of its kind in the world – faced being blocked by internet service providers or having their access to payment services restricted.

The culture secretary, Nicky Morgan, told parliament the policy would be abandoned. Instead, the government would instead focus on measures to protect children in the much broader online harms white paper. This is expected to introduce a new internet regulator, which will impose a duty of care on all websites and social media outlets – not just pornography sites.

Despite abandoning the proposals, Morgan said the government remained open to using age verification tools in future, saying: “The government’s commitment to protecting children online is unwavering. Adult content is too easily accessed online and more needs to be done to protect children from harm.”

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