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A ten-year-old pulling down a classmate’s pants would be considered a prank in most places. Not an excessively funny one, sure; but a prank nonetheless.

Yet in some countries a mix of “zero tolerance” policies and the idea that our bodies are gross, disgusting things we have to hide and be ashamed of led to practise that ruins the lives of kids every day:

Instead of, let’s say, a talk about respecting They get placed on public sex-offender lists. And many of them will have trouble escaping that stigma for the rest of their lives.

15-year-old Christian from Alabama committed suicide after facing expulsion and registration on a sex offender registry for streaking during a high school football game

One morning in 2007, Leah DuBuc, a twenty-two-year-old college student in Kalamazoo, began writing an essay for English class that she hoped would save her life. She knew that people like her had been beaten, bombed, shot at, killed. The essay aired details about her past that she’d long tried to suppress; by posting it on her class’s server, where anyone who Googled her name could find it, she thought she might be able to quiet the whispers, the threats, and possibly make it easier to find a job. Her story, she warned, “is not a nice one, but hopefully it will have a happy ending.”

DuBuc had grown up in Howell, Michigan, a small town of berry and melon farmers. In high school, she had thrived. She had earned straight A’s, written for the school newspaper, led Students Against Driving Drunk (she voted to change the name to Students Against Destructive Decisions, she says, to stress that “there are lots of bad decisions that can get you killed”), and performed in “Grease” and “Once Upon a Mattress,” while working part time as a cashier at Mary’s Fabulous Chicken & Fish. “High school was bliss for me,” DuBuc said recently. “I tried not to dwell on the stuff that wasn’t good.” But, as she was about to start her freshman year at Western Michigan University, she got a call from a close childhood friend, Victoria, who asked, “Did you know you’re on the public sex-offender registry?”

Read on…

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When no Bathroom is right

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A transgender boy was suspended from his high school in South Carolina for using the boys’ restroom — after being told that he can’t use the girls’ bathroom either.

He used to use the girls’ bathroom when he started his transition but that prompted complaints about a boy being in the girls’ bathroom. So the school allowed him to use the boys’ restroom for the following three years of middle-school without anyone raising an eyebrow.

This changed though when he started High School and was seen by a teacher using the same bathroom. “He must’ve looked at his records and saw the sex on his records because that’s the only way he could’ve known,” the student’s mother said. The next day, the boy was called in by administrators and told he must use the girls’ bathroom or go to the nurse’s office.

trans-bathrooms

“If he started using the girl’s bathroom in 12th grade, it’s going to create a problem. I felt like that would be dangerous,” his mom said. “The nurse’s office is downstairs on the first floor of the school and the school has three stories.”

The boy was holding it, which his mother worried was unhealthy. So she told him to keep doing what he had been all along and use the boys’ bathroom. After the student was seen by teachers using the boys’ bathroom about 2 weeks ago, he was suspended. “They did not give me a copy of the write up,” his mother told the station. “They did not talk to me.”

The student’s mother enrolled him in an online school, but it means the student is missing out on all the activities he was involved in, including having to drop out of a school play.

“Let the transgender kids be themselves,” she told the station. “Let them be safe and let them be comfortable. Let them have their education in an environment where they are not harassed or felt to be unsafe.”

No explanation was given as to why the teacher was in the students’ restroom. The mother said she received an email from the Department of Education, which seemed to indicate the school was in the wrong

Why gendered bathrooms are a thing to begin with? Who knows. But this boy, and many like him, certainly know what it feels like to not belong.

via Raw Story, read more at WMBF 

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A Very Queer Word of the Year: The Singular “They”

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Bad news for people who have been arguing that the gender-neutral pronoun “they” doesn’t make any sense because it’s not grammatically correct: a crowd of over 200 linguists who met at the American Dialect Society’s annual meeting last Friday evening have chosen the singular “They” as the most significant term or word in the past year in a landslide vote.

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Using a singular they is common habit in English & American speech, as in “That cat loves their owner,” but has risen to prominence again as a useful way to refer to people who don’t use the pronouns “he” or “she.”

A practise several languages introduced over the last few years. Swedish speakers for example can use “hen” when the gender of a person is unknown or the classic pronouns don’t apply.

Ben Zimmer, a language columnist for the Wall Street Journal who presided over the voting on Friday afternoon, said in a press release: “In the past year, new expressions of gender identity have generated a deal of discussion, and singular they has become a particularly significant element of that conversation,” Zimmer said. “While many novel gender-neutral pronouns have been proposed, they has the advantage of already being part of the language.

Other contenders for the 2015 title of Word of the Year were “on fleek,” “ammosexual,” “ghost,” and “thanks Obama.” For a full list of the nominees and winners in each category, read the American Dialect Society’s press release here.

Syrian LGBTQ Youth: Finding Acceptance in Europe

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While most Syrian refugees are fleeing the war, others are escaping the persecution they face because of their sexual identities – and the violent punishments often inflicted on those who violate the Islamic State’s ban on homosexuality

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As war rages on, Syria’s queer youth seeks acceptance in Europe.

KALMAR, Sweden – Sara, a 22-year-old openly bisexual who was recently granted asylum in Germany, has seen her life change in remarkable ways since leaving Syria. She is also adamant: “I wouldn’t go back, not even for a visit.”

“Today, I am free on all levels. My new friends and even their families love me and support me. The whole society is on my side. People here are open-minded and accepting,” she said.

Nearly five years of war have forced millions of Syrians to flee their homes and their homeland, risking everything for the chance of a safer life in Europe. But there is a smaller group of refugees fleeing not only the day-to-day bloodshed and chaos, but a more targeted form of violence aimed at their sexual identity.

Discrimination against non-normative sexual and gender identities in Syria is nothing new. As in many parts of the Arab world, it is illegal to be homosexual in Syria and same-sex partners have long been the target of honor crimes, harassment and imprisonment.

But the arrival of Islamic fundamentalist factions such as the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) has radically intensified persecution across the country, pushing some Syrians to join the stream of refugees headed to Europe in search of sexual freedom and expression as well as safety.

“The Islamic State executes homosexuals by throwing them from the tops of high buildings,” said Logal Kako, a 21-year-old Syrian man who’s been openly gay since he was in high school.

Read on…

Is Steven Universe too Queer for the Queen?

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Cartoon Network hits like Adventure Time and Steven Universe might be the most progressive kids’ shows in the history of cartoons. Adventure Time features an on-going, complicated but charming romance between two of the female protagonists and  Steven Universe is the kind of fantasy adventure where even the villains are treated with kindness and sympathy, and where one of the major characters is literally the physical embodiment of a committed gay relationship.

steven-universe-gay

So it’s going to be pretty upsetting for fans of the show—not to mention the collected hivemind of fanart, “feels,” and animated GIFs known as Tumblr—to hear that some of the show’s more explicitly queer content is being censored from the show’s broadcasts in the UK.

As reported by Pink News—and shown in the Tumblr comparison video below—Cartoon Network UK has been editing moments of mild sexuality—as in suggestive looks and the occasional shimmy, not, like, full-on magical-alien-rock-women bacchanalia—out of its broadcast of the show.

http://officialkurapika.tumblr.com/post/136006093473/as-you-may-know-there-have-been-posts-going

The highlighted moment comes from “We Need To Talk,” an episode in which a giant space woman’s jealous lover manipulates her into having quasi-explicit magical sex in front of her boyfriend as part of a complicated emotional power play. (And if that’s not weird enough, the resulting fusion dance turns them into a sort of multi-eyed Flashdance monster.)

But it’s not the Jennifer Beals homages or bizarre relationship drama that upset the censors; rather, a couple of longing looks between the characters Rose Quartz and Pearl were apparently too saucy for British audiences to handle. (It’s also possible that the watchdogs felt that the “Fuck you” look Pearl shoots mid-dance at her romantic rival Greg was so clear as to be borderline obscene.)

Cartoon Network UK blamed the lack of a British TV rating system for the cuts, telling reporters, “The U.S. broadcast system requires that shows are marked with a rating–in this case PG (parental guidance necessary). In the UK, we have to ensure everything on air is suitable for kids of any age at any time. We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents.” (Said locals are apparently completely okay with the unedited heterosexual kissing that closes out the clip.)

via AV Club, Pink News & Polygon

Young, attractive, and totally not into having Sex

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Screw promiscuity and free love—the sexual revolution has passed from freedom of sexuality to freedom from sexuality. It’s an orientation embraced by the 80,000 registered users of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

cake-sexThat’s where the conversation broadening the sexual spectrum started, back in 2001. Since then, it has sprawled across message boards and Tumblrs, as a way for people to identify themselves—and find each other—outside of the traditional sexual confines.

The taxonomy can be confusing: There are gray-asexuals, who identify somewhere between asexuality and more conventional interest; demisexuals, who only feel attraction in a close relationship; heteroromantics, for those who develop nonsexual feelings for members of the opposite sex; panromantics, who can feel a nonsexual crush for someone of any gender identity… Take a look at the sexual spectrum, and you’ll see that wanting sex at all—regardless of with whom—is just one part of it.

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