Periodical Political Post *82

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Several U.S. schools get tax money for being discriminatory hellholes

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Several schools receiving money from the state of Mississippi ban not only pregnant students, some even openly ban queer students. Seven private schools that benefit from the state’s school voucher program explicitly say that they expel students who get pregnant.

At issue are the state’s “segregation academies,” schools that were founded after Mississippi public schools were integrated in 1969 so that white parents could keep their kids away from black students. The schools discriminated on the basis of race either explicitly or implicitly, and the state legislature immediately offered them support in the form of school vouchers. While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that schools that practice racial discrimination would lose their tax-exempt status, they remain significantly whiter than their surrounding areas to this day.

Six Mississippi segregation academies examined by the Huffington Post tell their students in their student handbooks that they will be expelled if they get pregnant or father a child. The Hillcrest Christian School in Jackson warns students that the school can ask a student to take a pregnancy test.

The Northpoint Christian School also says that students who get an abortion will also be expelled. The school  also bans homosexuality and says any student “who promotes, engages in, or identifies himself/herself with such activity through any action” will not be admitted. The state’s school voucher program gives the schools up to $6500 per student, effectively funding discrimination.

Another school that bans pregnant girls, the Madison-Ridgeland Academy also bans “twists,” “cornrows,” and “dreadlocks,” all hairstyles associated with African-Americans. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed a complaint against several schools in Florida with the same policy, arguing that this policy is a form of racial discrimination.

Florida has a similar issue with schools that receive state money. Seven schools were found earlier this year to have a “zero tolerance” policy for homosexuality, while others were using textbooks that teach that homosexuality is a “moral evil.”

RIP Tumblr. And fuck you.

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Yesterday was the day. From now on Tumblr will no longer allow “adult” content on its platform. But the microblogging site says it still wants users to think of it as a place to “explore sexuality.” This morning, Tumblr posted a lengthy message explaining its new guidelines, which are now in effect:

A couple of weeks ago we announced an update to our Community Guidelines regarding adult content, and we’ve received a lot of questions and feedback from you. First and foremost, we are sorry that this has not been an easy transition and we know we can do a better job of explaining what we’re doing.

It then went on to clarify that it won’t be “deleting” all adult content. Instead, it will be “hiding” it so only the person running the page to which the content was uploaded can view it. In other words: If you wanna post a racy video of yourself, that’s fine, but nobody except for you will ever be able to see it. Oh, and it can’t be too racy.

Seems completely pointless? Yup. Just like Tumblr as a whole nowadays. Tumblr went on to clarify that any content showing genitals or sexual acts, real or simulated, will no longer be permitted, adding:

Photorealistic imagery or photography–images, videos, or GIFs–with real humans that include exposed genitals or female-presenting (yeah, we know you hate this term) nipples or depict sex acts is not allowed per our guidelines.

Furthermore, Tumblr added that it “has always been home to marginalised communities and always will be”, and that it recognises its “special obligation” to these communities. It also said it doesn’t want to “silence the vital conversations that take place here every day.”

LGBTQ+ conversations, exploration of sexuality and gender, efforts to document the lives and challenges of those in the sex worker industry, and posts with pictures, videos, and GIFs of gender-confirmation surgery are all examples of content that is not only permitted on Tumblr but actively encouraged.

Good joke, Tumblr.

A teen drag queen & their proud mom inspire Twitter

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There’s nothing 17-year-old Brett McDowall love more than putting on a wig, slipping into a pair of heels and a sparkly dress, painting his face with makeup, and transforming into his drag alter ego, Amberlea Fruitville.

Teenage drag queen Amberlea Fruitville at prom

Brett’s mom, Randi, couldn’t be prouder of her son, whose drag ambitions started when he first got his hands on his sister’s tutu at age four. Since then, Randi has been buying him costumes and makeup and driving him to drag competitions all around Florida.

Randi recently took to Twitter to share the immense pride she feels for her son, who came out as gay at 13, writing: “My son is a drag queen. This means he likes to dress as a woman for performance purposes. He is not transgender, he identifies as a male and does not want to be a woman. It’s hurtful to be rejected by family who don’t take the time to educate themselves.”

She then asked people to retweet her post. And they did: The post has since gone viral, receiving nearly 19,000 likes, 7,000 comments and 6,000 retweets.

“What I love most about my son is that he has never been ashamed of his sexual identity or going out in drag,” she tells Gay Star News. “He is funny, an amazing singer and dancer and he owns it whenever he performs. He is kind, sensitive, smart and extremely loving and he brings joy to so many people,” she added. I could not be more proud of him.”

Queer kids as young as 10 suffer from depression at alarming rate

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Queer kids are four times more likely to self-harm with suicidal intent compared to straight youth. They’re also far more likely to experience symptoms of depression from as young as 10 years old. These symptoms will persist then into their 20s.

Researchers from the University of College London also found gay, queer youth will have worse mental health overall. ‘We’ve known for some time that sexual minority youth have worse mental health outcomes,’ study author Dr Gemma Lewis said. ‘It’s quite concerning that we’ve found this trend starts as early as 10 years old, and worsens throughout adolescence. The study is the first of its kind in the UK, questioning 4,828 young people. Participants responded to questions about depression seven times from age 10 to 21, and at 16 and 21 were asked if they self-harmed in the past year.

While depressive symptoms increased throughout their teenage years for all groups, the increase was far greater for queer teens. Self-harm was more common for non-straight teens at both 16 and 21. At 18, queer teens were twice as likely to fulfil the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of depression.

Madeleine Irish, one of the authors of the study, said the sense of feeling different may affect mental health in children. She suggested a range of stressors could be involved. These can include ‘discrimination, stigmatisation, social isolation, shame or fear or rejection, including at home or at school.’

Dr Lewis added: ‘The fact we found mental health disparities at such a young age suggests that early interventions may be useful to prevent and treat such mental health challenges. ‘Despite changes to public perceptions and attitudes in recent years, gay, lesbian and bisexual youth remain at increased risk of long-term mental health problems—addressing this inequality should be a research, policy, clinical and public mental health priority.’

What good Sex Ed looks like

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Jansrud is a Norwegian celebrity and the host of the state-funded educational TV series Newton on Norway’s NRK TV. Among other things, Newton aired a segment on puberty featuring Jansrud frankly discussing (and demonstrating) such topics as kissing, masturbation, and how to give a hickey.

The segment begins with Jansrud explaining that puberty “gives you a new body that can make children if you have sex—otherwise known as fucking, screwing, shagging, getting it on, or making love”.  Jansrud then demonstrates where the clitoris and the sensitive nerves on the penis are located, on both live and rubber models.

“Now, what everyone starts with sooner or later, but rarely talks about, stroking your own sex parts. To masturbate,” she says. “Both the clitoris of the girl and the head of the penis on a boy is full of nerves that make it pleasant to touch.”

She then lubricates the vagina before demonstrating penetrative sexual intercourse on the rubber models, as well as how to use a condom. “For it to be pleasant, it’s vital that the vagina be moist enough,” she explains.”For the woman, you also have to rub the clitoris.” Jansrud caps off the segment by showing viewers her pregnant belly. She found out she was pregnant on the air in February, and she plans to turn her pregnancy into a recurring segment on the series in the coming months.

This isn’t the first time that Newton has taken such a frank and educational approach to sex. The series landed in hot water on Facebook when the social network deleted a clip of Jansrud demonstrating where the uterus and fallopian tubes are located on a woman’s body by painting the organs on a naked model’s skin. Another clip showed Jansrud explaining menstruation by filming the blood trickling down a live model’s legs.

Such a straightforward approach to sex education seems to be par for the course in Nordic countries. A few years ago, a Swedish TV children’s cartoon segment featuring a dancing penis and vagina went viral. The video featured the lyrics “Here comes the penis at full pace” and “the vagina is cool, you better believe it, even on an old lady.”

Unsurprisingly, Newton’s segment has been heavily criticized on a handful of foreign blogs, whose writers seem to think the it’s borderline pornographic and prurient. This is despite the fact that Jansrud also touches on such important issues as homosexuality, the age of consent, and the need to use contraceptives. She’s also quick to assure teens that “there’s no need to rush into having sex. It’ll happen soon enough.”

Sex-positive Norwegian commenters are applauding Jansrud for speaking about issues, like masturbation and penetrative sex, so frankly. “Great series, that I wish I would have seen when I was in school!” one commenter wrote, while another chimed in: “I am genuinely proud of the fact that Norway is leading the way here”.

Perhaps other countries should take a page out of Jansrud’s book and take a similarly frank approach to sex ed, or maybe we wouldn’t have things like chlamydia epidemics at public high schools in America to deal with.

The queer communities harmed by Tumblr’s NSFW content ban

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On Monday, Tumblr announced that it will ban “adult content” from its social network starting December 17. But the ban will penalise the site’s thousands of LGBTQ artists, educators, sex workers and others fans as well.

Tumblr’s move was foreseeable: Last November, Apple briefly removed Tumblr from its App Store. This January, the US congressional Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) will hold websites liable for when users post any content seen as promoting sex work. Eager to avoid prosecution, Tumblr and other sites are purging all sexual content.

An estimated 20% of Tumblr’s current traffic comes from people seeking adult content. So Tumblr’s decision will make the site more advertiser friendly while effectively killing off one-fifth of its user base. Its automated system for detecting adult content is currently flagging pictures of sand dunes, women sitting on desks, wrestlers and other non-explicit content. Thus, it’s hassling far more than just posters of adult content.

While Tumblr may retain its large fandom and social justice communities who use it to connect and share artwork, the ban will harm user who’ve amassed hundreds of thousands of followers through a shared love of erotic art & images celebrating sexuality. Meanwhile the site will still allow posts glorifyig white supremacy. Here are five communities that’ll be most harmed by Tumblr’s adult content ban.

Read on…

The best esports player of the year is gay, black and a furry

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“I’m gay, black, a furry — pretty much everything a Republican hates — and the best esports player of the whole year.”

—Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, American esports player and four-time Evolution Championship Series winner, in a speech accepting the award for Best Esports Player at the The Game Awards 2018.

McLean is famous in the esports community not only for being a skilled gamer, but also for his open embrace of his sexuality and SonicFox furry persona, including wearing his fur suit to gaming tournaments.

The 20-year-old gave a nervous, excited speech while accepting his award Thursday evening, donning his blue fox furry head as he walked up to the stage before stating in disbelief, “I really won this shit.” Calling the award — which is voted on by a panel of international gaming journalists, all well as by members of the public — a “big honor,” McLean said he “just really really [enjoys] playing video games competitively” and that he doesn’t compete for the fame. Instead, he joked, “I kind of just enjoy the rush of beating people up” — a nod to his preferred genre of fighting games.

The highest-paid fighting game player in the world, McLean also referenced during his speech a $10,000 donation he made last month to help the father of fellow gamer Curtis “Rewind” McCall, who is undergoing stage three cancer treatment.

He then gave a series of shout-outs to his team and friends, before ending on a bold declaration of his sexuality and identity that drew cheers from the crowd.

“As you guys also may know — or may not know — I’m also super gay,” McLean said. “I wanna give a super shoutout to all my LGBTQ+ friends that have always helped me through life. Obviously I’m a furry, so shout out to the furries…. Guess all I gotta really say is I’m gay, black, a furry — pretty much everything a Republican hates — and the best esports player of the whole year I guess. Thank you so much!”

McLean made headlines and drew praise in August this year when he came out publicly immediately after winning the 2018 EVO championship. “I’m gay,” McLean tweeted, before reminding any haters, “also the best [Dragon Ball FighterZ] player on this fucking planet [don’t] forget it.”

Facebook bans talking about sexuality. Yes, talking.

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If you thought Tumblr banning pictures and videos containing nudity was dumb, wait till you hear what Facebook just announced: They’re banning talking about your sexual preferences and activities on their site. Yup. The biggest social network in the world wants you to stop talking about sex because, you know, that’s dirty.

Their new content policy makes things like saying you’re a ‘top’ or a ‘bottom’ off-limits, in a move the social media behemoth says will combat content that “facilitates, encourages or coordinates sexual encounters between adults” and bars “sexually explicit language that may lead to solicitation.”

“Sex positions,” “sexual preference” and any number of other sexy umbrellas pertaining to “sexual hints” are all means for moderator intervention now. Another common phrase you see a lot — “send nudes” — is a no-no, whether its meant as a joke or an actual request. The new rules ban “offering or asking for nude images.”

This new wave of Puritanism with companies demonising anything that is even remotely related to sex hits queer people the hardest because queer themes are regraded “adult” topics by default on many U.S. sites.

Further reading: Facebook’s new community standards blatantly hurt queer users

Periodical Political Post *81

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Queer News

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