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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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Periodical Political Post *120

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Troye Sivan was terrified of being gay before he came out

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Troye Sivan recently shared a story many queer kids can relate to: Being afraid of who they are or who they may become. In a an interview, Troye reflected on his latest album, Bloom, which featured tracks that highlight how queer people come into their sense of self. As a result, he said that while he never set out to become a gay pop star, he has noticed a change in who listens to his music.

“I was thinking, this is an interesting shift,” he saidnoting a recent influx of older gay fans, in addition to his already young following. “But it’s never been something I’ve strived for. I’m just grateful that people care.”

The realization wasn’t only impactful for what Troye describes as his “day job” but also something that resonated deeply given his own identity.

“Growing up in a society where I didn’t want to be gay for the first 15 years of my life, I was terrified of it. That’s still in there and I’m personally trying to work it out.”

There’s a push-and-pull that’s oftentimes present in the experience of coming into one’s sense of self as a queer person, even after coming out to those closest to you and — in Troye’s case — his entire fanbase and the greater public. That’s a topic he explores in his music, even while he continues to personally develop as an artist.

“Although I came out as gay to my family, there was still a lot I hid: the way I wanted to move, dress, speak. I’m enjoying this process of pushing myself, figuring out: Am I into this? Am I not? There are no rules.”

Coming out, or even inviting others in to your life, isn’t always easy and can be fraught for anyone, regardless of celebrity. Exploring your identity is a personal process, and when the public is paying attention to your every move, it may be harder to feel as though there’s enough space to do so.  But Troye does what he can to balance and make sense of it all.

“As long as people are asking about it, it means there’s still hunger for that conversation. I’m in a pretty privileged place. I live in West Hollywood, where everyone is gay, and I’ve got supportive family and friends. For me to be sick of talking about a subject that for other people is still so real and has an impact on their daily lives … I kind of think it’s the least I can do.”

Periodical Political Post *119

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Florida judge rules that “curing” kids from being gay is legal

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A judge in Florida struck down an ordinance by the city of Tampa which made the use of conversion “therapy” on minors illegal. In his decision, Judge William Fung argued that the city doesn’t have the authority to ban the practice.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by New Heart Outreach, a Christian conversion torture practice in Tampa Bay. The lawsuit follows the passage of a 2017 ordinance banning medical professionals from attempting to “cure” the sexual orientation or gender identity of queer kids.

Conversion therapy refers to a broad, loosely defined range of practices from physical abuse to shock treatment and “praying the gay away.” Pretty much every leading medical organisation throughout the United States — including the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association — has roundly condemned it as extremely harmful to minors. These groups have also expressed support for legislation to protect children from it.

While 18 states and Washington, D.C. have banned conversion therapy on LGBTQ+ minors, there aren’t any statewide protections in Florida, where a conversion therapy bill has repeatedly stalled in the state legislature.

In a statement, Equality Florida spoke out against last week’s ruling, suggesting it could lead to the repeal of other ordinances in the state. Although less than a quarter of the state’s population are safeguarded from conversion therapy under local laws, Florida also leads the nation in the number of city and county municipalities that have passed ordinances to ban conversion therapy.

Despite the dangers of conversion therapy, the New York City Council recently repealed its own conversion therapy ordinance in fears of a similar challenge to Tampa’s.

Kaze to Ki No Uta

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Kaze to Ki No Uta or The Poem of the Wind and Trees is a ground-breaking boys’ love manga that was first released in the 1970s by Keiko Takemiya.

It follows Serge Battour, a strong and caring boy and young viscount, who enters Laconblade Academy to follow in the footsteps of his father. There he meets Gilbert, a beautiful young boy with a scandalous reputation, who Serge is bewitched and enchanted by.

Gilbert is known for regularly “selling himself” to older students, whilst this is often met with slut-shaming from other students or the school staff turning a blind eye, Serge is not so quick to judge Gilbert and tries to befriend him, but eventually the two boys realise that they want more than just friendship from each other…

This story centres around how the young characters deal with their burgeoning sexualities, especially in regards homosexual desire and love in a society where love and sex between two men is considered taboo.

The story also has a second major theme: that of dealing with the past. The manga asks whether we can overcome our pasts, stay strong and resolute and refuse to let history repeat itself, or will be be overtaken and overwhelmed by our pasts?

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Queer youth is diverse beyond the common categories of gay & bi

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More than 20% of queer American teenagers and young adults identify as something other than gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to a survey presented yesterday by The Trevor Project.

The survey, which was conducted last year, reveals a major part of LGBTQ youth prefer terms like “queer, trisexual, omnisexual or pansexual” to describe their sexual orientation. In comparison to the 21% of queer kids who use those less common terms, 45% identify as gay or lesbian and 33% as bisexual.

Dr. Amy Green, director of Research for The Trevor Project, said in a statement the survey results are consistent with terms used by LGBTQ youth in speaking with the organisation.

“The Trevor Project often hears from young people who identify outside of the sexual orientation labels of gay, lesbian or bisexual, and many times they are able to articulate the difference between their emotional, romantic and sexual attractions to others,” Green said. “LGBTQ young people understand the complexities of their sexual orientation, so we hope to see the research, education and clinical fields expand their sexual orientation measures beyond lesbian, gay and bisexual labels in an effort to better serve LGBTQ youth.”

The vast majority of LGBTQ youth who wrote in a sexual orientation in the survey provided one sexual orientation, according The Trevor Project. Among the terms are asexual, polysexual, abrosexual, graysexual, androsexual, bicurious, homoflexible, masexual, omnisexual, sapiosexual and two spirit.

A substantial portion of respondents used terms to denote distinctions between their sexual and romantic attraction, especially those who identified as asexual, according to the Trevor Project. For those individuals, they chose another term to recognise their romantic attractions, such as asexual aromantic, asexual panromanic or asexual homoromantic.

The survey was conducted The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth organization that focuses on suicide prevention, LGBTQ people aged 13-24 among a sample of 24,836 youths who were recruited via social media to participate.

You can read more here.

Periodical Political Post *118

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