Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Speaker: Gender issues hurt kids in foster care

Posted: Monday, April 19, 2010 1:30 pm | Updated: 12:14 pm, Mon Apr 19, 2010.

By SARA GIBONEY Hub Staff Writer | 0 comments

KEARNEY — “It wasn’t just the other kids in my group home who were calling me ‘faggot.’ It was the staff, too. I had nowhere to turn for help,” said one child in foster care.

A caseworker deems a child unadoptable because of his sexual orientation. Foster parents allow a child to be bullied because he is gay. A lesbian teen in foster care is sent to therapy to “fix” her sexual orientation. A male teen in foster care is forced to participate in masculine activities such as football because he acts femininely.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender — or GLBT, for short — teens are often bullied, taunted, isolated and degraded when living in foster care, according to Adam McCormick, an associate professor of social work at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.

“There really does seem to be, in the foster care system, this denial of existence of GLBT youth in our care or those of us who do acknowledge their existence, a desire for them to remain silent and invisible,” he said.

McCormick spoke at the University of Nebraska at Kearney Child Welfare Conference Friday. The theme was “Culturally Sensitive Child Welfare Practice: Putting Children and Families First.”

McCormick presented “Maltreatment Experiences of GLBT Youth.”

McCormick said 5 percent to 12 percent of youths in foster care identify themselves as GLBT and 20 percent to 40 percent of homeless and runaway youth who us services identify themselves as GLBT.

He added that resources on GLBT youths in foster care are limited.

“It really does seem to be overlooked and under-investigated,” he said.

The number of youths who identify themselves has GLBT is probably greater because many youth don’t feel safe coming out to their foster parents.

Many GLBT youths who are not supported run away or are kicked out of their foster home, McCormick said. One in three gay and lesbian youths reported being physically abused shortly after coming out to their caretakers.

“GLBT youth, in general, are at an increased likelihood of experiencing some form of abuse whether it be physical abuse, sexual abuse or psychological abuse,” McCormick said.

McCormick said there is an increase in risk behaviors among GLBT youths in foster care. Risk behaviors include truancy, substance abuse, behavioral issues and engaging in criminal activity.

Those issues aren’t initially thought to be related to sexual orientation. “But when we dig a little deeper we realize that in many cases it has everything to do with their sexual orientation,” McCormick said.

GLBT youths often bounce from foster home to foster home.

Seventy-eight percent of gay and lesbian youths in care report that they were removed from or ran away from their most recent placement because of issues related to sexual orientation.

“In many cases, their experiences don’t get much better. In many cases, they get much worse,” McCormick said.

When youths are punished for coming out, he said, they often experience significant psychological damage.

“Essentially, what we’re doing is punishing them when they’re really the only ones who have done nothing wrong,” McCormick said.

McCormick said agencies should adopt written, nondiscrimination policies; provide training to youths, staff and caregivers about GLBT issues; address negative attitudes about people who are GLBT; reach out to the GLBT community to recruit agency staff, volunteers and mentors; include GLBT books and magazines in agency resource libraries; use respectful terminology that does not make assumptions about individual’s sexual identity; and work closely with GLBT youths to address their needs.

First public gay wedding in China

Early this month, China celebrated its first gay wedding – unofficial, but the male couple say they will ‘never desert’ each other. 47-year-old Zeng Ge and 27-year-old Xiao Pan tied the knot in a small bar in Chengdu on January 3rd.

"We are no longer hiding any more. The wedding is our happiest and most precious moment. Thousands of gays and lesbians get married in France, Finland, the UK. Why couldn't we?" Zeng, a divorced architect, told China Daily.

Zeng met Pan, 27, a demobilized soldier last November at a bar. They fell in love with each other at first sight, he said.

"His bright and enchanting smile almost blinded me. And I am so addicted to his gentle and soft voice."

At the ceremony, while most were from Xiao Pan and Zeng Ge's inner circle, there were a couple of onlookers. As they put their rings on each other, some "acted as if they were watching animals, some even kept pointing here and there," said Zeng Ge.

Ever since the gay couple made their relationship public in November they have been the subject of revilement from family and friends.

"All the capital in my company has been frozen by my younger brother.

"My sister warned me she would never call me her brother unless I break up with Pan; and I have answered hundreds of phone calls from friends and relatives, who say they feel ashamed of me.

"But we are deeply in love and will never desert each other," Zeng told China Daily.

Zeng said the couple feared discrimination and had thus moved to a small town near Chengdu where they were unknown to avoid unwanted attention.

Gay sex was legalised in China in 1997, and homosexuality ceased being classed as a mental illness in 2001.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

link here

Kicked Out: New York Release from Samantha Stark on Vimeo.

Pass this on to your networks,

Help reverse the damage that will done by this misrepresentation. Please forward widely as this will undoubtedly effect stigma and suicide rates among the next generation of LGBTQ Youth at the most crucial time in their development,

Lucky S.Michaels

The American College of Pediatricians (ACP) is a small, mostly southern anti-gay advocacy group consisting of notorious activists and angry doctors who have an axe to grind with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They are upset because the group has a pro-gay stance (and scientific) that claims:

Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.

To counter the AAP’s research-based conclusion, the ACP produced an error-riddled website, Facts About Youth, that grossly distorts research for political gain. To read more on this bastardization of real science check out Box Turtle Bulletin and Dr. Warren Throckmorton’s sites. Worse, the ACP sent a letter to more than 10,000 school superintendents to promote the site. One can only imagine the harm this might do to LGBT youth who come out in school.

Today, Dr. Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H., a University of Minnesota researcher wrote a blistering letter to the American College of Pediatricians to hold them accountable for misusing his research. Here is the letter in its entirety. Take the time to read it – it is worth it.

TO: American College of Pediatricians

Dear colleagues,

I am deeply concerned about misstatements attributed to our research on the “Facts about Youth” website of the American College of Pediatricians ( [accessed on April 12, 2010]), as they appear in the “Letter to School Officials” and “What You Should Know as a School Official.”

The first reference to our research in these documents deceptively states: “Rigorous studies demonstrate that most adolescents who initially experience same-sex attraction, or are sexually confused, no longer experience such attractions by age 25. In one study, as many as 26% of 12-year-olds reported being uncertain of their sexual orientation1…”

Although the finding (“26% of 12-year-olds…”) is accurately reported, the sentence preceding it invites misinterpretation. Our original interpretation, as presented in the discussion section of the paper, is: “Taken together, these data suggest that uncertainty about sexual orientation and perceptions of bisexuality gradually give way to heterosexual or homosexual identification with passage of time and/or with increasing sexual experience.”

The second reference to our research in your handout erroneously states:

Among adolescents who claim a “gay” identity, the health risks include higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, alcoholism, substance abuse, anxiety, depression and suicide. Delaying such labeling significantly reduces these medical and psychiatric health risks. For example, researchers find that adolescents who defer “coming out as gay” decrease the risk of suicide at a rate of 20 percent for each year that they delay self-labeling as homosexual or bisexual.15

This paragraph is wrong on two counts:

1) It incorrectly reports the results of the research and, once again, misrepresents the conclusions. As a matter of fact, we wrote:

For each year’s delay in homosexual or bisexual self-labeling, the odds of a suicide attempt diminished by 80%. These findings support a previously observed, inverse relationship between psychosocial problems and the age of acquiring a homosexual identity. Compared with older adolescents, early and middle adolescents may be generally less able to cope with the isolation and stigma of a homosexual identity;

2) Citing our work (reference #15) at the end of the paragraph would attribute the content of the entire paragraph to our publication when, in fact, the first sentence (“Among adolescents who claim…”) is not what we have written.

As the first author of the two publications in question and the authorized contact for related communications, I am responding to the inaccuracies in your website documents on behalf of the investigative group. However, the following reactions and suggested remedies are from my own personal perspective, and my co-authors may contribute additional thoughts and suggestions at their discretion.

I have previously encountered and confronted the problem of misrepresentation of research from other advocacy groups such as yours. However, this episode is especially troubling and egregious because it is led by colleagues within my own profession— who certainly have the ability, education, and experience to access, review, and accurately summarize the Pediatric scientific literature.

Our professional code demands of Pediatricians nothing short of the highest standards of ethical conduct in medical education, research, and patient care. Knowingly misrepresenting research findings for material or personal gain is a flagrant violation of this code of conduct. Implicating me in this chicanery is doubly damaging to my professional reputation and career by holding me accountable for misstatements and by associating me with a cause that most ethical Pediatricians will recognize as misguided and hurtful to an entire class of children and families.

Please immediately remove any reference to our work from the website. As a suitable remedy, I also would urge you take the following actions:

1) Publicly retract your references to our research with a written statement posted on the home page of your website;

2) Until then, any donations made to your organization since the “Facts about Youth” website was launched should be either returned to the donors or contributed to the LGBT youth research fund of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

I look forward to your prompt attention and response to these issues.


Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H.
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
University of Minnesota
CC: Robert Blum, M.D., PhD; Michael Resnick PhD; James Farrow M.D.

1. Researcher Reprimands Sham Pediatric Group for Distorting Research

On April 12, Dr. Gary Remafedi, MD, MPH, a University of Minnesota researcher, wrote a letter to the American College of Pediatricians holding them accountable for misusing his research. The American College of Pediatricians (ACP) – not to be confused with the 60,000 member American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – has distributed over 10,000 letters to school superintendents containing factually inaccurate information about sexual orientation and gender identity and promoting unsupported and potentially dangerous “reparative therapies” for LGBT students. The ACP is a small advocacy group masquerading as a legitimate medical organization. Founders of the ACP left the AAP after the organization adopted policy rejecting the use of “reparative therapy.”

Last week, the AAP sent letters to state chapter leaders warning them about the letters and the activities of the ACP. This week, AAP state chapters will be distributing letters to state education officials, advising education officials that the ACP’s campaign, “does not acknowledge the scientific evidence regarding sexual identity, sexual health, sexual orientation, or effective health education." The letter also directs education officials to a report, Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel, a resource developed by the AAP in collaboration with the American Psychological Association (APA) and other prominent national professional associations. The AAP urges education officials to reference this document in communications to school superintendents and other educators in their states.

Information: To read the letter by Gary Remafedi, go to

To read the report Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth, developed by the AAP, APA, and other prominent national professional associations, go to

To read a recent blog post from HRC Family Project Director Ellen Kahn on HRC Back Story, go to

Lucky S.Michaels

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jamaica Stages First Public ‘Gay Pride

MONTEGO BAY, April 8, 2010 – Imagine. Gay Pride in Jamaica. The words of William Urich, the chair of InterPride Committee on International GLBTI Human Rights, on the first public Pride even on the Caribbean island which was staged yesterday.

Officially, it was the Walk for Tolerance from Howard Cooke Park, along Howard Cooke Boulevard and ending on the beach.

“Yesterday was an amazing day, here in Montego Bay,” he told UK Gay News. “My eyes well up at the very thought of the day's outstanding and astounding success.”

Encouragingly, the walk had police support, Mr. Urich added.

Around 100 took part in the walk, which was headed by Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, the openly lesbian presiding bishop of the International Movement of Metropolitan Community Churches.

One participant commented: “I never thought I would live to see the day that this could happen in Jamaica.”

And other ‘buzz phrases’ heard at the event included “I'm exercising my rights”, “I feel so liberated”, “I have validation”, and “exuberant”

The Walk for Tolerance was organised by Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) is Jamaica’s oldest and largest Non-Governmental Organization working in the area of HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and care.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Maranatha: Riversiders for LGBT Concerns presents a discussion on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer ministry.

Sunday, April 11, 2010
1:00 p.m.

The Riverside Church

Room 411 MLK

Wendy Sealey, Rev. Melvin Miller and Rev. Pat Bumgardner will be speaking from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Room 411 MLK on April 11th. They will address youth, homeless outreach, and ecumenical issues regarding LGBT ministry.

Kicked Out of Prom - Kicked Out of Home.,-Kicked-out-of-home

Supes told of LGBT harassment in city shelters NEWS

Published 04/01/2010
by Seth Hemmelgarn

Orlon Ryel, with his dog, Armani, speaks at the Board of Supervisors' Government Audit and Oversight Committee about his treatment in San Francisco's homeless shelters. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Print this Page
Send to a Friend
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on MySpace!

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos was among those expressing support last week for an LGBT-friendly shelter after dozens of people testified at a Board of Supervisors committee hearing about harassment in San Francisco's shelters.

The abuse is often met with indifference by the facilities' staff, many said, and nearly everyone testifying called for a shelter for LGBTs.

After the Thursday, March 25 meeting of the supervisors' government audit and oversight committee, Campos, who is openly gay, told the Bay Area Reporter that there's "clearly a need" for an LGBT-friendly shelter and supervisors "need to think about it as we're looking at next year's budget."

"The current shelter system is not addressing the needs" of homeless LGBTs, said Campos. Having an LGBT-friendly shelter would be "an important step."

Campos is not on the committee but had asked for the hearing.

Problems in the shelters have been well-known among queer homeless advocates, but the supervisors appeared shocked at the testimony and grilled a staffer from the Human Services Agency, which oversees the shelters.

People testified about being called "faggot," being afraid to use bathrooms or showers, and dealing with staff who at times participated in the harassment, among other problems. Many people said they would rather sleep on the streets then stay in one of the city's shelters.

Jason Skerik testified that on his first night in a shelter he was called a "faggot" and he was pressured to give up his bed. He left the shelter and stayed on the streets.

"Staff had no control over the situation," he said, but "they were doing the best they could."

Orlon Ryel, a transsexual man, discussed the separate quarters for men and women in one shelter and said when he had asked staff where he could stay, his request was met with "giggles and grins."

"They really had no idea what to do with me," Ryel said.

He also said during his shelter experience he couldn't find a safe place to shower, go to the bathroom, or sleep, and he felt under "constant threat."

Beck, who goes by one name and identifies as transgender/queer, is the youth program coordinator for the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. He said he deals with up to 300 queer homeless youth a year, and it's "high time this issue be addressed."

He said every day, someone gets off a Greyhound bus in San Francisco, seeing the city as "a beacon of light," but it often takes months for them to find housing.

Beck said nothing is being done about the harassment people face. Staff can be transphobic, he said, and there's a lack of training. He said youth need a chance to evaluate their own services, and there should be a queer and homeless youth board.

Marcus Arana, a transgender man who's also known as Holy Old Man Bull, is a contract compliance officer for the city's Human Rights Commission. He said the commission has had dozens of trainings for the shelters, but they're hearing some of the same complaints about the same staff members.

He said from 2003 to 2010 there were 40 recorded complaints related to LGBTs. Those included complaints related to transgender women being segregated unnecessarily into separate shower times from non-transgender women; staff and clients using incorrect pronouns or using pronouns in a mocking way; and clients making threats of violence out of the hearing of shelter staff, so that the transgender person felt intimidated and could not sustain a complaint because shelter staff didn't witness the offense, he wrote in an e-mail after the hearing.

Arana also said dozens of other cases were often resolved with a phone call or an e-mail to the shelter.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca, a longtime queer activist who works with the Housing Rights Committee, said the hearing was "amazing" but also said "we need more LGBT-specific housing and we need it now." He added the people present barely scratched the surface of LGBTs who have had problems at the shelters.

There are currently only a handful of housing slots specifically designated for homeless queer youth. Avicolli Mecca and others pointed out there are housing needs for all age groups.

Karen Gruneisen, associate director of Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco, was one of the few shelter representatives to speak at the hearing. Gruneisen said her agency should be held accountable, but noted employees have due process rights, and said "we can't get rid of homophobia in our community."

After testimony from three other people, Supervisor Sophie Maxwell expressed concern about Gruneisen's testimony.

"If you're getting our money, there's really, really no excuse" for inaction, said Maxwell, who sits on the committee along with Supervisors Eric Mar and Carmen Chu. "As a city, and as a county ... if I'm looking at budget issues, I want to know something's being done" about harassment of LGBTs in the shelters, she said.

In a phone interview the morning after the hearing, Gruneisen told the B.A.R. , "discrimination on any basis is not tolerable in our shelter or anybody else's shelter." She said staff "work to create a culture of respect and understanding" through policies, trainings, and other means.

She and Maxwell had met after the hearing, and Gruneisen said, "I think we came to a better understanding of what I was saying and what she was reacting to." Maxwell didn't respond to a request for a follow-up interview about the hearing.

Gruneisen said that since July 2009, there have been 10 to 15 complaints related to transgender women. Those included complaints from clients who wanted transgender women assigned to a different area.

A 'disconnect'

Scott Walton, manager of adult programs in the housing and homeless division of the city's Human Services Agency, testified that policies and procedures are in place addressing verbal threats, physical assaults, and derogatory language.

But Campos said there was "a very clear disconnect" between the policies and procedures Walton described and the reality that people accessing the system seemed to be experiencing.

Maxwell eventually told Walton, "When people come and the room is full, we have a responsibility to find out what's going on."

In his response, Walton said, "We're hearing things today we're not hearing through our complaints and grievance procedures."

According to Walton, most shelters in the city have reported that no LGBT-related concerns or complaints have been raised in the last nine months.

After the hearing, Campos mentioned the possibility of putting a working group together to address the issues brought up at the hearing that would include people from the LGBT community and city departments.

He said he hoped for another hearing in the next few weeks, once the Human Services Agency and others have had time to collect more information