Putting our children at risk

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

Child sexual abuse a concern for everyone, especially LGBT parents

Most people would probably agree there is no resource that a society cherishes more than its children. So it is hard to fathom how sexual predators manage with such apparent ease to carry out horrendous, undetected assaults on children practically under the noses of their families and others who are charged with their protection.

As horrific as the crime of child sexual abuse is, there are no firm estimates of its prevalence because it often goes undetected and is seriously underreported, according to agencies that study child abuse.

Less than 100,000 crimes of sexual abuse are reported each year because children fear telling anyone, and adults who become aware of the activity are often reluctant to contact law enforcement agencies, even though there is usually a legal requirement to do so.

With so many LGBT households now raising children, it is obviously vital that all parents be aware of the tactics used by sexual predators to seduce children without arousing the suspicion of their families, and aware of the symptoms victims of child sexual abuse exhibit.

The critical need for sustained intervention into child sexual abuse recently gained national attention following a grand jury’s indictment of retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight victims over a 15-year period. The victims reportedly came into contact with the now 67-year-old, married Sandusky in connection with the Second Mile, a children’s charity the former football coach founded.

Although Sandusky denied, this week in an NBC interview, engaging in any type of sexual activity with the pre-pubescent boys, he acknowledged showering and “horsing around” with them after exercise. He also admitted hugging young boys and putting his hand on their legs when they sat next to him.

His admissions shocked viewers and confirmed in many minds what was already suspected — Sandusky is most likely a pedophile that has taken advantage of young boys with the unwitting complicity of their families.

It is a devastating scandal that will likely rival the one that rocked the Catholic Church a decade ago when it became known that untold numbers of Catholic Church priests sexually abused young boys and violated the trust of their families.

If the charges against Sandusky are true, the accounts by the victims portray a classic pattern of enticement and betrayal practiced by the former football coach in his pursuit of the young boys. Likewise, the lack of action by those who knew about Sandusky’s alleged criminal activity parallel what often happens when the abuser commands power and respect in a community.

Much of the difficulty in combating child sexual abuse can be attributed to its relative youth in terms of public awareness about the crime. The first studies on the molestation of children began in the 1920s, and the first estimate of the prevalence of the crime was reported in 1948.

In 1974 the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect was founded, and the Child Abuse and Treatment Act was created. Since then, awareness about the problem has grown dramatically, and much more is known about deterring the crime and assisting victims of it.

Children’s advocates have identified “red flags” to help parents and others protect children from sexual predators. They warn parents to be wary of someone who wants to spend more time with their children than they do, who attempts to be alone with a child, who frequently seeks physical closeness to a child such as hugging or touching, who is overly interested in the sexuality of a child, who seems to prefer the company of children to people their own age, who lacks boundaries, who regularly offers to babysit,who often gives presents or  money to children, who frequently walks in on children in bathrooms or locker rooms, who frequents parks where children gather, who makes inappropriate comments about a child’s appearance or who likes to photograph children.

Signs of possible sexual abuse in children include a fear of people, places or activities, reluctance to undress, disturbed sleep, mood swings, excessive crying, fear of being touched, loss of appetite, a drastic change in school performance, bizarre themes in drawing, sexually acting out on other children, advanced sexual knowledge, use of new words for private body parts and a reversion to old behavior such as bedwetting or thumb sucking.

Aside from the moral responsibility to protect children and other weaker members of society that all people share, it is essential to intervene in child sexual abuse because of the long-lasting psychological damage it usually causes. The problems can include feelings of worthlessness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and distorted views of sexuality.

Also, victims of child sexual abuse tend to become sexual predators as adults, making it a crime that begets more crime.

The Sandusky scandal will undoubtedly lead to devastating repercussions for Penn State, for the Second Mile charity with which the former football coach is no longer affiliated and for law enforcement and university officials who became aware of concerns about the former football coach’s activities and failed to act on them.

But the real tragedy — if the allegations are true — will be the lasting impact upon the victims.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.        

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

WATCH: HISD Board gets earful on anti-gay flier

Manuel Rodriguez

Trustee Manuel Rodriguez in the hot seat as public condemns his homophobia

A standing-room-only crowd greeted the Houston Independent School Board last night. While the board’s monthly meetings often attract an assortment of parents, community members and gadflies many in the crowd were there with a decidedly non-educational issue on their minds: the anti-gay flier distributed by Trustee Manuel Rodriguez during his recent reelection campaign. As previously reported by Houstini, the flier encouraged Houstonians to vote against Rodriquez’s opponent, Ramiro Fonseca. because of his sexual orientation.

The first to address the issue were Rodriquez’s fellow trustees, Anna Eastman and Juliet Stipeche. Eastman spoke passionately of the importance of HISD’s anti-bullying policy which “protects people from harassment and bullying based on attributes we all have,” and said that she felt Rodriguez’s actions violated the spirit of that policy. Stipeche, near tears, read the names of teens who had committed suicide after enduring anti-LGBT bullying.

The board had planned to vote on a new ethics policy at the meeting that covered behavior by trustees. At the encouragement of two speakers, and the motion of Eastman, the board decided to delay that vote until December so that a policy stating that encouraging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression could be added.

After three and a half hours the crowd in the board’s chambers had dwindled, with most of those who had come to confront Rodriquez still waiting. When Board President Paula Harris finally opened the floor for public comment the first person to step up was Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Noel Freeman. Freeman told the board that the extant of Rodriquez’s homophobic campaigning was far greater than the flier which had drawn so much media attention. “What you all might not know is that he also went on television and said that he just couldn’t understand why a 54 year old unmarried man would want, quote ‘access to children,’” said Freeman. “That statement in and of itself, and the implications made therein is reprehensible and simply disgusting.”

Freeman asked that the Board remove Rodriquez as their representative on the Texas Council of School Boards, and as the board’s vice president. He went on to criticize the apology issued by Rodriquez after the election, saying that it did not address the concerns of the GLBT community, nor was it delivered to the community but rather to the press. “You cannot simply say ‘oops, I’m sorry’ and this all goes away,” said Freeman. “We will never forget what you did!”

Board President Harris had made frequent reference throughout the meeting to a group of students from HISD’s Milby High School, letting them know that their time to speak would come. As the students’ designated speaker stepped to the podium his hands visibly shook in nervousness. “When I first heard about [Rodriquez's flier] I did not agree with it because I believe that the message was that a gay person could not be as successful as a straight person and that really hurt me,” said the student. “My question to you is are you going to help us stop the bullying, or are you going to be a bully yourself?”

Perhaps the strongest response from the board was garnered by Paul Gonzales, who choked back tears as he described the challenges he faces as a gay man and parent of an HISD student. “I have a kid, and I have a kid that I have enrolled in HISD, and I love her. Me and my partner every single day are trying to show her that there’s nothing wrong, there’s nothing wrong with our family. So for a board member to say that my family is reprehensible to him… I have to explain [to her] that there are still people who consider us not the kind of family that deserve respect,” said Paul to the board, who were fighting back tears of their own. “GLBT parents like myself trust HISD to give us that haven for our children, that they’re not going to be looked at any differently. But the words that we saw on this flier just made me cringe to think that this isn’t the place that I thought that it was.”

After the jump, watch some of the eighteen people who spoke to the board.

—  admin

What’s Shakin’ – Wolfman at Wortham, Vampires on Pacific St.

The Wolfman1. If you got your hard-core Halloween partying out of the way this weekend, why not curl up under the stars (and a blanket) for the 1941 horror classic “The Wolfman,” at the Miller Outdoor Theater in Herman Park. Show starts at 7:30 pm. In this version the Wolfman (Lon Chaney Jr.) has an estranged father, frequents antique stores, caries an ornate walking stick for no particular reason and (of course) engages in nocturnal behavior of a hairy and bestial sort. Sounds like some of my friends. Admission is free, but prime spots on the lawn fill up quickly so arrive early.

2. If you didn’t get your hard-core partying out of the way then you’ll be glad to know that the clubs of Pacific street are still going strong. JR’s Bar‘s “Anytheme Goes” party (808 Pacific) and Meteor‘s “True Blood” festivities (2306 Genesee) continue tonight with a costume contests at 11 pm, while South Beach‘s “Twilight” fete (810 Pacific) waits till midnight for its contest . Cash prizes are up for grabs at all three for best costume, best couple or group and most outrageous costume.

3. Broadway World reports that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D – NY, plans to introduce the Senate companion to the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” introduced by Rep. Pete Stark, D – CA, last May. The bill would remove barriers to otherwise qualified LGBT parents servings as foster parents or adopting. “By removing all barriers for LGBT families to serve as foster parents, New York City has increased its foster parent pool by nearly 26,000 prospective parents,” said Gillibrand. This legislation would open thousands of new foster and adoptive homes to children ensuring they are raised in loving families.” So far only three of Texas’ thirty-two congressional representatives, including Houston’s own Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, have signed on as cosponsors.

 

—  admin

Banks Appointed to Citizen Police Oversight Board

Kris Banks

Kris Banks

On Wednesday the Houston City Council confirmed Mayor Annise Parker’s appointment of Former Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Kris Banks to the Independent Police Oversight Board.  The Oversight Board provides a way for Houstonians to have input into allegations against police officers involving use of excessive force, discharge of firearms, serious bodily injury or death or mistreatment of citizens.  The Board also makes recommendations on recruitment, training and evaluation of police officers; and considers community concerns regarding the Department.  Houstini talked with Banks about his new role:

[Houstini] Why have you agreed to serve on the Oversight Board?

[Banks] I believe the Oversight Board performs an important and vital function that benefits all involved. Police officers are granted extraordinary powers over their fellow Houstonians. They can, under legally sufficient circumstances, detain people against their will, walk into other people’s homes without their permission, and even use physical force to make people comply. We grant police officers these powers because they are necessary for the officers to do their jobs. However, with these great powers come great responsibility, and the Oversight Board exists as a check on those powers, thereby protecting the public against the very rare officer who uses her or his powers irresponsibility or excessively. It also benefits the police department. With the assurance that the Board is providing oversight, members of the public can be more confident of the police department, and form a better working relationship with officers.

[Houstini] What do LGBT Houstonians who have concerns about police behavior need to know about the mission of the Oversight Board?

[Banks] Historically, the LGBT community has had concerns about very broad and obvious police harassment, like bar raids. Incidents like these still occur (see Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth), but they tend to not be the focus of issues that exists between the LGBT community and the police department. Concerns between the community and the police department now tend to be over specific incidents that sometimes come to light and sometimes do not. That being said, the IPOB will review internal police investigations for complaints of excessive force, any discharge of a firearm, any time there is a death or serious injury, or any matter the police chief refers to us. We make recommendations, and the chief has ultimate discretion. What I want to highlight here is that a complaint has to be made for the IPOB to have any role. Complaints have to be sworn, either by the complainant, or, if the complaint is anonymous, by the person taking the complaint.

LGBT Houstonians should also know that I take my role as a community representative very seriously. I will not only take my perspective as an LGBT Houstonian to the police department, I will also take the knowledge I gain back of police procedure back to the community. For instance, I mentioned anonymous complaints above. In the training I have received so far, I learned that organizations can be deputized to take anonymous complaints (LULAC and the NAACP are both deputized). Anonymous complaints are, unfortunately, a big concern for our community. Whether because our congress has failed to pass job protections, family concerns, or any other personal reason, there are still many, many people in the closet. But being in the closet does not mean that a person is not protected. I will learn more about the deputizing community groups and take that back to organizations in our community like the Caucus, Community Center and Transgender Foundation so they can begin that process (as a caveat, I do not have a full list of deputized organizations and any of these organizations may already be deputized).

—  admin

Family Research Council asks for money instead of answering charges of unethical behavior

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

The Family Research Council has yet to give a "detailed response" to charges lodged by the Southern Poverty Law Center that it spreads untrue propaganda about the lgbt community by means of either junk science or distorted science.

However, the group did take time out of its day to send out the following email requesting money. I took the liberty of zeroing in on the most pertinent part:

As you may have heard, the ultra-liberal Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently declared Family Research Council and a few of our allies as "hate groups."

How do you feel about you and FRC being lumped in with neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, racist skinheads, and other radical organizations?

I am outraged. But more than that, I am concerned. Never before has FRC been slapped with such a false and malicious accusation by an organization claiming to be mainstream.

Thankfully, we have hundreds of good friends who have stepped forward to denounce the SPLC in the strongest possible terms and to declare their support of FRC. The list includes national leaders who signed a Statement of Support.

Now I urge you to show you won't be intimidated into silence. Please follow this link to take your place alongside these leaders and others in defense of FRC by making a tax-deductible donation to support our work.

The SPLC is pressuring major news networks, magazines, newspapers, and online news and opinion outlets to not invite us on their programs, run our opinion pieces, or quote our views. It even hosted an event aimed solely at smearing FRC.

Astonishing, isn't it?

The SPLC is now attacking FRC and other groups that uphold Judeo-Christian moral views, including marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

By labeling its opponents "hate groups," the SPLC is saying: No discussion. No consideration of the issues. No engagement. No debate!

As usual FRC is playing the victim while evading the true story. SPLC said the following about FRC and several other so-called pro-family groups:

. . . a hard core of smaller groups, most of them religiously motivated, have continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities. These groups’ influence reaches far beyond what their size would suggest, because the “facts” they disseminate about homosexuality are often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and even news organizations. . . Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.

The falsehoods in question include the beliefs that:

  • Homosexuals molest children at far higher rates than heterosexuals,
  • Same-sex parents harm children, and
  • Homosexuals don’t live nearly as long as heterosexuals.

For its part, SPLC has listed detailed reasons as to the inaccuracies of these claims.

 

FRC, on the hand, has yet to fully answer SPLC's charges even though it said two months ago that it would give a "detailed response."

FRC's entire campaign  of  "they are trying to silence us" has been a clever dodge, or a non-sequitir which only serves to cover up that SPLC is in fact pushing for the debate while FRC is avoiding it.

Conveniently absent from FRC’s email – and its other statements – is suitable refutation to SPLC’s charges or any type of refutation at all.

At the times in which FRC did try to address the charges head on, such as when FRC head Tony Perkins went on the news program Hardball or when an FRC employee recommended a piece written by Perkins,  the organization was called out for engaging in exactly the same tactics SPLC accused them of – distorting science to denigrate the lgbt community.

No one wants to silence FRC.

Not SPLC, nor do I, nor does any other person who sent emails to the organization asking for the "detailed response" to SPLC's charges, which FRC promised to give.

All we want are answers. And we have yet to receive those answers.

In the long run, FRC's plea for donations may be successful in terms of monetary benefits.

But what about personal integrity?

If the FRC considers itself a Christian organization, then it needs to act like one.

And somehow I don't think that spreading untrue stories about the lgbt community and then playing the evasion game when called out on this behavior is a Christian virtue.

Stating that you are a moral, Christian group doesn't necessarily make you one. Especially when your actions have been most un-Christian.

Related posts:

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council just can't stop engaging in duplicitious tacticsPay attention to this post. In an interview last week, FRC spokesperson Peter Sprigg criticized studies looking at same-sex households in part because the studies in question doesn't compare same-sex households to heterosexual households. However Sprigg's objection is ironic seeing that he freely cites studies that don't compare the two dynamics when he denigrates heterosexual households.

Family Research Council's Tony Perkins pushes George Rekers flavored falsehoods on Hardball

Write Chris Matthews and Hardball to complain about Tony Perkins's lies

SUCCESS! Chris Matthews addresses distortion of Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council

Peter Sprigg won't address hate group charges but will lie about same-sex households

Family Research Council has yet to come out with 'detailed response' against SPLC charges

Will the Family Research Council ever fulfill its promise and address SPLC's charges?
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

If the tea party isn’t racist, why warn against racist behavior?

A link to this WaPo piece by David Weigel came bumping along my twitter trail today.  “Five myths about the ‘tea party’” challenges the notion that “The tea party is racist”, saying

It’s a phenomenon that some activists call “nutpicking” — send a cameraman into a protest and he’ll focus on the craziest sign. Yes, there are racists in the tea party, and they make themselves known. But tea party activists usually root them out. …

Liberal critics of the tea party argue that conservative opposition to social spending is often racially motivated. That’s not new, though, and it’s not the basis for the tea party.

I was just mulling over the “logic” of how the purported economic basis for the tea party movement could somehow magically rule out an increased presence of racists when the following email arrived in my mailbox.  It’s from The Tea Party of Spokane (WA).  I’ll highlight the interesting part.

Subject: Tea Party ~ Obama coming to Seattle. Action Alert

Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2010

Bothered by Patty Murrays Policies!

Date: August 17, 2010

Time: 10:00am – 2:00pm

Westin Hotel, 1900 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, WA

President Obama is coming to Seattle to fund raise for Patty Murray and “the People” will be there to protest Patty’s re-election .Please remember this protest is against Patty and her economic policies so keep your signs related. Don’t give the media any reason to racially profile us. Do not engage hecklers, please ignore them.  Above all be safe! Take pictures and video of any trouble for evidence! …

For the sake of Liberty,

The Tea Party of Spokane

and Volunteers

Now David Weigel might respond by saying “see, they’re weeding out the racists among them!”.  But I’m not so sure it’s that simple.  I think that if you have to remind your whole membership not to carry signs that are racist, it’s a tacit admission that there’s plenty of racist propensity in the ranks.  I’m not saying that all tea partiers are racist, but what I have seen of the local t.p. tells me that the economic complaints are partly genuine, partly a proxy reason to rail away at the black man who has usurped the Office of President.  But that’s just my take on the local manifestations of the party.  Maybe it’s all interracial brotherhood where you are.  You know, those local tea party groups whose black, Latino and Asian membership equals or exceeds the population percentage?  Yeah.  Right.

A reality check from Think Progress is after the fold.
Unlike Mr. Weigel and myself, who are relying on opinion or personal non-randomized observation, several research groups have gone out and methodically polled tp-ers.  Think Progress gives us a synopsis of the results.

National surveys of the Tea Party have found that explicit racist sentiment is a strong component of the tea-party make up, in addition to economic conservatism and strong Republican partisanship. The April, 2010 New York Times/CBS News national survey of Tea Party supporters found that they are:
  • More than twice as likely as the general public (25% vs 11%) to believe that “the policies of the Obama administration favor blacks over whites.”
  • Half as likely as the general public (16% to 31%) to believe that “white people have a better chance of getting ahead in today’s society.”
  • Almost twice as likely as the general public (52% to 28%) to believe that “too much has been made of the problems facing black people” in recent years.

  • In a broad study of adults in Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and California conducted between February and March, the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Sexuality (WISER) asked a number of questions about “racial resentment” – such as whether blacks don’t try hard enough or have gotten more than they deserve. Conservatives are 23 percent more likely to be racially resentful, and Republicans 15 percent more likely than Democrats. However, the institute found that this racial sentiment isn’t simply a byproduct of white conservativism:

    [E]ven as we account for conservatism and partisanship, support for the Tea Party remains a valid predictor of racial resentment.

    It is untrue, as political commentator Dave Weigel argues, that racism in the Tea Party is merely reflective of its conservatism. The WISER study found that compared to other conservatives, Tea Party supporters are:

  • 25 percent more likely to have racial resentment.
  • 27 percent more likely to support racial profiling.
  • 28 percent more likely to support indefinite detention without charges.

  • Tea Party supporters are also significantly more likely to hold racial stereotypes, with a majority believing blacks are not hard-working, intelligent, or trustworthy.

    But there is a silver lining on this dark cloud.  The tp-ers have finally transcended the old American black-white dichotomy!  ”Their fear of others transcends race, however – the WISER study found that a majority of tea party adherents distrust Latinos, Asians, and other whites as well.”  This is progress, right?  Right?  Oh.
    Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

    —  John Wright