Annise Parker tells youth, ‘It Gets Better’

Annise Parker

Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s staff has been encouraging her to do an “It Gets Better” video. She took the opportunity to do so during a presentation at the Houston Holocaust Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

The museum presented her with a Guardian of the Human Spirit Award, a platform for acknowledging dedicated Houstonians who have worked to enhance the lives of others and to better humankind.

On its website, the museum listed among the reasons she was given the award was her expansion of the city’s nondiscrimination policies:

One of her early official acts was to issue one of the most comprehensive non-discrimination orders in the nation. The order prohibits discrimination and/or retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity at every level of municipal government, including hiring, contracting and/or access to city facilities and programs/activities.

Her acceptance speech includes her thoughts on the recent rash of publicized suicides by teens who had been bullied. Her office noted the lighting that makes Parker look radioactive. Prior to her appearance, the content of the speech changed several times and it wasn’t until the last minute that Parker decided to include the “It Gets Better” piece and asked that it be recorded.

—  David Taffet

Tim’m West speaks at UTD and then Queerly Speaking

Tim’m West says hip-hop is gayer than you think —and he plans to prove it

The gay community and hip-hop music often clash over homophobic lyrics, but in the last few weeks, those paths crossed in two different but significant ways. Amid the rash of gay teen suicides, rapper 50 Cent tweeted about how men over 25 who don’t have oral sex with women should kill themselves (he awkwardly tried to backpedal after an outraged response). That was soon followed by Anderson Cooper’s interview with Eminem, who responded to questions about his attitude toward the gay community with, “I don’t have any problem with nobody.”

But gay activist and rapper Tim’m West isn’t buying any of it.

“It’s all part of the necessitated spewing of homophobia in hip-hop,” he says. “It’s like this right of passage for artists to do that.”

The thing is, West says hip-hop — the music and the culture — is gayer than it wants to be. He’ll set out to prove it with Keeping it Real: Hip-Hop Has Gone Gay, a master class discussing the queer side of hip-hop. The Fahari Arts Institute teamed up with UT Dallas to host this two-night session, wrapping up today.

For more on the class, click here. West also appears at Fahari’s Queerly Speaking event tonight at 8 p.m.

DEETS: UT Dallas, 800 W. Campbell Road, Richardson. Visit website for schedule. Open to the public. Free.. Queerly Speaking at South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh. 8 p.m. $5.  RedDirt.biz.

—  Rich Lopez

Resource Center calls on DISD to add LGBT protections to proposed new anti-bullying policy

IMPORTANT UPDATE: RCD’s Rafael McDonnell reports that those wishing to speak at Thursday’s DISD meeting must sign up by 5 p.m. Wednesday by calling board services at 972-925-3720.

Resource Center Dallas is calling on the Dallas Independent School District to add protections for LGBT students to a proposed new anti-bullying policy. As we reported yesterday, the new anti-bullying policy is slated to be discussed Thursday by DISD’s board of trustees. A final vote is expected at the end of the month, but as currently written, the policy doesn’t include specific prohibitions against bullying based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression. Which seems odd given the fact that we are in the midst of an epidemic of teen suicides related to anti-gay bullying and harassment, including at least one in Texas. Resource Center is encouraging people to contact the nine members of DISD’s Board of Trustees and demand that they amend the policy to include LGBT students. RCD has also sent its own letter to each of the nine trustees, which we’ve posted below. From RCD’s press release:

“We are pleased that DISD is revisiting its approach to bullying. Unfortunately, the proposed policy does not define which students are to be protected by it. As a result, it does not provide specific protections for LGBT students. It is vital for this board to specifically articulate who this policy is designed to protect, rather than simply stating a broad definition of bullying. Absent any specific protections, it could be inferred that it would be okay to bully students based on their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Given the rash of LGBT bullying-related suicides in recent weeks—including one in the greater Houston area—specifically articulated protections are not formalities; they are essential.

“Resource Center Dallas encourages the North Texas LGBT community to contact the nine members of the DISD board. Encourage them to modify the proposed anti-bullying policy to specifically include LGBT students. Board members still have time to improve the protections for the youngest members of our community. Contact information, including phone numbers and e-mail, can be found at http://www.dallasisd.org/about/boardcontact.htm. Additionally, if you are able to attend the DISD board meeting Thursday, October 14 at 11:30 a.m. at 3700 Ross Avenue in Dallas, please do so. A representative of the Center will address the board on these issues.”

—  John Wright

Obama admin statement – via the Dept of Education – about two of the rash of suicides

As we have been mulling about the silence by the White House about the rash of suicides today, it’s interesting to receive this in a late Friday afternoon dead drop.

Statement by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the Recent Deaths of Two Young Men

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today released the following statement:

“This week, we sadly lost two young men who took their own lives for one unacceptable reason: they were being bullied and harassed because they were openly gay or believed to be gay. These unnecessary tragedies come on the heels of at least three other young people taking their own lives because the trauma of being bullied and harassed for their actual or perceived sexual orientation was too much to bear.

“This is a moment where every one of us – parents, teachers, students, elected officials, and all people of conscience – needs to stand up and speak out against intolerance in all its forms. Whether it’s students harassing other students because of ethnicity, disability or religion; or an adult, public official harassing the President of the University of Michigan student body because he is gay, it is time we as a country said enough. No more. This must stop.”

Michael Petrelis has been asking for statements from the admin. One from Kevin Jennings materialized:

From the Desk of Kevin Jennings

As is the case for most of those reading this message, I have been horrified by the recent media coverage of student suicides prompted by bullying. I am fortunate to have a boss who is just as horrified and today made the below statement.

I hope each of you will consider ways you can help bring bullying to an end and urge you to check out www.bullyinginfo.org for useful resources in so doing.

Kevin

“His boss” being Arne Duncan. He’s put in a request to see if the LGBT liaison, Brian Bond in the Office of Public Engagement has any comment on the issue. I’ll keep you updated if a statement surfaces.

Then I received a press release entitled “ACF awards grants to reduce long-term foster care” from the WH Communications Office that seemed a weird one-off to stem the criticism that the Obama admin “doesn’t care.” This passage was highlighted in the email:

Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, which will create a county-wide system of care to address barriers to permanency and well-being for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning children and youth that are in or at-risk of placement in foster care, placement in the juvenile justice system, or homelessness.

You can read the full release about the LA award below the fold.

It’s really not about whether the administration cares; it’s about leadership and recognizing a crisis that concerns families across the country. When the rash of school shootings, including the tragedy at Columbine, it seemed every elected official had something to say, legislation to consider, and outreach to discuss the breakdown that caused them. Any WH, not just the Obama admin, has to consider that it has a role to play to reassure families that it is listening. Silence is not good for PR or for leadership.

Anyway, do you all have any thoughts about these statements from the administration departments?

HHS Awards Landmark .3 Million Grant to Fund L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s

Development of Model Program to Serve LGBTQ Foster Youth

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 1, 2010-Today the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center was awarded a landmark .3 million, five-year grant from the Federal Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Administration on Children, Youth and Families to create a model program that will provide life-saving support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the foster care system.  Following a highly competitive review process, six grants were awarded-the Center’s grant is the only one specifically to support LGBTQ youth and the only grant that did not go to a government agency or academic institution.  It’s also the largest federal grant ever awarded to an LGBT organization.

The need for services for LGBT youth in foster care is dire.  According to a 2001 (Feinstein) study, 78% of LGBTQ foster youth were forced to leave their foster placements due to hostility related to their sexual orientation or gender identity.  In a 2001 study from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, 70% reported physical violence and 100% reported harassment in their group home.  Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (GLASS), the only group home for LGBTQ foster youth in Los Angeles, closed its doors in 2008 (with its displaced residents turning to the Center for much-needed support).

“LGBTQ youth who aren’t living on the streets because of a hostile home environment are often in the foster care system,” said Lorri L. Jean, chief executive officer of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.  ”Many are rejected by foster parents and move from home to home or are considered unadoptable and live in overburdened group homes.  In either case, they’re more likely to turn to turn to drugs and crime, engage in unprotected sex, or commit suicide-and when they age out of the system at 18, they’re coming to us homeless.  This landmark grant will fund the development of a much-needed, model program to protect the health and well-being of LGBTQ foster youth-a program that will save lives, save taxpayer dollars, and could be replicated in cities around the country.”

By developing and leading a 19 organization collaborative that will include foster care agencies, researchers and government departments, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center will create a comprehensive system of  care to help LGBTQ youth stay in school, and in homes where they feel safe and welcomed, until adulthood.  The collaborative will include: foster care agencies, researchers, Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), the Los Angeles Unified School District and government agencies, including: Los Angeles County’s departments of Children and Family Services, Mental Health, Probation and Juvenile Court.

“The public systems across the country that are charged with the care and well-being of children and adolescents have largely been unresponsive or slow to acknowledge the needs of LGBTQ youth, and in some cases even hostile” said L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings, who led the team that developed the grant proposal.  ”As a result, these systems deliver misguided, uninformed, and ultimately second-class care that harms LGBTQ youth in their custody.  All too often they’re housed in isolation ‘for their own safety,’ blamed for being harassed because they’re open about their sexual orientation or gender identity, or disciplined for engaging in age-appropriate conduct that would not be punishable were it between youth of different sexes.  It’s the system that’s harming them and we’ve got to change that.”

Key features of the program will include research, evaluation and documentation.   “We will be recording, studying, and analyzing the program carefully,” said Cummings.  ”We want to know what works for our youth and when we learn it, we will document the success so that our program can be duplicated around the country.”

The Center’s proposal to HHS was enthusiastically endorsed by: the Los Angeles Juvenile Court, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, County of Los Angeles Probation Department, Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaraslovsky and Hathaway-Sycamore Child and Family Services.

The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is a national leader in serving and advocating for LGBTQ youth.  In addition to a 24-bed transitional living program, where homeless youth (ages 18-24) can live for up to 18 months while developing the skills and resources to live independently, the Center operates the Jeff Griffith Youth Center, which provides meals, emergency beds, clothing, counseling and support services to youth seven days a week.   And to support the healthy development of LGBTQ youth, the Center’s LifeWorks program offers: mentoring by specially trained adults, peer-support programs, college scholarships, social activities and much more.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Another robbery victim kidnapped at gunpoint in Uptown Dallas, forced to drive to ATM

The second incident began at 4151 McKinney Ave. early Monday morning.

Dallas police say the same suspect may be responsible for two recent aggravated robberies in the Uptown and Oak Lawn area that involved victims being kidnapped and forced to drive to ATMs to withdraw money.

The first incident, which we reported on Tuesday, occurred late Sunday and began in the Office Depot parking lot on Oak Lawn Avenue, at 2929 Oak Lawn Ave.

The second incident began at 6:45 a.m. Monday in an alleway at 4151 McKinney Ave., according to police reports. The victim reportedly is an employee at the Katy Trail Animal Hospital.

“Detectives are looking to see if they are related,” DPD Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse said of the two incidents on Wednesday. “The suspect description is very similar. We suggest people call ahead to their place of business or home and have someone waiting on them when they arrive to make sure they get inside safely. This lady [the second victim] did the right thing and complied with the demands.”

The suspect is described as a black male about 40 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing about 220 pounds. He has a scar under his right eye and was wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a black hat at the time of the first incident. Anyone with information should call 214-671-4071 or 911.

If you’ll recall, there was a similar rash of aggravated robberies in Oak Lawn last year. The suspect in those cases was finally caught after David Ethridge, a gay victim, chased him down and obtained a license plate number from his vehicle.

—  John Wright

UPDATED: Man robbed at gunpoint just 1 block from strip; suspects make off with $500 in cash

Between the shooting of Doug Tull and another holdup last week on Travis Street, it sure seems as though there’s been a rash of gun-involved robberies targeting gay bar patrons of late.

The most recent robbery occurred at 10:15 p.m. Friday at 4000 Dickason Ave., which is at the intersection of Reagan Street, just one block from the Cedar Springs strip.

The suspects pointed a gun at the 21-year-old white male victim and demanded his property, before making off with $500 in cash and a cell phone valued at $500, according to police reports.

Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department, said Tuesday that no arrests have been made in the case. The suspects are described as two Latin males in their 20s, Janse said. One is about 5 feet, 8 inches tall and was wearing a white shirt at the time of the robbery.

“There is no evidence that links this to any other robberies in the area,” Janse said.

UPDATE: The victim, who asked not to be identified, said he had walked around the corner from JR.’s  to retrieve his keys from a friend’s car that was parked on Dickason Avenue. He said he was leaning into the car when the two suspects came out of nowhere and put a gun to his head.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, are they going to shoot me? Is this a hate crime or am I about to get mugged?’” he said. “I had no idea what was going on. It was the quickest thing ever, but I’ve never been more scared in my life.”

The victim, who’s gay, said he thinks bars in the area need to do a better job of making it safe.

“I really feel like the bars need to step up their game,” he said. “They need to invest in the people who spend the money, and they need to protect them.”

As he was running back to JR’s, the victim said he saw one of the suspects fleeing behind Woody’s and notified a security guard. “The security guard wouldn’t do anything. He told me I needed to chill out.”

The victim said he was carrying a large amount of cash because he was in a fender bender earlier in the day and had been unable to go to the bank.

“I was alone. It was stupid,” he said, adding that the suspects must have thought they hit the lottery. “I would never even think that that area would be a safety issue.”

The victim said he doesn’t plan to go back to the area anytime soon.

“You just have to be careful, especially with the whole gay Pride thing coming up,” he said. “It’s just scary. I don’t even know how it happened. It’s kind of like a dream, a bad, bad dream — a nightmare.”

—  John Wright

Police: Gay Men Targeted in Rash of Assaults

Dc

Police in Washington D.C. see a disturbing pattern after four recent attacks on gay men, MyFoxDC reports:

"In an attack at 15th and R Streets in Northwest on June 2, police say a man bent over and tying his shoes was attacked by three young men who first uttered a homophobic slur then hit him with a wooden object. It was around 5:20 p.m.

At 22nd and P Streets near Dupont Circle last Friday morning, police say a man had just left a bar at 1:45 a.m. when another man banged into him and called him a name. The man tried to walk away, but was confronted by a large group of men and women and knocked to the ground….The other attacks were in the 2000 block of P Street, NW on July 24 and in the 800 block of Emerson Street, NW on July 6."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright