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

LifeWalk steps off Sunday in Lee Park

Nobles says that park will not be fenced this year but is worried about added cost and barrier affecting next year’s event

KICKING UP THEIR HEELS | The LifeWalk organizing committee gets ready for Sunday.

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

New requirements by the city of Dallas could affect proceed totals from this year’s AIDS Arms LifeWalk, and at least one more new requirement is expected to be added to the list next year, according to LifeWalk organizers.

The 21st annual LifeWalk steps off from Lee Park on Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. for the 3.2-mile walk. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. Last year’s event raised $401,000 and this year’s goal is $500,000.

Although thousands of people are expected for the event, Lee Park will remain unfenced this year, even though the city has said such gatherings will require fencing in the future.

Officials with the Dallas Tavern Guild, which stages the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and the Festival in Lee Park each year as part of Dallas’ annual LGBT Pride celebration, decided to get ahead of the new requirement by fencing in Lee Park this year for the festival, although the city requirement had not yet gone into effect.

Tavern Guild officials also chose to charge a $5 admission fee to the festival this year to help offset expenses and raise extra funds that will be distributed to parade beneficiaries.

The admission fee raised the ire of some in the community, and attendance at the festival was down compared to last year. But Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said the drop was not significant, and noted that the admission fee brought in about $25,000 that will be divided among beneficiaries.

But AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles said new city requirements have already had an impact on LifeWalk, and she is worried that the new fencing requirements could affect next year’s walk.

“There were a lot more expenses from the city this year,” she said. “It really hits the bottom line.”

The cost of fencing next year will add an additional, unwelcome expense. But Nobles said she isn’t going to worry about that until after this weekend’s event. Right now, her main concern is getting people out to participate in this year’s fundraiser.

“Anyone can participate in LifeWalk,” Nobles said. “You can walk alone or bring friends or join a team. We even have poop-out vans: In case you can’t walk the entire three-mile route, someone will pick you up and bring you back to the park to have a good time.”

She also invited people to just come to the park and cheer.

“We need cheerleaders at the start and finish and at the water stations,” Nobles said. “We have pompoms for anyone who wants to cheer the walkers on.”

Registration for LifeWalk is $40 for people and $10 for dogs participating in LifeBark. People get a T-shirt and dogs get a bandana to show their support for people with HIV.

AIDS Arms is the primary beneficiary of LifeWalk, but other organizations also receive funds from the event, including AIDS Services of Dallas, Legal Hospice of Texas, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus, Bryan’s House, Resource Center Dallas and the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.

Money raised goes toward programming rather than capital costs. The chorale uses funds for their HIV fund, including giving tickets to performances through the year to people with AIDS.

Nobles praised that effort, saying that socializing is an important holistic element in treating HIV.

The Women’s Chorus will present a program at AIDS Arms in March on National HIV Women’s Day. Those expenses, Nobles said, should be covered by the group’s LifeWalk proceeds.

Nobles said it would be tempting for AIDS Arms to use the money to finish paying off the agency’s new Trinity Health and Wellness Center in Oak Cliff. She said that the new facility cost more than $2 million, and AIDS Arms needs to raise just $35,000 more to pay off the facility.

Trinity Health and Wellness Center opened in September and will have its formal grand opening in two weeks.

But despite the temptation, AIDS Arms will instead use proceeds from LifeWalk to support programs for clients at Trinity as well as at AIDS Arms’ older clinic, Peabody Health Center in South Dallas.

AIDS Arms also uses the money to administer HIV tests to more than 3,500 people a year and for case management for more than 3,400 people.

LifeWalk began in 1990 as a fundraiser for Oak Lawn Community Services. When that agency closed, management of the event moved to AIDS Arms.

LifeWalk Co-chair Marvin Green noted that his Green Team will mark its 20th year of participation in LifeWalk. He said he put the team together for the first time in the second year of LifeWalk because he had already lost 20 friends to AIDS.

That first year, three team members raised $75. This year, the 32-member Green Team has collected about $22,000.

Co-chair Fred Harris said that there were quite a few new teams this year.

“We’re reaching out to new communities,” Harris said. “There’s new energy. We’re branching outside Oak Lawn.”

He said teams are using creative new ways to raise money and AIDS Arms has actively brought in new sponsors such as Chipotle.

“Stoli is coming with a first-ever LifeWalk drink,” Nobles said. Returning sponsor Caven Enterprises will serve beer and Ben E. Keith donated iced tea.

Harris said planning has gone well, and that “LifeWalk is a well-oiled machine.”

Harris said he has seen more use of social media this year than ever, reaching out to people outside the Metroplex.

“This year Facebook has become a very powerful tool,” he said, not just for fundraising but also for recruiting walkers.

Last year, about 3,500 people walked, and this year, “Registration is ahead of where we were this time last year,” Harris said.

Waterpalooza, another AIDS Arms event, was moved to Pride weekend this year, just two weeks prior to LifeWalk. Harris said they took advantage of that event to sign up teams and walkers and generate excitement for this weekend’s walk.

Among the new teams, Harris said, are the DFW Sisters.

“Their efforts have been tireless,” he said. “They raise the bar.”

Nobles said that WFAA Channel 8 morning anchor Ron Corning will serve as M.C. in Lee Park. Although he’s appeared at several events since arriving in Dallas, this is the first big public event the openly gay television host has emceed.

LifeWalk received the Human Rights Campaign family-friendly designation, and Nobles said there will be bounce houses, clowns and face-painting for children.

Harris said the event is pet-friendly as well, “because pets are our family.”

There will be games and puppy pools for dogs as well as doggie adoptions, Nobles said.

She said the day would be a lot of fun but asked people to participate because the need is greater than ever.

“With the growth in the number of newly-infected people in Dallas County who need help in this economy, we’re seeing people who never would ask but must,” she said.

Next year, Nobles said, she would like to see LifeWalk return to Oak Lawn, but new city regulations for events may change those plans. Among the events changing plans this year because of the city involved Lone Star Ride.

Last year, Lone Star Riders participated in LifeWalk on bike. This year, city regulations banned bikes from walks so LSR riders who participate will have to walk.

Green was thinking about bigger plans for future LifeWalks. Other cities that raise more money stage longer walks. He said he’d love to use the new Downtown Deck Park that should be completed next year and dreamed of seeing LifeWalkers crossing the new suspension bridge that should be open in March 2012.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

UPDATE: Greensboro News & Record drops NC marriage license requirement for its wedding contest

Sometimes challenging convention in support of equality does pay off. The Greensboro News & Record, is now going to allow same-sex couples to fully participate in its wedding contest,  dropping its requirement for a NC marriage license. John Robinson, the editor of the paper, contacted me just a few moments ago with the news.


From: John Robinson

Date: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Subject:

To: tips @ phblend.net

Hi, Pam,

We’ve dropped the rule about the N.C. marriage license from the wedding contest.

Thanks for your challenge and feedback about inclusivity. It took a little longer than we would have liked because we needed to discuss it with the other “wedding” partners and then get the lawyer’s OK to change the rules after the contest started.

I’m going to update the post as soon as we update the website where the rules are listed.

Best,

John Robinson

Editor

News & Record

Greensboro

The N&R contact page for Robinson if you would like to thank him for (belatedly) doing the right thing:

http://www.news-record.com/whois/john_robinson

***

Back Story

Regular readers may recall my post from a few days ago about the Greensboro N&R holding a wedding contest with all the frills to be provided to one lucky couple for a ceremony. When a reader, Liz at Greensboring, asked whether same-sex couples could reply, editor John Robinson said:

John Robinson September 19, 2010 – 2:57 pm EDT

Sorry, but a N.C. wedding license is required.

There was nothing to prohibit the N&R from opening up its contest to same-sex couples, after all, there are weddings and commitment ceremonies held in NC all the time. The marriage license is not the purview of the N&R, but of the state. There is no minister or justice of the peace provided; that’s the couple’s choice. All we’re talking about is the hotel and vendors providing these services.

* Schiffman’s Jewelry for the ring;

* Extra Ingredient for the wedding registry and china;

* Ashleigh’s Fine Paper for the wedding planning and invitations;

* Ollie’s Bakery for the cake;

* Dr. Mark Hyman for teeth whitening;

* Merle Norman for make-up;

* Dawn’s Bridal for the gown;

* Letia’s Bridal for the tuxedo;

* Plants and Answers for the flowers;

* AAA Travel for the honeymoon.

* The Proximity Hotel will host and provide the rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony and reception.

So after I Tweeted and Facebooked about this hot mess, a couple of hours later Robinson responded with a “compromise”. See that fail below the fold, plus a reader writes the vendors.

John Robinson September 20, 2010 – 10:47 am EDT

I hear you, Pam and ascensions. We and our partners talked about this issue as we were planning the wedding project. We knew it could be contentious. We decided to take a traditional approach to the wedding because we hadn’t done this before and weren’t sure how everything would work. As part of that, we settled on following the state laws as it applies to marriages.

But you raise good points. If a same-sex couple wants to have a commitment ceremony, I encourage them to send me an email at the address on this blog’s home page and I’ll make sure that the request will be considered.

So I posted an update. However, it was later clarified that the rules of eligibility had not changed.

John Robinson September 20, 2010 – 6:52 pm EDT

Sorry to be so confusing. If a gay couple is interested in applying for the marriage, email me and we will talk. Right now, though, we’re committed to throwing a wedding, following North Carolina law.

Pam_Spaulding September 21, 2010 – 1:34 pm EDT

OK, so now you’re saying that a same-sex couple that enters, will be “considered”, but has zero chance of winning the contest because they cannot receive a NC marriage license? Come on, John, you cannot have it both ways. Please clarify.

John Robinson September 21, 2010 – 1:43 pm EDT

We haven’t changed the rules. We are open to hearing from and talking to people who feel they qualify under the rules except for the requirement about the valid N.C. marriage license. I can’t say whether that will cause a change in the rules or not.

So gay and lesbian couple would be “considered,” with their application tossed in the virtual ash can because they cannot obtain a marriage license in the state of NC.

Another reader, Brian O., was so incensed that he wrote every vendor on that contest list to ask if they knew this was a discriminatory contest.

This letter is to the dentist providing the teeth whitening service. Brian’s letters to the others were similar.

Dear Dr. Hyman,

Thank you for your support and dedication to the Greensboro community. I write today to bring your attention to a serious issue regarding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population in our community.

Many sponsors of the Triad Dream Wedding, sponsored in part by your business are avid supporters of LGBT causes in this community. This is why when I saw the advertisement on the Greensboro News & Record website for the Triad Dream Wedding you are co-sponsoring I assumed it would be open to all couples. But, living in the world we live in, I knew to investigate further. And, to my surprise, I found the following line within the legal jargon, “…who are 21 years of age or older and are able to obtain a valid North Carolina marriage license.”

The above contest rule effectively bars same-sex couples from participating in the contest. Through this contest, you had the opportunity to make a statement about your businesses belief in the value of everyone in our community. You lost this incredible opportunity.

On a practical note, the contest is sponsoring a ceremony and reception. These events are separate from the legal binding nature of a marriage license. In fact, heterosexual couples could take advantage of the ceremony and reception and still not even proceed to file for a marriage license. Ceremonies and receptions are celebrations of two people’s lifelong commitment to one another. Why are you choosing to only celebrate the commitment made by heterosexual couples? By participating and sponsoring this contest, your business is validating the belief that only heterosexual marriages have value in our society.

I challenge you to take a stand and urge organizers to open this contest to all couples regardless of their ability to attain a state marriage license.

I look forward to hearing from you regarding this very important issue.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Brian O.

Greensboro, NC

Each of the following sponsors responded to Brian and said they would be following up with the N & R:

  • The Main Ingredient
  • Mark Hyman, DDS
  • Ashleigh’s Fine Paper
  • Plants and Answers
  • Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels (Proximity Hotel and Print Works Bistro)

With the ball back in John Robinson’s court (and probably vendor emails in his inbox), he later consulted his attorneys and got back to me today.

The whole dust up just shows that there is more fear than is necessary in these instances. It’s just a matter of communicating with the concerned parties to see where they stand. Obviously the N&R was more concerned about its partners on this contest than it needed to be.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

UPDATE: Greensboro News & Record drops NC marriage license requirement for its wedding contest

Sometimes challenging convention in support of equality does pay off. The Greensboro News & Record, is now going to allow same-sex couples to fully participate in its wedding contest,  dropping its requirement for a NC marriage license. John Robinson, the editor of the paper, contacted me just a few moments ago with the news.


From: John Robinson

Date: Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Subject:

To: tips @ phblend.net

Hi, Pam,

We’ve dropped the rule about the N.C. marriage license from the wedding contest.

Thanks for your challenge and feedback about inclusivity. It took a little longer than we would have liked because we needed to discuss it with the other “wedding” partners and then get the lawyer’s OK to change the rules after the contest started.

I’m going to update the post as soon as we update the website where the rules are listed.

Best,

John Robinson

Editor

News & Record

Greensboro

The N&R contact page for Robinson if you would like to thank him for (belatedly) doing the right thing:

http://www.news-record.com/whois/john_robinson

***

Back Story

Regular readers may recall my post from a few days ago about the Greensboro N&R holding a wedding contest with all the frills to be provided to one lucky couple for a ceremony. When a reader, Liz at Greensboring, asked whether same-sex couples could reply, editor John Robinson said:

John Robinson September 19, 2010 – 2:57 pm EDT

Sorry, but a N.C. wedding license is required.

There was nothing to prohibit the N&R from opening up its contest to same-sex couples, after all, there are weddings and commitment ceremonies held in NC all the time. The marriage license is not the purview of the N&R, but of the state. There is no minister or justice of the peace provided; that’s the couple’s choice. All we’re talking about is the hotel and vendors providing these services.

* Schiffman’s Jewelry for the ring;

* Extra Ingredient for the wedding registry and china;

* Ashleigh’s Fine Paper for the wedding planning and invitations;

* Ollie’s Bakery for the cake;

* Dr. Mark Hyman for teeth whitening;

* Merle Norman for make-up;

* Dawn’s Bridal for the gown;

* Letia’s Bridal for the tuxedo;

* Plants and Answers for the flowers;

* AAA Travel for the honeymoon.

* The Proximity Hotel will host and provide the rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony and reception.

So after I Tweeted and Facebooked about this hot mess, a couple of hours later Robinson responded with a “compromise”. See that fail below the fold, plus a reader writes the vendors.

John Robinson September 20, 2010 – 10:47 am EDT

I hear you, Pam and ascensions. We and our partners talked about this issue as we were planning the wedding project. We knew it could be contentious. We decided to take a traditional approach to the wedding because we hadn’t done this before and weren’t sure how everything would work. As part of that, we settled on following the state laws as it applies to marriages.

But you raise good points. If a same-sex couple wants to have a commitment ceremony, I encourage them to send me an email at the address on this blog’s home page and I’ll make sure that the request will be considered.

So I posted an update. However, it was later clarified that the rules of eligibility had not changed.

John Robinson September 20, 2010 – 6:52 pm EDT

Sorry to be so confusing. If a gay couple is interested in applying for the marriage, email me and we will talk. Right now, though, we’re committed to throwing a wedding, following North Carolina law.

Pam_Spaulding September 21, 2010 – 1:34 pm EDT

OK, so now you’re saying that a same-sex couple that enters, will be “considered”, but has zero chance of winning the contest because they cannot receive a NC marriage license? Come on, John, you cannot have it both ways. Please clarify.

John Robinson September 21, 2010 – 1:43 pm EDT

We haven’t changed the rules. We are open to hearing from and talking to people who feel they qualify under the rules except for the requirement about the valid N.C. marriage license. I can’t say whether that will cause a change in the rules or not.

So gay and lesbian couple would be “considered,” with their application tossed in the virtual ash can because they cannot obtain a marriage license in the state of NC.

Another reader, Brian O., was so incensed that he wrote every vendor on that contest list to ask if they knew this was a discriminatory contest.

This letter is to the dentist providing the teeth whitening service. Brian’s letters to the others were similar.

Dear Dr. Hyman,

Thank you for your support and dedication to the Greensboro community. I write today to bring your attention to a serious issue regarding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population in our community.

Many sponsors of the Triad Dream Wedding, sponsored in part by your business are avid supporters of LGBT causes in this community. This is why when I saw the advertisement on the Greensboro News & Record website for the Triad Dream Wedding you are co-sponsoring I assumed it would be open to all couples. But, living in the world we live in, I knew to investigate further. And, to my surprise, I found the following line within the legal jargon, “…who are 21 years of age or older and are able to obtain a valid North Carolina marriage license.”

The above contest rule effectively bars same-sex couples from participating in the contest. Through this contest, you had the opportunity to make a statement about your businesses belief in the value of everyone in our community. You lost this incredible opportunity.

On a practical note, the contest is sponsoring a ceremony and reception. These events are separate from the legal binding nature of a marriage license. In fact, heterosexual couples could take advantage of the ceremony and reception and still not even proceed to file for a marriage license. Ceremonies and receptions are celebrations of two people’s lifelong commitment to one another. Why are you choosing to only celebrate the commitment made by heterosexual couples? By participating and sponsoring this contest, your business is validating the belief that only heterosexual marriages have value in our society.

I challenge you to take a stand and urge organizers to open this contest to all couples regardless of their ability to attain a state marriage license.

I look forward to hearing from you regarding this very important issue.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Brian O.

Greensboro, NC

Each of the following sponsors responded to Brian and said they would be following up with the N & R:

  • The Main Ingredient
  • Mark Hyman, DDS
  • Ashleigh’s Fine Paper
  • Plants and Answers
  • Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels (Proximity Hotel and Print Works Bistro)

With the ball back in John Robinson’s court (and probably vendor emails in his inbox), he later consulted his attorneys and got back to me today.

The whole dust up just shows that there is more fear than is necessary in these instances. It’s just a matter of communicating with the concerned parties to see where they stand. Obviously the N&R was more concerned about its partners on this contest than it needed to be.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Australia’s Stupid Requirement Trans Men Turn Vaginas Into Penises to Become Women

I continue to be amazed that a human being actually needs to ask somebody else, let alone a government body that is a man-made construct, to be allowed to be a certain gender. Like the two trans men in Australia who have to sue their own government in order to be considered male, because after winning in court the right to check "M," the attorney general got worried that somebody who is male could still bear children, and that would confuse everyone, so the office appealed and was shot down, sort of, by the Court of Appeal, which said fertility isn't a factor, but having male genitalia is, and because the two trans men didn't have below-the-waist surgery, they're still women. So unless they pay, like, tens of thousands of dollars, they must just … deal.

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  John Wright