discrimination

Elizabeth's picture

When Stigmas Collide

This morning over breakfast I was reading the New York Times (ah, the delights of spring break!) when this headline caught my eye: Mississippi A.C.L.U. Rejects $20,000 for Alternate Prom.

You might remember that earlier this month I wrote a blog called Homophobia: Bad for Straight Kids discussing the decision of a Mississippi school board to cancel its prom because they could not otherwise prevent Constance McMillen and her partner from attending. (They also forbade her from attending in a tuxedo. This is not just about homophobia. This is also about gender expression.)

The ACLU and its Mississippi affiliate are representing Constance and a group called Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition (MSCC) is organizing an alternate prom for the community. The ACLU of Mississippi is apparently the fiscal sponsor for the MSSC. According to the New York Times article, the American Humanist Society offered a $20,000 gift to MSSC to help fund the alternate prom, and a fundraiser at the ACLU Mississippi rejected it, explaining via email that “Although we support and understand organizations like yours, the majority of Mississippians tremble in terror at the word ‘atheist."

Talk about being imprisoned by stigma. Here the stigma attached to atheism potentially thwarts an attempt to fix a problem caused by the stigma attached to homosexuality.

Elizabeth's picture

Homophobia: Bad for straight kids

AP – This 2009 photo released by Constance McMillen's family via The ACLU of MississippiAccording to an AP News story a school district in Mississippi has canceled its senior prom rather than let a lesbian in a tuxedo attend with her female partner. Because they were not allowed to discriminate and keep the two young women out they decided to keep everybody out and just shut down the event. In other words, homophobia and heterosexism are being used to keep straight kids from having their quintessential high school ritual. And they ought to be furious.

Their fury should be directed at the Itwamba County school district, not at Constance McMillen and her partner. All they did was stand up for their rights to attend together as other couples may, and to dress as they wanted, as other couples do. In fact, they only intended to dress in exactly the same types of outfits as other couples. (I'm sure the school board wouldn't have been any happier had they wanted to each wear a prom gown.)

I applaud Constance's parents for supporting her and telling her to return to school after the decision, retaining her pride in who she is and in the knowledge that her courage in standing up for her rights will help others who come after her. Many of us are not so brave.

I am disgusted by the bigotry and small-mindedness of the Itawamba County School Board. When the option of discrimination was taken off the table they chose to deny everyone their prom experience just to make certain that the lesbian couple were denied their rights. The only way to rightfully discriminate against Constance and her partner was to punish the straight kids too. So that's what they did.

Constance's classmates ought to be applauding her courage and they ought to turn their anger against the school district demanding that the prom be held and that it be open to all students. Better yet, they ought to organize a prom themselves, with freedom, equality and acceptance as their themes.

There's a saying in the labor movement: An injury to one is an injury to all. This story is powerful evidence that the truth of that statement goes well beyond labor rights.

Michael's picture

Don't put your daughter on the stage

Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington, wrote Noel Coward in 1947. Till the early twentieth actors, actresses and all things to do with theatre were considered unseemly as a career choice. Actors were often conflated with 'rogues', 'vagabonds' and 'loose women' as an underclass. The twentieth century saw a paradigm shift whereby  an acting career could bring fame and fortune, and  actresses and actors like Vanessa Redgrave and Ronald Reagan could enter politics without having their characters impugned. 

Elizabeth's picture

ENDA Passes the House: Why We're Not Partying

The Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) was voted on by the House of Representatives today. It passed by a vote of 235 to 184 with 14 not voting. It needed 212 to pass.*

It passed by the skin of its proverbial teeth. So, why are we not celebrating?

Let's review:

1. ENDA does not really protect gays, lesbians and bisexuals. Even though the debate about including or not including protection for gender identity or expression was framed in terms of protecting the transgendered, really those provisions would have protected gays, lesbians and bisexuals better than simply stating that, as the bill that passed the house does, that you can't fire or refuse to hire someone because of his or her real or perceived sexual orientation.

That is like saying "Fine, so we can't fire you for being a lesbian as long as you aren't too butch." If you're "too butch" all bets are off.

Elizabeth's picture

Which best describes your position on ENDA?

* Lets get a passable bill through even if it doesn't include gender identity. We can address that in the next round.\n* I wouldn't support an ENDA that doesn't include gender expression/gender identity.\n* I would vote for ENDA even without gender identity but the full House ought to have to vote on the inclusion of gender identity.\n* I'm opposed to ENDA in the first place.\n

Elizabeth's picture

ENDA: A sacrifice on the table?

HRC is announcing that tomorrow, Wednesday November 7, the House is scheduled to vote on ENDA.

Please call Tammy Baldwin and urge her to offer her amendment and not to withdraw it. Then call your representative and urge that person to support her amendment.

If representatives are given the chance to avoid going on record about gender identity they'll take it. I, for one, don't want them to have that chance.

Click here to find contact information for your congressperson or use the Speak Out!! section on the left.

Oh, and happy election day.

 

UPDATE 10:00pm NOV 6: This is not such good news as it first appeared. This is the notation from GovTrack.us about the schedule debate and vote:

Last Action:
Nov 5, 2007: Rules Committee Resolution H. Res. 793 Reported to House. Rule provides for consideration of H.R. 3685 with 1 hour of general debate. Previous question shall be considered as ordered without intervening motions except motion to recommit with or without instructions. Measure will be considered read. Specified amendments are in order. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived except those arising under clause 9 or 10 of rule XXI.

So, maybe one of you can help decipher this but I read this to mean that the "previous question" (a yes or no vote on the bill as presented) will be considered without any other motions (e.g., amendments) except motions to send it back to committee.

This makes it sound like Tammy Baldwin's amendment will not be offered.

Tune in tomorrow to see what the debate sounds like.

Meanwhile, expect an ENDA without gender identity included. In other words, expect a largely ineffective ENDA that reflects the needs of elite gays, lesbians and bisexuals but does not meet the needs of most of us.

Lolita's picture

Survey of Violence & Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities

September 19, 2007 – New York, NY - Susan Wright and Larry Iannotti would like to announce the launch of the second national Survey of Violence & Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities, being conducted in cooperation with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. This survey includes all of the questions asked on NCSF's ground-breaking 1998 Violence & Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities survey, and includes new questions on personal, business, and Internet discrimination experienced by BDSM-leather-fetish practitioners.

The link to the survey is on NCSF's website: www.ncsfreedom.org

Please take a minute to fill out this anonymous survey even if you have not been a victim of violence or discrimination. Demographic data and information about participation in a variety of BDSM-leather-fetish activities are also being gathered. This survey will be distributed for one year, and the results will be released in early 2009.

Elizabeth's picture

Quickie: Kansas Gov. Bans Bias Based on Sexuality (mostly)

This short bit from this mornings National Briefings section of the New York Times: 

 

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, signed an executive order prohibiting most state employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The order requires agencies under the governor’s direct control to ensure they have programs to prevent harassment against gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and people who have had surgery for sex changes. It covers 25,000 of the 41,000 state employees.

 

Sounds like good news in general, but a couple of questions:

 

1. Why not make the ban apply to all state employees? there are 16,000 who are left free to discriminate as they choose. What's up with that? 

 

Elizabeth's picture

Support the Matthew Shepard Act TODAY!

I originally posted about this as a Sex Act(ivism) item, and I'm posting again to update based on an email from the Human Rights Campaign folks:

From Human Rights Campaign :

Breaking news: the Senate will likely vote on the Matthew Shepard Act as early as this week. And right now, your Senators' phone lines are filling up with messages like this one: "[The Matthew Shepard Act] will be used to fund anti-Christian, pro-homosexual/drag queen materials for children – and divert scarce federal resources away from fighting Islamic terrorism."

Anti-gay groups like the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition – who invented that ridiculous lie – have mobilized a dangerously misinformed grassroots army. If we don't call right now, critical votes COULD BE LOST to these scare tactics.

Enter your zip code in the Contact Contress button on the left side bar and tell your senator that you support strong hate crimes legislation.

 

Original Sex Act(ivism) posting:

JanieBelle's picture

Portland Oregon TriMet Gives Kissing Girls The Boot

Maika and Jocelyn

Two fourteen year old girls were kicked off a public bus in Portland, Oregon because they were kissing, and some nut-job complained. Just to add insult to injury, the driver called them "sickos".

Via Portland TV station KATU:

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