Friday, June 11, 2010

This is in the "you've got to be kidding me department."

In Seattle, Wash., a white male teacher had an 8-year-old African American girl removed from the classroom. In most cases, children are removed for behavioral and disciplinary issues, which is clearly understandable and acceptable; however, this wasn’t the case here.

The teacher removed the girl, claiming her Afro was making him sick. Naturally, the father of the child, Charles Mudede, was extremely concerned after the incident, and, as a result, the girl, who was the only black child in the advanced-placement class, has missed two weeks of school.

The incident, which occurred at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, was featured on KIRO-TV. The segment showed the hair product the girl used, Organic Root Stimulator's Olive Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion, as well as interviews with her mother and lawyer.

While the girl was eventually relocated to another class down the hall, the fact remains that such a decision could be made by a teacher alone, without the school contacting the parents directly — especially given the implications on the surface of a white teacher picking on a single black child as being the origin of his allergy. The NAACP stated that it will file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.

The fact that a teacher would engage in such behavior is troublesome — especially in front of other students. If America is in a post racial period, it appears that “post” and “pre” may be synonymous. Teresa Wippel, school district representative, said, “We're certainly concerned about the incident and are looking into it. … Our goal is to make sure the student returns to school. The parents have, so far, not wanted to put her back in school. They want to be sure everything is resolved to their satisfaction.”

We, as a people, have endured many centuries of being degraded just for our physical features. I understand the strength and pride that Charles Mudede is displaying with respect to this situation. I, too, am a parent, and teach my children that the way they speak and look and act makes me proud, and that they should maintain such fortitude when others cannot acknowledge what they see in themselves. –torrance stephens, ph.d.

Please don't say the G word

I mentioned this guy on Tuesday.  Rachel Maddow covered him Wednesday night in her usual perceptive yet understated way.

The Rhinestone Sisterhood

Click below Review of Rhinestone Sisterhood to read my review of The Rhinestone Sisterhood in Edge Publications.

Review of Rhinestone Sisterhood

And this guy is a professor?


This piece is from Lisa Wangsness of the Boston Globe:

A contributor to the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston said yesterday he regretted a portion of a column that has infuriated gay Catholics in the region.

In the column, published last week, the writer argued that one reason the children of gay parents should not be admitted to Catholic schools is the “real danger’’ that they would bring pornography to school.

That allegation, plus several others in the column, has drawn a torrent of criticism from gay rights advocates.

And yesterday, the editor of the paper, The Pilot, said in a statement, “The tone of the piece was strong, and we apologize if anyone felt offended by it.’’

The controversy began June 4, when The Pilot published a column by Michael Pakaluk, a former philosophy professor at Clark University in Worcester and former visiting scholar at Harvard who now teaches in Virginia. Pakaluk was reflecting on another controversy, regarding the decision by a Hingham priest to rescind the acceptance of a child of a lesbian couple to a local parochial school.

The Archdiocese of Boston has just begun developing a policy regarding the admission of children of gay parents to Catholic schools, following the Hingham controversy.

In the column, Pakaluk wrote that pornographic items “go along with the same-sex lifestyle, which — as not being related to procreation — is inherently eroticized and pornographic.’’

In a phone interview yesterday, however, Pakaluk said he now views that sentence as a “weak argument.’’

“I think I probably would not make that point again, and I can see how it would be offensive,’’ he said.

In the column, Pakaluk also expressed concern that by welcoming gay families, Catholic schools could give children the impression that the practice of homosexuality is acceptable, as well as potentially provide an opportunity for a gay parent to “advocate for his lifestyle.’’ He added that gay parents should not be called “parents’’ unless they are biologically related to their children.

Pakaluk, who has been writing monthly columns for The Pilot since 2002, according to the archdiocese, stood by those aspects of the column yesterday. He said that what gay Catholics and their supporters believe is “on a major collision course’’ with Catholic teaching that sexual relations should only take place within a heterosexual marriage, that opposite-sex partners in marriage represent the image of God, and that a mother and father make “distinct and complementary’’ contributions toward raising a child.

“Parents have to be committed to trying to live Catholic morality; otherwise, they are not partnering with the school,’’ he said.

Jarrett Barrios, a former state senator from Cambridge who is now president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, called the column “void of the love, compassion, and inclusiveness that so many proud practicing Catholics, myself included, have grown up with.’’

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, an advocacy group for gay Catholics, said, “I think this is an absolutely appalling piece. I think it’s incredibly irresponsible for a Catholic newspaper to allow such hateful and insupportable claims to be made in their paper.’’

The editor of The Pilot, Antonio M. Enrique, said in a statement to the Globe yesterday that the column did not necessarily reflect the views of the archdiocese or the paper, which he said tries to promote conversation and understanding of the different positions on issues of interest to Catholics.

“Pilot readers are accustomed to reading differing views on many complex social issues,’’ he said. “Our Catholic laity is well educated and can make up their minds on whether they agree or disagree with a particular opinion.’’

Charles Martel, cofounder of the national Catholics for Marriage Equality who attends St. Ignatius Parish in Chestnut Hill, said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley must “decide where he really stands.’’

“He can’t have it both ways and say he, in fact, is welcoming these children and then have these kinds of statements made in The Pilot.’’

But a spokesman for O’Malley said yesterday that Enrique, not the cardinal, is fully responsible for what The Pilot prints.

The Pilot has provided space for numerous points of view on this issue. In a letter to the editor that ran on the same page as Pakaluk’s column, Monsignor Paul V. Garrity of St. Mary’s Parish in Lynn wrote that Catholic schools have long welcomed all children, regardless of their family situation.

“To begin to discriminate against children who have two mommies or two daddies would fly in the face of this very proud tradition,’’ he said.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Look at your husband and smile

 Did the cue cards keep telling Mrs. Haggard, "Look at your husband and smile. Look at your husband and smile. Look at your husband and smile. Look at your husband and smile?"

Not sure how the anti-gay forces will respond to this....

 Here's a pretty wonderful story.  The results are in for the first ever study to track children with lesbian parents from birth to adolescence.  Most rational folks expected that there would be no difference between kids raised by lesbian parents and those raised by hetero couples.  But guess what?  Children raised by lesbian parents fared better than those raised by hetero parents in a number of important categories.

According to Time Magazine:

The authors found that children raised by lesbian mothers — whether the mother was partnered or single — scored very similarly to children raised by heterosexual parents on measures of development and social behavior. These findings were expected, the authors said; however, they were surprised to discover that children in lesbian homes scored higher than kids in straight families on some psychological measures of self-esteem and confidence, did better academically and were less likely to have behavioral problems, such as rule-breaking and aggression.

"We simply expected to find no difference in psychological adjustment between adolescents reared in lesbian families and the normative sample of age-matched controls," says Gartrell. "I was surprised to find that on some measures we found higher levels of [psychological] competency and lower levels of behavioral problems. It wasn't something I anticipated."

In addition, children in same-sex-parent families whose mothers ended up separating, did as well as children in lesbian families in which the moms stayed together.

It's not clear exactly why children of lesbian mothers tend to do better than those in heterosexual families on certain measures. But after studying gay and lesbian families for 24 years, Gartrell has some theories. "They are very involved in their children's lives," she says of the lesbian parents. "And that is a great recipe for healthy outcomes for children. Being present, having good communication, being there in their schools, finding out what is going on in their schools and various aspects of the children's lives is very, very important."


A Rush to the altar...and what are you thinking, Elton?

Over the weekend Rush Limgaugh celebrated his love of traditional marriage by having his fourth.  No surprise there.  What was surprising was the entertainment for the wedding.  Why did he agree to do this gig?  I doubt he needed the million dollars.  Here's what says about the situation:

Despite the anti-gay rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh, Sir Elton John has reportedly performed to the 400 wedding guests of the conservative radio commentator.

According to People magazine, Limbaugh reportedly hired Elton John for $1 million to perform at his lavish Hawaiian-themed Florida ceremony on Saturday.

The 59-year-old Limbaugh married 33 year-old Kathryn Rogers. This is the fourth wedding for Limbaugh, who actively speaks out against gay marriage in support of traditional marriage.

The Limbaugh and openly gay Elton John pairing is odd considering the singer's longtime commitment to gay rights.  Elton John married his partner David Furnish four years ago.

An editorial posted on says Elton John should be shamed for taking the cash. "There are reasonable things the LGBT community can do to disavow support for people who make a career out of gay baiting, and there are unreasonable things," says the editorial.

"It will be Rush who writes out the check to Elton for the seven-figure sum; money that, let's all face, Elton doesn't really need. And even if his intention was to donate the cash to a LGBT youth group, it's already bloody money, and tainted."

There has been no comment from Elton John about accepting Limbaugh's invitation nor his intentions for the money.

Some of the most famous guests were Karl Rove, Fred Thompson, Sean Hannity, Rudolph Guiliana, James Carville, and Mary Matalin.

Elton John and Karl Rove at the same party?  I have no words.

First gay marriage in Portugal!

Barry Hatton of the Associated Press is reporting on the first same-sex marriage in Portugal!  A lesbian couple was married on Monday.  Here's what Hatton has to say:

Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao (left), divorced Portuguese mothers in their 30s who have been together since 2003, married in a 15-minute ceremony at a Lisbon registry office.

"This is a great victory, a dream come true," Pires said as the couple kissed and hugged.

"Now we're a family, that's the important thing," Pires said, adding they would continue to fight for equal rights for homosexuals, including adoption.

The ceremony came less than a month after Portugal's conservative president ratified a gay marriage law passed by Parliament in January. His approval made Portugal the sixth in Europe to let same-sex couples wed.

The center-left Socialist government said the law is part of its effort to modernize Portugal, where homosexuality was a crime until 1982. Three years ago the same government lifted Portugal's ban on abortion, despite church opposition.

Pires and Paixao, the lesbian couple, had campaigned for a change in the law since a registry office turned them away when they first tried to marry in 2006.

Officials argued the law stipulated that marriage was between people of different sexes. The women appealed to Portugal's Constitutional Court because the constitution forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The court rejected their appeal, but left-of-center parties in Parliament supported the government bill which removed the reference to marriage being between different sexes.