Tag: School

Arizona passes bill to let parents veto kids’ LGBT school lessons

Nancy Barto, a woman wearing a red suit with short brown hair

Arizona senator Nancy Barto sponsored the bill. (Facebook)

Arizona Republicans have passed an anti-LGBT+ bill that would allow parents to stop their kids from learning about queer people.

SB 1456 would require the “school governing board to develop procedures by which parents will be notified in advance, and given the opportunity to opt their children into, any instruction regarding sexuality, gender identity or gender expression”. The bill would also prohibit schools from providing sex-ed classes which include information about AIDS and HIV without parent’s permission.

The new legislation comes just two years after Arizona state lawmakers overturned a different law that prevented LGBT+ students from receiving medically accurate information in classes at school. The law, which had been on the books since 1991, banned any instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle”, “portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle” and “suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex”.

But it looks like sadly the new LGBT+ will be passed into law. SB 1456 passed through the state’s Republican-controlled House in a 31-28 party-line vote on Wednesday (14 April), according to Tuscon.com. It already passed through the Arizona Senate in March and now goes to Republican governor Doug Ducey to be signed into law.

Cathi Herrod, the president of the Center for Arizona Policy – the group backing the anti-LGBT+ bill, said it is about ensuring parents have control over what their children are taught. Harrod told AP: “The purpose of [SB 1456] is to look out for parental rights, to ensure that parents have access to learning materials, that parents have the opportunity to opt their child into classes dealing with human sexuality.”

She argued the bill won’t “stop [LGBT+ issues] from being addressed” but will give parents the “opportunity to make that decision to opt their students in to classroom discussion”.

However, the bill has received fierce opposition from Democrats who argued the bill is harmful to LGBT+ students. The Arizona Democratic Party tweeted that the “extreme anti-LGBTQ bill” will “put young people in danger and effectively put a gag order on educators from teaching ANYTHING related to the LGBTQ community”. The party also called on governor Ducey to veto the bill.

Kathy Hoffman, Arizona superintendent of public instruction, released a statement on Twitter condemning the bill. She wrote Arizona has taken a “giant step backward” in LGBT+ equality by passing SB 1456.

“This legislation is nothing short of state-codified bigotry and does not reflect where most Arizonans stand on these issues,” Hoffman said. “This legislation will one again silence and erase LGBTQ individuals and their history in our schools – and it will harm students and families.”

Richie Taylor, the communications director for the Arizona department of education and Hoffman, shared the devastating impact the new bill would have on LGBT+ young people in the state. He said: “Growing up gay in rural Arizona was hard.

“It would have been life changing for me to have access to information and resources that could have helped me make sense of it all.

“[SB 1456] takes us backward and it will harm LGBTQ students.”

 

Tennessee Bill Would Ban Mention of LGBTQ People in School Curriculum

Tennessee Bill Would Ban Mention of LGBTQ People in School

A bill introduced in both houses of the Tennessee Legislature would prohibit public schools from using textbooks or instructional materials “that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) issues or lifestyles.”

Tennessee flag

The House bill (PDF) says that this type of material is “inappropriate” and “offends a significant portion of students, parents, and Tennessee residents with Christian values.” It claims that “the promotion of LGBT issues and lifestyles should be subject to the same restrictions and limitations placed on the teaching of religion in public schools,” and should therefore not be permitted. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Bruce Griffey (R – District 75) and will get a hearing March 30. A similar bill in the state Senate awaits a committee hearing. Another pair of bills would require schools to notify parents or guardians before “instruction of a sexual orientation or gender identity curriculum.” I guess that’s just in case the complete ban doesn’t pass.

Fact is, at least two federal lawsuits brought in the past two years against states that had banned mention of LGBTQ people in their health curriculum led to overturning those laws (in South Carolina, by a court ruling and in Arizona by legislative repeal after the lawsuit was filed). The Tennessee bill isn’t restricted to the health curriculum, but would presumably include it.

Currently five other states (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas) have similar “Don’t Say Gay” laws, according to the Movement Advancement Project. In contrast, six states require inclusion of LGBTQ people in the curriculum (California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and Oregon). A similar law in the U.K., Section 28, was enacted in 1988 but fully repealed in 2003.

“Don’t Say Gay” laws get fuzzy (and ugly) really fast when, say, a kid with same-sex parents starts talking about their family vacation and another kid asks how they can have two moms or two dads. Could the teacher (or the kid) stop to explain without running afoul of the law? Could they look to LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books to help? What might the child with two parents think if the teacher just shuts down conversation? Or what if a kid brings in a book for reading time that includes LGBTQ characters? Or if a child is transgender or gender creative? Can the teacher help other children understand this or must the trans or gender creative child be the one to change who they are? There’s a fragile line between banning materials that depict certain identities and banning people with those identities.

In addition, a number of other current Tennessee bills are explicitly anti-transgender, including ones that would force transgender athletes to compete on teams of their gender assigned at birth, and several that could negatively impact gender-affirming care for trans youth. Tennessee is also one of eleven states that allows adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others in the name of religion.

Want to take action? Visit the Tennessee Equality Project to see what’s happening next week (and in the future) and what you can do about it.

School Districts in Two States Say Perfectly Appropriate Picture Book About a Transgender Boy Is Inappropriate

School Districts in Two States Say Perfectly Appropriate Picture Book

In the past month, school districts in two states have tried to ban Call Me Max, a delightful picture book about a transgender boy by a transgender author, calling it “not appropriate” for the children who heard it read to them. This would be awful at any time, but at a moment when trans youth are under threat from anti-trans bills in at least 24 states, it feels like the tip of a much bigger iceberg.

Call Me Max - Kyle Lukoff

In Utah

In February, a third-grade student in Utah brought the book into class and asked the teacher to read it at storytime, which she did. According to school district spokesperson Doug Perry, students then asked some questions that the teacher “deflected,” reported the Salt Lake Tribune. Afterwards, “A few families then called the district, angry that the book was shared with their kids without permission.”

The teacher made a “mistake,” Perry said. “That book is not appropriate at the grade level it was being shared.” In response to the complaints, the district suspended its “equity book bundles,” a program to bring more inclusive literature, particularly around race, to the classroom. Call Me Max was not part of those bundles, but the district spokesperson said they were reviewing them “to see if any are similar to Call Me Max in topic or might otherwise cause concern.”

Author Kyle Lukoff told Newsweek that he can’t believe the district is withholding whole equity book bundle while they deliberate. “I only want my career to be in conversation/solidarity/support of others, and this feels awful.”

Lukoff explained to the Tribune that his book was written for a kindergarten to third grade audience, and that he’s read it to first graders who were unfazed when he explained what “transgender” means. “I find in my experience that adults think that term unlocks a lot of confusion in children when it really doesn’t,” he said. “It’s only a problem if you think that being transgender is itself wrong. And it’s not.”

As further proof that kids get it, a number of Lukoff’s former students, from first to seventh grade, wrote a letter to the school board in support of him and his book, saying, “By pausing the program, and doing so on the basis of a children’s book about a transgender child, you are telling children who may be a bit different than others, and transgender children especially, that you do not value them, their lives, or their experiences.” (I wrote something similar back in 2007 in relation to attempts to ban books with same-sex parents.)

In Texas

Earlier this month, too, a teacher in Texas read Call Me Max to her fourth grade class. The book was on a list she had shared for the annual Read Across America observance, and included books related to Black and Women’s History Months. Some parents protested when they learned that Max had been read, reported CBS Austin. The district’s chief learning officer, Susan Fambrough, then sent a letter to parents (republished at Lukoff’s blog) stating that the list had not been “appropriately reviewed” and calling the book “not appropriate to be read aloud to an entire elementary-age class.” She added that “the subject of gender identity may be addressed instructionally—but only with proper caution and prior parent awareness.” After the book was read, she said, “Counselors were made available to support students, and the school administration worked with families to provide an explanation and reassurances.”

Lukoff, who was an elementary school librarian for eight years himself, wrote a thoughtful answer to Fambrough in which he asked her to explain the district’s actions of providing counselors and reassurances to families—a response he’d only seen before after crises like a death in the school community or the school shooting at Sandy Hook. “Do you believe that a readaloud about a transgender child is an equivalent trauma? How do you think transgender people in your community felt having their identities treated like a disaster?” he inquired. He also asked if the district provided similar support and resources after a student experiences homophobia, transphobia, racism, or ableism.

More than Books

These attempts to ban Max are infuriating but not surprising. LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books have long been among the most challenged in the country, according to the American Library Association (ALA). In 2012, the same Utah school district where there was a fuss about Max removed Patricia Polacco’s In Our Mother’s House, about a two-mom family, from elementary school shelves, making it available only with written permission from a parent. And in just the past couple of years, several other authors of LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books have been banned from talking at schools even when it wasn’t clear that they’d mention those titles.

But the baseless fury around Max comes at a time when transgender people themselves are under attack more broadly. Just this week, Mississippi enacted a law banning transgender girls in Mississippi’s public schools and colleges from competing on girls and women’s sports teams. It’s one of a slew of anti-transgender bills now before legislatures around the country. If you are in any of those states, please reach out to your legislators and tell them to vote against these bills.

If you need to report that a book is being challenged in your local school or library, you can use this form from the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom.

Also, let’s show Lukoff some direct support, too. His When Aidan Became a Brother, about a transgender boy preparing for a new sibling, won the prestigious Stonewall Award last year. Call Me Max is wonderful as well, and its sequels, Max and the Talent Show and Max on the Farm, give us more adventures about the personable protagonist and his friends. The second two books are less “about” being transgender, but Max still responds to certain things in ways that reflect his transgender identity. Lukoff is one of the best at finding this balance. His first middle grade novel, Too Bright to See, comes out April 20. Stay tuned for a review—but if you want to take a chance on it (I would), it’s available for preorder at Bookshop and Amazon. You can also look up more children’s books with transgender characters in my database. (Start typing “transgender” into the Tags box and you’ll see various options.) If you aren’t in a position to buy these yourself, please recommend them to your local library, and leave online reviews—I’ve heard many authors say this helps.

Max—and real transgender children—shouldn’t have to bear this alone.


(As an Amazon Associate and as a Bookshop Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Before ‘Love, Simon’ another pair of high school boys fell in love… / Queerty

Before ‘Love, Simon’ another pair of high school boys fell

Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a rewatch.

The Fantasy: Get Real

Get Real follows Steven (Ben Silverstone), a handsome, lonesome 16-year-old living in blue-collar Britain. Steven realizes he’s gay, and begins to seek out other men the only way he knows how: by cruising a public toilet. One day he has an encounter with John (Brad Gorton), the popular high school jock. John denies he’s gay, though he soon changes his tune, and expresses his feelings for Steven. The two begin a covert relationship, even as rumors begin to fly about Steven’s sexuality.

We’ll not reveal more than that here, other than to say Get Real has some moving moments (including an excruciating climax), and represents an important historical artifact in terms of queer cinema history. The movie realizes a fantasy of the time: that young LGBTQ kids could undergo sexual awakening, come out and find love at school and win the heart of the popular classmate a-la countless other teen comedies. For a generation of people that came out in their 20s or later, seeing the fantasy come to life must have felt empowering and comforting.

Today, Get Real makes an episode of Glee look like a documentary, musical numbers and all. That doesn’t mean the movie doesn’t have merit. Silverstone gives a winning performance in the lead, and Charlotte Brittain, as Steven’s straight bestie Linda, has some hilarious moments as she tries to protect Steven from bullies. We recommend giving Get Real a watch, if for no other reason but to see how far movies–and the community–have come.

Streams on Amazon, YouTube, iTunes & VUDU.

You know what’s cooler than two high school boys in love? Their wacky friends… / Queerty

You know what’s cooler than two high school boys in

Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a rewatch.

The Stolen Scenes: Beautiful Thing

This 1996 romantic comedy about two British high school boys in love helped pave the way for countless other queer films, and foreshadowed the success of Love, SimonBeautiful Thing follows the story of Jamie (Glen Berry), a teen hopelessly infatuated with his classmate Ste (Scott Neal). Both hail from rough family situations: Jamie’s mother Sandra (Linda Henry) goes through one eccentric man after the next, while Ste’s father struggles with drugs, and beats his son. One night, when Ste gets a particularly nasty beating, Sandra takes in Ste to sleep over. Sparks immediately fly between he and Jamie as the two boys come to discover their budding sexuality.

Pretty straightforward, right? Jamie and Ste are the least interesting elements of Beautiful Thing. While Berry and Neal both go easy on the eyes and give fine performances, they come off rather bland when compared to the post-hippie Sandra, and, in particular, Leah (Tameka Empson) a sassy neighbor with a Mama Cass obsession that befriends the boys. Both Leah and Sandra steal the movie right out from under their handsome co-stars: the two ladies have much more developed and complicated personalities, and are a lot more fun to watch.

Sweet, tender and very funny, Beautiful Thing feels like an innocent, welcome breath of fresh air in a time of political crisis. Watch it, and dream of a more beautiful tomorrow for queer kids everywhere.

Streams on Amazon, VUDU & YouTube.

 

‘Seventeen’ tells story of secret lesbian crushes at boarding school – Lesbian.com

‘Seventeen’ tells story of secret lesbian crushes at boarding school

What happens when you fall in love with your best friend? Seventeen year old boarding school pupil Paula is secretly in love with her friend Charlotte. But Charlotte’s going out with Michael. Lovelorn, Paula decides to try and take her mind off things by getting involved with schoolmate Tim, whose feelings for her are genuine. And then there’s Lilli, who is just dying for someone to fancy her and tries to play the wild seductress. Paula must decide if she wants to follow her own feelings or yield to other people’s.

104 min
German with English Subtitles

Tags: Alexander Wychodil, Alexandra Schmidt, Anaelle Dézsy, Elisabeth Wabitsch, Indie film, Leo Plankensteiner, lesbian, lesbian movie, Lesbian.com, LGBT, LGBT film, monja art, seventeen, Wolfe Video

Posted & filed under Movies.

MORE FROM WolfeOnDemand.com

Back to school – Year Four

Back to school - Year Four

As we approach the October half term break I thought it was time to write the yearly back to school post. I wanted our little dude to settle into the new year before I wrote my post, just in case we were thrown back into a national lockdown out of no where. Thankfully our little dude has managed to stay in his bubble at school with no lockdowns.

The home learning during lockdown didn’t seem to have any negative effects on the levels M was at before the lockdown. So that is a little parenting win. I will be honest trying to keep him learning whilst we both still worked from home was tricky. But credit to him, he worked hard and kept himself at a very good level of learning.

SMILE YEAR 4

Year four seems to be the year where the work/play balance truly shifts. Each day M comes out with another tale of subjects he has been tackling. French, religious studies, math math and more math (his words). It is also the year we have started to cycle home from school. M has approached this with a fantastic attitude and has persevered through rain storms and windy afternoons.

First day
MUMMY AND YEAR 4

The little dude is still set on being a Marine Biologist once he leaves education, so we’ve told him he needs to make sure he always pays attention at school, especially maths and science. He is a little sponge when it comes to facts and is a great fountain of knowledge when it comes to sea creatures, fossils and gem stones.

YEAR 4 SMART
CYCLE YEAR 4

I know he is really looking forward to half term as this year he gets to spend it with Clara, now that she is a teacher. Also there is something about autumn and darker afternoons that causes tiredness in the house. So a rest is definitely due!

I am really looking forward to the growth M is going to go through over the next school year.

Me @ School : actuallesbians

Me @ School : actuallesbians

A place for discussions for and by cis and trans lesbians, bisexual girls, chicks who like chicks, bi-curious folks, dykes, butches, femmes, girls who kiss girls, birls, bois, aces, LGBT allies, and anyone else interested! Our subreddit is named r/actuallesbians because r/lesbians is not really for or by lesbians–it was meant to be a joke. We’re not a militant or exclusive group, so feel free to join up!

Watch: Short Film About Gay Dad and His Daughter’s First Weeks of School

Watch: Short Film About Gay Dad and His Daughter's First

In a moving new short film, a gay dad prepares lunches for his daughter during her first weeks of school and reflects on starting his family, his own difficult school days, and his hopes for the future. Along with the film is a short documentary that looks more broadly at what family means to LGBTQ people.

Matt Gurr’s Lunchboxes, starring Daniel Brennan and directed by Dan Ellis, is a 17-minute monologue that I found to be an unexpectedly touching piece of storytelling. It was “filmed during lockdown with Zoom and a lot of time and patience,” per the show notes, as a collaboration between Green Carnation Company, an LGBTQ-focused theatrical and digital content company, and Bloody Bandit Productions, both based in Manchester, U.K.

To go along with the short, the companies have also released the educational film Queer All About It: My Queer Family, a 17-minute documentary that looks at “what family means to LGBTQ+ people and what challenges, rewards and support they experience.” In it, LGBTQ+ family members across the U.K. and from organizations like New Family Social, The Rainbow Project, and FFLAG, talk about adoption, same-sex parenting, reciprocal IVF, found and chosen families, and more. Even for those of us not in the U.K., there’s lot that should resonate.

The films are part of “Queer All About It,” Green Carnation Theatre’s ongoing digital project exploring themes affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Watch them both here—I recommend seeing Lunchboxes first, since My Queer Family uses two clips from it and there are mild spoilers.