Monthly Archives: April 2011

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Disturbing Picture of How We Treat One Another

Some events and reports have hit the news recently, and combined in my mind to create a disturbing picture of how we sometimes treat one another.  We all need to step up and help when we see something happening that is just wrong.  These events and reports also demonstrate the importance of having inclusive laws against hate crimes, bullying, and discrimination.  This means laws that not only include sexual orientation, but also include gender identity and gender expression, so that we do not leave our transgender friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members behind.

One of the recent events was the beating of a transgender woman on April 18th at a McDonald’s in Baltimore by a couple of customers, while the employees and other customers stood by.  This type of violence is, tragically, not that uncommon for transgender people and is often under-reported.  This particular event was video taped and went ‘viral’ on the Internet so many of us did hear about it.  Apparently the trouble began with the victim using the restroom.   This also came on the heels of the Baltimore legislature failing to pass an anti-discrimination bill that included gender identity.

Why is it that our society wants to put everyone in ‘boxes’ – such as male or female – so much that when someone does not fit into either box they are perceived as a threat, and misguided individuals feel compelled to commit physical violence against them?  Also, why are people reluctant to help and stop the violence? I wish I had the answers.

Recent news has also included a couple of reports, which contribute to my feelings of unease .  One was a study published by Dr. Hatzenbuehler,  in the journal Pediatrics, that showed a correlation between youth suicide with areas that have few resources for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.  From the results of the study: “A more supportive social environment was significantly associated with fewer suicide attempts…“

Here is a link to the abstract of the study:
http://tinyurl.com/3auk2er

The Trevor project stated the results of this study match with their experience in operating a 24/7-crisis intervention lifeline – they get more calls from conservative areas.

Here is an article in the Huffington Post that talks about the Trevor Project and the study:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-fishberger-md/gay-suicide_b_851107.html

The other report was about the work of some conservative religious folks to actively prevent anti-bullying laws that include gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth.  “An increasing number of conservative leaders and organizations have fiercely opposed anti-bullying programs developed by schools and education groups for the sole reason that such programs identify and attempt to combat the widespread bullying of LGBT youth.”  From the report’s conclusion: “Ignoring the clear signs of bullying directed towards gay and gay-perceived students does more than perpetuate the problem and lend undeserved credibility to Religious Right attacks on LGBT people and their allies. It undermines the creation of safe and welcoming schools, and puts the well-being and the very lives of American students at risk.”

Here is a link to the full article:
http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/big-bullies-how-the-religious-right-trying-to-make-schools-safe-for-bullies-and-dangero

This all makes me glad that there are some good things happening in Kitsap County.   We have Gay Straight Alliances at many of our local schools, as well as the work of the Kitsap Safe Schools Network.  Also, our local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth have a Q Center.  We are not free of problems, though, because the students here still experience bullying on a regular basis.  An article in the Central Kitsap Reporter about the local Q Center and some of the youth it supports talks about this:
http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/kitsap/ckr/lifestyle/104597154.html

Please remember  - Victims of bullying, violence and suicide are our fellow human beings, too often young people, and they are they being left out of legislation, kicked out by their parents, bullied in their schools, and too many are enduring enough abuse that they decide to end their lives.  Have some respect and compassion – It takes all of us to speak out against this hatred-driven violence and abuse.

Some useful links, if you want tools to help:

The Trevor Project
http://www.thetrevorproject.org

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (May 17th)
http://www.dayagainsthomophobia.org

National Center for Transgender Equality
http://transequality.org

Kitsap Safe Schools Network
http://www.kitsapsafeschools.org

The Safe Schools Coalition
http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org

Kitsap Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
http://www.kitsappflag.org

National Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
http://www.pflag.org

Benefit that Celebrates Japanese Culture

Next Sunday, May 1st, there will be a Kitsap County event that both celebrates the culture of Japan, and raises funds for relief efforts there and I want to share the event information with you – here are the details:

Japan Friendship Benefit – A Family Event

An afternoon of Japanese dance, music, origami, calligraphy and food to honor Japanese culture and help the people of Japan on Sunday, May 1, 2011, 2:30 – 5:00 pm
At the Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Fellowship,
4418 Perry Ave. NE, Bremerton

Free and open to the public. Suggested donation: $10 (person) or $15 (family) will be sent to Japan through the UUA/UUSC Japan Relief Fund, and the Japan NGO Earthquake and Recovery Fund.

The event will also include a silent auction.

The Japan Friendship Benefit is sponsored by the Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Social Justice Committee, and co‐sponsored by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.

This benefit is led by Kazuko Yamazaki and Hiroko Spees – both natives of Japan. Kazuko Yamazaki is a professional dancer and anthropologist, Hiroko Spees is a retired social worker and an active volunteer and advocate for Kitsap families who are homeless.

Kazuko Yamazaki and some of her young students will perform specially choreographed dances, musicians and exchange students will play Japanese music, and guests can learn origami and calligraphy.

Local restaurants and grocers, as well as local families will provide food for this event.

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Some Poetry about Humanity

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I want to share with you some poems from one of my favorite local poets, John Stilwell.  Some relate to the good of humanity and the world around us, and one relates to the bad.
(These are all used with permission.)

The first are some Haiku poems:

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

Our inner lights shine

Gently split by Life’s Prism

Beautiful colors!

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

I look in your eyes-

Warmth and pain; sorrow and joy.

I look and see me.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

Black and white pixels

swirl and merge from far away-

into shades of grey.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

In all stars, beauty -

Silently, brightly shining.

In us all – a star.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

The following poem, also written by John Stilwell, was tragically inspired by a hate crime:

The Last Refrain

She said he sang,
strong and clear;
a voice which erased pain.

No song was this,
that passed their lips -
They bound him up with chain.

What did they hear?
It’s best not told,
though one sure thought rings clear:

His sister will not
hear his voice -
There was no last refrain.

Why did their God,
along that road,
where he will long remain,

cross those paths,
wax insane,
allow no last refrain?

What will we do,
in fear and shame,
to mitigate the pain?

We’ll try them fast
and bid them die -
There’ll be no last refrain.

Note: This poem was a response to the murder of James Byrd Jr. who was brutally murdered by being chained to the back of a pickup truck and drug for over a mile in Jasper, Texas on June 7th, 1998. Three men committed the crime. One was sentenced to life and two are on death row.
The Federal Hate Crimes legislation that was signed into law in 2009 was partly in response to this horrific hate crime.

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Here is a link to poems about diversity that were winners of contests for young folks:

http://www.worldunityinc.org/2010PoetryContest.htm

http://www.diversitycouncil.org/poetry_2011.shtml

If you are interested in more information about National Poetry Month, check out the web page for the Academy of American Poets:

http://www.poets.org

~   ~   ~

Beyond Rosie

On a local women’s history note, check out the online “exhibit” about women at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility that the Puget Sound Navy Museum has on its web page.  The exhibit includes 8 pages with an interesting collection of information and pictures spanning from WW I up to the present.

Here is the link:
Beyond Rosie: Women of the Puget Sound Naval 
Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility
http://www.history.navy.mil/museums/psnm/BR/index.htm

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