Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Student suspended for wearing awesome boots

A male 11th-grader who came to school dressed in feminine clothing was removed from class on Friday, but nonetheless made the point he wanted to make.

Justin Reynolds said that one day prior he had told a teacher of his plans to show up at Dunnellon High School dressed in a simple black shirt, jeans, high-heeled boots, and a few accessories, according to Ocala.com.

The teacher said she would allow Reynolds the opportunity to speak to other classmates about gay and transgender rights.

"It wasn't anything over-dramatic," Reynolds said in the article. "It's an expression of yourself, no matter what. To dress out of your own gender shouldn't be anything."

When he arrived to school he was greeted with cheers and high fives, especially after giving tribute to slain transgender teenager Gwen Araujo, who was murdered in California in 2002.

However, not everyone was pleased. According to the report, 16-year-old Reynolds was called down to speak with the principal and assistant principal. He was removed from classes for the rest of the day.

Reynolds said that while some teachers and administrators were uncomfortable with his appearance, "there was no kind of animosity."

Principal Michelle Lewis said, "Discipline wasn't the tone of the conversation."

The Marion County Code of Student Conduct says that students must adhere to their own gender's dress norms.

WWSSD? (What Would Sarah Silverman Do?)

ABC "What would you do?" blog tests homophobia at sports bar:

Lesbian mother facing deportation

From The Advocate

Advocates for binational same-sex couples say the wrenching predicament of a lesbian mother in California illustrates why Congress needs to pass the Uniting Americans Families Act.

Shirley Tan, 43, will likely be deported this Friday from her home in San Mateo. The deportation would separate Tan from her 12-year-old twin sons, her life partner, Jay Mercado, and her mother-in-law, sending Tan back to the Philippines, where she was a victim of horrific violence.

If Tan and Mercado were heterosexual and married, advocates say, Mercado could sponsor Tan for immigration, but federal law limits the definition of marriage to a man and woman. The discriminatory circumstances illustrate the urgent need to pass the UAFA, which would allow gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor their foreign-born partners just as straight citizens can.

UAFA was reintroduced in Congress in February, and currently has 110 cosponsors in addition to chief sponsors Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Sen. Patrick Leahy. Proponents are hopeful that a Democrat-controlled Congress and a more supportive administration can move the legislation forward.

“Until the UAFA passes, families like Jay and Shirley’s are at terrible risk,” Immigration Equality executive director Rachel B. Tiven said in a statement on Monday. “We are hopeful their members of Congress will introduce a private bill that would spare their twin boys and the boys’ grandmother from having the country they love tear their family apart.”

A potential short-term alternative to UAFA, private legislation is introduced on behalf of individuals who demonstrate compelling circumstances, such as Tan's.

Tan applied for political asylum in 1995, and thought her case was still pending, until immigration officials knocked on her door this January. She told the San Jose Mercury News that her former lawyer never told her a deportation order was issued in 2002. Her bid for asylum failed because the threat to her life in the Philippines came from a relative -- who shot her in the head when she was young over an inheritance battle -- instead of from the government.

Now, like 37,000 other couples in the United States, Tan and Mercado face the agonizing choice of either separating their family or going to live in a country their children have never known.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

LGBT Administrators' Salaries

From The Advocate

The Washington Blade has published a report of the country’s most prominent LGBT leaders and their salaries, including bonuses and benefits packages -- and the results are somewhat surprising.

Craig Shniderman, executive director of Food & Friends, a Washington D.C.–based nonprofit providing meals and nutritional services for homebound people with HIV/AIDS, topped the list with a total salary and benefits package of $382,200 in 2008.

That’s higher than the Human Rights Campaign’s Joe Solmonese (pictured), the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s Lorri Jean, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s Neil Giuliano.

To put those numbers into perspective, in 2008, L.A.'s Gay and Lesbian Center generated $48.5 million in operating revenue, the highest among all the LGBT and AIDS groups in the survey. HRC placed second with $41.4 million in revenue.

Food & Friends generated only $7.9 million, putting Shniderman above the 90th percentile in salary and at the top of the survey for a nonprofit the size of Food & Friends.

Several LGBT leaders on the Blade’s list agreed to significant pay cuts in 2009 in response to the faltering economy. Solmonese took a 10% pay cut for 2009, while Giuliano agreed to a $20,000 pay cut with no health benefits.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Feeling like I might be in a Wilkie Collins book

It's finally starting to sink in that I'm moving to Regina. I took a tenure-track job in the Department of English at the University of Regina, teaching Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Queer Studies. I'm teaching a course on Gay and Lesbian Studies and Critical Theory in the fall. I get an office. That's actually mine. I can put a couch in the office. I may already have picked out the couch that I want to put in said office.

I need to figure out bus routes. I'm probably going to be walking through Wascana Park in order to get to campus, so I need an even better winter coat. The Montreal coat will do in a pinch, but for a prairie winter, I feel like you need to buy a serious jacket. Don't skimp on the liner. You need quality fleece. Seriously, if the staff at MEC tried to sell me a space suit to protect me from the elements, I would probably buy it. I think Stephen Colbert may already own it.

I need to find an apartment. I can't hold out for the Cathedral area--I need to find a serviceable place, with utilities included (especially heat--Montreal has taught me that). As long as it's near a grocery store and a bus route, that's fine. Although I did hear about a few 1920s brick walkups, populated mostly by grad students. I feel like such a building would have, at the very least, a serviceable laundry room, hardwood floors, and some kind of informal potluck situation going on between floors. Grad students have absolutely nailed the art of potluck. And those who know me also know, when I'm a party guest, I always, always bring 1) chips 2) bite-brownies and 3) a good Chilean or Argentinian wine. I also (often) stare raptly at people's bookshelves, until they finally offer to lend me a book. I love, love, love lending books. But once I lend you a book, I will immediately try to steal all of yours, possibly through some style of legerdemain. Be forewarned.

So I am moving. I'm excited about visiting the LGBT Archives at the University of Saskatoon, the Archer Library, Briar Patch Books (independent!), Wascana Park, The OutSide (they have a store called Homo Depot that intrigues me) and the on-campus Tim Horton's. I also noticed a comic shop near Scarth, and a Timothy's! I have not been to a Timothy's since I was in Toronto, and that was the one in Church St, which is really more of a circuit party than a coffee shop.

I'm flying to Washington to visit family tomorrow. Very psyched about seeing the Battis clan, which so rarely assembles in one room. This is the character of the cross-border family. I am going to visit the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress, and someone is going to have to tear me tooth-and-nail away from Georgetown, since I've always dreamed about visiting that neighborhood.

Listening to Amy Winehouse. Cat #1 and Cat #2 are asleep on the couch, while Cat #3 (referred to hereafter as 'the kitten') is sleeping in her basket. She has a basket tucked into my massive shelf unit, which I have bequeathed to Brianne, mostly owing to the fact that 1) I will never disassemble it and 2) I don't want to ship it. So many books to ship. So many files. So many small appliances and useful items to (lovingly) steal from my parents in the meantime.

In love. Like, serious, life-altering love. Scared. Reading a lot of Marx and Lukacs. Wishing my Spanish was anywhere near good enough to read Lorca. I am going to enroll in a year-long course. This should supplement my current studies with the Berlitz 'Take Off in Spanish!' DVD set (with workbook!), which, surprisingly, has not prepared me to move to Madrid.

I'm holy-shit-scared but also incredibly excited to start teaching in the fall again. I've never known where I fit within the overlapping systems of the academy. It's likely that I don't fit. But I love teaching. So we'll see.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

UN Decriminilization of Homosexuality

From The Advocate:

'The hosannas are flying in response to news that the United States will sign onto a United Nations General Assembly declaration urging all of its member states to decriminalize homosexuality. “The Administration’s leadership on this issue is a rebuke of an earlier Bush administration position that sought to deny the universal application of human rights protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals,” said Mark Bromley of the Council for Global Equality. Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign applauded the State Department’s decision as “a welcome step forward as it signals to the world that, after years of a hostile administration, the United States recognizes the humanity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people at home and abroad.”'

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Linares killed

Well-known Colombian gay activist Alvaro Miguel Rivera Linares, 41, was killed March 6 in his apartment in Cali.

He suffered a fatal blow to the head and was found tied to his bed and gagged. The apartment had been trashed but there were no signs of forced entry and nothing was stolen.

Rivera received national attention when he fought a 2001 mandate by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas that all residents of a FARC-controlled sector of the eastern state of Meta take an HIV test or leave the area within a week.

Thereafter, he received death threats and was followed on the streets and harassed at work. He eventually left Meta, his home state, as a result.

Leading Latino-issues blogger Andres Duque called Rivera's death "a tremendous loss to the international human rights movement."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Queer Sport

Pictures like this, of Alex Rodriguez posing in Details, make me happy that I teach queer theory.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009