Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during February, 2011

Dr. Phil Spreads Gender Confusion

February 25th, 2011

Guest Slap

I’m super happy to present today’s guest author-slash-illustrator for the second time this week! Premee is an environmental specialist and native Albertan, proving once and for all that not all correspondance coming out of my home province is hate mail.

A boy plays around with homoerotic action figures while his parents feel relieved that he's finally playing with boys stuff.

So the ruggedly testosterone-tacular hunk of mustachioed maleness that is Dr. Phil recently suggested that a mom not contribute to her five year-old son’s “confusion” by buying him “girl toys.” He tried to soften the blow by saying he knows that toys usually attributed to the opposite gender don’t usually cause teh gay, but he still deserves a slap, even if I have to get up on a stepladder to deliver it.

Because this is the culture, people. This is the dominant paradigm that says discussion of gayness and gender norms must be uncomfortable and Other. This is Dr. Phil, a respected and well-known public figure, saying, “I just don’t want to confuse this little boy” with a wink and a nudge, and having everyone know exactly what he means, even if he prefaces it with a “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” He’s saying that there is something off about a boy preferring “girl toys” and that it’s something that should be subtly but coercively remedied. He’s saying you should take away your kid’s choice to be, and express, who they are if it looks like they might be something you won’t like. He’s saying that if it looks like you might have to step up to the plate and help guide a child along what might be a path of same-sex attraction, or a path of genuine gender dissatisfaction, or just a kid not neatly fitting the expected norm—you can just make things easier on yourself by ignoring it and filling the house with toys that the manufacturers have marketed to the gender you assume your kid is going to be. And he is making it OK for everyone to hide their prejudice under a cloak of pretended concern.

Lazy, Dr. Phil. Lazy, harmful, and wrong. Not cool. And heck, for all you know, it might just backfire.

Zoo Welcomes Gay Monkeys

February 21st, 2011

Guest Slap

I’m super happy to welcome back today’s guest author-slash-illustrator! Premee is an environmental specialist (which may or may not have anything to do with curating spider monkeys), currently living in Edmonton, Alberta.

Two spider monkeys steal Elton John's glasses.

An “inseparable” and hopelessly PDA-committing same-sex spider monkey couple at Drayton Park Zoo have been named Elton and David by their keepers.

First off, isn’t that too cute? And second, big shout-out to the zoo staff! Thank you for drawing attention to this adorable couple in such a positive and nonthreatening way. Thank you for giving parents the opportunity to see this couple, and talk to their kids about them. And thank you for once again reminding the anti-gay folk that same-sex couples are found in nature and that they’re just gonna have to erase this-horrible-degraded-society-is-causing-the-epidemic-of-gay from their Big Book Of Homophobic Arguments.

Vacation Time

February 20th, 2011

Well, I’m off visiting somewhere a lot warmer this week to help make up for spending all last summer with an arm cast and a bottle of tylenol, glowering bitterly at everyone else enjoying their intact skeletal systems. You can expect some nifty guest posts coming up, though. And if you haven’t already, remember to Slap into Action and help put an end to phony “gay-curing” charities in Canada!

Halton School Board Re-Bans Gay-Straight Alliances

February 18th, 2011

A student asks for help with a specific math question. The teacher suggests to touch on all questions about all homework instead because it's more inclusive.

The Halton Catholic School Board received a lot of flack this year over banning Gay-Straight Alliances—important peer support systems—in their school system. “We don’t have Nazi groups either,” a representative told the media back in January.

Gay-Straight Alliances are recommended by the Ontario Ministry of Education as a proven means of improving the life of gay youth, giving closeted teens visible role models and support, helping to eliminate homophobic bullying, and reducing instances of teen suicide.

The successes of GSAs made the Halton board’s GSA ban particularly difficult to justify. Faced with a lot of negative media attention over this and its “Nazi” remark, the Halton school board soon announced that they would be introducing a new policy.

Well, that new policy is here. On Wednesday, by a 6 – 3 vote, the school board has re-banned GSAs.

In lieu of GSAs, though, they’ve decided to set up SIDE spaces, a quickly conceived backronym that stands for Safety, Inclusivity, Diversity, and Equity. Essentially, SIDE spaces are support groups designated as safe for everyone, not just gay students.

Now, encouraging safety, inclusivity, diversity, and equity is very important, of course; all schools should do that. But let’s not lose sight of the issue here. SIDE spaces are a solution to a different problem. For a support group to be at all effective, it requires peers facing similar—if not identical—issues. Generic “everyone’s welcome!” support groups are not only an ill replacement for GSAs, they were created expressly to make a ban on GSAs more palatable by offering a substitute that ostensibly includes gay students without the visibility. Denying this visibility sends a message that GLBT students should stay hidden, and denies a place where GLBT students can discuss issues specific to them among peers who are guaranteed to be receptive.

So Boo on the Halton Catholic School Board for completely SIDE-stepping the issue.

Homophobic Bullying Linked To Health Issues

February 16th, 2011

A blob of skin laments that his bone density has depleted and will therefore be subject to more bullying.

A new study out of Montréal’s Concordia University has linked homophobic bullying to hormonal disruptions that can make youth more prone to memory loss, cardiovascular problems, bone density depletion, and even higher rates of suicide.

The research involved questionnaires and saliva swabs from 63 gay and lesbian youth. Results suggest that participants who endured the most bullying in day-to-day life had a higher rate of cortisol disruptions, which can cause negative health effects.

While I suspect that bullying of any kind would produce such a correlation, GLBT youth are indeed particularly prone to harassment.

Relatively unique to GLBT youth, the study also showed that having supportive family and friends who are responsive to gay issues significantly improved resiliency to homophobic harassment, making support groups a great countermeasure to the hormonal disruptions.

Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2011

A valentine's day heart.

I know how hard it is to find a commercial Valentine’s Day card that doesn’t assume you’re giving it to someone of the opposite sex, so I’ve decided to make the above image for you to give to that someone special in your life.

You’re welcome. Have a great Valentine’s!

Harper Votes Against Trans Rights Bill

February 11th, 2011

Canada’s historic trans rights bill, C-389, passed its third and final reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The bill, sponsored by NDP MP Bill Siksay, explicitly adds gender identity to the list of identifiable groups protected against discrimination in housing, employment, and services in the Canadian Human Rights Act. While that’s excellent news, what’s not so excellent was the bill’s narrow vote margin: 143 to 135 against.

So, which party had the most Nay votes, I ask uselessly?

Why, it’s the Conservatives. In fact, only six Tory MPs present on Wednesday voted in favour of the bill, with the rest voting against it (either explicitly or through pairing). The Nay votes included Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who until Wednesday hadn’t previously voted on the bill.

I guess that means we shouldn’t be holding our breath for his It Gets Better video.

The bill now moves on to the Conservative-controlled senate, where it’s future is a tad uncertain. Nonetheless, trans Canadians have a reason to celebrate this week. Enjoy the victory; finally the missing T is well on its way to be added to the existing equal rights protections for GLB Canadians!

Stop Bullying; Support Pink Shirt Day

February 9th, 2011

Three students, bundled beyond recognition in winter gear, celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Two weeks from today is Pink Shirt Day, a movement started in 2007 by two high school students—David Shepherd and Travis Price—after they saw a new student being bullied and harassed for wearing a pink T-shirt. That evening, they purchased as many pink shirts as they could find and then distributed them around the school the next morning, flooding the halls with pink. Since then, the day has become an annual event to help put an end to bullying in schools.

It’s a great idea, so consider this a head’s up for anyone who works at, or goes to, a high school in Canada. Visit http://www.pinkshirtday.ca/ to learn about how you can get your own pink shirt, or make a bulk order for your Gay-Straight Alliance, if you have one. All proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Club of Canada.

Gay Blood Ban Continues With No Researchers

February 7th, 2011

Nosferatu hesitates over a sleeping gay couple.

Canadian Blood Services continues to ban blood donations from gay males, permanently barring all men who have had sex with another man—even once—since 1977. It’s a dumb policy, and one that helps propagate the myth that all gay men are sexually promiscuous and inherently dangerous to the blood supply.

That could change, though; many other countries implement a questionnaire that bases their bans on risky sexual practices, such as having multiple partners and unprotected sex, rather than simple sexual orientation. It makes a lot of sense, particularly since it would also catch tainted blood from heterosexuals—a group which currently has barely any restrictions in Canada. But so far CBS isn’t budging, citing a need for research.

That research, incidentally, should be underway—but it’s not. CBS set aside $500,000 in research grants two years ago to help fund studies into implementing a different policy, but not one scientist has applied for the funding yet.

So, what’s the deal, medical researchers? I know it’s competitive to find funding for scientific research, so it can’t be that you guys don’t want it. Surely this is just a matter of poor advertising for the grant.

Of course, if no one else wants the money, I have my M.Sc.

It’s in a completely unrelated field of science, mind you, but I’m sure I could wing it. Any science not based in math is just improvisation anyway. So, yeah, call me?

Olivia Chow Trades Spots To Get Trans Rights Bill Ahead

February 4th, 2011

Olivia Chow holds back a raging lobbyist, urging Bill Siksay to go on ahead.

Bill C-389, which would add protections for gender identity in Canada’s human rights laws, is being given a stronger chance of passing thanks to NDP MP, Olivia Chow.

Chow has traded debating spots with the bill’s sponsor, NDP MP Bill Siksay, pushing the bill’s third reading vote to this Wednesday instead of much later. Talk of a spring election previously put the bill in jeopardy, since an election would effectively kill all unfinished bills on the table.

“[It’s] important to get the trans bill voted on at third reading and have it done just in case…” Chow told Xtra this week. “Also, Bill is not running again, and I want to make sure that the trans bill becomes law, and that will be part of his legacy.”

The bill had been aggressively attacked by anti-gay lobbyists, with one even suggesting that it would lead to cross-dressing serial killers showering next to young girls in public pools. In reality, the bill simply affords equal rights protections with respect to housing, employment, and services for trans Canadians.

The bill has previously passed two readings, but still faces a third before it’s sent to the Senate. Here’s hoping for a speedy passage!

Christian Broadcaster Permanently Turfs Charles McVety

February 2nd, 2011

Charles McVety yells incoherently on a television screen while two TV executives ponder why it is they're airing this show.

Crossroads Television System, a small Christian broadcaster and producer of religious programming, has permanently pulled Charles McVety’s Word TV from its schedule for having repeatedly violated the station’s Code of Ethics.

Word TV was the subject of a Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruling in mid-December, which found that McVety had violated multiple clauses from three different broadcast codes. This included multiple verifiable lies broadcast on the subject of gay people, including announcing that gay people have an “insatiable appetite for sex, especially with young people,” that the Toronto Pride festival actively promotes sex with children, and that it’s illegal in Canada to speak out against homosexuality.

After the ruling, CTS temporarily pulled McVety’s program, but the violations continued. In a press release, CTS indicated that numerous negotiations with McVety had failed, leaving them with no choice but to cancel McVety’s show due to a “lack of compliance with the CTS Code of Ethics to which Word TV agreed under contract.”

The press release continued to state that McVety was not only uncooperative with the negotiations, but also lied on the air, insisting that CTS was being pressured to censor the program. “The fact is,” CTS stated, “Word TV failed to keep its agreement to comply with the CTS Code of Ethics and indicated a refusal to comply in the future.”

It’s actually kind of funny that McVety should play the censorship card. I seem to recall him being pretty gung-ho about it before.

Still, don’t fret in thinking that this is the last we’ll hear from McVety’s wacky adventures in craziness. There’ll be plenty more examples for him to demonstrate sheer nuttiness, I promise!