Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Bullying and the need for primary and secondary schools to support LGBTQ+ students

 

 

CW: suicide, bullying

Jamel Myles, aged nine, came out as gay to his mother and to his peers at school. Four days later, he was found dead in his Colorado home of a suspected suicide. Bullying was believed to be a contributing factor.

Everyone who knows me knows how strongly I feel about this. Bullying needs to be taken seriously and needs to be dealt with. Interventions need to happen early, and in severe cases, police and social workers from Department of Community Services and other child protection agencies should be involved.

LGBTQ+ youth, harassment and mental health

In 2013, mental health advocacy group, Beyond Blue published a report on LGBTQ+ mental health. It stated that LGBTQ+ people experience higher rates of mental health issues than the general population In 2005, research showed that LGBTQ+ people were approximately four times more likely to experience major depression at some point. Around 80% of LGBTQ+ people reported having experienced homophobic insults in public, most of it which occurred at school.

Data from the National LGBTI Health  Alliance showed concerning trends surrounding wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people. They reported that LGBTI people were five times more likely to attempt suicide and twice more likely to self – harm than non –  LGBTI peers of the same age.

 

Supporting students within and outside the norm in discovering their sexuality

Myles realised he was gay by the time he was nine. While data (at least that I looked at) was vague, it seems that Myles’ discovery was made younger than average.

It makes me wonder, whether the social workers, counsellors, teachers and other staff knew how to support the student, including validating his identity. Would they have doubted that Myles knew his sexuality? Would that have affected the way they would’ve helped him if they were given the chance?

All school staff in primary and high schools should be aware and be prepared to help children questioning their sexuality or coming out at any age. La Trobe University study that was alluded to in the above link tobMamamia article claimed that children experience their onset ofsexual awakening from ten and fourteen. However, the fact is, some don’t fit these averages. Some people who are sixteen, seventeen or eighteen struggle with their sexuality. Some only take their same – sex crush seriously when their older. Some realise ther ‘different’ very early on.

Both of these scenarios should be accepted by teachers, school counsellors andcother staff. I think that claiming that a child either doesn’t know what they are (when they do), or labelling them when they claim they don’t know are usually counter productive.

Creating a safe environment for LGBTQ+ students

Both primary and secondary schools should have policies for LGBTQ+ inclusion. I also tyink it’s important that teachers and other staff are open about this. I find it so heartening that present and former school staff support International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) and other LGBTI campaigns. I think it shows that LGBTQ+ youth are a little bit safer.

Teachers and support staff should openly condemn homophobia, bi – phobia, etc in their anti –  bullying programs and policies. Everyone has the right to be safe and supported.

Anyone who needs help, call Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636. Resources specifically for LGBTQ+ people are available here

As always, feel free to add any links or numbers for services in your country in the comments.

Categories
Politics Social media

Humour in light of the political farce

Last week’s political fiasco almost did people’s head in. I’m glad some people were able to create or share a bit of humour in he face of it all.Here are a few posts from Twitter and Facebook I found (warning: some content contains coarse language.

Magda Szubanski goes on a bit of a time travel

Errrr, who is Australia’s Prime Minister again????? (I was sure I”d seen this on Magda Szubanski’s Twitter feed. In my dreams maybe…)

(Psssst, it’s Scott Morrison. I’ll give you an update if anything changes in the next five minutes).

It’s time politicians did their f – ing jobs! (From Tonightly with Tom Ballard Facebook page)

And now for some things that are just too cute not to share.

Got any more funny or cute things to share? Go ahead. Drop some links, pics, stories or memes down below.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Maybe the changes needed in the Catholic Church start with parishioners

 

Catholic priest at Mass praying
Image: iStock

CW: sexual abuse

I have been outraged by the latest allegations of reaction from Catholic in light of clergy sexual abuse that came out of Pennsylvania. I have been outraged of the repeated deflection from certain clergy and members of Catholic hierarchy: blaming gay people, secular culture and birth control for the horrific sex crimes that have been happening for decades.

This has made me think that the church still doesn’t get it and that the abuse will still happen, even if it has stopped currently. Frankly, there must be something toxic in the Catholic Church culture to allow such horror to flourish decade after decade. I fear that these issues aren’t being dealt with adequately. Too many clergy and archbishops are too resitant to change, even if it may be beneficial in preventing abuse in the future.

However, it heartened me to read on Patheos this week that some practicing Catholics are starting to bite back. They are demanding change from clergy. One has even slammed the (false) link that has been made between gay men and the rape of pubescent and pre – pubescent children.

This shows to me that, if the Catholic Church will ever change, it won’t be because of clergy. It’ll be because of the demands from parishioners.

It’s parents who take their children to a Catholic parish church who need to demand that their children be treated with respect. They need to be able to place healthy boundaries around their children and clergy and enforce them if need be.

Catholic parents should feel free to defy the Catholic Church and allow their children to learn about healthy sexuality and bodily autonomy. This means giving children correct sex education, the confidence to say ‘no’ to unawanted touch and the ability to speak out if they feel unsafe.

Catholic parents should model respect for people regardless of gender, including their spouses or partners. Young boys should be taught to treat girls with respect and avoid gender superiority. This has been exposed as another issue that has exacerbated the rate of sexual abuse in both the Catholic and Evangelical Church.

Progressive Catholics should stand up against homophobia in the Church. No, LGBTQ+ don’t cause children to be raped. This (false) correlation toward the LGBTQ+ community and sexual abuse can actually prevent male sex abuse survivors from getting help because of the stigma. All churches need to stop this and stop it now. I fear that it doesn’t, Christianity — both Catholicism and Protestantism — will continue to be tarred with the brush of sexual abuse. Plus, it plays right into a predator’s playbook. Why would a victim of sexual abuse speak out if they fear (or know) that they will be shunned because of false beliefs that he and others have about sexuality? So, please, don’t allow your children to grow up with this mentality. If it’s rampant in your congregation, challenge it. I really do feel that your child’s safety may depend on it.

Lastly, I think I need to keep emphasising this. Don’t allow priests or other members of the clergy to impose and use their ‘authority’ without condition. Set boundaries that you and your family are comfortable with. If your boundaries aren’t respected, maybe you need to find another church or another means of worship (i.e. home bible study, etc). You and your family should be your main concern and no one has the right to bully you into thinking otherwise. It’s time Christians (Catholics and Protestants), start fighting back against predators and spiritual abusers in the church. Enough is enough.

If anyone found this post distressing, you can contact Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

Bravehearts 1800 272 831 (Monday – Friday 8.30 am – 4.30 pm Eastern Standard Time)

 

Since this is a global problem, like always, feel free to drop any links or contact details of sexual abuse counselling, psychological help, etc from services in your country. Thank you very much.

 

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Is going to TAFE instead of university still stigmatised?

Mortarboard graduation hat
Image: iStock

Some Queensland and New South Wales universities have come under fire for allowing teaching applicants with a dramatically low ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank).

ATAR scores of students that have been allegedly accepted into teaching courses has been as low as 17.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham, exclaimed that these revelations set off  ‘alarm bells’.

Hearing and reading about this made me wonder whether paths other than university or being a mature – aged student (over twenty – one), is getting a bad rap again.

From the time I was in Year 10 in 2005, TAFE was becoming  seen as a reputable alternative to university. University pathways and using credits from TAFE was also being seen as a legitimate education and career path. Is that still the case, or are students pressured into thinking that university straight out of school is the only way?

 

I’ve got something to say to students who may have been told that message – university straight out of school is NOT the only way. TAFE is a reputable option. Being a mature – aged student isn’t aomething to be ashamed of. Working and travelling is another good path that many young people take. You don’t have to jump straight into a three or four year degree atraight away if your not ready. Allow yourself to grow, explore, gain real – world experience.

I went to TAFE a year after I left school and did Certificate II in Business Adminostration. I also did some volunteer work at a disability transport service in admin, at a preschool and a solicitors’ office (again, doing admin tasks). These experiences after school, among others (i.e. participating in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp in 2015), made me who I am today. All these experiences allowed me to grow as a person.

TAFE courses (when properly funded and maintained by the government, of course), offer valuable skills and knowledge in the relevant field. A fee years ago, I attempted to do the Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care and there was great information about the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and other frameworks that encompassed the National Quality Framework/ National Quality Standards. If I completed that course, I could have gotten credits if I wanted to do the Bachelor in Early Childhood Education. Could an aspiring future primary school teacher study early childhood first, gain experience and go in  as a mature age student? It’d help, wouldn’t it?

Also, what does this ATAR controversy say about teaching? Yes, it’s undervalued. Teachers often have to deal with so much, through both government expectations and parental demands. Too often, teachers perform tasks that are really beyond their role, like providing breakfast for students. Too many teachers are bombarded with bureaucratic red tape, so much so, that it can take away from the joy many teachers get in seeing students learn and grow.

 

To me this issue goes way beyond ATAR scores and what’s needed to become a teacher (either Bachelor or Master’s degree). I think what we really need is an overhaul in the way we view education. We need to value our teachers and allow them to perform the duties they are trained to do. Then, maybe some universities may require students have decent marks to be able to get in.

 

 

Categories
Social media Uncategorized

Social media plan for Glycerine Queen Media

(From top left): Instagram icon, Twitter, Facebook, PInterest
Display created via Canva

 

I just want to inform you about my social media strategy for Glycerine Queen Media.

All the posts and images associated with this blog will no longer be seen on my personal social media accounts or the Cherry Bomb Media Facebook page. Instead, I have made new accounts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest dedicated to this blog and am planning on making a new Facebook page. The reasons why I did this are twofold: one; it allows me to separate my private life to my blogging one and two; it allows me to have all my accounts using the same email address, rather than a number of personal ones.

My past blogs: Asexuality in a Sexual World, PowerGirrl, News Views and Ramblings and the former URL/ name for this site Cherry Bomb Media were simply test runs. It allowed me to work out how to operate a blog; write in it regularly and allow posts to appear both on my private Facebook Wall and Pages I made. Now, I want to do what other media organisations, such as Ravishly and Mamamia have done; have a personal social media presence, as well as a separate presence for my blog.

It’s still a work in progress, but I’m excited about the future.

Categories
Media Social media

Free speech, the media and social media: Should all platforms be absolutist on content they allow or publish?

(From top left): Instagram icon, Twitter, Facebook, PInterest
Display created via Canva

 

 

Controversial right – wing radio presenter and conspiracy theorist of Infowars, Alex Jones has reportedly been banned from Faceboook and YouTube. Apparently some of his podcasts have also been pulled by Apple and Spotify.

Jones is infamous for calling 2012’s Sandy Hook school massacre a hoax and claiming that the September 11 attacks were staged.

Facebook has defended it’s decision, accusing Jones of ‘glorifying violence’, and using ‘dehumanising language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants’.

Somewhat surprisingly, Twitter hasn’t followed YouTube’s and Facebook’s footsteps. Jones’ official Twitter account is still active.

Social media, traditional media and free speech

Did Facebook and Google/ YouTube violate freedom of speech as protected in the US Constitution? No. The First Amendment of the US Constitution:

…protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference.  (emphasis mine).

The First Amendment of the US Constitution specifically prohibits any government restricting any US citizen’s right to freedom of expression and also prohibits the US government from creating a theocracy and allow citizens freed9m to make up their own minds about belief. It also protects freedom of association. This doesn’t mean that companies like Google/ YouTube and Facebook can’t set standards on what can and can’t be uploaded or published on those platforms. I believe that media and social media platforms have the right to protect their brand by not allowing what they consider extremism, advocating for jihad, etc.

I’m going to talk about this by referring back to the Sky News Australia controversy last Sunday, when far – Right extremist, Blair Cottrell was given free reign on The Adam Giles’ Show. Sky News Australia’s decision to allow Cottrell to express extremist views largely unchallenged caused some brands such as Specsavers and Huggies to pull their sponsorship in revolt, despite condemnation from presenters such as Andrew Bolt, Laura Jayes and David Speers and the regret expressed by the – then Sky News Australia News Director, Greg Byrnes.

This is why, while I do get the arguments for a lack of restrictions in free speech in the legal sense, I also support the right for companies, especially in the media and social media, to maintain certain standards and limits on what can be said on their programs and platforms. What they allow, I believe, can affect their branding, either positively or negatively.

However, I do think companies like Facebook and YouTube should be consistent. Facebook in particular has come under fire in the past for allegedly silencing conservative posts, while not deleting antisemitic or other hate comments, posts or pages. They have also come under fire for allowing violent or sexual content that should be prohibited in their Community Standards, while deleting images of women breastfeeding their babies. Consistency needs to be key.

Should a platform simply ban speech because of clashing political views? Well, I argue again, that legally, there’s nothing stopping them, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. Last year during the same – sex marriage debate in Australia, Facebook was attacked for pulling down posts and disabling the account of one of the founders of FamilyVoice Australia. This, in my view, was a stupid move by Facebook. They reversed the decision after presenters from Sky News Australia confronted them about it. To my knowledge, after that, all the original content was put back and all associated accounts were active.

Bloggers and moderators of news sites such as news.com.au, Herald Sun, and Mamamia should maintain the freedom to accept or reject any comments that they see fit. Arguably, this may be seen as limiting debate, but, honestly, it should be the moderators’ or creators’ prerogative. They do have a product and reputation to maintain.

To me, it boils down to this: while people shouldn’t be prosecuted for what they say (apart from libel or death threats), they should still be held accountable, at least in the public square. Not every opinion needs to be tolerated or given a platform, especially if an extremist view goes unchallenged.

What do you think of Google/ YouTube and Facebook’s decision to suspend Alex Jones from their platforms? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Disclaimer:

In my blog post about Sky News Australia, I said that Newscorp owned Win and Ten. I was wrong. Ten was bought by US’s CBS late last year. If I remember correctly, when Ten started getting into financial trouble, there was talk about Murdoch/ Newscorp buying and trying to rescue it, but CBS bet them to it. Win is owned by Bruce Gordon. Their parent company is Oberon Broadcasters Pty Ltd.

Update: 

Here is a contrary view of what I said about the Alex Jones controversy. Sticking to his principles, Secular Talk’s Kyle Kulinski slammed Facebook’s, Google and the other platforms for de – platforming Jones.

I think Kulinski has a point, however, I can’t help but think that social media and media should be able to preserve their commercial reputation and limit the people who breach their standards, given that they are consistent. I’m not sure. I’d really like to know what you all think about this.

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Let’s hope Sky News Australia cleans up its act

 

Sky News Australia buckled when they received backlash over  an Adam Giles’ interview with former United Patriots Front chairmann and self – confessed Neo – Nazi, Blair Cottrell last Sunday.

Cottrell is known for his extreme anti – immigration and anti – Semitic views and conspiracy theories, describing Jews as ‘parasites’ and has expressed that Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf should be read in schools. He has also been in legal trouble when he staged a mock beheading in 2015, as well as violent crimes.

Two regular presenters, Laura Jayes and David Speers attacked the decision both on social media and on air.

Quite frankly, I don’t know what Sky News Australlia was thinking. Surely they knew about his history and his association with UPF. I was almost thinking about deleting my Foxtel apps and abandon Sky News Australia altogether. This is for two main reasons: one, they should have known who Cottrell was and what he was known for, and two; this isn’t the first scandal that Sky News Australia has been involved in. There was the badly handled David Leyonheljm interview on Outsiders last month, and  there was Mark Latham’s attack on a Sydney school student about his alleged sexuality, (fortunately he was sacked for that, but has been on a few times since).

I wonder whether the interview was deliberate and the apology was only issued because of the backlash from current and former staff and the public. This also comes less than a month until Sky News Australia will be on free – to – air TV as part of the Win Network. Coincidence?

It has got to be said that Sky News Australia hasn’t been the only station that has allowed Cottrell air time. Both Channel Seven and the ABC have had Cottrell on  their news/ commentary programs. All should have known better. The management, as well as presenters should have known who he is and the impact people like him have. This Blair Cottrell incident is particularly ironic given his history of anti – Semitism and many presenters’ fierce defense of Jews and Israel.

I do applaud Jayes, Speers and Andrew Bolt for criticising Sky News and Giles’ passivity during the interview. It is great to see that a number of employees are willing to speak up against the decision. One commentator, Craig Emmerson, left the station in revolt. His father fought the Nazis and was their POW in World War II.

Sky News Australia has some great shows and I have enjoyed watching some of the presenters. But I won’t tolerate hard – Right extremism and gutlessness from presenters when faced with bigotry.

Let’s hope this is the last scandal we hear about Sky News Australia. Let’s hope they go back to the centre a bit.

(CW rape threat)

If it’s not bad enough that Sky News Australa invited an anti – Semite and thug on air,  things even became uglier when Cottrell turned on Laura Jayes, implying she should have been raped on air.

Let’s hope Sky News Australia (and other stations) can reign in extremism from now on.

Another update:

Sky News Australia CEO, Angelos Frangopoulos made a statement promising that Cottrell will not be featured on the station again.

Let’s hope that’s the case.

Categories
Gender/ sexuality News

You don’t have to call me they/ their. She/ her is fine.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ADJ74s1-XW4&t=301s

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has started ‘They Day’ campaign. The alleged aim is to prevent misgendering transgender and gender non – binary people by referring to everyone with ‘they/ their/ them’.

I support transgender and non – binary people. I believe that it’s extremely disrespectful to deliberately misgender a trans person and refer to them by their deadname (the name they were given at birth, but no longer identify with).

However, this campaign is not needed, nor, frankly,  helpful. As I wrote in my last blog post, it’s estimated that 25 – 35% of transgender people identify as gender non – binary according to estimates in the US and UK. The latest Australian Census from 2016 revealed that 35% of transgender respondents classified themselves as non – binary. Those respondents may respond positively with being referred to as they/ them/ theirs. But for cis gender and the majority of transgender people, this isn’t the case.

 

This also makes me wonder when we can move past this debate? I’m not saying it’s not important or should be dismissed, but I want LGBTQ+ people and their allies to talk about public policy. What do you want from government and society? Even after the legalisation of same –  sex marriage, there is so much we can focus on, much of it I’ve talked about it here: ending conversion therapy for minors and in the medical field, ending discrimination in workplaces and schools, ensuring teachers and School Guidance Counsellors have proper information on LGBTQ+ people so they can spark discussion and not (accidentally) spread misinformation (i.e. that asexuality doesn’t exist or that it’s a phase) and ending sexual violence and harrassment against bisexual and asexual women. On a global level, LGBTQ+ activists could work on ending corrective rape, ensuring that homeless shelters and emergency accommodations are inclusive to transgender people, demand that the West stop supporting and aligning themselves with governments that have capital punishment for homosexuality like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Western governments should make sure that LGBTQ+ people who are at risk of execution can seek asylum and refuge in a Western country without the risk of being forced to return to the country in which they fled. (Brief trigger warning) We should also be a voice to children, often ten or younger who have been tortured and murdered for not adhering to gender norms and that ‘parents’ suspect of being gay. Many other young people risk assault from their ‘parents’ for coming out as LGBTQ+. I believe it’s these issues that LGBTQ+ people, their allies, corporations, government, etc should focus on.

Workplace inclusion and visibility (another issue many trans/ non – binary people face) is needed. Why not have a meeting or professional development day where colleagues can be made to aware of the use if they/ them/ their and ze/ zir pronouns within the transgender community? Make sure all forms have options other than male or female. Why not have specific policies (which no doubt all would), that states that discrimination against all people (both staff and clients), based on ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, etc  will not be tolerated?

 

It’s great that members of the DHHS want to address trans/ non – binary inclusion. But I think they are going about it the wrong way. Do it through policy and creating a workplace and service that promotes inclusion. Not a video campaign about calling everyone ‘they’. I really don’t think it’s needed.

What do you think about ‘They Day’ campaign? Let me know in the comments below.