Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Gym owners raise concerns about mental health amid coronavirus crackdown

treadmills in front of white acreen
Image: iStock

According to SBS, gym owners have lobbied for the Australian government to reverse the forced closure of gyms.

A number of gym owners and Fitness Australia have argued that gyms are an essential service, thus should remain open.

Sydney gym owner, Billy Kokkinis  has slammed the decision, calling it a “disaster” for mental health. He has also criticised the mixed messaging from Prime Minister, Scott Morrison for allowing exercise bootcamps, in which  ten people can participate, yet gyms are forced to close.

 

I wasn’t going to write about the coronavirus because the media has done it to death. However, when I read this story, it spurred me to write something. I go to a local gym and have been regularly for about two years. It closed about a fortnight ago due to Covid19. The Zumba class I attend was also cancelled.

I can understand the argument for keeping gyms open. Exercise makes you healthy all over.

However, can gyms guarantee compliance of the 1.5 m (4 ft, 11.055 in) regulation? I’m guessing a number of exercise machines and weights may have to be removed.

 

Protection of the vulnerable

How would those with pre – existing conditions be protected in gyms? Asthmatics, for example?

Before the announcements of forced closure of gyms, New South Wales/ Australian Capital Territory gym franchise, Club Lime, put out a video on Facebook outlining cleaning routines expected from clients and staff to combat the virus.

Cleaning gym equipment after use is routine in the gym I go to. It’s expected that you wipe down any equipment you use with disinfectant wipes. Can these rules be stricter? How can they be further enforced?

Are frontline admin staff and trainers supposed to detect people who potentially have the virus? What if they don’t have any symptoms?

You can see why keeping gyms open could potentailly be problematic for gym owners, instructors and clients. I don’t think all gyms can ensure with 100% certainty that their gym would be safe. And for those with pre – existing conditions, this could spell disaster.

Exercises that can be done at home

Gyms are convenient way to exercise. Personally, I find that when I’m at the gym, I push myself harder than I normally would.

However, there are exercises you can do at home. You can use various household items as weights. I’ve rearranged furniture in my lounge room, so I could do a bit of dancing.

Walking and jogging on the spot is really good. I do it for five minutes, with each jogging and walking session lasting 20 seconds each. Of course, it’s imperative that we do more than that a day (an hour most days), but that’s a  start.

Here is more exercise ideas you can do. (For more ideas, just google ‘exercises when you can’t get to the gym and you’ll get exercise ideas that best suit you).

If you really want to keep up with your classes, find out if virtual classes of your exercise are available.

 

 

 

The closing down of gyms is unfortunate. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. There is just too much risk of infection for gyms to remain open right now. And, you can work out at home. You just need motivation.

What have you done to keep active during isolation? Let me know in the comments below.

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Drag Queen Story Hour protester dies

Content warning: bullying and suicide

Last week, University of Queensland’s Liberal National Club member, Wilson Gavin was found dead.

His death has been reported as a suicide.

Drag Queen Story Hour protests

On Sunday, 12 June, University of Queensland’s the Liberal National Club protested Drag QueenStory Hour at the Brisbane SquareLibrary.

The confrontation between drag queen, Diamond Goodrim  and Wilson Gavin, among others got heated. Children who were at the library reportedly got scared and distressed. The Liberal National Club protesters faced backlash over their conduct and timing of the protest. Some of the criticisms were from members of the Liberal/ National Party,

Footage of the protest was taken and posted on social media. The footage featured Gavin at the front of the protest having a heated confrontation with drag queen Diamond Good Rim.

 

I feel for Gavin’s family and friends. I can only imagine what they are going through. Suicide is tragic for everyone who knew the person.Things will never be the same for those left behind.

For a person to take their own lives, it’s highly likely that they were suffering terribly. Mental illness is listed as one of the biggest risk factors for suicide.

At only twenty – one, Gavin was also in the most vulnerable age bracket. While suicide can happen at any age, the age group with one of the highest suicide rate is 15 – 29.

Same – sex marriage campaign

Gavin was a vocal opponent of same – sex marriage in 2017.

LGBTQ+ opponents of same – sex marriage were unfairly accused of ‘betraying’ their own. Some were accused of having ‘internal homophobia’.

The public spat between Liberal staffer, Josh Manuatu and Mamamia founder, Mia Freedman was about just that. Freedman wrote a tweet about Manuatu’s relationship with MP, Eric Abetz and his public opposition to same – sex marriage. She ended the tweet with the rhetorical question if Manuatu had ‘internalised homophobia”.

I was critical of Freedman for that. LGBTQ+ people are bound to have a variety of social and political opinions.

The debate leading up to the postal vote was hard on LGBTQ+ people. Counselling services saw a spike in calls for help. I wonder how many LGBTQ+ people who opposed same – sex marriage also found the debate hard.

 

Conservatives respond

News of Gavin’s death has spread to the U.S. Many people have showed shock and dismay at the news like many Australians have.

Conservative Christian public speaker and author Elizabeth Johnson, a.k.a ‘The Activist Mommy’ wrote a post on her website lamenting Gavin’s death. I find it a bit hypocritical, considering she advocates ex – gay conversion, which has proven to contribute to LGBTQ+ youth suicide.

 

Whatever you think of Gavin’s actions that day, most can agree that what happened afterwards was tragic. It should send a warning to anyone thinking about bullying another person, including online.

 

 

If you are struggling with your mental health, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

For LGBTQ+ people, you can  contact Q Life: 1800 184 157 or via their webchat.

If you or anyone you know is in immediate danger, call 000 (or your national emergency number).

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Leave Greta Thunberg alone!

On the 1976 album, Alice Goes to Hell, Alice Cooper made a plea: Give the kid a break.

Alice Cooper: Alice goes to hell CD
The title of the sixth song summarises the Greta Thunberg quite well: Give the kid a break!

This summarises how I feel about the treatment of sixteen – year – old Swedish climate change activist, Greta Thunberg.

She gained global attention last year when she did a protest outside her school.

This year, Thunberg initiated the Climate Strike, which saw students from around the world leaving school in order to protest and pressure governments to take action.

Since then, Thunberg has been has been deemed a prophet for some and a ‘brat’ by others.

I have had so many issues surrounding how Thunberg has been treated. Here are a few issues.

Analysis on Thunberg’s mental health

Greta Thunberg’s mental health has been a discussion in the media by both her admirers and critics.

Thunberg has been open about her struggles with depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and mutism. Her mother, former opera singer, Malena Ernman wrote autobiography, Scenes from the Heart where she wrote about Greta’s mental health struggles, including an eating disorder. This was allegedly caused by worry about the state of climate change.

Now, if Greta herself wants to be open about this then, fine. But this has repeatedly been used against Greta ever since.

Being used as a martyr

I get why people are concerned about Thunberg being used as a ‘prophetess’ to the world. She has really been thrown out to the sharks, so to speak.

Some people think this has been quite a deliberate and cynical move by the United Nations and climate change activists. Who would pick on a sixteen- year- old and challenge what she’s saying?

The fact that Thunberg is a child and her mental health hasn’t stop her critics. Or bullies.

Abuse

This is where things get sickening. On the one hand, Thunberg has been infantalised by her critics. On the other hand, she has been repeatedly abused by others.

Much of this has not been called out or condemned. That is despicable, especially from those who repeatedly call for her protection.

Sixteen can be a vulnerable age for anybody. You are still working out who you are, who your friends are, etc.

I am outraged at the abuse Thunberg has received by those in the media. If people are that concerned about Thunberg’s well – being, more of them would be willing t9 condemn her high profile bullies. Where s Andrew Bolt’s outrage over Fox News’ Michael Knowles’ comments. Where is the outrage for former football player, Sam Newman who called her a “brat” and “sh*t” on Twitter? Or outrage at people saying she needs to be slapped? That would be terrifying to someone with a history of severe anxiety and depression, don’t you think?

 

Everyone needs to get off Greta Thunberg’s back. She is a passionate teenager. And she is entitled to those passions. However, she shouldn’t be a martyr by climate change activists, nor be infantalised by critics.  Just leave her alone!

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Study suggests teachers suffer poor mental health

Mental health image of brain
Image: iStock

In March, I wrote about high rates of bullying, harassment and violence principals face. In the post, I speculated that teachers were being treated badly at a similar rate.

That’s  not the only issue that many teachers face.

According to the SBS, a study conducted by Associate Professor of Psychology of Bond University, Peta Stapleton suggests that teachers suffer higher rates of anxiety and depression than the general population.

166 teachers took part in the study.

Of those studied, 18% of respondents met the criteria for a moderate or major depression diagnosis. Over half (62%), met the criteria for moderate anxiety. 19.75% fitted the criteria for severe anxiety.

 

What is causing this?

The causes of mental illness can be complicated. Genetics, brain chemistry, personality traits and trauma can all increase one’s vulnerability to mental disorders.

Major stress, conflict with staff and lack of work  – reward balance were major contributors to mental decline of participants.

The Feed did a segment exposing struggles teachers have dealing with students with learning and behavioural problems. Not only were they frequently exposed to aggressive outbursts, time was taken from other students. This showed a lack of professional support in dealing with children with learning or behavioural disorders.

Importance of specialised support staff

This is why teacher’s aides and specialised staff are so important. Schools need staff that know how to calm down children with ADHD or severe Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Teacher’s aides can often offer one – on – one support for children who need extra help.

Attitudes need to change

I expressed in the post linked above that I think the way teachers are snowed under by bureaucratic red tape and are vilified by the media is appalling.

I can’t believe the number of times I’ve heard teachers being accused of ‘indoctrinating’, or worse  ‘grooming’ students in the media. Frankly, I find it disgusting. Even if you don’t 100% agree with  the information children have been given, I think that sort of inflammatory language is uncalled for.

Teachers don’t ‘groom’ children, (most don’t anyway). They inform, challenge and inspire students. They equip them with knowledge and skills to enter and hopefully thrive in the world.

Teachers need to be able to assist all students achieve their full potential.

Most importantly, teachers, along with all professionals, should be able to work in a physically and mentally healthy environment. No one should have to endure physical and verbal abuse, nor should they have to feel under valued or bullied bt other staff.

 

Let an education revolution begin. No, not more theories, frameworks or paperwork. Not more tests that just stress everyone out. Let’s start an education revolution of nurture; for both students and staff.

Let’s start an expectation that teachers, principals and other staff will not have to put up with threats, intimidation and violence from anybody.

Let’s start treating teachers like human beings, They need care, rest and recognition, just like the rest of us. They deserve a much better work – reward balance than what they are getting.

And lastly, get off their backs. Most are trying to do the right thing by their students, regardless of how many students get Band Sixes in NAPLAN (National Assessment  Program for Literacy and Numeracy) and other tests/ exams.

 

 

Anyone who is suffering from any mental health issues/ concerns can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

 

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Kurt Cobain and the importance of bipolar disorder awareness

 

Trigger warning: mental illness and suicide.

Last Wednesday would have been Kurt Cobain’s 52nd birthday. Cobain was considered the voice of a generation in the early 1990’s.

People claim that Cobain hated fame and that was to blame for his death.  At their height, Nirvana’s 1991 album, Nevermind became iconic. The following year, it skyrocketed the Billboard charts, beating Michael Jackson’s Dangerous to Number 1.

 

Kurt Cobain’s death

On the 8 April 1994, Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home. The death was ruled a suicide.

In the aftermath, it was feared that there would be copycat behaviour. According to research conducted by NCBI, this did not occur, however, there was an increase in calls to counselling and suicide prevention hotlines.

 

 

Risk factors

Suicide is often complex, with more than one causation. According to Beyond Blue, there are a number of risk factors that increase a likelihood of someone taking their own lives. These include: mental illness, previous suicide attempts, substance abuse and suicide in the family.

 

According to former psychiatric nurse and Kurt Cobain’s cousin Beverly Cobain, a number of these factors were present in his life, some starting in childhood. She told Health Day that a number of men in the family had either taken their own lives or had died due to falls while intoxicated.

Cobain had a battle with mental illness for most of his life. His substance abuse and depression were well known. But that may not have been the whole story. Ms. Cobain claimed that Kurt had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder as a child and depression and bipolar disorder as an adult. Whether he was officially diagnosed with BD is debated, but Ms. Cobain insisted that he had signs, including extreme anger.

Facts about bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings from mania or hypomania (more on that later) and severe depression.

There are a number types of bipolar: bipolar I, bipolar II, mixed, rapid cycle and cyclothymic.

Bipolar I: bipolar I is categorised by manic and depressive episodes. Manic episodes can include an uncontrollable euphoria, restlessness, wreckless spending, an inability to sleep, not feeling tired, a sense of grandiosity and inflated self – esteem.

One of the dangers of mania is that people can become psychotic. When this happens, immediate hospitalisation is crucial.

Bipolar II: bipolar II is characterised by hypomanic episodes and depression. Hypomania is defined as a ‘less extreme’ form of mania. Signs can include: ‘flight of ideas’, rapid speech (also known as pressured speech), grandiosity, increased energy and a lack of need for sleep.

Mixed: this isn’t a ‘type’ of bipolar per se but rather something that can happen in either bipolar I or II. Mixed episodes are when a person experiences manic or hypomanic and depressive symptoms at the same time. For example, a sufferer may have a depressed mood, but be restless or productive.

Rapid cycle: rapid cycle is when someone has at least four mood episodes within a year. This is double the number of episodes of other bipolar types. Some experience a mixture of mania, hypomania and depression.

 

Why is this important when talking about Kurt Cobain and other people?

I never knew Kurt Cobain (obviously), so I do want to be careful. I’m also not an expert on bipolar, so please access other resources for nore (and most likely better) information.

One thing needs to be made clear. Bipolar is NOT depression. Both illnesses require different treatments. So, I believe that when we talk about public figures and mental illness, I think it’s important that the media and society as a whole offers accurate terms for the illnesses. This is what troubled me about a Facebook post that commemorated Kurt Cobain for his birthday.

 

If anyone is in need of help, please  get it. If you suspect you have bipolar disorder, there are resources from Beyond Blue and Black Dog Institute that can offer information. Black Dog Institute also has a checklist for bipolar disorder that can indicate if you have the condition. However, only a doctor can diagnose you and offer a course of treatment.

Final note: while this post has been researched, this does not necessarily mean my analysis or  descriptions of bipolar are entirely correct or represent experiences of all people with the condition. If you have bipolar disorder or are a health professional with knowledge or expertise in the condition, please leave your knowledge, experiences and any corrections that you think should be made in the comments below.

 

 

Categories
From blogs

Perfectionism: is it ever healthy?

Patheos post: You will never be perfect by Chris Williams, June 7, 2018

 

Last month, Patheos contributor, Chris Williams wrote about perfection and how we’ll never achieve it in this life. He also suggested that our imperfections can strengthen both faith and relationships:

If perfection was the goal, I’d never keep a friend. I’d be afraid of letting them down. I’d be afraid they’d let me down. I’d let every hurt feeling be a reason to burn a bridge.

He argues that argues that imperfection opens up the door to grace: a key characteristic of a Christian life:

Imperfection opens the door to grace. If we were held to perfection, there would be no reason for anyone to forgive us. There’d be no opportunity for us to forgive others. Imperfection humbles us and allows others to show us grace.

Read the whole article. It’s very interesting. It was a great read for me personally, because I can be a bit of a perfectionist. And of course, I fail. Every. Single. Day. I might start off alright, but if I’ve been awake for more than an hour, then stuff happens. So finding this article last week offered a bit of comfort, I guess.

What about the Bible?

Some readers rejected Williams’ conclusion by alluding to Mathew 5:48:

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect

(Matt 5:48 New Living Translation)

Does the verse mean what people think it means? To life a perfect life? It may not mean what others think.

Commentaries on Bible Hub offer various interpretations of this verse, including an extension to the Jewish law demanding that people aren’t just pious, but also courteous to their neighbour, while others refer to the perfection that comes with being complete in Christ. It’s interesting to point out that Matthew 5 is a part of the Sermon on the Mount and only four verses above (Matt 5:44), where Jesus commands his listeners to love their enemies.

 

Perfectionism and psychology

While psycho,ogists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals encourage people to strive for excellence, many warn against perfectionism — the personality trait that’s characterised by striving to make all facets of life perfect, or at least seem to be perfect.  While perfectionism itself isn’t a mental illness, it can be a symptom of a mental illness like anxiety disorder or OCD. Perfectionism can lead to depression.

However, there is debate among psychologists and psychiatrists whether a ‘degree’ of perfectionism is ever beneficial.  ‘Degrees’ of perfectionism’ between healthy and unhealthy can be seen on perfectionism self – screening tools on sites such as Psychology Today and Dr. Jeff Szymanski. Both these self – screening quizzes indicate that there are ‘degrees’ of perfectionism, and a low degree can be beneficial.

Paul Hewitt PhD  from the University of British Columbia completely rejects the idea. Dr. Hewitt, along with Gordon Flett PhD concludes after twenty years of research that perfectionism is hazardous to one’s well – being and relationships. Unlike other researchers from the 1990’s, Hewitt and Flett  don’t buy the argument of adaptiveness. Both Hewitt and Flett, however, do agree that there are different varying extremes of perfectionism that come with various results, none, they argue, are completely positive.

Do you consider yourself or someone you a perfectionist? How has it affected your life, life of another person and their (or your) relationships? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Categories
News

We still need to change out attitudes to mental health

Mental health image of brain
Image: iStock

Content warning: This post briefly talks about suicide and may be distressing to some readers.

People were shocked and saddened to hear about the recent passing of fashion designer, Kate Spade and celebrity chef and media personality Alan Boudain.

There has been well – meaning outpouring of grief and awareness about mental illness.

Encouragement to get help for mental illness in the aftermath of a suicide and standing in solidarity with surviving loved ones and those struggling is great. However, it’s often not consistent. Earlier this year, ’90’s pop star, Mariah Carey came out saying she’d been suffering bipolar disorder for nearly twenty years. A number of responses on social media was that of disbelief. People accused Carey of using it as an excuse for the demise of her singing career.

Australian celebrities haven’t been free from this scrutiny. I was appalled by some of the reactions to tennis champion, Bernard Tomic when he admitted that he was struggling mentally shortly after appearing on I”m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!

And that’s not all. Over the years, people with mental health issues have been mocked. There have been suggestions that mental illness has become ‘fashionable‘. Um, what?

In the aftermath of the deaths of Boudain and Spade as well as countless others, isn’t it obvious that we need people to admit when they are struggling? Even if they aren’t clinically depressed or have anxiety disorder (or have yet to be diagnosed officially)? We do! We can’t make people feel like they have to go through these struggles alone.

We can debate about treatments for depression; whether medication is always the answer, whether Attention Deficit and Hyper Active Disorder (ADHD) can be treated without Ritalin, or the role of the pharmaceutical industry in over prescribing medication, whether some mental issues can be eliminated (or at least better controlled) by change in environment, etc. What we don’t need is people  accusing those who open up about mental health issues of faking it or seeking attention.

Over the years, articles have been written to spot ‘signs’ that a person is faking their mental illness. This topic has fired up both mental illness sufferers and therapists on YouTube alike.

Mental illness is real. Most people who open up about mental health issues are not making it up (Kati Morton briefly touches the topic of Munchausen Syndrome, where someone may exaggerate or make up symptoms. I’m guessing that they’d be in the teeny tiny minority). To  be honest, it can be easy to misdiagnose yourself. You may feel down for a while and suspect you have depression, but then things become better after a while. That’s why to be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms will be consistent over a number weeks (about six) before you get officially diagnosed and, sometimes, medicated for depression (I’m guessing it’s similar to other disorders like bipolar, anxiety, etc).

 

The  stigma around mental illness needs to stop. It’s deadly. Be there for loved ones who are struggling and encourage them to get help. If you’re suffering yourself, please get help. You’re not alone.

If you are struggling and you live in Australia, you can contact LIfeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue via their web chat or 1300  224 636. If you are in an emergency situation, call 000 (if you’re in the US, 911 and UK, 999 or 112 (the last number is for members of the EU).

Categories
Media Opinion/Commentary

We need to talk about men and mental health

Sad man sitting on beach
Image: iStock

Content warning: depression and suicide(brief mention)

Mental health is a topic that has hit the spotlight again. This year started with a tragic death of Akubra child model Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, who took her own life after relentless cyber – bullying.

I firmly believe that bullying is something that needs to be taken more seriously, but that discussion isn’t for this post. I want to talk about mental health and men.

 

News came out late last month that Australian tennis player, Bernard Tomic, left the jungle in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here after less than forty – eight hours. He admitted that he was depressed.

The reactions, to be frank, have been quite appalling. People both within and outside the media has attacked Tomic’s sudden departure. At least one has backed off.

Good on Fordham for having the humility to retract his statement. Yet, I’m saddened that this has turned into a debate.

So, he’s made arrogant comments about ‘counting’ his ‘millions’. According to Jessie Stephens from Mamamia, suggested that Tomic had shown symptoms long before the I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Tomic was condemned last year for expressing his desire to want to quit tennis. Loss of interest in once – enjoyed activities is one common sign of depression.

Now, of course, Tomic needs to be diagnosed by a professional, not the general public or journalists. But what has annoyed me is the dismissive attitude people have had. Why has it sparked so much scrutiny? Have we gone backwards in our attitudes toward mental health, especially in men? I really hope not, considering that men are more than twice as likely to die by suicide than women, according to Mindframe, who used Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data in from 1989 to 2016. Over – representation of men in suicide statistics is consistent across all States and Territories and Aboriginal and non – Aboriginal people alike.

 

Anyone suffering mental health issues, including anxiety and depression should have access to necessary treatment without shame. On a similar note, I want to talk about another criticism that Tomic has copped about ‘self – diagnosis’. Most people know in their heart when something isn’t right. Many symptoms of depression can be picked up by the sufferer or their families. There are online questionnaires you can take that may help give an indication of whether you maybe showing depressive symptoms or not. Of course, these tests can not take the place of a professional diagnosis, but it may spur someone to seek out an official diagnosis and treatment.

So, can we please give Bernard Tomic and anyone else who is (or potentially is) suffering a mental illness a break? Can we offer them a bit of compassion, regardless of who they are? The stigma needs to stop. Period.

If you or anyone else is suffering mental illness or is struggling or concerned, you can contact Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 or www.beyondblue.org.au if you prefer a webchat. For emergencies call 000 or seek medical help immediately. 

If your from another country, please feel free to put contact details of any national mental health or suicide prevention hotlines in your country. 

Categories
Uncategorized

Reflections on this year and visions for the next

Sorry for the sporadic posts. Been busy lately.

2017 is quickly coming to a close. Christmas is just around the corner.

I love the Christmas/ New Year period (although, I’m starting to think maybe New Year’s is a wee little bit overrated, more on that another time).

This year has seen a lot happening both nationally and personally. This year has seen me grow as an individual. It has seen me develop skills, both personal and professional. I’ve loved the course I’ve been doing; Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing. My main aim next year is to get it done!

This year has also been tumultuous. I still can’t believe how hard the same – sex marriage debate hit me, even after the result was announced. It’s been emotionally draining. It brought back feelings that I though I had left behind years ago: sadness, feeling of not being good enough and the paranoia (not clinical), that people won’t accept me for who I am. I think it’ll take time to heal. That’s going to be another of my goals next year; to get to a space where I’m happy and not worry so much.

I also need to learn not to worry about timelines so much. Things will happen as they are mean to, when they are meant to. I’ve been so worried about getting things done before the age of thirty.

 

I’ve just got myself a journal. My aim is to write (hopefully) daily affirmations. Hopefully this will change my mindset. Maybe 2018 could be a year for a real overall health kick. Sounds good, eh? Let’s see how it goes, how many temptations I have and how many I give in to (fried food, etc)!

But seriously, this year, while good, has also frankly shown me how fragile health —especially mental health — can be. We all have emotional limits to how much we can cope with. I think there should have been more times when I switched off, especially from social and mainstream media. At least I know now.

Word Swag display: Daily affirmations

 

Now, here’s to the upcoming Christmas, enjoying the rest of this year. Then bring on 2018!!!

 

What are your goals/ plans for 2018?

 

Categories
Gender/ sexuality LGBTQ rights

Anti – discrimination exemptions: a slippery slope?

The issue of anti – discrimination is heating up in the same – sex marriage debate here in Australia. This week, Andrew Bolt interviewed owner of Arlene’s Flowers, Barronelle Stutzman, a florist who was sued for not making flower arrangemwnts for a same – sex wedding. From what I heard of the case, the case turned pretty callous, with Stutzman receiving death threats. That is horribly wrong. It’s disgusting and whoever sent threats to her should have the law book thrown at them.

Former florist Baronelle Stutzman war s Australia that they face similar issues if same – sex marriage gets up here

I was sympathetic to cases like Stutzman. It was one of the reasons why I opposed same – sex marriage for a while.

However, what I worry about — and what Stutzman nor Bolt discussed, is what has happened since then, especially since Trump took office.

This has gone beyond caterers and florists. Last year, Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslain, signed a bill that allowed mental health workers to discriminate against LGBTQ+ clients for religious reasons.

A year earlier, a pediatrician in Michigan refused to treat a baby girl because she was being raised by a married lesbian couple.  Luckily another pediatrician was available.

Then, there was the whole “Bathroom Bill” debacle in North Carolina, which prohibited trans people to use the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. Former ADF officer, Cate McGregor put it quite bluntly on ABC’s The Drum, saying that it was putting trans people at risk of violence.

 

If the issue on same – sex marriage exemptions stayed solely on that, I would be fine with it. i’ve read that even some LGBTQ+ people have rallied behind Stutzman. But what I’ve noted above concerns me.

There’s another issue, too; what if cases like the pediatrician happens in a rural area? Rural areas are always crying out for more GPs, nurses, etc, but they’re not always easy to come by. So what’s an LGBTQ+ person to do if the only doctor they have access to wants to discriminate against them because of who they are? What if an LGBTQ+ person needs mental health assistance and the only psychologist/ counsellor available doesn’t want to treat them because lf ‘conscience objection’?

This has gone beyond cakes and flowers and marriage. This is about whether LGBTQ+ people should be able to access services that they need.

I think there is a possibility that ‘religious’ or ‘conscientious objections’ loopholes in anti – discrimination laws (beyond religious leaders and celebrants) can be widened, widened and widened to the point where LGBTQ+ people, especially in rural areas, are denied essential services, leaving them vulnerable to poor health outcomes.

While I sympathise to a degree toward those who feel targeted, a part of me wants to tell objectors to suck it up. If you own a business, you serve the public. That includes LGBTQ+ couples. And LGBTQ+ people should NOT be refused essential services!

What to you think of the Baronelle Stutzman case? Do you think businesses should be able to refuse services to people, including for certain events (weddibg of a same – sex couple)? What do you think about health workers discriminating against LGBTQ+ people and their families? Should that be allowed?

Let me know what you think in the comments. Sorry for the amount of questions. Just so much I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on. You don’t have to answer all the questions.  Just please let mw know what you think.