Prince Harry saved gay soldier from squadron attack -
Study: Children of Same-Sex Parents Are Healthier Than Peers -
Despite the line being pushed by antigay activists, the world’s largest study of same-sex parenting to date finds children are actually healthier than their peers, reports Australian paper The Age.
The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families is in progress at Melbourne University, collecting data on 500 children from around the nation up to the age of 17. So far, 315 gay, lesbian, and bisexual parents have completed the Child Health Questionnaire, which is recognized around the world.
According to an interim report, children from families with same-sex parents scored higher than the national average for overall health and family cohesion, while there was no statistical difference between them and children of heterosexual couples in areas such as emotional behavior, self-esteem, and time spent with parents.
”Because of the situation that same-sex families find themselves in, they are generally more willing to communicate and approach the issues that any child may face at school, like teasing or bullying,” says lead researcher Simon Crouch in the report. ”This fosters openness and means children tend to be more resilient. That would be our hypothesis.”
By comparison, the widely debunked study by Mark Regenerus of University of Texas at Austin used only 20 cases of same-sex parenting to draw its conclusions, and only two of which were instances of both same-sex parents having been in a child’s life for all 18 years of their upbringing. Regenerus used that sample (which researchers say has other problems in addition to its small size) to claim children of gay parents were worse off compared to straight parents.
That hasn’t stopped Regenerus from claiming it’s actually the Australian study that’s wrong. In a guest op-ed in the conservative National Review, he attacks the study today for using emails and other forms of advertising to find the couples who participated in the survey. Regenerus says the 500 couples may participate because they have an agenda to push and that their self-reporting about their own children is biased.
My little rant: The theory of “bullying being a right of passage” seems to be far less accepted by PLGBT individuals. This is a necessary outlook for parents to be able to empathize with their children’s experiences and emotions.
Article: Peace Corps Recognizes/Respects Same Sex Couples -
In yet another step forward for LGBT rights in the United States, the Peace Corps announced Tuesday that it will allow same-sex couples to serve together beginning this year.
The change in policy came after President Obama encouraged federal agencies in 2009 to include LGBT employees in whatever way they can.
“The Peace Corps has long looked to expand opportunities to serve and reflect the diversity of the United States in its volunteers abroad,” says Shira Kramer, press director for the organization.
The process for accepting same-sex couples will be similar to that used for heterosexual married couples, she says.
“The Peace Corps will only consider placement of same-sex couples in countries where homosexual acts are not criminalized,” says Kramer. “There are many factors that affect ultimate placements, including applicants’ overall competitiveness, program availability, departure dates, medical accommodations, and safety.”
Each partner’s skills will be assessed, and then Peace Corps will find a place that needs the skills of both. Depending on their medical clearance, the volunteers will be placed in a country and receive the same benefits (health care, housing, and stipends) as married couples. Only 10% of current assignments are filled by married couples serving together.
“Because couples placements require matching the skills sets of both individuals, there are fewer assignments available for couples than for single applicants,” Kramer says.
“Peace Corps field staff will receive training to support same-sex couples that addresses safety and security issues, host family preparation, job assignments, and available resources,” she adds.
The same-sex pair will sign an affidavit before leaving for service that will verify their relationship.
For returned Peace Corps volunteers, the news came as a welcome surprise Tuesday morning as the press release spread among volunteers on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
Serving in the Peace Corps has always been a bit different from other Department of State jobs.
Unlike embassy workers or military personnel, Peace Corps volunteers live at a host site, usually a small village, as part of the community, doing all the same tasks as their neighbors: washing laundry by hand, getting water from a well, chopping wood, and so forth. They don’t have bodyguards, gated entrances, or closed-off communities of other expats to help them cope with being perhaps the only American for hundreds of miles. So the job usually requires a great deal of flexibility and patience.
“As a volunteer, being able to have a partner there on site would’ve made the experience much different,” says returned Peace Corps volunteer Alia Scheirman. “The Peace Corps staff advised all LGBT volunteers to stay in the closet. That would have been much less lonely to do that with a partner.”
Scheirman, who served two years as an English teacher in Ukraine, says she never felt unsafe as a lesbian during her time as a volunteer but knew that some others who “looked” gay ran into trouble. She did notice, though, that understanding among the Peace Corps staff did shift after training, and they were able to give more useful, accurate advice to volunteers.
Todd Harwell, a current volunteer in Peru, said he and his boyfriend (also a volunteer in Peru) always assumed that service for same-sex couples wouldn’t happen until same-sex marriages were recognized federally. The news has the pair thinking about the future and possibly serving again, this time as a couple.
“We realize and acknowledge how lucky we are that we found each other in this crazy life that we lead, and our sites are relatively close,” says Harwell, who lives seven hours away from his boyfriend. “But the opportunity to serve together as partners seemed like a future fairy tale.”
Harwell notes that although he has a lot of contact with his boyfriend via cell phone, married straight couples have the benefit of face-to-face time together. When it comes to safety, he says, the Peace Corps would have to do take extra steps, but he’s not worried about local reaction.
“I would certainly feel safe, and it would be incredible emotional support to be with my partner if an uncomfortable situation or reaction did arise,” he says. “I’m sure there would be some community members that would be unaccepting of us, but you have that in every part of the United States as well.”
“I felt that I needed to be cautious, but I did not feel unsafe,” says returned volunteer Thomas Lawson. “I lived in a small, conservative town in a culture that does not talk about homosexuality. So, in my efforts to integrate, I did not talk about it.”
However, staying in the closet was one of the more difficult adjustments Lawson made during his service in Ukraine. “I am more than a gay man, but I am a gay man.” he says. “And if you do not see my gayness, you do not see me.”
To avoid questions about his relationships, especially whether he had a girlfriend, one of the Peace Corps staffers taught him how to make it a joke by using the phrase “Немає, не хочу, не треба!” (Translation: “Don’t have, don’t want, don’t need!”) But while in the regional capital, Sumy, Lawson was out, and worked with organizations on an LGBT awareness and empowerment campaign.
Despite the step forward, the future for LGBT Peace Corps volunteers is hard to predict. In an organization that requires so much flexibility, how will individual couples deal with their site? Come out? Stay in the closet?
No matter what, though, volunteers are in agreement — there’s no substitute for support from a loving partner.
“As long as we could serve and live together, we would be happy,” says Harwell. “Peace Corps requires a large amount of flexibility, and I’m curious to see how much flexibility will be asked and/or required of same-sex couples.”
As for the number of potential LGBT volunteers interested in serving as couples, Kramer says, “We will have to wait and see, but the agency has recognized an interest among prospective volunteers.”
It will take some time and work, but current and returned volunteers seem optimistic about the policy change — even if it means being flexible with the definition of their relationships.
“There are downsides for everyone serving in the Peace Corps,” says Lawson. “Compared to bucket baths and hand-washing your laundry, though, introducing your partner as your ‘friend’ does not seem like such a biggie.”
My little rant: Serving in the Peace Corps with one’s partner has got to be the most romantic, rewarding, fulfilling life EVER! How come I’ve never thought of this as an option/idea? haha
Canada Lifts Lifetime Ban on Blood Donations by Gay Men -
The country’s nearly 30-year-old ban will be updated to allow some gay men to give blood by midsummer. However, restrictions will still apply.
Canada will soon lift its ban on blood donations by gay men, a policy that has been in place for nearly 30 years, Metro Newsreports.
However, the new Canadian Blood Services donation policy will still include restrictions. Gay men will only be allowed to donate blood if they have abstained from having sex with another man for five years prior to their donation.
Though the policy change still discriminates against gay men who are sexually active, agency executives hope the change will pave the way for gay men to fully integrated into the pool of blood donors in the future.
“So the message to them today is to simply bear with us,” said Dana Devine, vice president of medical, scientific, and research affairs at Canadian Blood Services. “We are working toward attempting to make the opportunity for additional people to donate blood … and we just aren’t quite there yet for that group of people.”
Approval to lift the ban for gay donors who meet the new five-year requirement came from Health Canada Wednesday. The ban had been initiated in the 1980s in response to the AIDS epidemic, as HIV can be transmitted through blood transfusions, and at the time blood products could not be screened for the virus, as they are now.
However, several health activists argue that the policy change does little to alleviate the stigmatization of gay men and say the policy should instead focus on screening out high-risk donors of all sexual orientations.
“A five-year ban on the ability for gay men to donate blood is not science-based and is still just as discriminatory as a lifetime ban,” members of Parliament Libby Davies and Randall Garrison said in a statement.
In recent years, several other countries have amended their blood donation policies to allow gay men to give blood, many of which use a smaller window of deferral for sexually active gay men than the Canada has adopted.
Both Australia and the U.K. allow gay men who have abstained from sex with another man for one year to donate, while South Africa requires only a six-month period of deferral.
In the United States, however, a lifetime ban remains in place.
My Little Rant: Well, I suppose we shouldn’t rejoice too quickly. This is just another one of those worn out stigmas attached to gay men that people are having a hard time releasing. I believe the best solution is for blood banks to hold a person’s blood for 3 months after being drawn. That way, the blood can be tested after the period of time in which the HIV virus can go undetected. Just a thought…
Wash. man arrested in spree of violent attacks on gay men -
KENT, Wash. — Police in Kent, Wash., say they have arrested a man who used popular gay dating and cell phone apps to set up dates with gay men at remote locations and then robbed them at gunpoint.
Assistant Chief Pat Lowery said that Leverne Lee Maxwell, 32, was arrested last week at his Kent apartment and is currently charged with seven separate counts of rape, robbery, burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm and more. The most serious allegations center on the April 7 sexual assault, which Maxwell is alleged to have perpetrated against a man he contacted through the “GROWLr” website and mobile phone app, reported Seattle PI.
Maxwell also reportedly used the site “Scruff” to connect with other potential victims.
Having met through the site, Maxwell posed as a buyer for a Kindle eBook the man was trying to sell, the detective told the court. Once inside the man’s home, he asked for a glass of water and again became very aggressive.
“You’re a little (anti-gay slur) aren’t you,” Maxwell told the man, according to charging papers.
“You’re gonna suck my (expletive),” he continued.
Maxwell then pulled a pistol and threatened to kill the man before sexually assaulting him.
Four days later, a second man was robbed at gunpoint in South Seattle by a man he met on GROWLr. The detective noted Maxwell also asked for a glass of water during that robbery before pulling a pistol and holding the man at gunpoint.
Maxwell is alleged to have taken a laptop computer and iPhone during the robbery.
On April 13, Maxwell is alleged to have robbed another man of his iPhone after holding him at gunpoint in Kent. According to police, the man said he met Maxwell on the SCRUFF website, another gay social networking site and app.More at Seattle PI →
Maxwell is an 11-time felon who allegedly used the cell phone belonging to the mother of his 2-year-old child to contact the victims.
Assistant Chief Pat Lowery said there may be other victims and they should contact police.
“We’re concerned that there may be still more victims in the community that are afraid to come forward,” he said.