Tag Archives: training materials

Gender & Sexuality 101 – A Helpful New Guide

So often I speak with teachers, therapists, and other allies who want to be of assistance but are stymied by the terminology — especially about the difference between gender and sexual orientation.  They’re often practically desperate to ask about these things so they can interact with LGBTQ folks in a helpful way, or at least without being offensive!

Transgender? LGBTQQAI??

Language around issues of gender and sexuality can have real impact.  Many times people stifle conversation for fear of saying the wrong thing.

Caryn B. Oppenheim, with support from Safe Schools Coalition, has produced a great new guide that can help teachers, schools, gay straight-alliances, college groups and many others answer some of these questions and problems.  With sections on “Fluidity, Categorization, and Vocabulary”, “Coming Out”, “Language and Homophobia”, “Intersections of Identity”, “Testimonies” and “International Perspectives” it should really help you feel more “in the know” as you work in your community.  Whether you’re a parent, trying to help your child’s school get more educated about LGBTQ issues, or a gay therapist new to the terminology around gender, this guide will go a long way toward creating some shared language — maybe helping us all understand a little more.

National Suicide Prevention Week: “Y C.A.R.E.”?

The Trevor Project's Y CARE Suicide Prevention Tool

September 5th through 11th, 2010 marks the 36th annual National Suicide Prevention Week.

As part of this important week of raising awareness, The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization has launched a new tool in suicide prevention called “YCARE.” It is an easy to remember acronym to help young people use some simple steps to help save a life.  Y CARE will be featured in The Trevor Project’s materials and trainings.


Often, when faced with someone expressing suicidal feelings, people feel confused, scared and worried that if they say the wrong thing, their friend or loved one could become more suicidal.  Y CARE reminds us that the best thing we can do is take someone seriously, listen to them, and help them and help them connect with assistance.  People who are suicidal are often feeling hopeless and abandoned, according to  Jeffrey Fishberger, M.D., on-call clinician for the Trevor Lifeline.  He reminds us that “When ‘You CARE,’ you can reduce some of those feelings of hopelessness and loneliness. The implied question, ‘Y-CARE’ will help people remember that caring is the first step to saving the life of an LGBTQ youth in crisis.” (Quoted from the excellent site GLT News Now)

The Trevor Project offers trainings and information on suicide prevention as well as direct assistance to LGBTQ youth experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings.


Eating Disorders and Gay Men: One Man’s Story

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 21 – 27, 2010, we’re focusing on LGBTQ youth and eating disorders:

Eating Disorders and Gay Men

Eating disorders amongst men are rarely studied or talked about.  For many gay men, this makes it all the more difficult to identify and seek assistance for a growing program.  When they do, they often feel ashamed. Sparse information leaves professionals attempting to treat men — often ineffectively — with approaches that are appropriate for women.  Filmmaker Travis Matthews tells his story at The National Eating Disorders Association.  His movie  Do I Look Fat? has been screened at colleges and universities, health centers and has received acclaim at a number of film festivals.  His site also offers resources and information on the issue of gay men and eating disorders. It includes an interview with Ted Weltzin, M.D., the Medical Director of the Eating Disorders Center, a residential facility for treating eating disorders in men and women.  It is one of the only centers that treat men with eating disorders in the country.

Gay, bisexual teens at risk for eating disorders

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 21 – 27, 2010, we’re focusing on LGBTQ youth and eating disorders:

From Reuters Health:

Amy Norton Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:21pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers may be at higher risk of binge-eating and purging than their heterosexual peers, starting as early as age 12, a new study finds.

Past research has found connections between sexual orientation and the risk of eating disorders in adults — showing, for instance, that gay men have higher rates of symptoms than their heterosexual counterparts.

Less has been known about how sexual orientation affects teenagers’ risks of various eating disorders.

For the new study, researchers at Harvard University and Children’s Hospital Boston used data from a U.S. survey of nearly 14,000 12- to 23-year-olds to look at the relationship between sexual orientation and binge-eating and purging.

They found heightened rates of binge-eating among both males and females who identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or “mostly heterosexual.”

Purging, by vomiting or abusing laxatives, was also more common among these teens, the researchers report in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“We found clear and concerning signs of higher rates of eating disorder symptoms in sexual-minority youth compared to their heterosexual peers even at ages as young as 12, 13 or 14 years old,” lead researcher S. Bryn Austin, an assistant professor of pediatrics, told Reuters Health in an email.

Among females, lesbian, bisexual and mostly heterosexual respondents were all about twice as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to report binge-eating at least once per month in the past year.

Bisexual and mostly heterosexual girls and women were also more likely to say they had purged in the past year in order to control their weight.

Among males, the highest risks were seen among homosexuals — who were seven times more likely to report bingeing and nearly 12 times more likely to report purging than heterosexual males.

Bisexual and mostly heterosexual boys and men also had elevated risks of both problems — with rates anywhere from three to seven times higher than those of their heterosexual counterparts.

The survey data do not offer a potential reason for the findings, but past studies give some insight, according to the researchers.

“We know that gay, lesbian, and other sexual-minority kids are often under a lot of pressure,” Austin said, noting that these teens are often “treated like outsiders” in their own families and schools, and may be excluded, harassed or victimized by bullies.

“This kind of isolation and victimization can take its toll on a young person,” Austin explained, “and one of ways it can play out is in vulnerability to eating-disorder symptoms and a host of other stress-related health problems.”

She added that because negative attitudes and discrimination against sexual minorities are still pervasive in society, families need to be a source of support.

It is “incredibly important,” Austin said, “for parents and other family members to reach out and make sure these youth know they are loved and supported, that they can count on their families to stay by their side.”

SOURCE: Journal of Adolescent Health, September 2009.

// // // //

See the original story

Want to learn more about eating disorders and LGBTQ youth?   On January 12, 2010 the National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC) invites LGBQT youth service providers and educators to learn more about the unique ways eating disorders affect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer and Transgender youth. Click here to register for free, and submit your questions in advance.

Amazing Video: Just Say No to “That’s So Gay”

Inspiring message, awesome music by Will.i.am and a connection to the civil rights movement.  What else do you need? Students who are bullied because of their real or perceived sexual orientation are subject to harassment and violence to the point where they miss more school than most other students.  They experience depression, anxiety and traumatic reactions.  It is time to stop stop saying “That’s so gay,” even if you’re not talking about a person.

Colors by Will.i.am

Stand for life
Stand for true
Stand for somethin’
Don’t fall for nothin’

Stand for love
Stand for power
Stand for somethin’
Don’t fall for nothin’

Stand for me
Stand for you

Stand for somethin’
Don’t fall for nothin’

Don’t fall for nothin’
Don’t fall for nothin’

Stand for life
Stand for true
Stand for somethin’
Don’t fall for nothin’

National Day of Silence – April 17th

The National Day of Silence is a student led action that brings attention to harassment and bullying of LGBTQ students.  Participants do not speak for the entire day in order to educate others about the “silence” that LGBTQ youth experience when they are not permitted to be themselves because of harassment.

Students hand out cards that say something like this:

“Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies in schools. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by name-calling, bullying and harassment. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?”

Our culture works hard to silence the voices of LGBTQ people. This happens through indimidation, stereotyping, blocking rights and laws that support LGBTQ rights, perpetuating myths, and thousands of “microaggressions” such as only having check boxes for “married, divorced, widowed or single.” Family members, colleagues, neighbors and friends silence LGBTQ people when they don’t invite a partner to a party where other spouses are invited, homophobic remarks, making negative comments about gender expression, and by cutting out LGBTQ loved ones from their lives.

Young people are especially impacted by this pervasive silencing. While young people are in the process of figuring out their identity and place in the world, they are hearing all around them “there is something wrong with you” and “no one wants to know about your authentic self.” Worse, they risk being physically and emotionally harmed and even ejected from their homes. The Gay and Lesbian Times reports that the San Diego LGBT Community Center receives requests from approximinately 40 youth per month who were kicked out of their homes for being LGBTQ. Dependant on parents, teachers, principles, school counselors and coaches for support, youth often have many fewer places to turn if these usual sources of help are homophobic or transphobic.

Enforcing silence is effective for instilling fear, confusion, and self-loathing in those who don’t fit the sexual orientaiton “norm.” However, youth who speak up, find community, visibility and a voice can often increase their overall mental health, sense of wellness, strength and resilience.  On April 17th, they’ll be doing this through silence.

Get involved at http://www.dayofsilence.org/index.cfm

Gay kids still not protected in schools

Gay kids still not protected in schools

This article points out that although we’ve made great strides in safety for LGBTQ students in schools, many horrifying situations still exist.  There is a film that although met with a firestorm of controversy, has become an incredible resource for parents, students, and teachers alike: It’s Elementary.  This film, which the San Francisco Chronicle said “could become one of the most important films ever devoted to lesbian and gay issues”, looks at the debate around educating students about gay and lesbian issues.  It is sweet, touching and even funny.  Told through the words of children as young as first graders, it shows us the impact of homophobia on our society, the efforts of many teachers to go against the mainstream and teach acceptance around sexuality, and the openheartedness of many students when encountering gay and lesbian issues for the first time.

Safe Space Sticker from GLSEN

Safe Space Sticker from GLSEN

LOGO will be showing a follow up video about the history of It’s Elementary call It’s STILL Elementary.  If you can get your hands on the original, or can watch LOGO’s retrospective, please do so.  And, pass the word.

Many of the obstacles that were present when It’s Elementary was first released in 1996 still haunt our schools.  Students are still physically and verbally harassed (many to the point where they miss a great deal of school for fear of further harassment), there are still homophobic teachers and parents pressuring school boards to censor any information about gay and lesbian lives from the curriculum.

However, there are also great strides with many more teachers speaking out, with a growing presence of GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network).  Work in schools to increase acceptance and safety for LGBT students is essential both for the ongoing health of LGBT students but also for creating a community and culture that is just, accepting and informed about non-mainstream sexual orientations.  It remains clear that even the voice of one student activist, one teacher, school counselor or parent speaking for the rights of all students to attend school in safety can make an enormous difference.

Have you had experiences of harassment in your school?  Was there a particular person you were able to turn to for help or solace?  Your comments are invited below!