Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hot seat for teacher? Teen outed

A middle school administration was briefly in the hot seat after it “outed” a student as being gay. The assistant principal contacted parents of the boy after his teacher came to the office with concerns over the boys safety.

Spokeswoman for the school district, Rhonda Bromley told reporters that the students in a class at Willowcreek Middle School in Lehi had been assigned to create an advertisement about themselves that would hang on the classroom wall. This 14-year-old student's ad was about him being gay.

“The teacher asked the student if he wanted his ad put up on the wall with the rest of the class. He said yes. School officials then worried the student was a potential target for bullying because of negative comments overheard in the hallway.” Said Bromley.

"When there started to be a little bit of a negative response to that, the administration called him in and got involved," Bromley said.

"The assistant principal spoke to the student and discovered the student's parents did not know about his sexual orientation. The assistant principal decided it was important to let the boy's parents know about their concerns over bullying.

"In that case, it's absolutely important that we include parents any time there is a safety issue that has to do with the student. It's the responsibility of the school to include the parent," Bromley said.

On Dec. 7 the parents were called in for a meeting with the assistant principal, which the student did not attend.

At about this same time, said the report, a Face book page was created with the student's name, saying he was outed by the school to his parents. It also said he had been suspended for being gay. Bromley says the school did not suspend the boy, but his parents decided to keep him home.
So, I tried to go on face book and get some information.  There is, nothing available to me on face book, which, I must say, pleased me no end.  Of course, these people are underage, so without knowing their names, there should be no way to access this.  So far so good.

I wondered why a face book page was created in the first place and I came up with two reasons.  The first is the old fashioned paranoid response of "gay is wrong--get him out of the school". The second is that someone was trying to be proactive and make the public aware that a possible miss justice situation was brewing for this kid.  If that is the case, then one can forgive, and kudos for someone for trying to make others aware.

Fact is I don't know which.

The Alpine school district and middle school itself have received quite a few angry communications based on the fact that people have assumed that the kid was "in trouble," which is not true, Bromley said. 

The district defends the way the incident was handled, saying the boy had made his sexual orientation public at school and educators had an obligation to let parents know about potential bullying and safety concerns.

"We need to step in and do whatever it takes to make these students feel safe," Bromley said.
"If it's happening at school, we have the responsibility to include the parents and let them know what's going on so they, too, can do what they can to keep an eye on things at home, so they can help that student feel support and safe, not just at school but when they are at home, as well," she said.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Romney Grilled By Veteran On Same-Sex Marriage

A Vietnam veteran took a bite out of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a campaign stop in a New Hampshire cafe on Monday.  Romney approached Bob Garon, a gay man seated at the Chez Vachon restaurant, taking note of the man's hat which was indicated the man was former Military.

"A Vietnam veteran!" Romney said, and took a seat at the gentleman's booth, which he was sharing with his husband.

Garon's first question was about New Hampshire's gay marriage law.  Garon asked the presidential candidate if he supported repealing state legislation, which currently allows same-sex couples to get married.

"I support the repeal of the New Hampshire law," Romney responded. "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. That's my view."

Garon responded, "It's good to know how you feel, that you do not believe everyone is entitled to their constitutional rights,"

"No, actually, I think at the time the Constitution was written it was pretty clear that marriage is between a man and a woman," Romney replied. "And I don't believe the Supreme Court has changed that."

Romney has said throughout the early stages of his presidential campaign that same-sex marriage was a state issue before announcing his support for a constitutional amendment banning such unions.
The Associated Press report on Romney's cafe stop claimed that an aide then tried to pull Romney from the conversation because the candidate "had another interview with Fox News Channel.

"Oh, I guess the question was too hot," Garon replied, at which point Romney said he had given Garon a yes or no answer as requested.

Garon said to reporters that he had married his husband in June, and had done so "in New Hampshire, where it's legal. Unless Mitt Romney gets elected."


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Circle in the Square

I must be living in a hole.

Apparently I missed a three-day conference for LGBTQ and same-sex attraction Mormons, on sexuality and religion in Salt Lake City, Utah, several weekends ago. 

Quick non-side-bar side-bar -- I have tried to focus my learning of spiritual things to what is available in the church.  I have felt that there is safety in sticking to the side I feel is right.  Obviously, I haven't scratched the surface of current knowledge available.  I also have experienced the spirit bearing witness to me on a few subjects, and I know of the veracity of learning through the spirit. 

In my reading, I was blown away the other day by a "civilian book" on a civilian subject.  I didn't agree with what was being represented, but it opened my mind to a new idea, which in turn affected (read strengthened, clarified, what have you,) what I thought I already knewIt sufficeth to say, for now, that when I hear of a gathering of people claiming to seek and share knowledge, I pay more attention now than I used to even a week before.

The event, which attracted more than 300 participants of varying faiths, was sponsored by Mormon Stories and the Open Stories Foundation, organizations with no official affiliation with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, according to the Deseret News.  

I looked them up.  So far "them" is a "he" who states that he is a member of the LDS church in good standing, and yes, this is important to me. 

The conference sported the name “Circling the Wagons” which I think is appropriate for the issue and for the roots -  at least in name - of the organization sponsoring it.  Featured speakers were various clergy, therapists, artists and writers who tried to create a place to "gather to acknowledge, explore and honor shared experiences."  

The conference was created for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and same-sex attracted persons and their families who had a background in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Deseret News was clear to report that “Homosexuality isn't supported by the LDS Church, but the church reportedly strives to "understand and respect" those with same-sex attractions.” 

Featured was a speech from Kevin Kloosterman, an LDS bishop from Illinois.

"I began to see the emotional wounds and scars that many of you have today, and I began to ask, 'Where did you get these wounds?' And the answer, unfortunately, was in the house of my friends. And when I felt that answer, I grieved and wept as any parent would for their own child," he said.

Again, I know little about the Mormon Stories Organization.  On its website, Mormon Stories states that it is “an internet blog and podcast (i.e. radio/TV show) created in 2005 by John Dehlin. Inspired by Terry Gross - Fresh Air, and Charlie Rose, Mormon Stories seeks to "interview interesting people about Mormon-related current events, issues, media and culture.”

In the podcasts FAQ’s, there is a short essay by Dehlin who records his background with the LDS church.

From what I read, volunteers participated in recorded segments for the "It Gets Better Project," a popular video campaign aimed at young adults who are harassed because of their sexuality – a project I have long admired.

As far as “by their fruits ye shall know them” goes, (unfortunate, unavoidable pun that always makes me giggle) this organization seems to be, by definition, “good” -- promoting understanding, respect, and the gaining of knowledge.

If anyone has experience with the conference or the Mormon Stories organization, feel free to comment.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Communication, gentlemen!

With kid drama, parent drama, ward and neighbor drama beating us over the head, sometimes being able to voice a concern is crucial. Communication is key. 

And not sinking.  Not sinking is good as well.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Gratatude

This is a short note in blog land. First, I wanted to create a place where we could all vent without repercussions later on in church.  So here is mine. Today I heard a  talk made by a predominant woman in the church saying she is heart sick for children being raised by homosexuals.  She showed us pictures...  This was my first "have to scream" moment of the holidays.  I wanted to show her a photo taken yesterday of my own daughter raising her child in a drug house near Palisades drive in Orem with eight guys, several mothers thirteen children and a whole lot of dope going around.

Anyone else have a rant to get off your chest? Here is a place you can vent if things arn't going so well with family and friends, or if you just need to blow up at someone.  Say it here.  This blog spot used to be used by many place ,but not as much anymore, so say what you have to say under anonymous nook and use a Book of Mormon Name to stay anonymous and we'll understand.

How can we , as a people get so judgmental during the holidays? Isn't it time to make amends if only for a few days in the name of family past or present - maybe even future.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Prophets quoted "disgusting sin we can't accept"

The Daily Universe, the offical daily publication of the Brigham Young University campus, published onto its website a letter entitled “Crimes against Nature,” in which a BYU student compared gay parenting to prostituting or serial killing.

“Just as if we wouldn’t want a child to grow up with a prostitute for a mother or a serial killer for a father, we shouldn’t accept a lesbian, gay or transgender parental model for young people,” stated Taylor Petty, from Raleigh, N.C., in the November 17 issue. “As prophets have said for four thousand years, sodomy is a disgusting sin we can’t accept.”

Petty’s letter caused an uproar among BYU lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their supporters.  In the wake of critical response to the letter, flyer's were placed  inside copies of the Nov. 18 issue of the Daily Universe. Criticism of Petty’s letter appear in the Student Review, an  established off campus paper, and later in the Daily Universe.

From the flyer: “Gay students are in every classroom, every ward and every apartment complex at BYU and we want to reach out in love to help you better understand. The attitude represented by these articles reopens wounds that Christ died to heal. …The task of any religion is not to teach us who we are entitled to hate, but who we are required to love.”

“Regardless of your opinions on gay adoption and parenting, words like [Pattti’s] are unproductive, offending those that disagree and failing to bring legitimacy to your argument,” wrote Hunter Schwartz in the Student Review.

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World also states parents should rear their children in love and righteousness, provide for their physical and spiritual needs and teach them to love and serve one another, to name a few,” wrote Jordan Meservy in the Daily Universe.

Late Friday, November 18, Daily Universe managing editor Joel Campbell ordered the letter to be removed from the Daily Universe website.

“The Daily Universe has removed the letter originally published here after several readers complained about its tone and approach to homosexuality,” Campbell wrote on the new webpage in place of the letter. “We agree that the letter did not represent the standards of our sponsoring institution or our university community including the recent statement in the LDS Church Handbook of Instruction: ‘While opposing homosexual behavior, the Church reaches out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender.’ The letter published in the Daily Universe did not represent the kind of understanding and respect that should accompany dialog on this issue. We regret that the letter was ever published.”

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving Food For Thought - Republished

CAROUSEL: brain scan mri xray stroke tumor dementia alzheimers concussion

Rugby jock says stroke turned him gay

By Ryan Jaslow
(CBS) Strokes can have strange consequences. Some stroke victims wind up with different accents, others with different personalities. Chris Birch said he discovered he was gay when he woke up after             a stroke.

The 26-year-old Welshman suffered a stroke after breaking his neck while attempting a back flip at a gym, The Daily Mail reported. His then-fiancée and family stayed by his side, but when he woke, something had changed.

"It sounds strange, but when I came round I immediately felt different," Birch told the paper. "I wasn't interested in women any more. I was definitely gay. I had never been attracted to a man before - I'd never even had any gay friends."

Before the stroke, Birch was a banker who loved playing rugby, watching sports, and drinking beer with his buds. After the stroke, he found he had little in common with his blokes, quit his job to train as a hairdresser, and started dating a man.

"I went back to my job in the bank and tried hard to fit back into things but it didn't seem right anymore," Birch told The Mirror last month. "Suddenly, I hated everything about my old life. I didn't get on with my friends, hated sport, and found my job boring."

He also focused more on his appearance, lost a lot of weight - and became more confident.
Birch's neurologist told him the changes in his personality could be from the stroke "opening up" a different part of his brain, according to the Daily Mail.

What do experts have to say - can a stroke really turn you gay?

Dr. Ira G. Rashbaum, professor of rehabilitation medicine and chief of stroke rehab at NYU Langone Medical Center, wouldn't speculate on this specific case since he wasn't involved in Birch's care, but he told CBS News that it's quite common to see personality changes in patients following a stroke.

Rashbaum said some recovering stroke patients might experience anxiety, depression, or difficulties paying attention. In some cases if a stroke affects the brain's frontal lobe - which controls inhibition - a previously quiet person might become angrier, suddenly telling others off.
But a full-blown personality change?

"This is a more rare circumstance, certainly not a common thing" he told CBS News. He added that profound personality changes usually aren't permanent following rehabilitation with a team that might include psychologists and social workers.

Joe Korner, director of communications for The Stroke Association in the U.K., told CBS News in an email that he's never personally heard of a stroke changing someone's sexuality, but he doesn't doubt the stroke had some impact on Birch's life.

"Strokes are traumatic, life-changing experiences, which can make you reassess life and your feelings so perhaps that's the reason behind it," Korner said. "Whether or not the stroke turned Chris gay, or whether he was gay anyway but unaware of it, his experience seems to be a positive one, which is great."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

US passes law allowing SGA couples to marry - PART TWO

Who is it we are talking about when we speak of those who oppose human rights for all? Why does the LDS church pop up in these discussions?

Recently I finished the novel, The Help, which I followed up with Crazy in Alabama and now I am re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird. In these books that focus on  civil rights, sometimes there are clear lines drawn and one grouping of people is placed on one side and another is placed on side two. Good here, bad there.  Also contained are written characters who are conflicted, or don’t know what to think. They open their doors to all in an emergency, but would rather keep the status quo if given their druthers (love that word.)

To lump Latter-day Saints together in any of these characterizations is misguided and inaccurate.   

Sometimes what is not said in a church meeting is said over the back fence, or on an anonymous note in a blog.  Some are closet liberals and others are more conservative than they want you to know.  Others say, lets talk turkey.  What is the truth here?, and I mean, everybody’s truth.  I would like to take some time to hear it all and allow readers the same opportunity.

Based on doctrine, and based on fruits – or results (better said for this blog) - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been moderate on the subject of equal rights – all things included: slower than the norm with blacks and the priesthood and “not currently” on the women and the priesthood, but fast in every other way.

The LDS church has a policy of not differentiating between OSA and SSA  - has even published its say. Culturally, status, class, background, education,etc. It is commonly believed the church actually seeks out poorer, and the ethnically diverse. 

Yet, the LDS church has come out against Gay marriage by its declaration of marriage being between a man and a woman.

But look at these several statements. There is no question about sexual preference in the temple recommend questions.

The LDS church believes in being morally clean,.  Yet there is a strong support group established – and on the Church payroll – for pregnant mothers and their partners, with choices not as conservative as many think.

Latter-day Saints believe in the word of wisdom, and yet, once again, there are well established programs for alcoholics or those who drink, smokers, drug addict and casual users.  At every turn there is a way in the LDS church to deal with problems that have arisen for a magnitude of reasons.

It believes in being honest in every interaction, yet church meetings are held in jails and prisons in areas of substantial LDS population.

It asks the members to have temple recommends, and has classes and assistance to get members from A to B.

Does anyone who has had interaction with the Church believe that Homosexuals would be left high and dry – without assistance or support simply because of the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman?  Does the LDS church currently support/assist families of every makeup and means?  The answer is yes.

The question then, understanding church policy and procedure, is not necessarily one of why the church gays can't marry in the LDS church, but why, when push came to shove, the LDS church during a state election came out in support of man/women marriage only - essentially casting a "no" vote for gay marriage. 

And, is the assumption that the LDS church was speaking politically for its members individually or collectively, or both?

Or is there a greater question? What say you, reader?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

US passes law allowing SGA couples to marry

That’s the headline so many are looking for. They are looking for marriage equality rights for all. Marriage at that point would not be an issue for the states to decide or confirm.  A new national law would allow Gay men or Lesbian woman to marry – with all the rights and privileges that come with what was previously a standard marriage
A relative of mine says that the best way to get Gays and Lesbians to back off on their desire for marriage is to give it to them - to make it lawful for them to have what straight folk have had forever.  Having what they want, he explains, they then will back off because “marriage  ain’t all that”. (After many years of joking, it starts to get old and one wonders [meaning me] if he is really serious about marriage. One also wonders [still me] what he would say if he knew that some gay Mormon guy married his daughter with full disclosure.)  Stuff to wonder.
A short sidebar as I am wondering;  along this same line, there have been pacifying jokes made concerning women and the priesthood. The point was presented that women should quit complaining about holding the priesthood because they “get to hold the priesthood every night – when her man gets home”.  It could be that I am sensitive to these issues as I have many sisters, mothers daughters and a wife, and I hear some of the expressed and unexpressed feelings of their heart. This “yarn” and those like it – regardless of their well meant attempt - minimize others and their feelings and are equally placating as far as I am concerned.

Jokes and bars aside, lets create a question train – one question that naturally leads to another, starting with this one. 

What could we expect from a new law that allows for same sex couples to marry, and how would such a law affect Latter-day Saints?  Isn’t that after all the reason we vote for, or concern ourselves with issues how it may affect us and those we love?  Those with gay friends and relatives are often on the “Marriage for all” train because they see that side of the issue.  Those without gay friends of relatives may not have that side personally explained, and are on the Between a man and a woman”  side.  Many look at both sides and are undecided, or are conflicted.  One friend of mine said “ I want my friends to be able to get married because I know they are for real.  But on the whole?  I just am not convinced that they are serious.

Others question why some are allowed to dole out the rights for others.  “The only one that can make that kind of commitment (to Marry) are those marring.  It is not my place to judge.”

Let’s start with the law itself. Mormons (and I mean card-carrying Mormons) believe in honoring and sustaining law, in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying the law - as per Article of Faith 12 .  We, and I include myself as a card-carrying Mormon, also enjoy being part of the lawmaking process and allow/expect others to do the same.

There are times when the LDS people made an exception to the law.  When Polygamy was outlawed there was a period where several Mormon men went into hiding to protect their established families rather than leave them or abandon them. These brief exceptions however, prove the law.

The United States, with this new law, would allow those that are SGAttracted to marry. However, Latter-day Saints won’t allow anyone who is not living a chaste lifestyle to enter into temple marriage - not even a man and a woman who are members.

As an example, we allow that people drink alcohol, but we don’t allow for alcohol consumption for ourselves. In fact, many in heavily Mormon areas vote for, and encourage lawmakers to keep alcohol sales to a minimum as many majority groups influence lawmakers in their area and they don’t want alcohol around them – even if they don’t imbibe. 
If the law allows for gay civil unions, the LDS church and its card caring members would not participate directly.   Would they participate as friends and family?  Would they attend, or wish well?  Of coerce.

Would the church allow a civil marriage to take place on church grounds?  My father upon his third marriage was married in a chapel because his new wife was a widower – previously married to a man “in the covenant”.  They are not sealed.  Would we allow those SGAttracted to marry this way as well?

The 11th Article of Faith states "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Mormons would follow that admonition.  Would the rest of the nation allow us our beliefs?  Would it be that simple?  - End part one

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Favorite Conference Talk - SGA Related

OK, get this.  My favorite talk of the October General LDS Conference compared my life to the Titanic.

Well, not my life exactly, but pain and suffering and all the things I think I am quite familiar with.  Frankly, there have been times when I equated being gay with pain and suffering. Birthdays, new years resolutions, pleas in the temple - all focused on some how god reversing the gay thing.  It was the only focus of my life.  And I think I missed out on so many other things because I was caught up in my being same gender attracted.  Though those days are behind me.  And though I have other things to worry about currently, I still got so much out of Quintin L. Cooks talk.

Ok, it's a little funny
Titanic thing aside, he spoke of enduring, and that sometimes what we see as a tragedy, in the big picture, is something helpful to our souls.  Here are a few quotes that I love.

"...those that appear disadvantaged through no fault of their own are not ultimately penalized."

"...all wrongs will be righted and we will see with perfect clarity and faultless perspective and understanding."

"Righteous, prayer and faith will not always result in Happy Endings.  In mortality, many will experience severe trials."

This thought may be where the titanic logically comes into the picture., but he ends the talk with...

"The atonement covers all the unfairness of life."

Here is the link to his talk if you are interested - special bonus -  you don't even have to read!

This is neither here nor there, but I got the chance to sing in the priesthood session with an area priesthood chorus.  There were 350 of us, so its not because of my excellent voice.  But it was still cool to see the prophet and be a part of the meeting. 

Here is the link:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lightening up - a bit

It's conference time.  It didn’t sneak up on me this year because I have been rehearsing with the Priesthood Choir that will be singing in the Saturday PM, you guessed it, priesthood session.

Frankly I didn’t know if I could make it through the rehearsal process.  I have aged a bit since I sang in choirs, and I used to have a rule that I would only be in good ones.  As a MDT major at BYU that was an easy resolution to keep.  I know how snotty that sounds, but when you have sung for prophets and presidents it’s hard to get excited about being the entire bass section. A little something dies. I want to keep it alive and remember back when I sounded good: a go-out-on-top sort of thing.

This Priesthood choir isn’t bad, and we get to sit behind some general authorities that I admire so much as well as the prophet.  Plus, with 360 members I am not the only bass.

So I lightened up on the music/choir resolution a bit. 

I have also lightened up a bit in something else I used to feel so strongly about.  I used to feel that I had to broadcast my opinion of Gay/SGA rights so loudly that people had to either stand back or put ear plugs in. I think I was so brazen that people stopped listening to me.

I still think the same way – which gays/SGAs/homosexuals – whatever the popular label is these days - can thrive in the Mormon community. I am just not as in their face as I used to be.  I would rather get the information out there and let them come to their own realizations.  I can’t force anyone to do what I think is right regardless of how loud I yell or how cleaver I am in a blog.

I do feel that those SGAttracted can hold offices and can teach classes, and can use the priesthood power with the best of them.  I wont pull back on that stance even if I turn the volume down a little