Educational Equity Is an LGBTQ Issue

This post was originally published on The Bilerico Project.

Earlier this month in Denver, at Creating Change: the 27th National Conference on LGBT Equality, I was on a panel titled “The State of Education in LGBTQ America,” sponsored by Teach For America’s LGBTQ Initiative. At this year’s conference, queer and transgender people of color were front and center. As a teacher, it made me think about the how people in spaces like Creating Change can have a positive impact on queer and transgender students of color.

LGBTQ students of color enrich their school communities every day. Living at the intersection of multiple identities can provide opportunities to develop critical thinking skills, empathy, and leadership for the individual student, and it can also draw out those things in other students and adults. Supporting these students contributes to a positive learning experience for all.

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Creating Change ’14: What It Meant To One Gay Teacher

Creating Change ’14: What It Meant To One Gay Teacher

This post was originally published on Pass the Chalk.

Creating Change Photo

As a teacher, and as a gay man, I oftentimes feel a need to “choose” a camp that I’m more “devoted” to. Do I care more about my kids or the state of my community? It’s typically a choice that I have to actively make.

While I did feel a bit of guilt for leaving my kids, last week I had the opportunity to attend the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. I was impressed by how well the conference integrated my identities as both a gay dude and a teacher.

For the uninitiated, Creating Change is a conference where 4,000+ queer folks from across all lines in one hotel for a four days exploring identity, evaluating our progress, pushing forward and having crazy fun.

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Creating Change 26 refocuses on HIV, trans identities

This piece originally appeared in the Windy City Times.

With more than 4,000 people in attendance, the 26th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change finished up in Houston, Texas, after running Jan. 29-Feb. 2.

Hosted by the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force ( NGLTF ), it pulled people from around the country—and world—to offer activists, organizers, students, elders and all other folks across the LGBTQ community a space to share knowledge, get energy and collaborate.

Programming started, as usual, with two days of daylong institutes, offering attendees 25 options for intensive training on issues such as racial justice and college campus organizing. The foci of this year’s conference centered on HIV/AIDS and ending violence against transgender women.

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Are You Failing Your Queer Students?

This post was originally published on TeacherPop.

Take a mental picture of all your students. Say you have 25 students per class and five classes: that’s 125 students. Let’s say, conservatively, that you have 10 students who fall under the LGBT title, and maybe another 10 are perceived to be LGBT by their peers. These students are more likely to have a lower GPA and less likely to aspire to college than their heterosexual peers.

In short, we are failing our queer students. Multiple, recent studies show that they’re less likely to aspire to go to college and they miss school due to victimisation. This is even higher for students who live in rural areas, are of color or are transgender. In total, eight out of ten queer students face harassment.

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Ritual L’Homme

This piece originally appeared in the first issue of Hello Mr., an Australian magazine about men who date men.

Ritual L'Homme

Every morning, I spray on the cologne my ex-boyfriend gave to me. Every morning, I have a half-moment of stabbey heart pain (similar to heartburn, sometimes I’m unsure) and I sigh.

Most people would get rid of the cologne, or at least box it up. I guess I’ve kept it for two reasons: I’m cheap as fuck, and I feel that I deserve a small reminder each day of what that relationship was to me. It’s a reminder that, Wisconsin-born lad that I am, a long-term, long-distance, monogamous and “love”-uttering relationship is a possibility for me.

See, I’m kind of an ass. Not in the “trip you down a flight of stairs” sort of way. More so in a “I’m not good at social or emotional cues so I’m just going to awkwardly stand here while you cry on my shoulder” sort of way. They may very well been what attracted Michael to me in the first place. It’s cute, at first. I have this endearing social awkwardness that is somehow innocent, confident and open all at the same time.

It appears, though, that it doesn’t work well for relationships. When your boyfriend cries, you’re supposed to coo gentle things. Or “actively listen,” with a look of empathetic love and concern on your face. As a last resource, an awkward shoulder rub could also work. Asking, in a robotic tone, “Are you sure you’re in a place to be in a relationship right now?” and claiming that the boyfriend isn’t being solution-based enough isn’t where it’s at.

When he tells you his aspirations, you’re supposed to be supportive, or at the very least, optimistic. Claiming that med school is a terrible option with little evidence, alas, isn’t the best idea.

During my quotidian cologne-spraying/reflection time, I’ve come to the conclusion that some people must be born with this intuition. I envy them. These are things that my family simply never taught me. That, or I didn’t pay mind.

After all, when horrible things happen in my family, we do one of two things: laugh our asses off, or talk about it loudly and with limited empathy. Everyone’s aspirations are treated as a dangerous bug that must be quickly killed. I just thought that’s what people do. That emotions bullshit? That’s for girls, movies and Lifetime.

Still, though. There must be something more to it. As every morning, I briefly ponder if there was a “winner” and a “loser” in the relationship. Did I dodge a thin-skinned guy with too many emotions, or did Michael dodge a heartless bastard? Or, thought of thoughts, did we both gain something? I quickly spray away this silly notion with a burst of L’Homme for men and run to work.

Either way, I leave the house smelling pretty.

Dawn Clark Netsch: Gay ally looks back

This piece originally appeared in the Windy City Times.

Dawn Clark Netsch
Photo courtesy of the Windy City Times.

Dawn Clark Netsch has been a fierce advocate for the LGBT population before it included powerful fundraising dollars, significant election votes or even safety. Netsch pushed for a non-discrimination law a full 20 years before it passed, and has been ahead of the trend on most other issues.
The former Illinois senator and comptroller celebrated her 85th birthday Sept. 16. Windy City Times sat down with her in her longtime Northwestern University office. ( She is a professor at the university’s law school. )

As the interview started, Netsch was sifting through old campaign materials. Among them was one of her newsletters from her time in the state legislature. The piece—dating back to the early ’80s, when she was a state lawmaker—mentions her endorsement by the Greater Chicago Gay and Lesbian Democrats. Her acknowledgment of the group’s support was among the first such instances for an LGBT political group. Netsch didn’t think anything of it—they were supporting her, after all.

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Travel: Montreal’s Gayborhood

This piece originally appeared in the Windy City Times. 

Rainbow Mural in Montreal

Pedestrians mingle through the streets, speaking a combination of English and French. Bars, clubs, restaurants and stores are numerous up and down the street, offering everything from bookstores to the gay leather clubs.
The scent of early autumn is in the air, and the weather is crisp but comfortable. This is the gay village, or Le Village, in Montreal.

Those who come here are quick to give reasons as why.

“It’s very different. Even though [ Le Village has ] such a large population, you still feel you’re in a tight-knit population,” said Jesse Corcoron, 24, a Montreal resident.

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