GrowREFLECTIONS
An affirming newsletter for Lesbian Women
and their Partners
 
March 2009- Vol 1, Issue 1
In This Issue
MILK Wins! Oscar Speeches
Community Events
Jobs For Teens
Women's History Month - HERstory
The Lessons of Lawrence King
Classes & Training Available
Quick Links       
 
Join Our Mailing List!
MILK WINS! OSCAR SPEECHES
 

Sean Penn Oscar Night

 
An excerpt from Sean Penn's Best Actor acceptance speech :  "For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, and, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone."
 
Earlier in the evening, writer Dustin Lance Black received the award for Best Original Screenplay. Black told of learning about Harvey Milk as a teenager. "It gave me the hope to live my life openly as who I am," he said in his acceptance speech.
Community Events
Support Youth Right Here in OC: Save Rent
 rent
Right here in OC at Corona Del Mar High School, the school's production of Rent survived a close call. You can read the LA Times Story for more information about the controversy over the content of the musical and you can write in your support for the cast on their facebook page.  Plan on seeing the show!  To read the LA Times article: click here
 
EVE OF JUSTICE - MARCH 4th
candles 
Candlelight Vigil to Protect the Constitution's Promise of Equality For All
Where:
Fairview Community Church, 2525 Fairview Rd.,Costa Mesa  5:30-7:00 pm
For more info:
 
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tell-three.org 
Tell Three Web Campaign
 
"The passage of Prop 8 in California has motivated LGBT people and their supporters like never before," said Amy Balliett of Join the Impact, a grass roots organization with more than 15,000 members that has helped to organize massive demonstrations throughout the U.S. since the November elections. The goal of the campaign is for all LGBT groups and individuals to seize upon the momentum that has been generated since the passage of Proposition 8 in November and work together to tell their stories to build support for all of the issues affecting LGBT people.

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NOW is hosting a Special 25th Anniversary Event on Sat. March 14th at the Huntington Library in San Marino.  For more information
click here
 
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The Dinah
Palm Springs Festival will be held April 1-5, 2009.  For more info 
click here
Jobs For Teens
 
LGBT TeenThe Irvine Youth Employment Services (iYES) is hosting a Job Search Survival Skills Workshop for Teens will be on Wednesday March 4th at 3:30 pm.   Also, if you are a teen looking for work during Summer break, this article may be of help:  How To Find A Summer Job
Women's History Month 

Womens history 1970s

March is National Women's History Month.The National Women's History Project's 2009 theme is Women Taking the Lead To Save Our Planet.
  
2009 Honorees 
 
Herstory: Celebrating Women in History
Did you know that at least 500 women suited up as men and fought in drag in the Civil War? There were many motivations: money, freedom, love-but were they also motivated by cross-gender identity or lesbian identity? Read more...
 
Historians argue that only two cases of these women involved outright lesbianism. The writers of They Fought Like Demons argue that lesbians would not have been inclined to dress as men and fight -surrounding themselves with men. However gender identity and expression and its intersection with sexual orientation is only recently being  investigated. However, one of the freedoms offered to female bodied people-who did not identify with female gender expression could have easily made their way to the ranks in order to find freedom; and many did. The fact that their orientation would still have been toward women, is not shocking and not lesbianism per se.
 
The cultural context of the late 1800's was hostile to independent women and pathologized them as neurotic. At this time, Freud was proposing that women who were independent were "insane and most likely lesbians"  or wanted to be men (Blanton, p. 202.). Women who served were either revered as heroes or demonized as loose or manly. Their stories were not well represented. This book brings their lives to light and gives us a thread to past expressions of gender non-conformity; no matter what the motivation or label.
 
They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by De Anne Blanton  
Buy Now at AMAZON
Greetings!                            
Welcome to the March 2009 issue of REFLECTIONS, from the office of Lisa Maurel, MFT.  
 
 
tree-2"We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever." 
-Susan B. Anthony, Declaration of Rights for Women, July 1876 
The Lessons of Lawrence King
 
As the first anniversary of the brutal killing of Lawrence King has come and gone, I'm thinking more about the kids that are still with us. Just like Lawrence, these kids are suffering in silence. Lawrence King was the 8th grader, from Oxnard, CA, who was murdered in cold blood by a classmate one year ago. After a long period of escalated episodes of teasing, harassment and Larry's demonstration of his gender variant behavior and same sex crush, he was killed. Brandon McInerney, who is to stand trial for his murder is being charged  as an adult for murder, and a hate crime. For many reasons, the system failed both these kids. What was missing? What do we need to ensure in our own communities, to apply the lessons of this tragedy? 
 
Address Sexual Harrassment and Bullying: Zero Tolerance in Schools
 
This is perhaps the most misunderstood piece of the Lawrence King murder. According to Newsweek, Larry liked to openly flirt with the boys in his school and "watch them squirm". He suggested that he'd had a relationship with Brandon, the accused, and threatened to reveal it.  Some anti-gay advocates might use this as justification for the violence that Lawrence suffered. Violence should always be condemned.
 
barbed wireIn the culture of teen boys- asserting masculinity often includes putting down gays, or gay bashing as a way of asserting heterosexuality. Clearly, Lawrence's behavior was both shocking to his male peers, as well as a threat to their adolescent understanding of heterosexuality and their fear of homosexuality. He was an easy target for bullying and harassment himself.
 
Whether it is heterosexual or same sex in nature, sexual harassment policies must be clearly outlined to students and consistently acted upon. The California Education Code clearly mandates this protection from harassement on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, or perceived gender or sexual orientation. But harassment policies, even inclusive ones, are not enough. The emerging sexuality of kids can be complex and frightening for adults. But kids need guidance-and our educational system needs to be more inclusive in order to promote diversity and understanding which enhances safety for all our kids.
   
Educate Kids about LGBT Issues at the Middle School Level
 
Becoming a sexual being is a lot like the process learning to drive a powerful car.  You start out  being a passenger in the car, oblivious to how the magic works and the dangers involved. But eventually, you take the wheel.  That process is littered with learning curves, mistakes and sometimes, real collisions. For that reason, we don't expect or want kids jumping into the front seat at 16. We start by teaching them the "rules of the road". We explain what they need to know to stay safe. And we eventually give them the freedom to take the car out on their own.
 
Most of our sex education training in schools presumes heterosexism and ignores sexual minorities altogether. Teaching kids safe sex, pregnancy prevention (not just abstinence) and giving them crisis resources related to pregnancy, rape, and STD's is like teaching them the rules of the road. It gives them a sense of the world. But these issues usually assume/presume heterosexual relationships and heterosexual sex. They presume and assume traditional gender constructs. And LGBTQ kids are lost in that gap.
 
Kids need information about LGBT identities (not sex), at the middle school level. The age of coming out has dropped from 16 to 13.5. And many kids are aware of their sexuality or at least questioning, long before they come out to their parents or peers. And the gap in their education about this issue is a real problem-not just for LGBTQ kids, but straight kids too.
 
 
Educate Ourselves and Our Kids About Homophobia and Discrimination
 
The societal rejection, harassment and violence  that  gender non-conforming people experience,  is often rooted in homophobia. Homophobia is the fear and dread of gay people. Heterosexism is the belief that heterosexual relationships are normal and good while gay relationships are perverted or pathological. These two biases are at the root of most of the fear, prejudice and violence against LGBTQ people. And because they are cultural assumptions-they are never stated-they are assumed. Which makes them even more dangerous.
 
If the map that we give our kids includes education about the realities of gay and lesbian and trans identities-this infomation can make them better citizens and better people. Learning to be tolerant of differences regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender expression is part of their civic education and is neccesarry to counteract the cultural forces of homophobia and heterosexism. Good information can also help  them feel less threatened by the sexuality  of another person. Diversity education can also help kids who come from families with sexual minorities feel supported, and LGBTQ kids will feel safer, and less afraid and less prone to the risks mentioned above.
 
Stop the Silence 
 
So what is being taught to our kids when policies of protection are not enforced? When bullying is ignored? When parents and teachers and adults in their lives lack the language to talk about the realities of these issues for fear that they will "make a child gay" or "be promoting a homosexual agenda".
 
The tacit message in silence in the face of bullying and harassment is, approval. The unspoken message in the lack of gay and lesbian examples in school curriculum is : that doesn't exist or we don't talk about those things. The lesson that kids learn at home or school, when homophobic remarks are allowed, laughed out and not challenged is: I agree with that. The message of the murder and violence against LGBTQ people is: be silent, or we will kill you.
 
Teaching kids about tolerance, diversity and the continuim of gender and sexual orientation is a matter of showing them the map. It gives them information. It is not a means to "recruit" kids. You cannot make someone gay, just like you cannot make someone straight, who is gay. But each person, each child, deserves the dignity to be represented on the map.
 rainbow road
Let's give our kids the map and the information they need to address their fears, prejudices and the rampant social pressure they experience as teens. Let's give them inclusive and comprehensive information that helps them become informed and equipped with the resources and experience they need to take the wheel. Let's make it safer for LGBTQ kids to  come out. Let's make it safer for straight kids to be allies. Let's equip them for the road ahead whether its straight or not.
 
 
Resources and Links to Support LGBT Youth
 
Newsweek article: Young, Gay and Murdered 
 
What LGBT Youth Need From You - My companion article for the Genderpath newsletter  
 
The 2007 National School Climate Survey includes stats on LGBT harassment, bullying and at-risk behaviors.
 
Premiered Jan 14: a great documentary about pressure to conform to gender stereotypes and its impact on teens. Consider hosting a viewing to generate discussion about this issue.
 
Orange County PFLAG meets the 1st Wednesday of each month at The First United Methodist Church in Orange, located at 161 S. Orange Street.  Meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. Orientation for newcomers begins at 7:15 p.m.
 
Resources for Youth
 
The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network has an arm right here in OC. They have tool kits for safe zones, and starting Gay Straight Alliances at your school. The GLSEN is also working on TransAction Day and has great resources to help you join a support group or start one at your school.
 
Facts and Stats about LGBTQ Youth: identity, risk,harassment, and bullying. 
 
Advocates for Youth: Resource Page for Youth
 
The Trevor Project: Suicide Prevention:
Or call them at 866-488-7386 
Practice Update/ Classes & Training
 
I recently joined the Board for the Lesbian and Gay Psychological Association. This organization is dedicated to providing  therapists and psychologists with training in LGBT issues. As a member of the board, I am working on advocating for LGBT cultural competency training for therapists and psychologists and social workers as well as developing networking and training opportunities for the professional LGBT community. You can check out the organization at  www.lagpa.com.
 
As a therapist and an educator in the area of Cultural Competency with LGBT folks, I have found that there is a tremendous need schools, churches, service providers, therapists, parents, physicians, and professional organizations, to become equipped to create environments and services that provide safe and relevant services to the LGBT community. LGBT people often seek services from providers who openly indicate through language, information, policies etc. that the environment is LGBT accepting and affirming. LGBT people look for these signs within their churches, their families, their friends, their places of work and business.
 
In order to help families, professionals, schools and service providers become more aware of how they unintentionally convey non-acceptance; and how they can intentionally create accepting and supporting environments, I have numerous classes and trainings. To design a training for your event, or to reserve a speaking date with me-please contact me at lisa@therapy4oclesbians.com .
 
Here are just a few of my titles:
"Therapy with LGBT Family Systems"
"Therapy with Gender Variant Clients"
"LGBT Youth at Risk: How to Help"
"When your Child Comes Out: Positive Parenting of LGBT Youth"
"Just for Dads: Being there for your Child Who is Gay, Lesbian or Gender Variant"
 
In addition, I provide consultation to therapists who are interested in learning about cultural competency in therapy with the LGBT community.
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Until next month...
 
lisa - headshot
Be well and happy,
Lisa
 
 Lisa Maurel, MFT 
"Growth is in your hands" 
 714.390.8189
 
 
 
2009 Lisa Maurel, MFT - All Rights Reserved.