Urgent need to discuss Sex & sexuality nationally part 2

In part one on sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch I looked at the fiasco that was the Home and family life education manual and the uproar over one page of a volumous curriculum designed among other things to address sex and sexuality education in schools. Noting that all most of us older persons have been taught reproductive education i.e sperms and eggs make babies, puberty and the pubic hair bit and boys having wet dreams while girls see their periods and even that under the guise of “guidance counseling” had a hard time in getting to the openness where it is now given the sanitization that has occurred over and over again.

Many schools have been run and founded by churches with teachers of a certain ilk so the fear of teaching the “real things” is evident over time, in fact the very paranoia now over this curriculum and the screaming from sections of the public is a reflection of the lack of understanding SEX & SEXUALITY.

also hear my latest audio post/podcast:

Now comes this rubbish in my view of two persons being made scape goats for the Minister of Education’s ineptitude in leading the change that is required in the system to revolutionize the levels of understanding of SEX & SEXUALITY.

Have a read of the article in the Gleaner published on October 28 2012, what is the fear and who has an agenda? obviously the minister is conflicted and is pandering to the religious right also being a man of the cloth himself, what about separation of church and state?

Of course the goodly JFLAG is missing in all this discourse, so much for limpwristedness.

Two In Hot Water Over Sex Text

thwaites-file-640x425

 

Education minister claims personal agenda led to controversial sections in school book

Edmund Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

DISCIPLINARY ACTION is now hanging over the head of a public servant who Education Minister Ronald Thwaites claims had an “agenda” in crafting the controversial sex-education text which was recently withdrawn from high schools.

At least 1,368 copies of the 6,000 health and family life education (HFLE) text, deemed by some to be very offensive, were pulled by the ministry after national uproar over the material that was intended for students between grades seven and nine.

One person who allegedly authored “inappropriate” elements of text has parted company with the education ministry.

But that is not the end of the matter.

“It appears that there were two persons, at least, involved in the process who had a particular agenda in respect of this particular subset of the curriculum and they were able to embed it in the curriculum, and there was not sufficient review to extirpate it before publication,” Thwaites said last week in response to questions posed by Opposition spokesperson on education Marisa Dalrymple Philibert.

“As far as those who, investigation so far determined, played an untoward part in the writing of this (HFLE), one such person is no longer in the service of the ministry and the other person will be subject to the appropriate disciplinary action that the public service provides,” the education minister told fellow legislators.

Intense debate played out on the airwaves and in letters to newspaper editors, in September, about a section of the text which posed questions on sexual behaviour and commentary on heterosexuality and homosexuality.

Angry parents at the time demanded to know who approved the text, despite its withdrawal.

Responding to similar concerns from Dalrymple Philibert, who is the member of parliament for South Trelawny and the Opposition spokesperson on education, Thwaites said an investigation conducted by his ministry revealed that the curriculum was introduced into schools when it was given to teachers who were trained to use it in August 2011.

formal process bypassed

He said copies were distributed to schools before they were withdrawn.

Thwaites made it clear that the formal process of the ministry to approve curriculum was bypassed.

He said then Chief Education Officer Grace McLean did not know of the inappropriate curriculum.

“No Minister of Education of whatever political stripe would have knowingly allowed material as obnoxious as that contained in the HFLE curriculum to have been published,” Thwaites declared.

He also informed the House that the ministry had issued warnings when similar material found its way into the schools in the past.

“It was a clear intention of some who have very laudable views in other respects, but also have very clear predispositions regarding sexual conduct and how children are to be introduced to (it) who got away on this one.

“The important thing now is that we make it quite clear to this Parliament, to those who serve as administrators and public officials and to the nation as a whole, that the primary responsibility for introducing young children to sexual knowledge and responsibility lies with the parents,” the education minister stressed.

Setting the record straight in relation to the ministry’s position on sex and family life education, Thwaites added: “The principles that must be at all times respected is that the Ministry of Education promotes sexually responsible behaviour in the context of faithful union between a man and woman while offering respect and compassion to those who adopt a different lifestyle.”

ENDS

In continuing …………………..

Also see: New sex education manual in two months and Defending Family Life Curriculum

The public uproar over the health and family life education (HFLE) curriculum has done a grave disservice to a programme that addresses many of the social ills plaguing Jamaican youth. As an HIV and health educator, this is quite disconcerting to me.

The HFLE curriculum is not a textbook to be used by students, but a curriculum guide for use by teachers. The activities and resources which have been the media’s focus are not mandatory. Teachers have the power to choose which parts to use as they make their lesson plans.

Denigrating the curriculum as a ‘gay book’ or ‘sex text’ misses the fact that it is a holistic life skills programme, covering self and interpersonal relationships; sexuality and sexual health; appropriate eating and fitness, and managing the environment.

Within each theme, the life skills are broken down into major subcategories of social, cognitive and coping life skills, including decision making; problem solving; effective communication; empathy; coping with stress; coping with emotions; healthy self-management and conflict resolution.

BEHAVIOURAL MODIFICATION

Teaching life skills in this way has been shown to delay the onset of drug use; prevent high-risk sexual behaviour; facilitate anger management and conflict resolution; improve academic performance and promote positive social adjustment. In fact, the curriculum already includes behaviour-modification strategies to deal with anger management, which the minister of education now proposes to introduce in schools.

The specific sections which have been highlighted by the media have also been taken out of context. The personal risk assessment that asks questions about sexual behaviour is for private use by students to help them calculate their personal risk. The information is not returned to the teacher. The purpose of the exercise is to build the students’ critical thinking, decision making and healthy self-management and refusal skills.

The guided imagery activity which asks students to imagine they are the only heterosexuals in a world of homosexuals is not intended to ‘make students homosexual’ but to build empathy and self-awareness skills. It is meant to address intolerance and its consequences, including bullying and abuse of students because of sexual orientation.

UNDERSTANDABLE DISCOMFORT

The public’s discomfort with some of these matters is understandable. However, we cannot ignore the reality our children face and refuse to give them tools to handle their sexuality and sexual health.

The reality is that young people are sexually active, but they do not understand their HIV risk. The mean age of sexual initiation in Jamaica is 14 years old (12 for boys, 15 for girls). Seven per cent of all reported AIDS cases in Jamaica have been adolescents and young adults between 15 and 24.

The Knowledge Attitudes Perception Behaviour (KAPB) study of 2008 indicated there was a 100 per cent increase in the rate of sexually transmitted infections among adolescent girls from 2004. Transactional sex and casual sex are also common among adolescent among males and females.

The same KAPB study indicated that males in the 15-24 age group reported having an average of six sexual partners, and females of the same age group, three sexual partners. Additionally, behavioural studies indicate that one in every three gay men was HIV-positive, and a significant number of this cohort was between the ages of 15 and 24. However, only 38 per cent of young adults between 15 and 24 per cent can correctly identify the modes of preventing HIV transmission.

Since the procurement rules have been breached as it were are we to throw out the baby with the bathwater? the Observer also carried a story on the issue: They had a gay agenda

The Process for Approval of Curricula

a) The policy directorate grants approval for the development/revision of a curriculum in response to societal needs and/or new policy direction.

b) The draft curriculum is developed by the process owner along with selected technical experts internally and externally of the Ministry of Education through consultation with stakeholders (civic groups, teachers, principals, students, parents, and others).

c) The curriculum is piloted for feedback and adjustments

d) The first draft of the curriculum is submitted to the Core Curriculum Unit for review.

e) The Core Curriculum Unit reviews the curriculum and makes recommendation for approval of the final draft document to the Chief Education Officer through the Deputy Chief Education Officer, Curriculum and Support Services.

f) The Deputy Chief Education Officer, Curriculum and Support Services recommends the approval of the final draft curriculum to the Chief Education Officer.

g) The Chief Education Officer with support from the technical team representing the process owners presents the final draft document to the Executive Management Meeting, chaired by the Permanent Secretary and the Senior Policy Making Group, chaired by the Honourable Minister of Education.

h) The Minister of Education gives final approval of the draft curriculum and the policy unit documents the approval.

i) The process owners with the responsibility for the draft curriculum receives approval from the Chief Education Officer to implement the new curriculum in schools.

j) The process is documented every step of the way, the record is kept on an official file for future reference.

Meanwhile the

Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS) is among a number of faith-based organisations that have expressed grave concern over the controversial Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) curriculum, and has called for a full disclosure of the source of its contents.

The group along with the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals, Faith Temple Gospel Assembly, the Issachar Foundation, Christian Brethren Assemblies, Jamaica Lawyers Christian Fellowship, Christian Life Fellowship, Bethany Fellowship, Swallowfield Chapel, and Mona Heights Chapel have expressed their displeasure with the curriculum. READ MORE HERE

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Atty-at-law Gordon Robinson on Why Gay ‘Rights’? (Gleaner)

By Gordon Robinson

Gordon Robinson

I’m repeatedly asked why I so vociferously support gay rights, especially in the face of Jamaica’s deep-rooted fear of homosexuality (homophobia).

We’re all products of our experiences. One of my best friends at secondary school was homosexual. Naïve as I was then, it was two years before I even suspected his sexuality. He was always, shall we say, ‘different’. For example, he seemed obsessed with his penis, which he said he measured every night and reported any lengthening at school next morning. He enjoyed teaching us penis trivia. His favourite factoid was that the penis has no muscles. That last bit earned him his nickname of ‘Musclecock’ (‘Muscle C’, or just plain ‘Muscle’ for short).

Muscle C, though average in traditional academics, was brilliant. He was extremely creative and an excellent young actor. He became president of the Drama Society. I was vice-president. We adapted an Alfred Hitchcock (no relation) short story into a play in which he played the lead (a professor who’d murdered his wife) and I played a largely inaudible police detective. He was a huge success. I was eminently forgettable. He became editor of the school magazine and produced the bestCampionite to that point, which can still stand against anything currently published. Again, I was his deputy. When he left after fifth form, I succeeded him in both posts.

SHOCKER

One Sunday, while in fifth form, he invited me to spend the day at his home. This was standard among school friends. My mother dropped me off that morning. That his parents, successful members of Jamaica’s upper crust, weren’t at home didn’t ring any immediate bells. He was a very dramatic chap who liked to feign sophistication, so when he made strawberry daiquiris as aperitifs, still nary a ding-dong entered my head.

Then he served lunch, including a pte de foie gras appetiser. Still, nothing dropped. Finally, when he invited me into his bedroom to see hisPlayboy collection, bright lights went on. Chuck Berry would have seen them earlier:

My ding-a-ling, my ding-a-ling,

Won’t you play with my ding-a-ling.

I called my mother and bolted from there like a bat out of hell.

Looking back, I’m not proud of my subsequent behaviour at school as I distanced myself from him. At the time, I knew no other way to react.

So, we drifted apart, and he left Jamaica to study Egyptology (kiss me neck!) at the exotic University of Cairo. He wrote me some brilliantly humorous letters, and I may have replied once but, by then, I’d moved on. I heard he’d returned home and was having trouble with his parents, who couldn’t understand him. They thought ‘gay’ was a disease and committed him to St Joseph’s mental ward. I visited him once. It was depressing to see my old friend so lost, confused, sedated and alone.

Sometime later, I heard he’d committed suicide. He was 20 years old.

Dramatic to the end, he poured gasolene on himself; lit himself afire; and ran into the street screaming, “I want to die,” with his father running behind him holding a glass of water. Or so I heard.

TICKET TO ASYLUM

When my parents first separated, my mother rented a room (called ‘boarding’ then) in a married couple’s (‘Freddy and Dolly’) home. She was friendly with Dolly. Freddy was a brilliant, creative producer/director in the early days of JBC TV. They’d appeared happily married for years until, one day, Dolly came home unexpectedly and caught Freddy in flagrante delicto with his boyfriend. She went directly to the asylum; didn’t pass ‘go’; didn’t collect $200.

These two very human situations indelibly etched themselves on my psyche. After years of introspection, I came to realise a few truths. If only Muscle’s parents were more accepting; if only we, including me, had been more respectful of his ‘being’ instead of constantly mocking him for ‘being different’, maybe he’d be alive today and Jamaican theatre much the better. If only society had allowed Freddy to ‘be’ without stigma, maybe he wouldn’t have felt the need to trick Dolly into a fake marriage. Maybe if society allowed him to marry his boyfriend, Dolly would’ve found Mr Right, and there’d be two happy couples instead of none.

Instead of spreading unreasoned fear by blaming dread diseases on promiscuous gays, perhaps we should consider creating a safe environment for gays to leave the closet and openly enter long-term, committed relationships, thereby reducing the promiscuity level. Maybe gays’ ‘promiscuity’ is inversely proportional to society’s tolerance.

Peace and love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com. Also check out this 2008 article by him so he has been consistent: Point Counter Point Wake Jamaica

Shirley Richards support Uganda “Kill Gays Bill?”

Popular anti-gay activist Shirley Richards decides to appear in a documentary made by a coalition called “Stand for Families Worldwide” which claims it exists to “expose the cultural imperialism pushed by the United Nations and by Western countries—especially the United States—and stop them from pushing a destructive sexual rights agenda on families and children worldwide“.

On their website they claim that criminalising homosexuality is a tool to help to control the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Consider the fact that once a behavior is legalized and destigmatized, whether sexual or otherwise, that behavior is likely to increase, not decrease. Therefore, destigmatizing homosexual sex and prostitution will likely increase these behaviors, and if these high-risk behaviors increase, there will likely be more sexually transmitted infections.

http://www.standforfamiliesworldwide.org/sffww/aids-lies/

We are not sure what proof they have that this works as Jamaica has had a buggery law since the 19th century and Jamaican MSM have one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world at 32%, which is also higher than every other country without a buggery law. Contrary to their uncited facts there is a study published in the Lancet which disproves that logic. It said:

Disparities in the prevalence of HIV infection are greater in African and Caribbean countries that criminalise homosexual activity than in those that do not criminalise such behaviour.

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)60722-3/abstract

Why ruin a good story with facts though?

In the video below Mrs. Shirley Richards and some other selected African orphans speak about what they call ‘cultural imperialism” because their dear anti-sodomy laws are threatened. Despite the fact that these laws were implemented by former European colonial powers and had Christianity forced on their societies they claim that removing laws against homosexuality is “imperialism” and a threat to their religious and cultural values as a way to lure viewers into feeling sorry for religious extremists and those with pro-criminalisation agendas.

Watch documentary: https://vimeo.com/49435981

49435981

In the video she claims that the US embassy in Pakistan holding a “gay party” for “local homosexuals” was “insensitive” and a “total disregard for the culture of a people”.

Lets look at how the Pakistani culture that Shirley defends is sensitive towards homosexuals. Under Pakistani Sharia laws, which were introduced in 1990, homosexual acts can draw punishments of whipping, imprisonment or even death.(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14010106).

Mrs. Shirley Richards doesn’t realise also that she would be stoned to death in Pakistan for converting someone to Christianity as this would violate the country’s apostacy laws(http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=9218). This is what is involved in the “culture of a people”. She claims that human behaviours cannot be a human right which means the right to engage in Christian practices is not a human right. According to Shirley’s logic, she would support her own execution.

Shirley Richards claims that anal sex must be illegal because it is “unnatural”. How many things can you spot in her portrait that would land her in prison if we were to outlaw everything considered “unnatural”?

Towards the end of the video an Ugandan woman defends the anti-gay laws and policies of Uganda by claiming that seeing people dying from AIDS gave them the duty to put the “right policies in place” because homosexuality erodes the very fabric of their society.

The Jamaica Observer gives a report of the “right policies” Uganda intends to put in place:

The Ugandan parliamentarian who first introduced an anti-gay bill that carried the death penalty for some homosexual acts reintroduced the bill yesterday, raising concerns among rights activists who have been fighting the legislation.

Homosexuality, already illegal under Uganda’s penal code, is highly stigmatised in Uganda. Opinion polls frequently show the bill’s wide support among Ugandans. Lawmakers other than Bahati have sometimes spoken passionately about the need for such a law, and none have condemned it.

Anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage [in] acts of homosexuality” would face seven years in prison. Landlords who rent rooms or homes to gays also could get seven years.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Uganda-s-anti-gay-bill-reintroduced-in-parliament_10727280#ixzz29OwuZrZ0

Shirley Richards claims that opposing laws against homosexuality is “deception” and “a total disregard for the culture of a people”.

Is she tacitly supporting the policies to execute homosexuals in Uganda?

Rev Clinton Chisholm accused of pushing “bad science” in regards to ex-gay therapy

as posted on Anti Gay Fact Check a new gay blogger on the scene and I am happy that the tool was rejected by some in LGBT advocacy has now become the very way to speak out on issues, the young blogger has been doing his homework thus leaving me time to see other points of view and focus on other areas.

AGFC wrote:

Rev. Dr. Clinton Chisholm who is a lecturer at the Jamaica Theological Seminary quotes some studies to denounce the “ex-gay” therapy ban in California for minors in an effort to sound smart.

As usual, we at AGFC are ahead of the game and we know when the anti-gay movement/”ex-gay” mythologists not only tell lies but have no clue what they themselves are even talking about.

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

We debunked his article entitled “That Puzzling California Law” below which you can read here: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20121009/cleisure/cleisure3.html

1)

The ostensibly progressive and rights-protecting California law banning all reparative (‘conversion’) therapy for minors is very puzzling and raises some very awkward questions.

What is it about homosexual orientation or behaviour (if unwanted) that makes it so uniquely resistant to psychotherapeutic behaviour-modification interventions? I say uniquely resistant because such clinical interventions are utilised for a whole range of unwanted behaviours, including alcoholism, sexual/gender identity issues, anxiety disorders (phobias), unlawful sexual urges, etc.

What then is the real motivator behind the rights veneer of the California law?

We should also factor in religious interventions. Bottom line: Is there any unwanted behaviour for which clinical behaviour-modification or spiritual intervention is ruled out, a priori, and why?

Now first of all Mr. Chisholm needs to understand three things. He needs to understand that homosexuality is not a behaviour but a sexual attraction to the same sex. He also needs to understand that reparative/conversion therapy is not modifying same-sex behaviour but same-sex attractions. He also needs to understand that homosexuality is not listed as a mental disorder by any mental health organisation. Can homosexuality be compared to alcoholism, phobias and anxiety disorders which are all classified as psycho-pathologies? What is so unique about homosexual orientation that Rev. Chisholm would want to force a child to “change it”? Do you change a child’s sexual orientation to please religiously motivated political groups or do you help them to overcome the social pressures which cause them to not be pleased with their sexual orientation?

Why does Mr. Chisholm believe that the Californian law is giving anyone rights? In fact, the law is there to protect the well being of children. Now, the American Psychological Association(APA) in 2009 produced a 130 page report on the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts(SOCE) after reviewing 83 studies done from from 1960-2007. In it they said:

We found that there was some evidence to indicate that individuals experienced harm from SOCE. Early studies documented iatrogenic effects of aversive forms of SOCE. These negative side effects included loss of sexual feeling, depression, suicidality, and anxiety. High drop rates characterized early aversive treatment studies and may be an indicator that research participants experienced these treatments as harmful“.

See here: http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf

Another study done by Schroeder & Shidlo in 2001 on 202 so called “ex-gays” found that many of them experienced harm from the “therapy”. The study’s summary said:

We found evidence that many consumers of failed sexual orientation therapies experienced them as harmful. Areas of perceived psychological harm included depression, suicidality, and self-esteem. In the case of aversive conditioning and covert sensitization, harm included intrusive flashback-like negative imagery that was associated with serious long-term sexual dysfunction. Areas of perceived social harm included impairment in intimate and nonintimate relationships. Some religious participants also reported experiencing spiritual harm as a result of religious therapy.”

See study here: Schroeder & Shidlo’s study

Is this not reason to protect children from so-called therapies which are harmful? Read our post about an experience of a child who went through this “therapy”(http://antigayfactcheck.org/2012/07/15/forced-ex-gay-therapy-led-child-to-his-death/). The results were disastrous.

Is “ex-gay” the same as heterosexual?

2)

What then should one make of the implications of two articles in the American Journal of Psychiatry, namely, ‘The Masters and Johnson Treatment Program for Dissatisfied Homosexual Men’, American Journal of Psychiatry, 141 (1984), 173-81 and E. Mansell Pattison and Myrna Loy Pattison, ‘Ex-Gays: Religiously Mediated Change in Homosexuals’, American Journal of Psychiatry, 137 (1980), 12?

The Masters & Johnson treatment programme reports conversion success rate at 65 per cent after a five-year follow-up.

As usual the religious right loves to quote studies that other politically motivated “family” groups give to them but never bother reading or researching on these studies themselves.

The study done by Masters and Johnson entitled “The Masters and Johnson Treatment Program for Dissatisfied Homosexual Men” proves this well as Mr. Chisholm doesn’t even realise that one of the authors, Virginia Johnson, admitted in 2009 that the results were fabricated. Fabricated results masquerading as truth? Is this some deception campaign of the anti-gay movement? The famous science magazine, Scientific American, did a report on this. It said:

Prior to the book’s publication, doubts arose about the validity of their case studies. Most staffers never met any of the conversion cases during the study period of 1968 through 1977, according to research I’ve done for my new book Masters of Sex . Clinic staffer Lynn Strenkofsky, who organized patient schedules during this period, says she never dealt with any conversion cases. Marshall and Peggy Shearer, perhaps the clinic’s most experienced therapy team in the early 1970s, says they never treated homosexuals and heard virtually nothing about conversion therapy.

Eventually Kolodny approached Virginia Johnson privately to express his alarm. She, too, held similar suspicions about Masters’ conversion theory, though publicly she supported him. The prospect of public embarrassment, of being exposed as a fraud, greatly upset Johnson, a self-educated therapist who didn’t have a college degree and depended largely on her husband’s medical expertise.

With Johnson’s approval, Kolodny spoke to their publisher about a delay, but it came too late in the process. “That was a bad book,” Johnson recalled decades later. Johnson said she favored a rewriting and revision of the whole book “to fit within the existing [medical] literature,” and feared that Bill simply didn’t know what he was talking about. At worst, she said, “Bill was being creative in those days” in the compiling of the “gay conversion” case studies.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=homosexuality-cure-masters-johnson

This is the third time we have heard about this Masters and Johnson study. The more they quote it is the easier our job gets.

As for the study “Ex-Gays: Religiously Mediated Change in Homosexuals“, well we have a real interesting story to tell about this one. In 1978, two outside psychiatrists, were allowed to interview members of Exodus International, the worlds largest “ex-gay” organisation which recently distanced itself from reparative therapy. Of the ministry’s 300 members at the time, 30 were selected by the ministry staff as having changed from exclusively homosexual to exclusively heterosexual in orientation. The researchers interviewed the 30 and determined that only 11 had really been largely “cured” of their homosexual orientation because they had remained celibate. However, 8 of the 11 continued to have a homosexual or bisexual orientation because they still reported homosexual dreams, fantasies and/or impulses. Therefore only 3 out of 300 members who underwent this “therapy” reported changing to heterosexual. This would mean that the therapy has a 1% success rate if we were to believe the 3 men. No follow-up study was done and the subjects were taken from a political organisation which probably skewed the results. The study has obvious methodological flaws.

The Pattison study included a table describing their interview findings with the 11 subjects (from page 1555, see below). Bussee was subject number two and Cooper was number one.

However something happened in 1979 to two of the participants. Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper left the organisation, divorced their wives and ended up marrying each other. These two leaving as failures prove that the study was very flawed. In fact, Michael Bussee today criticised the study and even the organisation he helped to found, Exodus International.

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/sexandgender/5374/participant_discredits_the_original_ex-gay_study/

Do we want to put children through a therapy known to cause harm which according to a flawed study only resulted in 1% success?

3)

In the cutting-edge book Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation by Stanton L. Jones & Mark A. Yarhouse, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2007, the authors found, contrary to the belief of certain clinicians, that change is possible.

Though operating with an upfront Christian commitment, Jones and Yarhouse conceded that they did not find that change is possible for everyone. They write: “The fact that some human beings can break the four-minute-mile barrier establishes that running a four-minute mile is not impossible, but that same fact does not establish that anyone (every human being) can break the four-minute-mile barrier.”

So, then, are the California legislators unaware of the pro-change pieces of literature mentioned above and published in their own country? Behold, I show you a mystery, or perhaps mischief!

The study by Jones and Yarhouse was rejected by the American Psychological Association for methodological flaws. The authors themselves even  said on their website (http://www.exgaystudy.org/ex-gays/responses-to-criticism) in regards to what “conversion” means that: “Most of the individuals who reported that they were heterosexual at Time 3 did not report themselves to be without experience of homosexual arousal, and did not report heterosexual orientation to be unequivocal and uncomplicated.” In other words, the people who claimed they “changed” still experienced homosexual attractions and were thus bisexual. The study did not indicate as to whether or not they were bisexual before the study however. This study was clearly not a study to prove that homosexuals can “change” into heterosexuals but that some subjects experienced attractions to the opposite sex after “therapy”. Without knowing whether or not they were also attracted to the opposite sex before the study is a methodological flaw. The authors single sentence summary says: “In short, the results do not prove that categorical change in sexual orientation is possible for everyone or anyone, but rather that meaningful shifts along a continuum that constitute real changes appear possible for some.

Thoughts on “coming out” as Transgender to family

As coming out day approaches on October 11th here are some suggestions for coming out specifically for transgender issues, these are NOT hard and fast rules but just some tips, the FINAL decision is left up to the individual

Here is a leading transgender expert who shared this is me some time ago and was posted on sister blog GLBTQJA on blogger some time ago.

A. B. Kaplan (Transgender Health)

Before you come out:I think it’s important to start with thinking about the purpose of your communication, and that is just to come out to them, to come out of hiding and let them know who you are and what you’ve been struggling with. I’m making the assumption that you also wish to remain as close as possible to your family, and be accepted and hopefully supported by them in the future.

There’s also the question of if you should come out at all. If you are dependent on your parents/family (under 18, or if they are paying for college, etc…) then you need to think of the very real possibility of their cutting you out or off. The last thing you want to be is a homeless transgendered youth. If this is the case, then it may be wiser to spend some time finding and getting support before proceeding.

If you decide that the time is right and it’s safe to come out to them then…

The Vehicle:

My experience has been with Transgendered clients, that a letter works best. The letter has several advantages over face to face communications.

You get to take your time and think about what to say and word it perfectly.

You can have a friend, therapist or supportive person read it over first and give you feedback.

You can’t be interrupted.

The recipient can go back and read it again and take their time with it.

Why a letter and not an email? Well, it’s more personal, email can be a little cold.

What to say:

I’m of the school of thought that you should just say it in your own words as clearly and plainly as possible. I think it can be good to also include the following:

Reassurance that you love them and want to remain connected and hope that they will be supportive.

Reassurance that this is not their “fault”.

A little bit about your struggle with gender over the years, your experience, coping, isolation, etc… (be specific! It will help them empathize with you)

A few recommendations of books, articles or support groups in their area

and I recommend to ask them specifically not to respond right away, but to take some time (a week) before they respond. Let them sit with it. This will weed out any immediate bad response and let them cool down.

Just as you would tailor a cover letter for a job you may need to tailor your coming out letter for different family members. Your parents are two (or maybe more than two) separate people, invite them to respond individually.

What not to say:

No need to talk about specific long term plans/timetables or surgeries in your coming-out letter. Remember, the purpose of the letter is to let your family know that you are transgendered. Period. Future plans are better left for future communications. Why? Because just digesting the fact that one has a trans son/daughter/brother/sister is enough to begin with. Remember, you’ve had a lot of time to think about this and are ready to move ahead. They are just learning of this for the first time and need to absorb it. I think its ok to gently allude to the fact that changes might be coming in the future, but I wouldn’t go father than that in your first communication on this topic.

There is no need to go into the etiology of transsexualism here. There are too many conflicting theories biological and otherwise, and even if you knew the origin of your being transgendered, it wouldn’t change it.

Afterwards:

If you get a positive response that’s great! Otherwise stay calm, even if you get a negative first response. Give them time.

Don’t be reactive to a negative response. Be the adult (or if you don’t feel it, just pretend). Remember the long term goal is to have them be connected to you and supportive. Keep the long term goal in mind in all your communications with them.

It does happen sometimes that parents have a very negative response and even reject you outright. This can be very hurtful and disappointing. When this happens, again, don’t be reactive no matter how you feel. Keep the long term goal in mind. It’s easy to “write them off”, but ultimately unsatisfying if you want to have your family.

A few things to do with a negative reaction:

Communicate that you are open and ready to talk when they are,

Be empathic with their difficulty in accepting/understanding/assimilating this information. Understand that they need time and may have a religious/cultural basis of understanding that can’t be overcome quickly.

Express your wish and hope that it will change over time.

Ask what you can do to help them accept this?

Other Approaches:

You know your family best, so keep that in mind when crafting your coming out communication.

Here are some other perspectives on how to come out to your family:

coming out, hormone, surgery, and other letters

http://www.videojug.com/interview/how-to-come-out-to-your-family-and-friends-as-transgender video ‘How To Come Out To Your Family And Friends As Transgender’

http://www.hrc.org/issues/3455.htm

Article ‘Coming Out to Family as Transgender’ from The Human Rights Campaign

http://www.tsroadmap.com/family/index.html

Transsexual Road Map – Family issues

 

The Safe House Project background from the conceptualizer …………………

In recent times we have seen all kinds of stuff happening with the homeless men both older and newer generations and the referred to Safe House Pilot Project in some of my posts and podcasts, here the former Executive Director of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life at the time when it was conceptualized has penned a post from her new blog on the issue where she explains in some detail how and why the project came to be.

some background since August of this year as carried on CVM TV

some Abbreviations

JASL – Jamaica AIDS Support for Life

JFLAG – Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays

AMFAR – The American Foundation for AIDS Research

Here is the post from The Queens Yellow Brick Road

The pilot homeless shelter housed at apt 3, 4 Upper Musgrave Road (I wish I remember the dates, I am getting old will ask the gay community historian Howie Fiehdior, to back me up on the details of time etc) was expected to continue for 6 months, and funded by various donors, AMFAR, MOH, TIDES. I did not receive specific funding for the homeless shelter but rather looked at the existing funding we had in house and how I could use the funding and activities there in to support the pilot. No one would fund a shelter as there was no precedence, this was the first of its kind and there was no evidence that it would survive.

The dates as she asked for were the ultimatum issued to the Safe House residents on December 30, 2009 and the closure on February 6, 2010 or thereabout, See more

The Quietus ……… The Safe House Project Closes

The Ultimatum on December 30, 2009

What was the thought and motivation behind doing the pilot:

The fact is, due to the high levels of homophobia in Jamaica, homelessness is almost always an eventuality for gay youth from as early as 11 years old. The situation affects both lesbians and gay men, however, due to the heavy resistance to homosexuality among men, they usually face the immediate physical issues and most visibly, ending up on the street. For the forgotten voice of Lesbians, homophobia is no less real, rather as always women suffer in silence, with homophobia being experienced in the form of rapes, forced relationship arrangements and in situations of homelessness, they usually end up at a female friends house or a male friends’ with whom they would usually have to engage in sex.
For me, there can really be no effective work aimed at truly finding the solutions to the core vulnerabilities both to HIV and LGBT issues, until we went right to the nucleus of it, and the nucleus is homelessness.

Process:

I spent a lot of time understanding the community, my working hours went straight up into midnight, at detriment of both my relationship and health, however to serve a community, you have to understand them and their issues. Homeless and sex working MSM would come by JASL and nights and we would just talk randomly, about their childhood, experiences on the street, many a times I was exposed to information that had me cringe, but I knew I could not do that openly and if I did, I would have to be quick to explain that I am in shock, so as to prevent them from feeling uncomfortable about sharing.

3 focus group sessions were convened with the guys, transcribed by another JASL staff member with the objective of collecting info about their experiences on their family life prior to being homeless; their experiences on the street; where they would like to see themselves in the future; what kind of solution they think would be best. The homeless guys were used to get participants to the programme, and they did this willingly. We offered shower and clothing and sometimes food.
Miraculously, the landlord at Upper Musgrave had a vacancy, a 3 bedroom space that is now JFLAG’s office, I spoke to her about the pilot programme and she was willing to rent it for $40,000 per month. AMFARs project had money for grants to gay people to support rental for 1st month, I decided to use that money to support the rental for the project for the 6 months. Giving a gay man who became homeless the first month’s rent is a real waste of time and unsustainable joke use of resources, usually, they are unemployed and can’t afford to pay rent; they lie through their teeth to get the funds; the reasons for them being homeless was not investigated.
At the time I was going ahead with the plan, I heard no vocal oppositions, now I look back at it, everyone went quiet, perhaps because i was so enthused about it, I never appropriately interpreted this quiet lack of active involvement in the process. I started on a rampage begging and partnership seeking: Food for the poor and Red Cross from beds and food; Ministry of Health for counseling services and medical care; and the community for every thing and buy-in.

The end product was a project officially and initially housing I believe 12 persons including one woman, who was picked up off the street by a concerned citizen with very advanced case of AIDS and at the point of dying. I remember her with a huge smile on my face, as although I know the policy was not to house people at the office, I hid Candy at JASL and within 3 days of interacting with people, eating, smiling and being hugged despite her sores, one could hardly believe she was the same person, almost dead, that was brought in just days ago. Our tenancy began, we had mattresses to put on the floors and beds, a doctor was in place, and they were all screened. I want to make it clear that HIV + status was not a requirement for entry to the programme but over 90% of the participants to the programme were HIV + and with some with more than one opportunistic infection, their health situation was traumatic for both the doctor and I, almost all were put on ARV and other treatment immediately, and with of course as much privacy as we could manage, with the nurse keeping and administering the medication. Many were at different stages of denial, as well as displaying mental and psychological issues, our counselors were Sharlene Jarrett from the National Programme and the late and amazing Howard Daley. Mrs. Jarrett was employed to the National HIV Programme as Monitoring and Evaluation specialist but also did counseling, she agreed to do it free of charge. Howard Daley was one of the brave 5 that started JASL in the first place and it was an honour to meet someone like him, his fees were supported by AMFAR, and he conducted the group counseling sessions.

Remedial classes were supported through the Global Fund project, and provided tutoring in Spanish, Mathematics, English and Computing, all delivered by LGBT teachers. I included Spanish as learning a second language would also expose them to another culture, many had only dreamt of cultures outside of Jamaica, and learning Spanish was one other attempt to distract them from Jamaican culture and plant hope-seeds that situations can be different.

They all had strong interests in performing arts and an LGBT dancer was also brought in to do tutoring under another dream project of mine, I was hoping to develop and demonstrate using the Pilot Project was Phoenix Rise, a LGBT performing arts and behaviour change programme. Of course there were behavioural issues, arguments and verbal fights, the behaviour change process had just begun, giving someone food, clothing and shelter does not immediately convert them to angels, when they have had to develop demons to address the harshness of their realities. Respectful dialogue was the method I used to address issues, they are used to the language of aggression, they have no respect for life or anything, speaking aggressively to them would only cause an even bigger flair up in an effort to protect themselves, and it worked each time, there was a rules list and sanctions for repeat offenders. Other gay men who had experienced homelessness, rallied around the project, providing support such as food, aiding in quelling issues, not sure how but if there were any issues, they were first on scene.
Let me be clear, whilst the shelter was the first attempt at providing/testing a structured solution to homelessness, the community has itself been dealing with its own homelessness issues on smaller scales. There were interesting family models created that I did not see anywhere else in my research on homelessness, Gareth, Macy, Spencer and a whole lot others were already housing and caring for gay men. This is the model that ultimately I was working on providing a justification for supporting. In behaviour change and social development, we cannot avoid looking at the natural solutions that are developing in response to our problems, these must be understood and supported with structure and technical help. The gay mommys and daddys needed parental training, support group sessions, and a small financial contribution to support them in being the solution they already were to homelessness. This model would solve a few issues, not least of which is the cost and unsustainability of providing a one shelter for homelessness: the families already existed and had food, clothing, bedding etc set up to support the homeless. Providing a place for board, showers and sleep is not what this community needs to solve homelessness and the desperation of it, what is needed is a re-entry into a FAMILY, who cared about who they are and what they do, who held them accountable and who loved them.
When I was asked to pull the programme before its maturity period, I was devastated and heart broken. I resigned from my post as Executive Director, knowing the core vulnerabilities of our work, I could not continue ignoring and working like I didn’t see them, it would be labouring in vain, attending meetings in luxurious hotels, traveling to exotic places and coming home to cut my eyes at the core nucleus of HIV and LGBT issues, I personally could not live with myself. I had to take a very long break, having suffered a nervous breakdown, being suicidal and having been diagnosed with severe depression, I was mentally unstable for about 2 years after the experience as I learnt the hard way, that not everything is always as it seems.