Former Miss LGBT World on being Transgender in Jamaica

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The following is a post done earlier this year with Miss LGBT World 2009 and dancehall queen winner Tiana Miller who granted an interview. Also see other posts for the week:

Transgender Awareness Week 2013

Transgender Awareness Week 2013: Internalized Transphobia

Tiana Miller. (Photos courtesy of Tiana Miller)

Last week, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, 16-year-old Dwayne Jones was shot and stabbed multiple times for turning up to a party in women’s clothing. Jones was reportedly transgender and the murder has once again highlighted the awful reality of life for Jamaica’s LGBT community. And it really is fucking awful.

In 2006, TIME magazine called Jamaica “the most homophobic place on Earth,” and the anti-gay sentiment prevalent in the country’s media and most popular musical genre, dancehall, has been well-documented. The Jamaica Gleaner, one of the country’s largest newspapers, regularly publishes stories about the gay community with a homophobic slant. Last month, it referred to a group of men who were evicted from an abandoned house as a “gay clan” and ran an op-ed (in the year 2013) that rubbished the idea of being born gay, saying people who are attracted to the same sex actively decide to do so, in much the same way that they decide to “eat snails (like the French)” or “like the taste of jackfruit.”

In the wake of Jones’ death, I got in touch with Tiana Miller, a transgender Jamaican, who hopes that her openness about her gender and sexuality will inspire others to display similar levels of bravery.

VICE: Hi Tiana. So, back to the start—at what age did you first realize that you were transgender?
Tiana Miller: It was at around age five when I first started thinking like a female. Then I gradually came to the realization that I felt more comfortable in a female skin. It was difficult. Because of the social norms of my country, I really felt as if I was doing something wrong.

Were your family and friends supportive?
Yes, they were, especially my dad.

That’s good. What about Jamaican society as a whole? Do you agree with the description of the country as, “the most homophobic place on Earth”?
Yes, I do. The challenges that we face are difficulties in surviving, as they relate to jobs, education, and housing. High school was OK for me because I hadn’t transformed yet, but it’s hard now education-wise because I would love to get a college degree, but can’t because they won’t allow me in college.

That’s awful. I’d imagine gay people in Jamaica are quite economically disadvantaged if they are unable to get a decent education or find work.
Yes, they are forced to be poor. The lucky ones are those who find rich partners and dedicate their lives to them.

There have been a few high-profile cases of police brutality towards gay people in Jamaica. Do you feel that the police give transgender people the protection they deserve?
No, they definitely don’t. Homeless transgenders are on the street, and the police—who should be their protectors—have literally run them down and chased them because of their lifestyle.

Is homelessness a common problem for transgender people?
Yes, and they are homeless because they have difficulties in sourcing income to rent houses or locate safe houses to live in.

Have you been physically attacked due to your gender?
Yes, I have been attacked before. I ran, so I didn’t suffer much harm. But naturally this had a traumatising effect on me.

So I take it there are a lot of areas that are out of bounds for gay and transgender people.
Naturally there are. This applies to anywhere where there are slums.

Some of the homophobic attacks over there have been horrific. I remember hearing about a gay rights activist who was killed before people celebrated over his body. Doesn’t stuff like that make you fear for your safety?
Yes, it does. I put myself out there, but I’m still aware of how vicious these homophobic homosapiens are.

Are there many people who dare to be open about their sexuality?
The gay and transgender communities aren’t united, as people fear for their lives, so not many people actually identify themselves with the communities.

So do you consider yourself brave for being so open about your gender and sexuality?
Yes, I am brave. If I wish to see a change, I myself have to inspire it. I had to put myself out there and make myself seen so that people know that transgenders do exist and see that we are normal people trying to live our everyday lives like human beings. We need people like myself who are willing to challenge this country and its government.

The media often hold dancehall culture responsible for the homophobia in Jamaica—what’s your view on that?
I think the main contribution comes from the church and their social ethics concerning what is right and wrong. It puzzles me how cruel human beings can be and how biased they are because the church claims that we are demons and bashes us instead of trying to counsel us.

Yeah, it seems a little illogical.
I know, right? But, like, seriously—I care zero.

So I take it there isn’t much of an LGBT nightlife scene where you are? 
Well, there was, but there’s nothing now—just regular venues that they rent to us.

Do you think Jamaica will ever get round to changing its anti-sodomy laws and modernizing its stance on homosexuality?
Well, it actually seems to be on the verge of doing this.

Because gay culture is growing or because of pressure from other countries?
Both. But time will tell, and I don’t wish to make predictions.

Where do you see yourself in that battle?
I see myself as being the first transgender to be an ambassador for the country. I want to advocate for human rights, be a feminist choreographer and also be a whole lot of other things.

Great. Thanks, Tiana.

Putting LGBT on Caribbean Sexual Violence Agenda

The exclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) persons in the discussion and planning to address sexual violence, was brought into focus by United and Strong as the organization added its voice to a regional workshop staged in Saint Lucia by the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA).

The Caribbean Regional Gender Workshop on Sexual Violence in the Caribbean, Status and Needs Including in Humanitarian Situations, saw thirty-four government and NGO representatives from twelve countries attending. The three-day workshop reviewed a strategy, initiated by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to reduce gender-based sexual violence and provide a framework for action and guidance in regional and in-country gender-related activities.

The three-day workshop heard country and NGO reports that detailed actions by national institutions and civil society organizations to address and prevent gender-based violence. Among the presentations however only Belize, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago included LGBT persons in national plans to combat sexual violence.

“I believe it is important to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons in programs dealing with gender-based and sexual violence” states Edma Pierre, who represented U&S along with Media Consultant Maria Fontenelle. She adds, “The fact that they are also victims is often ignored and they are treated with a lack of sensitivity within the system.”

United and Strong representatives took the opportunity to highlight the risks inherent in not considering LGBT when designing responses to sexual violence, particularly in disaster and humanitarian situations. They stressed that LGBT should be given consideration across the board from the design of training; selection of staff; services provided for at risk persons; how these services are advertised; the structure of facilities, including toilets; the policies that govern safe spaces for victims of abuse and the legal challenges that can affect all of these.

The legal barrier of the Buggery law was stated as one of the chief reasons that reports from Saint Lucia did not mention LGBT in plans to reduce gender-based sexual violence and in-country gender-related activities. The meeting included representatives from PROSAF, the Massade Boys Training Centre, Voluntary Women, Saint Lucia Planned Parenthood Association, Women’s Shelter, Saint Lucia Crisis Centre, Saint Lucia CARIMAN, Gender Relations, CAFRA Saint Lucia, Family Court and Human Services.

Representatives of PROSAF, the Women’s Shelter, Gender Relations, Family Court and Human Services took the opportunity to stress that their doors were open to every victim of sexual violence. However it was recognised that reluctance to openly identify as LGBT due to fears of stigma, and the reluctance on the part of men generally, and gay men in particular, to admit to being sexually violated was a deterrent in acquiring data that would support the need for inclusion of LGBT in national planning.

Funding was also touted as a constraint. “What is being done sometimes is limited by our resources both at the international level and at the national level”, notes UNFPA gender specialist Jewell Quallo Rosberg. She states however that there is determination to tackle the wide-ranging issue of gender-based violence, “by uniting and using all our resources, not just financial but community resources, and focussing on prevention rather than trying to address the problem after it happens.”

By the conclusion of the conference, at least one country rep, Elaine Henry-McQueen of Grenada, undertook to push for the consideration of the needs of LGBT in national policy planning. Saint Lucia based government and civil society representatives also committed to continue to work in partnership going forward. There was general-consensus among regional partners to advocate for greater collaboration between the community and government to address sexual and gender-based violence as highlighted during the workshop.

– END –

U&S’ Edma Pierre (seated – first left) and Maria Fontenelle (standing – far right), with participants at Caribbean Regional Gender Workshop on Sexual Violence in the Caribbean

APA Applauds the Supreme Court Decisions Supporting the Rights of Same-Sex Couples

The American Psychiatric Association applauds two Supreme Court decisions issued today: striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA ); and effectively striking down California’s Proposition 8 which banned same sex marriage.

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APA President Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, noted that, “The APA has a long history of supporting freedom in sexual orientation and the rights of same sex couples. By withholding benefits or marriage rights from same sex couples the government unfairly stigmatizes an important part of the American population.”
Paul Appelbaum, MD, past president of the APA and member of the APA Council on Psychiatry and Law, stated, “APA has been involved as a friend of the court from the inception of litigation over the rights of same-sex couples.

Today’s decisions by the Supreme Court represent a landmark achievement of these efforts. However, litigation is likely to continue on the state level, since a majority of states still do not recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry.”
The court looked at the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. At issue was whether the federal government can deny benefits to legally married same-sex couples that it extends to other legally married couples. The case was brought by Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old woman from New York who was married to Thea Clara Spyer. After Spyer’s death in 2009, Windsor was denied an exemption of federal estate taxes that she would have received if the marriage had been recognized.
In a second case involving a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, the court looked at whether, or in what circumstances, a state can withhold marriage rights from same-sex couples.
APA joined amicus briefs in both cases in support of legal recognition of same sex marriages. Signed by a coalition of the nation’s top healthcare associations including the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and others, the briefs noted that the scientific evidence strongly supports the conclusion that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality; that most gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults do not experience their sexual orientation as a choice; that gay and lesbian people form stable, committed relationships that are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential respects; and that same-sex couples are no less fit than heterosexual parents to raise children and their children are no less psychologically healthy and well-adjusted than children of heterosexual parents.
Over the past several decades, APA has issued a number of position statements on antidiscrimination policies related to the LGBT community. APA’s 2005 position statement on same sex marriage stated that, “APA supports the legal recognition of same-sex marriage with all rights, benefits, and responsibilities conferred by civil marriage, and opposes restrictions to those same rights, benefits, and responsibilities.” Other positions include statements on homosexuality (1992, reaffirmed 2011) and civil rights (1973), adoption and co-parenting by same-sex couples (2002) and same sex unions (2004).
The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses including substance use disorders.

Visit the APA at http://www.psychiatry.org.

XXXTRRRAAA:

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Locally in the meantime Buggery challenge claimant Javed Jaghai gave another interview on CVM TV this time on the magazine program DIRECT hosted by Garfield Burford, prior to his appearance was anti gay activist Shirley Richards and Atheist/Activist Lloyd D’Agular. Javed’s case has been moved to October 4, 2013 as other religious groups have been allowed to join the suit he has filed in the Constitutional court.

also The US Supreme Court DOMA strike down has had many Jamaicans talking and a vox pop was done in Kingston and on Facebook by Nationwide radio as to how persons felt about same sex marriage overall and its possibility in Jamaica

DSM-5 Falls Short on gender dysphoria revision, ICD 11 Update

image from GIRESUK (other images added as a visual aids for non experts on transgender issues understanding)

The following are aspects of the a presentation by a leading transgender and Gender Dysphoria Reform advocate, it is a summary by Kelly Winters Ph. D of recent changes to gender related diagnostic categories in the DSM-5, published last month by the American Psychiatric Association, and proposed changes for the ICD-11, scheduled for publication in 2015 by the World Health Organization.  It is based on proposed revisions to the ICD-11 presented by Drs. Geoffrey Reed, Peggy Cohen-Kettenis and Richard Krueger at the National Transgender Health Summit in Oakland last month and on discussions at the Global Action for Trans* Equality (GATE) Civil Society Expert Working Group in Buenos Aires last April.

There are two primary issues in medical diagnostic policy for trans people. The first is harmful stigma and false stereotyping of mental defectiveness and sexual deviance, that was perpetuated by the former categories of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and Transvestic Fetishism (TF) in the DSM-IV-TR. The second is access to medically necessary hormonal and/or surgical transition care, for those trans and transsexual people who need them. The latter requires some kind of diagnostic coding, but coding that is congruent with medical transition care, not contradictory to it. I have long felt that these two issues must be addressed together –not one at the expense of the other, or to benefit part of the trans community at the expense of harming another.

also see from my sister blogs:  Being Transgender Is No Longer A Mental Disorder ?…………… and Gender Dysphoria Diagnosis to be Moved Out of Sexual Disorders Chapter of DSM-5 ……. The “D” Switcharoo? plus more HERE

The DSM-5 Falls Short, Despite Some Significant Improvements

The new revisions for the Gender Dysphoria diagnosis in the DSM-5 are mostly positive. However they do not go nearly far enough. The change in title from Gender Identity Disorder (intended by its authors to mean “disordered” gender identity) to Gender Dysphoria (from a Greek root for distress) is a significant step forward. It represents a historic shift from  gender identities that differ from birth assignment to distress with gender assignment and associated sex characteristics as the focus of the problem to be treated. This message is reinforced by the August 2012 Public Policy Statement from the American Psychiatric Association, affirming the medical necessity of hormonal and/or surgical transition care. In another positive change, the Gender Dysphoria category has been moved from the Sexual Disorders chapter of the DSM to a new chapter of its own. Non-binary queer-spectrum identities and expression are now acknowledged in the diagnostic criteria, and the APA Working Group has rejected pressure to add an “autogynephilia” specifier to falsely stereotype and sexualize trans women. Children can no longer be falsely diagnosed with this mental disorder label, strictly on the basis of nonconformity to birth assignment.

However, the fundamental problem remains that the need for medical transition treatment is still classed as a mental disorder. In the diagnostic criteria, desire for transition care is itself cast as symptomatic of mental illness, unfortunately reinforcing gender-reparative psychotherapies which suppress expression of this “desire” into the closet. The diagnostic criteria still contradict transition and still describe transition itself as symptomatic of mental illness. The criteria for children retain much of the archaic sexist language of the DSM-IV-TR that psychopathologizes gender nonconformity. Moreover, children who have happily socially transitioned are maligned by misgendering language in the new diagnosis.

More troubling is false-positive diagnosis for those who have happily completed transition. Thus, the GD diagnosis, and its controversial post-transition specifier, continue to contradict the proven efficacy of medical transition treatments.  This contradiction may be used to support gender conversion/reparative psychotherapies– practices described as no longer ethical in the current WPATH Standards of Care.

Finally, the Transvestic Disorder category in the DSM-5 is even more harmful than its predecessor, Transvestic Fetishism. Punitive and scientifically capricious, it only serves to punish nonconformity to assigned birth roles and has no relevance to established definition of mental disorder. The Transvestic Disorder category has been expanded in the DSM-5 to implicate trans men as well as trans women, with a new specifier of “autoandrophilia,” apparently pulled from thin air without supporting research or clinical evidence.

The ICD-11, a Historic New Approach

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The 11th Revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) is scheduled for publication in 2015 by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is a global diagnostic manual that contains chapters for both physical medical conditions and mental conditions. In contrast to the DSM-5, the ICD-11 holds promise for unprecedented forward progress on both issues of social stigma and barriers to medical transition care.  At the National Transgender Health Summit in Oakland last month, members of the ICD-11 Working Group for Sexual Disorders and Sexual Health confirmed proposals for  substantive changes in gender and transition related codings.

The Working Group has proposed a historic shift of transition related categories, now labeled “Gender Incongruence,”  out of the Mental and Behavioural Disorders chapter (called F-Codes) entirely. It is to be placed in a new, non-psychiatric chapter, called “Certain conditions related to sexual health.” The Incongruence title is distinct from DSM-5 dysphoria title, to clarify that this is no longer a mental disorder coding.  They have also proposed to eliminate victimless sexual paraphilia categories from the manual, including: F65.1: Transvestic fetishism. A similar category describing dual gender individuals, F64.1: Dual-role Transvestism, would be deleted as well. These changes have the potential for enormous progress in reducing both stigma and barriers to medical transition care, for those who need it.

When implemented, they would effectively obsolete the new psychopathology categories of Gender Dysphoria and Transvestic Disorder in the DSM-5.

There are also questions and shortcomings in the current  ICD-11 proposals.  While the proposed children’s coding of  Gender Incongruence of Childhood is no longer a mental disorder label,  any pathologizing coding of happy gender nonconforming or socially transitioned children, who are too young to need any medical transition or puberty-blocking treatment, is highly controversial among clinicians, families and community members.  The diagnostic criteria for children, like those in the DSM-5, still emphasize nonconformity to anachronistic gender stereotypes as symptomatic of sickness. The adult and adolescent criteria have copied ambiguous language from the DSM-5 that cast desire for transition, in itself, as pathological. Worse yet, false-positive diagnosis of happy post-transition subjects inadvertently contradicts rather than supports medical transition care.

The ICD-11 Working Group for Sexual Disorders and Sexual Health should be commended for advancing these historic reforms. However, it is important that Group members listen to the remaining concerns of community members and supportive care providers.  Adults and adolescents needing access to medical transition care, or pubescent youth needing puberty blocking medications, require a clearer description of the problem to be treated. Young children, who may only need information, monitoring and support, have very different diagnostic needs and diagnostic risks than adults and adolescents.

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

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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

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.

US study says Gay dads may experience lifestyle shifts that could reduce HIV risk

Gay parents face many of the same challenges as straight parents when it comes to sex and intimacy after having children, according to a new study of gay fathers published in the journal Couple and Family Psychology. The findings suggest that gay male couples who are raising children may experience lifestyle changes that could reduce their HIV risk.

“When gay couples become parents, they become very focused on the kids, they are tired, there is less time for communication and less desire for sex,” said Colleen Hoff, professor of sexuality studies at San Francisco State University. “They go through a lot of the same changes as heterosexual couples who have kids.”

Nationwide, approximately one in five gay male couples is raising children. Hoff and colleagues studied whether becoming a parent causes gay dads to change their lifestyle in ways that protect them from risky sexual behavior, or if the stress of parenting leads to increased health risks such as infidelity and unprotected sex with outside partners. The researchers interviewed 48 gay male couples who are raising children together.

“We found that gay fathers have less time for sex and less emphasis on sexuality, which could mean they are at less risk for HIV,” Hoff said. “Many fathers said they feel a sense of responsibility toward their children which motivates them to avoid risky sexual behavior.”

Many of the couples reported that having children increased their commitment to each other and deepened their relationship. Fathers reported they gained a new admiration for their partner as they observed them parenting.

Couples said they have sex less frequently since becoming parents, but few found this to be problematic. “From the fathers we studied, there was this pragmatic acceptance that this is what happens at this stage of life,” Hoff said.

One surprising finding is that becoming parents did not affect the couples’ sexual agreements — the contracts that many gay male couples make about whether sex with outside partners is allowed.

“There wasn’t the shift that we thought we might find,” Hoff said. “For the most part, those who were monogamous before becoming parents said they stayed with that arrangement. Those who had open relationships before having children reported that they kept to that agreement.”

While some of the lifestyle changes associated with parenthood might reduce HIV risk for gay couples, the study highlighted some changes that could raise problems for couples with open sexual agreements. These couples had fewer opportunities to discuss their sexual agreements with each other, and a few men said that once they became a parent they felt uncomfortable talking to their friends or their doctor about the fact that they are in an open relationship.

“Some men felt that there is this assumption that if you are a gay parent you are monogamous,” Hoff said. “This kind of stigma around gay parents’ sexuality could be a concern if gay fathers are reluctant to talk to their physician about their sexual agreement and get tested for HIV.

The study warns physicians and counselors against making assumptions about gay fathers and stresses the importance of offering them opportunities to discuss their sexual agreements and access to testing services. In particular, the study highlights the need for HIV prevention programs to find alternative ways to reach gay fathers since they spend less time in gay social venues where sexual health messages are typically promoted.

Source: San Francisco State University

The Gay Gene: New Evidence Supports an Old Hypothesis

Daniel Honan

What’s the Big Idea?

If a so-called “gay gene” exists, what is the evolutionary logic for it?

After all, you would expect that homosexuals would have fewer children than heterosexuals, so that any genetic cause of homosexuality would have been selected out of the gene pool a long time ago.

The answer, as you might expect, is a bit complicated (if it’s even the right answer).

A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine has found a link between homosexuality and female fertility. The mothers and maternal aunts of gay men have “increased fecundity compared with corresponding maternal female relatives of heterosexual men,” the authors of the study write.

This study, which the authors note was based on a small sample and “would benefit from a larger replication,” supports the so-called “balancing selection hypothesis.” The gay gene — or genes — are thought to exist on the X chromosome, and “increase the reproductive value” of the female relatives. In other words, it makes the women more attractive to men, allowing them to produce more offspring. So while the ‘gay gene’ may not be passed down directly, it will survive over the course of many generations.

Not only are the maternal relatives of gay men more attractive, more fertile and subject to fewer complications during pregnancy, the study also found these women are extroverts and generally happier. In other words, if you’re the mother of a gay man, you’re pretty awesome.

Can this idea survive scrutiny?

Bryan Sykes, the author of the new book, DNA USA, tackled this subject in a previous work, Adam’s Curse, and more recently in an interview with Big Think.

According to Sykes, “there is some evidence that there is a genetic predisposition to male homosexuality.” And yet, in Sykes’s view, it is highly unlikely there exists “a simple gay gene” that you either have or don’t have. To put it another way, the idea that a simple gay gene exists “as a kind of mutation” is downright ludicrous, according to Sykes.

However, Sykes also points out that there is some evidence that suggests the possibility of a genetic association with homosexuality without the existence of a mutated gene. He tells us:

I think you could explain it by the way that mitochondria–that piece of DNA which I’m full of admiration for because they aren’t interested in men at all–are inherited down the female line. And they have ways, I think, of getting rid of male embryos and making sure that they’re propagated at the expense of males.

One way that mitochondria might do this, Sykes says, is to influence some male fetuses during early development so these fetuses “do not turn into heterosexual males.” This controversial idea, according to Sykes, “would explain how you can have a genetic association without there being a mutant gene.” But why would mitochondria act this way? While it may sound weird, Sykes says this type of activity has been observed in many other animal species. He tells us:

It’s the basis of how beehives work. There are bees working away for the queen bee with no hope of having their own DNA propagated in the next generation. I think there’s a possibility, at least it’s something to argue about, that a similar thing is operating in humans as regards male homosexuality.

What’s the Significance?

If the existence of the ‘gay gene’ is ever proven conclusively, it is unlikely to have much of an impact on the beliefs of some people who reject homosexuality as a “lifestyle.” After all, some of those people simply reject science. Indeed, there are some people who want to bury their heads in the sand, and that is an issue that impacts the field of genetics in general, gay gene or no gay gene.

So what does genetics have to teach the rest of us about who we are? Quite a lot, says Sykes, if we’re in fact willing to find out. The other significant question, of course, is how much is our behavior pre-programmed in our genes and to what extent can we change ourselves and grow after we are born? Sykes has a good answer.

While it’s “perhaps too deterministic” to say that your genes determine everything you do, Sykes says your genes are like a deck of cards. You’re dealt these cards, you’re influenced by these cards, but the rest depends on what you do with them.

Watch the video here:

bigthink on gay gene

Rectal Formulation of Tenofovir Gel Found Safe and Acceptable in Early Phase Clinical Study

Follow-up study planned to further assess gel’s potential as a rectal microbicide to prevent HIV
March 5, 2012 – A gel formulation of the antiretroviral drug tenofovir designed specifically for rectal use was found safe and acceptable, according to a Phase I clinical study led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), and presented today at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI). The results of the study, which included HIV-negative men and women who used the gel rectally once a day for one week, serve as an important step toward the development and testing of arectal microbicide to prevent HIV from anal sex. 
Microbicides, products applied on the inside of the rectum or vagina, are being studied as an approach for preventing or reducing the sexual transmission of HIV. The majority of microbicide research has focused on products to prevent HIV through vaginal sex, yet the risk of becoming infected with HIV from unprotected anal sex may be 20 times greater than unprotected vaginal sex. Developed as a vaginal microbicide, tenofovir gel was reformulated with less glycerin, a common additive found in many gel-like products, in the hopes of making it more appropriate for rectal use. 
The study, known as MTN-007, began in October 2010 and enrolled 65 men and women at three sites – the University of Pittsburgh, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Fenway Health in Boston. It is a follow-up trial to an earlier study, RMP-02/MTN-006, which assessed the rectal use of the vaginal formulation of tenofovir gel. That study found the gel produced a significant antiviral effect when used in the rectum, but gastrointestinal side effects were problematic.
In MTN-007, study participants were randomly assigned to one of four study groups. Three of these groups were assigned to use one of the following products for a one-week period: a rectal formulation of tenofovir gel; a placebo gel containing no active ingredient; or a gel containing the spermicide nonoxynol-9. A fourth group did not use any gel but took part in all of the study-related procedures and tests, including physical and rectal exams.
Study results indicated no significant differences in side effects among the three gel groups. Eighty percent of participants reported only minor side effects related to the use of study products, while 18 percent reported moderate side effects. (Two study participants reported severe adverse events, but they were not deemed to be related to use of the study products.) Participants’ adherence to the use of their assigned study products was high, with 94 percent using the products daily as directed. When asked about the likelihood that they would use the gel in the future, 87 percent of the participants who used the rectal formulation of tenofovir gel indicated they would likely use the gel again, compared to 93 percent of the placebo gel group, and 63 percent of the nonoxynol-9 gel group. In addition to assessing safety and acceptability, researchers also conducted preliminary gene expression testing, and noted changes in the activation of some genes in the tenofovir gel group, which they are continuing to evaluate to understand more fully.
“These findings tell us that the ‘rectal-friendly’ version of tenofovir gel was much better tolerated than the vaginal formulation of the gel when used in the rectum,” said Ian McGowan, M.D., Ph.D., co-principal investigator of the MTN and professor of medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “We are very encouraged that the rectal gel was quite safe, and that most people who used it said they would be willing to use it in the future.”
As follow-up to MTN-007, researchers are now planning a Phase II, multi-site trial called MTN-017that will involve186 men who have sex with men and transgender women at clinical sites in Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and the U.S. Participants will cycle through three study regimens: rectal tenofovir gel used daily, rectal tenofovir gel used before and after anal sex, and daily use of the antiretroviral tablet Truvada®. MTN-017 will allow researchers to collect additional information about the gel’s safety and acceptability in the rectum, and compare it to the use of Truvada.                                         
In addition to Dr. McGowan, other authors of MTN-007 are Craig Hoesley, M.D., University of Alabama; Ross Cranston, M.D., University of Pittsburgh; Philip Andrew, FHI 360; Laura Janocko, Ph.D., MTN and Magee-Womens Research Institute; James Dai, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Alex Carballo-Dieguez, Ph.D., Columbia University; Ratiya Kunjara Na Ayudhya, BSMT, MTN; Jeanna Piper, M.D., Division of AIDS, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Ken Mayer, M.D., Fenway Health.
MTN-007 is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Division of AIDS (DAIDS) and the National Institute of Mental Health, both components of the NIH. Tenofovir gel was developed by Gilead Sciences, Inc., of Foster City, Calif., which assigned the rights for tenofovir gel to CONRAD, of Arlington, Va ., and the International Partnership for Microbicides of Silver Spring, Md., in December 2006. 
The reduced glycerin formulation of tenofovir gel that was evaluated in MTN-007 is not the same formulation developed for vaginal use. The vaginal formulation of tenofovir gel was found safe and effective in reducing the risk of HIV in women who used it before and after vaginal sex in a study called CAPRISA 004. More recently, however, MTN researchers conducting the VOICE Studyclosed the tenofovir gel arm of the trial after a routine review of study data determined that the gel, while safe, was not effective in preventing HIV among the women in that study group, who were asked to apply it vaginally every day. In the meantime, a Phase III trial called FACTS 001 is currently evaluating the vaginal formulation of tenofovir gel using the same regimen as CAPRISA 004, with results expected in 2014. 

The Dance of Difference, The New Frontier of Sexual Orientation part II

In part one we looked at the book below on sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch where a preview of the first chapter can be seen via Kindle, also see the Smile Jamaica interview HERE – See the TVJ interview HEREAuthor Shirley Anderson-Fletcher, is a consultant with more than 30 years’ experience as an applied behavioural scientist, organisation systems analyst, executive coach and group facilitator.

Shirley Anderson Fletcher continued her promotional tour of sorts of her book The Dance of Difference where it was launched in Kingston Jamaica at Bookophilia   Thursday November 17.  She pushed the need for heterosexuals to rethink their stance on homosexuals and the associated stereotypes while speaking to Profile host Ian Boyne on Sunday November 20, 2011. Among other things she commented many of the points already outlined by advocates and independent LGBT voices over these many years.

I have been concerned about the oppression of racism and sexism for most of my adult life. However, I turned a blind eye to the oppression of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals until my fourteen-year-old son confronted me. I was forty-one years old at the time. He had overheard his dad and me laughing at a so-called ‘gay joke.’ He looked us in the eye and asked, “Would you really be laughing if there was someone gay in this room? Do you really think this is funny?” He looked at us long and hard before striding out of the room. I was mortified.

That was twenty-nine years ago. We made a commitment then to monitor our own prejudices and biases regarding gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. We’ve been intentional about building our awareness. And the reality is we still have a long way to go.


Shirley then employs a model called “Dialogue with Difference” for exploring this prejudice by presenting a transcript of a discussion about sexual orientation with a gay African American colleague, the Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington. That transcript comprises the middle section of the book, and it is revealing in many ways. This particular technique is based on the societal construct of dominance and subordination, but it turns that relationship on its head by permitting the subordinated group member in the dialogue to have the opportunity and authority to decide the focus of the discussion.

I was skeptical about this type of presentation but found myself drawn into the discussion and learning a lot about the issue and, like Shirley, my own preconceptions and prejudices.

This is the first of a series of books on prejudice by Shirley, collectively entitled The Dance of Difference. If you want a break from traditional fluffy summer beach reading, it is well worth your time.

Publication Date: April 15, 2011
It is rare for heterosexuals to acknowledge, much less write about, their own homophobia. This black grandmother who grew up in the homophobic culture of Jamaica in the 40’s and 50’s offers a moving look into the challenges faced daily by people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) because of the learned biases, attitudes and behavior of heterosexuals. The author, a behavioral scientist, who migrated to the United States 30 years ago, shares examples from her early life experiences as well as examples from her long career as an organizational consultant in the United States and Europe. The centerpiece of the book is a spontaneous dialogue between the author and a gay pastor about the realities of life for members of the gay community.

On the matter of rights to gays such as marriage she commented that she does not see a reason why homosexuals shouldn’t have them just as heterosexuals. She asked “Would Christ be hostile towards a group of people created by the father?” when pressed on the Leviticusal arguments presented by mainly religious personalities, she continued that “…the Bible has been used to justify slavery, it has been used to justify racism and it has been used to justify the oppression of women so in a way I’m not surprised that the Bible is now being used to justify the oppression of people who are gay lesbian etc…….. I am also aware of the fact that Christ never said a word about homosexuality” 

” ……. I can certainly understand this can be a challenging issue for people who are religious for people who are Christian and I would just say I want to encourage my Christian brothers and sisters to go back to the teachings of Christ and ask yourself, Would Christ be hostile towards a group of people created by the father?”

She continued “There is no evidence that I can name that would um you know that would describe homosexuality as a lifestyle, I believe homosexuals are by nature who they are in the same way that heterosexuals are by nature, they didn’t make that choice, a moment for me, right, a lightbulb moment, a lightbulb went off in my head when I thought did I choose my sexual orientation? and I know I never did any such thing all of a sudden at about age 12/13 the same boys who I thought were horrible all of a sudden were looking very very cute there was no choice it just was my evolution and I believe that gays and lesbians evolve in similar ways.”

In an interview with the Gleaner’s Flair, Anderson-Fletcher pointed out that growing up in Jamaica, she learnt to be homophobic at an early age, something that most Jamaicans learn from their elders and parents. In contrast, Jamaicans are always described as the most loving set of people on the earth, and as told through music, Jamaica is synonymous with love, an irony, considering we are also one of the most homophobic people on the planet.

She hopes that after reading the book, parents will be able to use it to look at themselves and the negative behaviours they have learnt and taught. “It is a useful resource that organisations and others can use in the development of programmes geared at avoiding discrimination against gays at the workplace and elsewhere,” the author said. She noted that it can also be used by psychologists and psychiatrists with their patients who are grappling with the issue.

Discrimination against the lesbian and gay community is everywhere, particularly because homophobic people do not stop to ponder why someone would deliberately choose a lifestyle that sees them being constantly vilified, hated, stigmatised and shunned as outcasts.

Her wishes

Anderson-Fletcher would like Jamaicans to read the book and if they are interested in changing their behaviour, to look at themselves and the subtle ways in which they learnt to be homophobic, understanding that they were not born with prejudices. They should also reflect on those prejudices in relation to race and gender. Finally, look at what happens to the gay community in society, take the bold step to talk to them, find out what their life is about, who are they beyond the sexual orientation?

The author is happy with Jamaica’s progress to date, she is pleased that the organisation Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays is now affirming itself and speaking out about prejudice. “Unless the subordinated group rises up against its opponent, nothing will happen, it’s like the American civil rights movement, nothing was achieved until the brave stood up and said ‘no more’,” she noted. She further said she was fully aware of what it takes to live in a society that sees your behaviour as sinful and deviant, but if you are not speaking out, you are willingly giving up your freedom. “The question gays need to ask is: ‘am I going to hide or be self-actualised and speak out for justice and human rights?’

http://danceofdifference.com/index.html

She said she remains passionate about her work because she finds it gratifying. she hopes that Jamaicans will move out of their comfort zone and begin to accept all minority groups in the society.

her sister said:

“Anderson Fletcher’s voice is authentic as it is courageous. Her decades of work as an Applied Behavioral Scientist specializing in Diversity – facilitates the process whereby the reader experiences the trauma of homophobia and the way it seeps into our Being and impacts our world. More importantly, because of the methodology of the book, she shares powerfully not only her own experience with us, but invites us to share ours through reflection and enquiry. The methodology of the book is critical for discussing not only sexual orientation but is applicable to any area of discrimination. Anderson Fletcher points out all are inextricably linked.”

– Beverley Anderson Manley, Broadcaster, Political Scientist, former First Lady of Jamaica

Here is a piece of the audio from the Profile Interview as at post time the video was not uploaded to the Television Jamaica (TVJ) site:

 Shirley Fletcher’s Dance of Difference on Profile 20.11.11

Peace and tolerance

H