High School GLBT WIN!

High school sucks for a LOT of people. The tiniest, silliest differences can be called out and used as an excuse to ostracize kids and egg on bullies. Being gay or transgender is a seen as a pretty big difference and many GLBT students suffer isolation and harrassment in school.

Most of you are aware of the rash of suicides by GLBT youth that occurred across the country last year; Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota suffered THREE suicides by gay students in 2010. And here’s a heaping of extra salt in the wound: An anti-gay group consisting of anonymous members and calling themselves the Parents Action League sprouted up last July to insist that sexual orientation not be taught as part of sexual education in Anoka-Hennepin High Schools. Although their website currently appears tame, claiming only to support a “focus on core academics” and leaving the teaching of sexual orientation to “individual family homes, churches or community organizations”, the Minnesota Independent reported last August that the website promoted distinctly anti-gay messages:

It wants the district to “respect traditional family values” and to “provide valid resources for students (and their families) struggling with sexual identity and/or same-sex attraction.” It seeks to “ensure that all health curriculum teach healthy sexuality and promote abstinence until marriage.” The group also wants the district to “promote the Day of Truth” each year.

The Day of Truth is an event organized by Exodus International, a group that says it can turn gay people straight through Christian prayer.

Blech. So being gay in the Anoka-Hennepin school district probably sucked extra hard last year.

But 2011 is starting out differently, with a big, gay, FABULOUS win!

Champlin Park High School Snow Days is an annual celebration and it has a royal court – 24 students chosen by the student body become the Snow Days court.  This year both women of a lesbian couple were chosen to represent the senior class, and were excited to walk together during the coronation ceremony.  The school administration was less excited for them and enacted a decision to separate the court members so that they would file in individually with an adult chaperone.  Speedy movement by civil and GLBT rights groups and a lawsuit filed on behalf of the couple led to a change of heart by the school, and this year the tradition of students walking in as couples will continue at the Champlin Park Snow Days celebration.

Congratulations to Desiree Shelton and Sarah Lindstrom on their victory, and thanks to them for standing up for their rights. Kudos also to the students who were interviewed by the Star Tribune who stood up for their classmates.  Students everywhere, take note - Champlin Park High, you’re doin’ it right.

RIP and Thanks for the Superbowl Tickets

A man in Cottage Grove, MN lost his wife last November, but she managed to give him one last Christmas gift: One-third of a $45,000 lotto winning from a pool she had played with two other coworkers.

From the Mpls Star Tribune:

She had never told her husband that in 30 years of working at a grocery store, she and two colleagues always played the lottery. Even after she got sick, Ginny kept contributing money.

Paul says one of the friends called him around Christmas, telling him he’d won a third of a $45,000 jackpot.

Awwww…bittersweet, right?  I did have to chuckle when I read about Mr. McCauly’s plans for the money:

He says if Ginny were still alive they would have used the money to see their beloved Packers in the Super Bowl.

Suuuuuure, dude. Well hey, who’s going to argue with him?  Have fun, Mr. McCauly, and I hope the Packers take it!

~

Also, I heard a funny joke that’s probably old as dirt to sports fans, but I’d never heard it before. Ready?

What do you call 60 guys sitting around watching the SuperBowl on TV?

Answer: The Bears

Bah da dum!

Full disclosure: I was rooting for the Bears.  I’m a Chicago girl at heart.

Breathtaking Pictures of the Protests in Egypt

This collection of over 100 pictures with captions show one face of the on-going civil protests in Egypt are some of the most dramatic I’ve found so far.  Consider: If you are one of my US readers, 12-24 hours away from where you are sitting reading this people are warring in the streets.

Borrowed from TotallyCoolPix – these compressed, low-res pictures do not do the originals justice.  Click to enlarge, or better yet, visit the website to view the full set with captions.

Taking Maternity Leave Doesn’t Make You Worthless

I haven’t had a Dinkus of the Day in a while, but somehow I always find more.

Okla. official questions hiring pregnant woman

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A member of Oklahoma’s Board of Education drew heated reaction Thursday after saying a newly hired administrator would be “worthless” as a legislative liaison if she took immediate maternity leave.

Shortly after the board voted to hire Jessica Russell, who is due to give birth in April, former state Sen. Herb Rozell noted that she was pregnant and questioned whether she would be around for key days of the upcoming legislative session.

Russell was hired to represent the state Department of Education’s interests at the Capitol. The Oklahoma Legislature reconvenes Feb. 7 and must end its business by May 27.

“If she has that baby in April and takes off six weeks, she’s worthless to us,” Rozell said.

While there was some laughter in the room, state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi rebuked Rozell and ordered a 10-minute recess. Russell left the room in tears.

“Your comment is inappropriate and not worthy of this board and this department,” Barresi said.

After the meeting, Rozell said his words came out wrong.

“I didn’t mean to interfere. I was just hoping we could have her in April and May, because that’s when everything gets tied up,” he said.

Gov. Mary Fallin called Rozell’s remark “demeaning” and “disgusting,” while Sen. Clark Jolley and Sen. John Ford called for Rozell to resign. Jolley said Rozell’s comment was “archaic, misogynistic and deplorable.”

Rozell didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment about calls for his resignation.

Oklahoma has about 660,000 students in its public education system.

I’ve never had to take maternity leave, but I’ve worked with women who have. I’ve spoken with a few of them and asked if they ever had to worry about this kind of reaction. What sucks is that all of them expressed having some level of anxiety about notifying their boss that they were pregnant and would be taking leave, even at places that have track records of treating women and families with respect when it comes to maternity and paternity leave. Sen. Roznell’s attitude is why – women still don’t know if they’re going to run into this Dinkus in the workplace. Even if the boss gives you a perfectly PC response and congratulates you, is her or she really thinking “Great…now what am I going to do? How can she get pregnant now when I need her here? Should I put off promoting her if she’s planning to have a lot of kids?”

As if being pregnant isn’t challenging enough. 

Found on twitter via @miriamzperez

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