UK Doctors Recognize the Importance of LGBTQ Education

If you were anything like me in school, you probably found sex-ed pointless because the teachers taught penis-in-vagina sex exclusively. I tuned out for most of the class because that kind of sex interests me none and I felt that LGBTQ people were being ignored. I was most assuredly not the only person to think this, as doctors in the UK released their responses to a change in the sex-ed curriculum and said that LGBTQ inclusive sex education should be an integral part of learning, according to Gay Times.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, or RCPCH released their answers for questions 11-25 which concerned sex education in schools. Questions 1-10 were about the person taking the consultation and were thus not included. The pediatricians agreed that the sex-ed curriculum was age appropriate but not sufficient enough and suggested some changes.

Question 11 is in reference to primary school sex education. It reads:

"Do you agree that the content of Relationships Education as set out in paragraphs 50-57 of the guidance will provide primary school pupils with sufficient knowledge to help them have 
positive relationships?"

To which the doctors responded with that they disagree and listed five bullet points explaining their position. Most notably, their final bullet saying

"There needs to be a clear statement that LGBT people and relationships are part of teaching about healthy relationships in primary school. This can be demonstrated in relation to families – but also it is helpful to children to learn the meaning of terms such as lesbian, gay and bisexual."

I've always felt that it is important to be taught about the existence of LGBTQ people at an early age so as to normalize it so children and adults will less likely to have prejudices. In addition, being taught about LGBTQ identities can help a child who may be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender that they are just as normal as heterosexual children. 

The other bullet points pertaining to question 11 include the doctors saying that they believe it is important that children are taught that their body is their own and nobody has the right to touch them unless they give consent, the emotional changes they should expect during puberty, and what constitutes abuse and how to report it. Consent is so important and for some reason so many people can't grasp the concept of it so teaching it at an early age can definitely be beneficial. 

The pediatricians also said that schools should focus on relationship education in relation to emotional wellbeing, starting with a whole school approach with teachers leading by example by displaying a positive relationship with parents, students, and coworkers, as they believe that fostering a healthy relationship with other people is incredibly important to one's mental health.

This is especially significant in that mental health is often ignored as LGBTQ people are approximately three times more likely to experience mental health problems than straight people due to prejudice and homophobia. Including mental health education with LGBTQ education may help people become more comfortable with themselves which can lead to a decrease in instances of anxiety and depression.

This report shows that people are definitely willing to include LGBTQ education in school curricula and that is a great sign. I worked for pediatricians for over seven years and they all agreed that LGBTQ identities were valid and should be normalized, so hopefully other American doctors facilitate change in regard to sex-ed in the United States, as it is seriously lacking in substance in some places.

h/t: Gay Times, National Alliance on Mental Illness

From Its Beginnings As An AIDS Fundraiser To College Events & More, Drag Bingo Continues To Entertain And Help.

Bingo, a drag no more?

You might have always thought bingo was just one big drag – cheesy callers listlessly running through the numbers in front of equally bored middle aged moms or as an activity to keep the elderly residents quiet in retirement homes.

But that’s because you may not have experienced the full glory that is Drag Bingo. After all, if The Simpsons has already embraced cross-dressing, why not the bingo hall which, for all its fustiness and old-fashioned vibe, has always had a camp air to the proceedings and is surely ripe for the full RuPaul treatment.

But even if you already know about the idea of Drag Bingo, it could well be that you think it’s a relatively new phenomenon, but you’d be wrong. In fact, it’s proof that Seattle deserves to be famous for a whole lot more than giving the world Starbucks, the Space Needle, and making a major contribution to US rainfall levels.

That’s because, way back in the early ‘90s, when AIDS charities were really getting their act into gear, the Director of Development for the Chicken Soup Brigade, Judy Werle, had the bright idea of identifying places where people spent money freely in the theory that it would be easy to direct it some of it their way. The combination of the enthusiastic players – yes, really –and a format that looked ripe for a gay reinvention made it the obvious choice for her, at least.

For the first ever event, she enlisted the services of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a crazy combination of nuns on the run and an over the top cabaret act. From the start, there was a huge gay following with standing room only in the hall, but as word spread, straight audiences started to show up too and more and more events were planned.

The huge success of Gay Bingo, as it was then called, also started to attract the interest of other AIDS charities and film director Glenn Holsten. He was so moved by the story of one family who’d come along to celebrate the life of their son who had died of AIDS that he was driven to make a documentary film called ‘Gay Bingo’ which generated even more interest in the game.

Before long, Gay Bingo also started to appear in cities across the US, including Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles and, naturally, New York. It even found its way into states where you maybe wouldn’t expect to find so much support for something as left field as gay bingo including Utah, Alaska, Idaho, and Wyoming.

Once the momentum really gathered speed, it was transformed into Drag Bingo and spread out to bars, clubs and even restaurants looking for an alternative way to drum up custom on quieter nights of the week. It reached a real pinnacle of fame in Season 2 of Sex and the City when Carrie and the gang found that it had taken over their favorite bar on a Saturday night.



At around the same time, Drag Bingo’s popularity started to spread around the world as this whistle stop tour only goes to show.


Halifax, Canada

Up in the chilly expanses of Halifax, one of the hottest nights out is the drag bingo event held twice a year, once in March and then again as part of the annual Pride celebrations. Since it began in 2012, it’s raised over $64,000 to support local good causes and it’s even attracted some of the sequinned legends of Ru Paul’s Drag Race to take part.

Royal Oak, Missouri

Although originally intended to raise money for AIDS-support charities, over the years Drag Bingo has been adopted by a pretty random range of causes including an Autism group in Royal Oak, Missouri. Over nine record-breaking years, the annual event has gained a real reputation for being a comic highlight which is just as big a hit with the straight community as it is with the LBGTQ one.

Northamptonshire, England

Shambala is a festival that takes place over four days in August at a mystery estate in the heart of the green and lush Northamptonshire countryside. Its scope is wide ranging from music to drama and from environmental activism to a forum for new ideas. As part of the festival’s drive for inclusivity, Drag Bingo was a brand new introduction in 2018. But at this event it wasn’t just the callers who were expected dress up in their fines, players were too – and they did, in the hundreds.

Amsterdam, Holland

Tuesday nights at Amsterdam’s appropriately-named Queen’s Head suddenly took an upturn when they introduced their Drag Bingo nights and succeeded in attracting bigger crowds than ever to one of the city’s longest-established gay bars. The atmosphere is raucous, it’s three deep at the bar, and game tickets are only 5 euros. So you know what to expect.



Paris, France

In France, they even have an organization called the Fédération Française du Bingo Drag Apéro, which holds regular events at the A La Folie nightclub in the center of Paris. It’s just part of a whole stylish night of cabaret and burlesque – what else could you expect from a Parisian nigh-spot? But it still manages to retain the fun of the drag bingo experience. In a word, it’s magnifique!

Colleges like NYU have jumped onto the drag bingo craze by using Drag Bingo to welcome students to campus.

Think Bingo is a drag? Well... it is. Join Season 6 winner of RuPaul's Drag Race, Bianca del Rio for a night filled with laughter, lip-syncing and luck. There's no other way to play this friendly game than with the Queen of Mean herself. Students came ready to SLAY the competition!



But even though the drag bingo phenomenon is now worldwide, there are plenty of reasons to suppose that it’s still got a long way to go. For example while it’s largely still confined to gay clubs and bars, it’s certainly the sort of shot in the arm that traditional bingo halls might need to bring back the players that have been deserting them for years. After all, over in the UK they have already started to reinvent themselves by attracting the hipster crowd so why not become big gay venues too?

If they also incorporated the money raising for good causes element this would add an extra dimension to the evenings and surely draw in an even bigger crowd eager to indulge in fun, frolics – and even to win a little cash in the process.

So it’s eyes down and watch your cards!



h/t: hourdetroit.comhillheadbookclub.co.uk, https://caata.net

Ukrainian Activists Assaulted During March

About forty people took part in a demonstration in Kiev that sought to bring to light the struggles of transgender people in Ukraine, wielding signs that said "Transphobia must be stopped" and "If you stay silent, they will come after you too." Unfortunately, this demonstration had to be shut down due to violence from far-right protesters, according to Radio Free Europe

During this demonstration, protesters, who were members of far-right groups such as Tradition and Order, Right Sector, and Religious National Front,  lit and threw smoke bombs into the crowd of activists. In addition to throwing the smoke bombs, the protesters also pepper-sprayed two women who were given first aid at the scene. Michael Colborne, a Canadian journalist, attempted to cover the event but was also assaulted; the protesters punched him in the face and suffered a swollen lip and lacerations from his broken glasses. 

The police were present at the scene but did not attempt to remove the protesters. Instead, they shoved the activists through turnstiles in a metro station while yelling slurs at them. The police blocked the metro station to avoid more conflict between the activists and protesters. 

This attack is a clear example of how LGBTQ are still not seen as equal in many parts of the world. However, we must not give up hope that people will always think like this. There have been many successes regarding LGBTQ rights and as long as people continue to fight for what is right, positive change can be achieved. 



h/t: Radio Free Europe

Guyana Removes Anti-LGBTQ Laws

A Guyanese law that punished people for dressing as the opposite was recently overturned, as the court believed that the law does not belong in modern times, according to Pink News.

The decision came about after the law was challenged by four transgender women who were arrested in 2009. They were punished for cross-dressing in public, fined approximately $100 each, and told by a judge to "go to church and gives their lives to Jesus." The court sided with the women and said that the law treated transgender and gender non-conforming people unfairly based on their gender identity and expression. It also found that what the judge said to the women was inappropriate. The court ruled that the law was created during a "different time and no longer served any legitimate purpose in Guyana" and that it was "unconstitutionally vague, violated the appellants’ right to protection of the law and was contrary to the rule of law.”

The judge in this case, Justice Adrian Dudley Saunders, said that society changes and, because of that, the constitution should be read in whole and that courts should be mindful of using the constitution in a way that is not intended, such as using it to justify discrimination against certain people.

Out of the twelve countries in South America, Guyana is the only one in which homosexuality is still as they follow laws under a colonial-era penal code. In Guyana, men who have sex with other men could technically serve life in prison under the penal code. However, many Guyanese people question how valid such laws still are in the modern era and LGBTQ activists are fighting for homosexuality to be decriminalized. By striking down the anti-trans law, the Guyanese government is showing that they are open to supporting LGBTQ rights, which may lead to the decriminalization of homosexuality. 

h/t: Pink News

House Conservatives Are Not Happy With LGBTQ Protections in the North American Trade Pact

The new United State-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, has yet to be signed but may contain protections for LGBTQ workers, but many conservative members of the House of Representatives are upset about that and are urging Donald Trump to rescind such protections, according to Politico.

The provisions, a Canadian creation, would require there to be policies in place to protect workers from discrimination based on one's sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, as well as requiring countries to promote workplace equality with regard to gender identity and sexual orientation. This language has never been seen in any trade agreement before, causing a rift between democratic and conservative members of the House of Representatives. 

Conservatives believe that by implementing this new policy would undo other administration policies and it would make it impossible to dismantle certain executive actions put into place under the Obama administration that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against someone on the basis of their sexual orientation. In addition to the executive orders, the Justice Department under Obama said that "sex" includes sexual orientation and gender identity, making it illegal to discriminate against someone for being on the LGBTQ spectrum, but when Jeff Sessions became the Attorney General, this decision was reversed, reverting back to 1964 when it was perfectly legal to victimize LGBTQ people. So, yes technically this new policy does go against the Trump administration but it is a good thing.

A letter that was written by over forty lawmakers to Donald Trump includes their concerns with the policy, saying “It is especially inappropriate and insulting to our sovereignty to needlessly submit to social policies which the United States Congress has so far explicitly refused to accept.” It also mentions the Department of Health and Human services reverting back to changing the definition of "sex" to one's anatomical genitalia. This is very telling of how some conservatives and the Congress view LGBTQ people.

However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a group with a Democratic majority, still operates under Obama's policy that outlaws discrimination based on one's sexual orientation and gender identity, so there is still hope that LGBTQ protections won't be completely eradicated.

Illinois Prison Workers Will Have Training on Transgender Issues

Prison is a place that most people would like to avoid but some do end up incarcerated. The prison experience is especially difficult for transgender inmates as they are frequently placed in prisons that correspond to their biological sex rather than gender identity. However, thanks to the results of a recent lawsuit, Illinois prison workers will now be required to be trained on transgender issues, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The lawsuit involved a transgender inmate, Deon "Strawberry" Hampton, who is suing the Illinois Department of Corrections because she feels that she has been mistreated in the multiple men's prisons she has been incarcerated in. She has repeatedly asked to be transferred to a women's prison as she thinks that she would be safer there, but such a request is very infrequently granted.

In the men's prisons she's been in, she said that she was sexually abused multiple times. Some instances of the abuse include a prison guard pulling down her pants and asking her what genitals she has, was forced to have sex with another inmate for the enjoyment of the guards, and was forced to have sex with a member of the prison staff. She and her cellmate were threatened with death if they spoke out against the abuse. She has also been sexually abused by other inmates.

Strawberry has identified as female since the age of five and has been on hormones since 2016 to shrink her muscles and male anatomy to appear more female. Doctors have said that her testosterone levels closely resembles that of a surgically castrated male's. 

By now we have all probably heard about Trump's redefinition of gender, in which one's gender is determined by birth genitalia. In conjunction with the potential redefining, the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era protections for transgender inmates in May, the result being that transgender inmates are assigned to prisons that match their biological sex.

Now that the lawsuits that Strawberry filed have been solved, prison workers in Illinois will be trained in dealing with transgender inmates and the unique issues that transgender people face in general. By having this training, I hope that other states will follow suit and require this for all prisons across the nation, as nobody deserves to be sexually assaulted. 

h/t: Chicago Tribune 

Scotland to Have LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum

By 2021, Scotland will be the world's first country to teach LGBTQ inclusivity and history in all public school nationwide, according to NBC

The LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group sent thirty-three recommendations to put forth a curriculum that will teach students legends about LGBT identities, inclusion and history. On November 8th, the Scottish government approved all thirty-three, effectively implementing the new curriculum. In 2017, a survey revealed that 71% of LGBTQ students experienced bullying in schools due to their sexual orientation and 94% of the respondents said that the bullying affected their academic performance negatively. 

The curriculum will include LGBT terminology and identities as well as address homophobia and prejudice and highlight LGBT achievements in relation to equality. John Swinney, Scotland's Deputy First Minister says that the new curriculum will improve learning for LGBT students and promote understanding and encourage inclusion. 

The Scottish Organization, Time for Inclusive Education has lobbied for this change since 2015. One member, Jordan Daly, laments that he never learned about prominent LGBT figures that changed the course of history, even though he learned about important figures who fought for equality such as Martin Luther King Jr. and the suffragettes. This new curriculum is possible because of the Scottish government's dismantling of Section 28, which prohibited teaching about homosexuality. 

This is a huge victory as far as I'm concerned, as I never learned about important LGBT figures while I was in school and, while this is in Scotland, I am hopeful that one day the American education system will also include LGBT inclusivity.

h/t:  NBC

Alt-Right Video Game Has Player Eliminate Gay and Transgender People

As a perpetual pessimist, I am generally not surprised by how horrible people can be but today I am. According to LGBTQ Nation, there exists a video game in which the main objective is to shoot and kill gay and transgender people in a nightclub, reminiscent of the very real massacre that occurred at Pulse Nightclub in 2016.

Chris Cantwell, an out-and-proud Nazi, is the creator of this game. In the past, he showed the world how fragile he is by breaking down in tears on YouTube after hearing that he had a warrant out for his arrest for inciting violence at a White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA last year. 

The game, titled Angry Goy II, is a revision of an earlier version of the game in which players were tasked with pushing Jewish people into ovens. In this new version, players are asked to target and destroy other minority groups such as gay men and transgender people. The game starts off with breaking into a nightclub named "LGBTQ+ Agenda HQ" where the player is met with gay men meant to look like child predators because of their giant erect penises being out in the open and having signs on the outside of the building that say "Children Welcome."

In a promotional statement for the game, Cantwell refers to gay men as "mongrels" and "degenerates" that should be destroyed by using "guns, knives, pepper spray, and more." He also sent a statement to then-Alt-right platform Gab saying that “All White men should hunt down and mercilessly kill as many trannies, f—-ts, n—–s, k—s, and cucks as they possibly can, in the new hit game Angry Goy 2!” Oh god... I'm genuinely disturbed by this. And I doubt his claim that it's a "hit game."

The Pulse Nightclub shooting was a horrible tragedy and it was bad enough that people were applauding Omar Mateen for killing so many gay people, but the fact that someone actually made a video game about it sickens me to no end.

It's truly depressing to know that there are people out there who still think like this. Nazism didn't work in the 1940s and it won't work now and we can all hope that these types of people remain a (relatively) harmless minority. 

I'm going to pretend to not know about this game.

h/t: LGBTQ Nation 

Fake Kiss in Shakespeare Play Prompts Prayer Circle

Anyone who has attended school in America knows who Shakespeare is. A prolific writer, William Shakespeare's works have reached many a public school classrooms, with plays from Hamlet to The Merry Wives of Windsor being taught across the nation. Shakespeare's plays are still being performed today, and one all-male group performed an educational parody of Shakespeare's plays which contained a stage kiss between Romeo and Juliet in a high school in North Carolina. Two men performing a fake kiss on stage apparently offended parents so greatly that they felt the need to invoke God by forming a prayer circle, according to The New Civil Rights Movement.

The play, titled The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), was performed at Mitchell High School and was edited to make it more appropriate for a high school audience, but alcohol consumption and homosexuality among other things were left in, sparking  a group of angry parents and pastors to form a prayer circle.

Original reports claim that the prayer circle was formed in protest of topics such as alcohol and bad language, but one parent revealed that the real reason the circle was formed was because of the stage kiss that was performed between Romeo and Juliet, who were played by two malr actors. 

Do these patents realize that a few students in Mitchell High School are probably gay? Or that the kiss was performed technically by a heterosexual couple? Or that the kiss wasn't even real? Some people take things too seriously and in this instance, the parents really overreacted. 

I shudder to think how they would react if the group put on a production of Twelfth Night.

The New Civil Rights Movement

Stan Lee, Creator of So Many Alternative Worlds for Us to Escape into, Passes Away At 95.

To throw oneself into the world of superheroes, villains, and make-believe was and is a great escape for many of us.  Imagining that we have super powers, that we have alter egos, that we can change into something or someone we are not, to not be limited, our lives were magnified by the ability to immerse ourselves in a world that as different than our reality. 

Today, we lost a man that created a great many of those worlds.  Stan Lee, creator of so many alternate lives, people, hopes, has passed away at the age of 95.  

We thank you Stan for entertaining us for all of these years. 

But was he supportive of our community? Let's look back at some of the more recent interviews and see. 

The Evening Standard asked Stan Lee about Iceman three years ago.  Iceman/Bobby Drake was created back in 1963 by Stan and Jack Kirby, but in April of 2015 in the All-New X-Men, Bobby/Iceman came out as gay. Lee was apparently unaware of the turn of events.

When he was informed of his character’s sexuality on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he replied: “I wasn’t involved in that, that may have been after I stopped writing the books. I didn’t really have any gay characters. If they were gay I didn’t play up to the fact that they were. I wasn’t aware of my characters sexual proclivities.” - standard.co.uk

In August of 2018, WGN radio asked questions about gay superheroes, like Northstar from Alpha Flight, Stan said he was not really familiar with that character and that he might be gay. 

We had a character years ago who might have been gay. We had something called Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, and we had a character called Percy Pinkerton, one of the commandos, who was great, but he was a little bit less tough than the other guys, but we didn’t make an issue of it. We didn’t call him gay, he was just there.” - tearingdownthatfence.tumblr.com

Sounds like his answer was based a little bit on gay stereotypes - " a little less tough than the other guys," but do we give him a pass since he is of a much older generation at 95 years old? Was it similar to an answer our grandparents would have given?

But what about the recent reboot and semi-controversy over Spiderman? The Guardian shared their findings about a rule as to how Spiderman should be portrayed. Apparently it stated that Peter Parker should always be white, which did not bother Stan Lee. 

“I wouldn’t mind, if Peter Parker had originally been black, a Latino, an Indian or anything else, that he stay that way,” he said. “But we originally made him white. I don’t see any reason to change that.”

Lee is also in agreement with the requirement that Parker’s sexuality should remain as originally written, but is open to the idea of other homosexual comic book characters.

“I think the world has a place for gay superheroes, certainly,” he said. “But again, I don’t see any reason to change the sexual proclivities of a character once they’ve already been established. I have no problem with creating new, homosexual superheroes.”


“It has nothing to do with being anti-gay, or anti-black, or anti-Latino, or anything like that,” he said. “Latino characters should stay Latino. The Black Panther should certainly not be Swiss. I just see no reason to change that which has already been established when it’s so easy to add new characters. I say create new characters the way you want to. Hell, I’ll do it myself.”

- guardian.com

Stan liked his characters just as he made them.  He was a straight white man that created what he knew. And that may be a point that was hit home in a NY Daily News post about three years ago.  they shared that it simply never occurred to Stan Lee to make a gay superhero.

"That's something that I can't write about that much because I don't know that much about it," Lee, 92, said last week.

Though openly gay men and women now exist scattered throughout Marvel Comics, such as X-Men's Northstar, Lee didn't create them.  - NY Daily News

So was he an ally?  At a quick glance, we cannot see anything that says differently.  He wrote what he knew. He created what he desired.  He was a man creating alternate worlds and universes for us all to enjoy.  We were able to jump right in and join him along his journeys and for that, we thank you, Stan.  He may not have created any gay characters, but he did create a space where we could be ourselves.   

h/t: standard.co.uktearingdownthatfence.tumblr.comguardian.com , NY Daily News