Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Via JMG: MONTANA: Tea Party Head Fired After Facebook Joke About Killing Gays

Montana Tea Party president Tim Ravndal has been fired after making Facebook jokes about the murder of Matthew Shepard in a posting denouncing same-sex marriage and the ACLU. Ravndal's Facebook friend: "I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions.” Ravndal responded: "Where can I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?" The Montana Tea Party issued this statement announcing Ravndal's firing:
We are extremely disappointed by Mr. Ravndal’s commentary. The discussion in that Facebook conversation is entirely outside the position of the Big Sky Tea Party. Even though Mr. Ravndal was having a personal conversation and made no reference to our group, we felt strongly that swift and decisive action was required as we cannot accept that sort of behavior from within our membership, let alone from an officer of the corporation.

reposted from Joe

Ex-Gay Therapy Doesn't Work, I Tried It

Via JMG: Beetlejuice's Otho Dies At Age 58

Actor and gay activist Glenn Shadix, best known as the snobby interior designer in Tim Burton's 1988 hit comedy Beetlejuice, has died at the age of 58 after a fall at his Birmingham, Alabama home.
"He was having mobility problems, and he was in a wheelchair," Susan Gagne, Shadix's sister, said. "It looks like he fell and hit his head in the kitchen, and that's the cause of death." Besides his breakthrough role as the outlandish Otho in "Beetlejuice" in 1988, Mr. Shadix appeared in two more movies for the writer-director Burton, doing the voice of the mayor in "The Nightmare Before Christmas" in 1993 and playing the orangutan Senator Nado in Burton's 2001 remake of the sci-fi classic "Planet of the Apes." After retiring from Hollywood, Mr. Shadix moved back to Birmingham about four years ago to be close to his family, his sister said. He had been living in a condo on Highland Avenue.
Shadix had worked with Central Alabama Pride and in 2008 rode in the Birmingham Pride Parade. He was particularly involved in fighting the "ex-gay" movement as he had undergone electro-convulsive aversion therapy as a teenager at the insistence of his father. His personal blog remains online.

(Tipped by JMG reader Joe O.)

reposted from Joe

THIS WEEK on CHANGE.ORG: Gay Student Suicides

One suicide is one too many.
But three suicides in one year, within one school district, all by students who are gay or lesbian?  That's nothing short of an epidemic, and it's the problem currently facing Minnesota's Anoka-Hennepin school district.
The most recent incident occurred in July, when a 15-year-old student took his own life. A concert cello player in his school's orchestra, the student was incessantly bullied because of his sexual orientation.
"I'm not asking you to accept this as a lifestyle for you," his grieving mother recently said in testimony before the Anoka-Hennepin school board. "I'm only asking that you please make the school safe for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students still alive and in this district today."
Statistics underscore the danger to LGBT students. Nationwide, gay youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual classmates, in large part because of toxic environments where anti-gay bullying can thrive. Nearly 90% of gay students have experienced harassment in school, and almost two-thirds say they feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Yet in the Anoka-Hennepin school district, a "neutrality" policy has tied the hands of school administrators and teachers to combat homophobia. This policy was put in place due to the influence of anti-gay groups such as the Parents Action League, which believes homosexuality is a behavior that can be cured, and it requires teachers and school officials to remain silent about subjects pertaining to sexual orientation.
Because of this anti-gay influence, the school board turned down a request by Minnesota's largest gay rights organization to conduct a district-wide anti-bullying program. And it prevented the district from taking action against two teachers who harassed a student believed to be gay until an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights intervened and punished the teachers.
Stopping the harassment of people based on their sexual orientation shouldn't be a liberal or conservative issue. It's a humanitarian issue, and can literally be a matter of life and death.
The only way to fight the suicide trend in the Anoka-Hennepin school district is by changing the climate in the district. Call on the Anoka-Hennepin school board to stop ignoring the problem and end the policy that prevents school officials from effectively dealing with anti-gay bullying.
Suicide doesn't occur in a vacuum. As we commemorate National Suicide Prevention Week this week, let us remember that we all have influence over the environment in which harassment thrives. If we sit idly by and do nothing, we're part of the problem.
For more news and commentary from this week in change, see the summaries from your favorite causes below.

Arrested for Marriage in GAY RIGHTS

A number of states have laws on the books banning same-sex marriage. But Wisconsin's law takes the homophobic cake. Gay Rights blogger Maia Spotts notes that on the books in Wisconsin is a law that allows for a gay couple to be fined $10,000, plus a jail term, if they decide to get married. Forget just banning same-sex marriage. This is outright criminalizing love. Read more »