One Million Kids for Equality Comments on Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act

Published on Windy City Times

From a press release
2018-07-12

Seattle, WA ( July 12, 2018 )- Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee passed the Child Welfare Inclusion Act ( CWIA ) bill that allows Federally funded adoption agencies to refuse LGBTQ+ families based on religious convictions. This bill would amend the 2019 funding bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. This is in addition to the Health and Human Services Proposed Rule to remove LGBTQ+ and Native identity data from AFCARS.
In the text of the bill, the purpose reads, “To prohibit governmental entities from discriminating or taking an adverse action against a child welfare service provider on the basis that the provider declines to provide a child welfare service that conflicts, or under circumstances that conflict, with the sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions of the provider.” This means that adoption agencies can refuse service to anyone and cite religious beliefs as the basis for their refusal.

We, One Million Kids for Equality, condemn this heinous move by the House of Representatives Committee and recognize that it is nothing but another attack on the LGBTQ+ community. Not only will this affect LGBTQ+ individuals who wish to adopt, but it will also affect foster children in the adoption system. According to an ACLU study on foster care, more than 500,000 children are in foster care and of that 100,000 need adopted. However, only about 20,000 will be adopted. Lifelong Adoptions’ statistics estimate nearly 2 million LGBTQ+ couples are interested in adopting, but with the passage of this amendment, that number will be greatly impacted. We are in the middle of a foster care crisis and our Government is about to make it worse. The House of Representatives is making a clear statement that the needs of children in foster care is not their main concern, but rather, that they care more about strengthening their religious agenda through discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. The passage of the bill is completely unacceptable and goes against what we stand for as a country.

One Million Kids for Equality Comments on the HHS AFCARS rule

Published in Vital VOICE

http://www.thevitalvoice.com/one-million-kids-for-equality-comments-on-the-hhs-afcars-rule/

Once again the well being of Native Peoples, LGBTQ youth, and families are in jeopardy, and One Million Kids for Equality are issuing this public statement on the issue. In response to Trump’s Executive Order 13777 on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda to lower regulatory burdens on the American people, issued on February 24, 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published a Proposed Rule (RIN 0970-AC72) on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) with comments due June 13, 2018. AFCARS collects and records data from state and tribal title IV-E agencies on children in foster care and those who have been adopted. This data includes sexual orientation and gender expression of the children, as well as the sexual orientation of the adopting parents and foster data for Native people. By doing so, it ensures the safety and well being of LGBTQ youth, families, and Native peoples in the foster system. However, Trump’s order to “streamline” AFCARS is stripping sexual orientation, gender expression, and Native identity from foster care reporting, opening children up to exploitation, discrimination, and abuse.

One Million Kids for Equality, issued a formal comment yesterday to the HHS on the Proposed Rule, “One Million Kids for Equality is very concerned with the well-being of LGBTQ foster children due to this proposed rule, and feel very strongly that the streamlining of AFCARS will have an overwhelmingly negative impact on LGBTQ foster children and potential adoptive families due to the reasons outlined below.”

They are also expressing many points that defend the collection of sexual orientation, gender identity, and Native data and why they should continue to be collected. Our points state that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster system (meaning that there are more children who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum than not), and in being so they are reported as more likely to be treated poorly, be hospitalized due to emotional trauma, or become incarcerated in Juvenile Justice Facilities. These facts are reported by the federally-funded R.I.S.E study. The removal of this data will negatively impact the ability to track and prevent outcomes such as these, including similar outcomes in Native children.They also assert many reasons why sexual orientation and gender identity question need to be included on foster care forms.

“LGBTQ and Native children are not a burden and that the notion of “streamlining” our adoption system by erasing them from data is appalling and abhorrent. When it comes to youth, we need to take every step necessary to ensure their safety and livelihood. This move by the Trump administration is a blatant attack on LGBTQ and Native people, and we will not let it go unchallenged,” the organization said in a statement.

To read the full comment or read about the Proposed Rule, visit: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=ACF-2018-0003-0094

 

Recent losses in LGBTQ community prompt conversation about mental health

Published on St. Louis Public Radio

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/recent-losses-lgbtq-community-prompt-conversation-about-mental-health#stream/0

While LGBTQ Pride Month is typically a time for celebration among the local queer community, mourning has also marked this year’s observance as several St. Louis-area residents have died by suicide and overdose in the wake of national news of celebrity deaths.

“The numbers of suicide attempts and LGBTQ people taking their own lives is something like nine times the rate for trans people and three times the rate of the national average for LGB people, and it’s very much increased by victimization and discrimination that we face every day,” Steph Perkins said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Perkins, the executive director of Missouri LGBTQ advocacy group PROMO, cited harassment, physical and verbal abuse, workplace and housing discrimination as a few of the factors that commonly affect the mental health of the LGBTQ population.

Also joining host Don Marsh for the discussion was mental-health clinician Emily Klamer and executive director of One Million Kids for Equality Curtis Galloway.

“I am encountering more and more individuals who share that their mental health struggles do not stem from their sexual orientation or gender identity on its own, but rather their interactions with people in their lives that reflect homophobic or transphobic attitudes,” Klamer said. She often works with the LGBTQ community and is creating a support group for LGBTQ people at Diversified Health and Wellness.

Sometimes those attitudes lead a person, voluntarily or involuntarily, to conversion therapy – an unaccredited method of “making someone straight.” As cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association has stated that this practice “is not effective and may be harmful to LGBTQ individuals by increasing internalized stigma, distress, and depression.”

Despite the APA’s policy, this practice is still legal in the majority of the country, including Missouri. According to a recent study conducted by UCLA, nearly 700,000 LGBTQ adults in the U.S. have received conversion therapy.

“From the standpoint of a conversion therapy survivor, I understand the feeling of alienation,” said Galloway, who was made to see a therapist for about four months after coming out to his parents when he was 16. “I was pretty messed up … that really tore me and my family apart, so I really receded into myself and really lost a sense of who I was.”

However, Galloway said he uses his experience as a platform for his organization to prevent others from having to go through what he did. He was among many who shared their stories publically to help pass a ban on conversion therapy for minors in Illinois in 2015.

Across the Mississippi, Perkins said PROMO is working with state representative Tracy McCreery to pass the “Youth Mental Health Preservation Act,” which would be a statewide law to ban licensed professionals from practicing conversion therapy on minors.

In addition to this, Perkins said PROMO is continuously working to include sexual orientation and gender identity to the Missouri Human Rights Act, which protects people from “discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.”

“This is not a party issue … both Republicans and Democrats see this as an important issue for their own family members,” Perkins said.

For therapeutic services, Klamer suggested Diversified Health and Wellness, as well as the Schiele Clinic at the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute, which offers sliding scale services with gender and queer-affirmative therapists.

For trans kids and parents of trans kids, Perkins referenced Transparent and PFLAG, which are both national organizations providing support to those families. He also mentioned the local organization, the Metro Trans Umbrella Group, which offers several support groups for adults who identify as trans and queer. Growing American Youth is another resource for LGBTQ youth in the St. Louis region.

“If you don’t feel held in [an] unconditional and positive regard, or if you don’t feel fully seen by your therapist or feel that they’re judging you or trying to change you – you deserve better,” Klamer said.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “HOME” to 741741 for free 24/7 support from the Crisis Text Line. The Trevor Lifeline is also available for LGBTQ youth in crisis at 1-866-488-7386.

Businesses Are Joining The Fight Against North Carolina’s Anti-LGBT Law

Published in The Huffington Post.

Companies are taking a stand against North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law, which Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed on Wednesday.

House Bill 2, approved by the state’s General Assembly in a special session, prevents cities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people. The law came in response to an anti-discrimination ordinance recently passed in Charlotte, which allowed transgender people to use the bathroom designated for the gender with which they identify. Conservatives, including McCrory, vowed to take down the so-called bathroom bill, arguing the law would give predators license to enter women’s bathrooms. (As HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel reports, this rhetoric has doomed many equal rights initiatives.)

The resulting legislation is a wide-ranging measure that blocks local governments from passing laws protecting LGBT people, requires schools to designate single-sex bathrooms based on “biological sex” and preempts city policies involving wages, benefits and other workplace regulations.

Corporate leaders in the state have been swift to condemn the law, echoing the backlash that helped take down Indiana’s “religious freedom“ law last year.

Dow Chemical, which has several factories in the state, tweeted its opposition to the law. Biogen, a biotech company that employs more than 1,000 North Carolinians, also opposes HB 2. PayPal, which just announced a new 400-person office in Charlotte, offered a similar message.

The law also drew opposition from the NCAA, which had planned to host at least 20 high-profile games in the state in 2017 and 2018, including the immensely popular Division I men’s tournament. The association hinted that HB 2 could change its mind.

“We’ll continue to monitor current events, which include issues surrounding diversity, in all cities bidding on NCAA championships and events, as well as cities that have already been named as future host sites,” the organization said in a statement. “Our commitment to the fair treatment of all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, has not changed and is at the core of our NCAA values. It is our expectation that all people will be welcomed and treated with respect in cities that host our NCAA championships and events.”

American Airlines, which has a major hub in Charlotte, also condemned HB 2.

“We believe no individual should be discriminated against because of gender identity or sexual orientation,” American Airlines spokeswoman Katie Cody said. “Laws that allow such discrimination go against our fundamental belief of equality and are bad for the economies of the state in which they are enacted.”

The NBA, which has scheduled the league’s 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte, said its leaders “do not know” how the law will affect plans for the game.

Another big name going after the law is Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who fought Indiana’s anti-LGBT bill and is battling a similar bill in Georgia. Benioff told The Huffington Post he is lobbying Brian Moynihan, the CEO of Charlotte-based Bank of America, to speak out against the law. The bank, one of the largest employers in the state, has not specifically condemned the legislation, but did release a statement to the Charlotte Observer saying the company has “been steadfast in our commitment to non discrimination and in our support for LGBT employees through progressive workplace policies and practices.

Equality groups are also pressing Bank of America, along with BB&T and Burt’s Bees (a subsidiary of Clorox) to break their silence on the law.

“As three of the largest corporations in North Carolina, all of which proudly protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees through LGBTQ inclusive non-discrimination policies, we believe these corporations have a moral obligation and responsibility to voice their opposition when state legislatures put the communities they serve in danger of discrimination,” said Brad Delaney of One Million Kids For Equality in a Wednesday statement.

Facebook, which has a data center in Forest City, said it was “disappointed” by the law. “As a company, Facebook is an open and vocal supporter of equality. We believe in ensuring the rights of LGBT individuals and oppose efforts that discriminate against people on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” a company spokesperson said.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was among those from outside the business community to express disappointment.

On Thursday evening, demonstrators gathered outside the governor’s mansion on North Blount Street in downtown Raleigh. Several were arrested, according to posts to Twitter and Facebook.

Nike drops Pacquiao after anti-gay comments, other sponsors asked to follow suit Nike drops Pacquiao after anti-gay comments, other sponsors asked to follow suit

Published in Metro Weekly.

Boxer Manny Pacquiao’s recent homophobic comments have landed him in serious hot water. During his campaign for election to the Philipines Senate, Pacquiao called gay people “worse than animals.”

“If people then engage in male to male, female to female relations, then they are worse than animals,” the boxer said.

He attempted to apologize on Instagram, saying he was “sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals… [But] I still stand on my belief that I’m against same-sex marriage because of what the Bible says.”

As a result of outcry from the LGBT community, Nike — one of his biggest sponsors — has dropped Pacquiao from their roster of athletes. Nike has worked with Pacquiao for almost a decade, but the pro-LGBT company issued a statement calling the boxer’s comments “abhorrent.”

“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” the company said. “Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community. We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.”

TMZ reports that Pacquiao’s team tried to save the lucrative relationship, but Nike was uninterested.

Now, pressure is growing on Pacquiao’s other sponsors to cancel contracts with the Filipino. In a statement, One Million Kids for Equality said that they “[appreciate] Nike’s decision to cut ties with Manny Pacquiao and strongly encourages Foot Locker and others to do the same.”

“Manny is seen as a role model for youth around the world and we find his words deeply disturbing,” the organization’s president, Brian Delaney said. “Words like the ones mentioned above are extremely harmful to LGBTQ and allied youth who may have previously looked up to him.”

Now, prior sponsors are rushing to distance themselves from Pacquiao’s comments. Adweek reports that Wonderful Pistachio, which worked with Pacquiao in 2012, “is not currently affiliated with Manny Pacquiao nor do his views align with ours,” according to spokeswoman Jennifer George. In an email, Nestle confirmed to Gay Star News that the company “is not a current sponsor of Manny Pacquiao. We had a one-time promotion with him in 2015, which has ended.” Foot Locker has yet to comment on their sponsorship deal with Pacquiao.

Forbes reports that Pacquiao earned $12 million last year from endorsements, licensing and other appearances. It’s a small fraction of the $160 million he earned as a result of his bout with Floyd Mayweather.

After Nike, pressure grows on Foot Locker and other sponsors to drop Manny Pacquiao

Published in Gay Star News.

Sportswear brand Nike acted swiftly yesterday to distance itself from the controversy surrounding Manny Pacquiao.

The Filipino boxer said earlier in the week that gay people were ‘worse than animals’. He subsequently apologized for any hurt his comments might have caused.

Nike, which has sponsored him for just over eight years, issued a statement yesterday saying that it found his Pacquiao’s views ‘abhorrent’ and clarifying that it had terminated its commercial relationship with the athlete turned politician.

LGBTI campaigners are now demanding that other brands associated with the boxer also distance themselves from him, namely Foot Locker – who aired a new commercial with Pacquiao last year – and Nestlé.

In a statement, One Million Kids for Equality said that it ‘appreciates Nike’s decision to cut ties with Manny Pacquiao and strongly encourages Foot Locker and others to do the same.’

The organization’s President, Brad Delaney said: ‘Manny is seen as a role model for youth around the world and we find his words deeply disturbing. Words like the ones mentioned above are extremely harmful to LGBTQ and allied youth who may have previously looked up to him.’

Ad Week reported that Wonderful Pistachios, who shot a campaign with Pacquiao in 2012, which it re-aired in 2015, says it has not worked with the boxer since last year and distanced itself from his views.

‘Wonderful Pistachios is not currently affiliated with Manny Pacquiao nor do his views align with ours,’ said the brand’s spokeswoman, Jennifer George, in a statement.

‘Wonderful Pistachios stands firmly for diversity and equality, and we proudly support marriage equality and inclusion around the world.’

Unlike other professional athletes, who rely heavily on sponsorship money as a source of income, boxers at Pacquiao’s level traditionally earn the bulk of their income from matches. It’s thought that he earned over $100million (€90million) from his fight against Floyd Mayweather last year.

However, Forbes still estimate that he earned $12million (€10.8million) last year through endorsements, chiefly Nike, Foot Locker and Nestlé – so being dumped by the sportswear brand is sure to rankle. It also sends out a strong message to other athletes that expressing homophobic views is increasingly unacceptable for commercial sponsors.

The termination of commercial endorsements is also sure to smart with those members of Pacquiao’s team who helped to arrange them.

‘When we fail to educate and persuade athletes directly, and many LGBT activists have tried for years with Mr. Pacquiao, then trust this: Their managers, agents and PR teams will do our work for us,’ said Scott Wooledge of social media campaign creation company,Memeographs. They all work on commission. ‘And earning ten or more percent of $12M is better for them than 10% of nothing.’

Foot Locker has not responded to a request for comment from Gay Star Business.

UPDATE: Nestlé say that they have no current relationship with Manny Pacquiao. In an email, Meike Schmidt, Corporate Spokesperson, told Gay Star Business: ‘Nestlé is not a current sponsor of Manny Pacquiao. We had a one-time promotion with him in 2015, which has ended.’

Pacquiao issues apology, faces backlash

Published in the Windy City Times.

Boxer Manny Pacquiao issued what some are calling a weak apology after causing a storm by claiming gay people are “worse than animals,” The Daily Mail reported.

The pugilist world champion made the comments in a television interview in the Philippines, where he is running for a senate seat in the May elections. At one point, he asked, “It’s common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same sex?” In his apology, he posted on Facebook, “Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt. I still stand on my belief that I’m against same sex marriage because of what The Bible says, but I’m not condemning LGBT.”

Pacquiao is already facing consequences as a result of his comments. CNNMoney noted that Nike has dropped him as an endorser, saying it found what he said to be “abhorrent.” Nike has previously dropped other athletes, including Lance Armstrong, Ray Rice and Michael Vick; however, the company re-signed Vick after five years and kept its contract with Kobe Bryant in the wake of his charge for sexual assault.

“Manny is seen as a role model for youth around the world and we find his words deeply disturbing. Words like the ones mentioned above are extremely harmful to LGBTQ and allied youth who may have previously looked up to him” said Brad Delaney, president of One Million Kids For Equality, in a statement. Athletes such as basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson—who has a gay son of his own—applauded Nike for its action, according to Queerty.

New online publication ProudYouth: For, by, and about youth

Published in the Windy City Times.

Seattle, WA, September 30, 2015 — ProudYouth.com launched this morning offering LGBTQ and allied youth contributors an early introduction to journalism and an opportunity to elevate their voices around the issues that matter most in their lives.

The publication will offer youth an opportunity to cover everything from advice columns to Op-eds and anything in between — including but not limited to current events, sports, politics, art, music, movie and event reviews, exclusive stories, personal stories, as well as artistic pieces such as poetry.

Historically, youth contributors have been few and far between in mainstream media — often being written or spoken to instead of being allowed to write or speak for themselves. This new publication aims to change that by empowering youth with all of the tools they need to share their authentic voices.

Participating youth will have access to experienced and accomplished journalists and editors to work with them on grammar, punctuation, and pulling their message together to make sure it reads as intended. As long as the story falls within ProudYouth editorial guidelines, it will run — even if it presents a less than rosy picture – no story will be altered or slanted in any way.

“I am very happy to finally have my voice elevated, and to have an outlet like ProudYouth where I can share my views, as well as discuss other young people’s views.” Curtis Galloway, a ProudYouth Contributor and One Million Kids Board member

ProudYouth is seeking additional youth and allied contributors. If you would like to write for ProudYouth, or know someone who may be interested, please email editor@proudyouth.com for more details.

ProudYouth is a platform where LGBTQ youth, children of LGBT parents, and allies can use their voice to speak about important issues in their lives,” said Managing Editor, Theresa Volpe. “ProudYouth is unlike any publication on the media circuit today. Its approach empowers youth to express their views and, at the same time, learn important skills. The publication places tools into the hands of the people who will shape our world to come, our youth.”

One Million Kids For Equality is an organization of people working collectively to engage, educate, and empower youth with a voice around equality. We work on a broad spectrum of issues, utilizing the power of the personal story to elevate the voices of youth in our efforts to create positive change for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender ( LGBT ) people and their families. Learn more at onemillionkids.org .