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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

 

2nd Annual Spring Mixer & Garden Party

Photo credit: Deborah Hart

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

One Million Kids for Equality and The Personal Stories Project held their 2nd Annual Spring Mixer & Garden Party on Saturday, April 21st at the home of Joseph Chan and Charles Chan Massey in Los Angeles.

More than 75 guests attended and just over $10,000 was raised. 10% of the net proceeds will be split between 2018 Event Community Partners Camp Brave Trails and the Trans Latin@ Coalition to help further their organizational goals.

The balance will be equally divided between One Million Kids for Equality and The Personal Stories Project to support their respective missions of collecting and sharing stories from the LGBT community to help change hearts, minds, and lives.

Guests also had the opportunity to assemble hygiene kits which will be donated to the Trans Latin@ Coalition’s drop-in center located at The Center for Violence Prevention & Transgender Wellness in Los Angeles.

Germán Toledo Carrero, a composer, pianist, keyboardist, and producer from Santiago Chile who is currently studying in Los Angeles, provided entertainment for the event.

CLICK HERE for a gallery of photos from the event on Facebook.

For additional information about One Million Kids for Equality please contact:

Curtis Galloway, Executive Director
curtis@onemillionkids.org
Follow OMK on Facebook

For additional information about The Personal Stories Project please contact:

Charles Chan Massey, Executive Director
charles@personalstoriesproject.org
Follow PSP on Facebook

Roddy

My name is Roddy. This is my story.

From a very young age, when I was around six years old or so, I knew there was something unique about me. I just didn’t know what. While other boys were into cars, trucks, play fighting and all things dirt I preferred Barbie, music, and the theatre. As I got a little bit older, and my friends who were boys started to talk about girls and how pretty they were, I was starting to have the same thoughts they had about the girls about them. At this point, I did not yet know what it meant to be gay, so I thought something was wrong with me. When I was ten years old I learned what being gay was and then all the thoughts and actions up to that point in my life made sense and I knew that I was gay.

Two and half years later, at the age of 12, the first person I told was my aunt when we were on vacation. We had always been very close, and she knew everything about me because I would always tell her things and I still do. That day I had been acting shy and off because I was thinking about the shame I felt because I was gay, as I often did back then because I thought being gay was wrong because of my “religion.”

That night she came into my room and asked if I wanted to go for a walk. When we got far enough from the house where we were staying she asked me if I was ok and I told her no and she asked me what was wrong. It was then that I told her that I was gay. She stopped walking, looked at me, hugged me and said, “Honey, I already knew that” and that it was ok. After that, we walked and talked about everything for hours. And I felt much better. After coming out to her, and with her help and support I came out the rest of the family and my friends at school; some were supportive of me and others not so much.

I was bullied for several years to follow, and even though at this point in my life I knew who I was and that it was ok to be myself, deep down I started to believe all of the things people were telling me and began to go through a very difficult time in my life. I often had thoughts of suicide and actions of self-harm; I had accepted who I was but others had not, so I felt unimportant, alone, unwanted and unloved.

Fellow students would frequently call me names, push me in the halls, mock me, threaten me and sometimes even physically hurt me. I was told things like “You’ll never amount to anything,” “You’re worthless and should just die,”  “Oh look, it’s the gay kid – he’s such a fag,” and so on.  After this had gone on for three years I realized, thanks to some fantastic teachers, school counselors, friends and the work of the Trevor Project, that there were people who loved me and that life would get better. It was then that these things started to not bother me as much and I started to accept myself all over again.

I began to surround myself with friends and people who accepted me for me, who would be there for me as I worked on learning to love myself the way I was and while I found other people who were also LGBTQ. After about a year I was ready for the next phase – to become an activist and share my story and my voice in hopes that what happened to me would not happen to others, so that others like me would know that they are loved, they are important, they are wanted and that they are never alone.

I am now a proud, OUT gay man. I’m a model and actor as well as an LGBT activist. I work with organizations such as The Human Rights Campaign as a Youth Ambassador, Free 2 Luv as a Youth Empowerment Advocate, Teen Talk Hotline as a blog contributor and many other great groups and organizations to facilitate training on diversity and inclusion, sharing my voice as a positive figure for those in need.

I know first-hand that being a member of the LGBTQ community in today’s society can be very difficult. I know how hard it can be to come out and feel accepted in your school or community. I hope that by sharing my story, my experiences and my voice I can help other LGBTQ youths find the resources they need to feel safe, loved, and accepted and let everyone know that there is hope out there – all you have to do is just look past the darkness and into the light on the other side.

I’m sharing my story to inspire others to tell their own stories and to show that you can be successful no matter what struggles you face in life. I’d like lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth of all ethnic backgrounds, races, national origins and religions to know that no matter what, they are perfect just the way they are, that there will always be someone who loves them and cares about them and not to give up.

I challenge each of you to be a game changer in the lives of LGBTQ youth everywhere by being someone they can come to, talk to, look up to and always know that no matter what they are going through they are free and welcome to be themselves around you.

One Million Kids shared Roddy’s story was shared in partnership with The Personal Stories Project.

Supreme Court Rejects Challenge of California’s Ban on Conversion Therapy

The United States Supreme Court on Monday rejected a California Christian minister’s challenge to California’s ban on conversion therapy.

The Pastor challenged the law with an assertion that it violates religious rights.

For the third time in two years since it’s passage, the court let stand a lower court’s ruling that the law is constitutional and neither impinges upon free exercise of religion nor impacts the activities of clergy members.

The law prohibits state-licensed mental health counselors, including psychologists and social workers, from offering therapy to change sexual orientation in minors. The Supreme Court in 2014 refused to review the law after an appeals court rejected claims that the ban infringed on free speech rights under U.S. Constitution’s the First Amendment.

‘Conversion therapy’, often referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” is a range of practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a theory that has been rejected by every major medical and mental health organization for decades.

“The Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed that there is no place in civilized society for so-called ‘conversion therapy.’ We at One Million Kids For Equality applaud the justices for affirming that California’s law against this barbaric ‘treatment’ for something that isn’t a disorder, is correct and just.” said OMK Co-Director, Charles Chan Massey.

To date, ‘conversion therapy’ has been outlawed in 6 states (CA, IL, NM, NJ, OR, VT) and the District of Columbia.

Gayby Baby in Chicago! Join Us For A Special Screening.

One Million Kids For Equality has been working to share the stories of youth since we got started last January – from sharing the voices of 5 youth last spring with the Supreme Court in the Voices Of Children brief to working to end conversion therapy in Illinois. Time and time again we’ve seen that when youth speak up they are able to present their stories in a way that changes hearts and minds forever.

Kids being raised by same-sex couples are growing in numbers worldwide. We are in a Gayby-Boom. But who are these kids? What do they think about having same-sex parents? And do they face different issues to other kids? At a time when the world is debating marriage equality, these questions are more pertinent than ever. Told from the perspective of the kids, Gayby Baby is intimate and sometimes humorous account of four children and their families.

We invite you to join us for this FREE special screening of GAYBY BABY in Chicago on April 30th, an Australian feature documentary in which four kids take us into their homes and share their personal experiences.

One Million Kids For Equality is cohosting a panel discussion between screenings with filmmakers and partners addressing how we empower children of LGBT parents and improve the lives of families in our work.

Secure your seats and learn more athttps://gaybybabychicago.splashthat.com/

In honor of International Family Equality Day, our sponsor for this event, MyFamilyBuilders is offering all attendees and members of One Million Kids For Equality an exclusive $10 discount off of all toy set purchases. Use promo code OMK at checkout. See the coupon below for more details.

My Family Builders