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6 LGBTQI developments marking 2017 in the Phl

With 2018 about to start, here’s a quick look at the LGBTQI-related developments that marked 2017 in the Philippines.

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ALL PHOTOS TAKEN DURING METRO MANILA PRIDE PARADE 2017

The year 2017 marked numerous LGBTQI-related developments in these parts of the world.

On a more positive note, this was perhaps, and arguably, first stressed on May 24, when Taiwan’s highest court, the Judicial Yuan, ruled that limiting marriage to between only a man and a woman was unconstitutional, thereby voting in support of marriage equality. With this, Taiwan makes history as the first Asian country to vote in favor of marriage equality.

Then in November, Australians voted in favor of allowing same-sex couples to get married, with nearly 62% of respondents to a postal survey voting “Yes”, according to results released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This led to the marriage equality law passing Australia’s parliament on December 7.

But there (obviously) remain numerous anti-LGBTQI developments. In Indonesia, for instance, Arus Pelangi and Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported about the establishment of an anti-LGBT taskforce since LGBT people are seen to be suffering from a “disease of body and soul”; just as raids on LGBT people are becoming common.

Then in May, the government of a supposedly “progressive” Singapore started barring foreigners from joining the annual Pink Dot LGBT rights rally (now, only allow Singaporean citizens and permanent residents to attend).

That despite the progress made, much remains to be done goes without saying. And the Philippines may best highlight this.

Here are some of the LGBTQI-related occurrences marking 2017 in the Philippines.

  1. 4TH LGBT NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Gathering members – and leaders – of the local LGBTQI community continues to be challenging in the Philippines, with (to date) only four national conferences held here. Every conference is, in fact, serving as just a catching up, considering the number of years between the conferences (the first one happened in 1997, followed by the second in 2011, and the third in 2013).

Themed “Pasigarbo sa Pagkatawo (Behold our Identity)”, the 4th national conference was the first time it was held outside of Luzon (and Metro Manila); and – picking up where the 3rd national conference left off – was the first time to include voices of so-called minorities in the already minority LGBT community, e.g. senior LGBTQI people, differently-abled, LGBTQI people who belong to indigenous communities, and perspectives from people of faith/non-faith, among others.

The plan is to make the national gathering more regular; with participants eventually taught how-to’s in their pro-LGBTQI works.

  1. SOGIE EQUALITY BILL PASSES 3RD AND FINAL READING IN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

For the first time in 11 years, the anti-discrimination bill (ADB; this time via House Bill No. 4982, otherwise known as the SOGIE Equality Bill) passed the third and final reading in the House of Representatives.

HB 4982 cites as discriminatory:

  • Denial of access to public services
  • Including SOGIE as a criteria for hiring or dismissal of workers
  • Refusing admission or expelling students in schools based on SOGIE
  • Imposing disciplinary actions that are harsher than customary due to the student’s SOGIE
  • Refusing or revoking accreditation of organizations based on the SOGIE of members
  • Denying access to health services
  • Denying the application for professional licenses and similar documents
  • Denying access to establishments, facilities, and services open to the general public
  • Forcing a person to undertake any medical or psychological examination to determine or alter one’s SOGIE
  • Harassment committed by persons involved in law enforcement
  • Publishing information intended to “out” or reveal the SOGIE of a person without consent
  • Engaging in public speech which intends to shame or ridicule LGBTQ+ persons
  • Subjecting persons to harassment motivated by the offenders bias against the offended party’s
  • SOGIE, which may come in the form of any medium, including telecommunications and social media
  • Subjecting any person to gender profiling
  • Preventing a child under parental authority from expressing one’s SOGIE by inflicting or threatening to inflict bodily or physical harm or by causing mental or emotional suffering
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Any person who commits any discriminatory practice enumerated in the bill may be penalized by a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P500,000; or jailed for no less than one year but not more than six years or both, at the discretion of the court. The court may also impose upon a person found to have committed any of the prohibited acts the rendition of community service in terms of attendance in human rights education and familiarization with and exposure to the plight of the victims.

The bill was championed by Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, Akbayan Party-List Rep. Tom Villarin, AAMBIS-OWA Party-List Rep. Sharon Garin, Negros Ocicidental Rep. Mercedes Alvarez, An Waray Party-List Rep. Victoria Noel, Pangasinan Rep. Toff de Venecia, Bataan Rep. Henedina Abad, among others.

This isn’t going to become law soon, with the landmark bill still awaiting a counterpart version in the Senate.

  1. CIVIL PARTNERSHIP BILL WAS FILED IN CONGRESS

Still in the Lower House, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez filed House Bill (HB) No. 6595, titled the Civil Partnership Act, which seeks to allow consenting adults “of either the same or opposite sex” to form “civil partnership couples” that enjoy “all benefits and protections … granted to spouses in a marriage.”

“Ultimately, at the core of a civil partnership are two fully consenting adults who, like many Filipinos, merely wish to love, care and support each other as they build a life together during their fleeting time here on earth. It is about time that the Philippine government grant couple, whether they are of opposite or of the same sex, adequate legal instruments to recognize their partnerships, respecting their dignity and recognizing their equality before the law,” the explanatory note of the bill states.

HB 6595 similarly seeks to give same-sex couples the rights to marital relations, rights to a child and intestate succession or inheritance, tax benefits and labor privileges (e.g. Social Security System, Government Service Insurance System, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and other state agencies). Civil partnership couples would also be bound by the marital communication privilege, which prohibits them from testifying against the other.

Under this bill, no one can enter into a civil partnership unless he/she is at least 18 years old and “free from any previous bond of marriage or civil partnership.” Couples should have shared a “common domicile” for at least two uninterrupted years during the time of application for a license, and their relationship should be “publicly known.”

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The bill also lists down “unlawful or discriminatory employment practices”, including refusal to hire on the basis of civil partnership status and imposes a penalty of P100,000 to P500,000.

For dissolution of civil partnerships that do not work, the grounds for legal separation, annulment and declaration of nullity of marriages will be applicable.

HB 6595 is co-sponsored by Reps. Geraldine Roman, the country’s first transgender lawmaker; Raneo Abu; Frederick Abueg; Len Alonte-Naguiat; Sandra Eriguel; Gwendolyn Garcia; Sharon Garin; Victoria Isabel Noel; and Eric Singson.

As a side note, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte – in Dece,ber – expressed his support for same-sex marriage.

  1. NUMBER OF PRIDE CELEBRATIONS IS GROWING

If the numbers of people joining Pride gatherings are “markers” of how far the LGBTQI community is going, then we’re headed in the right direction. Yes, Metro Manila already has a commercialized Pride (this year held – for the first time – in Marikina City), aside from Pride in Quezon City, Baguio City, et cetera. But this year, the rainbow flag also rose in Cebu City for the first Visayas-wide Pride March; city of Zamboanga which held its first Pride March; and the city of San Juan, among others.

  1. NUMBER OF ADO IS GROWING

In the absence of a national law prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQI people in the Philippines (this year, no thanks to the slow movement in the Senate), the number of anti-discrimination ordinances (ADOs) is growing. They are not all “equal” – e.g. some only protect LGBTQI people in employment-related discrimination, while others are more comprehensive, offering protection in all forms of discrimination based on SOGIE. But that localized efforts are thriving still matter.

In September, Ilocos Sur joined the growing number of local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines with an anti-discrimination ordinance, with the province’s “gender-fair ordinance” approved on final reading by the Provincial Board. Principally sponsored by Atty. Pablito Sanidad, Ilocos Sur’s ADO mimics Quezon City’s version of ADO, which focuses on the sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, compared to other ADO versions that lump the LGBT community with other minority sectors (e.g. indigenous peoples, people living with HIV, persons with disability, seniors) as this approach is deemed more palatable to those who may oppose passing an ADO.

In October, the City of San Juan in Metro Manila became the newest addition to LGUs in the Philippines with an ordinance that declares it unlawful to discriminate against LGBT people. City Ordinance No. 55 was the brainchild of Vice Mayor Janella Ejercito Estrada and was sponsored by Councilor Mary Joy Ibuna-Leoy; it was approved on third and final reading after it was co-authored by all the city councilors and was passed unanimously. It now awaits the signature of the city’s mayor, Guia Gomez.

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To date, LGUs with ADOs now include:

  • Angeles City, Pampanga
  • Antipolo City
  • Bacolod City
  • Baguio City
  • Batangas City
  • Butuan City
  • Candon City, Ilocos Sur
  • Cebu City
  • Dagupan City
  • Davao City
  • General Santos City
  • Mandaue City
  • Quezon City (in 2003 and in 2014)
  • Puerto Princesa City
  • Vigan City
  • Municipality of San Julian, Eastern Samar
  • Barangay Bagbag, Quezon City
  • Barangay Greater Lagro, Quezon City
  • Barangay Pansol, Quezon City
  • Province of Agusan del Norte
  • Province of Batangas
  • Province of Cavite
  • Province of Iloilo
  • Province of Dinagat Islands

There are also pro-LGBTQI policies (not ADOs). In July, for example, Laoag City’s Office of the City Administrator released a memorandum directing all of the city’s heads of offices and employees not to use derogatory words to address, call and describe LGBT co-employees. The memorandum, released by Laoag City Administrator John Michael Fariñas, is said to be in line with the city government’s support to the LGBT community and the push for the enactment of the anti-discrimination bill into law. It specifically directs all heads and employees to practice and put to heart a simple way of showing respect by not using the terms “bakla“, “tomboy” or “transgender” to address and/or describe persons of the LGBT community to “practice and maintain respectful attitude or behavior towards everyone regardless of gender.” The memorandum also stated that if a person prefers to use a specific pronoun (i.e. “he” or “she”), then the person should be called and treated accordingly. Employees who are found violating the directive will be charged administratively for conduct unbecoming, disrespect, and insubordination.

  1. NUMBER OF LGBTQI COMMUNITY MEMBERS WITH HIV IS GROWING

Members of the LGBTQI community – particularly gay and bi men – continue to be greatly affected by HIV in the Philippines.

In September 2017 (when the latest data was released by the HIV/AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines or HARP), there were 936 new HIV cases. Most (97%) were male.

Yes, the Filipinos getting infected with HIV are getting younger. In September 2017, 286 (31%) cases were among youth aged 15-24 years. But 96% of the cases were male. Ninety-nine percent (283) were infected through sexual contact (31 male-female sex, 182 male-male sex, 70 sex with both males and females), two were infected through sharing of injected needles, and there was one who have no data on mode of transmission.

It is worth noting that from 1984 to 2009, the predominant mode of HIV transmission in the Philippines was male-female sex. But beginning 2010, the trend spiked to male-male sex as the predominant mode of transmission and has continually increased since then. In the past five years, from January 2012 to September 2017, 82% (32,424) of new infections through sexual contact were among men who have sex with men.

Now, as the cliché goes, what 2018 will bring to the LGBTQI community remains to be seen.

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Relevance of public & private sectors’ support highlighted in Quezon City’s 2018 Pride parade

Highlighting the importance of the participation of all stakeholders, not just the LGBTQIA community but also including the public and the private sectors, Quezon City in Metro Manila held one of the last Pride parades in the Philippines for 2018.

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Highlighting the importance of the participation of all stakeholders, not just the LGBTQIA community but also including the public (including government) and the private sectors, Quezon City in Metro Manila held one of the last Pride parades in the Philippines for 2018.

Hanz Defensor, who helms Quezon City Pride Council (QCPC), the organizer of the annual gathering, told Outrage Magazine in an exclusive interview that Quezon City is “quite fortunate” that it now has an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) that protects LGBTQIA people from discrimination.

Signed by mayor Herbert Bautista (whose term ends in May 2019), City Ordinance 2357-2014, otherwise known as The Quezon City Gender-Fair Ordinance, eyes to “to actively work for the elimination of all forms of discrimination that violate the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution, existing laws, and The Yogyakarta Principles; and to value the dignity of every person, guarantee full respect for human rights and give the highest priority to measures that protect and enhance the right of all people; regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE).”

But Defensor said that, “admittedly, kulang pa rin (this is still lacking).” This is because – even if they already have the ADO and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR), the actual implementation continues to be challenging.

Quezon City, Defensor noted as an example, has “a lot of business establishments, and while they know that discriminating against LGBTQIA people in the city is prohibited by law, not all of them actually have a copy of the ADO and the IRR to know the small details.”

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As he encouraged particularly those affected by the ADO to “download (the same) from Quezon City’s official website”, he is also encouraging other local government units to already take steps to also protect their LGBTQIA constituents, perhaps learning from Quezon City’s example.

The same sentiment was expressed in a letter sent to QCPC by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, who remarked that Quezon City’s ADO – which also mandates the annual holding of the Pride parade – “has become a source of inspiration for advocates of gay rights in the Philippines and the rest of the world” because “it has institutionalized the city’s progressive and inclusive policy that eliminates discrimination on the basis of SOGIE.”

Though criticized for pinkwashing, Duterte still expressed hope that Pride further strengthens “the solidarity of (the) community so you may inspire the entire nation with the diversity and dynamism of your talents and skills.”

To contextualize, past administrations did not openly support Pride-related events.

Also, even if Akbayan partylist – which is aligned with Liberal Party that helmed the country under Pres. Benigno Aquino III prior to Duterte’s term – has been sponsoring the anti-discrimination bill for almost 20 years now, it still fails to gain traction, including during Aquino’s administration when it was largely ignored.

As an FYI, Quezon City actually hosted the largely accepted first Pride March in Asia.

On June 26, 1994, ProGay Philippines and Metropolitan Community Church helmed a march in Quezon City. Dubbed as “Stonewall Manila” or as “Pride Revolution”, it was held in remembrance of the Stonewall Inn Riots and coincided with a bigger march against the imposition of the Value Added Tax (VAT).

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Defensor stressed the need to be pro-active when confronting LGBTQIA-related discrimination. While the ADO is there, he said that should LGBTQIA people from Quezon City experience discrimination, “seek help” and know that “QCPC is here, and the LGU will back you.”

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San Juan hosts 2nd Pride parade to stress city’s support for ‘equality in diversity’

The City of San Juan held its second LGBTQIA Pride parade. According to San Juan City Vice Mayor Janella Ejercito Estrada: “San Juan Pride is about people recognizing individuality, diversity and equality. We are all equal…”

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Rainbow explosion in the City of San Juan.

Just as the year is about to close, the City of San Juan held its second LGBTQIA Pride parade. This is part of the mandate of City Ordinance No. 55, or the anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) of the City of San Juan, which was passed in the third quarter of 2017 to protect the human rights of its LGBTQIA constituents.

Exclusively interviewed by Outrage Magazine, San Juan City Vice Mayor Janella Ejercito Estrada – who backed the ADO when it was still being proposed by Councilor Mary Joy Ibuna-Leoy – said that “San Juan Pride is about people recognizing individuality, diversity and equality. Lahat naman tayo ay pantay-pantay (we are all equal)… and (so) I’m an advocate for equality.”

Estrada added: “We acknowledge that LGBT rights are human rights; and we protect (those) rights here in San Juan.”

Pride – including Metro Manila’s – is admittedly fast be becoming a commercial endeavor. But Faustino “Bubsie” L. Sabarez III, national chairman of LGBT Pilipinas, said that “we still need Pride because it highlights individuality and the celebration of diversity.” He added that “safe spaces are still needed to celebrate being LGBTQIA, and (Pride) is one such space.”

Dindi Tan, Secretary-General of LGBT Pilipinas, added that Pride – such as San Juan’s – shows “where we are now.”

The city, for instance, has its ADO. This ADO, by the way, is not exclusive to LGBTQI people, but is also for those who may experience discrimination based on: race, disability, ethnicity and religious affiliation.

City of San Juan passes LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance

San Juan’s ADO prohibits, among others: employment-related discrimination; discrimination in education; discrimination in delivery of goods and services; discrimination in accommodation; verbal/non-verbal ridicule and vilification; harassment, unjust detention and involuntary confinement; disallowance from entry or refusal to serve; and the promotion of LGBT discrimination. Any person held liable under the ordinance may be penalized with imprisonment for 60 days to a year or fined up to P3,000, or both, depending on the discretion of a court.

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Tan is also realistic in saying that the anti-discrimination bill (ADB) being pushed in the Senate by Sen. Rosa Hontiveros of Akbayan is basically dead. Its counterpart in the House of Representatives was passed with the big help of trans Rep. Geraldine Roman of the First District of Bataan; but the version in the Upper House failed to gain traction not only because of the opposition of select senators particularly Tito Sotto, Manny Pacquiao and Joel Villanueva, but also because of the exclusivist approach in the pushing for the ADB.

“Until an ADB is passed, we need ADOs,” Tan said. And local government units with ADOs “should be commended.”

Tan is also pushing for the election (in the 2019 May elections) of “politicians who will deliver,” she said, particularly “the promise for an ADB.”

Moving forward, Vice Mayor Estrada said that they are already eyeing other LGBTQIA-related efforts – e.g. broadening the city’s anti-HIV efforts to “ensure that testing, and then treatment, care and support are widely rendered in the city.”

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People now embrace different forms of intimate relationships that flout cultural norms

Social media and the internet empowered individuals with diverse identities and relationship practices to find each other, raising awareness of connections that challenge traditional ideas about the meaning of intimacy. 

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The 21st century ushered in a “quiet revolution” in the diversity of intimate relationships. With the scale and pace of this social transformation, what is needed is a “reboot” of relationship studies.

This is according to Phillip Hammack, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz; and lead author of “Queer Intimacies: A New Paradigm for the Study of Relationship Diversity,” an article that appeared in the online edition of The Journal of Sex Research. Hammack’s co-authors include David Frost, associate professor of social psychology at University College London, and Sam Hughes, a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz.

For the authors, social media and the internet empowered individuals with diverse identities and relationship practices to find each other, raising awareness of connections that challenge traditional ideas about the meaning of intimacy.

“I’ve been calling it a quiet revolution, because it’s very different than the sexual revolutions of the 1960s and ’70s, which were so visible,” said Hammack.

Hammack said the “quiet revolution” is affected by “queer intimacies”, meaning “any and all intimate relationships that challenge norms.” “It’s a use of ‘queer’ that actually originated at UC Santa Cruz with the phrase ‘queer theory’ in 1990,” Hammack said.

Particularly in countries like the US, Hammack said that marriage equality (same-sex marriage was legalized in the US in 2015) is the backdrop for the explosion of relationship diversity that has occurred since the early 2000s.

“Marriage equality opens up the lens to think about diversity beyond just the gender of the people in a relationship,” said Hammack, noting that asexuality, polyamory, and kink/fetish all challenge dominant notions of intimacy.

Will you open up?

These people are thriving in intimate relationships far from the cultural norms of monogamy and heterosexuality, including asexual, polyamorous, transgender and gender nonbinary, pansexual, and kink/fetish relationships.

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He also said that “it’s a myth that asexual people aren’t in relationships just because they experience little or no sexual desire,” said Hammack. “The assumption is that they are suffering, lonely, and without partners, but that’s not true. They do have intimate relationships, but we don’t know much about them.”

People who identify as asexual “violate the fundamental assumption that intimate relationships are inherently characterized by sex,” said Hammack. They started to organize in the early 2000s, thanks to the internet.

Asexuality was removed from the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013.

In a similar challenge to cultural norms, those who choose polyamorous relationships violate conventions of monogamy by allowing partners to love more than one person. Although gay men have a long tradition of open relationships, and ‘swinging’ was favored by some straight couples in the 1970s, polyamory now appears in the Oxford English Dictionary, following what Hammack referred to as a “simmering movement that challenged heteronormative conventions about what an ideal relationship is supposed to look like.”

Mainstream representations are also affecting concepts and/or relationship practices. For instance, the success of the 2011 novel Fifty Shades of Grey is said to have helped propel mainstream discussion of kink/fetish relationships, which highlight consensual asymmetrical power dynamics in intimate relationships.

Hammack, nonetheless, admitted that even if it made people curious, “the novel was problematic because it didn’t accurately represent the consensual way relationships are configured in the kink community… Kink relationships have been stigmatized because the expectation is that relationships are supposed to be ‘equal’.”

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Unfortunately, Hammack said that researchers still know little about what happens within kink/fetish relationships. “To what extent is the power asymmetry just during sex? We don’t know,” said Hammack. “Most of this science doesn’t talk about the relationships. It just talks about specific kinky practices… There’s almost no recognition of relationships – it’s all about sexual gratification, which is only part of the picture.”

Yet other concepts that have emerged are: “queer heterosexuality”, as well as changes in ideas about “chosen families.”

“Heterosexuality is opening up like never before,” said Hammack. “More people who identify as straight will have some same-sex experience – they even refer to ‘heteroflexibility.’ They are not opposed to same-sex encounters.”

Younger gay men moving away from non-monogamous relationships, study says

This trend is long-established among women, but it’s new among men – and it’s distinct from bisexuality because these men don’t feel equally attracted to men and women. “It’s fascinating to see masculinity opening up this way,” he said.

Hammack noted that still “very, very little” is known about the phenomenon of chosen families as distinct from biological families. This is a phenomenon that has been historically associated with gays and lesbians who “create their own families” after being rejected by biological relatives; however, its prevalence remains a mystery.

This is why Hammack said that more research initiatives should be done to focus on diversity in intimate relationships to “document the diversity of what’s happening out there,” Hammack ended.

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1 percent of children aged 9-10 self-identify as gay, bi or trans

While 1% of youth aged 9 and 10 self-identified as LGBT, their parents reported they believed their children were gay, bisexual or transgender at a higher rate.

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About 1% of 9 and 10-year old children surveyed self-identified as gay, bisexual or transgender. 

This finding was detailed in “Child Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Cohort Study,” co-authored by Jerel P. Calzo and Aaron J. Blashill, and which appeared in JAMA Pediatrics.

Majority of studies indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) self-identification generally occurs during the mid-adolescent years. So “this is such an important stage, biologically and socially,”said lead author Calzo, an associate professor in the SDSU School of Public Health.

At 9 and 10, youth – whether through their peers, media or parents – are beginning to be exposed to more information about relationships and interacting in the world. Also, they may not see any of this as sexual, but they are beginning to experience strong feelings, said Calzo.

Calzo and Blashill utilized the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study dataset, a multisite, longitudinal study exploring brain development and health among children aged 9 and 10 over a 10-year period, leading to the 1 percent finding for self-identification.

“One percent is sizable, given that they are so young,” Blashill said. “For so long, social scientists have assumed that there is no point in asking kids at this age about their sexual orientation, believing they do not have the cognitive ability to understand.” But “it is important to have a baseline to understand how sexuality develops and how it may change over time.”

Blashill and Calzo also sought to understand how parents perceived their children’s sexual and gender identities. Surprisingly, nearly 7% of parents, when asked about the sexual identity of their children, reported their child might be gay; and 1.2% reported that their child might be transgender.

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Another finding was that children overwhelmingly reported no problems at home or school related to their minority sexual orientation or gender identity while 7% of parents reported gender identity-based problems.

As sexual and gender minorities experience higher rates of physical and mental health issues than do their heterosexual counterparts, the research “may provide crucial insights into resiliency development within the LGBT community”, said the authors, adding that “it could also help lead to improved programs and policies to better serve the community.”

Yet another key finding is the need for researchers to identify better ways to explore identity issues among younger populations, with about 24% of those surveyed indicating that they did not understand questions about sexual orientation.

“If we can understand identity development earlier and can track development using large datasets, we can begin improving research and prevention around risk and protective factors,” Calzo said,.

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Bullying ‘follows’ LGB people from school to work

35.2% of gay/bisexual men who had experienced frequent school-age bullying experience frequent workplace bullying. Among lesbian women, the figure was 29%.

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Around one in three lesbian, gay and bi individuals who are bullied at school will have similar experiences in the workplace later in life.

This is according to “School-Age Bullying, Workplace Bullying and Job Satisfaction: Experiences of LGB People in Britain”, a research done by Nick Drydakis from The Manchester School.

For this research, Drydakis approached 400 LGB individuals to ask them about their experiences at school, and also asked them about bullying at their current workplace. He found that 35.2% of gay/bisexual men who had experienced frequent school-age bullying experience frequent workplace bullying. Among lesbian women, the figure was 29%.

When describing their experiences at school, 73% of gay men said they were either constantly, frequently or sometimes bullied. Just 9.9% said they were never bullied. Among lesbian women, 59% experienced constant, frequent, or occasional bullying. The mean age of participants was 37, meaning their school years would have been approximately between 1985 and 1997.

The research also examined job satisfaction. Most gay men said they were “dissatisfied” with their job (56%), while this was also the most common answer for lesbian women (47%).

“This study suggests that bullying may be a chronic problem for LGB individuals, which continues from school to the workplace,” Drydakis said.

This could be for a number of reasons – school-age bullying could be more likely to lead to low self-esteem, a difficulty in forming trusting relationships, or a greater risk of poor mental health. Factors like these may make it more likely they will experience bullying in the workplace later in life.

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“Post school-age bullying victims might exhibit characteristics of vulnerability, such as sub-assertive behaviors, which make them attractive targets for unfavorable treatments and evaluations from colleagues and employers in the workplace. “In turn, individuals, firms and society as a whole face long-lasting negative effects which appear to begin in the playground,” Drydakis said.

There is also a negative association between bullying of LGB individuals, and job satisfaction.

Interestingly, the research found that the existence of a workplace group for LGB individuals appeared to result in better job satisfaction, perhaps a lesson for employers wanting a more satisfied and motivated workforce.

“The outcomes of this study suggest… that bullying, when it is experienced by sexual orientation minorities tends to persist over time,” the research concludes. And so “anti‐bullying strategies and affirmative actions in school and the workplace might be of consideration.”

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Conversion ‘therapy’ begins at home

Study shows pivotal role of parents in “conversion” efforts to change LGBT adolescents’ sexual orientation.

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LGBT hate – like love – begins at home.

Parents – not just therapists and religious leaders – play a big role in attempts to change the sexual orientation (often called “conversion therapy”) of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people who experience sexual orientation change efforts during adolescence.

This is according to a study from the Family Acceptance Project (FAP), dubbed “Parent-Initiated Sexual Orientation Change Efforts with LGBT Adolescents: Implications for Young Adult Mental Health and Adjustment“, which examined the sexual orientation change experiences for LGBT youth across several domains and asked about conversion experiences with both parents/caregivers and with practitioners and religious leaders. This study builds on an earlier FAP project study on family rejection and health risks that identified and measured more than 50 specific family rejecting behaviors that include parental and caregiver efforts and external interventions to change their LGBT child’s sexual orientation.

In the study published online in the Journal of Homosexuality, more than half (53%) of LGBT non-Latino white and Latino young adults, ages 21-25, reported experiencing sexual orientation change efforts during adolescence. Of these, 21% reported specific experiences by parents and caregivers to change their sexual orientation at home; and 32% reported sexual orientation change efforts by both parents and by therapists and religious leaders.

Notably, according to the researchers, “any sexual orientation change efforts – whether by parents alone or by parents, therapists and religious leaders contribute to higher risk for LGBT young people. However, those who experience both parental and external conversion efforts by therapists or religious leaders had the highest levels of risk.”

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The role of parental support is worth highlighting, because – whether change efforts are carried out at home by parents and caregivers or by practitioners and religious leaders – parents serve as gatekeepers to both engage in and take their LGBT children for external conversion interventions. Both home-based parent and external sexual orientation conversion interventions by therapists and religious leaders, coupled with parent conversion efforts, contribute to multiple health and adjustment problems in young adulthood. These include higher levels of depression and suicidal behavior, as well as lower levels of self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction, and lower levels of education and income in young adulthood, compared with LGBT young people who did not experience conversion efforts.

Other study findings include:

  • Rates of attempted suicide by LGBT young people whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation were more than double (48%) the rate of LGBT young adults who reported no conversion experiences (22%). Suicide attempts nearly tripled for LGBT young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and intervention efforts by therapists and religious leaders (63%).
  • High levels of depression more than doubled (33%) for LGBT young people whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation compared with those who reported no conversion experiences (16%) and more than tripled (52%) for LGBT young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and external sexual orientation change efforts by therapists and religious leaders.
  • Sexual orientation change experiences during adolescence by both parents / caregivers and externally by therapists and religious leaders were associated with lower young adult socioeconomic status: less educational attainment and lower weekly income.
  • LGBT adolescents from highly religious families and those from families with lower socioeconomic status were most likely to experience both home-based and external conversion efforts, while those who were gender nonconforming and who were from immigrant families were more likely to experience external conversion efforts initiated by parents and caregivers.
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“Although parents and religious leaders who try to change a child’s LGBT identity may be motivated by attempts to ‘protect’ their children, these rejecting behaviors instead undermine an LGBT child’s sense of self-worth, contribute to self-destructive behaviors that significantly increase risk and inhibit self-care which includes constricting their ability to make a living,” said Dr. Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University and lead author noted.

“We now have even more dramatic evidence of the lasting personal and social cost of subjecting young people to so-called ‘change’ or ‘conversion’ therapies. Prior studies with adults have shown how harmful these practices are. Our study shows the role central role that parents play. It is clear that there are public health costs of ‘change’ efforts for LGBT adolescents over the long-term. The kind of change we really need is family education and intervention” added study co-author, Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D., Regents Professor, University of Texas at Austin.

Although responses to prevent conversion efforts particularly overseas have focused on adopting laws to curtail licensed practitioners from engaging in sexual orientation change interventions (deemed unethical and harmful by mainstream professional associations), this study nonetheless underscores “the urgent need for culturally appropriate education and guidance for families and religious leaders to provide accurate information on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, on the harmful effects of family rejecting behaviors which include sexual orientation conversion efforts, and on the need for supporting LGBT young people to reduce risk and increase well-being.”

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