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Dangerous lives: Being LGBT in Muslim Mindanao

As the world observes the 65th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly, John Ryan Mendoza laments that there is still a long and torturous road for its full realization especially among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Muslim Mindanao, where extra-judicial killings and gender-based violence continue to be poorly reported, thereby not addressed.

PHOTO COURTESY OF IM GLAD COTABATO

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On this 65th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly, there is still a long and torturous road for its full realization especially among  lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Mindanao. Extra-judicial killings and gender-based violence among LGBTs continue to be poorly reported, thereby not addressed particularly in Muslim Mindanao.

One only needs to look at the Islamic city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur, which Outrage Magazine visited to attempt to monitor crimes related against LGBT Filipinos.

Here, gay beauticians have been reportedly gunned down since last year – and at least some of the cases have been documented.

Members of the LGBT community try to find their place in an often hostile environment in Mindanao PHOTO COURTESY OF TUMBA LATA

Members of the LGBT community try to find their place in an often hostile environment in Mindanao.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TUMBA LATA

In a police report, Zuhawie Macud, 24, a hair dresser of Beauty and Beyond Salon and Spa was shot by an unidentified suspect armed with a 380 pistol in the evening of June 21, 2012. Initial police investigation revealed that the victim was working inside the salon when the unidentified suspect shot him, hitting the victim’s left cheek. The suspect immediately fled the scene towards an unknown direction. The victim, meanwhile, was immediately brought to Amai Pakpak Medical hospital. In an interview with the mother’s victim, it was disclosed that the suspect of the shooting was identified as a certain Lamualid Pamuan, a relative of the victim and the motive of the suspect was personal grudge. The victim was not willing to file a complaint against the said suspect. The case was, subsequently, closed, settled between the relatives of the alleged criminal and the victim.

Another beautician, Casan Ali Wahab, was reportedly shot on January 13, 2013.

And then there’s Cosary Racman, 44, another  beautician, who was shot by an unidentified suspect at Brgy. Banggolo, Marawi City in the evening of March 29, 2013. Recovered in the crime scene was one empty shell of calibre .45, with the victim sustaining two gunshot wounds in the body. He was taken to Amai Pakpak Medical Center for medical treatment. To date, the motive remains undetermined.

There are other cases, though these were not officially reported.  Locals of Marawi, nonetheless, remain aware of these cases.

There are those who buy into the widely released reasons for the crimes – that is, that sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) has nothing to do with these crimes.

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May kapatid ako na bakla. Sa Maranao, hindi lang basta-basta pinapatay ang mga bakla dahil bakla sila. Posible na konektado sa paglalako ng droga o prostitusyon ‘yung mga beautician kaya sila binaril (I have a brother who is gay. For Maranaos, gays are not simply killed  because they are gay. It may be possible that those beauticians were also connected in drug trade or prostitution),” Hannan Balindong, a  Maranao resident of Marawi city, said.

Being LGBT – by itself – makes one a target, nonetheless.

In the middle of 2012, students from the Mindanao State University reported the distribution of leaflets and the radio broadcasts from unidentified sources that allegedly warned gays to leave Marawi. These alleged public warnings against gays were also reported to have occurred in the provincial capital of Sulu island, Jolo.

Noong 2007, banned ang mga gays and lesbians sa Jolo. Galing ito sa isang local religious group (In 2007, gays and lesbians were banned in Jolo. This came from a local religious group),” said Jul-amin Hadil, a gay Tausug from Jolo.

For many LGBT Filipinos in southern Philippines, life continues to be an ongoing challenge. PHOTO COURTESY OF IM GLAD COTABATO

For many LGBT Filipinos in southern Philippines, life continues to be an ongoing challenge.
PHOTO COURTESY OF IM GLAD COTABATO

Jul-amin recalled that two of his gay friends were killed at that time.

Una si Jai. May sampung lalake ang pumasok sa kanyang kwarto at sinaksak siya ng maraming beses. Pagkatapos ng pitong araw, si Aya naman ay binaril sa bahay niya ng pitong lalake (Jai was first. Ten men barged in his room and stabbed him multiple times. After seven days, Aya was shot in his house by seven men),” he said.

He also knows of other four cases of gays who were killed in Jolo, even if he could not remember their names.

Ang mga pagpatay na ito ay itinuturing na ‘Wajib’ o obligasyon ng mga Muslim.”  (These killings are considered as ‘Wajib or obligation for Muslims),” Jul-amin said.

During these times, no gays and lesbians were seen at all at their usual hang-out place, the Jolo town plaza.

He added that gay hairdressers also became usual targets for robberies.

Merilyn Jamad, a Tausug lesbian and the president of Tumba Lata, a Jolo-based lesbian organization, reported that in 2010, there was another declaration to ban gays and lesbians, now from local government  officials.

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Dadalhin daw ang mga tomboy sa probinsya para mag-training sa military at bibitayin ang mga bakla…yung mga pamilya na walang bakla o tomboy ang mga malakas na sumuporta dito  (Lesbians will be brought to the countryside for military training and gays will be hanged. Families who had no gay and lesbian members were very supportive of this),”  she said.

Not that law enforcers are helpful.

May baklang binitay sa Asturias. Walang imbestigasyon ang mga pulis. May mga kaso na nakita ang mga katawan na pugot na ang ulo o nawawala ang ibang parte ng katawan… Hindi ito nakasulat para hindi masira ang imahe ng Jolo (There was one gay guy who was hanged in Asturias. There was no investigation done by the police. There were other cases wherein bodies were found beheaded or missing body parts. These were not documented so as not to not tarnish the image of Jolo),” she added.

LGBT people are also allegedly specifically sought out to be discriminated.

Sa probinsya, may mga sundalo na naghahanap ng mga bakla sa mga checkpoints. Pinapaiwan nila sila para mag-training sa kanila. Kung hindi, papatayin din sila doon mismo (In the countryside, there were soldiers who would search gay individuals in checkpoints. Gays are asked to stay behind to do military training; if they don’t agree with the training, they will be killed right there and then),” Merilyn said.

And then there was a case wherein the parents surrendered their gay son for training to make him heterosexual.

Similarly noted were “corrective rapes” among lesbians in Jolo.

May isang tomboy na pina-rape ng kanyang tatay. Kasal na siya ngayon at may anim na anak pero lumlayo na siya sa amin. ‘Yung isa, tinangkaang ipa-rape. Dahil dito, nagbigti siya. Maraming mga lesbian ang lumayas sa kanilang mga pamilya at nakitira na lang sa mga kaibigan  (There was a lesbian whose rape was arranged by her father. She is now married and has six children, and she has isolated herself from her lesbian friends. Another lesbian was almost raped; this led to her committing suicide. Many lesbians have fled from their homes and now live with their friends),” Merilyn said.

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In Zamboanga City, a transgender also reported getting raped.

Eugene Pendergat was 18 years old when she was gang raped.  “Galing ako sa trabaho at ala-una na ng umaga. May sasakyan na tumigil at may mga lalaking nakahubad sa loob at mukhang nakadroga. Pinilit nila ako sa sasakyan, tinalian at binlinfold, at dinala sa tingin ko ay motel (I came from work and it was already 1:00 AM. A car stopped and there were naked guys inside who looked like they were on drugs. They forced me in the car, tied and blindfolded me, and brought me to what I think is a motel),” Eugene recalled.  “Nagmakaawa ako na huwag nila akong patayin dahil ako bumubuhay sa pamilya ko. Mga 4:00 AM na nung iniwan nila ako sa tabi ng daan. Duguan, nakahanap ako ng tricycle at pumunta sa pinakamalapit na police station (I begged them not to kill me because I am the breadwinner of my family. It was 4:00 AM when they just dropped me at the roadside. Bleeding, I found a tricycle and went to the nearest police station).”

Although she reported the incident, she was only ridiculed by the policemen on duty. She remembered being told: “Di mo ba na-enjoy? Blessing ‘yan sa iyo! Ikaw pa nga siguro ang nagbigay ng motibo!  (Did you not enjoy it? That is a blessing for you! You may be the one who made the first move!)”

When she got home, she did not tell her family and just said she just fell in a ditch. She was traumatized for a while and sought professional help.

Sherhan Espinosa, a gay Muslim from Zamboanga, also reported the same response of police authorities, usual when the victims are gays.

Mga five or six years ago, may mga kaso na hinahampas ng kadena sa ulo ang mga bakla na naglalakad sa daan ng mga nakamaskarang naka-motor. Target kami dahil sa tingin nila tayo ay mahina. Nanakawan din ako ng tatlong lalake at sa tingin ko ako ang nakita nilang pinakamadaling nakawan (Five or six years ago, there were cases where gays where hit by chains on the head by masked persons in a single motorcycle. We are targeted because they think we are weak. I was robbed by three men and I think they saw me as the easiest target),” Sherhan said.

Sherhan said that police reports have been filed but no action has ever been served.

And so, it is worth highlighting that much remains to be done to advance the human rights of LGBT Filipinos.

A registered nurse, John Ryan (or call him "Rye") Mendoza hails from Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao (where, no, it isn't always as "bloody", as the mainstream media claims it to be, he noted). He first moved to Metro Manila in 2010 (supposedly just to finish a health social science degree), but fell in love not necessarily with the (err, smoggy) place, but it's hustle and bustle. He now divides his time in Mindanao (where he still serves under-represented Indigenous Peoples), and elsewhere (Metro Manila included) to help push for equal rights for LGBT Filipinos. And, yes, he parties, too (see, activists need not be boring! - Ed).

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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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Photo by Dani Vivanco from Unsplash.com

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.

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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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IMAGE USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSE ONLY; PHOTO DETAIL BY CHRISTIAN STERK FROM UNSPLASH.COM

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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