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Is Chiz your Vice President for #Eleksyon2016?

Outrage Magazine’s exclusive interview with Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero – who is running as Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines in #Eleksyon2016 – who discusses other issues concerning the LGBT community aside from same-sex marriage, including the long-delayed passage of an anti-discrimination law, development of a gender recognition law, worsening HIV situation in the country and how the LGBT community can push for its issues.

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Citing a basic principle in social justice that those who have less in life should have more in law, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero reiterated his support for the LGBT community, a sector he said that continues to be neglected and is also repeatedly stigmatized.

In an exclusive Outrage Magazine interview, and because the LGBT community is not a one-issue sector, Escudero – who is running for Vice President in the 2016 national elections – discussed other issues concerning the LGBT community aside from same-sex marriage (He is, by the way, for civil partnerships), including the languishing anti-discrimination bill in both Houses of Congress, development of a gender recognition law in the Philippines, worsening HIV situation in the Philippines, inclusion of LGBT people in existing and/or policies being developed, and how the LGBT community can push for its issues.

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW, NOW NA!

In 2014, Escudero co-authored Senate Bill 2358 (Anti-Discrimination Bill, along with Presidentiable Sen. Grace Poe), which eyed to make any form of discrimination a “crime against humanity and human dignity”.

For Escudero, “simpleng batas yun na hindi naman dapat kontrahin ninuman (It’s a simple law that should not be hindered by anyone).”

However, Escudero said, “binibigyan ng kahulugan ng iba (others assume it has a different intention)” even if these assumptions are not stipulated in the proposed bill.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), for instance, has repeatedly expressed its opposition (which turned into partial support) against an anti-discrimination bill as it could open the door for the legalization of same-sex marriages in the Philippines; a position shared by others in Congress (e.g. Sen. Vicente Sotto III).

For Escudero, an anti-discrimination law simply states that “pantay-pantay ang bawat tao anuman ang kanilang sexual orientation, anuman ang kanilang paniniwala (everyone is equal irrespective of sexual orientation, or whatever their beliefs).”

Considering that passing an anti-discrimination law continues to be challenging, Escudero said that it is important to open the minds of the people, “lalo na ng ating mga mambabatas (more particularly our lawmakers),” he said.

Escudero added that often, this becomes an election issue, but afterwards, politicians forget about it. And so “mahalaga at imortante ang pagkakataong ito kung saan pinipili natin ang ating mga mambabatas… na alamin ang bawat isa (kung) ano ba ang kanilang posisyon sa bagay na ito, isusulong ba nila ‘yan o hindi (elections are valuable and important times when we select our lawmakers… to ask each of them what their position is on this matter, and if they will advocate for this or not).”

Escudero even suggested having a covenant that will specify this support; and that the LGBT community can use the same to remind politicians of their promise once they get into power.

May karapatan ang botante na hilingin yun sa mga kumakandidato at tanungin yun sa mga nagnanais manilbihan sa pamahalaan (Voters have the right to ask for this from political candidates, and ask for the same for those who want to serve in the government),” he said.

DEVELOPING A GENDER RECOGNITION LAW

In 2012, Escudero received flak from some in the transgender community in the Philippines.

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With Senate Bill 3113, Escudero sought to amend RA 9048, which authorizes the city or municipal civil registrar or the consul general to correct a clerical or typographical error in an entry and/or change the first name or nickname in the civil register without need of a judicial order.

Senate Bill 3113, however, expressly states that no petition for a change of gender by a person who has undergone sex change or sex transplant will be entertained.

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), then helmed by Naomi Fontanos of GANDA Filipinas, violated the rights of trans Filipinos as human beings.

“But upon close inspection, you will see that RA 9048, the law that they seek to amend, is actually antitransgender in the first place, and… SB 3113 affirm(s) the transphobia inherent in RA 9048,” Fontanos was quoted as saying.

At that time, Escudero said that “there is no such intention (to violate anyone’s right). It simply seeks to facilitate and make easier corrections based on error and easily verifiable without that need to go through a complicated and expensive court process.”

Also, in a letter of clarification coming from Escudero’s office, the proposal from the trans community cannot be accommodated “since doing so would make the bill itself unconstitutional.”

The proposal, instead, was to have a “measure similar to or a magna carta may be drafted given the uniqueness of your position in Philippine society.”

Now aware of the transgender community’s need for a gender recognition law, Escudero said he was actually fascinated the first time he heard of this – “Fascinated in the sense that it’s advanced human rights; it’s advanced in the sense that everything in your license, everything in your birth certificate can now be determined by the person himself. Nothing to be determined by the accident of birth. That is advanced citizenship, and I am all for it,” he said. “Pabor ako at gusto kong makita ang ating bansa na may ganyang uri ng paggalang sa karapatang pantao (I am in favor of this and I want to see our country have this kind of respect to human rights).”

Escudero is, nonetheless, cognizant that this may not yet be timely considering that even the anti-discrimination bill is not progressing. However, for him, “hindi yan rason o dahilan para hindi simulang isulong (that’s not reason for people not to start pushing for this).”

WORSENING HIV SITUATION

In December 2015, the Department of Health’s (DOH) Epidemiology Bureau reported 650 new cases of HIV infections, which was 28% higher compared to the 2014 figure. Ninety-seven percent were male, with the median age of 27, and with more than half belonging to the 25-34 year age group, while 28% were youths belonging to the 15-24 year age group.

This continues the upward trend in HIV infections in the country, already shamed for being one of only a handful of countries where HIV infections continue to increase.

And with 88% of the sexually transmitted cases of HIV infection in the Philippines involving men who have sex with men (MSM, involving gay and bisexual men), HIV continues to be an issue for the LGBT community.

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For Escudero, the government should not pretend that there’s no problem. He believes that DOH and PhilHealth should have active roles here, such as in information dissemination, particularly in preventing HIV infection since “mas mura pa rin kasi yun kesa gamutin natin ang ating kababayang maysakit na. HIV or AIDS or anumang karamdaman, sana preventive ang mas pagtutuunan ng pansin (prevention is still cheaper than treating our fellow Filipinos who already have HIV, AIDS or any other ailment, so preventive efforts should be prioritized).”

But since there are already Filipinos with HIV, and since services continue to be lacking, Escudero is critical with the current responses.

“The services continue to be lacking because, I think, the government is trying to ignore it, the government is trying to look the other way, the government refuses to accept that there is a problem. The first step in resolving any problem is admitting that there is a problem. That the problem is increasing. That the problem is not so small that you can simply sweep it under the rug. It’s something that must be confronted by the government head-on,” he said.

Escudero added that this may also form part of the anti-discrimination efforts of the LGBT community since this affects its members and “pinipili marahil ng gobyerno na huwag masyadong tingnan, huwag masyadong pansinin ito. Pero para sa akin ang sakit ay sakit, ang buhay ay buhay at obligasyon ng pamahalaan na tiyakin at subukan at sikapin na iligtas ang buhay ng bawat mamamayan niya (maybe the government is choosing not to pay attention to this, not to give this as much attention. But for me, an illness is an illness, life is life, and it’s the government’s duty to ensure and try to save the lives of all its people).”

INTERCONNECTION OF LGBT ISSUES WITH PHL ISSUES

Perhaps to be taken as recognition (knowingly or not) of the interconnection of LGBT issues with other mainstream social issues, Escudero – with Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago – called for a review of the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US following the killing of 26-year-old transpinay Jennifer Laude in the hands of American serviceman Joseph Scott Pemberton.

Now, with policies still being developed, Escudero said that the ideal is to include minority sectors – e.g. in the case of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, for instance, which affects many LGBT people in Muslim areas.

Escudero said that the government’s panel’s decision to speak only with one group (the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF) is the reason why Senate couldn’t pass it. “Dahil wala silang ibang kinausap, inakala nila na sila na lang ang mga nagmamay-ari ng lahat ng talento, galing, talino at magandang intensyon para sa ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) o BBL area (Because they didn’t talk to others, they assumed that they have the exclusive right over all talents, goodness, intelligence and good intentions for ARMM or BBL area),” Escudero said.

SHOULD LAWS BE MADE TO CHANGE CULTURE, OF SHOULD CULTURE BE RECEPTIVE BEFORE LAWS SHOULD BE MADE?

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Considering that a law can only do so much if the culture of intolerance perpetuates, Escudero was asked which should be prioritized: making laws (that may have a hard time getting implemented) or changing hearts and minds before laws are made.

“It’s a ‘chicken and egg’ thing. Minsan nauuna ang kultura at sumusunod ang batas; minsan nauuna ang batas at sumusunod ang kultura (Sometimes cultural change comes first before laws; and sometimes laws are made and cultural change follows),” he said.

Escudero said that for him, there are two principles to note here.

On the one hand, Escudero questions why it is okay to have personal relationships with LGBT people, but “pag usaping pangkalahatan na – komunidad at bansa na ang pinag-uusapan – bakit kailangang mag-iba yun? Kung tanggap at normal at okay sa pang-personal na lebel na relasyon, bakit biglang mag-iiba (when the issue shifts to community or national level, why do relationships with LGBT people change? If relationships with LGBT people are okay at the personal level, why should these change [at any level])?”

On the other hand, “ang batas inimbento, ang gobyerno inimbento para protektahan ang minoriya, para protektahan at pangalagaan ang karapatan nung konti, nung naaapi, nung marahil hindi kasing-kaya ipagtanggol ang kanilang sarili kumpara sa mas nakakaraming sektor o miyembro ng isang lipunan. Kung ganyang pananaw ang ating gagamitin, walang dahilan para hindi ipasa ang gender recognition law o anti-discrimination at iba pang batas na ang layunin ay bigyang pagpapahalaga at proteksyon ang sektor ng LGBT na maliwanag ay nasa minority ng ating lipunan (at) matagal nang hindi pinapansin at niyuyurakan at kailangan na pantayin ng batas (laws are inventions, the government is an invention to protect the minorities, to protect at look after the rights of the few, those who are oppressed, maybe those who cannot defend themselves compared to most in society. If that is the lens that we use, there’s no reason that laws like gender recognition and anti-discrimination or others that will give importance and protect the LGBT sector that is clearly not given attention and whose rights are trampled, and therefore should be made equal by law),” Escudero said.

For Escudero, “those who have less in life should have more in law.”

CALL FOR PARTICIPATION

Escudero says that for the LGBT community to continue pushing its issues, it has to know that “hindi illegal mag-lobby sa Kongreso (it is not illegal to lobby in Congress).”

Escudero said that often, when people speak with politicians, many immediately become suspicious that influence-peddling is happening. But he said that this is just “bahagi yun ng karapatan ninyo bilang mga mamamayan na paalalahanan ang inyong mga kinatawan (it is part of your right as citizens to remind your representatives).”

Escudero advocates having an LGBT representative in Congress; and for LGBT people to “makilahok kayo sa bawat usapin (join all discussions)”, with the latter, he said, gaining ground as more LGBT people come out to help change minds.

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Though he grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City in Maguindanao), even attending Roman Catholic schools there, he "really, really came out in Sydney," he says, so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language (FSL). Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

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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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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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