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Protestant churches to create welcoming communities for LGBT Koreans

Mainline Protestant churches and church councils from Asia, Europe and North America issued “Choosing Life: Creating Communities of Welcome”, a statement outlining concrete steps for Korean churches in addressing the discrimination and inequality experienced by LGBT individuals and communities in Korea.

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Mainline Protestant churches and church councils from Asia, Europe and North America issued “Choosing Life: Creating Communities of Welcome”, a statement outlining concrete steps for Korean churches in addressing the discrimination and inequality experienced by LGBT individuals and communities in Korea.

“Unfortunately, the Korean society, where the Confucian patriarchy and the authoritarian structure of long military dictatorship are deeply rooted, especially the Korean Protestant Church which has grown rapidly since its foundation, has remained in place without any change in its perception toward sexual minorities,” said Rev. Dr. Song Jin-Sun.

The pro-LGBT statement was a product of the Ecumenical Consultation on Gender and Sexuality hosted by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) last May 17-18, 2018 in Seoul, South Korea. The NCCK cited that the main forces that promote homophobia in Korean society are right-wing politicians and Korean fundamentalist/conservative churches.

“Fundamentalist conservative Christianity has strengthened its discrimination of and hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community, and they have been strategically combining conservative politicians and conservative civic groups to strengthen homophobia and their logic of exclusion. Most sexual minorities are silent in church or they have left the church or been kicked out of church, or they have been turning their backs to the church and looking for their own God,” said Rev. Dr. Song Jin-Sun.

The statement hopes to counter this conservative perspective by stating, “God’s dream is for church communities that are welcoming and affirming of all God’s people. In making God’s dream a reality it is necessary that all forms of discrimination, hate and exclusion be eliminated… it is important to discern how churches and societies can work together to live God’s dream of welcome.”

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Experiences on ministries with the LGBT+ communities were shared by The Methodist Church in Britain, Evangelical Kirche in Deutschland, United Church of Canada, United Church of Christ (USA) The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, United Church of Japan, World Student Christian Federation Asia Pacific, and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).

“The journey to inclusion of LGBTQ and two-spirit (2+) persons for the United Church in Canada (UCC) began over 30 years ago and is an ongoing process and reality in the life of the church. Today, because of its commitment to inclusion, the church welcomes ministers/clergy and lay members from other denominations who are seeking safe places to live out the who they are as LGBTQ2+,” said Rev. Michael Blair of UCC.

During the gathering, Outrage Magazine‘s John Ryan Mendoza, NCCP’s representative, shared key points from the gender and sexuality consultation “Love, Diversity & Justice” that gathered church leaders from nine Philippine mainline Protestant and non-Roman Catholic Churches in Quezon City last August 2017.

“NCCP’s member churches affirmed that everyone was created in the image and likeness of God no matter the sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Sin is universal, although similarly universal is the love of God, so that churches are challenged to become a welcoming/affirming/caring /community to provide ministry for all. Members also affirmed the need to focus on human dignity, justice, and gender equality to highlight harmony in diversity,” said Mendoza.

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He added, “even with these affirmations, churches continue to struggle, particularly with changing contexts. These challenges deal with faith traditions, as well as with Biblical and theological grounding/interpretation of texts particularly on issues of sexuality and gender. With heteronormativity continuing to be the widely accepted norm, churches now have to grapple with such issues as the ordination of women into the priesthood, and restructuring of traditional concepts of marriage.”

The statement acknowledged that change in civil and religious systems and structures are urgent, and encouraged the churches in Korea to engage in the following urgent tasks:

  1. Advocate and support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals and communities in civil society by opposing all discriminatory laws and practices which  prohibit  the right to equality as specified in the Constitution  on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity within the legal system; advocate for anti-discrimination laws and other national policies to be passed to prevent discrimination against gender and sexuality minorities, and educate for the eradication of discrimination.
  2. Conduct a three (3) year program (2018-20): to provide a framework for ministries with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals and communities including a study program with the congregation members, visits to partner churches, developing guidelines for LGBT ministries in the church communities.
  3. Open itself to the gift of transformation by creating safe spaces of healing and strive to welcome and embrace LGBT individuals and communities without prejudice and eliminate all restrictions and discrimination in the church structure.

Further, the participants of the Ecumenical Consultation on Gender and Sexuality encourage the National Council of Churches in Korea to:

  1. Give leadership to the three-year (3) program for providing a framework for ministry with and among LGBT individuals and communities.
  2. Request the accompaniment of partner churches through a Joint Task Force
  3. Develop theological resources for the Korean church communities to appreciate a fuller understanding of sexualities and gender identities as a God given gift.
  4. Gather the stories and narratives of the lived experience of LGBT persons both in the church and civil society as an educational resource.

Participants of the ecumenical consultation ended by encouraging the churches and the NCCK to continue to create safe spaces for conversation and respectful dialogue. As well as commit to ongoing accompaniment and the sharing of resources and materials from their civil and religious contexts.

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Rev. Lizette Tapia-Raquel of Union Theological Seminary-Philippines and The United Methodist Church said, “We use the word ‘inclusion’ as if we are being generous, or compassionate. But actually, when you talk about inclusion, who includes? “

“Are we saying that as a Church, we can really exclude anyone? It is not us as a Church but is God who welcomes us all. Maybe we should change our language and stop talking about inclusion but start talking about welcoming, as God welcomes,” she ended.

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Teens ‘mocked’ by their parents are at greater risk for bullying, victimization

Derisive parenting fosters dysregulated anger in adolescent children. Dysregulated anger is indicative of difficulties regulating emotion, which typically result in negative emotions, verbal and physical aggression, and hostility. Increases in dysregulated anger, in turn, place adolescents at greater risk for bullying and victimization, and for becoming bully-victims .

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New evidence suggests that adolescent bullying and victimization may have origins in the home. Many bullies have parents who are hostile, punitive and rejecting. Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and Uppsala University in Sweden, have identified another type of parenting that contributes to peer difficulties: those who direct derision and contempt at their children.

Derisive parents use demeaning or belittling expressions that humiliate and frustrate the child, without any obvious provocation from the child. These parents respond to child engagement with criticism, sarcasm, put-downs and hostility, and rely on emotional and physical coercion to obtain compliance.

The study, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, emphasizes the emotional underpinnings of peer difficulties. The researchers followed 1,409 children for three consecutive years from grades 7 to 9 (ages 13-15 years).

Findings show that derisive parenting fosters dysregulated anger in adolescent children. Dysregulated anger is indicative of difficulties regulating emotion, which typically result in negative emotions, verbal and physical aggression, and hostility. Increases in dysregulated anger, in turn, place adolescents at greater risk for bullying and victimization, and for becoming bully-victims (bullies who also are victimized by other bullies).

The latter finding is noteworthy given that past research indicates that bully-victims are at the greatest risk for poor mental health, behavioral difficulties, and suicidal thoughts when compared to “pure” victims, “pure” bullies, or non-victims. Identification of the family-specific origins of bully-victim status may be a key step in limiting or preventing such poor outcomes.

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Importantly, these findings held after controlling for parenting behaviors implicated in child adjustment, such as warmth, control and physical punishment. This study suggests that derisive behavior is a unique form of parenting that increases the risks that adolescent children will adopt inappropriate anger management strategies that increases their risk for peer difficulties.

“Inappropriate interpersonal responses appear to spread from parents to children, where they spawn peer difficulties. Specifically, derisive parenting precipitates a cycle of negative affect and anger between parents and adolescents, which ultimately leads to greater adolescent bullying and victimization,” said Brett Laursen, Ph.D., co-author and a professor of psychology in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. “Our study is important because it provides a more complete understanding of how parents’ belittling and critical interactions with adolescents thwart their ability to maintain positive relationships with peers.”

Daniel J. Dickson, Ph.D., Department of Psychology at Concordia University, is the senior author of the study.

“Implications from our study are far-reaching: practitioners and parents should be informed of the potential long-term costs of sometimes seemingly harmless parenting behaviors such as belittlement and sarcasm,” said Dickson. “Parents must be reminded of their influence on adolescents’ emotions and should take steps to ensure that adolescents do not feel ridiculed at home.”

Co-authors are Olivia Valdes, a Ph.D. student in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, and Håkan Stattin, Ph.D, Department of Psychology at Uppsala University.

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Loneliness heightened among gay men in certain age group

Research shows men in 25-29 age group are eight times more likely to feel criticized and rejected than younger men.

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Gay men aged 25-29 are eight times more likely to feel criticized and rejected compared with men aged 20 or younger, new University of Hawaii at Manoa research shows.

The reason may be that 25- to 29-year-olds tend to be out of college and in the workforce, where they may face overwhelming social discrimination, according to a study co-authored by Assistant Professor Thomas Lee in the Office of Public Health Studies at the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work.

The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, is part of a recent effort among public health researchers to develop a better understanding of the mental health of the LGBTQ community.

Lee and colleagues administered questionnaires to 367 gay men in China. Some of the surveys were conducted face-to-face, but the majority were administered online. More specifically, the link to the survey was shared with live-chat applications specifically designed for gay men in China.

The men answered questions that allowed the researchers to measure feelings of loneliness and whether the study subjects were experiencing depression, anxiety or other psychological problems.

Several of the questions were aimed at measuring the men’s degree of “interpersonal sensitivity,” defined as a person’s propensity to perceive and elicit criticism and rejection from others. People who are high in interpersonal sensitivity may have difficulty in communicating with others and are susceptible to depression and anxiety.

The findings showed that gay men who had no siblings or college degree and who earned less money than average were more likely have a high degree of interpersonal sensitivity and loneliness. Also, those who had experienced more sexual partners during their lifetimes showed lower measures of interpersonal sensitivity and loneliness.

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“There is great pressure from society and family that may be imposed on (Chinese) gay men,” said Lee. “We found that these men feel criticized and rejected, and that these feelings are linked with loneliness.”

There was no link between disclosing one’s sexual identity to others and men’s degree of interpersonal sensitivity, however, men who had disclosed their sexual identity to others felt less lonely.

“Traditional… culture puts a strong emphasis on family inheritance and reproduction,” said Lee. “Our results suggest that we need to be more aware of… gay men’s mental health and that everyone, especially family members, should offer more support to… gay men and work to create a social environment that is more open and inclusive.”

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Virtual worlds can help social movements raise awareness and create safe spaces – study

Going forward, social movements may make use of other emerging technologies, such as virtual or augmented reality. Insights from this study could provide the analytical tools necessary to understand how different technologies impact LGBT and other movements.

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Online virtual worlds can help social movements raise awareness and create safe spaces for their members, according to a new study by an academic at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The research examined how an LGBT group used a virtual world for their own cause, which was different to its intended design. These worlds are immersive, three-dimensional environments, where users create an avatar, or character, that enables them to interact with other users.

The study, by Dr Brad McKenna of UEA’s Norwich Business School, focused on the game World of Warcraft (WoW) and analyzed data from an LGBT ‘guild’ within it. It looked at how its members used the technology compared to ordinary game play.

The guild, known as ‘Alpha’ for the purposes of the study, was created to “better service the LGBT community and offer a safe, inclusive place to game for members of any sexual orientation or gender identity”. The group was the largest special interest guild in WoW, with up to 7800 members during the course of the study. There were approximately 15,000 characters in the guild, as it was possible for one player to have multiple characters.

The group held regular activities inside the game, including an annual Pride parade, model competitions and dance parties. The movement also had a website with discussion forums.

The findings, published in Information Systems Journal, show how members used the game’s features and virtual environment for their specific needs and objectives. For example, in ordinary game play, players have spells they can use in battle against others. However, the members used these as lighting effects to create an atmosphere during the parade and dance party.

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They also show how the group navigated changes made to the game by the developers. On one occasion, the parade route had to move when the virtual landscape it previously went through changed after an update. 

Another change involved introducing a cap on the size of guilds because the developers found that large ones did not function well in the system. This saw the group having to come up with creative ways to continue their existence without losing members.

To conduct his research Dr McKenna joined the LGBT guild, with permission from its leaders, and participated in their movement over a period of 18 months. He created an avatar, which became his identity when in WoW.

“This study provides some practical examples of how virtual worlds can act as a safe haven for social movements or to create awareness, for example about for LGBT issues, within a broader gaming community,” said Dr McKenna, a lecturer in information systems. “Many group members came from countries that do not support LGBT rights, so this was a safe space for them.

“By understanding the affordances, or possible actions, available to them groups can shape how the world works for them and think of more creative uses of the technology and features, using them in a much different way, without involvement from the game’s developers.

“This paper also raises some important issues for virtual world social movements. If a movement wants to use these worlds to advance their cause, their leaders and members need to be aware of what the virtual world can offer them and how they could use that to their advantage, or be aware of actions which could potentially be a hindrance to their cause.

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“Social movements also need to be aware of the type of virtual world they might use, for example a social virtual world, or a gaming virtual world, as depending on the type, different limitations or affordances might impact the movement.”

Other social movements have previously used WoW, for example to raise awareness for breast cancer, for political rallies and environmental protests. Dr McKenna said the findings may have implications for other users of virtual worlds and businesses.

“Different online communities could use these ideas, look at how the technology can be shaped for their causes. For organisations which operate within virtual worlds, these findings begin to shed light on the issues faced, and suggests that they need to be willing to evolve if they want to continue operating in these environments, which may constantly be changing.

“Going forward, social movements may make use of other emerging technologies, such as virtual or augmented reality. Insights from this study could provide the analytical tools necessary to understand how different technologies impact LGBT and other movements.”

The main sources of data in the study were participant observations, discussion forum data (128,773 posts downloaded), and chat logs. Additional sources included documents from the LGBT movement’s website, other WoW websites, patch notes about changes to the game’s implementation, and informal conversations with other WoW players.

‘Creating Convivial Affordances: a Study of Virtual World Social Movements’, Brad Mckenna, is published in Information Systems Journal.

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Bisexual adults less likely than gay men and lesbians to be ‘out’

Only 19% of those who identify as bisexual say all or most of the important people in their lives are aware of their sexual orientation.

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Bisexual people, believed to account for about four-in-10 LGBT adults, are much less likely than gays and lesbians to be “out” to the important people in their lives. This is according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of survey data from Stanford University.

In “How Couples Meet and Stay Together 2017”, coming out of Stanford University Libraries in Stanford, CA and written by Rosenfeld, Michael J., Reuben J. Thomas, and Sonia Hausen, it was noted that only 19% of those who identify as bisexual say all or most of the important people in their lives are aware of their sexual orientation.

In contrast, 75% of gay and lesbian adults say the same. About one-quarter of bisexual adults (26%) are not “out” to any of the important people in their lives, compared with 4% of gay and lesbian adults. Roughly half of those who are bisexual (54%) are out to some or only a few people.

Coming out is – obviously – a complex experience.

But as early as 2013, in Pew Research Center’s survey of LGBT adults, many bisexuals already stated that they haven’t come out to their parents because they didn’t feel it was important to tell them or the subject never came up. And among those who did come out, bisexual adults reported somewhat different experiences from gays and lesbians.

Around four-in-10 adults who describe themselves as bisexual (43%) say they are sexually attracted to men and women equally. Around the same number (40%) say they are attracted mostly to the opposite gender, and 4% report feeling attracted only to the opposite gender. Twelve percent and 1%, respectively, say they are attracted mostly or only to their own gender.

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Among those with partners, many more bisexual adults are married or in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex than with someone of the same sex (88%).

The earlier, 2013 survey also found that LGBT adults said that bisexual men faced less social acceptance than bisexual women, gay men and lesbians. Only 8% of LGBT adults felt that there was “a lot of social acceptance of bisexual men”, while 46% said there was only “a little or no social acceptance” for the same group. Among bisexuals, 40% reported in 2013 that they had ever been subjected to slurs or jokes, while 31% said they had been rejected by a friend or family member because of their bisexuality.

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Bullying more prevalent in birth-assigned females and out individuals – study

A study found that bullying is more prevalent in birth-assigned females and in out individuals, commonly consisting of homophobic/transphobic (particularly in socially transitioned individuals) or appearance-related (particularly in out individuals) name calling.

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Non-conformity and bullying.

A study found that bullying is more prevalent in birth-assigned females and in out individuals, commonly consisting of homophobic/transphobic (particularly in socially transitioned individuals) or appearance-related (particularly in out individuals) name calling.

In “Experiences and Psychological Wellbeing Outcomes Associated with Bullying in Treatment-Seeking Transgender and Gender-Diverse Youth” – written by Gemma L. Witcomb, Laurence Claes, Walter Pierre Bouman, Elena Nixon, Joz Motmans and Jon Arcelus; and published in LGBT Health – it was also noted that with the bullying, “individuals who reported having experienced bullying showed greater anxiety symptomology and also self-reported anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem as effects of bullying. Birth-assigned females also reported greater effects on family relationships and social life.”

The study noted that bullying in the adult transgender population is actually already well-documented, and yet “less is known about bullying in transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) youth.”

Fortunately, studies have begun to explore experiences of bullying and the associated psychological distress in TGD youth, even if they “often fail to distinguish among the separate groups within LGBT samples.”

It is this that the study sought to explore: the prevalence, nature and outcomes of bullying in TGD youth attending a transgender health service particularly in the UK, taking into account birth-assigned sex and out and social transition status.

A total of 274 TGD people aged 16–25 years participated in the study. The majority of participants (86.5%) reported having experienced bullying, predominantly in school.

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These findings “indicate very high levels of bullying within the young TGD population”. and even those attending a transgender health service, “which affects wellbeing significantly.”

As such, the researchers are calling for “more intervention work and education… to be introduced in schools to reduce bullying.”

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LGBTQIA summit held in Quezon City

Even while having an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) that protects the rights of LGBTQIA people in Quezon City, the city’s LGBTQIA constituents obviously still continue to battle issues that are particular to them and their SOGIE. This is why “responses like this are important” to ensure “continued empowerment”.

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ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF Faustino L. Sabarez III

QUEZON CITY – To have a closer look at the issues faced by LGBTQIA people particularly of Quezon City, an LGBTQIA summit was held here, helmed by Mayor-elect Joy Belmonte who supposedly wanted to “get to the root causes of the issues of the rainbow sector.”

According to Faustino L. Sabarez III, who helms LGBT Pilipinas, which helped organize the summit, even while having an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) that protects the rights of LGBTQIA people in Quezon City, the city’s LGBTQIA constituents obviously still continue to battle issues that are particular to them and their SOGIE. This is why “responses like this are important” to ensure “continued empowerment”.

Dubbed “Gender-fair City”, Quezon City’s ADO was passed in 2014. The ordinance was authored by first district Councilor Lena Marie “Mayen” Juico; and it expanded the 2003 Quezon City Ordinance No. 1309, which prohibited discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace. It also took off from former QC Mayor Herbert Bautista’s office’s order (in 2013) to create the Quezon City Pride Council (QCPC) to integrate the LGBTQIA community in government programs.

Already, according to Sabarez, the office of Belmonte is looking at creating another ordinance that will further cement the important role of LGBTQIA people in the city’s development.

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