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UN holds first high-level meeting on rights of LGBT people

The United Nations (UN) held its first-ever high-level meeting on LGBT rights, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressing “outrage” that so many face violence, discrimination and disapproval.

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PHOTO BY BENJIE VILLACRUEL

The United Nations (UN) held its first-ever high-level meeting on LGBT rights, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressing “outrage” that so many face violence, discrimination and disapproval.

According to Ban, “the facts are disturbing. Every year, hundreds are killed, thousands are badly hurt, and millions live their lives under a shadow of discrimination and disapproval. That is an outrage. Many governments refuse to acknowledge human rights abuses against LGBT people – or accept responsibility for ending them. Several countries are bucking the tide of history with draconian new punishments for being gay – or even just talking about being gay.”

He added that he particularly worries “for children and youth who are bullied at school, thrown out of their homes or living on the streets. These abuses will only end when countries take concrete steps to protect people: new laws, policies and programmes. This takes leadership and a commitment to work with affected communities.”

Almost 40 countries now legally recognize same-sex couples. This year, as Ban noted, Mozambique, Seychelles and Nauru decriminalized homosexuality this year. Nontheless, over 70 countries worldwide still have laws making homosexuality a crime.

Ban added: “I ask those who use religious or cultural arguments to deprive LGBT people of their human rights: what do you gain by making others less equal? Is your religion or culture so weak that the only way you can sustain it is by denying others their basic rights? There is no room in our 21st century for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The UN prides itself of its recent efforts on LGBT human rights, including the first UN Security Council action on sexual orientation, creation of a new UN independent expert role on sexual orientation and gender identity by the UN Human Rights Council, and its UN Free and Equal campaign.

Various heads of State attended the high-level meeting, including Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and US Vice President Joe Biden, who specifically called out Russia, Uganda and Egypt for their anti-LGBT laws.

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Pushing to be pro-LGBTQIA beyond Pride month

Many companies surface during Pride month to claim their supposed pro-LGBTQIA credentials, meriting a closer look. Outrage Magazine interviews Everise Philippines on this.

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Screencap from the FB page of Everise Philippines

For June, just as members of the LGBTQIA community marked Pride, Everise Philippines – one of the emerging BPOs in the country – launched the “Love Experience” (LX) campaign to symbolize the company’s move to “encourage empathy and acceptance of all”; and released the “LX Heartbeat Headset” to “spark dialogue about how change has to come from within” via a rainbow-inspired headset (which is, obviously, ubiquitous in the BPO industry).

“As a vehicle for communication, (this) is intended to remind people that no matter who is on the other end of the line, it is important to listen with an empathetic ear and turn any hateful speech into an open and tolerant dialogue,” the company stated in a press release at that time.

But much has been said about the “participation” of private companies in LGBTQIA Pride, with many of them traversing a thin line that could signify real support or… to be honest, co-opting of the rainbow to boost image and, thus, the bottom-lines (and many times, Pride organizers are complacent to this).

This is, therefore, where various companies’ after-Pride efforts merit scrutiny; on whether what they do is just for show, or they really mean to help a community that continues to experience discrimination.

At least for Everise Philippines, “diversity is one of Everise’s core values and is embedded in our culture,” said Ma Ann Reyes, VP for human resources. And “although affirmative action helps with our diversity goals, we are conscious that it should not be the basis for decision making, because it can lead to reverse discrimination.”

And so the company contributes to the “larger community” by providing donations (e.g. car rides and clothes; just as it gives daily essentials to elderly gay people who have no family).

Beyond handouts, though, and “since the company’s inception, Everise Philippines has offered same-sex benefits, “including maternity benefit schemes, and healthcare policies where partners can be listed as dependents.” Gender-neutral bathrooms are also available in offices.

“Everise Philippines provides equal employment opportunities to our people irrespective of gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality, color, physical ability or sexual orientation. Our employees are given the same fair access to opportunities, including access to jobs, training and development, and promotional opportunities. Our compensation and benefits policies do not favor any individual group, and is based on the experience, skills and overall contribution to business goals,” said Reyes.

Asked if the company has future plans in helping the LGBTQIA community re: A) Pushing for anti-discrimination bill/law in the Philippines; Pushing for marriage equality; and C) Pushing for gender recognition law in the country, Reyes said that “when it comes to our people’s welfare, we make a stand that they should not be discriminated against and we maintain our commitment to diversity and inclusion practices.”

For Reyes, “the workplace should be a safe and comfortable space for everyone, and businesses have the responsibility of keeping it that way. For many LGBTQIA employees, this isn’t always the case, and workplace discrimination often goes unnoticed. However, if businesses were to introduce policies and measures that support the LGBTQIA community, it could have a direct impact on individuals, which can lessen discrimination and increase openness. By creating an LGBTQIA inclusive environment, LGBTQIA staff can be themselves, feel more welcome, and thrive within any company.”

In the end, “Everise Philippines’ success and growth… are determined by its ability to welcome, understand, and efficiently manage diversity. We believe that when people of
different backgrounds and beliefs work together as a team, we progress collectively. By promoting this internally within Everise Philippines, we hope our culture will spread externally around the world and showcase how successful a company can be when everyone has a voice,” Reyes said.

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73% of LGBTQ youth bullied for reasons beyond their sexual identity

Ninety-one percent (91%) of LGBTQ adolescents in a US survey report at least one experience of bias-based bullying.

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Photo by Christian Sterk from Unsplash.com

Ninety-one percent (91%) of LGBTQ adolescents in a US survey report at least one experience of bias-based bullying, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine by researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. This number is more than double estimates from previous studies with predominantly heterosexual youth.

By the time they reach middle school, sexual and gender minority (SGM) adolescents are at heightened risk of suicide, depression, sleep troubles, and eating disorders. These health consequences often stem from the distress of being stigmatized for their sexual and gender identities. Based on this knowledge, researchers wanted to learn whether being mistreated for other reasons (such as their weight, race/ethnicity, religion, disability status) also contributes to their health.

“When considering approaches to reduce health risk, we need to better understand the wide range of bias-based bullying experienced by SGM adolescents,” says Leah Lessard, postdoctoral fellow at the Rudd Center and lead author of the study. “Given that multiple forms of bias-based bullying can worsen negative health behaviors, it is critical to understand how school-based interventions, such as Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs), may be able to reduce targeted bullying.”

The study reports findings from the LGBTQ National Teen Survey, a comprehensive survey conducted in partnership with the Human Rights Campaign to assess victimization, health behaviors, family relationships, and experiences of LGBTQ adolescents across the United States. Researchers asked participants ages 13-17 questions about school-based GSAs, their experiences of bias-based bullying, and health risk indicators, including stress, sleep problems, depression, and unhealthy weight behaviors.

Key findings include:

  • 73% of SGM adolescents surveyed reported experiences of bias-based bullying for reasons beyond their sexual or gender identities, such as being bullied because of their body weight (57%), race/ethnicity (30%) and religion (27%).
  • Each type of bullying was positively related to health risk, including depression, sleep problems, stress, and unhealthy weight control behaviors.
  • The presence of a Gay Straight Alliance at school was associated with less bullying of students for their weight, gender, religion, disability, and sexuality.

Given these results, GSAs have positive implications for not only students facing LGBTQ-related bullying, but also for those who experience other types of bias-based bullying. By reducing rates of targeted victimization, these organizations may help lower the risk of unhealthy behaviors in vulnerable adolescents.

“The harmful effects and wide range of bias-based bullying experienced by SGM youth calls attention to the importance of promoting broad-reaching inclusion and acceptance within schools, ” said Lessard. “Due to the breadth of stigma-reduction across multiple social identities, our results underscore GSAs as a promising avenue to support healthy outcomes for SGM youth.”

These findings are particularly important as schools face new challenges in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As smartphones and social media usage increase, the possibility for bias-based cyberbullying does too. Educators and student leaders can host virtual GSA meetings and utilize online learning platforms to continue to foster social inclusion for adolescents at risk for victimization in the absence of in-person meetings.

Study co-authors include Leah Lessard, Rebecca Puhl, Ryan Watson of the University of Connecticut.

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Study finds an unconscious stereotype linked to gender

People explicitly say that they associate women with brilliance. Yet implicit measures reveal a different story about the more automatic gender stereotypes that come to mind when thinking about brilliance.

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Men are more likely than are women to be seen as “brilliant,” finds a study measuring global perceptions linked to gender. The work concludes that these stereotyped views are an instance of implicit bias, revealing automatic associations that people cannot, or at least do not, report holding when asked directly.

The research, which appears in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, was conducted by scientists at New York University, the University of Denver, and Harvard University.

“Stereotypes that portray brilliance as a male trait are likely to hold women back across a wide range of prestigious careers,” observes Daniel Storage, an assistant professor in the University of Denver’s Department of Psychology and the paper’s lead author.

“Understanding the prevalence and magnitude of this gender-brilliance stereotype can inform future efforts to increase gender equity in career outcomes,” adds Andrei Cimpian, an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and the paper’s senior author.

Previous work by Cimpian and his colleagues has suggested that women are underrepresented in careers where success is perceived to depend on high levels of intellectual ability (e.g., brilliance, genius), including those in science and technology.

Less understood are the factors that explain this phenomenon. To address this, the new Journal of Experimental Social Psychology study explored the potential impact of stereotypes. For example, perhaps the qualities of genius and brilliance are associated in people’s minds with men more than with women–and, as a result, women are less encouraged to pursue these fields–or the atmosphere of these fields is less welcoming to women.

However, accurately measuring stereotyping is a challenge. People are often reluctant to admit they have stereotypes, so asking directly about these beliefs is unlikely to provide an accurate measure of whether they endorse the idea that brilliance is more common among men than it is among women.

To overcome this methodological obstacle, the researchers adopted a test that is geared to measure stereotyping indirectly. Here, the aim is to capture implicit stereotypes–or the automatic associations that come to mind between certain traits (e.g., brilliance) and certain groups (e.g., men). This is in contrast to explicit stereotyping, in which we knowingly and verbally ascribe traits to groups of people.

The team employed a long-established tool, the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which measures the degree of overlap between concepts (e.g., brilliant and male) without explicitly asking subjects whether or not they hold stereotyped views.

The IAT is essentially a speeded sorting task. In the study, participants saw a series of stimuli (such as a picture of a woman or the word “brilliant”) on a computer screen and were asked to sort them into two categories by pressing either the E or the I key on their keyboard. For example, in some trials participants were asked to press E if they saw a stimulus that is related to either the category male or the trait brilliant. On other trials, the sorting rule was different. For example, the gender categories were swapped such that participants had to press E if they saw a stimulus that is related to either the category female or the trait brilliant.

The logic of the IAT, the authors explain, is as follows: If brilliant is more associated with male than with female in people’s minds, then participants will be faster to sort the stimuli when brilliant and male are paired with the same response key–because the stereotype makes these two concepts seem like they “go together”–than when brilliant and female are paired.

Across a series of five studies, which included U.S. women and men, U.S. girls and boys (ages 9 and 10), and women and men from 78 other countries, the researchers consistently found evidence for an implicit stereotype associating brilliance with men more than with women. The magnitude of this stereotype was striking as well–for example, it was similar in strength to the implicit stereotype that associates men more than women with careers (and women more than men with the family), which was identified in earlier work.

The team also gauged explicit stereotypes, directly asking subjects whether they believed that men are more brilliant than women. In marked contrast to the implicit stereotyping measures, subjects reported disagreeing with this idea–and, in one study, explicitly associated the quality of being “super smart” with women more than with men. The finding is consistent with previous scholarship showing that people are unlikely admit to stereotyping, reinforcing the importance of measuring such perceptions through more subtle means.

Tessa Charlesworth, a doctoral student at Harvard University and co-author of the paper, notes that “a particularly exciting finding from this work is that, if anything, people explicitly say that they associate women with brilliance. Yet implicit measures reveal a different story about the more automatic gender stereotypes that come to mind when thinking about brilliance.”

The paper’s author team also included Mahzarin Banaji, Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University.

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Opposition to sexual- and gender-minority rights linked to support for Christian dominance

Opposition to sexual- and gender-minority rights was correlated with Christian and political conservatism, and with the belief that Christians should be the dominant group in society.

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Many Christian and political conservatives in support legislation to deny sexual and gender minorities the rights others enjoy: unfettered access to jobs, housing, services and public facilities; the opportunity to marry as they choose; and the right to adopt a child.

A study published in the American Journal of Community Psychology offers insight into the factors that correlate with support for such laws. The study asked 1,015 heterosexual college undergraduates who self-identified as either Christian (68%) or nonreligious a series of questions to determine their thoughts and attitudes about Christian privilege and power in society. The researchers also asked whether participants supported or opposed efforts to curtail the rights of sexual and gender minorities.

In the US for instance, “aAlthough same-sex marriage is now the law of the land… there continue to be problems with employment discrimination, housing discrimination and other types of discrimination against sexual and gender minorities,” said Nathan Todd, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who led the study. “One of the key barriers to those rights has been opposition from some Christian and political conservatives. We wanted to know whether people’s ideas about political power explain some of this opposition.”

Todd and his colleagues evaluated participants’ take on Christian power and influence in society. The students were asked to rank how strongly they agreed or disagreed with statements such as: “To be Christian is to have religious advantage in this country.” Or, “Christianity is valued more in this society than other religions.”

The researchers also asked participants whether Christians “should have religious advantage in this country,” or if Christianity “should be valued more in this society than other religions.” These questions differentiated participants’ awareness of advantages conferred to Christians in the U.S. from the belief that such advantages are right and should exist, Todd said.

Because Christian practices and traditions are so embedded in life and politics, identifying as Christian confers a lot of privileges, he said.

“People who are Christian are not singled out or asked to speak for their religion on a regular basis, as members of other religions often are,” Todd said. “Christians (including the US) do not face systemic bias or violence based on their religion and they do not live in fear of this type of experience.”

Other advantages stem from the fact that government and school calendars revolve around the Christian sabbath and Christian holidays. A large majority of elected officials also identify as Christian.

“All of these factors work together to the advantage of Christians,” Todd said.

Participants also rated their support or opposition to specific sexual- and gender-minority rights, such as the right to marry, to adopt children or to have equal access to jobs and housing, and to use public bathroom facilities that align with one’s gender identity. They also rated how strongly they identified as political conservatives, and Christian students rated how strongly their religious beliefs aligned with conservative Christian views.

“Our analyses revealed that opposition to sexual- and gender-minority rights was correlated with Christian and political conservatism, and with the belief that Christians should be the dominant group in society,” Todd said.

Further analyses suggested that greater support for Christians being the dominant group in power in the society partially explains why Christian conservatives and political conservatives oppose sexual- and gender-minority rights, he said. These findings were consistent across Christian and nonreligious students.

“Our goal with this study is not to antagonize or demonize political or Christian conservatives, but to learn more about what drives them to support or oppose sexual- and gender-minority rights,” Todd said. “I also think it’s a mistake to characterize all Christians as thinking or acting the same way, especially as some Christians do support rights for sexual and gender minorities.”

Todd said he hopes the research will increase constructive dialogue by promoting a broader understanding of the relationship between Christianity, politics, and sexual- and gender-minority rights.

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Focus on strengths that mothers exercise to protect children from domestic abuse – study

“A strengths-based approach is essential if we are to move towards more positive and empowered practices of safety and protection. Sadly, we cannot remove women and children from these terrible scenarios without taking a good look at the society which tolerates domestic abuse and blames women for being victimized.”

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As emerging data shows an alarming rise of domestic violence during the pandemic, researchers at the University of South Australia are urging practitioners to look beyond clinical observations and focus on the strengths that mothers exercise to protect their children from domestic abuse.

The call follows UniSA research that upends the perception that abused women are unable to adequately protect their children, instead revealing the ways that women think and act to shield their children from abuse, often at the expense of their own personal safety.

In the past 12 months, more than 243 million women and girls (aged 15-49) across the globe, were subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner. In Australia alone, one in six (or 1.6 million women) experienced physical or sexual violence with 80 per cent experiencing coercive control by a current or previous partner since the age of 15. More than a quarter of the women said that children in their care had witnessed this violence and abuse.

Lead researcher and social worker, UniSA’s Dr. Fiona Buchanan, says practitioners need to recognize mothers’ protective behavior if they are to work towards increasing safety for women and children living in abusive environments.

“Far too often, women are perceived as passive victims of domestic abuse, who while enduring unconscionable abuse, are unable to protect their own children,” Buchanan says. “But what many practitioners don’t realize is that these women are protecting their children in many unseen ways, that hope to reduce the likelihood of an abusive partner lashing out.”

The mothers in the research talked about the things they did to avoid conflict with their partners, things like controlling the home environment – e.g. making sure dinner was ready and on the table; ensuring the children were clean and quiet; and by making sure the house was neat and tidy.

“By trying to pre-empt abuse, they sought to limit their partner’s aggressive outbursts, effectively managing his mood and behaviour to safeguard their children’s wellbeing.”

The study also showed that mothers intentionally tried to ‘keep the peace’ by purposely avoiding conflict with aggressive partners.

“Protective behaviors could span anything from keeping the children out of harm’s way when they thought an assault was likely to occur, to putting themselves physically close to their abuser to try and placate him,” Buchanan says.

“In this instance, despite wanting to put distance between them and their violent partner, they placed themselves closer to the danger, arguably increasing risk to themselves in order to reduce the risk to the children.”

Using interviews and focus groups UniSA’s Buchanan and Professor Nicole Moulding explored the lived experiences of 16 women who had mothered children in domestic abuse, hoping to better understand their thoughts, feelings and actions during that time. Each of the women had left their abusive partner at least one year prior to participating in the study.

Buchanan warns that practitioners who rely on attachment theory (the observed emotional bonds between children and caregivers) in child protection practice are at risk of overlooking invisible acts of protective agency.

“Despite the popularity of attachment theory in child protection, it does not offer much guidance about supporting women and children living in abusive home environments, especially as it categorizes the child-mother relationship without context,” Buchanan says. “Clinical observation downplays the protective role of mothers in abusive relationships and promotes a notion of ‘bad mothering’.

There is also no evidence to assume that abused women are worse mothers.

“Instead of identifying deficits and assigning blame, practitioners should seek to understand the invisible behaviors that women engage in behind closed doors to protect their children from abuse,” Buchanan says. “A strengths-based approach is essential if we are to move towards more positive and empowered practices of safety and protection. Sadly, we cannot remove women and children from these terrible scenarios without taking a good look at the society which tolerates domestic abuse and blames women for being victimized.”

Other domestic abuses statistics noted by the study:

  • On average one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner
  • One in four women have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner since the age of 15
  • 80 per cent of women in domestic abuse situations experience coercive control
  • One in five women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15
  • Almost 40 per cent of women continue to experience violence from a partner while temporarily separated
  • One in six women have experienced stalking since the age of 15
  • Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and their children.
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Gay and bisexual youth more likely to abandon churchgoing as they reach adulthood

Because of stigmatization, lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are less likely to affiliate with a religious group – but research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Old Dominion University suggests they are not abandoning their faith altogether.

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Religious beliefs have shaped societal attitudes toward sexual minorities, with many religious denominations vocally opposing expanded sexual minority rights. Because of this stigmatization, lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are less likely to affiliate with a religious group – but research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Old Dominion University suggests they are not abandoning their faith altogether.

In a study, sociologists Brandi Woodell and Philip Schwadel found that emerging adults – from adolescence to early adulthood – with same-sex attraction are twice as likely to disaffiliate from organized religion than their heterosexual peers, but there was little change in prayer.

“I think that is something we expected, that there’d be a difference between affiliation on one hand and prayer on the other,” said Schwadel, Happold Professor of Sociology at Nebraska. “In the previous research on adolescent religion, in particular, and in later adolescence or early emerging adulthood, we see a lot of declines in the organized aspects of religion, but we see less of a decline in prayer. Prayer is something people can often do on their own at home or wherever they want.”

And, not in an environment that may be stigmatizing toward sexual minorities, the authors wrote in the paper.

The scholars used two longitudinal surveys, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, and the National Study of Youth and Religion to examine — for the first time — these declines in religiosity over time for sexual minorities in emerging adulthood.

“Almost all previous research was cross-sectional, only looking at, ‘do people who identify as gay or lesbian – are their religious activities and beliefs different?'” Schwadel said. “It didn’t look at how they change over time, especially during this stage of the life course, when individuals are really figuring out who they are.”

The study also showed a significant difference in religiosity declines between gay and bisexual individuals, further demonstrating that sexual minorities are not a monolithic group.

Woodell, a 2018 Nebraska alumna and assistant professor of sociology at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, said this study joins a novel line of research examining the differences between bisexual, gay and lesbian individuals.

“Past research has most often combined sexual minorities into one group, and that was largely due to a lack of data that separated them, but some newer research has suggested there are differences, which led us to separate the groups out,” Woodell said. “We found that those who identify as bisexual show a greater decline in their religious attendance than gay and lesbian individuals.”

This difference could be explained by some research that has found bisexuals are less likely to be accepted than their gay counterparts, even in affirming denominations, Woodell said.

“There is newer research showing that bisexuals have experienced stigmatization in their congregation because their sexuality is viewed as a choice,” Woodell said.

While the study found little change in prayer among the sexual minority groups, there was a small decline among bisexuals. Schwadel and Woodell said they are pursuing this research further, breaking down differences among gender.

“We’re currently looking at how these things differ for men and women,” Schwadel said. “We know that gender is strongly related to religiosity, and we expect that gender plays a role in terms of how sexuality is related to religious change.”

Further research is also needed, they said, to examine how these declines in religiosity among lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals continue to change in later adulthood.

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