Friday, October 31, 2008

MASKS and THE TRUTH: "Trick or Treat?" Where Halloween and Politics collide!

I think this year it feels especially appropriate how Halloween and Election Day are so close together.

There's so much in politics about pretending...

After all, on Nov 4th we're going to figure out the successor to the Administration that brought us:

The Healthy Forests Initiative, which environmentalists have dubbed the "No Tree Left Behind" Act.

"Clean Water" and "Clean Air" policies which allowed MORE contaminants in our water supplies and air - like how they allowed power plants to be exempted from controlling their mercury pollution!

Minorities "represented" by appointed people of that minority who actually work AGAINST their group of origin (Condoleezza Rice is a good example - check out this argument here.)


moments like this:

"If we are saying that the loss of species in and of itself is inherently bad -- I don't think we know enough about how the world works to say that."

-Interior Department Assistant Secretary Craig Manson, appointed by President Bush to position overseeing the Endangered Species Act, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 12, 2003

Really, with politics in this state of masking the truth, who needs a Batman costume?

And with Sarah Palin, we have an anti-women's rights woman who may very well become the most powerful woman in America. And if McCain is elected and dies in office, Sarah Palin will become President of the United States of America. And that day will be no triumph for women. Or any of us.

So let's keep our Masks for Halloween. And let's get the truth back into politics.

Vote on November 4th.

And even though we always say "Trick or Treat!" Perhaps, as a country, we're ready for a future without these kinds of "Tricks."

What do you think?

Don't forget to BLOG the VOTE on Monday!

To get involved with "Blog The Vote" - where kid and adult lit bloggers blog on Monday Nov 3rd about WHY it's so important to Vote on Nov 4, 2008, send an email with a url for your blog post to one of the three of us:

me leewind(at)roadrunner(dot)com

Colleen Mondor over at Chasing Ray colleen(at)chasingray(dot)com

Gregory K. over at Gotta Book blogthevote(at)gmail(dot)com

Colleen will be compiling a master list of posts - we'll pull a great quote from each one of your posts and add it with a link to the list.

Make sure you keep it nice - this is not the place for partisan mean-ness. (Anyone overstepping that guideline will not be included.)

Also, at the bottom of YOUR post, please include a link back to the master list over at chasingray (Colleen will have the master list up on Sunday, Nov 2, so it'll be easy to find.)

Thanks to Sarah Stevenson for the "Blog The Vote" Graphic - feel free to grab it and use it on your own posts!!!

We hope you join in!



Thursday, October 30, 2008


Okay, let's think about this:

The basis for most arguments against same-gender marriage and for Prop 8 (which would amend our California state constitution to eliminate marriage rights for Gay and Lesbian couples) boils down to:

The Bible doesn't approve of same-gender marriage.

Well, guess what?

The Bible doesn't approve of divorce. Or re-marriage after divorce.

What's missing from the arguments about Prop 8 is that we're not talking about religious groups being compelled to conduct religious weddings they don't agree with - this is about CIVIL marriage - our government's recognition of a couple's status as a family.

If the government is going to be involved in the institution of marriage at all (via recognition, licensing, and different financial and social rights and responsibilities for married people) it needs to do so without a religious filter.

The current law allowing Gay and Lesbian couples to marry in our State does not force or otherwise compel any Church or religious organization to recognize or perform same-gender marriages.

This is a clear case of religion overstepping its bounds by trying to impose religious beliefs against same-gender marriage into civil law.

Imagine if religion overstepped once again to impose its beliefs against divorce and subsequent remarriage into civil law. What if there was a referendum on the CIVIL legality of divorce and remarriage? What if we outlawed divorce?

It would seem that many religious conservatives have accepted divorce and remarriage - certainly there are many many examples of divorce from within their ranks. A recent Barna Study showed that:

Among married born again Christians, 35% have experienced a divorce. That figure is identical to the outcome among married adults who are not born again: 35%.

Multiple divorces are also unexpectedly common among born again Christians. Barna’s figures show that nearly one-quarter of the married born agains (23%) get divorced two or more times.

Why are these religious conservatives flexible in terms of allowing and accepting divorce, and have no flexibility in terms of allowing and accepting same-gender marriage?

The answer, I believe, is simple:

They don't want same-gender marriage for themselves.
But divorce? That works for them, thanks.

No matter what the Bible Says.

Interesting, isn't it?

Vote No on Prop 8.
Keep religious marriage and CIVIL marriage separate.

And if Prop 8 passes, watch out for Prop 8A - A referendum to amend our State Constitution to Eliminate Divorce.

The election is coming up on Tuesday - remember to join in and Blog The Vote!

To get involved with "Blog The Vote" - where kid and adult lit bloggers blog on Monday Nov 3rd about WHY it's so important to Vote on Nov 4, 2008, send an email with a url for your blog post to one of the three of us:

me leewind(at)roadrunner(dot)com

Colleen Mondor over at Chasing Ray colleen(at)chasingray(dot)com

Gregory K. over at Gotta Book blogthevote(at)gmail(dot)com

Colleen will be compiling a master list of posts - we'll pull a great quote from each one of your posts and add it with a link to the list.

Make sure you keep it nice - this is not the place for partisan mean-ness. (Anyone overstepping that guideline will not be included.)

Also, at the bottom of YOUR post, please include a link back to the master list over at chasingray (Colleen will have the master list up on Sunday, Nov 2, so it'll be easy to find.)

Thanks to Sarah Stevenson for the "Blog The Vote" Graphic - feel free to grab it and use it on your own posts!!!

We hope you join in!



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What Happened To Lani Garver?

By Carol Plum-Ucci

Claire tries to hide what's different about her to fit in. It's hard, because she's back after missing a year of school when she was sick with Leukemia. And she has an eating disorder. And nightmares. But she hides all that and more from the cheerleaders and the brutal "fish frat" (sons of the local fishermen.)

But when Lani Garver arrives on Hackett Island, everyone's shocked. Is the new kid a girl? A boy? They can't figure Lani out, and while everyone else gears up to crucify Lani, Claire ends up becoming friends with the outcast.

And as Lani helps Claire pull her life together, Claire starts to wonder - Is it possible Lani's not a girl OR a boy, but maybe... an Angel?

Add your review of "What Happened to Lani Garver?" in comments!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BLOG the VOTE! Vote NO on Prop 8 - listen to Teenagers Who KNOW what's at stake!

These Teens and Young Adults say it better than maybe anyone else can:

Think about how you can help.

If you're not old enough to vote yourself, can you drive someone to the polls?

Can you help with some chores or tasks to get someone who otherwise might not have the time to be able to vote?

Can you have a good conversation with a family member or friend to share with them your feelings about the election and what's at stake -- and maybe convince them to vote the way you would?

Can you pass this video along to some friends, and help get the word out???

And if you want to blog about voting, join us with BLOG THE VOTE!

To get involved with "Blog The Vote" - where kid and adult lit bloggers blog on Monday Nov 3rd about WHY it's so important to Vote on Nov 4, 2008, send an email with a url for your blog post to one of the three of us:

me leewind(at)roadrunner(dot)com

Colleen Mondor over at Chasing Ray colleen(at)chasingray(dot)com

Gregory K. over at Gotta Book blogthevote(at)gmail(dot)com

Colleen will be compiling a master list of posts - we'll pull a great quote from each one of your posts and add it with a link to the list.

Make sure you keep it nice - this is not the place for partisan mean-ness. (Anyone overstepping that guideline will not be included.)

Also, at the bottom of YOUR post, please include a link back to the master list over at chasingray (Colleen will have the master list up on Sunday, Nov 2, so it'll be easy to find.)

Thanks to Sarah Stevenson for the "Blog The Vote" Graphic - feel free to grab it and use it on your own posts!!!

We hope you join in!



Monday, October 27, 2008

GSA Monday Topic: Just in Time For Halloween - MASKS!

So Halloween is all about Masks - about dressing up, pretending to be someone else. But what about the Masks we wear EVERY OTHER day of the year?

Who are we pretending to be?

Are we afraid that if we were just OURSELVES, people wouldn't like us anymore?

Can we find the courage to only wear Masks ONE day a year - on Halloween - and be our true, authentic selves the other 364 days?

Does dressing up on Halloween give us a chance to break free of the pressures to conform? Is there a lesson we can learn on this day of Masks, that can help us be truer to ourselves and live without Masks the rest of the year?

What do you think? And who are YOU going to dress up as?

Discuss it with your GSA - or join in the community at your Gay-Straight Alliance right here, and talk about it in comments!

Have a great Halloween!


ps- The mask pictured above was made by JF in Australia! Click here to go to JF's blog and check it out.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Love Rules

By Marilyn Reynolds

Lynn's best friend Kit comes back from summer vacation and comes out as a Lesbian.

Lynn struggles at first with understanding and accepting her friend, but ends up being supportive as Kit starts a Gay Straight Alliance.

But Hamilton High School isn't a friendly place for GLBTQ teens, or for anyone different: Lynn is dating a Black athlete and she's getting a lot of flack for that as well.

As the homophobia and racism escalate, the two friends have to fight to make it through Senior Year.

"Love Rules" is the 8th book in the "True-to-Life Series from Hamilton High."

Add your review of "Love Rules" in comments!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Is He Or Isn't He?

By John Hall

Best friends Anthony and Paige are seniors at a wealthy private High School in New York City.

Anthony's gay, and recently single.

Paige just can't seem to find a nice guy.

When hottie new student Max enters their lives, the best friends have to use all their wiles to figure out...

Is He Or Isn't He?

Because whoever's team Max plays for, that's whose going to go after him!

Add your review of "Is He Or Isn't He?" in comments!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Big Guy

By Robin Stevenson

On-line, you can lie about your weight. You can lie about your age.

But what happens when your heart gets caught in your lies?

Derek's on-line boyfriend Ethan doesn't know that the photo Derek sent him was kind of old. Like 80 pounds lighter old!

And at Derek's job at a nursing home (where he lied about his experience and age - he's only 17) there's this woman Aaliyah who is trouble - and she forces Derek to rethink everything he thought he knew about honesty and trust.

Now Ethan wants to meet Derek in person. What's the "Big Guy" gonna do?

Add your review of "Big Guy" in comments!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

BLOG THE VOTE! Prop. 8 - California's Anti-Same-Gender (Same-Sex) Marriage Voter Referendum

Prop 8 is wrong. The idea that a majority vote can change the state constitution to take away rights from a minority is wrong. The idea that my gay marriage hurts anyone else's straight marriage is wrong. The lies the "Yes on Prop 8" campaign are using in their advertising (that churches will lose their tax-exempt status if they don't perform same-gender marriage, and that it will force elementary schools to teach children about - shudder - gay marriage as one version of marriage) are wrong.

But, as much as I could soapbox about how wrong this is, sometimes humor is the best way to get a point across.

So watch this really funny video:

Yeah. Funny/Scary, isn't it?

Like a lot of things on the political horizon - if we don't vote, think about what could happen to our State, our Country, our World...



To get involved with "Blog The Vote" - where kid and adult lit bloggers blog about WHY it's so important to Vote on Nov 4, 2008, send an email with a url for your blog post to one of the three of us:

me leewind(at)roadrunner(dot)com

Colleen Mondor over at Chasing Ray colleen(at)chasingray(dot)com

Gregory K. over at Gotta Book blogthevote(at)gmail(dot)com

Colleen will be compiling a master list of posts - we'll pull a great quote from each one of your posts and add it with a link to the list.

Make sure you keep it nice - this is not the place for partisan mean-ness. (Anyone overstepping that guideline will not be included.)

Also, at the bottom of YOUR post, please include a link back to the master list over at chasingray (Colleen will have the master list up on Sunday, Nov 2, so it'll be easy to find.)

Thanks to Sarah Stevenson for the "Blog The Vote" Graphic - feel free to grab it and use it on your own posts!!!

We hope you join in!

Monday, October 20, 2008

GSA Monday Topic: Speaking Lies To Truth - Obama & Prop 8 - Where does the TRUTH fit in with our Political Process in the USA?

“Obama is palling around with Terrorists.”
-a lie by Palin

“Churches will lose their non-profit tax status
if they don’t marry Gay couples.”
-a lie in “Yes on Prop 8” ads

This week, try teaming up with the Black Student Alliance (if there is such a thing at your school) and/or other students and have everyone join in the discussion of where exactly the TRUTH ends up in our political system...

Also check out this very cool website "Lie Count" that tracks politicans' lies... You can read all about the lies going on - on both sides. Though Republicans are winning (or losing) with more than double the verified lies than Democrats - 25 to 12!

Does the truth even matter anymore?

Or is it just about which side has the most money to advertise their lies?

What about lies that hide the truth of people's discrimination against blacks and gays?

What do you think?

Jump into the discussion with your Gay-Straight Alliance, or be part of our community Gay-Straight Alliance here, and chime in with your own comment!

Friday, October 17, 2008

BLOG THE VOTE! Another Reason To Vote: PROP 8 in California - A Majority Vote On Adding Discrimination Into the CA Constitution

I feel like I could write a really long post about the unfairness of the majority "approval" vote coming up in California to take away same-gender couples' right to marry. (To take away MY marriage's legal status.) But this video says it better (and funnier) than I can.

Check it out:

Oh, and VOTE!

To get involved with "Blog The Vote" - where kid and adult lit bloggers blog about WHY it's so important to Vote on Nov 4, 2008, send an email with a url for your blog post to one of the three of us:

me leewind(at)roadrunner(dot)com

Colleen Mondor over at Chasing Ray colleen(at)chasingray(dot)com

Gregory K. over at Gotta Book blogthevote(at)gmail(dot)com

Colleen will be compiling a master list of posts - we'll pull a great quote from each one of your posts and add it with a link to the list.

Make sure you keep it nice - this is not the place for partisan mean-ness. (Anyone overstepping that guideline will not be included.)

Also, at the bottom of YOUR post, please include a link back to the master list over at chasingray (Colleen will have the master list up on Sunday, Nov 2, so it'll be easy to find.)

We hope you join in!



Thursday, October 16, 2008

Out Of Order

by Robin Stevenson

Moving to a new town and starting 10th grade in a new school seems like a perfect chance for Sophie to re-invent herself, and leave her troubles (like being bullied and not liking her body) behind.

She makes friends with Zelia, a smoking, busking rebel who takes Sophie out of her comfort zone.

Then Sophie becomes friends with Max, a girl who seems the opposite of Zelia, but Max pushes Sophie's buttons in a different way.

Ultimately, Sophie realizes that just because she's moved to a new place, she, and her problems, are still with her. And she has to deal with the biggest challenge of all - accepting herself for who she is!

It's fun to note that this was Robin's debut novel!

Add your review of "Out Of Order" in comments!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Levi Johnston is Sarah Palin's Daughter's Baby's Daddy. But More Important Than That: He's 19 and NOT Registered to VOTE!

The young couple.

Highlights from this week's AP interview with Levi Johnston [click here for the full interview]:

Levi likes to hunt (bears, sheep, elk, and caribou.) No mention of moose.

He's dated Bristol since they were Freshmen in High School. Says they had talked about getting married long before the surprise.

Their baby is due December 18 - he'd like a boy so he could take him fishing and hunting.

He just dropped out of High school (skipping his senior year and not graduating) to become an apprentice electrician.

Barack Obama"seems like a good guy."

He can't vote because he didn't register.

He still hopes his future mother-in-law wins.


How in the world can that be possible?

How could you not CARE enough about this election to register to vote, when YOU ARE INVOLVED - HECK, A MEMBER, of one of the 4 families running to lead this country????

My intent here is not to shame Levi, but really - what is up with this? How could he not WANT to vote???

Is voting not private enough in Wasilla, Alaska? Is he afraid the Palins would find out if he voted for Obama? Is it just easier to pretend to be a "disaffected" Teen and act like he doesn't care?

How can't he care?

The A.P. article quotes him:

"I just hope she wins," he said. "She's my future mother-in-law. She better win."

But really - if he did hope that, why wouldn't he want to VOTE?

Hoping someone wins is not a PLAN to help them win. Only VOTES get counted - not thoughts, or wishes, or good intentions.

For all of our sakes - let's all register and VOTE.

Because I really can't believe there are Teenagers (or anyone out there for that matter) who know and understand what's at stake and still don't care what happens.

I care.

I know YOU care.

So register right now, if you haven't yet.

And VOTE!!!

To get involved with "Blog The Vote" - where kid and adult lit bloggers blog about WHY it's so important to Vote on Nov 4, 2008, send an email with a url for your blog post to one of the three of us:

me leewind(at)roadrunner(dot)com

Colleen Mondor over at Chasing Ray colleen(at)chasingray(dot)com

Gregory K. over at Gotta Book blogthevote(at)gmail(dot)com

Colleen will be compiling a master list of posts - we'll pull a great quote from each one of your posts and add it with a link to the list.

Make sure you keep it nice - this is not the place for partisan mean-ness. (Anyone overstepping that guideline will not be included.)

Also, at the bottom of YOUR post, please include a link back to the master list over at chasingray (Colleen will have the master list up on Sunday, Nov 2, so it'll be easy to find.)

We hope you join in!



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

BLOG THE VOTE! The U.S. Supreme Court is why you've gotta vote on Nov 4!

Today's super-important reason to VOTE:

The Supreme Court

As the New York Times said in an editorial recently, it's really "The Kennedy Court" - they said that because even though the Chief Justice is Roberts, since there are 9 members of the court - 4 almost always vote conservatively, 4 almost always vote liberally - and Justice Kennedy is the swing vote. *

Now WHY is the Supreme Court an important reason to VOTE?

Check out the ages of the current liberal members of the court:

Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 75.

David Souter is 69.

Stephen Breyer is 70.

John Paul Stevens is 88. (Yes, you read that correctly. He was born in April, 1920, he was appointed by President Ford and has been on the court since 1975. Realistically, what are the chances he'll be still serving in four years?)

McCain has said he'll replace any outgoing Justices with conservative ones. (Check out more of his comments here.) (And here, where this quote is from:)

"[National Review journalist Ramesh] Ponnuru: Are there any members of the current Supreme Court that you particularly admire or regard as a model?

Sen. McCain: Eh of course, Antonin Scalia. He’s a lot of our conservative models, I admire how articulate he is, but I also from everything I’ve seen I admire Roberts as well.

I think it’s vital to strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and have a record of that. Not just a statement of it, but a record of it."
— John McCain interview with The National Review, March 5, 2007

Obama has said he'll replace any outgoing Justices with liberal ones. (Like this quote from this article:)

"We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges."

The Supreme Court is the final verdict on so many things that affect our lives and our country:

Abortion rights.

Gay rights.

The Right to a fair and speedy trial.

A balance to the power of the executive branch.

The power of corporations versus the individual.

A check to the tyranny of the majority.

Protection and Equal rights for minorities.

It's VERY likely that whoever is the next President of the United States of America will appoint at least one if not two new Justices. Those appointments will shape the future of our country for decades to come.

It could not be more important to VOTE!

What are we kid and adult lit bloggers going to do about it? Well, the amazing Colleen Mondor, the awesome Gregory K.and I are taking the elephants and the donkeys by the horns, as it were, and organizing a one-day BLOG BLAST - where a big group of us lit bloggers will blog on Monday November 3, 2008, about WHY it's so important to get out there and VOTE! (Do you want to be one of the bloggers talking about the importance of VOTING? See here for how to join in the event!)

Thanks, and don't forget to register to vote!!!


*From the wikipedia site on the Supreme Court:

Seven of the current justices of the court were appointed by Republican presidents, while two were appointed by a Democratic president. It is popularly accepted that Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito compose the Court's conservative wing.

Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer are generally thought of as the Court's liberal wing.[13] Justice Kennedy, generally thought of as a conservative who "occasionally vote[s] with the liberals", is considered most likely to be the swing vote that determines the outcome of certain close cases.[14]

For more on why the court matters, check out People For The American Way's website and campaign.

Monday, October 13, 2008

GSA Monday Topic: All-Gay Schools - Minority Empowerment or Ghetto Segregation? (part 2)

Harvey Milk High School in New York City
Founded to be a safe space for LGBTQ Youth

Okay, this topic (see last week's post "All-Gay High School or All-Bully High School: What's safer?" here) was so hot and brought up so many issues, that the GSA club I'm involved with ran out of time to talk about it! Everyone seemed to have more to say at the end of round 1, so we're going for round 2!

Two major discussion points brought up at the meeting last week that really needed more time:

1. Wanting to know more about Harvey Milk High School in New York - an All-Gay High School that's actually up and running.

2. Parallels with All-Black schools

So here's some additional info on the Harvey Milk High School to spark discussion this week, from the wikipedia site on them:

The school was founded in 1985 as a small, two-room program with just over a dozen students by HMI in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education's Career Education Center. The Department of Education administers the school and is responsible for admissions. Harvey Milk was created as an alternative education program for youth who find it difficult or impossible to attend their home schools due to threats, violence, or harassment.

Students must themselves apply to transfer to the high school, like other transfer schools in New York City. Approximately 95% of the students are African American or Latino. The school has a 95% graduation rate, far above the state average, and 60% of students attend institutions of higher learning.

Enrollment in 2004 was 110 students in 9th-12th grade.

Here's a few excerpts from the great Question and Answer section on the Hetrick-Martin Institute's website
(they're the non-profit that started the School)

Q: Why can't at-risk children remain in their current schools? Isn't this segregation?

A: These are children that have been in traditional schools, but have needed to leave or have dropped out because of physical violence and/or emotional harm. Thanks to HMHS they have a safe place to learn so that they can graduate with an education, a diploma and their lives ahead of them. Being in a separate space during the school day doesn't mean that these students will never learn how to adjust to the demands of the larger world. Every day they face real-life pressures, including harassment.

It is not segregation to remove a child from a dangerous situation in order to give them a chance to learn safely. HMHS is a successful refuge for a small portion of youth, who have fled unsafe schools in order to secure their right to a safe educational environment; no one is arguing for a totally separate school system.

Q: What kind of educational environment does The Harvey Milk High School provide?

A: HMHS is one of the many NYC small schools, like the Frederick Douglas Academy, the Young Women's Leadership School and the Urban Academy Laboratory School, that provide safety, community and high achievement for students not able to benefit from more traditional school environments.

HMHS uses the same curriculum and graduation standards as any other NYC public high school, with the same Regents and other rigorous tests. HMHS' highly trained educators provide a supportive and safe environment for its students.

Q: How does the secure environment of HMHS prepare children for "the real world"?

A: Every day they face real-life pressures, including harassment. HMHS offers them a chance to learn in a safe environment. Our students graduate and attend advanced programs or college at a higher rate than the NYC public school average.

Q: Are heterosexual students welcome at HMHS?

A: HMHS and The Hetrick-Martin Institute care about the needs of children in crisis and focuses on their educational needs. Admission to HMHS is voluntary and open to all, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or physical abilities.

Q: What about at-risk youth who want to remain in a mainstream environment?

A: Admission to HMHS is voluntary. HMHS focuses on the needs of children who are at-risk and may be subject to extreme levels of violence and harassment. HMHS services only a small portion of the youth population. The vast majority of these youth in the NYC public school system attend their zoned schools.

Q: Don't many children face harassment at school? Should we have special schools for them all?

A: In an ideal world, all children and other students who are considered at-risk would be safely integrated into all NYC public schools - but in the real world, at-risk students need a place like HMHS.

Q: Wouldn't the money be better spent on public schools with anti-harassment programs, trying to teach more tolerance among students towards some of these other kids?

A: HMHS is a practical, safe solution for certain at-risk students subject to extreme levels of violence and harassment. We believe that anti-harassment programs and teaching tolerance in all public schools are important, and that additional funding should be continue to directed to those programs.

I thought the parallels they gave to other "leadership academies" in the school system was really interesting. That's along the lines of a comment last week talking about the idea of All-Black schools being important for African American students to build up their sense of pride and prepare them for the wider world - and yet how maybe that immersion and minority empowerment training is best when it's a short term experience that you then take with you out into the broader school/community...

Another big question that came up was what do the kids that go there think about the school? Check this out, letters from former students at Harvey Milk High School (more letters here), telling about their experience with going to the All-Gay school:

Dear HMI,

I am responding to your “what’s on my mind” section of the website. I remember the first time I walked into The Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI). I was an anxious and scared 15 year-old. I had problems in school and wanted to drop out because I just didn’t feel that school was a comfortable or safe place. At the time, I was constantly being reminded that I was different. HMI provided a space where I could be safe, comfortable, and not have to worry about whether people knew my “secret.” For once, I could just be David. At HMI, I started my journey towards gaining self-esteem and the realization that my goals were attainable.

Eventually, I went to the Harvey Milk School (HMS). At the time, it was a one-room schoolhouse overlooking the Hudson River. The roof would leak and on a winter day the walk from the train station to the school was brutal. But the community we formed at the school, and the encouragement of Mr. G and the other teachers, kept us coming back. I can honestly say that without the Harvey Milk School, I would not have gotten my high school diploma, and I might very well never have dealt with my own sexual identity.

Since HMS, I have graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and worked for six years with various non-profits, particularly doing HIV prevention work and working with gay and lesbian youth in both New York and Los Angeles. Now, I am finishing my first semester of law school at the University of Pennsylvania. I graduated from HMS in 1993, and my hope is to graduate from Penn Law in 2007. I just wanted to say thanks for all the work you guys are doing. I know the work is often hard, and that the material benefits are not always the best (I too am looking forward to a career in the public interest), but the work you do makes a really big difference in many people’s lives.

Thank you,


Dear HMI,

In the spring of 2001, I discovered a place that would inevitably change my life and the way I live it. That place was HMI and HMHS. I came there a confused and scared 16-year old who had the rug, floor and pavement all pulled out from under him in a series of harsh swoops. I was deeply depressed, undergoing major familial deconstruction and the then pending loss of my mother. On top of all that, I was a fairly smart kid in an academically rigorous high school who was being singled out for being gay and not being quiet about it, and they didn’t know what to do with me. I looked for a place that did - I looked for any place that could make it better, and I found HMHS.

Truth be told, I came to HMI with the intention of attending the school, a place to be understood from 9 AM to 3 PM. I applied and vehemently followed up with them. My life was going crazy and I needed this. I got in, and started school at Harvey Milk in September of 2001, but after 2 weeks of class I wanted out. My fellow students were unlike anyone I had ever known, and I had no intention of getting to know them. I went crying, begging to be let out, but they wouldn’t. Never before, or since, has being denied something I was so desperately sure I wanted such a good thing. I fell in love with every student, teacher, and social worker at HMI. They became my second family, which was just what I needed as I was being kicked out of my home just a month after I started at HMHS - a problem that the staff at HMI quickly helped to rectify. They helped me find a place to live; they helped me find a better way to live.

I am writing this letter from SUNY Purchase, where I am now a second year Women’s Studies major. I am often asked what life was like at HMI, and I say picture the most supportive and caring place, throw in the most unique and wholly selfless people you’ve ever met, with the strongest and most courageous kids ever, and that should just about cover what HMI/HMHS is like. And after I say that, I realize just how much that description is, for me, really the most accurate there could be and I am forever grateful.

Yours in Solidarity and Gratitude,


Here's something else to consider: not every kid that might want to go to an all-gay High School has one available to them, so how do we make every school safer for GLBTQ Teens?

Is there some sort of immersion/minority empowerment program that's supplimentary that can be made available to more GLBTQ Teens across the country (around the world)? A summer leadership program? Or maybe that's what all our GSA clubs could be - that safe space in the schools that shore up your sense of self and pride and make you feel supported and empowered in being yourself - whether you're Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning or a Straight Ally?


Lots of good things to think and talk about!

Have a great club meeting - and remember - you can comment about this here to participate in this blog's virtual Gay-Straight Alliance Club!



Friday, October 10, 2008

National Coming Out Day: Saturday October 11, 2008 - A Day To Count My Blessings!

I'm Gay.

And I am so blessed to be able to stand up and say that!

I am so blessed to be living my truth.

I am so blessed to have found love with a wonderful guy.

I am so blessed to be a parent of an amazing child.

I am so blessed to be able to share this blog with all of you.

Happy National Coming Out Day to us all!

To celebrate, check out this great video:

(For some resources on coming out, check out my blogroll to the right, under "Coming Out? Check Out" for Links to some great organizations and wonderful, heartfelt essays and advice...)



Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Screwed Up Life Of Charlie The Second

By Drew Ferguson

Charlie is 17, Gay, and Lutheran. And he's a geek.

He's flunked his driving test six times.

He's regularly humiliated at school.

He's ignored on the soccer field.

His Dad (Charles James Stewart the First) is running for public office.

And all Charlie the Second is trying to do is get through his Senior Year and figure out his college application essay. But what drives him the most crazy is that while everyone else is pairing off, he's alone.

Then suddenly, wonderfully, Charlie the Second falls in love with another guy! That's when everything changes...

It's fun to note that this is Drew's debut novel!

Add your review of "The Screwed Up Life Of Charlie The Second" in comments!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sonny's House Of Spies

By George Ella Lyon

It's the 1950s in Alabama, and Sonny's 6 year old life is thrown into turmoil the night his mother throws a dinner plate in his father's face and his father leaves their lives.

Now 12, Sonny is determined to get to the bottom of the many mysteries about his family and his father's abandoning them.

The secrets he unearths threaten everything he thought he knew about family loyalty, race relations, and homophobia.

Add your review of "Sonny's House Of Spies" in comments!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

BLOG THE VOTE! (Why it's so important to register and to vote on Nov 4, and what us BLOGGERS can do to get the word out!)

Blog the Vote = Change the world


This election coming up on November 4, 2008 in the United States is a pivotal moment in history.

Blog the Vote is a one day Kid and Adult Lit Blogger Event, where we all blog on Monday Nov. 3rd about the importance of voting on Tuesday Nov. 4th.

Blog the Vote is about sharing WHY it's important to vote. It's about the issues that will be decided by whoever wins this election:

The War in Iraq
The Economy (taxes, philosophy, deficit)
The liberal/conservative balance of the Supreme Court
The right to be "innocent until proven guilty" and to have "a fair trial"
The power of the executive branch to indefinitely detain anyone they call an "enemy combatant"
America's Energy Plan - more oil or go green?

and here in California

The right of same-gender couples (like me & my husband) to be legally married.

Blog the Vote is not, however, about hate-speech or being rude - posts that overstep into nastiness won't be linked on the master list over at the amazing Colleen Mondor's Chasing Ray blog.

The deadline for registering to vote is October 20 here in California, but in some states it's earlier. In fact, absentee voting started YESTERDAY in some states!

You can go HERE to register!

You need more convincing?

Let's start here:

African Americans and women fought and bled and marched and died for the right to vote.

African Americans were legally given the right to vote by the 15th Amendment in 1870, but there were many ways that people fought and denied Black citizens the right to vote for almost 100 years.

1867 drawing of the first vote by African Americans

1963 March on Washington - the sign in front reads:
"WE DEMAND: Voting Rights Now!"

Black voting was restricted, particularly in the South, through "paralegal" methods until 1964, when the Civil Rights Act enforced the 15th Amendment, and the 24th Amendment ended poll taxing (which meant if you owed taxes, they denied you the right to vote). And the voting rights act of 1965 made it clear - African Americans truly, finally, had the right to vote.

President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act -
and yes, that's Dr. Martin Luther Jr. just behind him!

Women only got the right to vote in the United States in the summer of 1920. People also FOUGHT tooth and nail against women getting to vote:

But women marched on.

women marching in 1912 for voting rights

And on...

Women parade down 5th Avenue in New York City in 1917,
carrying the signatures of over a million women,
demanding the right to vote.

Today, we take it for granted that everyone over 18 gets to vote (and yeah, it sucks that younger Teens are disenfranchised. Think what a difference it would make if everyone over 15 could vote...)

But look at these statistics:

In the last Presidential Election in 2004, there were 202,746,417 eligible voters in the USA. But only 122,294,978 voted. That's just under 61% voter participation.

We can do better!

Okay, lowering the voting age is not going to happen by election day, so let's concentrate on what we CAN do.

If you're old enough to vote, register, do your homework and know the issues and candidates, and VOTE! And then consider doing all three things listed below, too.

If you're not old enough to vote,

1. Talk to your family members and friends about how you WOULD vote if you could. Encourage them to take the election seriously. If you can convince someone about an issue you care deeply about and that changes their vote, YOU made a difference!

2. Offer to help get the whole family ready earlier than usual the morning of election day (Tuesday Nov 4, 2008) so your parents/caretakers have time to go to the polls before work. Making sure their votes get cast early (and they don't run out of time later in the day) is a great way to make a difference!

3. Offer to drive elderly or mobility-challenged relatives/neighbors to the polls (if you're 16 or 17 and driving.) This is another great way to help - but TALK to these people first and share with them WHY it's so important for you to help them vote!

And if you're a blogger, and you want to join in on this cool Blog the Vote event, here's Colleen explaining what to do:

Lee Wind and I are going to handle running the master schedule with direct links to all participating posts. If you want to take part in this One Shot, then you must email your url to Lee or myself (colleenatchasingraydotcom or leewindatroadrunnerdotcom) by that Monday and we will then read your post, grab a quote and run both quote and link here at my site. You must also include the link to the master schedule at the end of your own post, so your readers can come over here and see what everyone else thinks as well. (I will have the master schedule post up on Sunday, November 2nd so it's easy to find and link to. Posts will be added to it all day Sunday and Monday as they come in.) In the end we should have a cool collection of thoughts from all kinds of people that will express how significant democracy is to our lives personally and to our country as a whole.

We are talking a pretty awesome American moment if we do this right.

Pass the word around on your own blogs and let everyone know. Anyone can participate in this event - it's open to all. If you have any questions send them my way (or Lee's) and be sure to check back here for a very special One Shot event on November 3rd.

Oh and hey - MAKE SURE YOU VOTE!!!!!!!!!!

She's right about that "pretty awesome American moment if we do this right," isn't she? To read Colleen's whole announcement of the one-shot event, click here.

Okay, so now that you know, let's all

Blog the Vote!

Monday, October 6, 2008

GSA Monday Topic: All-Gay High School or All-Bully High School - What's Safer?

Welcome back to GSA Mondays!

Take a look at this Rainbow GLBTQ Pride flag

Now imagine it flying over YOUR High School!

Okay, this week's topic comes from this article in the Chicago Tribune. Basically, the idea is that people in Chicago are exploring setting up a "Social Justice High School" which would have a majority of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning students. By being in the majority, their argument goes, the school would be a much "safer" environment for the GLBTQ Teens.

To better understand where they're coming from, take a look at these statistics, from the website of the Gay High School in New York City:

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth often feel invisible in their schools. Their invisibility is typically reinforced by heterosexism in their environment, which causes these young people to feel invisible, unsupported and isolated. The following statistics vividly illustrate some of the reasons why The Hetrick-Martin Institute and The Harvey Milk School exist:

Sexual Self-Concept, Orientation and Identity:

  • During adolescence, young people form their sexual identity.+
  • Developing a sexual self-concept is a key developmental task of adolescence. +

LGBTQ Youth in School

  • 41.7% of LGBTQ youth do not feel safe in their school. +
  • 28% of gay teens drop out of school annually, three times the national average. +
  • 69% of LGBTQ youth reported experiencing some form of harassment or violence. +
  • 46% of LGBTQ youth reported verbal harassment, 36.4% reported sexual harassment, 12.1% reported physical harassment, 6.1% reported physical assault. +
  • 86.7% of LGBTQ youth reported sometimes or frequently hearing homophobic remarks. +
  • 36.6% of LGBTQ youth reported hearing homophobic remarks from faculty or school staff +


  • LGBTQ youth are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than other youth.*
  • 40% of LGBTQ youth attempted suicide compared to their heterosexual peers. +

Student Attitudes about LGBTQ issues

  • 40% of high school students say that they are prejudiced against homosexuals. +

Teaching about Sexual Orientation in Schools

  • In one study of LGBTQ adolescents, half of the students said that homosexuality had been discussed in their classes. 50% of the females and 37% of the males said it was handled negatively. +

‡Statements indicated with (*) derive from the National Mental Health Association website:, and with (+) from the Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States:

Pretty bleak, huh?

Non-surprisingly, conservative groups are against having All-Gay High Schools because they don't want to "condone" homosexuality. (nice, aren't they?)

But, here's what I thought was really fascinating: The opposition of Gay activists!

"If we're going to set up a separate school, let's put the bullies in the school and not our gay kids," said Rick Garcia, public policy director of Equality Illinois, the state's largest gay rights group. "Kids should be able to go to school in a safe environment wherever they are."

All the Bullies in their own school??? WOW - That's a new idea!

What do YOU think?

Would it be best to go to an All-Gay (or at least 50%) Gay High School?


Would it be best to go to your OWN High School, but have all the bullies bussed to a different school?


Would it be best to change the culture at ALL the High Schools, so they're all safe?

And okay, if it's this last one, how do we actually make that happen? Is it possible?

Can you and your GSA brainstorm 5 concrete steps you can take to make your OWN school safer?

Add your ideas to the "comments" section, and in a few weeks I'll pull together a post with all the ideas, from here and from other sources!

Have a great week!



Friday, October 3, 2008

Banned Books Week 2008: SEX and Sexuality really BUG some people. And they want to make sure YOU don't get to read about it!

It's Banned Books Week!
(September 27-October 4, 2008)

Check this out from the American Library Association website: (I've added the highlights, colors and the links)

The most frequently challenged books of 2007

The following books were the most frequently challenged in 2007:

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received a total of 420 challenges last year. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. According to Judith F. Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five remain unreported.

The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7) "TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) "The Perks of Being A Wallflower," by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

So 8 out of 10 of the most challenged books in America had to do with Sex and Homosexuality. Wow, we have some issues as a country, huh?

The best response to a book challenge, I think, is to read the book.

Buy the book.

Request the book at your local libraries. (This is super-important - Librarians use "requests" to back them up when they want to acquire a book for their collection!)

Talk about the book and your take on why it was challenged.

In a funny reverse psychology way, sometimes a book being challenged actually helps the book's promotion and sales - more people find out about it, and thus it's more widely read than it might have been if it hadn't been challenged.

READING well, it turns out, is the best revenge!

It's last year's poster, but I still love this image!

Now MY favorite Banned Book is #1 - "And Tango Makes Three"

What's YOUR favorite Banned Book? Tell me (and everyone else reading this blog) in "comments!"

Have a great weekend, and celebrate by reading something BANNED!



Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

By Stephen Chbosky

15 and traumatized by the suicide of his best friend last year, Charlie is a geeky wallflower who is taken under the wings of two seniors and inducted into some of the mysteries of life.



Rock and Roll.

Rocky Horror.

On the down side, Charlie has to battle his way past depression, the grief of his friend's and his beloved aunt's death, and his memory of witnessing a date rape.

On the plus side, he has a supportive teacher who believes in him when no one else does, and has two gay friends.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is #10 on the list of Most Challenged Books of 2007.


Here's a quote from a great article by Paul Varnell on Banned Books Week last year.

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" is a sort of omnibus of problem situations high school students might encounter, one of which is the presence of two gay students. Considering all the other things in the book--rape, child abuse, etc.--the two gay youths come across as perhaps the most decent and least troubled characters in the book. Maybe that is what the challengers really objected to.

Add your review of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" in comments!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Kidlitosphere 2008: A Blog Post About Blogging, Bloggers, the Second Annual Kidlit Blogging Conference, and why I'm so Happy!

Okay, it's taken me three days to process this past weekend in Portland, when I went to the Second Annual Kidlit Blogging Conference.

I met so many ubercool people - literally a whole new community of friends! I learned a ton, and got so many great ideas for things I want to do with this blog! I took some notes, and even managed to snap a few photos. So here's some of the best things I heard and learned, with pictures of some favorite folks I met (mind you, I'd make a terrible wedding photographer, as I missed some of my favorite peeps completely!)

Friday night was great fun, meeting up with folks at Powells and then going to dinner at some brewery, and then back to the hotel for pre-conference schmoozing. Stayed up late making new friends, and then after a refreshing four hours of sleep, was all set to go Saturday Morning!

So we were all set to go, pens in hand, for the first panel:

Left to right: The Lovely Readergirlz blogger Dia Calhoun, Readergirlz co-founder LorieAnn Grover (with a new blog here), The Quirky and Delightful Betsy Bird of Fuse #8 Fame, The Charming and thoughtful Alice Pope (she's the editor of "Children's Writers and Illustrator's Market"), and The Podcasting Wizard and super nice guy, Mark Blevis (who with his wife Andrea does the Just One More Book podcasts!)

Pearls of Wisdom I caught during this panel:

Betsy Bird: Find your cool niche. It's consistent writing (and posting) in that niche that gets readers' attention. Know that Editors, Agents, and Publicity People DO read blogs.

Dia Calhoun: The founding idea - conceived by Justina Chen Headley - behind Readergirlz was to provide author visits online for Teens whose schools can't afford them.

Lorie Ann Grover: The Readergirlz divas came up with a list of 12 traits they want young women to explore, and those qualities help guide the selection of the books they (and their postergirlz) choose.

Alice Pope: Recognize that you build an audience for your blog over time. Also, look out for a new social networking community site from writersmarket coming in the future...

Mark Blevis: Be passionate so it resonates with people following you. The trick is to get in the conversation - comment on other people's blogs! (This last point became a bit of a theme during the conference!)

The next session was

Left to Right: The inspiring Powerhouse Colleen Mondor (of Chasing Ray and the founder of Guyslitwire) and The uber-awesome Jackie Parker (of Interactive Reader, and a Postergirlz for Readergirlz, as well as the Cybils YA organizer)

These gals were FUNNY. Seriously, they could take it on the road, or to Vegas, with their banter like:

Jackie: "If you can get my humor, I'm probably going to like your book."

Colleen: "Good luck with that."

They talked about their Summer and Winter BLOG BLAST TOUR, which was this amazing re-thinking of what a blog book tour can be - and a real sign of the power of the blogging community. It was inspiring.

Then I went to MotherReader's session on "Kick your blog up a notch!"

Pam Coughlan, a.k.a. Mother Reader, talking to a seriously standing room only room!

Pam was awesome, and spoke about lots of ways we could improve our blogs. Some of the stuff that really sunk in for me was:

Know why you're blogging and keep that focus - go back to the CORE

Keep commenting on different blogs - after a few comments on someone else's blog, people will backtrack to see who YOU are, and it will drive YOUR traffic up. It will also make you feel that you are Part of the community, which you will be!

She also challenged us to write down the three core values for our blogs - this is an excellent exercise!!!

She talked about branding youself, pinpointing blogs you think most resonate with you and commenting there, and if she was starting out today, she'd try to blog with a group of others rather than individually.

It was awesome, and I felt so fortunate that when we hung out later that night, Pam's ideas just kept on rolling!

Next was Mark Blevis' PODCASTING session.

Mark Blevis keeping us mesmerized with his
"There's a PODCASTER at the end of this book" homage!

The amazing Mark basically did a podcasting 101 session, and I was sooooooo inspired, and emboldened! So keep your eyes out for some podcasts coming from me in the future!

In addition to the twenty or so technical "oh, so THAT's how you do that!" epiphanies, the main points I got were to consider:




And to recognize that you need unique stuff even within a show and blog - that it's important to break up the rhythm every once in a while.

Mark and I had a great discussion afterward about the pros and cons of video versus audio podcasting, and that segued into a really yummy lunch at the hotel restaurant, with a bunch of other cool cats! (yeah, I was so hungry, taking a picture completely eluded me.)

However, Holly Cupola (the newest Readergirlz diva!) did corner me (in the nicest way) to introduce myself on video - here it is (oh, and that's Mark Blevis being so silly!)

After lunch, Laini Taylor and Jen Robinson kept us riveted:

The super-smart and creative Laini Taylor, conference co-organizer and
author of one of my favorite fantasy YA novels (Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer),
is in the pink hair,
and Jen Robinson, Renowned Book Reviewer
and one of the Cybil Awards founding advisors is the brunette!

Laini and Jen spoke about author blogs versus kid lit blogs, and the distinction between being a book reviewer and a book recommender. (That last one really floored me - it's so obvious, and interesting, and I'd never considered it in that way before.)

Another point that really stuck with me from their panel was that with author interviews, remember that you shouldn't try to make it a commercial for yourself or your book - your goal should be to make it an interesting conversation.

Next up was blogging guru Gregory K.

Gregory K., a.k.a. Greg Pincus,
"I'm geeky... so you don't have to be"
was AMAZING! Not only is Greg the NICEST guy,
he's savvy about technology -
AND he's able to translate geek-speak into plain English!

His session was covered by his brother, Jon, in an impressive feat of simul-blogging, here.

Greg talked about "setting yourself up for the happy accident," and the list of things I felt that I needed to do in the aftermath of his talk took up two pages in my notebook!

He spoke about about how for a LONG career, you want to promote your name recognition.

And to consider tapping into the latent groups of people out there in the world that you can bring together via your blog - i.e., people who care about children's literature.

You MUST (I mean this) check out this website he set up which will inspire you.

Okay, then I went to Sara Zarr's session!

The brave and honest and charming Sara Zarr,
talking about the Personal / Professional balance in blogging.

Sara spoke about how a blog has power - to let Teens know they're not alone.

She advised us to be professional ALL THE TIME - don't write anything on our blogs that we wouldn't want our agent or editor to read (for that matter, recognize that ANYone can read it!)

She talked about her advice when talking about politics, religion and sex:

Use care, take your time, revise, let it sit... Be compassionate, generous. Think about the person who would disagree the most with what you are writing, and be compassionate towards them.
Have a private life and private thoughts, even when being personal on your blog.

After that there was still so much more -

The meet the authors event

Dinner and the raffle, and then

the Readergirlz' party celebrating Holly's book deal
and being made an official "Diva!"

The late-into-the-night hanging out and talking blogs
and kid lit with some awesome new friends!

Left to right: Jackie Parker, Colleen Mondor, Lorie Ann Grover, Holly Cupala, and Me!

And the bleary-eyed breakfast before flying home...

Left to right: Holly Cupala, Dia Calhoun, and Colleen Mondor

Left to Right: Jackie Parker, me, and Lorie Ann Grover

It was a wonderful experience! While the photos above are nice and well focused and look like a moment frozen in time, I think this photo best sums up the wonderful energy of the experience:

My heartelt and giant-sized THANK YOU! to Laini Taylor and Jone MacCulloch, who really pulled off an AMAZING event.

Next year will be in Washington D.C., organized by the unstoppable MotherReader - and I can't wait!

Check out ALL these other fabulous blog posts from the other bloggers who were there!