Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gender 101, Episode #20: Gender Queer People of Color & The QPOCC2012 Conference

In this episode, Frankie Palacios talks with Lucy about being a Gender Queer Person of Color, and we find out about the Queer People of Color Conference that's happening in April 2012 at Cal State Northridge.

Check out more about the Queer People of Color Conference 2012 here at

Thanks, Frankie and Lucy!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Angel: A Novel about Bullying... And One Character Has Gay Parents

The Angel by Nastasha LaBrake
From his very first day at Madison High School, Seth is a witness to Brian’s relentless bullying.

And from the beginning he sets out to protect the bully’s victims.

But when Brian starts attacking Seth’s friends, it gets personal.

Then Brian learns about Seth’s gay parents.

That’s when all hell breaks loose.

The final showdown will leave blood in the rain, shots echoing through the night, and lives in tatters…

"The Angel" is self-published by the author.  Add your review in comments!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Washington State gets one GIANT step closer to Gay Marriage

In the debates, Rep. Maureen Walsh, a Republican, spoke about her take on gay marriage:

The bill passed, and on Feb 13 was signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire. Gay marriages can't start until June 7, and there's the possibility they might not start at all, with opponents asking for the law to be delayed until the outcome of a referendum vote in November.

We'll see, but for now, this is good news.

Maryland also recently passed a Gay marriage law, with a similar caveat.  Their

Gov. Martin O'Malley is set to sign legislation approving same-sex marriage in Maryland on March 1 - but it won't take effect unless Maryland voters approve it this fall.
And in New Jersey, which also had its legislature pass Gay Marriage this February, their Governor Christie has vowed to veto it, also saying that voters should decide the issue.  Steven Goldstein, chairman of gay-rights group Garden State Equality, said of the Governor's decision:

“I don’t think Chris Christie has an anti-gay bone in his body,”... “He won’t veto the bill because he’s anti-gay. He’ll veto the bill because the 2016 South Carolina Republican Presidential primary electorate is anti-gay.” 
In the face of this Progress (and setbacks and obstacles to that progress), it's inspiring to see politicians like Maureen Walsh with backbone on this. 

Read more here:

ps - My thanks to Kathryn for making sure I saw Maureen Walsh's speech!

Friday, February 24, 2012

What Would YOU Do If You Came Upon A Swastika Graffiti?

This story is remarkable.   Barbara Becker and her son were walking in Manhattan (New York, NY, USA) recently and came upon a swastika painted on an advertisement.

The child said,

"The person who did that hates me, and he doesn't even know me."
And then, later, as the parent and child processed and talked about what to do, the child had an idea:

"We could put something good over it," 

and they did just that.

and here's what the child wrote on that heart:

Go read the article - it's remarkable.

The Mom's comments were wise.  We have to talk about it when prejudice and hate of any kind rear their ugliness.  And we must respond every time.

But it's the wisdom of the child will stay with me long after that graffitied advertisement comes down.

"Choose Peace."



ps - My thanks to Karol for sharing this story with me, so I could share it with you.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Prayers For Bobby - A Mother's Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son

Prayers For Bobby by Leroy Aarons

Bobby Griffith was an all-American boy ...and he was gay. Faced with an irresolvable conflict-for both his family and his religion taught him that being gay was "wrong"-Bobby chose to take his own life.

Prayers for Bobby, nominated for a 1996 Lambda Literary Award, is the story of the emotional journey that led Bobby to this tragic conclusion. But it is also the story of Bobby's mother, a fearful churchgoer who first prayed that her son would be "healed," then anguished over his suicide, and ultimately transformed herself into a national crusader for gay and lesbian youth.

As told through Bobby's poignant journal entries and his mother's reminiscences, Prayers for Bobby is at once a moving personal story, a true profile in courage, and a call to arms to parents everywhere.

My thanks to Jeff for suggesting this title.  Add your review of "Prayers For Bobby" in comments! 

And if you're in crisis, you can call 866-488-7386 and speak with someone at the Trevor Project Lifeline.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gender 101, Episode 19 - Meet Frankie

Gender 101 is back on Wednesdays!

Today we're starting the Spring, well, we could call it a series, but I've been learning so much I think I'm going to call it our Spring 2012 Semester!

My Gender Queer friend Benji continues the conversation about gender by introducing us to Frankie Palacios.

They discuss identity, how gender is culturally defined - particularly in Latino/Latina culture, and the term "Macho Femme."  It's a great introduction to another Gender Queer and very cool person, and I'm so delighted to meet Frankie.  I think you will be, too.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Questions Within - A High Interest / Easy To Read Teen Novel With A Questioning/Lesbian Main Character

The Questions Within by Teresa Schaeffer

Constance is not like the other girls. She prefers comfort and function over fashion. Even as a young girl, Constance has known that she’s different. Her high school days are a journey through loneliness, shame, and anger because she does not understand who she is, and she’s been taught that being gay — being a lesbian — is shameful. She feels different, and in her mind different is bad. She cannot connect with her straight-laced mother or many kids at school. Two people become instrumental in changing her attitude: her friend, Kara, and her counselor and therapist, Ms. Summerfield.

Add your review of "The Questions Within" in comments!

Monday, February 20, 2012

11th Grader Jessica Takes A Stand For The Separation of State and Church

Check out this story from Rhode Island, of how Jessica protested this school prayer that was displayed in her Cranston High School West auditorium.

She said that, as an Atheist, every time she looked at the prayer's religious content

“It seemed like it was saying, every time I saw it, ‘You don’t belong here.’ ” 

On the good side, a Federal judge agreed that displaying the prayer violated the First Amendment’s prohibition against “establishment of religion" and the school has to take it down.

On the bad side, Jessica is being targeted with a lot of verbal abuse and hate, even being called names by State representatives on local talk radio.

I think it's fascinating to note how Atheists are, like the Queer community, and Fat people, a minority who it's still "okay" to malign, ridicule and belittle.

And we all have to say NO!  That's not okay!

We still have a long way to go to create the world we want to live in, but for now, let's stand in solidarity with Jessica, and cheer her on.

Good Job, Jessica!  I'm proud of you for standing up for yourself and for everyone else who felt marginalized by this intrusion of religion into your public school!


The photo of the prayer is from this article in the online Providence Journal.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto - The Queer Independent Bookstore - Gets A New Chance At Life

Here's some good news bucking the trend of GLBTQ independent bookstores shutting down... Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto, Canada, is being purchased by "a group of local buyers from the community" and will stay open!

The group of about 20 includes a High School teacher, former employees, and even one investor who's 23 years old!

Michael Erickson, the high school teacher who spearheaded the purchase, said,

“We’ve got some exciting changes and expansions…that we hope will bring back the golden days of the bookstore as a hub of culture and creativity for the LGBTQ community.”

Here's hoping this is a Phoenix moment for independent bookstores - especially queer and feminist bookstores that offer so much more than just a place to buy a book.

And that's good news. 


If you want to know more about the store, Glad Day's website is here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Breaking Dawn - A High Interest / Easy To Read Teen Novel With A Gay Main Character

Breaking Dawn by Donna Shelton

Perry and Dawn have been glued at the hip since first grade. Their bond was instantaneous. The two had their own little language for their own little world. Perry came from a broken home, but at Dawn’s house, he was accepted for who he was—homosexual. But during her senior year in high school Dawn falls in love with Perry’s secret crush. As Dawn dates the popular high school football player, their lifelong friendship is torn apart by jealousy. Then Perry’s secret about his homosexuality is revealed with devastating consequences—and it is all Dawn’s fault!

Add your review of "Breaking Dawn" in comments!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Playgrounds and Prejudice: GLSEN's New study on Homophobia and Gender Nonconformity in Elementary Schools

Check out this new study by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network.  Here are some of their key findings:

  • The most common form of biased language in elementary schools, heard regularly (i.e., sometimes, often or all the time) by both students and teachers, is the use of the word "gay" in a negative way, such as "that's so gay," (students: 45%, teachers: 49%).
  • Gender nonconforming students are less likely than other students to feel very safe at school (42% vs 61%), and are more likely than others to be called names, made fun of or bullied at school (56% vs 33%).
  • While an overwhelming majority of elementary school teachers say that they include representations of different families when the topic of families comes up in their classrooms (89%), less than a quarter of teachers report any representation of lesbian, gay or bisexual parents (21%) or transgender parents (8%).
  • A majority of teachers (85%) have received professional development on diversity or multicultural issues, but less than half of teachers have ever received specific professional development on gender issues (37%) or on families with LGBT parents (23%). 

GLSEN also released "Ready, Set, Respect! GLSEN's Elementary School Toolkit," with lesson plans that focus on name-calling, bullying and bias, LGBT-inclusive family diversity and gender roles and diversity.  It's designed

"to help elementary educators ensure that all students feel safe and respected and develop respectful attitudes and behaviors."

The materials also include powerful anecdotes, like this one:

Third grade teacher Ms. Rojo learns from one of her student’s moms that on the previous day’s bus ride home, her son Jordan had been teased by a group of students after sharing that his mom is a lesbian. “Your mom is a lesbian? Jordan’s mom is a lesbian! That’s gross,” the students chanted. While Jordan doesn’t say anything to Ms. Rojo about it, Ms. Rojo learns that not only were the children teasing him, but that the bus driver’s response was to stop the bus and yell at Jordan, saying “don’t ever use that word again.”

They are two great resources to help make a difference in our schools!


ps - my thanks to Greg for giving me the heads-up on these, so I could share them with you!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Gay Valentine's Day Present For You

My giant thanks to Alex, for sharing this with me.

And my love to my husband. You give me goosebumps, too.

Namaste to all,

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hate the Gays? Imagine the World without us. (Or, what to say the next time you encounter someone homophobic.)

I really liked this Huffington Post article by Kergan Edwards-Stout, "Hate The Gays?  Imagine the World Without Us."

I particularly liked Kergan's big-picture question to those who marinate in homophobic hostility... 

"What do you hope these beliefs will achieve?"

Do they really support harassment?  Bullying?  Conversion Therapy (which has been proven not to work)?   Are they hoping we all go back into the closet?  They're creating a climate where GLBTQ teen suicides continue... is that their goal?

And then Kergan asks, imagine the world without the contributions of queer artists, musicians, playwrights, actors, filmmakers.  A world without the Mona Lisa's smile.  Or Swan Lake.  Or Glee.

"What do you hope your anti-gay beliefs achieve?"

That's my question the next time I'm talking to someone homophobic. 

Thanks, Kergan!


Friday, February 10, 2012

The Girl Scouts' cookie sales are being boycotted because the Girl Scouts include transgender girls - Let's rise up as a community and BUY OUT THEIR COOKIES!

It's sad.

The Girl Scouts have got it so right.

“If a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout."

But there are voices of intolerance who want to say transgender people don't belong in the Girl Scouts.  That they shouldn't be accepted.  That they aren't one of us.

Well transgender children are people, too - and they deserve to be treated with respect.  And the Girl Scouts, rather than being praised for being on the right side of history, are being targeted.  With a call to boycott Girl Scout Cookies.

So here's our mission, for everyone straight or GLBTQ, for everyone who believes in equality and working to create a better world:  Let's buy Girl Scout Cookies.  Lots of them.  Buy the whole table-full.  And tell the Girl Scouts you're doing it to applaud the Girl Scouts organization's stand for equality and embrace of transgender girls.

Let's make 2012 the year that the Girl Scouts sell more cookies than EVER before.

Let's show the Girl Scouts that embracing differences is not only the right thing to do, but it's good for business, and good for all their member scouts.  And we'll show the world, too.

I'll be giving Girl Scout Cookies as gifts for the rest of the year, and I hope you will, too.

Because this time, standing up for equality... is delicious.

***AN UPDATE: Feb 22, 2012***

The Girl Scouts are attacked again, this time by Bob Morris, a Republican lawmaker in Indiana, for including the transgender child AND for allegedly being a "tactical arm" of Planned Parenthood and thus promoting homosexuality and abortion.

The Republican speaker of the House Brian Bosma responded by handing out thin mints to his fellow lawmakers to show his support for the Girl Scouts, saying "I purchased 278 cases of Girl Scout cookies in the last four hours." 


***ANOTHER UPDATE: Feb 23, 2012***

A Church in Virginia has kicked out the Girl Scout troops that were meeting in their church and school buildings, saying the group is allied with planned parenthood.  "St. Timothy Catholic Church said that scouts won’t be allowed to meet or wear their uniforms on church property."

The response from the Girl Scouts was upbeat, but make no mistake: they're under attack.

""This location change presents us with an opportunity to serve not only the girls from St. Timothy’s, but to invite more girls from the area to join Girl Scouts. After all, this is our 100th anniversary year and a great time to be part of Girl Scouting."

And it's a great time to buy Girl Scout cookies in support!

There's also a new on-line petition you can sign, showing you support the Girl Scouts!


ps - a standing ovation to my husband, who had this brilliant idea!  Love you!

pps - want to help the Girl Scout Troop in Colorado who welcomed the transgender child?  Trans Youth Family Allies has set up a donation page here

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Evolution of Ethan Poe - A Gay Teen Comes Of Age

The Evolution of Ethan Poe by Robin Reardon

Ethan Poe, 16 and gay, is struggling to maintain balance in his increasingly chaotic life. His parents are divorcing, his brother Kyle is damaging his own right hand in the name of purity, and his best friend, who is extremely religious, prays for Ethan to be straight. As Ethan begins seeing the light in the form of Max Modine, a boy he wants to know better, his rural Maine town is exploding around him. Against his intentions he gets pulled into a pitched and sometimes violent conflict about whether Intelligent Design should be introduced into science classrooms.

Friendships end, families are torn apart, and the school becomes a battleground. It isn’t long before Ethan must decide how far he is willing to go to protect what he believes.

Add your review of "The Evolution of Ethan Poe" in comments!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The New Jersey Politics of Marriage Equality: Mayor Cory Booker calls it like it is, And Good News From 9th Circut Court of Appeals: CA's Prop 8 is Unconsitutional!

This video clip is awesome.

Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, shares his thoughts on New Jersey Governor Christie's idea to put marriage equality in their state up to a popular vote:

He talks about the shame that our country still has second-class citizens, and says,

"Thank God, Jackie Robinson, wasn't a popular vote on whether he should join and be a professional baseball player."

Well said, sir!

And this news broke yesterday: the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that

Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for “laws of this sort.”
You can read the full text of the court's decision here.  And in the American Foundation for Equal Rights press conference yesterday they explained the next steps... including their plan to argue against the stay continuing, which might open up gay marriages in California again, as the case makes it's possible way to the US Supreme Court.

We'll be watching developments closely, but to paraphrase Ted Olsen (one of the lawyers heading up the case FOR gay marriage),  it's hard to over-state the significance of this ruling.


ps - my thanks to Cay for sharing the Mayor Booker video with me!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hushed - A Gay YA Thriller

Hushed by Kelley York

He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her.

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.

Add your review of "Hushed" in comments!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Powerful 30 second 'Don't Say Gay' (in a bad way) PSA... Made by an 8th grader and his little brother!

I love this thirty-second video:

Awesome! (the crack of the wet celery with the slaps is a hoot.) But the best thing about this is the message. And it's going viral.

So how about it?

How about your GSA - or you and your friends - putting together your own PSA and sharing it with the world?

Inspiring, huh?


ps - thanks to my gem of a husband for sharing this with me!

Friday, February 3, 2012

One more week to get in your POINT FOUNDATION Scholarship applications!

"The Point Foundation provides financial support, mentoring, leadership training and hope to meritorious students who are marginalized due to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression"

The Point Foundation's Online Application closes on Friday February 10, 2012 - so apply now!

Good luck and Namaste,

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Zombies Vs. Unicorns: A Short Story Anthology with Gay and Lesbian Characters!

Zombies Vs. Unicorns, Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

I found out about "Zombies Vs. Unicorns" when I interviewed Scott Westerfeld at KidLitCon 2011:

Reading this anthology was remarkably fun.

The stories are intercut with the ongoing argument between Justine and Holly, about which are better, Zombies or Unicorns.  And, perhaps more important, which are better to write about?

The anthology includes twelve alternating skin-shedding and spiral-horned adventures, three of which have main queer characters:

The Highest Justice by Garth Nix

A Princess' journey to her father, with her recently dead and now Zombie mother/Queen, wouldn't be possible without the help of Elibet.  A Unicorn. Who has his own view of justice.

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson

A romantic gay teen Zombie story, it's a new twist on the I-love-you-but-our-love-is-impossible theme.  You're a gay kid, you get some disease that turns you into a Zombie, and Jack, the incredibly hot guy you're crushing on smells like the most delicious macaroni and cheese ever.

Purity Test by Naomi Novik

Down on her luck, wearing a thrift-store Marine jacket and sleeping on a bench in Central Park, Alison's roped into helping a majestic - and rather sarcastic - Unicorn who needs a virgin to free five baby Unicorns from an evil wizard's brownstone in Gramercy Park.  Alison's not actually a... but the Unicorn's not hearing any of it - he wants a little more competence in his heroine.  Will Alison be the one?

Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan

On a pirate Island, they survive in a world where the dead return as fast-moving Lihemorto.  Surviving means you have to be ruthless.  Iza's father rules their island with a fist, keeping them all safe - but at such a cost.  Iza's mother is dead, and now Iza's faced with a dashing pirate, a dream of how the world was and might be again, and Zombies.

A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan

A drunk man follows a Unicorn to an unconscious Princess by a forest stream.  She's exposed, and he tries to cover up her modesty.  In doing so, he's caught by the palace guards.  What will be his fate?  And what of the Princess?

The Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson

Sophie follows her boyfriend to work an organic farm in England for the summer.  It's hideous and more like slave labor.  After two weeks he abandons her, and she's desperate for a job to save her summer.  An American celebrity who lives nearby is desperate for some child-care help.  But there are special rules Sophie must follow...

The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund

The Unicorn Killers tried to recruit Wen to come to Italy and learn from them after she survived a Unicorn attack that killed her cousins, but her parents won't hear of it - the magic is not Christian, and they certainly are.  But Wen has a special affinity for the killer beasts, or maybe they have for her.  And when she stumbles upon a  chained and dying unicorn at a traveling circus, somehow she ends up caring for its baby... a charming baby unicorn.  She even names it 'Flower."  But as she falls in love with it, she knows she'll have to kill it eventually.  After all, it's deadly to everyone around her.

Inoculata by Scott Westerfeld

Six billion Zombies.  And only a few small pockets of humans left.  Ally's trapped with a small group of other humans on an old pot farm, with hundreds of Zombies pushing up against the chain link fence all around them.  For the last four years.  But, what if there was a way to be innoculated against the Zombies?  To escape into the Zombie-infested world without being eaten?  To finally learn to drive, and go somewhere?  When the girl Ally's been crushing on tells her there may be a way, is it worth the risk? 

Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot

It's Liz's 17th birthday, and it's the worst day of her life.  The day goes from creepy popular boy making fun of her breasts to her parent's 'surprise' party for her featuring High School Musical decorations.  And no one's really showed up at her party anyway, since uber-popular Kate has the same birthday and is doing a blow-out party at her nowhere-around-parents' place.  But then Liz gets a birthday present she doesn't expect: A real-live rainbow-farting lavender-eyed Unicorn.  What is she, seven?

Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare

James is Adele's boyfriend.  And he's due, when he turns 18, to become The Duke of Lychgate, or Zombietown, as their cursed town is known to the rest of the world.  Because Lychgate's dead come back and walk among them.  When James is murdered in front of her, Adele suspects his Uncle, the current man who rules as Duke until James turns 18.  Now James will never turn 18.  But Adele still loves him.  And justice must be done.

The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey

A first person tale, told from the point of view of a Unicorn who's lived 500 years, and can't stop his hunger for healing humans... and stealing years of their lives in that moment of healing.  Only a Virgin, pure of heart and desperate of need, can hear the Unicorn's thoughts, and there's only been two in 500 years.  But now, the Unicorn is determined to find one last Virgin, to help him end his immortal life and end the terrible hunger...

Prom Night by Libba Bray

Jeff was student body Treasurer.  Tahmina was President.  Now they're the law - after all, the adults are gone, dead or undead, and their town is a fenced-off prison keeping the infection out and the surviving students in.  But it's Prom night, and much as they'd like to celebrate, they're busy.  Their shift starts out with Jeff having to kill a Zombie - a guy that he used to think was so hot.  Not so much anymore.  And Prom night just gets stranger from there.

So which is it - are you Team Zombie, or Team Unicorn?

You'll have to read them all to decide!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The 2012 Comment Challenge Winners!

Congratulations to all 164 participants in the 2012 Comment Challenge.  And special congratulations to our five winners!

Drumroll, please...

In the 100+ comment category our winners are

Marcie Colleen, The Write Routine

Marcie's blog: The Write Routine

Beth, Library Chicken

Beth's blog: Library Chicken


Caryl, Leaning Tower of Books

Caryl's blog: Leaning Tower of Books

And in our under 100 category our winners are

Magdalena, Magdalena Ball

Magdalena's blog: Magdalena Ball


Heather Kelly, Edited to Within an Inch of My Life

Heather's blog: Edited to Within an Inch of My Life

Our winners will each be getting a prize package of different kid lit books, including recent award winners "Putting Makeup On The Fat Boy" by Bil Wright (which just won the 2012 Stonewall Book Award - The Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award and "Where Things Come Back" by John Corey Whaley (which just won the 2012 Printz Award AND the William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author!)

The 18 prize books!

And for everyone, remember that discovering all these new blogs, reading with the intent to engage, and connecting with our community through commenting has made every one of us winners!

Thanks again to all our participants, and look for the 2013 Comment Challenge next January.

Until then, Keep on Commenting!

Lee and MotherReader