Since the late '80s, there have been many ups and downs for gay-straight alliances, both at public and private schools. The Advocate takes a closer look at some of the landmark cases that have paved the way for LGBT equality in American schools.
We were headed to our first cruise as a family. We were on time, but the flight was delayed. It was July 2009, and our babies were 9 months old. Ray and I felt like pack mules making our way on the historic Oregon Trail. We had cans of formula, bottles, baby food, diapers and all the diapering accoutrements. What was this nine-hour plane ride from Atlanta to Anchorage, Alaska going to hold? We weren’t sure, but the end goal was a seven-day journey through Alaska’s Inner Passage, and we were excited.On the plane, Carter, my son, was sitting with Ray, my husband, and Ammon, my daughter, was sitting with me. Then a very kind, beautiful, and petite lady sat immediately to my right. The lady, whom I found out was Leslie, and I began a polite conversation about her own children and her grandchildren. Leslie introduced me to her husband, George. They were so kind, with an obvious love for children, and soon it became evident that Leslie was enamored with Ammon. It was also a few minutes into conversing that I found out we were all headed to the same cruise.After several hours of chatting and me avoiding Carter and Ammon’s in-vitro/surrogate/half sibling story (please see my Christmas article, Gray Christmas, with the Advocate from last December), my defenses came down. If Leslie did not appreciate our story, was offended by it, or thought I was a condemned sinner, then I would just have to spend the next seven hours with a cold, right shoulder and no adult conversation. I simply stated, “Ray and I are a same-sex couple, and Ammon and Carter are our children.” Their unique story followed. Never once did Leslie flinch, scowl, or make a grimace. She never knew it, but inside my mind, heart, and soul, I was saying, “Thank you, God.” She spoke to me like I was any other father or husband, and she helped me with Ammon. And if I hadn't so frequently had the same welcoming experience, I might not believe it had something to do with cruising. But there's something open minded about the open seas.
The Point Foundation, the world's largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBT students, has just named its class of 2011. The 34 graduate and undergraduate students awarded financial assistance this year are from places as disparate as Malaysia, Morocco, and Massachusetts — the qualities all these young people share is an amazing work ethic, an ability to overcome hardship, and an ambition to change the world for the better. Meet the class of 2011 below, and click here to learn more about the Point Foundation. Mounia Abousaid- from Rabat, Morocco- pursuing a BA in philosophy at Columbia UniversityHow do you feel your Point Scholarship will change or help your future? There’s the obvious financial answer – I was raised by a single mother, and Point’s help will be invaluable in paying for college. However, the aspect of Point Foundation that I feel will affect my life the most is its community. I think that the mentoring, leadership training and friendships the Point Scholarship will make available to me will allow me to become much more involved in the LGBTQ community and a true queer leader.In conjunction with Point, how do you wish to make difference in the LGBT community?I wish I had a detailed plan. At this point, instead of a 12-point agenda of things to do to help the LGBT community, all I have is a series of lofty goals I’ve tried to work on and that I will continue to work on with Point’s help. I’d like to continue to work to make the schools safer for queer kids, through helping establish and sustain GSA’s. In conjunction with Point and its mission, I would generally like to help queer youth in every way I can: whether through volunteering at youth shelters or through helping Point fundraise. In addition, as a committed feminist as well as queer activist, I plan on conciliating both through work on sex education.
In 1975, Miriam Ben-Shalom was discharged from the U.S. military for being a lesbian. Thirty-five years later, she was arrested for chaining herself to the White House fence. The activist explains why it's not over until it's really over.
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