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Virginia school district ponders banning cross-gender dress | Reuters

Posted: February 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Showcasing how ignorance is a life-threatening, clear and present danger, a "Virginia school district is considering banning cross-gender dressing in a move proponents said aims to protect students from harassment," Matthew Ward reports. The ban is being considered "after teachers […] said some male students were dressing like girls, prompting complaints from other students."

Although wanting to protect youth from harm is noble, misguided bans on expression are functionally equivalent to censorship, and serve no protective purpose. Worse, ignorance of gender diversity "could actually make the students more susceptible to bullying," not less, according to the executive director of Equality Virginia, James Parrish. "They're calling it cross-dressing, but if [one wears] clothes that reflect their gender identity [then] that's appropriate gender dressing," he said.

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Update: A grass-roots petition to oppose the ban has been circulating on Tumblr. A vote is expected in March. Hopefully, the petition along with the threat of legal action from the ACLU of Virginia will be enough to deter this dangerous violation of student’s freedom of expression.

Study: Employment Ads Perpetuate Traditional Gender Roles | Duke Today

Posted: May 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Gendered language in job ads "may lead some women away from occupations they may otherwise have found interesting," thereby perpetuating employment discrimination, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:

The clues come in the form of gendered words like competitive and dominant (male) versus compassionate and nurturing (female), the researchers report. Both men and women show a preference for job descriptions matching their gender, women more strongly so. But no one in the study was aware of the effect, the researchers discovered.

After examining more than 4,000 recent job ads, senior author Aaron Kay and his team wrote their own. "When we used more masculine wording, the traditionally female-dominated jobs became more appealing to men," Kay said. This unconscious behavior could explain gendered disparities in jobs like nursing. Moreover, genuine attempts at diversifying could be undermined if job ads have gendered wording.

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Constitutional Law Prof Blog: Banning (Male) Circumcision: San Francisco Ballot Measure

Posted: May 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Banning male circumcision is the goal of a group of San Francisco “intactivists,” lead by Lloyd Schofield, who have successfully placed a measure on the local ballot for November that would make it “unlawful to circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles, or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years.” The ordinance contains an exception for religious ceremonies, which is interesting as it pits two frameworks of “rights” against one another. On the one hand, religious freedom, and on the other, basic human and youth rights.

The key, as noted by the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, is how one conceptualizes the argument: “Conceptualized as the child’s right to be free from harm, the First Amendment religious freedom arguments become less persuasive.” As they show, legal precedent is mirky, and some debate over whether the group’s motivations are a “hostility to religion” or a resentment that they were circumcised have arisen.

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A twist on equality laws – The Boston Globe

Posted: October 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Although lovely, the Berkshire Mountains in Western MA may not be the sunniest part of America – but that doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t have just as much opportunity to feel the sun on their skin as men do. Katherine Gundelfinger of Pittsfield, MA has succeeded in getting a question on the ballot in her county, asking for support for legislation – not yet introduced – that will change the laws around nudity such that they are equally strict (or loose) for men and women. Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto doesn’t think this is particularly important, saying “I just don’t think that the issue is worthy of discussion.’’ Of course, he’s allowed to sunbathe topless free of consequence – and there are plenty of people who don’t have that right, or who support the idea the everybody should, who think it’s definitely worth of discussion.

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Closeted Discoverers: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Scientists – Science Careers

Posted: October 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

"Closeted LGBT scientists employ multiple strategies to avoid workplace harassment and bigotry, including covering, passing/compartmentalizing, and overachieving," Jacqueline Ruttimann Oberst writes, exploring "three dimensions in the professional lives of young LGBT scientists—mentoring, being a minority within a minority, and playing the role of leader versus activist…." Oberst spotlights several GLBT researchers who have coped with discrimination in sometimes very subtle ways.

"We’re at the same place with sexual orientation and gender that we were with race/ethnic diversity 25 years ago. It’s the same fight but with different people," says Amy A. Ross, Ph.D., an associate biologist at the California Institute of Technology. "[D]istinctions within the LGBT community…are even more granular," Oberst writes. However, merely stepping out of the closet is often the strongest stance anyone can take, whether you say you're an activist or not.

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Councilors mull virginity as criteria for enrollment | The Jakarta Post

Posted: September 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

A seriously misguided Indonesian legislator, Bambang Bayu Suseno, has proposed that access to public education be restricted only to girls who’re virgins. I wish I were exaggerating, but I'm not. According to a report by Jon Afrizal, Suseno asked, "Why are girls who lose their virginity allowed to go to public school?" Clearly, Mr. Suseno is suffering from a poor education in the matters of basic human rights, which guarantees every human being the right to access public education whether they are a virgin or not.

His rationale? "Parents are obviously afraid of their daughters being deflowered before the time comes, so [girls] can undergo the virginity test and automatically protect their dignity." Um. What about boys? And, human rights violations aside, exactly how virginity will be determined is unsurprisingly undefined. This is yet another example of the harm caused by sexist notions of purity.

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On Faith Panelists Blog: The lady doth protest too much – Debra W. Haffner

Posted: September 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

"It doesn't surprise me to see attempts to control people's sexual lives emerge in Tea Party candidates' platforms," Debra Haffner writes at the Washington Post. Issues of sexual freedom have long been a cash cow for social conservatives. "I predict we will see more Tea Party candidates start playing into some conservatives' anxieties about all things sexual in the coming year."

So what are these sexual anxieties? Christine O'Donnell has the full package: "In a 1996 interview, she spoke out in an MTV documentary against masturbation, wrongly stating that the New Testament is against it. […] In 2002, she said that 'condoms will not protect you from AIDS.' In a 2006 interview, she said that homosexuals suffer from an identity disorder. A few weeks ago, she said that she opposes abortion except if the woman is going to die, in which case her family should decide which life to save."

That's what we call really, really big government.

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What’s With All the Emasculating Campaign Rhetoric? — Daily Intel

Posted: September 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

America's culture war between social conservatives trying to co-opt feminism to support anti-women policies and social progressives who think that's pretty low is back in full swing so it comes as no surprise that, in this year's midterm elections, many shoddy candidates are using gender-policing language prominently in their campaigns. Dan Amira compiles not 1, not 2, not 3, but 5 blatant national examples of emasculation rhetoric.

The sexist rhetoric is strongest, obviously, from the Tea Party favorites, such as Sarah Palin's endorsement of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's for having the "cojones" that she thinks President Obama lacks (and somehow Palin is still against trans equality?), Carl Paladino's similar jab at Andrew Cuomo, and Christine O'Donnell's urging for her establishment Republican opponent Mike Castle to "get [his] man-pants on." Although only slightly more subtle than the blatant racism the Tea Party embodies, the sexist views are also clearly just under the surface.

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Carlos A. Ball: Why Bathrooms Are a Civil Rights Issue

Posted: September 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

What does the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the women's movement, and the Americans with Disabilities Act all have in common? Toilets! In a succinct and thought-provoking analysis, law professor Carlos A. Ball notes that in each "of these civil rights struggles, there were conservative critics who dismissed bathroom-related advocacy by minority groups as unnecessary and even silly." What's more, he points out that the very same pattern is playing out right now about one of the most important civil rights acts of our time: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

If enacted, ENDA would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. So it should be unsurprising that Republican gubernatorial candidate for Massachusetts poo-pooed ENDA as "the bathroom bill." But there is a serious issue behind all this mocking and, as Mr. Ball illustrates, it's because bathrooms are so often on the front lines of civil rights struggles.

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Oh, No, It’s a Girl! South Asians Flock to Sex-Selection Clinics in U.S. – New America Media

Posted: September 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

"Last time I checked," geneticist Dr. Mark Hughes says, "your gender wasn't a disease." But that's not stopping Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg and others like him from using techniques originally developed to cure diseases from running "Family Balancing" clinics in the United States that offer "100% sex-selection program"s. Steinberg says that "for every woman I see regarding the breast cancer gene, I see 400 women who want to choose the sex of their child."

Sex-selection is a very hot issue, and at $18,000 a pop, Steinberg's clinic is an extremely lucrative business. His patients often travel to the US from India, Canada, and other countries where sex-selection is illegal. However, there are significant gender biases in US families, too, especially among Indian, Chinese, and Korean parents. And pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, Steinberg's method, is just one method of sex-selection; another is actually abortion performed after an ultrasound. It all makes me wonder where to draw the line.

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