Statistics show that LGBTQ youth are at greatly increased risk of self-harm — a fact that hit home for OutCasting Overtime’s Isha when tragedy struck (produced by Marc Sophos).
Queer students at New York’s Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva University and Utah’s Mormon Brigham Young University are pressing for their rights, following a trail blazed at Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma (a “This Way Out Rewind” from 2002 with Jeff McKissack of the LGBTQ alumni organization ORU-OUT interviewed by Lucia Chappelle).
And in NewsWrap: Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe says his government would not oppose a bill to decriminalize consensual relations between queer adults, Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela promises free gender-affirming healthcare, thousands enjoy peaceful Prides in the Polish cities of Katowice and Lublin, electoral wins for the far-right Sweden Democrats alarm LGBTQ activists, Montana’s Health and Human Services Department aims to ignore an injunction against tightened rules for birth certificate gender changes, a woman inspired by false claims of underage gender-affirming surgeries to phone a bomb threat into Boston Children’s Hospital is arrested, Peppa Pig’s pal Penny Polar Bear has two mummies, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Melanie Keller and John Dyer V (produced by Brian DeShazor).
Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript
for the week of September 12, 2022
Lives Not Numbers & Faithful Students Stand
Program #1,799 distributed 09/19/22
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Sri Lanka’s government announces its support for a bill in parliament to repeal British colonial-era laws against consensual adult same-gender sex … Malta’s P.M. announces government-paid gender confirmation surgery for trans adults and promises further pro-queer reforms … LGBTQ Pride is peacefully celebrated in the Polish cities of Katowice and Lublin despite fears of violent counter-protests that marred previous events … the anti-immigrant, anti-queer Sweden Democrats, a party with neo-Nazi roots, gains significant ground in this week’s national elections and demands a role in a new yet-to-be-formed coalition government … Montana’s Republican-dominated state government spends the week toying with trans people’s right to change their birth certificate gender markers … the FBI arrests a Trump-supporting conspiracy theory-believing anti-trans woman for phoning in a bomb threat against Boston Children’s Hospital because of its specialty care programs for trans youth [with comments by U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins] … and the long-running globally-popular U.K. animated children’s TV show Peppa Pig finally introduces its preschool audience to their first same-gender couple [introduced by the TV show opening and with an excerpt from the pivotal scene featuring Penny Polar Bear] (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MELANIE KELLER and JOHN DYER V, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: You can read the statistics about the risk of LGBTQ youth harming themselves, but ISHA, a young commentator from OutCasting Overtime, puts flesh on the figures (produced by MARC SOPHOS, with TWO-added intro/outro music by ANGEL HAZE).
Feature: Faithful queer students at religiously based schools never give up. In the legal battle for recognition at New York’s Yeshiva University, the Orthodox Jewish school suspended all campus clubs this week after the U.S. Supreme Court sent their appeal to block the Pride Alliance back to the lower courts. The RaYnbow Collective at Brigham Young University recently saw their informational pamphlets removed from student welcome packets by their Mormon school’s administration. Such efforts for campus inclusion go back decades. In September 2002, This Way Out’s LUCIA CHAPPELLE spoke with Jeff McKissack of ORU-OUT, an alumni organization of LGBTQ graduates from Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Oral Roberts University (with music by MARSHA STEVENS)
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending September 17th, 2022
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Melanie Keller and John Dyer V,
produced by Brian DeShazor
The government of Sri Lanka is not against repealing the ban on same-gender sex. President Ranil Wickremesinghe told the country’s Colombo Gazette this week that his government would not oppose a bill in parliament to decriminalize consensual relations between queer adults.
Sri Lanka inherited those penal code provisions from its British colonial-era. Pressure for repeal has been mounting since March, when the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women supported the case of activist Rosanna Flamer-Caldera. Flamer-Caldera leads the Sri Lankan LGBTQI rights group Equal Ground, and the Committee determined that the laws violate her rights. Equality advocates identify other troubling laws that also need to be eliminated – laws that complicate the lives of transgender people and sex workers.
Success in parliament is not guaranteed, despite the government’s position on decriminalization. The Gazette quoted President Wickremesinghe saying, “We are for it, but you have to get the support of individual members. It’s a matter of their private conscience.”
Flamer-Caldera told the Washington Blade, she is “optimistically cautious” about repeal.
Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela broke the news at the country’s LGBTQ Pride March in Valletta: his government will be offering government-paid gender-affirming surgery to transgender adults. About 12,000 people heard the announcement on September 10th at the first post-COVID Pride in the nation’s capital. Abela called it “a celebration of the progress of civil rights.”
Malta was among the first nations in the world to ban bogus “conversion therapy,” and recently lifted a ban on blood donations by men who have sex with men. Abela called free transgender healthcare the next step.
He told ONE Radio, “While we’re proud of what we did, more needs to be done.”
Two Polish cities enjoyed peaceful LGBTQ Pride events this month. That’s noteworthy because anti-queer opposition has been rampant in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.
In Katowice, about 6,000 people marched on September 3rd in joint Pride with the Ukrainian city of Odessa.
The mayor had initially banned the event, citing concerns for “safety and public order.” To Katowice Pride organizer Przemysław Walas, the march was “an opportunity for the community to feel safe and comfortable.” He told Notes from Poland that the event’s purpose was to remind “our city, the region, and all of Poland that we are here, that we will not disappear because someone has a problem accepting that the world is not black and white.”
The city of Lublin showed its Pride on the same day with about a thousand celebrants overcoming fears of violent opposition that has marred recent events. Christian fundamentalists and ultra-nationalists fought with police at marches in 2018 and 2019. One relieved participant told local media that this year’s parade was “an absolutely huge change compared to previous years.” She told Notes from Poland that the anti-queer rhetoric of far-right government officials has backfired. It’s helped people recognize, in her words, “this is not some imaginary gay who spreads diseases, but actually the person who we buy bread from in the morning, our neighbor, our colleague at work.”
Queer activists in Sweden are alarmed by the gains for far-right nationalists in this week’s elections. Sweden Democrats is commonly described as an anti-immigrant, anti-queer party with strong neo-Nazi roots. It ranked second in election results announced on September 14th, taking 73 seats in parliament. Its alliance with other right-wing parties leaves the ruling Social Democrats and its coalition with only a narrow three-vote margin. It prompted the resignation of Social Democratic Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
Jimmie Åkesson leads the Sweden Democrats. The party “disappeared” its anti-queer position papers in 2007, but Åkesson was reportedly escorted out of an LGBTQ nightspot in 2016 as club-goers shouted “ef-ing racist!”
It’s not yet clear what form a new coalition government might take. Sweden Democrats is demanding a significant role in policy-making decisions.
Chaos reigns for transgender people in the U.S. state of Montana: first they could change their birth certificates, then they could not, and now … wait and see.
The Republican-dominated legislature and Republican Governor Greg Gianforte had changed existing law to require proof of surgery and court approval in order to change birth certificate gender markers. State Judge Michael Moses issued an injunction in April barring the enforcement of the new law. However the Health and Human Services Department issued a rule on September 9th denying trans people the right to make the change even after gender-confirming surgery. Judge Moses saw that as an attempt to circumvent his original injunction, and on September 15th put a temporary halt on that rule as well.
Now Health Director Charlie Brereton says his department will defy Moses’ decision and continue enforcing the new rule. Brereton told the Associated Press on September 16th, “The department thoroughly evaluated the judge’s vague April 2022 decision and crafted our final rule to be consistent with the decision. It’s unfortunate that the judge’s ruling today does not square with his vague April decision.”
ACLU attorney Malita Picasso says there was no “lack of clarity in the court’s ruling.” A Health Department spokesperson later said that officials would wait to see the judge’s written ruling before deciding how to proceed.
The arrest of the woman behind a bomb threat against Boston Children’s Hospital was announced on September 15th by U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins:
[SOUND: ROLLINS] “On August 30th the hospital received a telephonic bomb threat. The hospital operator answered the call, and the caller said in part, quote, ‘There is a bomb on the way to the hospital. You’d better evacuate everybody, you sickos.’ The hospital and the surrounding area were placed on lockdown, and the bomb squad was dispatched. The people that work at Children’s Hospital, and the parents that bring their loved ones to Children’s Hospital are under enough stress.”
The threat turned out to be a hoax, but the charge facing anti-queer Donald Trump supporter Catherine Leavy of Westfield, Massachusetts is not. She faces up to five years in prison. Leavy was apprehended without incident after the FBI traced the call through her cell phone service.
Boston Children’s Hospital is one of the leading centers for pediatric care in the country. Its trans youth programs offer gender-affirming care to young people, generally involving puberty blockers and/or hormone therapy.
This is just the latest assault by anti-queer conspiracy theorists against medical professionals who care for transgender young people. In this case, it’s being claimed that young trans patients at Boston Children’s Hospital are getting forced hysterectomies or gender-affirming surgery. The outrage is manufactured by far-right social media and conservative TV outlets.
[SOUND: PEPPA PIG TV INTRO]
With everyone talking about Disney’s new Black Little Mermaid, you may have missed another groundbreaking venture in “kidiversity.” Long-running U.K. children’s TV show Peppa Pig introduced its first same-gender couple in early September. Peppa’s classmate Penny Polar Bear tells Peppa:
[SOUND: PENNY] “I’m Penny Polar Bear. I live with my mummy and my other mummy. One mummy is a doctor and one mummy cooks spaghetti. I love spaghetti.”
The show targeting preschoolers with messages “about friendship, cooperation and feelings” has been on Britain’s Channel 5 for the past 18 years. According to producer Entertainment One, it’s been translated into more than 40 languages and broadcast in more than 180 locales.
A petition calling for the introduction of a queer family on the show drew almost 24,000 signatures in Britain in 2019. That was also the year that the popular U.S. children’s cartoon show Arthur featured the marriage of Arthur’s teacher Mr. Ratburn to his male partner.
Although there has been the expected backlash on social media and some uncomfortable moments on the BBC, most people cheered Peppa Pig’s animated advance.
Safe Schools Alliance is an organization that works for equality among educators in the U.K. Its celebratory tweet said, "Really nice to see age appropriate representation of same sex couples on [Peppa Pig] with Penny & her two mummies." Someone on social media simply wrote, “How cool is this?!”