Sunday, February 27, 2011

Harassment Hurts

Hyperlinks - connecting the world together

TheGLSEN website is filled with disturbing statistics about harassment and abuse toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexuals (LGBT) students. Perhaps one of the more disturbing statistics was the fact that two-thirds of LGBT students never reported being harassed and almost one-quarter say they did not report it because they felt that staff would not do anything to help. No student should feel that staff would not do anything to help stop or minimize the harassment. Many schools have anti-bullying policies, but only 18.2% of LGBT students say they go to a school that has protection based on sexual orientation or gender expression.

Rhode Island College's student handbook has some sections that help to prevent harassment of LGBT students. Freedom of speech is encouraged but "racial/sexual attacks and illegal harassment will not be tolerated." (pg. 27) It is curious to note that although there is a section for Sexual Harassment, readers are told to see this page. However, this only details the college's Affirmative Action plan -- not a Sexual Harassment Policy. However, there is a mention about sexuality in the Residential Life & Housing section on pg. 36. "These interactions, whether between" ... "members of different sexual orientations"... "will be tempered with sensitivity and a sense of responsibility toward others. The Harassment section includes (not limited to) "repeated questioning or implication concerning another's sexual activity, sexual orientation, or gender identity" To me, this is severely lacking. So only residents have to abide by these codes?

Teaching Tolerance has an article called 'Homo High' that details how much easier it is for all students, not just LGBT, to learn in an environment without bullies. The articles mentions that there has been some opposition to the idea because people claimed the school supported "separate but equal" by creating an environment just for LGBT students. However, this is not true. Even straight students enroll there for smaller class sizes and a friendlier learning environment. One straight student was uncomfortable, but became friends with some other students and realized that being LGBT doesn't change anything - they are just like you. A Christian group protested at the school and the same straight student who used to pass judgment on LGBT was quick to join in showing that the protesters were wrong.

Perhaps the scariest part of this article was what I was looking for: the extremes bullying has gone to. I'm sure everyone has heard, over the past several years, of cases when teens and young adults committed suicide after being bullied. There were a few well known cases locally within the past few months as well. These are reports the article used: the Minnesota student who was repeatedly harassed by teachers who assumed the student was gay; the 15-year-old Oxnard, Calif., boy who was shot in the head by a classmate after coming out as gay; the Massachusetts 11-year-old who hanged himself after enduring anti-gay bullying at school."

Especially the student who was harassed by teachers, this should not be happening. Does anyone know what it feels like to be treated like this? The kind of pain and emotional turmoil bullies are inflicting on people?
There are sites out there where people post secrets they've kept. While not all, some are related to LGBT. This is a video containing some relevant items from Postsecret.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Opportunity Cost

Aria by Richard Rodriguez

Extended Comment: Los gringos by Emily Q.T.

Hit ^ play, please.
When I hear the word 'aria', I think of a slow, somber melody. What you're listening to now is the closest I have.

1. Maybe it appears that Rodriguez is not being negative, but the entire piece rings with sadness to me.  Parts may not be negative, but I think he shows that the experience was a negative and, in his mind, necessary experience.  It's a good thing that he was able to have public individuality, but I think it cost him a great deal in private individuality and he knows it. Maybe he thinks it was an acceptable trade-off, but I don't think it was.

2.  Rodriguez may have started learning the code, but he failed to take into account something many English speakers use often -- the tone.  "Hearing someone's tone of voice--angry or questioning or sarcastic or happy or sad--I didn't distinguish it from the words it expressed."  He was just taking words at face value, something you wouldn't do in any language.  Such a disregard of the tone could potentially have alienated him further from the Culture of Power; he might have misinterpreted a remark and then became 'a representative of the entire group'.

3.  To me, it wasn't so much that he was proud of his public individuality but rather to emphasize that he lost any sense of private individuality.  Yes, he assimilated into the public, but at what cost?  To be 7 years old and alienated from your family like that?  Seems like a very high price to me.  While Rodriguez seems to support the uneven exchange of individuality, I doubt anyone else we've read from would agree with him.

Definition:  Opportunity cost - an economics term for the highest trade-off you make for something.

Music used in accordance with Fair Use.  Invitation to Mystery [Shinpoheno Sasoi] - Robert Etoll, featured on Zoids Chaotic Century OST 1.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Downfall of Society

Amazing Graze - Jonathon Kozol

#1 - "Evil exists, I believe that what the rich have done to the poor people in this city is something that a preacher would call evil.  Somebody has power.  Pretending that they don't so they don't need to use it to help people--that is my idea of evil." -- pg 23
To David, growing up while watching his mother struggle, people not doing anything to help one another is the worst things in this world.  There are rich people and people with power in New York, yet the area he lives in is the worst in the world.  Most people who are there didn't choose to live there.  Many of them tried to find ways to change or make the best out of their situation.  Unfortunately, there is a large number of people there who made the worst of it.  Violence to such an extreme should never exist.  Everyone who has some power could do something to help.  And this situation doesn't have to apply to just Hispanics or African-Americans.  This could happen to whites too.  Does it?  Would they remain in that situation for long?

#2 - "If poor people behaved rationally, they would seldom be poor for long in the first place." -- pg 21
I wonder if the opposite is true.  "If middle or upper class people behaved rationally, they will never be poor."  Is this true? Absolutely not.  People can fall.  some things are outside people's control.  Being let go from a job is not their choice, yet it negatively affects them.  A perfect example is Mr. Washington.  She was doing well, until she got sick and left her husband.  She was rational, doing everything she could to take care of herself and her two children.  Yet she is still poor.  Can the political science professors explain this?  And perhaps a better question would be, could they do better in her situation?  And besides, people have differing ideas of 'rational'.  The teenage girls who work as prostitutes think they are rational - they need money to buy food or they'll starve.  They can't get a 'normal' job, so they do the best they can in their situation.  Overall, this is a highly biased statement made by people who are not close to the issue and fail to understand the myriad of subtleties that shape people's lives.

#3 - "I saw a boy shot in the head right over there," he says a moment later, in a voice that does not sound particularly sad, [...] -- pg 6
The mere fact that a little boy can say this in such a tone in appalling.  Yet it shows that the violence, despite its horrific nature, is so commonplace that even a 6 year old child can say he saw someone shot in front of him as casually as if he said he saw a tree.  Over the years, its been shown that poorer neighborhoods have higher rates of violence.  I guess it would be natural that the poorest area would have extreme amounts of violence.  It creates an atmosphere that creates paranoia and is disheartening.  Nobody wants to stay outside or leave windows open for fear that it will make it easier to fall victim.  Growing up in an environment like that has to make it difficult to adjust to a normal life.  It's sad that people have to grow up poor like that, but to always look over your shoulder... that's not a life anyone deserves.

I think the main point I'd like to talk about deals with privilege.  Are whites privileged enough where they don't have to worry about growing up in an environment like this?  Violence exists everywhere, with varying degrees.  Do whites live in places such poverty?  And if so, can their natural born privilege allow them to escape their situation?  What makes the political science professors say blanket statements like that?  It makes you wonder what their background is and if they could manage what they say.

Thursday, February 3, 2011