Banned From the Prom

May 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Entertainment, News

By: Shannon Ralph
Ban lesbian student from the prom

In news that should be shocking but has sadly become all too familiar, yet another high school has banned gay and lesbian students from participating in their student prom. The principal of St. Anthony’s Catholic High School on Long Island, Brother Gary Cregan, has denied lesbian student Angelina Lange’s request to bring her ex-girlfriend to the prom as her date.  Brother Cregan issued the following statement to MSNBC: “Our Catholic faith specifies that marriage involves a man and a woman, and our policy on dating must reflect that. We mean no malice or disrespect.”

Having attended a Catholic high school myself, I am neither surprised nor dismayed by this headline. It is predictable. I am, however, offended by Brother Cregan’s assertion that the school intends no malice or disrespect with this decision. How could denying a student access to her senior prom —a right of passage for high school students across this country—based solely on her sexual orientation, be anything but malicious and disrespectful?  Would the school deny access to the prom to a student of color? A disabled student?

A foreign exchange student? A short student? A tall student? I highly doubt it. This would appear disrespectful. Gay students, however, seem to somehow be the exception to the rule. It is oddly acceptable to bully gay students under the guise of morality. Brother Cregan, let’s get real. You do intend to disrespect Ms. Lange. The school’s policy on gay students is malicious. As a private school, St Anthony’s Catholic High School has the prerogative to be disrespectful and malicious if it so chooses. But let’s at least have the decency to call it what it is. What happened to The Golden Rule? Do unto others, Brother Cregan.

 

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The Next Family Releases Our First Children's CD by Susan Howard

November 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Family

Here’s a sneak peak from our holiday guide

The Next Family will release our first children’s CD in early December for all types of families. This CD includes songs for same sex parents. “Daddy, Papa and Me” and “Hangin Out With My Moms” are just two of the fun, toe-tapping selections from Warm Sun by Susan Howard

warmsun_v2-1

Be the first to listen to Big Girl Bed
Big Girl Bed 1.0

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What's Good For The Kids- An Article From The New York Times

November 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Family

By: Lisa Belkin
nytgoodforkids

It has been apparent for a while now that we live in child-centric times. We approach parenting with a single-mindedness that baffles our own parents, and certainly their parents, who thought children should be seen and not heard. We think it’s just fine to put our kids ahead of our careers, our relationships, our social lives, and even if we aren’t doing so, everyone around us seems to be.

We demand that public policy — on health care, or education, or stimulus money — consider the needs of children as surely as it does the needs of doctors, teachers and businesses. (I am not saying that public policy makers always respond, mind you, but “what about the children?” is certainly a rallying cry.) We devour research on how to build our children’s self-esteem, to keep them from being bullied and to expand their intellects.

It is striking, then, how comparatively rarely children are mentioned as an argument in favor of gay marriage. The issue is framed as a debate over equality and justice, of personal freedom and the relation of church and state, not about what is good for kids.

That’s partly because, until relatively recently, we didn’t know much about the children of same-sex couples. The earliest studies, dating to the 1970s, were based on small samples and could include only families who stepped forward to be counted. But about 20 years ago, the Census Bureau added a category for unwed partners, which included many gay partners, providing more demographic data. Not every gay couple that is married, or aspiring to marry, has children, but an increasing number do: approximately 1 in 5 male same-sex couples and 1 in 3 female same-sex couples are raising children, up from 1 in 20 male couples and 1 in 5 female couples in 1990.

This growth, coupled with the passage of time, means there is a large cohort of children who are now old enough to yield solid data. And the portrait emerging tells us something about the effects of gay parenting. It also contains lessons for all parents.

“These children do just fine,” says Abbie E. Goldberg, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at Clark University, who concedes there are some who will continue to believe that gay parents are a danger to their children, in spite of a growing web of psychological and sociological evidence to the contrary. Her new book, “Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children,” is an analysis of more than 100 academic studies, most looking at groups of 30 to 150 subjects, and primarily on lesbian mothers, though of late there is a spike in research about gay fathers.

In most ways, the accumulated research shows, children of same-sex parents are not markedly different from those of heterosexual parents. They show no increased incidence of psychiatric disorders, are just as popular at school and have just as many friends. While girls raised by lesbian mothers seem slightly more likely to have more sexual partners, and boys slightly more likely to have fewer, than those raised by heterosexual mothers, neither sex is more likely to suffer from gender confusion nor to identify themselves as gay.

More enlightening than the similarities, however, are the differences, the most striking of which is that these children tend to be less conventional and more flexible when it comes to gender roles and assumptions than those raised in more traditional families.

There are data that show, for instance, that daughters of lesbian mothers are more likely to aspire to professions that are traditionally considered male, like doctors or lawyers — 52 percent in one study said that was their goal, compared with 21 percent of daughters of heterosexual mothers, who are still more likely to say they want to be nurses or teachers when they grow up. (The same study found that 95 percent of boys from both types of families choose the more masculine jobs.) Girls raised by lesbians are also more likely to engage in “roughhousing” and to play with “male-gendered-type toys” than girls raised by straight mothers. And adult children of gay parents appear more likely than the average adult to work in the fields of social justice and to have more gay friends in their social mix.

Heterosexual couples might want to pay attention to these results. While the gay-marriage debate is playing out on the public stage, a more private debate is taking place in kitchens and bedrooms over who does what in a heterosexual marriage (takes out the trash, spends more time with the kids, feels free to head out with their friends for a beer). The philosophical underpinnings of both conversations — gay marriage and equality in parenting — are similar, in that both focus on equality for adults (in the case of heterosexuals, mostly wives). But even if parents who seek parity do so for their own sanity and in pursuit of their own ideals, might it not also be better for their children?

Yes, if less conventional, more tolerant children are your goal. Because if the children of gays and lesbians are different, it is presumably related to the way they were raised — by parents with a view of domestic roles that differs from most of their heterosexual peers.

Same-sex couples, it seems, are less likely to impose certain gender-based expectations on their children, says M. V. Lee Badgett, director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and author of “When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage.” Studies of lesbian parents have found that they “are more feminist parents,” she says, “more open to girls playing with trucks and boys playing with dolls,” with fewer worries about conforming to perceived norms.

They are also, by definition, less likely to impose gender-based expectations on themselves. “Same-sex parents tend to be more equal in parenting,” Goldberg says, while noting that no generalization can apply to all parents of any sexual orientation. On the whole, though, lesbian mothers (there’s little data here on gay dads) tend not to divide chores and responsibilities according to gender-based roles, Goldberg says, “because you have taken gender out the equation. There’s much more fluidity than in many heterosexual relationships.”

So while we arguably spend too much time focusing on children, when it comes to the topic of nontraditional marriage, maybe we should start focusing on them more. One of the few parenting conversations that is not child-centric might be well served to become so. These are questions of rights and equality for adults, yes, but also questions of what is good for the kids.

Lisa Belkin is a contributing writer and the author of the Motherlode blog.

More on this article- NEW YORK TIMES

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A Boy And His Flag- why Will won't pledge- An Article from the Arkansas Times

November 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Family

By: David Koon
pledge

Will Phillips isn’t like other boys his age.

For one thing, he’s smart. Scary smart. A student in the West Fork School District in Washington County, he skipped a grade this year, going directly from the third to the fifth. When his family goes for a drive, discussions are much more apt to be about Teddy Roosevelt and terraforming Mars than they are about Spongebob Squarepants and what’s playing on Radio Disney.

It was during one of those drives that the discussion turned to the pledge of allegiance and what it means. Laura Phillips is Will’s mother. “Yes, my son is 10,” she said. “But he’s probably more aware of the meaning of the pledge than a lot of adults. He’s not just doing it rote recitation. We raised him to be aware of what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s fair.”

Will’s family has a number of gay friends. In recent years, Laura Phillips said, they’ve been trying to be a straight ally to the gay community, going to the pride parades and standing up for the rights of their gay and lesbian neighbors. They’ve been especially dismayed by the effort to take away the rights of homosexuals – the right to marry, and the right to adopt. Given that, Will immediately saw a problem with the pledge of allegiance.

“I’ve always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said. “I really don’t feel that there’s currently liberty and justice for all.”

After asking his parents whether it was against the law not to stand for the pledge, Will decided to do something. On Monday, Oct. 5, when the other kids in his class stood up to recite the pledge of allegiance, he remained sitting down. The class had a substitute teacher that week, a retired educator from the district, who knew Will’s mother and grandmother. Though the substitute tried to make him stand up, he respectfully refused. He did it again the next day, and the next day. Each day, the substitute got a little more cross with him. On Thursday, it finally came to a head. The teacher, Will said, told him that she knew his mother and grandmother, and they would want him to stand and say the pledge.

“She got a lot more angry and raised her voice and brought my mom and my grandma up,” Will said. “I was fuming and was too furious to really pay attention to what she was saying. After a few minutes, I said, ‘With all due respect, ma’am, you can go jump off a bridge.’ ”

Will was sent to the office, where he was given an assignment to look up information about the flag and what it represents. Meanwhile, the principal called his mother.

“She said we have to talk about Will, because he told a sub to jump off a bridge,” Laura Phillips said. “My first response was: Why? He’s not just going to say this because he doesn’t want to do his math work.”

Eventually, Phillips said, the principal told her that the altercation was over Will’s refusal to stand for the pledge of allegiance, and admitted that it was Will’s right not to stand. Given that, Laura Phillips asked the principal when they could expect an apology from the teacher. “She said, ‘Well I don’t think that’s necessary at this point,’ ” Phillips said.

After Phillips put a post on the instant-blogging site twitter.com about the incident, several of her friends got angry and alerted the news media. Meanwhile, Will Phillips still refuses to stand during the pledge of allegiance. Though many of his friends at school have told him they support his decision, those who don’t have been unkind, and louder.

“They [the kids who don't support him] are much more crazy, and out of control and vocal about it than supporters are.”

Given that his protest is over the rights of gays and lesbians, the taunts have taken a predictable bent. “In the lunchroom and in the hallway, they’ve been making comments and doing pranks, and calling me gay,” he said. “It’s always the same people, walking up and calling me a gaywad.”

Even so, Will said that he can’t foresee anything in the near future that will make him stand for the pledge. To help him deal with the peer pressure, his parents have printed off posts in his support on blogs and websites. “We’ve told him that people here might not support you, but we’ve shown him there are people all over that support you,” Phillips said. “It’s really frustrating to him that people are being so immature.”

At the end of our interview, I ask young Will a question that might be a civics test nightmare for your average 10-year-old. Will’s answer, though, is good enough — simple enough, true enough — to give me a little rush of goose pimples. What does being an American mean?

“Freedom of speech,” Will says, without even stopping to think. “The freedom to disagree. That’s what I think pretty much being an American represents.”

Somewhere, Thomas Jefferson smiles.

ARKANSAS TIMES

*The Next Family would like to interview Will Phillips. Any suggestions on how to contact him would be greatly appreciated.

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Same Street, Different World: ‘Sesame’ Turns 40- An Article From The New York Times

November 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Family

A New York Times Article By: ALESSANDRA STANLEY
big bird

IT is almost too perfect that the first African-American president of the United States was elected in time for the 40th anniversary of “Sesame Street.” The world is finally beginning to look the way that the PBS show always made it out to be.
Top, Big Bird, still a big star on “Sesame Street.” Above, Zoe, Rosita and Abby Cadabby sing about gardening.
So it is to the credit of this daunting cultural landmark — a program that has taught generations of children to count, countless parents how to teach and is seen in 125 countries around the world — that Tuesday’s anniversary is not a frenzy of preening self-celebration. Episode No. 4187 is as child-centric and respectful of routine as any other.

The special guest — the first lady, Michelle Obama — doesn’t make her appearance alongside Big Bird until midway into a show crammed with the usual preschool didactics. The letter of the day comes first — H, as in help and hug and healthy.

The only real difference is that on this day, viewers have to count to 40.

The pedagogy hasn’t changed, but the look and tone of “Sesame Street” has evolved. Forty years on, this is your mother’s “Sesame Street,” only better dressed and gentrified: Sesame Street by way of Park Slope. The opening is no longer a realistic rendition of an urban skyline but an animated, candy-colored chalk drawing of a preschool Arcadia, with flowers and butterflies and stars. The famous set, brownstones and garbage bins, has lost the messy graffiti and gritty smudges of city life over the years. Now there are green spaces, tofu and yoga.

It’s still a messianic show, but the mission has shifted to the more immediate concerns of pediatricians and progressive parents, especially when it comes to childhood obesity. “Sesame Street” takes the Muppets, rhymes and visual verve that were developed to instill tolerance, racial pride and equality, to preach exercise and healthy eating.

Put it this way, Mrs. Obama’s message on the anniversary episode isn’t an exhortation to future soldiers, scientists and presidents to be all that they can be, but to tiny consumers to eat the freshest food they can find. “Veggies taste so good when they come fresh from the garden, don’t they?” Mrs. Obama tells a rainbow coalition of children gathered around a soil tray, an echo of her White House kitchen garden. “If you eat all these healthy foods, you are going to grow up to be big and strong,” Mrs. Obama says, flexing her fists. “Just like me.”

That foodie focus is a reflection of the times and current fads, but also of a tension in the mandate of “Sesame Street,” as it straddles the two imperatives of being a public service in the broadest sense of the word — serving the underserved — while also competing with all the other shows and satisfying the public television donor base.

It is an urban myth that Cookie Monster was turned into Veggie Monster to appease nutrition Nazis, however — that was a blogosphere rumor in the Paul-Is-Dead school of whispering campaigns. But Cookie Monster’s palate was refined during Season 36 as part of the show’s “healthy habits for life” campaign. He now also gobbles fruits and vegetables, which are labeled by the show as “anytime” foods while cookies are held in reserve as “sometime” food. And almost every episode has a subliminal message about exercise and nutrition, along with a fruit bowl.

So much carb consciousness raising makes it all the more incongruous that McDonald’s is a “Sesame Street” corporate sponsor — perhaps the most overt sign of changing mores. It was a financially driven decision, made in 2003 after public television loosened its restrictions on sponsors’ promotional efforts.

“Sesame Street” no longer has a monopoly on growing minds; if anything, it is an endangered species. There are now scores of preschool shows, and some of them also are shown without ads, like “Playhouse Disney.” Not surprisingly, fewer children are watching “Sesame Street,” but most children are watching more television than ever: a recent Nielsen Company study showed that on average children ages 2 to 5 now spend nearly 25 hours a week watching TV and an additional 7 hours either watching taped shows and DVDs or sitting in front of a computer. The top-rated show in that age group in the month of September, according to Nielsen, was “Go, Diego, Go!” on Nickelodeon. “Sesame Street” trailed far behind.

To help cover costs “Sesame Street” reached out to family-friendly sponsors like Beaches resorts and Earth’s Best organic baby foods.
To read the rest of the article go to New York Times

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Focus of Gay-Marriage Fight Is Maine- Article from The New York Times

October 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Family

From- The New York Times
By: ABBY GOODNOUGH
articleInline
Less than a week before Maine voters decide whether to repeal the state’s new same-sex marriage law, donations and volunteers are pouring in to sway what both sides call a nationally significant fight.

Supporters of the marriage law, which the Legislature approved in May, have far more money and ground troops than opponents, who have been led by the Roman Catholic Church. Yet most polls show the two sides neck and neck, suggesting that gay couples here, as in California last year, could lose the right to marry just six months after they gained it.

Although Maine’s population is a tiny fraction of California’s and the battle here has been comparatively low profile, it comes at a crucial point in the same-sex marriage movement. Still reeling from last year’s defeat in California, gay-rights advocates say a defeat here could further a perception that only judges and politicians embrace same-sex marriage.

If Maine’s law is upheld, however, it would be the movement’s first victory at the ballot box; voters in about 30 states have banned same-sex marriage.

Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont allow gay couples to marry, but courts and legislatures, not voters, made it possible.

“It’s a defining moment,” said Marc Mutty, chairman of Stand for Marriage Maine, which is leading the repeal effort. “What happens here in Maine is going to have a mushrooming effect on the issue at large.”

Maine had planned to allow same-sex marriage starting in September, but put it off until the referendum is decided. It is the only state with a same-sex marriage question on its ballot this fall.

The outcome could have particular resonance in California, where same-sex marriage supporters have been debating how soon to seek a repeal of their own state’s ban.

Mr. Mutty’s group has repeatedly warned voters that if same-sex marriage survives in Maine, public schools will most likely teach children about it. That strategy proved effective in California, and even after Maine’s attorney general announced this month that the state would not require same-sex marriage to be taught, opponents have continued raising the possibility.

One of their television advertisements warns that in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2003, some teachers answer “thoroughly and explicitly” when students ask about gay sex.

But Stand for Marriage has not been able to advertise nearly as much as the lead group campaigning to save the law. That group, Protect Maine Equality, has raised $4 million, compared with Stand for Marriage’s $2.6 million. Its overarching message is that all people, including gay men and lesbians, should be treated equally under the law.

“You may disagree,” a gray-haired lobsterman says in a Protect Maine Equality advertisement, “but people have a right to live the way they want to live.”

The group has raised much of its money on the Internet, where it has also recruited volunteers from around the country with a Web site, www.travelforchange.org. Stace McDaniel, a retired teacher from Atlanta, said he decided to spend a few weeks volunteering for Protect Maine Equality after attending his first same-sex wedding this summer.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” said Mr. McDaniel, 57, who said he took out a $5,000 home equity line of credit to finance his trip. “It was a chance to do something really important. I don’t know anyone in Maine, but here I am.”

One of the volunteers working phones at the Stand for Maine offices last Thursday was Bonnie Johnstone of Portland, who said she had decided to help after hearing about the campaign at her Mormon church. But while Mormons played a huge role in California’s same-sex marriage ban — providing reserves of money and volunteers — they appear to be far less involved here, partly because the Mormon Church has a much smaller presence in New England.

The repeal effort has drawn a small number of volunteers from other states, Mr. Mutty said, including a group of students from Brigham Young University, a Mormon institution in Utah.

Stand for Marriage hired the same consulting firm that ran the California campaign against same-sex marriage, Schubert Flint Public Affairs, based in Sacramento, to produce its advertisements. And more than half of its financial support has come from the National Organization for Marriage, a conservative Christian group based in New Jersey that has fought same-sex marriage in other states.

But the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has played the most tangible role in the repeal movement, even urging its parishes to collect donations by passing a second collection plate during Mass.

The Maine Ethics Commission is investigating whether the National Organization for Marriage has violated the state’s campaign finance laws by keeping its donors anonymous. The group has responded with a lawsuit challenging Maine’s financial reporting requirements.

With no big races drawing voters to the polls this year, both sides say that get-out-the-vote efforts will be crucial. Supporters of same-sex marriage are counting on college students, while opponents are focusing on older voters from the state’s more conservative central and northern regions.

“Their voters are going to be weather-dependent, mood-dependent,” Mr. Mutty said. “Our voters tend to vote no matter what.”

Since polls have historically undercounted opponents of same-sex marriage — and none have shown supporters of the law more than a few points ahead, anyway — Protect Maine Equality is taking nothing for granted.

“We have every reason to think this will be a razor-thin election,” said Jesse Connolly, the group’s campaign manager.

THE NEW YORK TIMES

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