Let’s talk about Safe Schools

I was bullied at school, specifically I was bullied at high school in Bendigo, the schools I attended in Alice Springs (also private Catholic schools had better programs than Bendigo at reducing bullying).  I mean, I was briefly bullied at primary school in Alice Springs, but it was really brief (a few months in year one or two) and then it stopped.

I wasn’t bullied because I’m not straight (I’m bisexual by the way), I was bullied because I was different, a smart kid in a school filled with average kids.  A kid who wasn’t born in Bendigo (at my school that mattered) and was arriving part-way through the school year.

Safe Schools didn’t exist way back in the late 1980s, and given the conservatism of Bendigo Catholic College, I am not convinced that they would even implement the program in the school (they haven’t to date).  Safe Schools would have made my school life more bearable at school as it is a program that encourages the acceptance of difference and builds empathy.  Both of these things are important.

I blogged about the garbage humans and their demand for a review of Safe Schools the other day.  Today the Government, on the National Day Against Bullying and Violence no less, announced what they were going to do about the review into Safe School.  Some garbage humans in Parliament crowed about how the program has been gutted (it hasn’t), and how they thought it would be unlikely that the Safe Schools Coalition would be to accept the changes and would therefore be defunded (we don’t know this bit yet).

Ok, what I want to focus on is the actual media release from Education Minister Simon Birmingham and what some of those changes mean, and whether some of those changes are actually feasible or not.

The government will seek to address these findings and reasonable concerns via a number of immediate actions.

1. Fix the content of the programme resources by:
a. Having the lesson plans for Lessons 2, 6 and 7 of the All of Us resource amended to remove those activities identified by the review as potentially unsuitable for some students.
b. Having the content of Lesson 5 of the All of Us resource redesigned to ensure that the content aligns with the curriculum content for biology appropriate for the target age group.
c. Requiring that the amended resources and any further resources be peer reviewed and approved by a panel of qualified educators appointed by the Department of Education and Training.

Ok, the first bit is not terrible, the second bit sounds reasonable, but the third… the people who provide the resources for Safe Schools are qualified people.

I am not yet convinced that a panel of “qualified educators” would be better qualified than the creators of the Safe School Coalition resources.  Sally Richardson is a former lecturer at La Trobe, Roz Ward has a MA in Gender Studies, and Joel Radcliff has a Grad Dip in Education.  I assume they also have lived experience, and work with Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria, who are a “health and wellbeing policy and resource unit. GLHV is funded by the Victorian Government and sits within the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), La Trobe University.” (source)

I know that several garbage humans think that there is some kind of Marxist, cultural revisionist agenda here to convert children into being gay, or to confuse them into being transgender, but that argument is so illogical that I’m surprised that anyone let it see the light of day.  The majority of the Resource material for Safe Schools is already peer reviewed and is effectively published by a University.  Surely that should be enough.

To make another hurdle for material, effectively to be passed by Government, means that the panel of “qualified educators” can be hand-picked by the Minister, and can be set up with an agenda to disallow any further change to the material.

Given there was an additional announcement today that the Federal Safe Schools roll-out would not be funded after 2017 (source), it really does seem that the Government wants to ensure that no changes to the current program (beyond removing resources) happens at all.

2. Address concerns about third party links, advocacy and materials in resources by:
a. Having all third party organisation branding removed from all official resources.
b. Having reference to any third parties limited to organisations funded by state, territory or Commonwealth governments for the provision of mental health or counselling services.
c. Requiring that national and local programme managers not bring the programme into disrepute, or engage in political advocacy in a way that represents their views as being endorsed by the programme.
d. Requiring that the resources for the programme not be used for political advocacy.

And onto the next bit – removing branding from official resources may mean that any IP owned by that organisation (that’s intellectual property for those playing at home) may also have to be removed. There is the potential for less resources to be available to children.

Additionally, this means that schools may find it difficult to refer children to other organisations where they can spend time with people like them.  It will make it difficult for parents to find organisations to support them and their children.

And onto the next one.  This one amuses me.  Everyone says that it means that Minus18 (for example) will not be able to be referred in the Safe Schools material.  Minus18 is partly funded by the Victorian State Government as part of the HEY (Healthy Equal Youth) projects.  See here for more info also.  So Minus18, by the Minister’s own rules, can still be referred to in the Safe Schools material.

The final two of this point are weird at first glance.  When you think about the garbage humans who have been involved in calling for this review, and about the statements made by Sally Richardson as the review was called (just google Sally Richardson and Safe Schools and you can see how many media outlets went to her for comment).

What the Government actually wants is to gag Safe Schools on talking about how homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the media impacts on children.  They don’t want Safe Schools to talk about how harmful a marriage-equality plebicite will be for LGBTIQ+ children in Australia.  They want to reduce bullying in schools, but they don’t care about the bullying perpetrated by Government, religious groups, and other anti-LGBTIQ+ arsehats.

3. Limit the distribution of certain materials by:
a. Requiring local programme managers to ensure the distribution and promotion of Safe Schools Coalition Australia programme materials is restricted to secondary school settings only.
b. Restricting the use and distribution of the OMG I’m Queer, OMG My Friend’s Queer and Stand Out resources, which were not developed as classroom resources, to one-on-one discussions between students and key qualified staff.

Restricting Safe Schools materials to secondary schools only means that queerphobia and transphobia in Primary Schools is a-ok with this Government.  There are children who transition in primary school, what are they (the parents, the student, the school) supposed to do to support everyone through this process if they cannot access Safe Schools material?  I’ve read accounts of young people (primary school age) who have wanted to self-harm because their body was did not match their gender.  This government has just shown they don’t care about young trans children.

Restricting use and distribution (and I hope all the schools involved in Safe Schools actively disobey this one) of the OMG I’m Queer, OMG My Friend’s Queer and Stand Out resources to students at schools, and stating that they can only be used on one-on-one discussions means that most students who need these resources won’t access them.  The Government couldn’t justify banning these resources, because the review didn’t find that they should be, so they’ve just made them impossible to access, particularly because all resources are to be moved off the Safe Schools website.  I’d recommend downloading those documents now and sharing them widely.

4. Align the location of resources with other inclusion, support, tolerance and anti-bullying measures by housing official resources only on the official Australian Government Safe Schools Hub website, which contains other inclusion and anti-bullying resources for schools, teachers, parents and students in areas such as racism, domestic violence and disabilities. The Safe Schools Coalition Australia website will not have any resources, advice or links and will limit operations to programme coordination and direct users to the Safe Schools Hub for access to official programme resources only.

See my comment above about the moving resources off the Safe Schools website.  Limiting the availability of some information will make it harder for LGBTIQ+ students.

Given the Victorian Government has said they will support, continue to fund, and allow the program to operate as it currently does in Victoria, I don’t know what this means for the Safe Schools Coalition website.  There used to be a Victorian site before the Federal Government rolled out the program nationally, so I suppose that could be recreated.  It will be an interesting one to watch.

5. Ensure parents are appropriately empowered and engaged by:
a. Requiring agreement of relevant parent bodies for schools to participate in the Safe Schools Coalition Australia programme, including the extent of participation and any associated changes to school policies.
b. Requiring parental consent for student participation in programme lessons or activities, while maintaining the rights of all students to seek counselling services.
c. Having an official fact sheet for the Safe Schools Coalition Australia programme for parents about the programme developed so they have access to full and consistent information of its content and the resources that may be used in schools.
d. Having an official resource for parents of students dealing with questions of sexual identity developed, and distributed only by key qualified staff.

So the PTA needs to approve the Safe Schools program.  I freely admit I know NOTHING about school parental body politics.  I don’t know if they are more or less conservative than the school at large.  I don’t know if this means that schools are more or less likely to introduce Safe Schools.  I’m guessing less, because otherwise it would be less likely to be a thing.

Requiring parental consent for student participation means that non-supportive parents of the entire LGBTIQ+ population (students and non-students) will be able to keep their children “safe” from hearing that LGBTIQ+ people are just like them.  The ability to opt out of a bullying reduction program means that the bullying does not go away.  This is to reduce the effectiveness of the program.

The third item is sensible, but the last one is not.  Once again we have the “key qualified staff”, and I don’t know what that means.  I’m guessing that the Safe School program comes with a qualified resource to assist the school in running/setting up the program, and this is the “key qualified staff” that the press release refers to.  I believe an official resource for parents is a good idea.  I hope it is developed in order to ease the mind of parents who are concerned that their child will be miserable because they are not straight. (Why be happy when you can be normal? – Jeanette Winterson)  I hope it is freely available, so that parents don’t have to feel anxious or ashamed to ask for it.  I’m pretty sure many parents in Australia will google “Is my child LGBTIQ+” before having to ask someone at school.

Finally I want to leave this with two articles that give a little bit of hope.  Before I provide those links, I want to share the words of Christopher Pyne, who was not a garbage human today (I know, I was also shocked).

Annabel Crabb wrote a good write up of today’s woes, “How to spot a bully: Parliament’s helpful guide“.

The Conversation provided some excellent commentary on today’s news, “Safe Schools review findings: experts respond“.

Remember, these arseholes want to wear us down.  They want us to not exist and they don’t care if we die.  The best revenge is a life well lived, and stepping away from this shit-fight in order to protect your own sanity and health is vital if you need it.

 

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Welcome to the 94th edition of the Down Under Feminist Carnival

Wow, 94 carnivals, that is quite a number.  I’m proud to be part of this, and hope that you enjoy reading this collection of feminist writing from Australia and New Zealand.

The Down Under Feminist Carnival is always looking for more hosts.  If you have a blog, live in (or have lived in) Australia and New Zealand, and are a feminist, then get in touch at the Down Under Feminist Carnival site.  Details of what is involved is also available here.  Just remember, you won’t be doing this on your own, there will be plenty of us to help you find posts and for you to ask questions.

Thank you to Chally for organising the carnival and sending me posts, and Mary and Scarlett for also sending me posts. On with the carnival!

Relationships

Blue Milk wrote two pieces on relationships, one short, one shorter, “Follow kindness” and “On new relationships“.

Sexism

Avril E Jean writes, “Really, New Scientist?” and then follows it up immediately with a post on “Gender assumptions“.

Deborah at A Bee of a Certain Age wrote, “Another entry for the “Patriarchy harms men too” files“.

Scarlett Harris wrote for Harlot, “Does The LFL Have A Place In The Women’s Sports Revolution?

With the increased interest in not only women in sport but in different kinds of women’s sports, would the LFL, in its original incarnation of a SuperBowl halftime attraction in which barely dressed models rolled around chasing a ball on pay-per-view, be dreamed into existence today?

Carla Pascoe wrote for The Conversation, “The ongoing taboo of menstruation in Australia“:

Why do we use quaint euphemisms such as “sanitary products” and “feminine hygiene products” in supermarket aisles? We are still profoundly uncomfortable about the fact that females bleed once a month for half of their lives. It’s messy, it’s unsettling and no one wants to talk about it.

Disability

A C Buchanan writes, “On Empathy and Building Spaceships“:

When I was around 10, I read an article in a newspaper about Asperger’s Syndrome. “That’s me!” I wanted to yell, as I made my way through the bullet points. I got to the last one. Doesn’t like writing stories. I thought of the novel I’d just written. (It was about two German children on the run in WWII Wales. It was probably half plagiarised. Still, it was a novel.) I read the bullet point again. “This isn’t me,” I thought, deflated.

Lauredhel writes at Hoyden About Town, “Today in Ableism: The Perth Writers Festival, Part Two.“:

The rows of information and ticket tents, the coffee and drinks tents, the tables and chairs, the bar, the water refill stations – these make up Writers Central, the busy hub of the Festival. The tents are all placed facing a large area of bumpy grass with sand traps. This row of tents all have their BACKS to a flat, very wide paved area. I will not mince words here. The organisers are clearly complete arseholes, since they know this is a problem and have failed to fix it. It would have cost them nothing to set up this area such that the tents and vans were accessible, and such that there were a couple of tables and chairs on a paved surface. Words cannot express how angry I am about this setup.

Activism

Kath at The Fat Heffalump wrote, “Plus 40 Fabulous – What Makes Me Happy“:

When you’re dealing with social activism of any kind, you have to be able to find the joy in life easily, or you’re going to burn out very quickly.  There has to be someone, and some things, that make you happy, and you have to be able to access them when the activism starts to get you down.  It’s all part of self care, which is VITAL for all of us, let alone those of us engaging in activism.

Scarlett Harris at The Scarlett Woman wrote, “In Defence of Millennials.“:

For the record, I don’t think the state of millennials in society is as dire as Steinem et al. would have us believe. I may work part time, but I also freelance. Last year, I had two additional jobs and the year before that I had two internships. As far as job loyalty goes, I’ve been consistently employed in my primary part-time job for six and a half years (and I’m up for long service leave this year!), while the part-time gig I had before that I worked in for seven. A few of my friends work to travel, and another is working in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet! We’re more educated than our parents and we’re more likely to volunteer and get involved in community projects. Gloria Steinem was a grassrooter from way back, but how many activist campaigns in recent years have been started by millennials? There’s the Occupy movement, SlutWalk, #illridewithyou, Love Makes a Way, #BlackLivesMatter. In the corporate sector, Mark Zuckerberg created the most popular social media platform in the world, Facebook, while Jennifer Lawrence was 2015’s highest-grossing female movie star. (The highest grossing male movie stars are mostly older white men until Channing Tatum makes an appearance on the list at number 13, which perhaps says something about the determination and drive of young women more so than millennial men.) Millennials are hardly left wanting for ways to make an impact on the world.

Race and Racism

Kath at The Fat Heffalump provided the transcript of her interview at Essence Magazine, “Interview with Essence Magazine – Full Transcript” after her tweet regarding Beyoncé went viral:

Fellow white lady writers – if asked to write about Beyoncé’s new song, the answer is “I think you should ask a black woman to write it.”

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “lunar new year and diminishing returns“:

It diminishes me not at all to call this festival the Lunar New Year. I can be specific when I’m talking about our specifics: the Ba Gua my mother replaced on Sunday afternoon; the care with which the Reunion Dinner menu was planned; the offerings to the Kitchen God to keep his mouth sticky-shut and sealed from dobbing on us to the Jade Emperor; the last banquet after the fifteen days that will have come before. But the Chinese tendency towards blanket statements (she says, making a blanket statement) diminishes us all, lends us a careless superiority we shouldn’t want, and a thoughtlessness to others that we shouldn’t have.

Liz at No Award wrote, “Blackface in Australia“:

Every time this issue comes up, there’s always some drongo going, “But we’re not America!  We don’t have the same history of slavery and racism that they do, so blackface isn’t racist here!”

And they’re half right — we don’t have the same history of slavery and racism as the US.  We have a history of slavery and racism all our very own.  And it still doesn’t make blackface acceptable.

Stephanie at No Award wrote, “taking up room in con spaces“:

Quokkas, some years ago at an Australian con, a white, American Guest of Honour explained to me what colonialism in South East Asia looked like. She was the Guest of Honour, so I didn’t know how to tell her to fuck off.

Celeste Liddle wrote at Daily Life, “Why Constitutional Recognition isn’t necessarily the answer to improving Indigenous rights“:

The forum, entitled “Aboriginal Community Open Meeting“, was based around the concept of “self-determination” for Aboriginal communities. It’s the first in a series of consultations between the community and the Victorian Government, organised with an aim to inform the Federal Government on the topic of Constitutional Recognition for Indigenous people.

Constitutional Recognition is a Federal agenda, which so far consists mostly of establishing the ‘Recognise campaign’ in a bid to educate Australians about the importance on the recognition referendum.

Celeste Liddle also wrote for Daily Life, “Indigenous Australians have a right to speak our first language“:

It’s therefore remarkable that while a “White Australian Leader” can receive superlatives for reciting an Indigenous language in parliament, a female Aboriginal politician can be reprimanded for reverting to her native tongue during a debate in the Northern Territory Parliament.

This is precisely what happened last week when member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly Bess Price spoke in Warlpiri in session. Price was informed by the speaker Kezia Purick that “should a member use a language other than English without the leave of the assembly it will be ruled disorderly and the member will be required to withdraw the words”.

Courtney at Raising Queens wrote, “I think I spotted a brown face in Frozen“:

I recently watched a video of young children being given the choice of playing with either a white doll or a black doll. Every child, including the black children, picked the white doll. Even after saying they knew which doll looked more like them, the black children still said they’d prefer the white doll because the black doll was “ugly”, “bad” and “mean”. Once again, I wonder how many of these children had actually been told that their skin colour was ugly. They don’t have to be told explicitly because the message is still coming from somewhere.

Kate Galloway wrote at KatGallow, “The pyramid of suffering“:

My concern however is that this strategy is indicative of a fragmentation of asylum seeker debate in Australia. Lowy Institute polls indicate that six out of ten of Australians support mandatory detention. It is difficult for refugee campaigners to get public support for a broader campaign about asylum seekers or mandatory detention, and the support for the named infants, including baby Asha, may indicate a threshold of suffering beyond which the Australian public is unwilling to accept.

Bodies

Friend of Marilyn wrote, “On irresponsible reporting (just another day in the fatpocalypse)“:

“‘Fat people should be fined’ – experts say” reads the headline of a story posted on the NZ Herald website this afternoon. It’s yet another example of irresponsible reporting on fatness by the NZ media.

The story gets a lot wrong, including that the study in question doesn’t say anything about fat people being fined (in fact, the word ‘fine[d]’ is not used in the 12 page article). Other falsehoods include the claim that global obesity levels are increasing, and that “exercise and healthy eating are the key to reversing this trend”. (Go ahead and find the science that demonstrates that diet and exercise result in permanent – more than 5yrs – meaningful – more than 10kilos – weight loss. Go ahead. When you find it, send it to me). The Herald story then continues to talk about the key to weight loss that is found in the study.

Iona Bruce at Daily Life wrote, “Where are all the feminist personal trainers?“:

In my opinion, being healthy is not how you look. It’s how you feel. I try to erase years’ worth of media­-driven brainwashing by teaching my clients to stop measuring progress by what the scales say, and start feeling their progress through what their body can do. And what your body can achieve is completely unique to you. The only person you should ever compare yourself with, is yourself.

Rebecca Shaw wrote at Daily Life, “Why it’s so hurtful when my friends complain about feeling ‘fat’“:

What is much harder for me to ignore is the insidious, negative language around fatness that is spoken by loved ones, acquaintances, colleagues and strangers alike on a daily basis. This is a concept known as ‘fat talk’, which sadly is not a late night show where I invite cool fat women on to talk about their lives, but rather an informal dialogue during which participants express body dissatisfaction, often expressed by the very people who would be disgusted at the man who threw his cigarette at me.

Natalie at definatalie wrote, “True story: I sew my own pads.“:

There are lots of positives about using cloth pads: cheaper, reduced rubbish, sewing/ buying your own customised pads is fun, tailored pads to suit your body shape, cloth feels nicer than plastic, no adhesive/ plastic rashes,  you’ve always got a stash handy, plus more and more. Some people say their cramping and period length are reduced but no studies conclusively prove this, nor have I experienced this. At the end of the day, if you find something that works for you, then that’s all that matters.

Family, children and the like

Emily wrote at Mama Said, “Who will you be?“:

One of my favourite things to do is imagine who my boys will grow up to be. Will they be bogans? Or hippies? Will they stay up late reading by torchlight like I did? Or will they ignore all books like their father? Will they be outdoorsy like him? Or will they curl their lip at the thought of a hike? (I just don’t understand hiking ok I mean it’s just difficult walking right? I don’t even want to walk let alone difficult walk.)

Julie at The Hand Mirror wrote, “The problem is low pay, not family size“:

By stating bluntly “if you can’t feed then don’t breed” a series of unhelpful assumptions are made, including that people’s financial situations don’t change over time, or at least don’t get worse.  In an age of uncertainty around employment, the future of work, rapidly changing technology and industries, this seems a naïve assumption to make. In decades gone by how many people, young women in particular, took typing at school before we saw the rise of the personal computer and the demise of the typing pool?

Miscellaneous

Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw guest posts at Mama Said, “Should you get your child immunised?”  And of course the answer is yes, and no debate will be answered into.

Emily writes at Mama Said, “About time – A festival that is kid-friendly!” about a festival in Auckland in March 2016.

Liz at No Award writes, “On the corner is a banker with a motorcar“:

Look, Yarraville isn’t just gentrified, it’s aggressively so, and to the detriment of the wider — and poorer – – community.  The pop-up park story is a case in point: when Maribyrnong Council removed the temporary park and prepared to shift it to a new location, the people of Yarraville whinged until the council changed its mind and made it permanent.  Cute!  And totally at the expense of less adorable, less wealthy parts of the municipality, that might have enjoyed all the benefits that temporarily closing a street for open space can provide. (The suburbs in the area that aren’t Yarraville are among the most disadvantaged across all of Victoria, so that’s nice.)

Media

Rebecca Shaw interviewed Mallory Ortberg for Junkee and it’s “Cats, ‘Texts From Jane Eyre’ And Men Being Very Quiet Online: A Chat With The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg“:

I mean, this is a great question. “How can we make men quieter in general?” is always a worthwhile thing to ask. They have a really hard time with it. They struggle. They are sweethearts, but it doesn’t come naturally. We just make it super clear that men aren’t the point. There’s not going to be a lot of patience for a straight white guy coming in and saying ‘have you thought about my experience?’ because odds are…we’ve heard it, and odds are your experience is actually a little silly and nobody ever told you your experience is a little bit silly, they always told you it was very very serious and important.

Anna at Hoyden About Town wrote, “Shakespeare in Australia“:

At the grassroots level, however, there is tremendous passion and enthusiasm for Shakespeare in this country. Some universities are holding special lectures or symposia, and both professional and amateur theatre performances are being staged. It is my hope that with an online space for people to find out about these events, and a little help with ideas and templates for things to do, events will start to spring up, or at the very least, people who are interested will find more easily something going on near them.

Shakespeare TwentyScore is fulfilling that role. At present it is mostly event listings plus a few useful links, but it will grow and expand throughout the year. The actual anniversary date is 23 April, but all kinds of things will be taking place all through 2016, so keep checking for updates, and expanding resources pages.

QUILTBAG – trigger warnings for most of these posts

Jennifer Wilson at No Place for Sheep wrote, “Christian Lobby claims it needs hate speech to argue against ssm“.  She also wrote, “March of the Wankpuffins” about the inquiry into the Safe Schools Coalition announced by the Australian Federal Government on Tuesday 23 February.

I also wrote about the inquiry into the Safe Schools Coalition, “Why we need safe schools for LGBTI kids and LGBTI people“.

Erin Marie wrote at Erinaree, “Safe Schools Australia – Letter to Prime Minister Turnbull

Jo at A Life Unexamined wrote, “On Coming Out as Asexual at Work (or not)“:

The other thing about coming out (for anyone who isn’t straight, this time), is that you never stop having to come out. Like Queenie once wrote, it’s coming out (and coming out [and coming out {and coming out}]). Because if you don’t actively talk about not being straight, you’ll keep being read as straight by default.

Violence – trigger warnings for these posts

Julie at The Hand Mirror wrote, “Content Warning Rape Culture

Ana Cabo at Junkee wrote, “An NZ Journo Is Copping Abuse For Interrogating Two Guys Who Creeped On Her At Laneway

Brydie Lee-Kennedy at Junkee wrote, “Why Is Everyone Only Calling On Women To #FreeKesha?

Clem Bastow wrote at Daily Life, “Kesha shouldn’t have to work with the man who allegedly raped her

Amy Gray wrote at ABC, “Paul Sheehan’s unchecked allegations ‘a catastrophe for sexual assault victims’

Related Posts:

Why we need safe schools for LGBTI kids and LGBTI people

*TRIGGER WARNING* There is queerphobia and general garbage humans

Continue reading Why we need safe schools for LGBTI kids and LGBTI people

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To those who think that biphobic abuse at Pride is ok… (again)

It’s 2016, bisexuals in some form or another have been marching at pride since at least 2006 (that’s when I was first aware of them marching, I wasn’t able to attend).  With the exception of 2 marches in that period, we’ve had abuse yelled at us from the crowd.  Sure it’s only a couple of people, but seriously…

IT IS TIME TO STOP DOING THIS

If you think that bisexuals are confused, not choosing to be fully out, making the gay and lesbian communities look bad (though you’re doing a good one of that yourself), or something else – DON’T TALK TO US.

If you think that yelling abuse at any group at Pride is acceptable – DO NOT COME TO PRIDE.

I was having a really great walk down Fitzroy Street with bisexual people and the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (yes, I know), being distracted by ManHunt behind us, smiling thanks to the cheers, waves and the general positive mood… until you decided that we needed to be told to choose a side.

Listen, the only people who need to choose a fucking side are those that think that biphobia is bad and didn’t actually say something to those arseholes.

This is my request.  If you cannot restrain yourself from being biphobic in public, don’t come to Pride or any other LGBTIQ+ community event.  Stay home, stay amongst your friends who tolerate your biphobia (though why I don’t understand), limit your exposure to bisexuals (and/or the other groups that upset you), just keep your toxicity to yourself

Every time you are biphobic you add to the poorer mental health that bisexuals have versus gay and lesbian people.  You add to the higher rates of violence against us, and to the higher rates of suicide versus gay, lesbian and straight people.  STOP being an awful person. (source)

We really don’t care why you do or do not like bisexual people.  We care about the effects that your toxic behaviour has on us, and we want you to stop.  If you can keep your mouth shut and say nothing, then we’ll all be much happier.

Without bisexuals, you wouldn’t have Pride marches anyway.

Brenda Howard is known as the “Mother of Pride”, for her work in coordinating the march. Howard also originated the idea for a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June. Additionally, Howard along with fellow LGBT Activists Robert A. Martin (aka Donny the Punk) and L. Craigt Schoonmaker are credited with popularizing the word “Pride” to describe these festivities. As LGBT rights activist Tom Limoncelli put it, “The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why [LGBT] Pride Month is June tell them ‘A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.'” (Wikipedia)

 

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2016 Australia Day Honours – another sausage fest

Congratulations to everyone who was awarded Australia Day Honours this year.  This post in no way is to take away from the awards and the good work that has been done (and is still being done for the most part) by these people.  This post is to look at the stark gender disparity in these awards, to draw attention to the fact that despite women making up half of Australia’s population, we are recognised at a significantly smaller proportion than men.

This is really a data post, there will be graphs and tables, and links, and it will be short, because apart from pointing out the obvious issues, it’s a bit hard to say much else apart from NOMINATE MORE WOMEN EVERYONE.

I pulled the list of awardees from the ABC website, pasted them into Excel and then started noting their gender.  This is problematic for anyone who doesn’t identify as male and female, and may have resulted in me misgendering someone who is gender queer.  I am unaware of any genderqueer people being honoured in the very quick research I’ve put into this, so if I have made a mistake, please let me know.

Where I was unable to identify the gender of the honouree at first glance, I went and looked them up.  The Sydney Morning Herald listed the titles of the awardees, sometimes making it easier, and where they had a gender neutral title, I went looking for them online, until I found a biography or photo.

So, the data breaks down as follows:

Women Awarded Men Awarded Total Awards % Women
AC 3 7 10 30%
AM 46 128 174 26%
AO 15 30 45 33%
OAM 117 258 375 31%
Grand Total 181 423 604 30%

Half the population, less than a third of the awards in total.

Inga Ting at the Sydney Morning Herald has written:

Even if every woman nominated for an Order of Australia award this Australia Day had been successful, women would still have taken home only 40 per cent of awards, figures from the Governor-General’s office show.

Women are more likely than ever to succeed when they are nominated, but they remain no more likely to be nominated than a decade ago, according to historical data.

This year, 75 per cent of women nominated in the general division of the Order of Australia Award made the Honours List, compared with 72 per cent of women nominated in the five years to 2016 and 59 per cent in the five years to 2006.

What can do you do to help?  Think of the women in your life, communities, schools, workplaces, etc that do amazing things.  Nominate them for an award.  Work with others to put them up in lights for the great things that they do. Let’s start recognising each other and winning these awards which we clearly deserve for the work we do.

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Invasion Day

I’m a white Australian.  I live a much easier life, thanks to my skin colour, than my Indigenous brothers and sisters in Australia.  I grew up sheltered from much of the truth about how Colonialism and racism resulted in the decimation of Indigenous Australians.  I was taught that Australia Day was both a public holiday, and a day to celebrate being Australian.

And I slowly learnt better.

Today I don’t celebrate Australia Day.  I listen to the Triple J Hottest 100, I celebrate my anniversary with Scott, and I read about what Indigenous Australians are thinking about or doing today.  I appreciate a public holiday, but we can have public holidays any time of year.  There is nothing to celebrate in the invasion of this country and the resulting decimation of the Indigenous inhabitants. Today should be a day of mourning.

And enough about me, read some great writing from Indigenous people about racism, Invasion Day, and survival.

Pekeri Ruska who is hosting IndigenousX this week, writes for The Guardian:

The true nature of the Frontier Wars is rarely taught in schools and most our massacre sites go unrecognised by the mainstream. Yet Anzac Day is made a public holiday so the country can commemorate the sacrifices of those who fought a foreign war on foreign shores. This is a prime example of white Australia’s denial and guilt. Maybe it’s just too close to home, too unsettling for them to acknowledge that the land they stand on was stolen, drenched in the blood and suffering of our Aboriginal ancestors. The longer they exclude or sugarcoat the whole truth from the curriculum, the longer non-Indigenous Australians will remain ignorant.

Australians can take responsibility for what their ancestors did and maybe find a true meaning to their identity by firstly encouraging the teaching of real history pre- and post-1788. They could go further to understand that not all Aboriginal people want to be recognised in the Australian constitution, and that voting in any election on this issue is an assertion of their privilege.

Luke Pearson (whom I hope that one day I will actually get to meet and buy a drink/meal for) writes at IndigenousX (which he also founded):

If we ever do change the date of Australia Day, it will most likely just become another such ‘moment’.

What words can I write that will have an impact on this? What ‘moment’ can I create for people that will make you realise that ‘moments’ are not just worthless, they can actually be dangerous? What can I say to make people want to give up the benefits of white privilege, and the good feeling that comes from being a good white saviour? How can I help make people see that the reason I write is not for them to have a moment, but in the hopes that it will help bring about change?

But how deep down the rabbit hole are people willing to go? All those people who signed the pledge or who tweet the slogan ‘Racism it stops with me’, how willing are they to make that slogan a reality? What happens when they are told that doesn’t just mean standing up to other people but might also mean taking a look inside themselves? This is what we will need to happen to bring truth the idea that ‘it stops with me’. Because at the moment, from where I am sitting, it never stops.

The awesome Celeste Liddle writes at NITV:

This reinforcement of Australia Day as a day of jingoistic pride was, in my view, a product of the Howard years. In his time as Prime Minister, John Howard would frequently reiterate need to show pride in this country while labelling the attempts by Indigenous activists and historians to bring the true nature of colonisation to the public’s attention as being “black armband” views – just focussed on negatives.

As a person who takes a strong stance in favour of the negotiation of a treaty, I therefore tend to not be too supportive of the calls of many Aboriginal people and our allies to change the date of Australia Day so it doesn’t commemorate the invasion. In my reckoning, until there is a treaty there will be no other date to celebrate the birth of this nation on. And to be honest, I’ve never really understood why non-Indigenous Australia wouldn’t want the opportunity to start afresh. The 26th of January also commemorates the day some of the poorest and most desperate citizens of Great Britain were dumped on the shore of a land halfway across the world to undertake years of cruel labour as punishment for stealing loaves of bread. The opportunity to commemorate the day we come to the table, as equals, and negotiate the way this country moves forward, would indeed make me proud of this country and our ability to work toward a better future. Until then, I much prefer the idea of Invasion Day remaining a day of Indigenous protest and the assertion of sovereignty.

The answer is also not for white Australia to include more Aboriginal people in Australia Day events. It’s not to get more Aboriginal people to sing the National Anthem in public. It’s not to include a welcome to country ceremony before ignoring what this ceremony means. It’s not to misappropriate our iconography as a way of selling your meat. Doing all this merely erases our history and assimilates our identity.

Stan Grant’s speech about racism and the Australian Dream, from a debate in 2015 hosted by The Ethics Centre:

I love a sunburned country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges.

It reminds me that my people were killed on those plains. We were shot on those plains, disease ravaged us on those plains.

I come from those plains. I come from a people west of the Blue Mountains, the Wiradjuri people, where in the 1820’s, the soldiers and settlers waged a war of extermination against my people. Yes, a war of extermination! That was the language used at the time. Go to the Sydney Gazette and look it up and read about it. Martial law was declared and my people could be shot on sight. Those rugged mountain ranges, my people, women and children were herded over those ranges to their deaths.

 

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The arbitrary line in the sand – end of 2015

So this year has been pretty intense.  I’ve dealt with having a cancer diagnosis and the related treatment (currently cured – hooray!).  I’ve dealt with James losing his job and supporting his mental health through that.  I’ve dealt with a really intense and stressful trip to India.  That’s just the last 6 months.  I can barely tell you what happened in the first half of this year that is almost over, because cancer pretty much overshadowed everything – unsurprisingly.  I do have vague memories that it wasn’t particularly good.

I’ve been looking forward to 1 January 2016 so I could kick 2015 in the arse as it left.  It’s an arbitrary line, New Years Day, there is no reason why Friday is the first day of a new year other than that’s what someone decided many hundreds of years ago.  It would make more sense that midwinter/midsummer – a day we have been able to predict with a high degree of accuracy for many hundreds of years – be the beginning/end of a year, but for some reason it’s not.

I’m not complaining, I just think it’s an interesting thing.

I am looking forward to 2016 being a much better year for myself and my family.  I’m looking forward to finding a new job, for James to find a new job, for our finances to even out, for travel plans that I have to resolve, for all my friends and family to have a much less stressful year, for everyone’s health to improve, and for everyone to be safe.

May 2016 be excellent to all of us.  May those of us who make new year resolutions keep them, may those of us who have hopes and dreams for 2016 achieve them, may everyone be awesome to each other.

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A blog about feminism, religion and stuff… in no particular order