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View Article  Pgh Public School Hearing on New Sexual Education Curriculum

From the Women & Girls Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Last night at the Pittsburgh Public School Board Education Committee Meeting, the PPS Health Curriculum Review Committee recommended that the School Board adopt a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum for the district. Currently there is no consistent health or sex-ed curriculum or policy guiding instruction for the Pittsburgh Public Schools, so information differs school to school, classroom to classroom. In some of our schools students are taught medically accurate age appropriate information and at others students are taught ?abstinence only? and are given very limited information about their own bodies and how to make responsible and safe choices to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

 To ensure that all of our students have equitable access to science based, age appropriate, comprehensive information regarding how to stay healthy and strong into adulthood, the board asked the Health Curriculum Committee to review national data and research on best practices regarding health and sexuality educational models. The Health Curriculum Committee consisted of parents, teachers, principles, physical education teachers, and district administrators, and health professionals. After several months of investigation and work, the committee came up with its recommendation to the Board to adopt a comprehensive K-12 health curriculum to include a comprehensive approach to sexuality education.

 I am enclosing the full presentation that was made to the board last night. The presentation document cites a great deal of the compelling research which demonstrates that comprehensive sex-ed programs have been proven to decrease sexual activity and unsafe behaviors, while abstinence only programs have not. In addition, because abstinence only programs only discuss sex in the context of heterosexual marriage, they leave many teens (and their parents) alienated from the process and excluded from receiving information about how to develop safe and respectful sexual and intimate relationships in GLBT and in non-marriage based heterosexual relationships. Comprehensive programs are more comprehensive and inclusive in language and information, and the curriculum are based on scientific data and fact (not moral judgment) so that all of our children are informed with equitable information to make safe and responsible choices.

 IMPORTANT! ? There is a School Board Public Hearing scheduled on Monday February 16, 2009 at 7 p.m. at the District office located at Conference 341 S. Bellefield Avenue (Oakland).

 We hope that you will sign up as a speaker to make public comments in support of the adoption of this policy and that you will encourage others to do so as well (especially those that have children attending a PPS school). It is imperative that the School Board hear that there is ample and enthusiastic support from district parents and constituents on this topic. WE NEED YOUR VOICES AS PARTICIPANTS IN THIS PROCESS!!!!!!!!!!

 If you also would send an email, letter, or place a personal call to your school board member on this topic that would also be very helpful.

 To speak at a Public Hearing you must call the Superintendent's Office at 412-622-3600 to ask for your name to be included on the speakers list no later than noon on the day of the Public Hearing (Feb. 16).

*Additional information about the Public Hearing*

- Location: Conference Room A, Administration Building, 341 S. Bellefield Avenue (Oakland)

- Contact Information:

    Contact: Superintendent's Office

    Email: superintendentoffice@pghboe.net

    Phone: 412-622-3600

 If you have any questions of concerns please do not hesitate to contact Adriana U. Dobrzycka. Thank you for all your efforts on this issue. We are looking forward to seeing you at the School Board Public Hearing on February 16!

 Take care.

 Adriana

 Adriana U. Dobrzycka, MID, MPH

Program Officer

Women and Girls Foundation (WGF)

425 6th Ave, Suite 1860

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: (412) 434-4883

Fax: (412) 227-0417

 

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View Article  Ooh ... this looks like fun

I feel better. I had my first meal at Mad Mex today.  While the booths are incredibly uncomfortable, the food was good and the service was great. I hope I tipped enough.  Plus, I have leftovers for tomorrow! 

This came through the email box today:

 

View Article  Stuff

OK, I'm really feeling lazy today and kind of pissed off.  What is it with this disconnect between a 125 turnout for Dykes on Bikes and the very short notice on important political organizing events?  Maybe someone needs to tap into more of the grassroots Miranda Vey's of Pittsburgh and see what happens.  Or invite Dykes on Bikes to join the Value All Families Coalition.  Or ask her to invite people to the training.  Or something!  How many years and years are we going to go without email being an organizing tool for our advocacy community?  It is thoroughly mind boggling.  No wonder blogs are dead and I had to rename this The Radical Vagina to get a gig with a dying local outlet of the MSM.  People love me, except those who think I intentionally undermined my queer credibility by throwing away flyers and undermined my feminist credibility by attending a wet tee shirt contest.  What if I entered a wet tee shirt contest while ripping up flyers AND sending out timely email calls to action via my Blackberry for the talent portion of the show ?  Who wouldn't pay to see that - a soggy fat chick covered in paper shreds begging people to email their Councilman?  Seriously ... that's entertainment.

Anyway. Here's a piece of the landmines facing repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  Makes sense to me that you need the military brass to want the gays, especially those with highly prized skills like speaking languages native to countries where we send soldiers. 

The Pittsburgh Lesbian and Gay Film Society is inviting people to attend the Oscar shindig thrown by the Pittsburgh Film Office  Cost is $75 and includes all the usual hoopla.  I hear David Conrad might be there, serving foie gras pigeon style.  <gasps and ducks - unintentional pun>

March 5 is the day for the California Supreme Court to hear the Prop 8 case.  Adam will learn is he's still married.  Here's hoping he doesn't have to return the china and the gravy boats.

From Pam's House Blend, a story about teachinig tolerance in the schools.  Not.

Did anyone else see the Wrester?  My God, it was the saddest movie I've been to in years.  It felt so lonely.

 

 

View Article  Important Meeting this Saturday Feb 7, 2009

From Equality Advocates and the Value All Families Coalition

I hope this reaches everyone in high spirits.  Session is underway in
Harrisburg and we expect over the coming months several issues
important to the LGBT community to be discussed and moved forward.  A
co-sponsorship memo has already been distributed in the House for non-
discrimination legislation, and we expect both the reintroduction of
hate crimes protections, as well as a potential anti-LGBT
constitutional amendment to find its way through the legislative
process this session.

There is an exciting and palpable desire for change within the LGBT
and allied grassroots, and I am working as hard as I can, along with
countless other organizations, activists and lobbyists committed to
these issues, to see positive legislation move forward this year.

This year we will hold regional Value All Families Coalition meetings
to bring more organizations and people into the process and sign-up
new faces and allies to join our effort.  Please try to send a
representative of your organization or come as an individual to learn
more about upcoming legislation, events, strategies, and issues we see
coming up over the coming year.  Myself, Stacey Sobel, Andy Hoover (of
the ACLU), and Steve Glassman will be attending and speaking at most
of these meetings.  Additionally, PLEASE feel free to forward this
announcement to any other organization you think would like to join
the coalition; that's why we're having regional meetings!   Please
RSVP to myself (
jkaskey@equalitypa.org) just so I can get a better
idea of who will be attending each meeting.

Western PA Regional Value All Families Coalition Meeting

Saturday, February 7 from 1:00 - 2:30pm

Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh

5808 Forward Avenue, Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh


Additionally, we will be holding an LGBT advocacy workshop next
weekend in Pittsburgh.http://eqfed.org/center4civilrights/events/pghadvocacyworkshop/details.tcl
(Pittsburgh Workshop)

Also on Saturday, February 7 from 3:00 - 5:00pm

Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Pittsburgh (5808 Forward Avenue).

This is a good opportunity to get more involved in advocacy efforts on behalf of the LGBTQ community.  I realize that four days advance notice is not particularly useful, but let's face it -- the room for improvement should motivate you to want to get involved.  That is one of the reasons I started a Google Group for LGBT Advocacy and a Google Group for LGBTQ bloggers. Unfortunately, it seems like we need a lot more practice to get those running smoothly so your new social media folks can get the good information out to you. 

 

View Article  PG Article on Obama and racial identity

Today's Post-Gazette has a very interesting LA Johnson piece about the cultural implications of electing a President who identifies as African-American, yet acknowledges his biracial (multiracial?) heritage.  Johnson interviews two local women, both with biracial heritages to explore this topic.

The article is pretty interesting, exploring the cultural milieu of racial identity rather than simply a blood drop count.  Be sure to check it out.  I think there are some interesting parallel explorations in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity that have played themselves out over the past few years.  People really seem to need labels to settle into our comfort zones.  

Some examples from my own life?  My grandmother brought me up to identify as an Irish-American Catholic.  The truth I discovered was that I am primarily German and that my few Irish ancestors were Protestant.  It was stunning to realize that half my recent ancesters weren't baptized, yet attended Mass regularly. It was also a reflection of our family culture in general - ignore what we don't like. Now I am passionate about figuring out where all these relatives come from.  It feels like somehow I can figure something out about myself now if I get some answers.  I'm not sure what I hope to get, but I signed up for the DNA testing.

Anothe example is the process of claiming my sexual orientation identity.  There is, frankly, no good word for me.  I came out when I was 28 years old, but unlike many other women, I feel like I was leading an authentic heterosexual life prior to that, at least for say 26 years.  It makes folks uncomfortable when I present my identity in that way and they have a tendency to try and label me "Oh, you are bisexual."  "Oh, you were just in denial."  No, I wasn't in denial.  I was a young adult trying to figure out her identity and it took me time to grow into knowing my real self as I had a lot of crap to work through.  Sue at 21 was as authentic as she could be considering her lack of self-actualization which is very understandable if you grew up with people who denied they were German and pretended to be Catholic and introduced a lot of other fucked up delusions into your life as part of this overall remaking of their entire identity.  Not to mention when the Catholic priest in your parish is one of the noted child molestors of recent times. 

It was like a godsend when Liz Winters, Ph.D, did a presentation on the continuum of sexual orientation for a graduate class I was taking.  I was like "a ha!" because something finally made sense. 

For me, it boils down to my being the own who defines my identity.  I want as much information as possible so I can make an informed definition.  If you ask me my family heritage, you'll get a rambling dissertation on the 1200 people I've linked to my family tree over the past ten year and the two "missing" branches for which we cannot account.  If you ask me my identity in terms of sexual orientation, I say I am a lesbian.  If you want to label me as bisexual, I'm not going to be offended but you will have missed the point.  There is no one way to define lesbian. 

Barack Obama doesn't deny his heritage when he defines his cultural identity. I guess in a very small way, I try to do the same thing.  I don't deny the 8-10 years my adult life was shaped by my identifying as a heterosexual woman.  I wasn't converted at age 28.  I didn't flip a switch.  I simply learned something pretty amazing about myself that changed me and how I experienced the world.  Sometimes I do wonder if bisexual would be a more accurate term for my identity in the large picture, but then I think about all of the cultural implications and it doesn't feel right. 

Am I a coward?  Maybe.  It certainly is easier to be a white lesbian  than a white bisexual woman in Pittsburgh.  When I was dating, that was made very clear by many of the women I met.  And, frankly, the majority of the bisexual women I know now are involved with men.  The rest are part of the trans community which seems to be a hell of a lot more accepting than mainstream gay culture.  So, I'll admit that it is complicated issue for me. 

But I really like the idea that I get to define myself and trust that my instincts may be influenced, but not driven by societal expectations and values. 

This is from the article.  Good way to start my day. We don't necessarily need to rock the entire universe, but maybe a few worlds would be nice.

We have a mixed-race president," Ms. Stewart said. "Maybe it will open some eyes up and end some racism."  

View Article  Blog Dysfunction
Just a word that the blogging software seems to have some burps.  Comments are being posted multiple times and entire words are being deleted.  Spell check sin't working properly.  So just hang in there and we'll figure it out.  I'm trying to delete repeating comments, but it is not possible to edit them.  Feel free to delete and repost them.  Let me know if you have any other kinds of problems.  My guy has been informed.
View Article  Dykes on Bikes Fundraiser a Hit!

Last night, Ledcat and I stopped by Cattivo for a fundraising event to benefit the formation of Pittsburgh's official chapter of Dykes on Bikes (www.pittsburghdykesonbikes.org).  We stayed for about 45 minutes and it seemed to be a really fun event.  Proceeds from the door and various internal activities will help cover the start up costs (forming a 501c3 legal expenses) and the event organizer told me that they pretty much met their goal.

Cool.

We aren't really jello shot consumers, but Ledcat did enjoy getting her leather Doc Martens shined up ... and we caught up with some friends we haven't seen in awhile.  I took two photos that I can publish.  One is so blurry you can't see who is actually in them, but the silhouettes look like they are having fun.  This shot is facing the stage, but the crowd behind me is huge.  The crowd was at least 125 people. 

Here's a Blackberry photo of event organizer, Dyke of Bikes chapter founder and my friend, Miranda with DJ Adele who played a whole host of my favorite tunes while we were there.

 

I'm glad we stopped by.  Miranda reports to me that the chapter will focus on fundraising to support other local groups and hopes to hold another event in March.

On an interesting note, she commented to me that a lot of attendees identified as bisexual women and had actually contacted her in advance to see if they were welcome "I'd like to come, but my girlfriend is bi ... is that okay?" sort of thing.  And more than a few women identifying as bisexual brought their boyfriends along!  So that's a really different vibe than events I typically attend.  Miranda hopes that the Dykes on Bikes chapter will cut across some of this cultural divide and help people unite around the things that they have in common such as being part of the larger queer community. 

Of course, the real payoff will be seeing the growth of the Dykes on Bikes contingent at PrideFest this year.  That will be awesome.  Kudos on a great event!

View Article  Lynn Cullen Back on the Air?

Join the Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?gid=51391111145 


Go to http://pghwomenbloggers.blogspot.com for all the details. 

View Article  Update on Allegheny County Council Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

It is important that you stay in the loop to keep the pressure on our County Council to pass a good version of this ordinance.   You know the turnout for the hearing was good.  You know that the ordinance was referred back to committee for further consideration and no date has been set for a Council vote.

Yesterday, Sue Frietsche of the Women's Law Project was invited to give expert testimony and to clarify why the language should include "gender expression."  Sue and her team are preparing a one-page fact sheet that I will share with you so that you understand the nuance of this argument.

The point right now is to keep the calls coming in support of this ordinance.  It is especially important to call:

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato   412-350-6500  executive@alleghenycounty.us

You can look up your County Council District by following this link:
 
Sponsors you should call to thank and remind them that we need the language to remain inclusive
Jim Burn, Dist. 3
412.350.6535
 
Joan Cleary, Dist. 6
412.350.6550
 
Nick Futules, Dist. 7
412.350.6555
 
Chuck Martoni, Dist. 8
412.350.6560
 
William Russell Robinson, Dist. 10
412.350.6570
 
Rich Fitzgerald, Dist. 11
412.350.6575
 
Amanda Green (lead sponsor), Dist. 13
412.350.6585
 
John DeFazio, Council At-Large
412.350.6516
 
 
Co-sponsors who withdrew their sponsorship and need to hear from you.  I have more specifics on their districts and coverage of their decision to cave to pressure from the right-wing here.
 
Matt Drozd, Dist. 1
412.350.6525
 
Michael Finnerty, Dist. 4
412.350.6540
 
Bob Macey, Dist. 9
412.350.6565
 
Jim Ellenbogen, Dist. 12
412.350.6580
 
 In case you wish to encourage the non-sponsors to become co-sponsors or express your thoughts on their vote, here is their contact information.  NOTE:  Jane Rea stayed for the entire hearing so you can thank her for listening.  Vince Gastged made some very interesting comments that you can read here.  I don't think he understands how discrminination hurts people and the community, I really don't.  This is especially sad as he is the parent of a special needs child (his words).
 
Chuck McCollough, Council At-Large
412.350.6520
 
Jan Rea, District 2
412.350.6530
 
Vince Gastgeb, District 5
412.350.6545

Folks, there is no time to take a breather.  Minds are being made up now and it is important that your voice be heard.  A version that does not include gender identity and gender expression is not acceptable.  We must insist on an inclusive ordinance that is adequately funded to provide for the necessary resources to educate the public, landlords and employers about these issues (an ounce of prevention) as well as enforcement procedures (pound of cure). 

This would be a great time for you to write a letter to the editor of the Post-Gazette about their coverage of this issue, the op/ed from a member of the faith community or the general issue.  A great time to share an experience of discrimination that might help people understand why this is so important.  Click here to send a letter to the editor.  Not many have been published so you probably have a good shot to get something printed. 

Keep it up, good people of Pittsburgh.  Don't let those Venango County hatefest folks hold back our community's progress. 

View Article  You can convert my tv, but you can't convert me

Yesterday, Congress refused to extend the deadline to switch over from regular signals that have served us well since the dawn of the 50's to the new digital signals.  Do I sound bitter?

Yes, yes I am bitter. Ledcat and I do not have cable.  It isn't a noble gesture of anti-consumerism.  It is a practical reality based on our priorities. I'd rather pay for high speed (no, we don't watch tv online) and she'd rather go to concerts.  We both prefer to enjoy the occasional nice restaurant and pay for gas. And student loans (sigh). It doesn't make us noble or snobby, just a little less up on pop culture. 

We ordered those damn rebate coupons and didn't realize they expire.  While they are bright and shiny, we figured we had until the deadline to buy the damn boxes.  So I tried to order a replacement. No dice.  Ledcat's Mom bought us one box for the holidays.  Then I had to buy a new power strip.  Then we realized we lost channels.  Well, we did gain all those sub WPXI channels, including Retro Television Network for which there is no schedule anywhere in the universe, but we lost ABC/WTAE completely.  Bye, bye Penn State and Oscars.  WQED comes and goes, perhaps related to the pledge drive follow through?  CBS/KDKA is in box format and fizzes out, most frequently during the news.  WPXI is great so I believe Medium will once again become my favorite show.  Sorry, The Mentalist.  It was nice, but your leading lady reminds me of a cricket and kind of creeps me out so maybe it wasn't meant to be.

So we have to buy another box for our upstairs television.  We already have a power strip so that's a savings.  We only get two stations upstairs so that's sort of a crap shoot. 

People using get rather defensive when we mention that we don't have cable.  It isn't a hair shirt, people.  Peek into my debit card receipts and you'd see plenty of ways I blow $$ on my own steam.  If I bothered to save those receipts.  See?  That's not very budget conscious.  But I've noticed that half of people who learn about our cable free lives immediately try to convert us to suscribe to Comcast or the Dish Network, even shoving coupons off on us.  This is usually followed by some story about the cable/dish going out right in the middle of Grey's Anatomy (did anyone catch Ireland Baldwin diss her Dad by saying she watches Grey's Anatomy instead of his show?  Pretty funny retaliation and with a lovely smile, too!).  And bemoaning the cost. 

The other half openly admit they are addicted, blame it on the kids/spouses/live in parents and stare me down with a defiant look challenging me to cast the first stone.  No stones here, honey.  I'm not a parent, but I can't imagine forking over $100/month when there is plenty of interesting television on regular network television for children, spouses and live in parents.  There's even a $16 cable package available from Comcast that takes the edge off and saves a lot of money.

Still, I can handle a few defensive friends and strangers who question my sanity/self-righteousness when this topic comes up.  I'm not pleased that the Government is forcing me to make this switch and spend this money.  I'm especially not happy that people most vulnerable are getting screwed by this process since the friggin coupons have run out.  I work in the human services sector and no one from the Government ever called me to make sure I am helping my folks get boxes and coupons.  Now it is too late.  Buying a $50 box (the cheap ones don't work) is a hefty investment on a fixed income.  Plus, the potential need for extension cords and/or power strips. 

So if you have a coupon and don't need it, please send to me.  I have a host of folks (not me!) who don't have a box at all.  If you have a box you aren't going to use b/c you succumbed and got cable, send it to me please. 

And please stop trying to convert me to cable. 

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