Tag Archives: education

I Am Loved Right Where I Am

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Amazon http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu

Barnes & Noble http://tinyurl.com/p822wrz

Signed Copy http://jasonj.biz/author.php

Youtube Video http://tinyurl.com/ocupldl

I recall my first grade teacher (Ms. Martin) talking about a fun craft project which included the use of scissors.  I was beyond excited and could not wait to begin.  Ms. Martin placed the scissor rack in the center table and off we all dashed with anticipation. To my disappointment however the only options were right-handed scissors.  Being left-handed I did not know how to cut with right-handed scissors but seeing all my classmates I desperately tried.  Try as I may my cut-outs were looking nothing like those of my classmates.  Frustrated I secretly asked myself why I was different.  Ensuring the rack included a pair of left-handed scissors would have prevented the feeling of isolation I experienced.  It was there in elementary school I first experienced the feeling of being dissimilar and not belonging.

Fast forward twenty five years I became a teacher myself (obtained my Masters in Arts and Teaching at Trinity University in Washington, D.C.).  I taught various grades and subjects in Syracuse, N.Y., Brooklyn, N.Y., Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC.  Prior to teaching I was a youth counselor for many years – working with youth diagnosed from moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, behavioral and emotional challenges, those diagnosed with autism/Asperger’s syndrome and even including eating disorders.  While working with children I have noticed a disheartening truth over the years.  Regardless of the therapeutic setting, classroom or child population, one thing that became abundantly clear to me is that children who do not fit the “traditional family” mold at times face a tremendous sense of feeling alone and uncomfortable – especially because every book in their homes, schools and libraries mention a mom and dad. It is certainly no fault of the families involved but more so the fact that, as a whole, society caters to the commonly advertised mom and dad family.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs the feeling of belonging is one of our basic needs, and one in which many successes are based on.  Students, who do not feel belonged, long for understanding, yearn for relatability and, at times, struggle with isolation.  We live in a society where our books, music, conversations, holidays etc. are geared exclusively to families made up of a mom and dad.  While I think that we need to embrace and celebrate the mom and dad family dynamic, we also need to embrace and celebrate ALL family dynamics just the same.

When I worked with elementary students I was always careful with my pronouns during story time.  I would try and use “parents” or “family” instead of the usual “Mom and Dad.”  The reality is that there are many different family dynamics.  Children often come from a home with a step-parent, foster-parent, same-gender parents, single parent, grandparents etc., and sadly our books and language often (yet unintentionally) overlook this rapidly growing reality.  In order to thrive and succeed children need to feel affirmed and belonged regardless of where they come from, and with whom they happen to live.

Frustrated over the constant lack of children’s books on family diversity that spoke directly to a child’s self-esteem I decided to do something about it so I wrote and illustrated my own easy to read children’s book, “I Am Loved Right Where I Am” http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu

This book is a phenomenal educational tool for every child, and every home in America.  If the child reading I Am Loved Right Where I Am comes from a home with a Mom and Dad than they will not only relate to one of the characters in my book, but also learn that many of their friends and classmates may come from different family dynamics.  Children that come from other family dynamics (foster, step-parent, same-gender parents, single parent etc.) will also relate to some of the characters in my book and have a sense of family equality.  The goal of my book is quite simple; after browsing this easy to read children’s book the reader will walk away feeling belonged, loved, as well as, have a stronger sense of universal connection.

If we want our children to succeed in life it starts early, and especially in school where pressures of all types are constantly bombarding our children from every direction.  At the same token my book is just as educational for those that are home-schooled or children out of school.  Even such children are not safeguarded from the media, their (good-intentioned) friends and society.  We must ensure our youth feel safe, comfortable and belonged.  If a child is constantly on mental guard from friends, extended family members, society, the media etc., he or she cannot be fully focused on learning, or be able to reach self-actualization in life.

Please take a look at the wonderful reviews from those that have read my book http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu and treat that special or someone to a copy.  You have the option of ordering from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and even a signed copy via paypal.  This book is a great addition to your personal book collection, home library and most certainly gift to that special child or family.  Happy reading

 Amazon http://tinyurl.com/oyjmzxu

Barnes & Noble http://tinyurl.com/p822wrz

Signed Copy http://jasonj.biz/author.php

Youtube Video http://tinyurl.com/ocupldl

* Please share (links above) as proceeds of my book go directly to charities *

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Filed under Bullying, Discrimination, Education, Equality, Love, Media, parents, School, Youth

Christian students kicked out of their university

This article was published in a student-run newspaper at a right-wing Christian University. After making significant changes to its doctrinal statement, ousting many of its staff and faculty, and relieving a gay student from all his ministry opportunities—despite his commitment to being single and following the community covenant—the University appears hostile for other students who also experience same-sex attraction. The writer has asked to remain anonymous to protect his identity.

 

Medieval author Christine de Pizan had some choice words for the conspiracies of her time—after all, blaming women for corruption in society and oppressing them as a result of such blame did not line up with her own observations of the female “race.” In The Book of the City of Ladies, Pizan argues that “Even if some wicked women have done evil things, it still seems to me that this is far outweighed by all the good that other women have done and continue to do.” Furthermore, she says, “This should prove to you that not all men’s arguments are based on reason, and that these men in particular are wrong.” I have utmost empathy for Pizan, because people like me are also mischaracterized and thrown to the curb far too often—thanks to individuals acting in “the name of God and the Bible.”

The fact is that I’m gay. No, I’m not nor have I ever been in a relationship with another guy. I’m not writing to change your political or theological perspective on the issue, either. Instead, I want to stand up against the mischaracterization that we (the gay community) receive all the time in places like my school. You say, “dude, I’m not condemning you at all—but the gay community is an endorsement of a sinful lifestyle! Don’t identify with it.” Exactly my point. In the same manner of Pizan’s time, when women as a collective were ignorantly thought to have corrupt motives, the Church today does not even try to understand the gay community.

Historically speaking, people fear what they don’t know—anything that looks different. And I believe that’s our problem. We look threatening, and it brings a whole host of mischaracterization.  The F Word.  This mischaracterization puts me into a constant state of fear, not only at school but also at home. My parents have no idea that I don’t like women, but I cannot tell them. In a meeting with Christopher Yuan (a well-known author and speaker) last year, he suggested I “test the waters” and talk about the issue before coming out. So I did. I told them that I had met a gay kid at my school (sort of true) and that I was helping him by serving as an accountability partner (also sort of true). In reality, though, I am that gay kid. Their response, you ask? They told me to get away from him—simply because he might “make me gay” too. My mother also said that she “couldn’t believe gay people were at a Christian school. He must be sneaking out at night to have promiscuous sex! That’s what gay people do, after all.” I nearly began to sob—how could they say such things about their own son, knowing or not? How could they be so ignorant?

The point is that Conservative Christianity doesn’t get a bad reputation for believing gay sex is a sin. Conservative Christianity gets a bad reputation because it refuses to understand the gay community. From the outside, all that Christians see are a bunch of men in speedos dancing at pride parades; they see a group that wants to corrupt families and turn against God. They don’t ever stop and think, “Why do they host pride parades?” They refuse to think that, gasp; gay people might actually desire genuine love and families to raise—not sex, sex, and more sex. Worst of all, they refuse to see how lonely I am. I do not believe I was designed for singleness. I know what the classic response is. “But singleness is a blessing! 1 Corinthians 7:8b says, ‘It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.’” That is correct, but don’t forget verse 9b: “for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” Do you understand the incredible, God-given, natural urge within me to have intimacy with another human being? Do you understand that one day, on my death bed; I will be in the hospital and breathing my last few breaths—and will glance around the room only to discover that no one is there? No husband ever existed, no children raised, no family legacy to leave behind. This… this is not natural.

The gay community isn’t an evil effort to destroy morals and God. The gay community is made up of thousands of people, just like me, who desire love and unity through marriage. As I said before, I don’t want to change your views theologically or politically. What I want to change is the flawed and ignorant fear towards the gay community. When you see a pride parade, understand that gay people are told throughout their entire lives that they are scum. Pride is an event for gay people to feel normal and… “not scum.” I’m not endorsing everything that happens, and I personally don’t like those parades. I’m simply explaining that you mustn’t live and act out of fear toward the gay community. When we ask you to legalize gay marriage, we aren’t secretly plotting to get rid of morals and destroy families. Actually, at a time when you straight folks are divorcing more than ever, we’re the ones asking to get married! Like Pizan argues about women, I must argue that gay people have done far more good than bad. It’s well known that gay folks often find themselves in human rights campaigns, feeding the homeless, and caring for the community in general. Are you sure we’re destroying society?

It is Time for the American Christian Church to Surrender the Gay Marriage Fight, Apologize, and Share Love at the end of the day; I’m not actually for or against gay marriage (at a personal level). I’m still figuring that out—and studying scripture first. But I’m in danger. When the university administration chooses to strip a gay student of all his leadership and ministry positions (and he ends up at a nearby state school) because he’s not sure what he believes on the issue, that’s a problem. It means that for the rest of my time at school, my status is on the line. I have to live in fear of my own “Christian” community and what they might do to me. They fear us because they think we’re parasites. They think we’re in a massive plot to destroy your morals and theology. In their ignorance, they act. And thanks to those actions, I must fear. And in my fear, I am deeply broken. I leave you with this question: If Jesus was in charge of my school, would he endorse a religious bubble built on codes and regulations that strip people of their ministry and leadership opportunities—even their fate at the school—for questioning the validity of such positions? Would students like me have to live in fear?

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Marriage (Marriage equality for ALL)

Extending the legal and civil rights and responsibilities to all Americans is really a non-issue.  If you do not agree with same-sex marriage, don’t marry someone of the same sex!  As a school teacher, I don’t ever recall reading/citing the words…”with liberty and justice for ALL” and seeing the word, “except” anywhere.   Separate but equal has proven it does not, has not, and should not work!  We can not “eenie meenie miney moe” through our neighborhoods and point to who is allowed marriage or not.  For those who attempt to use the Bible to justify preventing same-gender marriage I caution you.  Many read the Bible more literally, others more metaphorically (or more emphasis on legalism rather than love), and both should be respected.  We however need to take cultural, as well as historical, perspectives into consideration when reading the Bible.  It is almost 2012 and we still do not know much about the gay gene/community/culture.  Two thousand years ago we lived in complete oblivian on the subject.  When you were found to be gay you were simply thrown in a brothel – no questions asked.  While in a brothel your choices were limited.  You slept with many and all and were labeled because of it.  A great informative book on being gay and the Bible is here http://www.cebiaz.com/book.pdf for you to read at your leisure.  As far as our constitution; yes our country was founded on Christianity – and the type of Christianity that possibly at the time did not include all families (I’m quite positive there were both gay and straight in attendance), however many would argue it was also found on slavery and without woman’s rights. We are a Nation however continually moving in the direction of justice and equality!

Lastly, if we want “traditional” marriage we must be careful using the Bible as a reference.  I will not get into the whole “Adam and Eve” theory as it was not about “marriage”, it was about companionship (I am speaking about a civil license).  In Biblical days men had multiple wives and usually treated them as property and baby bearers only.  Lot had sex with his daughters (or vice verse but irrelevant for the point).  We cannot use the Bible (or certain parts of it that are convenient) to set our moral compass with regards to one’s orientation, intimacy, or just certain relationships.  As a Christian and American, I am for equality, love, and acceptance for all human life.  God bless, see you in heaven.

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Filed under Education, Gay, Legislation

My Thoughts on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT)

“Having served many years in two branches, I can tell you this is completely a NON issue. The question here is not whether gays and lesbians can serve and serve well in the military (as we all know they have and can), it’s simply to allow them to talk freely about their familes without the fear of losing their careers – the same rights afforded to all others. The military has a Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and anyone that violates any of the codes is subject to punishment. Whether black, white, gay, straight, democrat, republican, left handed, Christian or non, if you are a soldier, you must strictly adhere to the UCMJ. Other countries have adopted inclusive policies years ago and to date, none have imploded! When you attend the funeral of a soldier who fought and died for your freedoms, does it really matter who they loved while doing so?”

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Filed under Bullying, Celebrity, Education, Gay, Legislation, Media, Military, Religion, School, Youth

Bullying Kills

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Filed under Bullying, Celebrity, Education, Gay, Legislation, Media, Religion, School, Uncategorized, Youth