Thursday, May 2, 2013

A conversation...

Let's start a conversation...
This might be a blog post or article eventually...but for now, it is just a conversation. A chance for some dialogue. A civil conversation.

Last week I had the privilege of being part of a women's empowerment seminar hosted by Agnes Scott College and CPAC. This was the last of four seminars and we talked a lot on the issue of domestic violence and trafficking.

During the discussion, one of the other panelists who works with immigrants in the Atlanta area expressed frustration with the anti trafficking laws and programs Georgia has created because they rarely provide help for immigrant women being trafficked...particularly if they are illegal immigrants. My understanding of VAWA act and TVPRA is that there are services and help available to immigrant women who are being trafficked but according to the panelists, GA laws on illegal immigrants means that these women will be deported rather than helped...and that knowing this makes them afraid to come forward.

Another point was made that there are no services for boys who have been trafficked nor are there any that focus on LGBT homeless youth who are trafficked. My research has only found one homeless shelter specifically for LGBT youth and they have six beds. And no services for the boys.

My thoughts are that Georgia is making great strides in counter trafficking measures but it is clear we have a ways to go. However, as much as it stinks, money and budgeting will play into that.

My questions are:
What do you think of current legislation?
What do you think of current legislations specifically as it relates to immigrants?
What needs to be done to address needs of boys and LGBT youth?
As we address awareness and treatment, what else can we do to focus on prevention?
Any other opinions or information specifically related to topic?

Please comment below!
Please note any derogatory comments about any groups of people will be deleted immediately.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Mother's Son...

I recently read this article and felt the need to respond. That response gives me the chance to brag on my son is just an added bonus...

Robert Morrison recently used the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 as an argument against same sex marriage. I'll skip over my rant about the gall and audacity of his comments. I'll also only briefly mention the fact that it seems his comments actually refute his point since-by his own argument-having two dads is better than one. It's only in the case of two females getting married that a male figure is absent. (Mental note, if you are going to make a case for or against something, speak clearly and with forethought...otherwise, someone like me comes along and points out the obvious.)

The idea that a young man who grows up without a father is going to grow up to hate minorities enough to commit hate crimes is ludicrous. Hate is taught. It's learned. No one is born hating Muslims, Latinos or homosexuals...they are taught. Whether they have two parents in the household or one. Whether they have a father in their life or not...they grew up with bigotry and accepted it as truth. It doesn't even mean their parent(s) taught it to them...communities teach children values as well.

The good looking tall kid in the middle? Yep, he's mine. My son. My son who grew up without a father in his life. My son who I taught Christian values. My son who grew up in an environment where prejudice was not allowed...unless it was against a GA Tech fan and then only in fun (it's SEC football country people, smack talk is a way of life). My son who has been so blessed to have a number of positive influences in his life. Who grew up in an atmosphere and community that accepted differences even when they weren't necessarily agreed with...and who deliberately made choices that influenced his character and shaped him into the man he is today. The guy who makes friends with people regardless of color, culture or sexual orientation. The guy who accepts people for who they are and has an uncanny ability to genuinely like people in such a way that they are drawn to him. A boy, growing up to be a man...a good one.

I'm not sure if Mr. Morrison has children, but I would be willing to bet their attitude about homosexuality is similar to that of McKinley and Henderson. Would they take a homosexual man and beat him to death? No. But most of us wouldn't. We just avoid them. Make jokes about them. Think less of them.

My son doesn't do that. Has growing up without a dad been hard for him? Of course it is. I'm sure it was for McKinley and Henderson as well. But that is not what drove them to their actions and to say so not only belittles the issue but it insults Matthew's family as well as all single mothers.

All across this nation there are children being taught hate and fear and whether that is in a household where there is one parent, two parents or a grandmother doing her best to raise her grandchildren, the lesson is a terrible one. We have become a nation of extremes. There is no middle ground. No compromise. No understanding. We are blinded by our prejudices.

And as long as we refuse to stop the shouting and the yelling and the finger pointing, there will always be a mother's son being a bully, being bullied, living in fear...of being different or those that are different.

The reality is, the responsibility for Matthew's death and the epidemic of hate crimes in this country rests on the people who spew bigotry and those that tolerate it. Mr Morrison, are you willing to be responsible for something like that? Because I'm not.