LGBT | Page 4 | Not in Our Town


Daisy Renazco, Gunn High School Mathematics Teacher/GSA Advisor   I love Not In Our Schools (NIOS) week for so many reasons! :-) The main reason being that this week provides students and teachers an opportunity to talk about topics that can be emotional, as well as sometimes uncomfortable. As a result, these conversations end up bringing our school community closer to one another. We are willing to share with each other a little bit more, our conversations are a little more thoughtful, and the goal of teaching the “whole child” is really being done during this week.   For one of my AP Statistics classes this week, I chose to not talk about content and had a discussion with my students about the “It Gets Better” campaign. The “It Gets Better” campaign was started by Dan Savage as a response to the several Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) youth that had committed suicide in the month of September of 2010.  
Today is the 11th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day when we remember those killed because of anti-transgender hate.  The event was created in 1999 to memorialize Rita Hester, a trans woman who was killed in San Francisco.  Her case remains unsolved, as do so many murders of transgender people, who face extremely high rates of discrimination and violence. TDOR has a partial list of those we remember today. In the past year, we have seen the convictions of the killers of Lateisha Green and Angie Zapata, and the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Act, the first major piece of federal legislation extending legal protections to LGBT people; yet there is much more work to do. 
Today is a landmark day for people everywhere who are standing up to hate. The United States Senate has passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first major piece of legislation providing federal protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. President Obama has pledged to sign the bill into law. On this historic night, Not In Our Town will meet Judy Shepard, when she visits Danville, CA to read from her new book, The Meaning of Matthew.  The event is a benefit for Not In Our Town, sponsored by Rakestraw Books, and we will be bringing our thanks and congratulations to Judy Shepard tonight. If you would like to send a message of thanks to Judy, please share it in the comments below!
An Advocate for Victims and Survivors of Violence Reflects on the Process of Recovery By Tina D’Elia  
It was ten years ago this week that gay college student Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and left hanging on a rural fence in Laramie, Wyoming. His murder stirred a profound response that would galvanize communities and states across the U.S. to fight for hate crime laws that include protection for gays and lesbians. In an interview with CBS News, Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard’s mother talks about the young men who were convicted of killing her son and her ongoing work against anti-gay bias: “I’m pretty sure that they actually wonder still why they’re in such trouble for what they did, just, you know, killing a young gay man. The environment was set up for them that it was OK to do that to Matt.” “The level of ignorance is just — it’s amazing that people just don’t know more about the civil rights that are being denied the gay community, and we’re moving forward and working at the grassroots level now trying to really educate people and make them aware of the gay community.”