Back to school

school-backpacks

This week kids across Washington State headed back to school.

According to our state constitution, educating our children is the paramount duty of government. It is the greatest collective responsibility we share as a community.

Of course, there is no lack of debate or dispute over what that duty requires.

Washington State has been ordered into court on Sept 7th by the WA Supreme Court to answer questions about the ongoing impact of the McCleary Decision, which has been fining WA State $100,000 a day for over a year for not making significant progress on special education, teachers’ salaries and a host of school basics.

Arguments over “teaching to the test” continue to brew. School bathrooms have taken center stage in the growing conversations and controversies over gender. The Department of Justice has pointed out the dangers of the “preschool to prison pipeline” where African American children, poor children and foster children disproportionately find public education not a path to stability and achievement, but a process of escalating surveillance and criminalized discipline that results in imprisonment rather than empowerment.

And a recent study by the NW Network and the National Domestic Violence Hotline demonstrates that fear of mandatory reporting to police or CPS by reporters such as school teachers and counselors results in young people delaying or avoiding seeking help when they are experiencing harm.

It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the storms that surround education. But, instead of turning away from the challenges that face our schools, let’s get educated about these challenges and the positions on education held by every candidate seeking office this fall. Let’s make sure we have all our kids’ backs as they head back to school.

My oh my!

In the words of Seattle Mariners late broadcaster, Dave Niehaus, “I DON’T BELIEVE IT!”

I don’t believe it. That statement is alive and well right now. From the mundane (the color of my son’s hair―spoiler alert: brown dyed blonde turned orange) to the amazing (have you noticed that our Mariners AND the Chicago Cubs sit atop their respective divisions?) to the state of the union (hey, this is my country too!). It’s a lot to take in, and nearly impossible to make sense of.

I’m in the business of sense-making. I prefer to observe and listen and think before I proclaim my sense of any given situation or issue. And the truth is that, while people often expect me to come forth with a radical sense, where I almost always land is in the realm of common sense. I’m a linear, practical gal, and there is way too much going on―in this time, in this country―that violates common sense.

I can live with my son’s orange hair, because it is attached deep down to his good heart. And this really could be the year of a Mariners-Cubs World Series. I can definitely live with that. But what of the state of our union? The volatility, extremism, political machinations, and hate? These are hard for me because they don’t make sense.

2016 is an important year. We need all eyes on North Carolina, all ears in electoral and ballot debates, and all hands on deck. We must emerge with a common sense. That’s all I ask.

For my son and all children:

For my Mariners and all fans:

For my people and our world:

 

 

 

News you can relate to

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

My kid is the same age as the little girl in this story, but I can’t imagine being treated like her parents were.

Jon Stewart points out that the media’s treatment of Caitlyn Jenner highlights the disrespect women face on a daily basis.

You think Jay Smooth is going to give tips on how to talk about women who run for political office, but it’s even better than that:

 

News you can relate to

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

Men or Women, what’s the problem? “I never thought about what it would feel like to have to decide which bathroom to use. And I certainly never thought of the humiliation and violence that trans people endure as a result. In that ah-ha moment, the light bulb went on in my head (and heart). The best thing about being human is gaining knowledge and then acting on it.”

Beware of the friendzone “It should go without saying that women aren’t carnival prizes to be won. But just like with lots of things that should go without saying, it needs to be said, as there still seems to be some debate as to whether women are autonomous humans with the right to give as much or as little of themselves to people as they want.”

Abuse comes in many forms “Advocates are catching on that many survivors are seeking shelter because they can’t afford to be anywhere else,” Pentico said. “They don’t have the financial services to fly to a parent’s house or rent a hotel room. In a sense, many women are being battered because they can’t afford to not be battered.”

It’s National Coming Out Day!

390x420_ComingOutDay-KeithHaringtPerhaps in this age of increasing support for gay rights, marriage equality laws, and the oh-so-popular Ellen, it doesn’t feel like there’s much of a need for this day anymore.

But it is needed.

We talk a lot about community and relationships here, on this blog and in the work we do throughout the state. Part of what makes a relationship healthy is integrity, right? If you’re not able to be your full, honest self due to safety concerns or worries about being cast out of your community, what kind of relationship is that? Not much of one, in my book.

Being out actually relates quite intimately to domestic violence. Abusers will often use sexuality and gender identity against their partners and threaten to out them to their families or employers. This is particularly the case for trans women and men: someone who has transitioned may not have told their employers about their past (partly because it’s really none of their business, but also because they may be fired because of it). Additionally, abusers may use their partner’s identity as a way to belittle and humiliate them (“you’re not a ‘real’ woman, no one else would ever want you” or “I know you’ll just leave me for a man”).

When you consider the disproportionately higher rate of unemployment AND higher rates of domestic violence (and all other forms of violence) for trans folks, particularly trans women (and even more particularly, trans women of color), you can see how this would make someone feel trapped in an abusive relationship.

Although the reality is that some people need to remain closeted for their own safety, coming out is still a powerful, vulnerable, and important act. Coming out helps put a human face on issues like  homophobia and transphobia. Coming out helps create a domino effect, allowing more and more people to be an integrated, authentic part of their communities.