Archive for the 'Education' Category

Indonesia: Fundamentalist group attacks transgender human rights workshop

May 13, 2010

Via email from Kamilia, Excecutive Director of Institut Pelangi Perempuan (Indonesian Youth Lesbian Center) comes the disturbing news of three recent attacks by members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) on transgender human rights workshops and HIV/AIDS seminars in West Java.

Dear all,

I just got an information, last night May 11, Islamic Defender Forum again attacked HIV/AIDS seminar in Bandung West Java. One of the participant wrote on mailing list said that they all fine at this moment and just stay in the hotel room for their safety. Within a month, it’s been 3 times they attacked LGBT groups in Indonesia.

The last incident happened several days ago in Depok West Java, transgender group hold a human rights workshop attacked by Islamic Defender Forum. it was actually organized by National Human Rights commission and one of the speaker is the commissioner, and they could not do anything at that time. It is too ironic even police asked the National Human Rights commission to leave the workshop. You can see this video of how fundamentalist groups attacked LGBT people on ILGA Asia conference in Surabaya Indonesia and Transgender group workshop in Depok West Java.

YouTube link:

YouTube link:

Sass Rogando Sasot, who forwarded Kamilia’s email, adds:

According to the news:

Dozens of members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) stormed a human rights training program intended for transgender individuals at a hotel in Depok, West Java.

The program, organized by the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), had just begun when dozens of FPI members forced their way (past police) into the room.

The FPI is the same fundamentalist group that forced the cancellation of the ILGA-Asia Conference in March.

BBC profiles FPI in the same light as other radical groups in Indonesia.
Here’s the link:

For the news coverage about this incident, please visit:

  2. –> this is the video of how FPI raided the workshop (as you will see the police just allowed it to happen!)

“Tell me about transgender”

September 24, 2009

Hey Lord, don't ask me questions (ain't no answers in me)A phrase sure to sink the stoutest of hearts. “Tell me about transgender”. It’s not that I don’t want to reach out to cis people, to help them find answers to their many questions: it’s that it can be such a tiring, emotionally draining and sometimes frustrating process.

And although I don’t think it’s necessarily the place of a minority (transsexual women) to educate their oppressors (mainstream cis society), I also recognise that if we don’t do it, cis people may be unlikely to learn, or their understanding may be incomplete or incorrect. So I’m willing to do what I can to help those cis people who are genuinely interested to increase their knowledge of the various issues that are of concern to people like me.

But there’s a “But”…

It would be really helpful if, before they ask that burning question, cis people could at least try to find the answer themselves. Apart from looking in the obvious places like Google and even Wikipedia, many bloggers keep comprehensive blogrolls which may also be helpful to the enquiring cis mind.

The Web is an information source the like of which the world has never seen; lots of people have done lots of work to make it what it is and it often takes only a couple of clicks to find answers to even the most difficult questions.

The Living Library – take out your prejudice?

January 1, 2009

What's YOUR prejudice?The Living Library was launched at a music festival in Denmark in 2000 by Ronni Abergel, an antiviolence campaigner, who has taken the Living Library to places as diverse as Australia and Turkey.

“So what?”, you say. Well, the USP of this library is that it isn’t filled with books, but people. Real people who you borrow, spend time with and, at the end of your 30-minute chat, you return them. The ‘human books’ on offer vary from event to event but always include a cross-section of individuals who represent stereotypes that often are the target of prejudice or hatred. For example, the first session in the UK last April made available 26 books including a Muslim, an immigrant, a witch, an Indian atheist – and a trans woman, Kerry Whybrow, who says her readers were interested in why she made the change. She says it was a chance to do a little PR for trans people in Britain.

As Ronni Abergel, the Living Library founder, says:

“We live in a time where we need dialogue. With dialogue comes understanding and with that comes tolerance and that’s the mission of the Living Library: to promote understanding and tolerance through dialogue.”

Apparently the concept is proving popular in Australia with a regular Living Library session once a month in New South Wales. “Turkey’s just got up and running, and Germany and Austria are doing very well,” adds Abergel, who says he has spent 50 percent of his spare time over the past eight years working on his project, which has now lined up sessions in Canada and the US.

While I’m all in favour of the basic idea, I do have a couple of reservations. For one thing, I wonder just how likely one person is to overcome hir prejudice during a 30-minute conversation. And for another, I’ve a feeling that the people who could most benefit from the experience aren’t too likely to visit a Living Library in the first place.

But I guess you have to start somewhere, and, in the words of Kerry Whybrow:

“I’m making my journey and I want people to understand that,” she says. “If only 10 of your readers pick up on that and change their attitudes, that’s 10 fewer people that are going to be bigoted in their attitude towards some poor old transgender person.”

(Via eTransgender and ABC News)

LGBT History Month pre-launch

November 23, 2008

LGBT History Month 2009The LGBT History Month takes place every year in February. It celebrates the lives and achievements of the LGBT community. A pre-launch event was held recently, to draw attention to next February’s event. The fifth 2009 LGBT History Month theme is Education and Youth, and the key-note speaker was Baroness Morgan of Drefelin (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Children, Schools and Families).

Baroness Morgan expressed her wish to see a light shining in the dark corners of classrooms and for the reality of LGBT lives to be fully realised in the curriculum. She also announced that new guidance is being developed for schools on gender and gender identity with the consultation starting soon.

As councillor Kahn, another speaker, reminded the audience in his own speech: “if, for some reason, you can’t be a friend, there is no reason why you should be an enemy”.

For those who could not attend and still wish to make a difference in their own school, advice and tips are available in the new School Toolkit (a Word document) which can be downloaded here.

Because we’re *still* worthless

November 11, 2008

Because we're worthlessVia James Ledward at Gscene I learn that a former Education, Training and Employment Manager at Brighton & Hove City Council has received a Disciplinary Order from the General Teaching Council for England at a recent hearing of its Professional Conduct Committee, as follows:

Mr Morgan was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct in that whilst employed as an Education, Training and Employment Manager by Brighton & Hove City Council he behaved in a manner which amounted to discrimination, more particularly in that he:

  1. sent a fax to an educational recruitment agency on 19 November 2003 in which he:
    1. referred to a teacher’s change of gender
    2. referred to that teacher’s former name
    3. referred to the teacher variably as “he”, “him”, “she” and “her”
    4. referred to previous proceedings involving this teacher
  2. did not disclose his fax of 19 November 2003 to the teacher
  3. refused to provide the teacher with a second reference
  4. did not hear or appropriately deal with the teacher’s written grievance.


And on his blog, James offers this additional background information:

In 2003, Philip Morgan had secretly sent a fax to an employment agency that revealed the teacher was transgender, despite a request not to do so. After this had been discovered, he refused to write a new reference. The tribunal heard that the male-to-female teacher had lost the opportunity to find work after Morgan revealed her change of gender. Morgan claimed he was misadvised by the Council’s then head of personnel and lawyer Ian Yonge. The GTC committee found Morgan guilty of six separate counts of discrimination, and said that he had “brought the reputation and standing of the profession into serious disrepute.” He has been ordered to undergo formal equality and diversity-awareness training – although he has now retired.


In June 2007, Brighton & Hove City Council was ordered to pay the teacher £35,000 after being found guilty of victimising and discriminating against the teacher. The payment was awarded for loss of earnings and injury to feelings. It has been estimated that the council spent more than £100,000 fighting the employment tribunal.


The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999> made it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of gender reassignment in employment or vocational training. Only around six cases have been raised. The Equal Opportunities Commission agreed to back the case against Brighton Council, believing it would set a legal precedent on discrimination against transgender people.

And here’s a question which doesn’t seem to have been answered in the published details: Has the teacher been able to find employment since Mr Morgan carried out his apparent hate crimes against her? Because £35,000 seems a pretty small sum if she’s had to live on state benefits for the past five years.

I seem to be saying this a lot recently, but not one single cis person will ever convince me that we are the kind of threat you seem to think we are, a menace which justifies hounding us out of jobs, homes, relationships, you name it.

Trans people are real people too, with real lives and real responsibilities, real hopes and aspirations. Nobody appointed cis people to be judge and jury over our very existence. Nobody.

This case is one more example in a seemingly endless procession of legal cases that members of the trans community have had to bring in the fight for the basic civil right to be trans – and still be afforded what others are afforded.

Tell me, Mr Morgan, why is our existence so very problematic for you that you feel it’s your place to wreck another human’s life so comprehensively? Can you come up with one even remotely defensible, justifiable, logical reason which isn’t grounded in your personal prejudice, bigotry or sheer ignorance?

That’s “Mister” Frankenstein’s monster to you, sonny…

October 16, 2008

That's "Mister" Frankenstein's monster to you, sonny.Another facepalm moment brought to you by the legions of cis people who are apparently still allowed to leave their brains at home in a jar while they roam freely around in public…

Sometimes I think it’s not the students who are most in need of education; particularly when it comes to issues related to trans people. The News10 channel’s website has this report about a trans man who seems as if he’s trapped in a bizarre mediaeval nightmare where he’s being hounded out of house and home by angry villagers armed with pitchforks and blazing torches.

The truly depressing part is that the basic truth of the nightmare is still there when he wakes up. Except he’s not living in a mediaeval village in a mythical country ‘somewhere in central Europe’ – no, this horror story is unfolding in 21st century California…

Transgender Teacher Outed By Students At Vacaville School

VACAVILLE, CA – A Vacaville teacher’s gender reassignment surgery has caught the attention of some parents who want to know why the school district didn’t notify them ahead of time about the change.

Question: Why do they think they have any right to know about his surgery? From the rest of the story it’s clear they weren’t exactly planning on sending him flowers and grapes…

Question: If someone’s good enough at their job to hold down that position before they have surgery, how is having genital reaffirmation surgery going to remove those skills and abilities?

A music teacher at Foxboro Elementary School, who was formerly a woman, returned to school as a man at the beginning of the school year.

W-a-i-t a minute…


“[…] formerly a woman […]”

Formerly a woman? Way to erase his identity and demonstrate the journalist’s own prejudices…

The teacher, who was not identified is now being addressed as “Mister.”

How very generous. And what, pray, was he addressed as before?

No, don’t tell me, I can guess…

Some parents told Travis Unified School District that they feel like their rights to know were violated.

As above: why do they think they have any right to know about his surgery? Would they, I wonder, be even remotely interested if he’d gone in for, let’s say, a hernia repair? No, of course not. But this is about – gasp! – his genitalia, isn’t it? Therefore, by virtue of benefitting from cis privilege, these parental units believe they are somehow, by some (presumably) divine right, entitled to know about his genitals.

Yes, I said “divine right”, and yes, I meant it sarcastically, because I’m damned sure there must be anti-discrimination laws about this kind of harassment.

And if not, why not?

“All the information came straight from our kids and didn’t come from the school board or the teachers … this has all been second-hand information,” parent Melissa Oiland said.

Ah, so that’s why you’re all so indignant. Because the school didn’t tell you about the personal details of a teacher’s surgery. And why do you suppose they didn’t tell you?

Anything to do with this, perhaps?…

The district said it has to respect privacy and personal issues, and that it must preserve privacy rights of the teachers.

The school board said such disclosure would violate HIPAA privacy rules.

“I understand what parents are saying, but we have a right as an employer, we have a legal obligation as an employer to protect our employees,” Superintendent Kate Wren Gavlak said.

Gavlak said the district consulted with lawyers and determined that legally, it could not disclose any information about the teacher’s gender change.

“We will not be discussing personal matters with either the students, or the parents or the community at large … because we cannot,” Gavlak said.

Well, thank Maud for that. Somebody realises there are privacy rules.

But since when do legal protections matter when we’re talking about trans people? After all, a parent’s right to reactionary, ignorant outrage is far more important than any worthless trans person’s statutory rights, isn’t it?

Gahh, this makes me so frickin angry.

…in case you hadn’t noticed…

People, this is a real human being we’re talking about here – not some fictional scary monster marauding unfettered through the hallowed groves of academe, terrorising your precious babies.

Although, clearly, these idiots don’t see it that way:

Parent Angela Weinzinger, who has three children at the school, said she has since transferred her children out of the class.

“I wasn’t given the opportunity to make a choice on what I wanted to do with the situation,” Weinzinger said.

So far, 23 students from 15 different families have transferred their children out of the music class and into a physical education class.

Yeah, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.



“Was there no injustice in this? Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me?” (Mary Shelley ‘Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus’, 1818 – Ch. 24. [Via])

Call for LGBT participants in ECU survey about higher education

October 15, 2008

In the first national survey of its kind, Equality Challenge Unit has commissioned research into the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) staff and students in higher education.

Led by Professor Gill Valentine, Professor Paul Plummer and Dr. Nichola Wood from the University of Leeds, the research will identify any barriers or other issues specifically affecting LGBT staff and students. The research findings, due to be published in March 2009, will establish whether the higher education sector needs to take further action to engage with and support these groups.

Academics, managers, representatives of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, the trade unions, NUS, HEFCE, Universities Personnel Association, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Stonewall and Press for Change have all been involved in the production of the survey which will be distributed widely across higher education institutions.

The survey is available to complete online at from 14th October 2008 until 14th November 2008.

Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) supports the higher education sector in its mission to realise the potential of all staff and students whatever their race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion and belief, or age, to the benefit of those individuals, higher education institutions and society.