Jeremy Redlien, President of PFLAG in Oneonta/Otsego NY, launched a campaign to honor Glen Burke, the first openly gay baseball player who never been recognized by the Baseball Hall of Fame.  As baseball is our National Pastime, it is incredibly important that the Baseball Hall of Fame acknowledge and promote diversity within the sport itself.  

To date, more than 20,000 people have joined the campaign on Charge.com, asking that The Baseball Hall of Fame to recognize Burke's contribution and popularization of the high five. In a late season game in 1977, Burke’s Dodgers teammate, Dusty Baker, hit a home-run, and Burke who was on deck, raised his right hand as Baker crossed the home plate and gave him a high five. 

“Glenn Burke came out to his teammates at a time when no one else was talking publicly about their sexual orientation, let alone athletes,” said Redlien. “We live in a world where the contributions of gay athletes to the history of sports is often overlooked. It’s time to recognize Burke’s bravery so that young people today can be inspired by this important figure in baseball.”

“It’s amazing to think that Glenn Burke not only made history by coming out as gay, but that he also popularized something that millions upon millions of people do, from T-ball players to professional athletes, whenever they want to celebrate a special moment,” added Redlien. “Burke’s story is something that everyone deserves to learn about, as the contributions of gay athletes are all too often overlooked in professional sports.”

Burke’s career in the Major Leagues was short. According to a PBS documentary from 2010, Burke’s sexual orientation caused friction between him and his managers, with a Dodgers official suggesting that Burke should get married to protect the team’s image. Burke retired in 1980, and said a few years later that “prejudice drove me out of baseball sooner than I should have, but I wasn’t changing.”

Burke passed away in 1995, after a battle with substance abuse and HIV/AIDS-related complications.

“I think if Burke had been supported by managers and teammates early on, he would not have left baseball so early, and could have been a contender for the Hall of Fame,” said Redlien. “Instead, Burke died tragically after feeling like he didn’t belong in professional sports. It is time for his favorite sport to give him the respect he always deserved.”

“Jeremy Redlien’s petition is mobilizing thousands of people who want to see Glenn Burke honored in some way by the Baseball Hall of Fame, they are speaking out *and joining Jeremy’s campaign in droves” said Joe Mirabella, Campaign Manager at Change.org. 

 
 
by  Dan Rafter at HRC     

FLAWED PAPER CLAIMS TO OVERTURN 30 YEARS OF CREDIBLE RESEARCH THAT SHOWS GAY AND LESBIAN PARENTS ARE GOOD PARENTS

Washington, DC, June 11, 2012 - A flawed, misleading, and scientifically unsound paper that seeks to disparage lesbian and gay parents was roundly criticized today by organizations that protect and advance the freedoms and equality of Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

The paper, “New Family Structures Study,” written by right-wing author Mark Regnerus (of the Department of Sociology and Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin) and funded in large part by the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute, makes a number of claims about negative outcomes for children raised by gay and lesbian parents.  However, for the most part, the paper doesn’t even look at same-sex couples raising a child together in a long-term committed relationship.

The Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Freedom to Marry, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) pointed out that numerous flaws and a biased agenda undermine the claims made by the paper.

“Flawed methodology and misleading conclusions all driven by a right-wing ideology,” said Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of the Family Equality Council. “That alone should raise doubts about the credibility of this author’s work. But on top of that, his paper doesn’t even measure what it claims to be measuring.”

“Because of the serious flaws, this so-called study doesn’t match 30 years of scientific research that shows overwhelmingly that children raised by parents who are LGBT do equally as well as their counterparts raised by heterosexual parents,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin

Griffin and Chrisler added that those conclusions are backed up by every major child welfare organization—whose sole objective is to ensure child welfare-- along with the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of Social Workers, who all confirm that LGBT parents make good parents.

Chrisler also said that these 30 years of research are grounded in the day-to-day reality witnessed by millions of Americans.

“Everyday people in this country see real-life examples of the love, commitment and caring these parents provide to their children, said Chrisler. “These parents are raising their children to be kind to their friends and neighbors, support their communities and uphold American values.  One biased paper cannot undo the truth nor demean the value of these families.”

Regnerus is well known for his ultra-conservative ideology and the paper was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation - two groups commonly known for their support of conservative causes. The Witherspoon Institute also has ties to the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage, and ultra-conservative Catholic groups like Opus Dei.

Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said it is these anti-gay groups and their dangerous ideologies that, in fact, create some of the biggest legal, social, and economic challenges that LGBT families do face.

“The two million kids being raised by 1 million gay parents in this country are doing great, and would do even better if their parents didn’t have to deal with legal discrimination such as the denial of the freedom to marry, and ongoing attacks such as this kind of pseudo-scientific misinformation and the disinformation agenda that’s funding it,” said Wolfson. 

GLAAD President Herndon Graddick added, "A growing majority of Americans today already realize the harms this kind of junk science inflicts on loving families. If the media decides that this paper is worth covering, journalists have a responsibility to inform their audiences about the serious and glaring flaws in its methodology, and about the biased views of its author and funders."

Key problems with the “New Family Structures Study” include: 
  • The paper is fundamentally flawed and intentionally misleading. It doesn’t even measure what it claims to be measuringMost of the children examined in the paper were not being raised by parents in a committed same-sex relationship—whereas the other children in the study were being raised in two-parent homes with straight parents.
  • Given its fundamental flaws and ideological agenda, it’s not surprising that the paper doesn’t match the 30 years of solid scientific research on gay and lesbian parents and families. That research has been reviewed by child welfare organizations like the Child Welfare League of America, the National Adoption Center, the National Association of Social Workers and others whose only priority is the health and welfare of children and that research has led them to strongly support adoption by lesbian and gay parents.
  • In addition, the paper’s flaws highlight the disconnect between its claims about gay parents and the lived experiences of 2 million children in this country being raised by LGBT parents.  Americans know that their LGBT friends, family members and neighbors are wonderful parents and are providing loving and happy homes to children.
  • The paper fails to consider the impact of family arrangement or family transitions on children, invalidating any attempt on its part to assess the impact of sexual orientation on parenting.  The paper inappropriately compares children raised by two heterosexual parents for 18 years with children who experience family transitions – like foster care – or who live with single or divorced parents, or in blended families. Moreover, the limited number of respondents arbitrarily classified as having a gay or lesbian parent are combined regardless of their experiences of family instability.
 
 
From: Paul Guequierre @ HRC

New HRC President Chad Griffin calls tremendous disparities between LGBT and straight young people a call to action

Human Rights Campaign released a groundbreaking study of LGBT-identified young people and a corollary study of straight teens that shows tremendous disparities between the two groups.  With more than 10,000 respondents ages 13-17, “Growing Up LGBT in America” is the largest known survey of LGBT teens and shows how critical the work of achieving equality is for future generations.

Among the report’s key findings:
Over one-half of LGBT youth (54%) say they have been verbally harassed and called names involving anti-gay slurs;
Nearly half of LGBT youth (47%) say they do not “fit in” in their community while only 16 percent of non-LGBT youth feel that way; 67% of straight youth describe themselves as happy but this number drops to 37 percent among LGBT young people; 83% of LGBT youth believe they will be happy eventually, but only 49 percent believe they can be happy if they stay in the same city or town; 6 in 10 LGBT youth say their family is accepting of LGBT people, while a third say their family is not; 92% say they hear negative messages about being LGBT – 60 percent say those messages come from elected leaders.

When asked to describe their most important problem, straight teens articulated the usual challenges of grades and college and finances.  On the other hand LGBT teens’ worries were directly related to their identity as LGBT including non-accepting families and bullying. “No one would say that growing up LGBT is easy, but this survey is a stark wake-up call to the daily toll that discrimination takes on vulnerable young people,” said new HRC President Chad Griffin who begins his tenure by releasing this survey. “We have a responsibility to change that, because we know all too well that there are real life consequences to inaction.”

The first in a series of efforts to analyze the landscape for LGBT youth, the report summarizes the major findings from a general analysis of all survey responses. Over the next several months, HRC will be engaging in additional analysis that will provide a better understanding of the unique experiences of specific groups of youth, for example transgender youth, those of different races, religious traditions, etc.

“We applaud the Human Rights Campaign for shining a spotlight on this vulnerable group of teens,” said Christine James-Brown, CEO of the Child Welfare League of America.  “We look forward to collaborating with HRC on policy and educational initiatives to address the compelling needs and concerns of the thousands of LGBT youth who responded to this survey.”

A full copy of the report is available at: www.hrc.org/youth.
 
 
From Mike Jones  at Change

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA OFFICIALS PROPOSE ALLOWING LOCAL TROOPS TO ACCEPT GAY YOUTH AND LEADERS AFTER EAGLE SCOUT DELIVERS 275,000 PETITIONS AT NATIONAL ANNUAL MEETING

NEW YORK, NY – Sources have confirmed that Boy Scouts of America officials have proposed a new policy -- which could be voted on as early as 2013 -- that would allow local chartering organizations to decide whether or not to accept gay youth and leaders.

The proposal comes after Eagle Scout Zach Wahls delivered more than 275,000 signatures to the National Annual Meeting of the Boy Scouts of America from a popular petition on Change.org. The petition calls on the Boy Scouts to reinstate a lesbian den leader in Ohio, Jennifer Tyrrell, who was removed from her position because of her sexual orientation, and to end the Boy Scouts’ long-held policy barring openly gay scouts and scout leaders.

“Last Wednesday I delivered 275,000 petition signatures -- including the signatures of thousands of scouts and scout leaders -- to the Boy Scouts of America because I love the organization and I refuse to stand by idly as it forfeits its cultural relevancy at the very moment this country needs it most,” said Wahls. “In proposing to allow local charter organizations to decide whether or not they’ll include gay youth and leaders within their ranks, the Boy Scouts of America has taken an historic step forward, and I applaud their bravery in doing so.”

Wahls met with the Boy Scouts of America’s Public Relations Director, Deron Smith, and other top-ranking Boy Scout officials who asked not to be named after delivering the 275,000 petition signatures to the organization’s annual national meeting last Wednesday.

“As both an Eagle Scout with a personal investment in the success of the Boy Scouts of America and as the son of a lesbian couple, it means a lot to see this change finally set in motion,” added Wahls.

Wahls, the author of My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family and whose online video in support of his two gay moms went viral last year, delivered the signatures on behalf of Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom who was removed as den leader of her seven-year-old son’s Cub Scout troop in Ohio last month. After being removed from her position, Tyrrell started a petition on Change.org asking to be reinstated, and urging the Boy Scouts to stop dividing families and communities with a policy that excludes gay families, scouts and leaders.

“When I got the call from the Boy Scouts of America signaling that I could no longer serve as my seven-year-old’s Cub Scout den leader, I was heartbroken. But the blow was softened by the outpouring of support I received from my community and the parents of the boys I had dedicated myself to,” said Tyrrell. “I know if it was up to my community, I’d still be a Cub Scout Den Leader today, so this news is definitely a huge step in the right direction for the Boy Scouts of America.”

Tyrrell’s petition on Change.org earned the support of scores of celebrities, including most recently GLEE’s Dianna Agron, who signed the petition this past weekend at the GLAAD media awards in San Francisco, where Tyrrell was featured and addressed the crowd. Other celebrities endorsing Tyrrell’s petition include Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Ricky Martin, Fran Drescher, Kelly Osbourne, Benicio Del Toro, and more.

“Zach and the thousands of scouts and scout leaders who have joined Jennifer’s campaign were able to connect through the petition in a way that has never happened before, which definitely caught the attention of the Boy Scouts of America,” said Mark Anthony Dingbaum, Campaign Manager at Change.org. “Change happens when everyday people like Jennifer are brave enough to share personal stories that inspire hundreds of thousands to take action -- and that’s what Change.org is all about.”