In an apparent bid to show its commitment to supporting marriage equality, Target has unveiled a new ad featuring two gay dads.
The commercial for Target’s “Made to Matter” product line was posted to YouTube Sept. 13 and at one point shows a gay couple painting with a child. The spot's release comes on the heels of several anti-gay groups' boycott of the chain after the company signed an amicus brief in support of marriage equality last month.
A Target spokeswoman told The Huffington Post the new ad campaign "represents and celebrates" the company's diverse community.
"Target is committed to diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business, including our marketing efforts," the rep said. "The casting of this couple and their son is in line with previous marketing that Target has created including our wedding registry ad campaigns that have been running for the past several years."
Responses to the video have been overwhelming positive on YouTube so far.
In August, Matt Barber, vice president of anti-same-sex marriage group Liberty Counsel Action, said Target's decision to sign the amicus brief -- which federally challenged Wisconsin and Indiana's same-sex marriage bans -- was a “slap in the face to millions of pro-family customers," OneNewsNow wrote.
The National Organization for Marriage similarly joined in on the haterade.
In a blog post published Aug. 5, Jodee Kozlak, Target's executive vice president of human resources, spoke out about the company's stance on the issue.
“It is our belief that everyone should be treated equally under the law, and that includes rights we believe individuals should have related to marriage,” she said. "We believe that everyone – all of our team members and our guests – deserve to be treated equally. And at Target we are proud to support the LGBT community."
Fashion is subjective, even for kids. In preschool, elementary, and middle school there were the occasional theme days: pajama day, crazy hair day, and of course Halloween; my son often balked at these, not inclined to go along with the crowd. Last school year, his first at a large public high school, he participated in "Spirit Day," dressing up as prescribed by a group of seniors to demonstrate school spirit. (Although it seemed more like hazing to me.)
To be fair, my son has paid attention to fashion for a while. A Superman tee was his preschool choice, and as a first-grader he saw an older boy with long hair and said, "I want that." So from first through eighth grade he grew his hair out to a very long length. Known as "the boy with long hair," and often mistaken for a girl, he added to the persona by dedicating a year of his life to wearing only tie-dye. Notoriety followed these fashion choices, and many kids in the school followed suit, growing their hair and mimicking his style. My son played it cool, never seeming to be too headstrong even as he set trends; he remains down-to-earth to this day.
The hair came off just before high school, and his fashion changed from hippie to hipster, with ironic T-shirts, five-panel hats, and loud Vans skater shoes. He was still a leader in the fashion arena as his jeans got skinny and shirts bright and flowery. All of this remains consistent with the gender fluid identity of my son and his friends. "Queer" is de rigueur, and it makes sense to dress the part.
So as the new school year approached, our son began gearing up. His store of choice is Buffalo Exchange, where flowered shirts, short shorts, and ironic tees abound at reduced prices. We buy all but the most garish garb for him, feeling compelled to clothe our son as we strive to accept and support who he is. A couple of purchases he made from his own funds were dresses. We assumed these were intended as costumes for his avant-garde theater group.
But last evening, after describing his first day of school sophomore year, he casually announced that on day two he'd be wearing a dress to school. His mom and I didn't miss a beat, merely curious why he waited for the second day. "Doing it on the first day would've been such a cliché!" was our son's response.
And so this morning after a shower, and applying the subtle eye makeup that's been a daily routine since he appeared in his first stage production last spring, our boy donned a dress and packed up his book bag before classes.
The blue cotton sundress he chose would be fitting for any teenage girl. Heck, it might actually be something his mom would wear. And he looked pretty darn good in it. I like how it ties behind the neck, and I wondered how he got it on without asking for help. The unfilled bulge at the breast is a bit distracting at first, but overall he looks like a fit young man making a bold fashion choice.
These are the types of choices he's making, and as a parent I am strongly compelled to leave well enough alone and let my son navigate his own course. That this path leads through the halls of a big urban school is something he must've calculated. That he'll be in the company of familiar friends, and under the eye of new teachers and administrators, may have figured into his calculations.
And when I check my own feelings, I need only recall myself as a high schooler, seeking attention and acceptance. My persona was as a merry prankster (in the Ken Kesey tradition), a yippie letting my freak flag fly with bright clothing and bold public actions. Later, my academic career centered on gender identity development, and it seems only fitting that my son is exploring similar territory, and taking it to new places.
"Nice dress" was how I greeted my son this morning. "Thanks," was his reply. "I'll see you after cross country practice, at the back-to-school picnic," I continued. "Cool," he said.
And cool he is, with the whole idea of a not-yet-16-year-old boy going to school in a dress. I'm cool with it, too.
A transgender girl was crowned homecoming princess at a Colorado Springs high school.
The Gazette of Colorado Springs reported Saturday () that Scarlett Lenh received the majority of the votes from her junior class at Sand Creek High School, besting three biological girls for the honor. Lenh, biologically a boy, was born Andy Lenh. She was bestowed the honor during Friday night's football game.
The 16-year-old began identifying as a transgender girl this school year and began using the girls' bathroom. She said she's known she was a girl since about age 7 or 8.
"It was really exciting. It felt really good. I couldn't stop smiling," Scarlett said after she found out at an afternoon assembly that the majority of the junior class had voted for her.
Two of the other girls who were nominated by their peers were "extremely supportive," Scarlett said, and the other "was really upset."
Scarlett said she didn't think she'd be nominated.
"One of my friends mentioned it, and I didn't think anything of it because I didn't think I'd be nominated. But, now, it really matters to me," she said. "This is something I've wanted to do since my freshman year. I want people to be themselves and not feel uncomfortable in their own body and mind."
The school in Falcon School District 49 is in the same city as Focus on the Family and the National Association of Evangelicals.
"The leaders at Sand Creek High School and in District 49 respect the decision of the Scorpion student body in electing their homecoming court," district spokesman Matt Meister said in a statement. "Our board policy sets the standard that we do not exclude any person from participating in any program or activity on the basis of gender identity and gender expression."
"It's craziness," said Jana Neathery, whose granddaughter attends Sand Creek. "Originally, it was a joke that he was going to be nominated for homecoming princess, but he got a lot of nominations," she said, referring to Scarlett, "and now there are a lot of upset girls because a spot was taken from them.
"I'm very sympathetic that he's transgender, but he should be on the boys' side, not the girls'."
Sand Creek student Michael Carl said he has been a friend of Scarlett's since the seventh grade.
"He has always been there for me and is truly a good person," Michael said. "I support him because it takes a lot of courage and a lot of character to do what he is doing."
Last year, a transgender first-grade girl won the right to use the girls' restroom at another Colorado Springs-area school district. The Colorado Civil rights Division ruled that not allowing Coy Mathis to use the girls' bathroom violated Colorado's Anti-Discrimination Act.
Religious congregations are warming up to LGBT issues more and more, according to the results of a recent study out of Duke University.
Conducted by Duke sociology professor Mark Chaves, the National Congregations Study investigated the shift in acceptance of gay and lesbian congregants from 2006 to 2012 -- which rose from 37.4 percent to 48 percent in that time frame.
Researchers asked religious leaders from 1,331 different American churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other houses of worship, whether openly gay or lesbian couples would be allowed to become full-fledged members of their congregations. The shift toward greater inclusivity reflects the changing landscape of American political and social life -- which on the whole is more accepting of LGBT issues than ever before.
The positive trend for LGBT people were not universal in the study, with Catholic churches exhibiting somewhat less acceptance of gay and lesbian members in 2012 than in 2006. When asked, Chaves told HuffPost he believed the decrease may be correlated to an "increased salience" of homosexuality in the Catholic Church as evidenced by the recent firings of gay teachers in parochial schools and Catholic organizations.
While the Catholic Church's stance on homosexuality remains seated in the somewhat vague but hopeful words of Pope Francis, "Who am I to judge?", other church bodies have taken more definitive action to promote LGBT equality. In June the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted in a landmark decision to allow same-sex marriages, following in the footsteps of the U.S. Episcopal Church which made the same decision two years prior.
“The increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians is a well-known trend in America,” Chaves said in a Duke press release. “Churches are no exception.”
Seven men arrested for participating in a viral video said to show Egypt's first gay wedding have never had gay sex, according to an arbitrary, unscientific "medical" examination performed by Egyptian forensics authorities.
Egyptian authorities arrested seven men earlier this week after a video of what appears to be a same-sex wedding held in April went viral. Those arrested faced charges of "incitement to debauchery" and "publishing indecent images," according to several news reports.
However, doctors in Cairo who reportedly examined the men declared that those arrested have "tested negative" for homosexuality, according to U.K. LGBT outlet Pink News. Because of this, the men could see the charges against them dropped.
Although details on the nature of the test were unavailable, such examinations — which are commonplace in countries with strict antigay laws — likely included rectal examinations intended to determine if the men had anal sex with other men. Human rights groups and global health authorities have condemned such procedures as purposeless and dehumanizing.
“According to inspection, the seven suspects have never had sex with other men,” Pink News quoted Egyptian Forensic Authority spokesman Hisham Abdel-Hamid, as saying.
A man who claimed he was on the boat traveling the Nile River where the video was purportedly shot called into a popular Egyptian talk show, hosted by a noted homophobe named Tamer Amin, The Washington Post's Worldviews Blog reports. The man, who did not provide his name, said the entire affair is a misunderstanding about a birthday party on a boat and a video of a joke about a ring. He said the "misunderstanding" has ruined his life.
According to the Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, only 5 percent of Egyptians believe their society should accept homosexuality.
Women's colleges are revisiting policies around enrolling transgender students as institutions of higher learning — single-sex, coed and those with religious affiliations — demonstrate varying degrees of acceptance for changing norms.
Mills College in Oakland, California, recently became the first U.S. women's college to declare it would accept undergraduate applications from "self-identified women" and people "assigned female at birth who do not fit into the gender binary," effective the semester that starts January 2015.
Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, followed with a similar announcement last week. Administrators at other prominent women's colleges also are weighing changes.
The discussions are, in part, an acknowledgment that thoughts on gender are evolving. Student activists have been steadily pushing for colleges to make changes, and some schools have altered applications to allow applicants to select "transgender" as a third option for gender or given them the option to discuss their gender identity in a short essay.
"What it means to be a woman isn't static," says Mount Holyoke President Lynn Pasquerella, who announced the admissions policy change at the college's convocation ceremony. "Early feminists argued that reducing women to their biological functions was a foundation of women's oppression. We don't want to fall back on that."
Other institutions, however, want to place limits on those students once they arrive on campus, including what sports they can play, which bathrooms they can use and where they can live.
Simpson University, Spring Arbor University and George Fox University are among the Christian colleges that have recently received a religious exemption from Title IX, the federal law banning gender-based discrimination in education.
Pasquerella says her college's decision represents a counterpoint of sorts to those actions.
"It's part of a national conversation," she said. "When you have Time magazine with (transgender actress) Laverne Cox on the cover and The New York Times running articles on transgender issues almost every week, it's part of mainstream discourse."
The policy shifts have not been fully embraced within Mount Holyoke's extended community. Some alumnae voiced their displeasure on the college's Facebook page following the announcement.
"Mount Holyoke is a women's college, and it should admit women. Period. Full stop," wrote Pamela Adkins, a Tampa, Florida, resident who graduated from Mount Holyoke in 1979.
In a follow up email, she said: "There are plenty of other places for people who are not women to go, and they should go there. Don't negate the reasons Mount Holyoke was founded and for what it has been known since 1837: providing a superlative college education — for women."
Pasquerella acknowledged the detractors, but she said current students have been overwhelmingly supportive.
Jennie Ochterski, a female senior and an organizer for Open Gates, a student group that had helped push for the admissions policy change, says she doesn't believe excluding trans women from admission fits with Mount Holyoke's mission.
Marilyn Hammond, president of the Women's College Coalition, said she expects many of the 47 women's colleges in the U.S. and Canada will eventually develop formal admission policies on transgender students.
She dismissed the notion that such policies dilute the mission of women's colleges, many of which were founded at a time when higher learning institutions were largely closed to women.
"This is consistent with women's colleges' missions and historic willingness to address issues of diversity, inclusion and social justice," Hammond said.
Transgender student activists are elated by the developments, which they say are long overdue. At the same time, they acknowledge there are bigger hurdles.
"We must be wary of policies being thought of as actual change," says Eli Erlick, a transgender female at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, who says she might have considered applying to a women's college had the admissions changes happened earlier. "No policy will change transphobic attitudes."
Calliope Wong, a transgender female who garnered national headlines last year when she disclosed that Smith College had refused to review her application, says the debate over women's college admissions can help highlight the myriad challenges transgender people face.
"Hopefully this leads to changes in attitudes in general," said the University of Connecticut sophomore. "So that more people realize we do face employment discrimination and that we do have issues with legal representation and health care coverage."