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LGBTI ALMS, Amsterdam, 2012: Day 2

Very tired tonight, so I only will write about todays highlight:

Dr Saskia gave an amazing presentation on her work as a researcher with lesbian women in 3rd world countries, particularly in Indonesia. For her, the safety of her subjects was of the utmost importance. In the 80s, she was blacklisted and deported from Indonesia, and could not finish her PHd because she could not take her thesis back to the women she interviews, who had the final say0so over the information published. After all, if the government found out who these women were, they could be killed.

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LGBTI ALMS, Amsterdam, 2012: Day 1

First day of the conference, and the opening icebreaker was done by a Australian Ex-Pat who has lived in Holland for 30+ years, yet still sounded as Aussie as myself or the four outher Australians that are here (two from the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, an ex-pat living in Berlin, and someone else I have not met yet).

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Out in Perth: “Banned in Bunbury”

Published in Out in Perth, Issue 132, July 2012. p. 12

Banned in Bunbury

On Friday, June 6th, four members of the Cross Campus Queer Network drove from Perth to Bunbury to speak to a group of students at Bunbury SHS, invited by student Owen Bandura, and approved by the principal Craige Pettit. It was only upon arrival that the CCQN representatives were informed that the talk on bullying and homophobia awareness had been cancelled by the administration, stating parental concerns for the inclusion of politics in a public school environment. With more than 100 people attending on the Facebook group, Pettit also felt there was the potential for violence at the talk.

Bandara, who is actually straight, felt compelled to organise the talk after attending the May 12 Rally for Marriage Equality. He had seen a number of his peers bullied and harassed for their sexuality, and felt it was his responsibility to stand up for all his classmates. Bandura said “It just pissed me off walking around school and Bunbury that people said things so readily without knowing what they were talking about, to see my friends being generalised. I just got so furious with people’s views and words of hate. I myself may not be gay, but this became a reason to fight for and defend”.

Since the cancellation, it has become apparent that a number of parents had complained about the non-compulsorily talk, some even threatening to remove their child from the school. It is also believe that the town mayor also contacted the school to voice his opinion. It should also be noted that the City of Bunbury website lists “mutual respect and inclusiveness” as one of Mayor Smith’s main interests.

Although Bandura planned on circulating a partition for marriage equality, of the four speakers who had travelled from Perth that morning, none had planned to mention any specific political viewpoints in their presentations. Instead, the topic covered included bullying, suicide and depression, invisibility, exclusion as well as diverse sexuality and gender.

Equal Right and Queerphobia Awareness talk will be on at ECU Bunbury, Tuesday, July 17 from 1.30pm-2.30pm, Building 6, Room 101

Suzie Day

CCQN Co-Convenor, 2012

Are your internet filters anti-gay?

Originaly posted at the Voices of the Pinnacle Foundation

Everyone has their own opinions regarding internet censorship. Whether it be nation-wide, at the office or school, or even in home, restricting access to information is a big deal.

In Australia, many schools don’t cover issues specific to youth with diverse gender and sexuality. Things like safer-sex is brushed over, or ignored completely. It is because of this that many young people at turning to the internet to get the kind of education their straight peers receive as a matter of course. For some, their home computer is fine. For others, their online privacy at home may be compromised for a number of reasons (shared computer, parental filters, public location). For many, their library computer is the next step.

Removing this access has a number of negative results. This can mean that our youth are prevented from connecting with the wider LGBTQ community, or finding out where else they can access information or support services. It can also be dangerous when such filters block information regarding safe sex. Perhaps most importantly, allowing these filters to block any reference to sexuality reinforces to vulnerable youth an idea that they are second class or abnormal, which is highly damaging to self-esteem and mental health.

Earlier this year, a high school in Missouri, USA, was busted for having internet filters which allowed students access to plenty of anti-gay content, while blocking websites which provided a positive or supportive view. This is not uncommon. All too often, websites like Exodus International is classified as ‘religious’ content, but pro-gay websites are listed as containing information of a sexual nature.

This form of discrimination is particularly difficult to spot, as users need to actively seek such information to discover its absence, rather than it being spotted in passing. But it exists, and everyone should be aware of the dangers of both free and commercial internet filter.

Want to see just how biased your internet filters are? Take a look at these links, and see just how many from either end of the spectrum have been blocked at your school, work and home.

Anti-gay websites

Exodus International
People Can Change
Living Waters Ministries

– provides information on “conversion therapy”
Bowers v. Hardwick

– A 1986 Supreme Court ruling that upheld a Georgia statute criminalizing sodomy

Westboro Baptist Church
Klu Klux Klan

-Notorious American hate-groups

Positive LGBTQ websites
Human Rights Campaign

Equal Love -Campaigns for marriage equality

GLSEN -Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

LAWRENCE et al. v. TEXAS – The 2003 Supreme Court ruling that held that laws in the US criminalizing sodomy were unconstitutional

Whosoever – An online magazine for LGBTQ Christians


Day 3: Multi-storied @ Adelaide Convention Centre

Mem Fox and Eoin Colfer

It was an absolutely fantastic morning. The first two speakers were Mem Fox and Eoin Colfer. Both are amazingly funny speakers, and I was so engaged that I wrote very little.

Fox spent much time talking about children’s literacy, and was very scathing about levelled readers, almost always used in primary schools. It was interesting to note that she doesn’t consider levelled readers to be ‘real’ books. She even went so far to tell a teacher to “Bugger the curriculum, give the kids REAL books!”

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Day 2: Multi-Storied @ Adelaide Convention Centre

The opening and welcome was by author, Phil Cummings, who not only shared with us tales of his childhood, growing up in rural South Australia. He also serenaded us with his guitar, singing his song, Take me Back. The song spoke of red dust, and the smell of rain, before it starts to storm. It made me so homesick for my hometown of Kalgoorlie. He told stories of catching tadpoles in his local dam, swimming in the creak when it rained. These are stories of my childhood. And it made me think, just how universal stories like this are, how timeless. While I have never read Danny Allen was Here and Take it Easy, Danny Allen¸(Mr Cumming’s children’s books), I defiantly plan on it. This year, the man who wrote I was only Nineteen turned Mr Cummings books into a suit of songs for the Adelaide Festival, some of which were performed by the Adelaide Children’s choir (?) at the opening. They were amazing!

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Day 1: Multi Storied @ Adelaide Convention Centre

I have never been to Adelaide, so I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived in Adelaide yesterday, for the 2012. And after one day in this city, you know what my biggest impression is? The hills. As a wheelchair user, all I can think is that whoever decided to build Adelaide on the side of a hill was a bloody idiot. You know how most people get sore feet at the end of a long day? I get sore arms.

To kick off the conference was the launch of Roseanne Haweking new book, Mountain Wolf. Normally I don’t purchase books without reading them first, or at least being a big fan of the author already. However, this book is a YA novel, about a tribal Pakistani boy, orphaned by an earthquake, who is sold into slavery in a city brothel. As a Salvationist, this is a very real issue for me. Recently, after petition, Lindt and Ferrero have committed themselves to eliminating child slave labour from their production line. 

Had an overpriced dinner at a nearby pub, and went back to my room ro watch Glee, and be very successful at not sleeping

How Pinnacle helped me build my library

Originally posted at the Voices of the Pinnacle Foundation, on Wednesday April 25, 2012

I had to leave home for uni, because my family home was in Kalgoorlie, more than 600km from Curtin University, in Perth. Having wanted to be a librarian since a small child, where I studied was non-negotiable, so I was always expecting to need to leave home. However, as I spent my gap year using up my savings in Europe as a Rotary Exchange Student, I had nothing left when I eventually moved to the big bad city, to start my new life. My parents have always been low income earners, and could barely support me. It was because of this I started applying for every scholarship I could lay my eyes on.

Among them was the Pinnacle Foundation. I applied for enough funds for a new computer, textbooks, and software. I cannot say how relieved I was. I knew this scholarship was going to help me get through uni, I didn’t realise it was going to change my life.

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