Tuesday, February 21, 2017

GLSEN Protecting Our LGBTQ Youth (AUDIO)

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Dr. Jessica Toste, co-chair of the Austin, Texas chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network. GLSEN was founded in 1990 by a small dedicated group of teachers in Massachusetts who came together to improve an education system that too frequently allows its LGBTQ students to be bullied, discriminated against or fall through the cracks. Over 25 years later GLSEN has grown into the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for our LGBTQ students. GLSEN’s flagship research project the National School Climate Survey has found that 8 out of 10 LGBTQ students are still harassed at school each year because of who they are. In the past few weeks with the disturbing appointment of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, GLSEN has urged Secretary DeVos to keep in place protections for the most marginalized students including women, students with disabilities, students of color, undocumented students and LGBTQ students. Recently in Austin, Texas Senate Bill 6 was filed that would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on “biological sex” and would pre-empt local nondiscrimination ordinances that allow transgender Texans to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. We talked to Jessica about how GLSEN is dealing with the current political climate and her spin on our LGBT civil rights.

When asked how she sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in a Trump administration Dr. Toste stated, “The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have reported increases in hate crimes across the country. As we watch civil rights come under fire especially LGBTQ rights that have been hard won in the very recent past I think it’s difficult for a lot of people to stay optimistic but we aren’t done. So GLSEN is continuing the work and our friends are continuing the work and I think one thing that can help us remain optimistic is that we’re experiencing a moment in history where so many groups are being directly targeted and we really can’t afford to splinter our efforts and lose focus. We need to organize and recognize that each of our liberties is bounded up in liberties of our neighbors. We need to work together and stand together and mobilize together and take this moment for the great potential of coalition building and renewing our commitment to justice and equality.”

Dr. Jessica Toste is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education at The University of Texas at Austin and a fellow of the Reading Institute within The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk. She received her PhD in educational psychology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 2011. Her research interests are related to students with learning disabilities and effective reading interventions with a particular focus on psychosocial processes and classroom climate as determinants of school success. She has published articles and book chapters on resilience factors related to achievement and psychosocial functioning of youth at-risk. Jessica also shares GLSEN’s mission to create safe and affirming schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
For More Info: glsen.org

Monday, February 6, 2017

Abe Rybeck Making Change With The Theater Offensive

In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Abe Rybeck Founder and Executive Artistic Director of The Theater Offensive one of the nation's oldest LGBTQ theater groups based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Theater Offensive grassroots movement has been a voice for the LGBTQ community in Boston and beyond raising awareness, fighting bigotry and hate through performing arts and providing LGBTQ performers with a safe space outlet. The Theater Offensive’s mission is to present the diversity of our LGBTQ lives in art so bold it breaks through personal isolation, challenges the status quo and builds thriving communities. Last November First Lady Michelle Obama presented their youth group True Colors with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award which is the nation's highest youth humanities award. This was the first LGBTQ organization to receive this prestigious honor. We talked to Abe about the significance of his work in the current political climate and his spin on our LGBT issues.

When asked how he sees our LGBTQ community moving forward in a Trump administration Rybeck stated, “It’s so important before we say anything about that answer to remember the massive diversity of our community. Why this is so important is that in the last weeks I’ve seen a lot of rumors flying around about ‘Oh there’s going to be an anti-LGBTQ order coming out from the White House. Get ready we’re next’. We are not next, we are already under attack. Think about who we are: women, trans folks, people of color, people who want to drink clean water. That’s all of us. We are already under attack. The Theater Offensive has had Muslim employees and Muslim board members. It’s really important that we remember that these members of our community, if we’re not standing together like this, how are we calling ourselves a community? We are already under attack and The Theater Offensive the way I see it, we need to be already in action. So we’re mobilizing as part of the resistance to this. I think culture plays a vital role in resistance. Culture is part of the problem that created the situation that we’re in and it’s part of the solution. I heard a joke on Saturday Night Live which I think considers itself you know kind of progressive. There was a joke in the news segment about trans women of color or in other words the reason Trump won the election as if the reason Trump won the election was because of identity politics of LGBTQ folks. I think the opposite is true. The reason Trump won is because white supremacists grabbed on to an identity movement and went with that. And anti-gay forces grabbed on to their identity and went with it and though a minority of people in the country, a minority of voters even identified that way or support that, they organized politically in a way that they could win. I think it’s really important for us as a community to make sure we’re standing up to that and standing together against that.”

Abe Rybeck’s main work is uniting artists, neighbors, community groups and local businesses to collaborate on OUT performance work in the Boston neighborhoods. Collaborating across cultures and generations to create performance work is his favorite part of his job. Abe won the 2007 Jonathan Larson Award for musical theater for his collaboration on the book of True Colors alumna Melissa Li’s Surviving the Nian. Abe was declared one of the “Heeb 100” progressive Jewish world cultural leaders. He is proud to have received several awards from his peers in the community.
For More Info: thetheateroffensive.org