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Gay And Transgender Students And Teachers Could Be ‘Turned Away’ From Australian Schools

prideRecommendations from a review into religious freedom in Australia could lead to gay and transgender students, and teachers, being rejected from Australian schools.  Following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in December 2017 in the country, the Australian government ordered a review into religious freedom. The review hoped to address concerns of religious communities and conservative MPs

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Recommendations from a review into religious freedom in Australia could lead to gay and transgender students, and teachers, being rejected from Australian schools. 

Following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in December 2017 in the country, the Australian government ordered a review into religious freedom.

The review hoped to address concerns of religious communities and conservative MPs who feared the change would restrict people’s ability to practise their religion freely.

It was carried about by a panel chaired by former attorney-general Philip Ruddock, and received more than 15,000 submissions.

PA

A report from the review was given to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s cabinet four months ago, and recommended the federal Sex Discrimination Act to be amended in order to allow religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of religious belief, sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status, the Sunday Morning Herald reports.

The panel agreed faith-based schools should have some discretion to discriminate in the hiring of teachers on the same grounds, though religious schools already have some exemptions from discrimination laws when it comes to hiring teachers.

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LGBT groups argued the recommendations by telling the panel about the stress and mental health pressure on teachers forced to hide their identity.

The report explained:

[An] example was given of an employee at a religious school who was employed despite being open about being same-sex attracted.

Later, when the leadership of the school changed, that teacher was dismissed on the basis of his sexuality.

The report also stated:

There is a wide variety of religious schools in Australia and … to some school communities, cultivating an environment and ethos which conforms to their religious beliefs is of paramount importance.

To the extent that this can be done in the context of appropriate safeguards for the rights and mental health of the child, the panel accepts their right to select, or preference, students who uphold the religious convictions of that school community.

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The report is still being reviewed by the cabinet, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a statement about the recommendations today (October 10), saying:

Our government will consider the details and release our response after it has gone through a proper cabinet process.

We will protect religious freedom, and get the balance right. Each proposal will be considered carefully and respectfully before any final decisions are taken.

The report added that if the recommended laws were to be enforced, amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act should only apply to new enrolments in schools.

Pride AustraliaGetty

The schools in question should also have a publicly available policy outlining their position on discriminating against students and teachers and should regard the best interests of the child as the ‘primary consideration of its conduct’.

The review does not recommend any changes to the Marriage Act or suggest a dedicated Religious Freedom Act, and the panel did not accept that businesses should be allowed to refuse services on religious grounds.

The panel said that refusing services would ‘unnecessarily encroach on other human rights’ and ‘may cause significant harm to vulnerable groups’.

Morrison said religious freedom laws are needed to safeguard the ability to express faith.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via stories@unilad.co.uk

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LGBT

Royal Family Just Had It’s First Ever Same-Sex Wedding

royal familyThe Royal Family have had their first same-sex wedding.  The Queen’s cousin Lord Ivar Mountbatten married his partner James Coyle on Saturday (September 22) two years after coming out. Lord Ivar is a divorced father of three, who married his ex-wife Penny 24 years ago. The pair remain on good terms – so much so that Penny

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The Royal Family have had their first same-sex wedding. 

The Queen’s cousin Lord Ivar Mountbatten married his partner James Coyle on Saturday (September 22) two years after coming out.

Lord Ivar is a divorced father of three, who married his ex-wife Penny 24 years ago. The pair remain on good terms – so much so that Penny gave him away at his wedding on Saturday.

Lord Ivar and James exchanged rings and vows in front of 60 guests made up of family and friends, including Lord Ivar’s three daughters.

The ceremony took place in a private chapel at Bridwell Park, a Grade I-listed mansion near the village of Uffculme in Devon where Lord Ivar and Penny raised their children.

Sharing a picture with his old and new partners on Instagram, Lord Ivar wrote:

Future and former spouses. My daughters decided it was only right their Mum should walk me down the aisle and give me away to James. Here’s hoping he won’t say no at the last minute.

No immediate members of the royal family attended the wedding, but Lord Ivar and James received lots of good wishes, including a congratulations from Prince Edward, Lord Ivar’s lifelong friend.

Speaking of Prince Edward and wife Sophie, Lord Ivar explained:

Their diaries are arranged months in advance and they were not free, but they adore James.

The newly married couple’s honeymoon has been pushed back to later in the year, with its destination yet to be decided.

The wedding celebrations were spread over the weekend, with a welcome dinner for 30 guests on Friday night before the ceremony itself on Saturday afternoon.

Guests had dinner in the orangery, where speeches were made and dances were danced.

Instead of accepting gifts, the couple asked guests to make a donation to spinal injury charity Regain.

Lord Ivar explained the couple’s decision to marry:

I suppose if we had met ten years ago a civil partnership would have been nice, but now that marriage between a man and a man is legal it seems the right thing to do.

I have had the whole marriage thing — and been very happy — but James hasn’t, so I see it as a validation of my love for him.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to stories@unilad.co.uk. 

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Transgender Man Shares Unrecognisable Photos Before And After Transition

Jaimie Wilson is a talented musician, a DJ, a successful model – and a fully transitioned female to male member of the LGBT community. The 22-year-old, from Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States, has shared his transition journey online and, in the process, has become an empowered poster boy for transgender rights. Jaimie spoke to UNILAD about

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Jamie Wilson

Jaimie Wilson is a talented musician, a DJ, a successful model – and a fully transitioned female to male member of the LGBT community.

The 22-year-old, from Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States, has shared his transition journey online and, in the process, has become an empowered poster boy for transgender rights.

Jaimie spoke to UNILAD about his mission to debunk the short-sighted societal myths surrounding transgender people – and told the story behind his incredible transition.

Jaimie first realised he was born into the wrong body when he was just 15-years-old and studying in high school. He learnt the hard way that ‘being yourself is better than being the person people want you to be.’

Raised in a conservative American household, Jaimie was forced to hide his pain for his own safety.

He told UNILAD:

When I was 15 I knew for a fact that I was male. But because I grew up in a very conservative religious household I had to put my identity and feelings aside until I was able to be on my own. I knew the situation would not have been good, or safe, if I came out that young.

Supplied/Jaimie Wilson

Jaimie recalled the extent of his deception, into which he was forced by the ignorance and transphobia of his own flesh and blood.

He remembers:

I would go to the store and shop in the men’s section. I took every opportunity I had to put on masculine clothing and stare into the mirror.

I had a drawer in my bedroom in which I kept all my masculine clothes, and I’d carefully put a layer of feminine clothes over top so that if my parents went through my room they wouldn’t find them.

Jaimie admitted to finding the task of confronting his gender frightening, explaining that he ‘had to bury his feelings’.

He elaborated:

Honestly, it was extremely scary because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to transition.

I thought it was something I would have to live with for the rest of my life. I didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling because I was afraid of losing everyone.

Supplied/Jaimie Wilson

But in a bid to normalise the process of gender reassignment and quash ignorance, Jaimie has bravely shared his journey with his followers on Instagram in a series of candid photographs.

Through his music, the 22-year-old has also found a creative outlet with which to express his feelings, both good and bad.

The singer-songwriter transitioned at the age of 18 when he found himself ‘more excited to be alone than around anyone’, adding, ‘When I was alone I was able to dress and look how I wanted to… I was me.’

Jaimie recounted undergoing gender reassignment surgery, saying:

Transitioning for me physically was the best feeling. I remember cutting my long hair off and how, although the world remained the same, it felt like a whole new one!

Emotionally I felt content, and noticed my social anxiety and stress level sort of just disappeared. I became a more happy and lively person. I became me.

The hormone treatment quickly started to show results, Jaimie explained:

Starting hormones was such a relief in a way.

It was like living nineteen years of your life as someone else, and then getting this magical juice that makes you look, sound, and feel like who you always have envisioned in your head.

In the process of finding himself, Jaimie has lost family and friends who were unable to reconcile the outward transition from ‘the pretty popular country girl’ Jaimie once was and the man he has always been.

He explained:

I lost many friends when I first came out. I think they only feared what others would think. I came out in high school, where there is so much pressure to fit in, and being my friend wasn’t exactly viewed as normal.

I look at it this way, I only changed my appearance, so anyone who disowns me because of my transition clearly only liked me for how I looked on the outside, not who I am on the inside…because that didn’t change.

Supplied/Jaimie Wilson

As a trans activist, Jaimie is now determined to educate people, saying no matter what someone looks or sounds like their identity and gender are their own to define.

He wants people to eschew the idea that there are transgender ‘signs’, saying:

The most damaging stereotype people have of me is that I have not always “looked” the part. There are no ‘signs’ to be transgender.

It may sound crazy, but I didn’t need to ‘come to terms’ with my body. The image I had in my head for so long of how I was suppose to look was finally a reality.

I don’t feel like I was put into a new body. I just made the one I was given my home.

Since transitioning, Jaimie has received an outpouring of love from those who support his choice.

The young model has also been overwhelmed by the warm welcome from within the LGBT community, as well as the wider public.

However, he has lost the support of his relatives and claims, ‘dealing with the betrayal of my family did and still does take its toll’.

Jaimie said:

The hardest part of my transition has been losing my family. Growing up I was told that family will always accept and love one another for who they are. I had to face the facts that the things I was told growing up, and the love I was shown was false.

I remember the night I showed up at home with my hair cut and masculine clothes on, my mom said, ‘I don’t care that you like girls, but why do you have to look like this?’

That hit me pretty hard, she was essentially saying that she is only concerned with my outward appearance… Something no parent should be judging their child for, or anyone for that matter.

Jaimie has since altered his perception of what ‘true family’ really means:

Even if you were raised the same as I was, don’t think that you need to spend your entire life trying to please your family.

Be you, and a true family will love and accept you for who you are. In the end I didn’t lose family. I lost people that share the same blood as me.

While transphobia will never prevail, it is still anything but easy to grow up in a society plagued by taboos as a transgender person.

Determined to make transitioning that little bit easier for each and every individual who chooses gender reassignment, Jaimie has used social media as a platform for campaigning against stigma and transphobia.

The sad truth is, for every accepting person, there is another who may not understand what Jaimie is going through and who might blindly dismiss the trans community outright.

Jaimie is understanding of the battle that occurs in many conservative communities, saying:

I want to say that I was once like you. I was an unaccepting, close-minded person, but that’s because I was unhappy.

Do you really think I would choose this for myself? Choose to lose my family? Choose to spend thousands of dollars on gender assignment surgery and hormones? Choose to be repeatedly ridiculed?

Before you start to judge someone who is transgender or claim they are starving for attention, please stop and think about the sacrifices and hardships they go through just to be their true self.

Supplied/Jaimie Wilson

Jaimie continued with his powerful plea, enthusing:

I want people to know that I am a human being. Me being trans does not define the person I am. I am choosing to be visible not to try and force anything upon anyone.

I just know deep down that there is someone out there who could find hope in my story.

Jaimie added, ‘If my struggles help just one person be themselves I’ll endure the hate that comes along with it.’

He shared a message with the friends and families of those coming to terms with their trans status:

The best way to support a transgender individual is simply to respect them. Use proper pronouns, and truly see them for the person they are.

Look at my before and after… Just because I looked like a woman does not mean that is who I am. Believe them, acknowledge how they feel, and love them for it.

Jaimie has proven that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts, but rather the way you present yourself to the world, and the dignity and grace with which you show respect to others that really counts.

While many of us are privileged enough to feel comfortable in our own skin, we could all learn from Jaimie’s positive message.

If any of the issues raised by Jaimie’s story have affected you, please don’t suffer in silence. Contact Stonewall for further advice and help from the LGBT community.

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LGBT

Bert And Ernie Are A Gay Couple, Confirms Sesame Street Writer

bertandernie1Since 1969 Sesame Street has always, somehow, found the perfect balance between being an educational show for kids and a show with much more universal messages. For anyone who watched it as a child growing up, its characters taught you things like the alphabet and simple maths, as well as lessons about friendship, life and

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bert and ernie sesame street

Since 1969 Sesame Street has always, somehow, found the perfect balance between being an educational show for kids and a show with much more universal messages.

For anyone who watched it as a child growing up, its characters taught you things like the alphabet and simple maths, as well as lessons about friendship, life and growing up.

Sesame Street‘s cast of colourful characters, from Big Bird to Cookie Monster, Elmo to Oscar the Grouch, not only provided the show’s backbone but taught us the importance of many aspects of life, not just preschool education.

sesame streetPBS

Though its main aim was to help educate children, Sesame Street has also always been brilliant at not having to overstate or overemphasise some of its themes.

In a recent interview with Queerty, Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman has confirmed what some people may have suspected, what some people may have never questioned, and what ultimately, in my mind, doesn’t make any difference other than confirming yet another positive message within the show.

Answering the question ‘were you thinking of Bert & Ernie as a gay couple’ Mark said:

I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked “are Bert & Ernie lovers?” And that, coming from a preschooler was fun. And that got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it.

And I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were. I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie [Mark’s partner] & I as “Bert & Ernie.”

He added:

I don’t think I’d know how else to write them, but as a loving couple.

Essentially, Mark revealed that Bert and Ernie were a reflection of his relationship with his partner Arnie.

He said:

Yeah. Because how else? That’s what I had in my life, a Bert & Ernie relationship. How could it not permeate? The things that would tick off Arnie would be the things that would tick off Bert. How could it not? I will say that I would never have said to the head writer, “oh, I’m writing this, this is my partner and me.” But those two, Snuffalupagus, because he’s the sort of clinically depressed Muppet…you had characters that appealed to a gay audience.

Mark also talked about his own ‘coming out’ in the early 80s in the interview.

He said:

I think during Sesame Street was when I came completely out. By ’86 [Arnie and I] had an apartment together. My father knew. There was no hiding it.

However, introducing gay characters to Sesame Street was not as easy as just writing them in. Mark remembers pitching gay content to the education department at the time ‘just to get it off my conscience,’ as he puts it. However, he was, at first ‘stonewalled’.

But then, when writing Bert and Ernie, Mark ‘didn’t have any other way to contextualise them’, so his life with Arnie was simply and naturally reflected in the characters’ lives.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via stories@unilad.co.uk

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