It’s true. The Bible actually instructs people on the exact way to test if a god is real. I give you, Isaiah 41:21 – 23:
21 Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob.
22 Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.
23 Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.
To find out if a god is real, you test it and allow the evidence to inform your belief. The Biblical test you are commanded to use is that you see if your god will tell you what’s going to happen in the future. Additionally, your god should also suspend the laws of nature for your test by zapping a good or bad thing into existence. In a surprising turn of events, the Bible and Christopher Hitchens actually seem to agree!
It seems to get worse for those who believe in a god on faith alone. If you find that your god didn’t give you the lotto numbers, you are an abomination! Isaiah 41:24:
24 Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you.
So, if your god won’t allow you to test it and you still believe in it, you are an abomination. Wow. I take it back. Maybe the Bible and Hitchens don’t actually agree. Hitchens was never this strident in his condemnation of belief without reason!
I’ve emphasized the word “seems” because the Bible – in an awesome do what I say, not what I do moment – gave one additional test rule that only applies to those who believe in the god Yahweh Elohim:
Luke 4:12 “… Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”1
As Sam Harris would say, “This is how you play tennis without the net.”2
So, if you believe in Thor on faith alone, you are an abomination because your beliefs should be based in logic and reason and if you don’t believe in Yahweh Elohim because you find no compelling evidence to justify that belief you’re a sinner and a fool; you’re a corrupt, vile evildoer… and a cannibal… who has an anxiety disorder. 3
1.) Jesus is referring to Deuteronomy 6:16 – “Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.”
2.)“Nine million children die every year before reaching the age of five. Imagine the Asian tsunami of 2004 occurring every day, killing only children under five. Think of their parents. Most of them believe in God and are praying for their children. Their prayers will not be answered. According to Dr Craig, this is part of God’s plan. Most of these, Craig believes, are going to hell through no fault of their own, being born into the wrong culture. There are 1.2 billion in India who, according to Dr Craig, are doomed no matter how good they are, and will be tortured in hell for eternity. So God created the cultural isolation of the Hindus, and created the penalty for this ignorance, eternal conscious torment in fire. On the other hand, a run of the mill serial killer who rapes and kills children, need only come to Jesus on death row, and he will spend eternity in heaven. This vision of life has absolutely nothing to do with moral accountability. We’re told that God is loving and kind and just etc, but when people point out that God visits suffering on innocent people, we’re told that God is mysterious. This is how you play tennis without the net.”
3.) Psalm 14:1 – 4 – 6 “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. 2 The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. 4 Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the Lord. 5 But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous. 6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.”
The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACoT) is upset because students who are preacher-programmed homo/transphobes can no longer strut the Tennessee school hallways damning GLBT people to hell due to Tennessee’s anti-bullying law. On their website, FACoT claims:
Tennessee law contains several provisions designed to prevent bullying in schools. These provisions define what constitutes bullying; require school districts to adopt policies prohibiting bullying; and encourage districts to implement prevention programs. However, some provisions as well as current district policies can lead to: (1) some students receiving less protection from bullying than other students; (2) students being prevented from expressing unpopular or religiously-based viewpoints; and (3) a district implementing an anti-bullying program that promotes a political agenda.
Ah, the intolerance of intolerance is intolerance argument… Fear not haters of equality, FACoT is here to make sure that obnoxious religious bigots can never (by act of law) be called a bully. Yes, you see, stopping religious bigots from taunting GLBT kids with visions of eternal torture is actually an act of bullying because not only does it limit a bully’s right to be as obnoxious as they like under any condition, for a religious bigot, informing others of their sinful ways is part of their religious practice. See? Intolerance of intolerance is indeed intolerance!
According to FACoT’s site, bullying against GLBT kids isn’t actually a problem anyway:
84.6% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1% reported being physically harassed and 18.8% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
63.7% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.2% reported being physically harassed and 12.5% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression.
72.4% heard homophobic remarks, such as “faggot” or “dyke,” frequently or often at school.
Nearly two-thirds (61.1%) of students reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, and more than a third (39.9%) felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
29.1% of LGBT students missed a class at least once and 30.0% missed at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns, compared to only 8.0% and 6.7%, respectively, of a national sample of secondary school students.
Digging past the fact that 9 out of 10 GLBT kids are bullied to instead represent that the EXACT OPPOSITE is true (9 out of 10 are NOT bullied) really says something about the True Christian (TM) character of FACoT. I mean, the diligence it must have taken to read through all of those reports of suicide, depression, assault and abuse to find that one statistic to be used on FACoT’s website must have taken a constitution that would make Simon Legree blush. Bravo, FACoT… bravo!
So, to ensure that bullies the religiously pious are protected from bullying bigot-ophobes, Tennessee Republicans have introduced Senate Bill 760 and its House counterpart, House Bill 1153. Yes, REPUBLICAN Senator Jim Tracy and his House counterpart REPUBLICAN Representative Vance Dennis introduced these bills to make sure that, as the bills both state:
… “creating a hostile educational environment” would not include discomfort and unpleasantness that can accompany the expression of a viewpoint or belief that is unpopular, not shared by other students, or not shared by teachers or school officials.
This is great news for white supremacist Christians who believe in the Curse of Ham. After this bill becomes law, they’ll be able to express their “unpopular” views on segregation.
“The curse which Noah pronounced upon Canaan was the origin of the black race.” – Jehovah’s Witnesses
“We know the circumstances under which the posterity of Ham were cursed with what we call Negroid racial characteristics.” – Mormon Church
“The Scriptural basis on which we are implored to intact this legislation… I find none.” US Senator Robert Byrd (and Klan member) speaking against desegregation
Just because the above religious views might be “unpopular, not shared by other students, or not shared by teachers or school officials“, under this new “Save The Bullies” law, students will be able to express their faith viewpoint or belief that whites are the superior race in school without facing disciplinary actions.
Also, Christians who believe in the inerrant teachings of Matthew 5:17 and Leviticus 15:19-30 will at long last be able to express their faith viewpoint or belief on menstruation as well!
Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Jesus instructs his followers to uphold Old Testament laws)
Leviticus 15:19-30:19 When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. 20Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. 21Anyone who touches her bed will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 22 Anyone who touches anything she sits on will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 23 Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, they will be unclean till evening. 24 If a man has sexual relations with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days; any bed he lies on will be unclean. 25 When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. 26 Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. 27 Anyone who touches them will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 28 When she is cleansed from her discharge, she must count off seven days, and after that she will be ceremonially clean. 29 On the eighth day she must take two doves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 30 The priest is to sacrifice one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement for her before the LORD for the uncleanness of her discharge.
Just because the above faith viewpoint or belief might be “unpopular, not shared by other students, or not shared by teachers or school officials“, under this new “Save The Bigots” law, students will be able to freely inquire into the uterine lining status of any female at school without facing disciplinary actions.
Thank you Tennessee Republicans for being the vanguard of all faith-based values:
Here’s the Texas Republican leadership in all its glory. This is the guy Texas Republicans believe to be the embodiment of Texas Republicanism… so much so that they made sure that he became the longest continuously serving current U.S. governor. Moreover, since this is what Republicanism looks like he was elected TWICE to lead the Republican Governors Association.
Remember, Rick Perry is ‘Bush teh 2nd‘. Republicans love leaders like this and they keep electing them. Perry is just like Bush and Republicans ‘elected’ Bush president TWICE… and look where it got us. I’m hoping that the American electorate is beginning to grasp that Reagan Republicans are America’s political heroin.
Each time it’s supposed to be different, imirite? You take another Republican hit thinking that this time it will be different; this time Republicanism will bring you that high you’ve been chasing since 1980. What happens? All you get is another war, more failed and debunked trickle down economics, more tax hikes for the non-uber rich, more national debt, more growth of the government, more government erosion of privacy rights, more cutbacks on social safety networks and, of course, more deregulation that leads to crap like the S&L debacle (that my grandmother lost her life savings from) and the collapse of the American banking industry under its own unregulated greed.
Republicanism = FAIL
Yes, yes, yes… we all know about the logic loop running in the heads of the Republican electorate: “Teh herp deregulation derp Solyndra herp derp Obamacare derp death panels herp birth certificate derp 9-9-9 (!1!) an Mixercans wall + drill!!!!!!!!!111″ No need to repeat it here.
Oh, I get it; you’re different than a Bush Republican because you’re pro Ron “the earth is 6000 years old an teh gov’t should teach god in schools” Paul. Yes, yes, yes… go put your head down and let the grown ups talk.
This is Ron Paul:
The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life. The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance. Throughout our nation’s history, churches have done what no government can ever do, namely teach morality and civility. Moral and civil individuals are largely governed by their own sense of right and wrong, and hence have little need for external government. This is the real reason the collectivist Left hates religion: Churches as institutions compete with the state for the people’s allegiance, and many devout people put their faith in God before putting their faith in the state. Knowing this, the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage. Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war.
Paul, here’s a little Thomas Payne – you know, the guy responsible for the American Revolution:
“The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun.”
“Each of those churches show certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. The Jews say, that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say, that their word of God came by divine inspiration: and the Turks say, that their word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from Heaven. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.”
“All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”
“The age of ignorance commenced with the Christian system.”
“Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid, or produces only atheists and fanatics.”
I could make this blog post huge and quote the anti-Christain feelings of everyone from John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington to James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Their feelings on a government based upon so-called Christian ideals is complete BS and Ron Paul – like Bush 2 and every Republican hoping to run for the Presidency – wants to turn American into a theocracy. Ron Paul is just more of the same political heroin.
Lastly to hit the point home, there’s the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli – conceived of under the Washington administration, signed by President John Adams, read aloud on the floor of the Senate, copies were given to each and every Senator, passed unanimously by the Senate (only the 3rd unanimous vote of almost 400 senate votes) and published in the American newspapers, without public outcry:
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”
Lastly, if you’re pro-GLBT equality and you’re supporter of Republicanism, you’re a hypocrite. Here’s why.
Some claim that the reason transsexual people have not yet gained full equality under the law is that there exists a word that is inclusive of both transsexuals with crossdressers: “transgender”. In their minds, it is this tangential connection to the crossdresser – not the oppressive system – that’s the problem. How rooted in the historical record is this sentiment?
Consider the following 52 year-old newspaper article from 1959:
Some Things Worry You About World
The story of the Miami housewife who, it turned out, had once been a man, was a shocker. But not just because it involved sex surgery.
After all, if science can correct such mistakes of nature as the absence of hair or decay of teeth, or dimming eyesight or fading hearing, it is only reasonable to expect such physiological fillips as this.
The minister who performed the marriage ceremony for this former boy who is not a girl “was shocked,” to learn the story.
“I’m going to call my doctor and get some tranquilizers,” said the Rev. A. H. Stainback. “I wonder what the deacons will say.”
It is not the trans-sexuals and transvedtites that cause us worry about the world. It is ministers who, in time of crisis, reach for tranquilizers rather than prayer and worry about what, not the Lord, but the deacons will say.
- The Hutchinson News, Page 4, Tues, Nov 17, 1959
Remember that just months before this article came out, trans women had been rioting in the streets for their rights in the Dewey’s Riots of LA. It was still illegal to do one’s real-life test throughout America due to anti-crossdressing laws. As this article highlights, during this time there were consequences for being out of the closet.
I personally find it interesting that even back then, wherever I see anti-equality measures pushed (from pro-slavery initiatives to chauvinism), I will inevitably find the a fundamentalist’s fingerprints all over the effort. I, like the author of this article, am very clear about where the oppression I face comes from and it’s not coming from my non-transsexual brothers and sisters.
The Circleville Herald, July 11, 1934: Sex Change for Youth Turned Down By Parents
ST. CLAIRSVILLE, July 11 — Parents of Glen and John Deltrich, 16 and 17-year-old brothers, who are expected to die within a year because of a strange paralysis which strikes only male members of the family, today refused to allow their sons to become subjects of “sex change” experiments.
The suggestion had been made that the brothers be sterilized and then be inoculated with a serum that would develop female characteristics in the boys and perhaps prolong their lives.
Glen and John, their bodies twisted into contorted shapes, are victims of a mysterious hereditary spinal paralysis that has claimed the lives of seven other members of the Deitrich family in ‘the past three generations.
Because the disease strikes only male members of the family, the “sex change” experiments were suggested. Victims of ‘the malady, in the past, always have died at the age of 18 years.
Many doctors have offered to treat the boys but a clinic of 50 famous surgeons once was unable to determine the cause of the disease nor check it.
I appreciate the suggestions and help of ‘the medical profession regarding my children,” said Mrs. Deitrich, “but now they are about through with their suffering and I will let God handle the matter and net doctors who couldn’t help them in their youth. Particularly am I against sex-change ideas.”
Anyone have any ideas on what this mystery illness was supposed to have been that would be cured by a “sex change”? I mean, I can think of a ton of jokes to make about this, but I’d be interested in learning what they hell these doctors were thinking.
I find it an interesting testament to the patriarchal system of the 1930s that these parents would rather that their boys die than life long lives as women. While I’m guessing that this presumed cure may have just been quackery, that’s not the point. The point is that the parents were given 2 choices: their kids could be male and die or be female and live and they chose to not take the step that would supposedly save the lives of their children because, to them, apparently death was the better option.
Over the past week, I’ve struggled with the best way to recount the long and sometimes painful story of how Houston’s Covenant House youth shelter began supporting Houston’s homeless transgender youth population. My own history as an advocate within the transgender community is directly tied to Covenant House’s refusal to shelter homeless transgender youth. I believe it was in 1999 that Brenda Thomas brought a homeless trans youth to me and explained that Covenant House had just thrown the kid out due to her inability to act like a boy. I took the youth to the GLBT Community Center when it was located at 803 Hawthorne and began calling local homeless shelters only find that all of them banned transgender people.
My response was to get angry. I organized a rather large, vocal and embarrassing (to Covenant House) community response and they finally agreed to allow Brenda Thomas and I to train the Covenant House staff about the needs of the transgender population and how they, as a service provider, might best address those needs in the least disruptive way possible. The day we offered the training, we were asked that we tone down the community outcry while they worked to address their policy issues – which we naively did.
As soon as we took the heat off, Covenant House went back to conducting business as usual and stopped returning our calls. In fact, they refused to meet with me for a number of years. Then, five years later, the Montrose Counseling Center basically experienced the same song and dance with Covenant House. Throughout the years, I’ve watched one young life after another destroyed because Covenant House refused to work with the homeless transgender youth population.
Fast-forward to June 11, 2010
After 10+ years of watching our youth be thrown away by this organization, the trans community redoubled its efforts. Unknown to Covenant House, the trans community had become far more politically savvy since we last went toe-to-toe a decade ago. We were able to get a Houston City Council member to broker a meeting with the Covenant House Executive Director. Additionally, we were able to have another Houston City Council member attend this meeting. The last time the trans community had engaged Covenant House, were were fairly unorganized. This time, we showed up to the table with an engagement plan and political muscle.
During the meeting, Covenant House vigorously denied that any queer youth had ever been mistreated, bullied or denied services. However, after some intense questioning by Councilwoman Jolanda Jones, the Covenant House Director/CEO Rhonda Robinson admitted that Covenant House had no policy whatsoever concerning the equal treatment GLBT youth and that equal treatment was, in fact, discretionary for staff. Under pressure, Director Robinson promised to forward relevant Covenant House policy to the meeting attendees so that we could assist her in creating policy that would protect GLB and specifically TG youth.
Unsurprisingly, weeks and then months went by without any action on the part of Covenant House. Sticking to their decade-old playbook, Covenant House continued to completely ignore all of our correspondence and attempts to reengage in a dialogue.
Fortunately for our queer homeless youth, we were prepared this time. Council member Jolanda Jones stood squarely behind the trans community and took on Covenant House. Additionally, Josephine Tittsworth brought the gravitas of the National Association of Social Workers to the table. Darin and I represented the Transgender Foundation of America and brought our contacts, networks and community action machine to the table.
August 24, 2010
Dear Director Robinson,
Greetings. This letter is a follow up to the meeting on July 6, 2010, at the Houston Covenant House. You informed the attendees that by July 19, 2010, you would provide the Transgender Foundation of America (TFA) with Policies and Procedures as it applies to Intake, Assessment, Placement, and Discipline regarding transgender youth. We were also to be notified on a follow-up meeting to discuss solutions.
To date, it is my understanding, the TFA has received nothing from you as promised. I have checked with my staff and have also looked into my files and have no indication/evidence that any of this information was carbon copied to and/or received by my office. If you sent the afore-referenced information to my office and my office has somehow misplaced it, please resend it as soon as possible. If you have not sent the information, I look forward to it within the next seven (7) days.
To that end, I look very forward to your expeditious response to this correspondence as you are well over a month late on the promised information. Most importantly this is a very important matter and dignified treatment of transgender youth is a cause we should all be committed to. Receipt of this information is the first step to resolution of this matter.
The People Are the City,
Jolanda “Jo” Jones
City Council Member
At-Large Position 5
Historically, Covenant House would simply ignore us until we got tired. So, as Emeril Lagasse might say… I kicked it up a notch
First, I contacted Josephine Tittsworth and we agreed on a specific plan of engagement. Unfortunately, it’s way too early to go into exactly what that plan was.
Afterwards, I began video taping the testimony of queer youth who had experienced problems at Covenant House. I then began collecting stories from other social service providers whose clients had bad experiences with Covenant House. Then I uploaded it all to YouTube and created a website to leak the information to the public:
You can still watch some of the video testimonials here:
Council member Jones began investigating where Covenant House got it’s money from and if any of it came from the City or HUD. While Council member Jones had been told by Covenant House that they were not funded through the City and that they did not receive HUD funding, Jones discovered that the opposite was true. But before we had a chance to take our case to Covenant House funders, a Covenant House Board member began attempting to counter my videos and posts about their treatment of queer youth online. Most significantly, this represented a the first correspondence Covenant House had with us after months of silence:
At that point, I began engaging the Covenant House representative and imediatly brought Council member Jones, the Mayor of Houston, Josephine Tittsworth and others into an email dialogue.
After a great deal of online discussion, a meeting was set on December 9, 2010 (a full half year after our initial meeting) at Council Member Jones’ office. Those who were at the June 11, 2009 meeting attended this meeting. Additionally, Chris Kerr with the Montrose Counseling Center and a representative from the Mayor’s office were in attendance.
The meeting was quite intense, to say the least. I felt that the representative for Covenant House, Andrea Moore, was somewhat taken aback with the level of frustration we expressed. While she initially towed the Covenant House line about there not being a problem at Covenant House and that no policy changes were necessary, she began to change her tune around the second hour of the meeting.
At the end of the meeting, Moore agreed to get the Covenant House Board to review and possibly accept some new GLBT inclusive policy, look into implementing a GLBT SAFE Zone and to consider if Covenant House staff should undergo more training. After the meeting, most of us felt only somewhat hopeful about any meaningful change at Covenant House. Part of what was discouraging to us was that Moore seemed reluctant to believe that Covenant House treated our homeless youth poorly. Specifically, she maintained that Covenant House staff referred to trans youth using the correct pronouns as well as their preferred names and housed trans youth according to their gender and not their birth sex. We who represented the community knew the opposite to be true and both Chris Kerr and I were particularly vocal about our skepticism. The meeting went on for around 3 hours and another meeting for February 1, 2011.
The following day, I called Covenant House as a secret shopper. I posed as a case manager who had a homeless female-to-male transgender youth she wanted to refer for services. When I asked staff what pronouns they would use, they said they would use she and her and not the gender appropriate he and him. When I asked what name they would use, they replied that it was Covenant House policy to call the trans youth by the name that’s on their ID. When I asked where the trans youth would be housed, they said that it was up to a manager to choose. All of this directly contradicted what the Covenant House representative reported to me the day before.
During my investigation, I spoke with a couple of employees. I specifically asked to speak with one particular employee because I had received complaints from trans youth about him. When he answered the phone, he proceeded to engage me in a 30-minute power game. Instead of directly answering my questions as the other Covenant House staff did, he spent the next 30 minutes evading my questions and insinuating that I was being incredibly unreasonable.
Fortunately, I had the video camera taping the entire conversation. Afterwards, I immediately sent the video to the Covenant House Board of Directors member Andrea Moore as well as the other December 9 meeting attendees.
At this point, Josephine Tittsworth moved into particularly supportive role for Covenant House. After my direct actions, Josephine helped Andrea Moore with policy revisions, resources and gentle suggestions. In the coming months or years, I might talk more about the specific way Josephine and I worked together as a team inspire Covenant House to move in a way that supported the best interests of our homeless queer and questioning youth, but it’s not appropriate to do so today.
Fast Forward to February 1, 2011
By the February meeting, Andrea Moore reported that on January 25, 2011 an inclusive policy had been approved by the Covenant House Board of Directors:
Covenant House Texas values the complexity and diversity of the world in which we live and seeks to be a community that recognizes the dignity and inherent worth of every person. Covenant House Texas is committed to the principles of fairness and respect for all and believes that a policy embodying these principles fosters a community that favors the free and open exchange of ideas and provides its residents and staff with the best environment for study, work and fellowship. Accordingly, no employee, volunteer or individual sheltered at Covenant House Texas shall willfully harass, discriminate against, or interfere with the activities or legitimate rights of any person in a way that deprives that person of due consideration as an individual.
In compliance with Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal, state and local equal opportunity laws, and in accordance with our values, Covenant House Texas will not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, disability, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender expression in any phase of its admissions, programs or activities.
The Director of Human Resources for Covenant House Texas will be the Coordinator for compliance issues pertaining to this policy. Questions or concerns regarding compliance issues should be directed to Director of Human Resources, 1111 Lovett Blvd., Houston, Texas 77006; 713-523-2231. The Federal Government resource on such issues is the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C., 20202.
1. Discrimination is an act or communication that interferes with an individual’s or a group’s ability to participate fully in Covenant House Texas’ services and programs on the basis of race, gender, disability, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or gender expression.
2. Harassment is conduct and/or verbal action which, because of its severity and/or persistence, interferes significantly with an individual’s or a group’s work or education, or adversely affects living conditions.
Harassment includes but is not limited to incitement to or threat of violence; epithets referring to race, gender, disability, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or gender expression; and/or physical conduct that is unwelcome, hostile or intimidating.
Covenant House Texas recognizes as harassment conduct and/or verbal communication that is derogatory, hostile, intimidating, threatening, “bullying,” humiliating or violent, although not necessarily illegal.
– A portion of the New Covenant House Policy
- The Houston Covenant House is now acting as a pilot program for the rest of the nation. If the new policy and programming changes go well in Houston, they will be exported to other Covenant Houses throughout the nation.
- Staff training will take place. Additionally, all staff and volunteers will receive ongoing training on GLBT issues.
- Signage had been placed in the Covenant Houses intake area welcoming transgender youth.
- A SAFE Zone will be implemented. A Safe Zone orientation training has been scheduled.
- Old Covenant House policy that banned crossdressing was repealed.
- It’s now policy that all trans youth will be referred to using proper pronouns and names (she & her for MTFs and he & him for FTMs).
- It’s now policy that all trans youth will be referred to using the name they commonly use instead of going by the name on their ID.
- It is now policy that trans youth will receive housing based upon their gender expression and not their birth sex.
- Restroom and shower facility issues were addressed in a way that we are very supportive of.
- Explicit procedure was developed for how to deal with bullying.
- Queer youth will now be able to attend off campus support groups.
There are a number of other improvements/plans that are in the works that will help ensure that queer youth feel welcomed, supported and affirmed at Covenant House. However, since they are in the development phase, I can’t yet go into them.
Another meeting is scheduled for June 1st 2011. During this meeting, we will reassess how effective the recent changes have been. Additionally, the TG Center and MCC will monitor the feedback from GLBT youth and we will assist them in filing complaints if they feel they encountered discrimination at Covenant House. During the upcoming meeting, all complaints will be reviewed and changes to the current Covenant Houses non-discrimination policy (to further protect GLBT youth) will be considered.
I am exceedingly grateful to my “partner in crime” Josephine Tittsworth. I firmly believe that without her partnership, we would have never moved forward. I am also grateful to Andrea Moore with Covenant House. When she found that there really was a need for change at Covenant House, she was willing to make it happen. Additionally, I am grateful – almost to the point of tears – to Council Member Jolanda Jones. I’ve never before encountered a political figure who went to bat for the community the way she did!
While it took more than a decade, Covenant House should be congratulated for doing the right thing. In the coming weeks, I will be reworking my Covenant House watchdog site (covhou.com) into a virtual Safe Zone for queer youth who are staying at Covenant House. As Covenant House continues forward as a safe place for our homeless youth to seek shelter, I intend on becoming a huge Covenant House supporter!
I am incredibly happy to be at the end of a decade-long battle with Covenant House. It still feels wonderfully strange to think that homeless trans youth have a place to be. I can’t express how sweet this victory is for me or how meaningful it is to our homeless youth!