Blog Archives

Breaking the Silence – 2013

This year marks the 16th annual Breaking the Silence conference at the University of Saskatchewan, and I am (again) proud to be a member of the board working very hard to bring it to you.  This year we are focusing on the idea of finding justice and equality on and off the playing field.

As we all know, the locker room has long been a place of dread for our youth, and that doesn’t always end with high school graduation.  Join us on March 22nd and 23rd and we attempt to throw open the doors, and let a little light, and some fresh air into those dark spaces.  Our topic this year?  Clearing it Out! Removing Homophobia from the Locker Room and Beyond.

You can learn a little more at our facebook event page or at our website!  Hope to see you there.

https://www.facebook.com/events/453413428064685/?

http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/

Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence

 

…and yes, for those of you who specifically wrote on your evaluations that you’d have liked to have heard a little more from me during last years conference, this year I’ll be offering two sessions.  I do have to admit, I loved the one comment that was written in that simply stated that next year they’d like to see “More Tobi”.  😉

Wear Purple, Be Fierce!

 

Wear Purple, Be Fierce - Spirit Day in memory of those who have lost their lives because of homophobic bullying.  Wear purple, send a message of hope.

A couple funnies and a reminder to wear purple on Friday.

I’m a little beat tonight, so won’t be spending a whole lot of time on this blog post.  Figure I can share a couple of funnies some friends shared with me, and then make sure to remind you all of something important going on this Friday.  My Monday photo shoot put me on ice for a couple of days – no one could ever accuse me of being a lazy photog.  I get in there, and sometimes it means I get sore.  LOL  It’s always worth it though if it means my client has a great time, feels wonderful about themselves, and gets some amazing images to keep forever.

So here are our funnies:

http://mashable.com/2012/10/16/bodyform-facebook-rant-vide/ – a feminine product company responds to a man’s FB status.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mattbellassai/27-reasons-why-kids-are-actually-the-worst-6z51 – 27 reasons kids suck (yes tongue in cheek)

And now our reminder:

This Friday is International Wear Purple Day aka Spirit Day.  So take the pledge at http://www.glaad.org/spiritday.  Wear purple in memory of all the young people who have taken their lives or who have had their lives taken thanks to bullying.  Wear purple to show all those who are currently being bullied that you care and that you believe they matter.  Wear purple and make a statement, let the world know that you won’t stand by idly, that you will not tolerate hate.  We’ll be wearing purple, and I hope we can count on you to do the same.

 

Bluejays’ Escobar to Participate in Outreach Program

I have to give a shout out to the management team behind the Bluejays.  Today the news came out that Yunel Escobar will be receiving a three game suspension for wearing eye black with a homophobic slur scrawled into it.  The pay he would have generated during these games will be donated to You Can Play and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.  Escobar will also be undergoing sensitivity training, after which he will participate in an outreach initiative aimed at teaching others about sensitivity and tolerance towards the acronym community.

Escobar - slur in eye black

Image Source – Getty Images

You can read the official MLB article here:  http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120918&content_id=38609650&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

This was released Monday prior to today’s committee meeting:  http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120917&content_id=38585782&vkey=news_tor&c_id=tor

I’ve written about the steps being taken by Major League Baseball, and specifically certain MLB teams in the past…  and this just further demonstrates their commitment to equality.  It’s a good thing when people, so brightly spotlighted in the public arena are willing to take an obvious stand against discrimination and bullying.  All too often people report only on the negatives.  This may have become a story based on the ignorant actions of one man (who has since apologized and will be actively working to make things better) it has become a story of a team and an organization willing to do what is right, and that’s something worth noting.

Steve Dale and Cesar Millan: Whispers and Screams

For those of you who have talked dogs with me in the past (I’m fluent in canine body language, and a former professional trainer and behaviour specialist) you know how I feel about Cesar Millan – the “dog screamer”.  I’ve written articles encouraging dog folk to look elsewhere for answers to their canine dilemmas, and warned against the dangers of following this man’s advice.  I have nothing against the man personally, but I do have something against any method that harms dogs and puts negative pressure on the bond between dog and their trusted people.

So, today a fellow dog writer (and someone whom I’ve come to consider a friend over a number of years – we met online as fellow DWAA members) blogged about Cesar.  Seems he sent a rather harsh message to Steve, and just as he screams rather than whispers with dogs, it appears he communicates in much the same way with people.

Cesar Millan telling off Steve Dale

Cesar Millan and his anything-but-whispered communication style.

 

 

Some years ago now, I was sent a copy of Cesar’s three DVD training program to be reviewed for my website Nose Licks & Tail Wags – where I used to actively post articles on training and communicating with dogs.  The fact of the matter was that his assault on the dogs in the video (on one in particular) was so mortifying that it brought me to tears.  And this was before the hormonal shifts of pregnancy, these days it doesn’t take much to move me to tears, but back then?  It was an incredibly rare occurrence.

Dogs are experts at body language.  You can be extremely subdued, and they’ll read you loud and clear.  Heck, I’ve trained my dogs to respond to cues as subtle as the direction of eye movement.  The smallest gesture holds a world of meaning to a dog.  And Millan?  He’s about a subtle as a bull moose charging through your living room.

Whether or not you want to hear it, the man is a bully, and his methods are dangerous.  Using his techniques you could quickly and easily turn a timid dog into an aggressive one.  Dogs will only be backed so far into a corner before they’ll attempt to protect themselves.  And what do people do when that happens?  They ditch “fido” at the shelter where he is put to sleep as a dangerous dog.  Shelters can’t place a dog with a bite history, the liability is too great.

So yeah.  Think about the image of him above, next time you’re thinking of following some of his advice.  If you’re comfortable saying “F you” to your dog, then his methods may be for you… but if you love your dog?  I’d recommend heading over to http://www.noselicks.com instead.  The advice is free, and your dog will thank you for it.

And if you want to read what Steve had to say about the screamer flipping him off, head over here:  http://www.chicagonow.com/steve-dales-pet-world/2012/06/cesar-millans-dutch-response-piep-you-steve-dale/

A2Z – Bullying

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Bullying

For those who don’t know, we are currently celebrating Pink Revolution, which is a Saskatchewan initiative that got it’s start from the Day of Pink.  Pink Revolution is a week long anti-bullying campaign in it’s very first year, beginning on March 30th it will finish up on April 5th.  The Day of Pink follows on April 11th.  If you haven’t gotten your Pink Revolution T-shirts yet they are available through The Avenue Community Center or Diva’s for only $5.  Day of Pink shirts can be purchased through their website.

In contrast to what some think, bullying is everyone’s responsibility.  And homophobic bullying is putting many of our youth to the test.  We read the stories, over and over again.  Youth that were harassed to the breaking point, unable to handle the torment, looking for any way out.  Youth that needed to know they weren’t alone, youth who needed someone – anyone – to step up to the plate.

Some people wonder why I’m so vocal on issues of bullying.  The fact of the matter is we never know who we may reach.  I refuse to stay silent.  Our young people need to hear from adults and other youth who get it, who have their heads on straight, and who get just how wrong homophobic bullying is.  We need to speak out in support of our gender creative children and our gender variant youth.  It is our responsibility.

Be visible.  Wear a flag pin, put on a Pink Revolution t-shirt, join your school’s GSA – make some noise.  Be heard.  Make a difference.  You just may be that light in the dark someone needed to see.

the april a to z blog challenge

Where is Christopher Now? (a video of Ivan Coyote)

Ivan Coyote was invited to attend Breaking the Silence this year as our keynote speaker.  Her down to earth stories and sense of humor speak directly to each person in her audience, making you forget the distance between the stage and yourself.  As if sitting down for coffee with a friend who just needed to talk.

In the clip I’ve shared below, Ivan tells a story about Christopher, a much loved family member…  about how her cousin inspired her to go into schools.  About how we all shit, it’s the great leveler, and how a poop story can get students and others to identify and invest in Christopher.  How it can get people to care.

Take a few minutes and watch Ivan tell her story.  It won’t take long, but in those few minutes, you may change for the better…  thanks to a little boy named Christopher.

I’ll be sharing more of Ivan and the Breaking the Silence conference in the next couple of days.  I have more videos, more pictures, and more stories.  All of which are so very worth sharing.  So I hope you’ll keep coming back to see more.  🙂

Pink Revolution!

pink revolution - the evolution of the international day of pink

Pink Revolution - the Evolution of the International Day of Pink

How many of you are familiar with the Day of Pink in Canada?  It may have started small, but it is changing the landscape.  Soon there’ll be a sea of pink all around us as Saskatchewan organizations have banded together to bring you an entire week to think pink!

Not so long ago, a young man wore a pink shirt to his high school in Nova Scotia.  The homophobic bullies were out in force, and it did not go unnoticed.  A couple days later a swarm of students wearing pink shirts showed up at school – in support of equality and the belief that we all deserve the right to be free of fear, free from hate and bigotry.  Word spread, and soon people across Canada declared April 11th to be the Day of Pink – which is now being celebrated internationally.

This year, the Avenue Community Center in solidarity with several other organizations and businesses to bring us Pink Revolution!  An entire week of pink, a celebration of diversity.  The cities of Saskatoon, North Battleford, Swift Current, and Yorkton have all banded together in our cause and declared the week of March 30th – April 5th to be Saskatchewan’s Pink Revolution.

I’ll be out at some of the high schools, giving talks about gender, sex, and how we fit into the whole scheme of things.  About how labels can both help and hinder us as we find how we belong.  There will also be a multitude of other individuals out giving talks as well.

There are video and art contest in the works, as well as several anti-bullying events.  I have to admit though, I’m most excited about Saskatoon’s first Pink Prom.  That’s right!  We’re having our first LGBTT2QIA prom!  And rumor has it, that yours truly will be the official photographer.

Check out all the details at:

http://pink.avenuecommunitycentre.ca/index.html

I hope to see you out and about during our week of pink here in Saskatoon (and look forward to hearing all about events occurring around Saskatchewan).  There’s still plenty of time to get involved, so check out the website for volunteer opportunities.  We owe it to our youth!

A girl is a girl is a girl!

A “girl” is not defined by what is between her legs as this Girl Scout and her family believe.  Having someone so young spouting such bigotry and hatred breaks my heart.  I don’t blame her though, the fault lies with her family and community at large.  It is hard enough growing up confident and secure in oneself without the added problems faced by transgendered children.  To recommend that people boycott Girl Scout Cookies because Girl Scouts (as an organization) have chosen to accept transgirls as they are, as GIRLS, is abhorrent in every possible way.  This girl’s family should be ashamed for spreading such hate through their child.  Talk about pushing an adult agenda.  Hate is ALWAYS an adult agenda, it’s never the choice of a child.

So go!  Buy your cookies.  Heck!  I’m considering having some shipped up here to Canada just to say YES! We support our girls!  ALL of our girls.

Want to see what has me so upset?  Check out the hate below:

And some people wonder why my project “The Power of SHe” is so important, now more than ever.  For more information on The Power of SHe, and how you can get involved, head on over to:  https://td365.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/the-power-of-she-2/  I’m currently looking for women interested in being photographed…  I have some captures in mind, but some will be based on the stories of those who apply.  Let’s challenge the view of what defines Women.  We are mighty!  Diverse yet united!

In the face of injustice, will you sit or stand?

Another evening spent at my parents place, going through boxes.  Got grades six, seven, and eight finished…  and started on my boxes from high school.  One little treasure I felt was worth sharing was this:

"the ultimate question"

If you can’t read it, it says:

The ultimate question.

You can sit in silence and just watch as things happen

and have no friends, save a few.

Or you can stand up and make people take notice

and have a few friends, and a few enemies.

To sit or to stand – that is the question.

That little tidbit from a very young yours truly, was dated June 1992…  Almost twenty years ago.

I’ve never been the type to sit quietly by.  I speak my mind.  I make sure I am heard.  And yes, my refusal to stay silent, my refusal to disappear definitely earns me a place on a few “naughty” lists.  But it’s just who I am, apparently it’s who I’ve always been.  Though, thankfully, my spelling and prose have improved greatly since then.  😉

I remember writing articles for our school paper, things that got me in trouble with some teachers and faculty.  Writing about discrimination within the school, perpetrated by staff.  I just couldn’t keep quiet.  I couldn’t sit on things that needed to be said.  No-one else seemed to have a problem watching things happen, but even back then I’d call people on their actions, make them be accountable.  I figured someone had to.  It’s something I made a habit of, and while it may have gotten me into some trouble, it’s a habit I still have.  I simply can’t abide a bully.

So…  to sit or to stand?  It’s not really a question for me, and I wish it weren’t a question for others.  Our voices are needed.  If anything is ever to change, our voices are required.

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