Blog Archives

SeaWorld – just skip it

If there is one thing we did, that I’d advise you to just avoid, it’s SeaWorld.  My husband had great memories of SeaWorld from his childhood, so he considered it a “must do”.  And from my visit to another SeaWorld park when I was nine, I agreed.  We loved all that we learned there as kids.  Education was a huge part of their mandate back then, unfortunately that’s no longer the case.

Very honestly?  Knowing what we know now?  We’d have just skipped it.  It’s not worth the time.

We all enjoyed the kid zone, with it’s mini-roller coaster and other amusement park rides, but that wasn’t worth the cost of admission.  So yeah!  Planning a trip to Orlando Florida?  Hit all of Disney, plan for at least five or six days in the parks…  but erase SeaWorld off your list.  It’s not worth the time or money.  I actually found the entire place to be very disheartening.  😦  That said, we put on happy faces and did our best to act like it was awesome.  After all, it wasn’t really about us.

Breaking the Silence is Fast Approaching

Though our sky was dark and dreary for much of the day today, my heart was happy as I look forward.  We are coming into crunch time for planning this years Breaking the Silence conference.  This conference is something that is very near and dear to my heart and I am so blessed to be on the board.  And while our key theme this year is a sporting one (focusing on issues in the locker room and beyond) it will deal with the same truths we all care so much about, bullying and living as our authentic selves.  I’m looking forward to another highly successful conference this March.

The website still contains information from 2012, but it should be updated shortly with information on our keynote and registration for 2013:  http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/

Grey skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face...

Things are looking up! 🙂 The view from my front walk.

And join me tomorrow as we take a look at my “daily routine” in another exciting photo a day challenge post:

photo a day challenge for january

Sex, Gender, and How the Heck I Fit into it All!

When discussing something, relaying a story, or describing an event the logical place to start is at the beginning.  So, with the fifteenth anniversary of Breaking the Silence that would seem to be with Ivan Coyote’s performance on Friday evening.  I’ve got a couple clips that I know you’ll love.

Ivan Coyote speaking at the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon Saskatchewan

…However, that’s not where I’m going to start.  I’m going to start at the end.  Or, well…  almost the end.  The last session of the day, before we all gathered for the conference’s conclusion:

“Sex, Gender, and How the Heck I Fit into it All.”

My session.

I had printed 25 of the handouts I’d created, expecting 15 – 20 youth.  We had 176 (it was 176 or 172, I can’t quite remember) registrants, and five options in each session slot.  And with a title like mine, I didn’t expect a huge turnout.  Not when competing against some of the amazing options that were presented this year.  I figured by printing 25, it would give me a little wiggle room, and also allow me to share a few copies with people who were in other sessions, but were still interested in the topics I addressed.

Walking up the stairs to find the room I was presenting in I passed two people who had veered off into the other upstairs lecture hall – I’d attended a session earlier in the day there (a great one by Jim Drake on personal narrative).  I kept walking…  And that was when I realized, the throng of folks walking up the stairs with me were headed into room 103…  into my session.

The room was already packed when I walked in, and more people kept coming.  I was shocked!  And I’ll admit it, I was suddenly nervous.  My throat swelled, my legs felt weak, my stomach did a little turn.  These are not feelings I was used to, however they weren’t entirely foreign either.  I remember them well from the days I first entered politics when I feared I wouldn’t be good enough, days long past now.

George Georget, a fellow member of the board gave my introduction.  He’d asked if there was anything in particular I wanted him to mention.  There wasn’t really, and I told him as much…  but I didn’t want to leave him lacking for something to say, so told him he could always just tell them I was a Mom and photographer.  I didn’t need to be worried.  He had plenty to say, all of it lovely.  I thank him for that.  🙂

I began by apologizing for my lack of handouts, and asked that they share in groups of two and three…  just so everyone could see what I was referring to.  I began handing them out.  Then realized it would be a lot more efficient to enlist a little help.  I handed some to Chance Briere, an absolutely wonderful young man I met this Summer and am proud to call friend, and some to a woman across the row from him and asked for their assistance.

Still feeling a little shaky, and surprised not only by the amount of attendees by also by their diversity (I was expecting youth only, but there was a brilliant array of ages, it was inspiring to see them all gathered for a session I thought would have such narrow appeal), I began to speak.

It took two or three minutes, but I found my voice…  the same as it always was.  Honest, open, and willing to talk about anything.

I didn’t expect the laughs, loud and openly shared.  I didn’t expect the cheers, unbridled and on point.  I didn’t expect the types of questions, asked with heart and intention.  I didn’t expect to inspire or to move people…  but that seems to be what I did.

Very honestly?  I was presenting a mainly informational session.  I knew I wanted it to be more of a discussion than a lecture – but I came prepared with an activity, just in case questions were slow to come.  I didn’t realize that I would touch lives, or give people hope they didn’t arrive with.

To everyone who came up to me afterwards, to shake my hand, to get a hug (or two or three), to share a story, to ask for help…  THANK YOU!  I appreciate each one of you.  You are truly amazing people.  You have touched my life.  You have inspired ME.  And to all of you who wanted to do the same, but for whatever reason felt you couldn’t.  Thank you for being there, for listening, for asking questions, for returning my smiles when I met your eyes during my talk.  I know I won’t change the world, but I believe that you can.

Now, for anyone who would like to see it, here is my handout.  Please feel free to share it wherever and with whomever you like.  I only ask that you refrain from editing it or claiming it as your own.  😛  If there is interest in a printable version (do let me know if that’s something you’d like to see) I’ll find the best way to make that available.

The Gingerbread Person - on Assigned Sex, Sexual Desire, Affection, Expression, Gender, and Orientation.

The Gingerbread Person on Assigned Sex, Sexual Desire, Affection, Expression, Gender, and Orientation.

Teaching about Sex and Gender in the Classroom

Shortly I’ll be presenting at a few high schools as well as at Breaking the Silence.  I’ll be talking about sex, gender, identity and the labels that can help or hinder us as we discover ourselves and how we fit on the spectrum.  I have a pretty good idea of what I’ll be covering, but I really would love to hear from you on the subject.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the gingerbread man diagrams that have been floating around the net for the last couple of years.  There have been several different incarnations of the drawing, and I’ll be creating my own for my presentations too.  Basically it just maps out the differences between sex, gender, expression, and orientation.  By having this type of illustration handy I hope to equip everyone who is there with the proper language – as that will go a long way to facilitate discussion.

What I’d like to know from anyone who’d be kind enough to reply is this:

If you were, or are, a high school student what would you like to know but might be afraid to ask in a classroom setting?  What would you want to know about sex?  about gender?  about gender expression?  about sexual orientation?  Is there something you wish you knew?  Is there something you do know that you wish others knew?  What would you want discussed that you might be to embarrassed to bring up with a room full of people watching?

I want to ensure that those who need the information, get it.  But if I don’t know what questions people have, I may miss something important.  This is basic information that schools haven’t often given students a chance to learn – information that people often have to discover on their own – feeling alone and insecure.  I want to arm youth with the power that comes with knowledge, and knowing that no matter where we fall on the spectrum, that we’re all totally normal with the potential to be awesome!

gingy from shrek

Breaking the Silence

The last several months I’ve served on (and last month and this month have chaired) the board for Breaking the Silence.  It’s the fifteenth year for this annual conference that focuses on breaking down walls and barriers in education for Sexual Minorities and Gender Queer individuals here in Saskatchewan.

When Don Cochrane (the founder and force behind Breaking the Silence) asked me to join the board this year I couldn’t say no.  The youth of our province deserve the very best we can give them, and helping to bring this conference together is just one way I can help provide that.  And not only am I working behind the scenes, I’ll actually be presenting at the conference as well.  I’ll be leading a session I’ve nicknamed “Gender, Sex, and How the Heck I Fit into it All.”

There will be several “streams” of information presented at Breaking the Silence this year.  My session can be found in the youth stream, but there are also sessions on health, education, and research.  We’ve also got Ivan Coyote presenting the keynote the night leading into the conference.  If you’ve never heard her, I’d say it’s time you did.  She is absolutely fantastic, and has created a new performance piece specifically for this years conference entitled “As Good as We Can Make it:  On bullying, collective responsibility, and actually making it better.”  It should be amazing.

So yeah!  Check it out!  You can find all the details at:  http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/index.htm  And this year there is even online registration (with different price schedules to fit most any budget – including students and the under-employed).  Want to know more?  Feel free to ask.  Otherwise, I’ll plan to see you there!

Breaking the Silence Poster 2012-1

breaking the silence logo

OMG!

I honestly never thought I’d see legislation like this passed during my lifetime.  It was too much to hope for.  Let’s hope that California merely leads the way, and soon the rest of North America follows.  It would be a dream to have my daughter and her friends grow up learning about the amazing LGBT men and women who led the way to freedom, and those who who still continue the fight for equality.

 

http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2011/07/california-assembly-approves-landmark-bill-that-would-require-teaching-of-lgbt-history/

 

I honestly have tears rolling down my cheeks over this.

%d bloggers like this: