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How do you have ‘the talk’ with your black child if you’re not black yourself?

Zane Fisher-Paulson is a deputy sheriff in San Francisco and is raising his two sons with his husband, Brian. Zane and Brian are both white, and have a multiethic family- with their eldest (Zane Jr., 11) being black and their youngest (Aiden, 9) being of mixed race. Both children are adopted.

“Raising a black child has certainly awoken my awareness to race in America,” Fisher-Paulson says, who grew up in a “pretty insular white, Irish Catholic family.” Throughout the years, this awareness became evident during a variety of occasions. The parents often witness strangers suspiciously eyeing their children as they walk through stores, and have even had family members make derogatory comments. Fisher-Paulson remembers a specific time when a relative said “Oh my gosh, look how big his lips stick out.”

As of late, issues of race and policing have caused lots of tension throughout the US. The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri especially struck a nerve at home with the Fisher-Paulson’s. It is impossible to shield their sons from the realities of being black in America. According to Zane, “I had to be honest with him in that, sometimes in the world, there are still people who will profile an 11-year-old boy simply based on his race.”

Hopefully, conversations like the ones that take place at this family’s dinner table can ease some fears that non-white children have regarding racism in America. When Fisher-Paulson looks at the situation in Ferguson, he sees a clear lack of understanding between the police force and the community. “A community does not protest if they feel like they’re being heard. … There was no true and meaningful dialogue with the community about [the shooting],” Fisher-Paulson says. “Rather than beginning a community dialogue, they began driving around in Humvees.”

Still, Fisher-Paulson admits that him and his family don’t live without fear. Zane Jr. is getting older and stronger and more aware of the injustices around him. Fisher-Paulson has already experienced moments where Zane has lashed out in anger, yelling in public that his “real father” is black. “When Zane is most fearful, Zane feels that he is the most different … he will always go to his place of fear when he feels he’s different,” Fisher-Paulson says.

However, at the end of the day, families like the Fisher-Paulson’s have to live in the hope that their sons can be leaders in a new generation of open minded individuals, where nobody is profiled for their race or ethnicity. Zane and Brian note that the key questions that worry them are the same ones that keep any parent of any race up at at night: “How can I keep my child protected when I’m not there to protect him?”

For more information about this story please click here

This story first aired as an interview on PRI’s The Takeaway, a public radio program that invites you to join the American conversation. Follow @TheTakeaway and use the hashtag #BeyondFerguson.

Patty’s Hair Garden

lilly1Thank you Ryann, former FFTA Board Member and her daughter Lilly for sharing your story with us. We love hearing about people and places who make everyone, no matter their skin tone, religion, or ethnicity feel comfortable, welcome and at home. If you have a chance, please be sure to check out Patty’s Facebook page and website.

http://www.pattyshairgarden.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pattyshairgarden

“We found a wonderful hair dresser in White Plains for Lilly’s hair. Her name is Patty Henriques. She’s all about everything natural and healthy. She completely “gets” Lilly and Lilly’s hair. May sound like I’m putting too much into it, but when it comes to black hair – as a white person – I need a professional! There’s no way to have the skill if you haven’t grown up learning it. And even then, it doesn’t mean you are good at it. We re-found her on this trip to Westchester in her own salon in Mamaroneck, at Patty’s Hair Garden. I can’t even tell you the joy I had when I heard her voice. She knew exactly who I was and said, “My Lilly! Oh! the Lord is SO good! Bring me my Lilly! I love that girl!”lilly2

I can do Lilly’s hair and I do, but every now and again, I like to take her in for a special do & to get professional advice. I’ve been to many salons & didn’t make an appointment because I already saw the look of judgment in the eyes of the stylists. I get it. We don’t look like the typical client families. But, still we need the service. And hello! I’m doing my best, right? Patty welcomes us with open arms, no judgment, just love and a boat load of SKILL.

lilly3Her schedule was already filled, so she took us at 7 am! This time, she suggested locks for Lilly. The process of getting them started was approx. 4 hours. Lilly’s hair always takes about 4 hours – even here at home. (Washing, conditioning, combing – oh the combing & picking! and drying straight. And then the twisting usually goes pretty quickly.) Patty washed, picked, conditioned and let her sit under the steamer to re-nourish the hair. Then she worked in about t 10 products including black pure bees wax (which is now all over most of her pillows :) She worked each small section lengthening and rolling, then twirling it into a bahntu knot back down on Lilly’s head. Patty explained to me that after a few days I should let each knot out to be long. She said I will be buying a steamer for the house and using essential oils to moisturize the hair as it grows. As she knew Lilly would be going to summer camp soon she said, that I should put the locks back into the knots when she’s at camp. Huh? I said, ‘today’s Friday and camp starts Sunday.’ ‘Oh, then we’ll just leave it in the knots’, she said. uh yeah! I’m not going to be able to recreate ANYTHING you’ve done in the salon – I thought that was a given, since she’s a miracle worker.lilly4

So now Lilly has the bahntu knots which look like a pick-a-ninny. I’m sure that’s no longer a politically correct phrase. She was worried that people may think she looks like a boy with short hair. So she’s been wearing a lot of pink. She has pierced ears, but doesn’t really like earrings. “

Dave Thomas Foundation Keeps Adoption “Front and Center”

clip_image002Did you know that Dave Thomas, the founder of the Wendy’s Company, was adopted when he was six weeks old? This sparked the idea for Wendy’s to start the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in 1992.

Sadly, in 2002, Mr. Thomas passed away but his foundation lives on with continued support. Wendy’s have donation canisters at it’s cash registers and charity golf tournaments. Craig Bahner, Wendy’s Chief Marketing Officer as of 2012 said,

While the chain had been successful in raising money for the foundation, more could be done to raise awareness and tie it to the cause. You walk into a restaurant today and there’s a canister there and you can put in some spare change, and millions of dollars have been raised that way,  but we haven’t done it in a holistic way that could really drive awareness, and that really educates consumers about why it’s important and why it matters to us.

This is why in March of this year, Wendy’s decided to “put adoption front and center”, with a national ad campaign and an adoption hub on its website.

Wendy Thomas, daughter of Dave Thomas, was only eight years old when her father named their hamburger restaurant after her. In the commercial, Wendy is at first an unseen voice-over and then appears, her red hair reminiscent of the pigtailed girl in the company’s logo, strolling through a Wendy’s restaurant.

“Every child deserves a hug before bedtime, a place to call home,” Ms. Thomas says. “Wendy’s dream is to help every child waiting in foster care find the loving family they deserve.”

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is aware that children in foster care have a difficult time being matched with adoptive families due to age, mental and/or physical health problems. This is why the foundation awards grants to adoption agencies to hire adoption recruiters who focus on foster children.

Carol Cone, global practice chairwoman at Edelman, the public relations firm, said, “What Wendy’s is recognizing is that in an ever more transparent society, consumers are asking, ‘What do you stand for beyond just selling me food?’

Jockey International also supports the issue through its Jockey Being Family Foundation. This foundation provides support and services to families during the time after adoption. In 2012, according to an annual study by Edelman, when quality and price were equal, 53 percent of consumers ranked a brand’s purpose-driven activities as a deciding factor in purchasing, up from 42 percent in 2008. That, rather than a windfall, is exactly what Wendy’s aims to gain.

You can read more about Wendy’s Dave Thomas Foundation Here

Pride Week 2014

by Mark Portnoy

 

This past week the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) community and their allies celebrated Gay Pride throughout the country. On Monday, June 23, 2014, located nearby in Yonkers, NY Mayor Mike Spano proclaimed that last week was Gay Pride Week in Yonkers and proceeded to raise a rainbow flow in front of City Hall-a historic event for the local community. About 50 people attended the flag raising ceremony, myself included, and we are all hopeful that the flag raising will become an annual even to show support of our local LBGTQ community.

Following this historic and exciting event, the 19th Annual Gay Prom took place across the street at the Grand Roosevelt Ballroom in Friday, June 27, 2014.  Westchester Jewish Community Services’ (WJCS) very own, Center Lane hosted the annual prom with first-time co-sponsor, Pride Work.s Center Lane is the only program in Westchester County dedicated to LGBTQ youth, ages 13-21 living in and around Westchester County, NY. this year’s theme was “Fairytales” and the youth as well as several volunteers, Center Lane Staff, and WJCS executive staff attendees participated by dressing in coustime. There were many princess crowns, rainbow ribbons, and fairy wings worm during the evening.  The ballroom was decked out in fairy decorations, which included fairy garden centerpieces on each table.  The biggest hit of the night was the photo booth, where all attendees had the opportunity to take photographs in front of a very colorful background and use props to enhance their photography session. The youth took advantage of the opportunity to show their pride and excitement with their friends by using signs that read “#gayprom”, “Gay Prom 2014″, “LOL,” and “#selfie.”  The prom was well received by everyone that attended and everyone looks forward to next year’s 20th anniversary.

The prom was just one of the events Center Lane’s staff and youth attended this past weekend. Yesterday was the Gay Pride March in New York City.  The Gay Pride March is an annual event that begins in Midtown Manhattan and ends on Christopher Street in Downtown, Manhattan, passing the Stonewall Inn, where the events that took place 45 years ago on June 28, 1969 is the reason why we march.

This year’s march brought over a million people to show their pride and/or support for the LGBTQ community, not including the hundreds of organizations, major companies, and celebrities that proudly marched down 5th avenue. There was a sea of rainbow flags and men and women dressed up in rainbow costumes carrying banners, flags, buttons, and stickers.

The Center Lane youth, staff, and colunteers marched with pride and were greeted by march-goers with cheering and hollering. It was a surreal experience to receive all of that support and recognition by so many people.  The youth were really excited to participate in such an important and celebrated occurance. They ran around the street giving high-fives and handshakes to people alongside the march-route.

Although a very tiring weekend, the work that went into the festivities was worth it.  The smiles. laughter, and pride by everyone makes us look forward to next June. Happy Pride!

Mark Portnoy, FFTA Caseworker

Please view full article and pictures HERE: Pride 2014

 

Pride 2014

Gays With Kids in the News!

We are SO  happy for our friends at “Gays with Kids” being featured in several major news outlets!

Via Gays With Kids website:

In the first week since our official launch, Gays With Kids has been visited by tens of thousands of people. As their comments to our articles make clear, many of these visitors are gay dads themselves or gay men hoping to become fathers one day; quite a few others identified themselves as friends of gay men, parents of gay children, and so on. Our visitors come from countries from across the globe, but especially from the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, the Philippines, Mexico, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Sweden, Israel, Germany, France, Russia, South Africa, Egypt, and India. Our articles have generated hundreds of comments, have been liked on Facebook thousands of times, labeled as favorites on Twitter, and shared across other social media platforms.

Gays With Kids was first featured in Daily XtraThe Jewish Journal, and the Huffington Post; on Monday we were guests on the popular radio show “Metro Morning with Matt Galloway.” The Canadian Press subsequently wrote an in-depth article titled “New website Gays With Kids seeks to showcase and offer support to gay fathers,” published today in the Toronto Star, the Montreal GazetteThe Vancouver SunThe Prince George CitizenThe Brandon Sun, the Winnipeg Free Press, the Windsor Star, the Hamilton SpectatorCanada.com, the Loop, the Calgary Herald, and the Chronicle Herald. You can watch the interview with the Canadian Press on AOL and Yahoo! in the video segment “Dads Start Website to Strengthen Online Community of Gay Fathers.”

If you haven’t already, please visit http://gayswithkids.com/  Here you’ll find tons of articles, tips, blogs, opinion pieces,  recipes, photos…and most of all, support!

 

D.C Legislation Geared to Help Same Sex Couples Seeking Parental Rights

Thanks to D.C’s adoption laws,  same-sex couples can now have equal parental rights, even when residing in a state that does not recognize their relationship.  Twin girls Mia Lynn and Lily Mae will soon be able to have both their mommies as their legal guardians.

Unfortunately, the home state of these new proud mommies, Desiree and Stephanie Bryan, does not recognize their marriage nor would they recognize Stephanie’s parental rights. Despite the fact that it had been her fertilized eggs that were implanted into Desiree, Virginia did not recognize Stephanie as the other parent.

As a result, Stephanie and her wife Desiree decided to drive two hours from home to D.C for the delivery and to carry out the second-parent adoption as the district did not require any residency rules or other restrictions. 

“The legislation was geared to try to treat same-sex couples, either married or domestic partners, the same as heterosexual couples,” said D.C Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who sponsored it. “My other goal was that we should do everything we can to help a child have two parents. And the law was a barrier to that.”

 

You can read more about Desiree and Stephanie’s story here:

 

 

Pennsylvania’s Gay Marriage Ban Dropped

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania became the 19th state to allow gay marriage.  They are the last state in the Northeast to drop the ban, which came just in time for the 2014 wedding season.

Pennsylvania using requires couples to comply with a three-day waiting period once they receive their marriage license to wed, but on Wednesday, a judge waived this requirement.  Many celebrated their now-recognized marriage, and many same-sex couples lined up at the marriage license bureau in Philadelphia before it opened at 8 a.m. Clerks planned to stay until 7 p.m. instead of closing at 4:30.

The decision represents another step forward to marriage equality in the United States.  Pennsylvania employers will now be able to legally recognize same-sex marriages and thus, extend benefits such as health insurance to spouses.

Governor Tom Corbett, who has previously expressed his disapproval of same-sex marriage, has stated he will not appeal the judge’s decision to end the ban on Gay marriage.  Corbett, a former attorney general, said in a statement,

Given the high legal threshold set forth by Judge Jones in this case, the case is extremely unlikely to succeed on appeal. As a Roman Catholic, the traditional teaching of my faith has not wavered. I continue to maintain the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

The New York Times reports that as judges have struck down marriage limits in ArkansasIdahoOklahoma,TexasVirginia and, on Monday, Oregon, Mr. Corbett joined a very small club of Republican governors who decided not to appeal.  Last year Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who opposes same-sex marriage, made a similar decision. Like Mr. Corbett, he cited the legal improbability of winning.

Currently, 65% of independents and 68% of democrats support the legalization of gay marriage.  Republicans who have previously fought against legalization are finding themselves having to back down in order to win valuable voter support.

Narcotic Prescriptions and Pregnancy

In  recent years, doctors have started prescribing opioid painkillers to pregnant women at an alarmingly high rate–especially since risks to the developing fetus from narcotic painkillers are generally unknown.

In 2007, 23% of the 1.1 million pregnant women enrolled in medicaid filled a prescription for a narcotic painkiller. This is up from 18.5% in 2000.

Of most concern, however, is the variation of prescribing rates throughout the country. Rates of opioid prescriptions were highest in the South, and lowest in the Northeast. In the study of women enrolled in Medicaid, 41.6 percent of pregnant women in Utah were prescribed opioids, and 35.6 percent in Idaho. Oregon had the lowest, at 9.5 percent, with New York at 9.6 percent. Does this mean that women in Utah have more painful pregnancies than women in NY? Doubtful, say experts.  Instead, it is likely that attention has not been paid to the statistics regarding addiction and misuse potential in these areas.  This is especially troubling since most prescription drugs approved by the FDA do not have sufficient data to determine fetal risk. According to Cheryl S. Broussard, a health scientist at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, this number is actually fewer than 10 percent of all medications approved since 1980.  At a time when pregnant women are taking more prescription drugs now than at any time in the last three decades this certainly raises a red flag.

In the past 30 years, the use of prescription medicine by pregnant women in their first trimester has increased more than 60 percent, while the use of four or more medications has more than tripled, according to a 2011 study published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  Some doctors and scientists say they are concerned about recent research demonstrating an association between first trimester use of opioids and neural tube defects, which are malformations of the brain, spine or spinal cord. Mothers of children with neural tube defects reported more use of opioids early in their pregnancies — 3.9 percent — than mothers of children without such congenital defects — 1.6 percent.

It is unclear why the demand for painkillers during pregnancy is on the rise.  Some argue that America’s attitude toward pain management has shifted dramatically in the last 20 years–patients expect immediate relief from pain and as such, have adapted a very low tolerance to pain levels.

 

 

GLSEN Day of Silence 2014

silentToday is the 19th annual GLSEN Day of Silence–a day created to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of anti-LBGT name-calling, bullying, and harassment in schools.  This year, hundreds of thousands of students at more than 8,000 schools are expected to participate.

LGBT students and their allies will remain silent throughout the school day or during non-instructional time to illustrate the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bias and behavior.

“Day of Silence” is a student-led event modeled after peaceful and non-violent protests . The original action was created by students at the University of Virginia in 1996, inspired by former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and a class he teaches on the history of the Civil Rights Movement.  The Day of Silence became a GLSEN program in 2001 and has grown to one of the largest youth events in the world.

According to statistics, more than 8 out of 10 LGBT students  are harassed at school each year because of their sexual orientation and more than 6 out of 10  because of their gender expression, according to GLSEN’s 2011 National School Climate Survey.  More than 31% of LGBT students said they missed at least a day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe. Students who are bullied also skip school more often, have lower GPA’s, higher rates of depression, lower self-esteem, and are less likely to go on to college.

Studies also show, however, that  students who attend schools that take action to address anti-LGBT bias and behavior  experience less victimization, have better educational outcomes and report better mental health.

To participate, students  wear shirts, stickers or buttons and hand out speaking cards to explain why they are silent. The card reads:

 “Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement bringing attention to the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by anti-LGBT bullying, name-calling and harassment.

 

I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward building awareness and making a commitment to address these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today.”

To learn more about GLSEN, please visit their website at  www.glsen.org.