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Tuesday, April 16

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The Mechanics

LGBT Wed Sep 30 2015

Why LGBT Teens are Identifying Earlier

themash.comBy Cameron Beach and Thomas Atseff

"No union is more profound than marriage."

These words from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, which legalized gay marriage June 26, have become a rallying cry in the LGBT community. With the momentous victory came a spike in gay pride, along with a surge of societal LGBT acceptance. Minds are changing nationwide, and as more Americans become comfortable with homosexuality, more individuals have felt safe and even empowered to come out as gay.

But does this same trend extend to teens? The Huffington Post reported that a Pew Research Study revealed the average age of LGB coming out has dropped drastically--from 21 in the 1980s to 16 today. Newfound support from the entire nation, as well as from individual schools and family members, may be at the heart of the trend.

Continue reading this entry »


Gender Fri Apr 17 2015

Black Trans Lives Matter

By H. Melt

On March 30 at DePaul University — one day after the Trans 100 event and one day before the Transgender Day of Visibility — CeCe McDonald and Monica James, two black trans women from Chicago, gathered to share their thoughts about the current state of the trans movement, their experiences of violence and incarceration, and how the power of community saved their lives.

In front of a packed lecture hall, McDonald began by discussing her Chicago roots and how the city influenced her. Born and raised in Chicago, McDonald attended Clara Barton Elementary and Percy L. Julian High School on the city's South Side. At the age of 14, she was given the ultimatum by her religious family to either suppress her trans identity or leave home. McDonald left home and moved to Minneapolis, where she began to transition.

Continue reading this entry »


LGBT Fri Feb 27 2015

Transgender Teens Face New Struggles, Options

By Laura Bartusiak, James Wendt & Maddie Mathie

Naperville North junior Adam Beaty sat in the back of a classroom with a group of friends giving him a pep talk. A teacher who knew Beaty before he transitioned to male stood at the front of the room.

"I was terrified. My heart was racing and I was like, 'This is going to go horribly,'" Beaty said. "I went up and I was like, 'So, about the name and everything.'"

But before he could finish his sentence, the teacher asked Beaty his preferred name, to which he responded, "Adam." Today, Beaty identifies as male, but he was born female.

Continue reading this entry »


Education Mon Feb 03 2014

Racism & Misogyny from UIUC Students

Last week in Chicago and throughout Illinois we suffered through the latest installment of the polar vortex. Unfortunately, the frigid weather brought out a heated and ugly side of many students at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

On Sunday the 26th, all UIUC students received an email from their school's chancellor Phyllis Wise reading, "Classes and operations at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will proceed as scheduled Monday Jan. 27. Please use caution as you proceed in and around campus during what is forecast to be an extremely cold and windy day and night."

Unsurprisingly, given the projections of below-zero temperatures and even lower wind chills, many students were peeved that classes were not cancelled. But understandable displeasure soon morphed into an outpouring of vile, sexist and racist Twitter rants against Wise, who is Asian-American. Some of the Twitter posts, which were filed under #fuckphyllis, included:

UIUC #fuckphyllis Twitter tweet

Continue reading this entry »

Rachel Anspach / Comments (1)

Social Issues Fri Feb 10 2012

Gloria Steinem Visits Columbia College

By Joycelene Fernandez

On Tuesday, Columbia College welcomed Gloria Steinem as the second guest in their "Conversations in the Arts" program. Steinem, a seasoned journalist, speaker, and feminist activist, started off the night with a light joke that the auditorium was in fact the "smallest biggest place on a campus" that she had ever lectured within. But regardless of how big or small the space, Steinem found herself facing a completely full house — just another aspect that sets Steinem apart from the average septuagenarian.

Not that Steinem is your "average" anything. A co-founder of Ms. magazine, a bestselling author and founder of several women's rights organizations, Steinem's long career has not only been prolific, but pivotal in the fight for human rights. For over half a century, she has contributed years of work in helping change the world, and all for the better.

Continue reading this entry »


Gender Tue Sep 20 2011

Celebrating a Day for Equal Pay in IL

Last week, Illinois officially declared Sept. 14 to be Lilly Ledbetter Day, a day to recognize the equal pay activist and remember the fight for gender equality. Although this newest of official days pales in comparison to other auspicious days, such International Talk Like a Pirate Day (which you just missed), Lilly Ledbetter Day gives voice to an issue many of us assume is passé but is unfortunately very much current.

Lilly Ledbetter.JPG

Way back in the archaic, Neanderthal days of 1998, Lilly Ledbetter sued Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for wage discrimination. When Ledbetter neared retirement, she inquired about the salaries of her colleagues and discovered she was making on average $1,000 less per month than her male (and often junior) colleagues. She called BS, sued, won, then lost on appeal, and ended up in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled narrowly against her on the basis that gender discrimination could not be proven within the 180-day time statute of limitation required by the Equal Pay Act. Ruth Badger Ginsberg gave a famous dissent noting that wage discrimination is neither as time-sensitive nor as obvious as firing a woman outright for not having a Y chromosome.

Fast forward more than a decade after the initial suit to 2009, when President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Day Fair Pay Act as his first act of office. The Act said discrimination starts again with each new paycheck issued. It was a big deal.

Women still earn 77 cents to every dollar men earn. For women of color, this gap is even wider. For many young women working the espresso machine or slave-wage entry-level positions next to their similarly impoverished male co-workers, this argument doesn't seem applicable. Yet on average, a woman will lose one million dollars over the course of her lifetime from not getting raises on par with her male colleagues. Lesson of life: You may be equal to your paycheck-to-paycheck boyfriend now, but in four decades, you will be a million dollars or about 200,000 Starbucks pumpkin-lattes behind him.

Lilly Ledbetter Day and Act are a start to getting women their fair share of deliciously sugary Starbucks drinks, but not enough. For example, did you know that the famous Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), has never actually been ratified? What!? You don't remember that from 8th grade U.S. history? Did you go to public school? Don't worry, many don't realize this iconic amendment was never actually ratified.

To learn more about the ERA and why it should or should not ratified, consider attending "Searching for Equality in the US Constitution - Debating the ERA," an event hosted by the Northwestern Law School. The event is on Friday October 28th at noon at the downtown campus. Sign up on Facebook or just show up with a sugary caffeinated beverage of your choice. If you are female, may I suggest bringing a budget cola such as Super Chill; never to early to start accepting your wage disparity and embracing it.

Niki Fritz

Chicago Fri Jul 22 2011

The Problems With the Fire Department's Physical Abilities Test

Only 116 members of the Chicago Fire Department are women, which represents about 2 percent of the workforce. A class action suit filed against the Fire Department claims that the test administered on potential firefighters discriminates against women through a physical abilities test (PAT).

The plaintiff in the case, Samantha Vasich, passed the written test in 2006 and took the physical test in 2010, only to be informed that she failed the PAT.

Although it is necessary that a firefighter should be able to physically perform their job, a problem is how the test is administered. The Chicago Fire Department administers their own test, the PAT, which differs from a standardized test created by the firefighter's unions, called the Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT).

"Instead of putting up a ladder, they have you do this lifting exercise," said Susan Malone, one of the attorneys representing Vasich, about the PAT. "For paramedics, instead of pulling a stretcher, they have you doing a gym exercise. These tests are not job related."

Continue reading this entry »

Monica Reida / Comments (1)

Labor & Worker Rights Thu Feb 24 2011

Economic Crisis and the Attack on Women Workers

By Jacob Lesniewski

Dana Goldstein makes the important point that the public sectors workers targeted by Gov. Walker's union busting and given a reprieve are different on one major characteristic: gender. Firefighters and police offers, left out of the bill are predominantly male, and the teachers and others targeted by Mr. Walker and his Koch brother overlords are largely female. While the solidarity shown by firefighters and police in Wisconsin is pretty impressive, it's a pretty clear cut of sexism, and one that we at Arise Chicago find all too familiar. In our mission to seek justice and improve working conditions for all workers, we accompany union workers in their contract fights, organizing drives or other campaigns. More and more, the unionized workers under attack in this latest attack on are in traditionally female dominated occupations. Here at Arise, we're working with nurses, school teachers, and home health aides. These women (mainly) are fighting for their rights on the job in the face of attacks on their dignity and worth as workers, their commitments to those they service, and their supposed culpability in the financial crisis.

To be clear, it doesn't matter that those who are engaged in attacks on the freedom of association (collective bargaining rights) of women workers would claim that their attacks are unmotivated by sexism or gender bias. What matters are the results: systematic assaults on women in the "helping professions." What matters is that the women in these jobs, jobs which have been traditionally viewed as inferior women's work, were able to grasp a modicum of dignity at work through collective action are now under attack from the slick white puppet masters of propaganda and reaction, putting to rest at last the notion that the battle in Wisconsin, and the upcoming fights in Indiana, Michigan or Ohio have anything to do with fiscal austerity and balanced budgets.

- Jacob is an Organizer for Arise Chicago's Worker Center

This post is cross-posted from the Dignity at Work Blog a project of ARISE Worker Center.

Mechanics / Comments (2)

GLBT Mon Jan 31 2011

"A Slap in the Face." Equality Illinois, Rick Garcia & LGBTQ Coalitions

This article was written by freelance journalist Samantha Winslow.

Juan Calderon sips coffee at Café Colao on Division Street in the historic center for the Chicago's Puerto Rican community. This part of Humboldt Park is marked by red and blue metal banners on each end in the shape of the Puerto Rican flag. The café, known for Puerto Rican style coffee and pastries, is a block from where he works at the Vida/SIDA center inside the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

Calderon begins to talk about why he and fellow Humboldt Park activist Roberto Sanabria published a letter in the Windy City Times, a Chicago publication for the gay and lesbian community, voicing their concern and anger over Equality Illinois firing Rick Garcia, the political director and co-founder of the state's largest advocacy organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.

"Firing Rick Garcia was a slap in the face to the Latino community," Calderon says.

Continue reading this entry »

Mechanics / Comments (2)

Social Issues Mon Apr 05 2010

Sex Trafficking In Chicago: "Victimless" Crimes & Their Victims

Maria is lying on the bed. She's been trying to get up, lifting her head, maybe rolling over onto an elbow, but she's gotten nowhere. Another half attempt to sit upright. She reaches in her pocket and fumbles with a cell phone. She wants to call her best friend Tammy, but her fingers forget where they're going and never make it past the US Cellular logo above the keypad. "Tammy, you wouldn't believe what I'm about to do," she'd tell her. But she can't get as far as calling her.

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Danny Fenster / Comments (7)

Chicago Tue Mar 09 2010

Westboro Baptist Church Embarrass Themselves


Activists demonstrate against the Westboro Baptist Church.

The Westboro Baptist Church, a hate group that chartered themselves as a church to get away with their harassment of Queer groups, Jews, military families and others, conducted a tour of Chicago on March 8th.

The group of five lonely haters targeted Jewish centers, protesting everything more modern than the middle ages at Hillel's at UIC and the University of Chicago before holding their signs outside of the Israeli consulate.

Hundreds of queer rights activists rallied against the Westboro group. Activists used humorous and satirical signs to mock WBC. UIC student Jason Connell used the appearance of the hate group to raise money for queer rights groups such as Human Rights Campaign, International AIDS Foundation and Chicago based Jerusalem Open House. Donations were named in honor of the Westboro Baptist Church and community thank you cards will be sent from the non-profits to WBC leader Fred Phelps. Connell called it a, "Lemons to Lemonade" situation.

Kurt Esslinger Lee, an Presbyterian ordained minister from the UIC Agape House Christian Campus Ministry said, "We don't care so much about this group of hate, we know that they are not going to listen to anything we say. What we are care about is the closeted, afraid LGBTQ students around UIC who are are taught to hate themselves to think that god is also loathing them, so we reaching out to them to break through that ignorance."


Activists demonstrate against the Westboro Baptist Church.

Video of the event is available through Dogstar7's Youtube Channel.

Satire of WBC is at the Youtube Channel of CrazyPastorFred.

Matt Muchowski / Comments (9)

Gender Mon Dec 28 2009

An Argument for Flexibility, Equality in the Workplace

Unable to sit through another round of It's a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve, I briefly flipped around some other tv channels before stopping on C-SPAN. The network was re-broadcasting a discussion about "The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything," a report released in October by the Center for American Progress. The report focuses on the changing roles of women in society, outlining models for health care reform and equality in the workplace at a point when, for the first time in the nation's history, "women are half of all U.S. workers and mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families."

At one point in the Q&A discussion (around the 49:01 mark in the video), a woman who works for a non-profit agency asks Heather Boushey, a senior economist for the Center for American Progress, why the nation should be focusing on equality in the workplace amidst the recession. I found her response interesting.

Boushey argues that letting go of workers who need more time off because the may be caring for a sick child or parent is actually worse for the economy because they are the ones who will become more dependent on the state if they lose their jobs. Now is the perfect time to be lobbying for more flexibility in the workplace, she says. See and listen to a clip of Boushey talking here. I also transcribed her full response:

Continue reading this entry »

Sheila Burt

Labor & Worker Rights Thu Jan 29 2009

Kudos, Dem Congress, President Obama

The Lilly Ledbetter Act is ridiculously long overdue. I remember Jesse Jackson fighting for equal pay in 1988. That there has been structural, institutional pay discrimination against a majority group in the population for the last, uh, forever, without public policy remedy is ludicrous.


"Ultimately, equal pay isn't just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families, it's a question of who we are -- and whether we're truly living up to our fundamental ideals," President Obama said. "Whether we'll do our part, as generations before us, to ensure those words put on paper some 200 years ago really mean something -- to breathe new life into them with a more enlightened understanding that is appropriate for our time.

Ramsin Canon / Comments (3)

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Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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