Well, at last, here it is. Watch, enjoy, share, like.
Well, at last, here it is. Watch, enjoy, share, like.
42 million in cuts to services for the disabled in Alberta!
Over the past several months you may have been aware that Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) has been directed, along with many other social programs, to make arrangements for budget cuts. These cutbacks are happening alongside an effort by PDD to better regulate funding models for people. These changes, unfortunately, make what we need to present at this time more complicated. Administrative changes around assessing support needs is co-mingled with the severe funding cutbacks being experienced across the province of Alberta.
The Right to Not to Work: Power and Disability by Sunny Taylor
“The disabled are viewed with sympathy as victims of “bad luck” who will simply have to accept disadvantage as their lot in life, not as an identity group that is systematically discriminated against. Unlike sexism and racism, which are perceived to be significant social problems, disability falls under the social radar and disablism is not recognized as a damaging or even particularly serious form of prejudice.” The public remains unconvinced that the struggle for disability rights is actually their sturrgle as well….
The entire article and self-portrait can be found here: http://monthlyreview.org/2004/03/01/the-right-not-to-work-power-and-disability
Canadians with disabilities are about one and a half times as likely to be victims of violence as other Canadians. People with disabilities in Canada have civil rights on paper but not in practice. Canadian citizens, everyday, have their civil rights ruthlessly violated by their government. This has to be stopped, because Hope is Not a Plan!
Recently, the Alberta government announced the future closure of the Michener Centre, an institution that houses people with developmental disabilities in Red Deer, Alberta. The centre is home to some 125 Albertans with developmental disabilities and has been in operation since the 1950′s.
Here’s the poster for the upcoming panel, Reproductive Autonomy: Control of Sexuality that we’re hosting this Wednesday as part of the U of Alberta’s Pride Week. The sesssion will feature Lise Gotell and Lane Mandlis as speakers, with Moyra Lang and Rob Wilson performing an interpretative dance (ok, perhaps not, … but we’ll do something useful … or at least will be there). Please print and post, or distribute electronically. Text only version included as well.
From the Center for Genetics and Society blog, by Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest editor, March 4, 2013
The unfortunate truth is that discredited ideas never do die, they just rise again in slightly altered forms—witness eugenics. Despite the horrors perpetuated in its name, including forced sterilization and the Holocaust, the eugenic impulse is with us still. One of the forms it takes is schemes for “improving” offspring through the selection and manipulation of embryos.
In the last year or so, one neo-eugenic advocate in particular has been garnering media attention. He’s Julian Savulescu, holder of an array of titles, including an endowed chair and directorship of a center at the University of Oxford funded by the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education.
Wednesday March 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm in Education South Building at the University of Alberta the Living Archives on Eugenics is sponsoring a panel discussion featuring Professor Lise Gotell, Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies and Dr. Lane Mandlis, with Moyra Lang, and Professor Rob Wilson. ASL interpreting services will be offered at this event. Find us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/270019033131796/?fref=ts
Headlines read: Michener Centre formerly the Provincial Training School (PTS) for Mental Defectives closes – celebration for some but not for everyone
A series of articles have been written about the closure of the Michener Centre. Living Archives team members, Leilani Muir and Bruce Uditisky have commented to reporters about their reactions to the closure. Both applaud the decision but many others criticize the decision to close Michener. The loss of jobs and the disruption for current residents are concerns for supporters of the institution. However, amidst mixed reaction the Michener stands as a reminder of our recent history of eugenics and the institutionalization of thousands of individuals. The shift towards a more inclusive society and away from isolation and initialization is a change towards recognizing and perhaps even appreciating human variation.
Here are links to several different articles: Continue reading
The 1997 film Gattaca, written and directed by Andrew Niccol, portrays a futuristic society where babies are genetically engineered according to parental references. The film features a society that consists almost exclusively of such artificially built individuals, with those who are born in the archaic, natural manner occupying the fringes of this society. In order to protect the rights of what are referred to as the “valids” and thereby keep out the inferior “invalids,” each individual’s genetic material is constantly sampled and monitored. Every person’s DNA is stored in a database, making multiple scans and random genetic sweeps in the workplace very efficient. The story follows an “invalid” who has a dream of becoming an astronaut, a job open only to the genetically enhanced elite.
But my intention here is not to provide a synopsis of the film, which is very good and is certainly well worth the time it takes to watch. Rather, I wanted to Continue reading
Sweden, “one of 17 [countries] in the European Union,” may soon change a law that requires transgendered people to become sexually sterilized if they decide to officially change gender. Sweden has made moves to repeal the law in January, only to be stopped by the Christian Democrat Party. However, this party has recently changed their mind, allowing the repeal to go through.
This move was partially in thanks to an online petition, by AllOut (http://allout.org/en/actions/stop_forced_sterilization), which gained 80,000 international signatures to repeal the law. However, the date for repealing the law is still pending.
Countries that still require sterilization include France, Italy, Romania, Poland, Greece, and Portugal. For a map outlining the current status of European sterilization, you can link here: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/most-european-countries-force-sterilization-transgender-people-map
The Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District 11, located just north of Minneapolis, changed its policy of neutrality regarding questions of sexual orientation in favour of active affirmation of the dignity of all students regardless of their race, disability, or sexual orientation. The New York Times reports:
In response to conflicting pressures, Anoka-Hennepin officials had devised an unusual policy, directing teachers to remain neutral on any questions involving sexual orientation. But some teachers said that this hampered their ability to support gay students and that the overall climate was still hostile. Last month, the district rescinded the neutrality policy in favor of a requirement to “affirm the dignity and self-worth of students” regardless of race, sexual orientation, disabilities or other factors. In addition, according to the new agreement, the district will strengthen measures to prevent, detect and punish bullying based on gender or sexual orientation, hire a full-time “harassment-prevention” official, bolster mental health counseling and identify harassment “hot spots” on the campuses of middle and high schools.
However, the Anoka-Hennepin Parents Action League (see their website here) complained that “[m]aking schools safe for ‘gay’ kids means indoctrinating impressionable, young minds with homosexual propaganda” (see The New York Times). The Parents Action League website states that
Teaching about sexual orientation is not a part of the District adopted curriculum; rather, such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations.
Two things are quite striking here and both are examples of narrow-minded groups making students worse off by making themselves vocal. First, and most obviously, the reported statement that “[m]aking schools safe for ‘gay’ kids means indoctrinating impressionable, young minds with homosexual propaganda” is outrageous in itself especially since it implies that what I take to mean the majority (that is, the heterosexual kids) are better served if ‘gay’ kids are not protected from bullying. I am not sure whether the parents who agreed on such a formulation in their e-mail were appealing to some seriously misguided utilitarian calculation or whether they were just expressing their support for bullying based on sexual orientation? Either way, the statement represents an unusually ugly thought!
Second, the statement on the Parents Action League website is a further testament to the dangers of giving narrow minded and aggressively fearful groups power over the education of future generations. Statements like: “[t]eaching about sexual orientation is not a part of the District adopted curriculum; rather, such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations” is reminiscent of burning the “Satanic” Harry Potter Books (see the 2001 BBC News Story). All such practices will do (practices of withdrawing educational content from the curriculum and relegating it to the home), and I imagine that this is the hope of the Parents Action League, is to perpetuate discrimination based on sexual orientation precisely because homophobic parents seem to want to shield their children from any statements that confer dignity and self-worth upon homosexual students.
Parents should certainly play a greater supportive role in their children’s education. Having had teaching experience at the secondary education level, I have seen my share of too much resentment toward teachers for the low achievement of their child and too little active participation in the child’s education. Of course, this is not descriptive of all, or even most, parents. However, participation in a child’s education should not come in the form of lobbying to truncate the educational experience of students. If schools are to teach only the core subjects (math, social, science, and english), and remain silent (since being neutral in this context just means staying silent) on all other issues, then the quality of citizens leaving the school system will be poor indeed.
Fortunately, the Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District 11 went ahead with its new policy. Perhaps once they eradicate bullying based on sexual orientation in their hallways, they will start to fight the source of bullying, namely the opinions and beliefs of homophobic parents!
In an effort to avoid gender stereotyping, Beck Laxton and partner Kieran Cooper concealed the gender of their son from the world. The gender neutrally named Sasha has now turned five and is starting school. Prior to the commencement of formative school years, Sasha has been given the choice to dress in clothes that appealed to him, be they hand-me-downs from an older sister or an older brother. When Sasha turned five, his parents were forced to reveal his gender, which means that Sasha will have to get used to being perceived as a boy by his peers. Although the school requires different uniforms for boys and girls, Sasha’s mom is intervening by letting Sasha wear a girl’s blouse with his pants.
Last year, a different couple made a similar decision not to reveal their child’s gender. Some psychiatric experts voiced their concerns:
“To have a sense of self and personal identity is a critical part of normal healthy development,” Dr. Eugene Beresin, director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, told ABC News. “This blocks that and sets the child up for bullying, scapegoating and marginalization.”
The article continues:
But as parents well know, bullying is hard for any child to avoid. It’s more important to raise someone who’s confident enough in himself to overcome peer pressure. It’s also important to have his parents have his back.
The question of personal identity is interesting as gender is certainly a big part of it. However, that’s precisely the problem couples like Beck Laxton and Kieran Cooper are attempting to avoid. The question of bullying, scapegoating and marginalization is a bit trickier since such actions are certainly a product of dogmatically ingrained gender stereotyping, but they will not cease to exist just because Sasha’s parents have grown past them. Although bullying may well be hard for any child to avoid, some children do get bullied more than others. And although Laxton and Cooper are trying to inculcate a sense of self and others in Sasha, which they hope will be lacking gender stereotyping, are they also not sacrificing their child’s emotional and physical safety by setting him up for potential bullying? It is quite important to raise someone who’s confident enough in him or herself to overcome peer pressure, but it could also be the case that exposing a child to more risk of bullying may have an adverse effect on his or her confidence.
That’s not to say that Sasha will be bullied, but it will depend on his environment. If Laxton and Cooper chose an appropriate school, perhaps their goal of raising their son to be confident in himself and have a valuable dual perspective on gender will not be compromised by the very gender stereotypes they are attempting to undermine. “Egalia,” a preschool in Stockholm, Sweden comes to mind (as an example of the kind of environment in which Sasha could flourish). Staff do not use words like “him” or “her,” but rather a made-up neutral term and students are encouraged to do the same. Moreover, traditional “boy” and “girl” toys are spatially integrated so as to obliterate any value systems associated with stereotypical gender preferences. For those interested, here is the article.
Bullying has not ceased in spite of a laudable movement to curb it. Although Laxton and Cooper’s hearts may be in the right place, they have influence only over Sasha’s worldview and not that of other children (who get theirs from their own parents or guardians). Are they putting Sasha at risk, as Dr. Eugene Beresin claims? And if the answer is yes, are they entitled to make such choices for Sasha if they lead to increased risk of bullying, which could potentially be developmentally as well as physically harmful?
A bit of an oldie, but interesting nonetheless: Economist Daniel S. Hamermesh, author of Beauty Pays, makes the argument in an Op-Ed for the New York Times that ugliness should be considered as a form of disability, with compensation available to the very ugliest people of society. He makes the case that being ugly results in significant social impairment; that is, the ugliest people tend to make less money and be less successful due, primarily, to their looks. As a result, people should either be compensated, or legislation should be put in place which, in effect, would represent affirmative action for the ugliest people of society.
Economic arguments for protecting the ugly are as strong as those for protecting some groups currently covered by legislation. So why not go ahead and expand protection to the looks-challenged? There’s one legitimate concern. With increasingly tight limits on government resources, expanding rights to yet another protected group would reduce protection for groups that have commanded our legislative and other attention for over 50 years.
Is ugliness really a disability? If it is, what does this mean about the concept “disability”? Is it primarily a social construction — a result of social stigma?
The Limelight Film Showcase, Day 2, is TOMORROW, i.e., Tuesday 18th October, 2011, at the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton. All events are in Myer Horowitz Theatre in the SUB Building, and the festival runs from noon until around 10pm and includes not only short and feature films, but also live dance and movement performances. Check out the schedule via the festival page here. All events are free and open to the public.
h/t Doug Wahlsten.
The state of North Carolina has recently been revisiting its extensive eugenic past, and the latest move is a statement of support for compensation for sterilization victims from the director of Legal and Regulatory Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Eugenic sterilization legislation was in place in NC until 1979; there are slightly fewer than 3000 living survivors of the regime of sterilization that was in place in NC until that time.
The full story is in the Lincoln Tribune.
Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger 1934-2011
From Bruce Uditsky – It is with sadness and a sense of profound loss that the Alberta Association for Community Living acknowledges the passing of Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger, one of the field’s most eminent scholars and critical thinkers. Continue reading
A video of photo journalism that captures the voices and faces of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. By John Lehmann. Continue reading