MK 354 Spring 2010

April 5, 2010

Blog 8 – prom cancelled due to same-sex couple

Filed under: blog #8 — marissagkelley @ 1:03 pm

It’s that time of year again. Flowers are blooming, the sun is coming out, and thousands of girls across America are raiding the department stores to find the perfect prom dress.  It is a time full of excitement, making memories and young love. Not for Constance McMillen though. The 18 –year-old from Itawamba County in Mississippi recently sued her school over its policy banning same-sex prom dates.

After a controversial deliberation, the school decided to cancel its own public prom in favor of a privately-sponsored dance that would allow McMillen to attend, in full tuxedo, with her 16-year-old girlfriend. Itawamba officials said they felt not hosting the prom was the best decision “after taking into consideration the education, safety and well being of our students.”

Let’s consider this for a moment. Education, safety, and well being? The statement makes it seem as if they are protecting their students from a dangerous criminal, when in fact, McMillen is a stellar student with a 3.8 grade point average and is well liked by her classmates.

Across the country, people have heard Constance’s story and are speaking up on her behalf. Earlier this week, students at a California school said that if McMillen could not attend her own prom, they would invite her to theirs. A federal judge ruled last week that the district’s actions violated McMillen’s constitutional rights, but he didn’t reinstate the school prom.

In my opinion, if you make these discriminatory policies a part of your school, you are actually educating your students to believe that discrimination is okay.  I understand that same sex couples are fighting for their right to love across the country. I believe that schools should be a place where this fight comes to a ceasefire. The school should act as a safe environment to support and encourage its students to be proud of who they are.

To quote the Beastie Boys, McMillen is simply fighting for her right to party…literally.  And I think I speak for a large majority when I say that I am fully supporting Team Constance.


Filed under: blog #8 — cathleendbombard @ 12:21 pm

For the Easter holiday, I spent the weekend in Vermont at my parents’, who threw a party and invited 40 of our closest friends and family. There was a lot of fun to be had! At one point, I sat on my front porch with my family, and we tried to think of a name for my cousin’s baby, which is due this summer.  Someone yelled out, “It doesn’t matter what the name is, as long as the child is healthy!”

I looked up and thought about all the faces looking back at me. I come from a pretty traditional family. When I say traditional, I mean pretty close lipped.  If there is an affair, it isn’t talked about. If an uncle had too much to drink at Christmas, we are told he is “under the weather.”  If our grandmother is on her deathbed, she is “far from well.” If a cousin gets arrested, it definitely, definitely isn’t talked about.  

It was in that moment that I thought about all the youth and young people with disabilities at Partners for Youth with Disabilities. I felt grateful that they are able to participate in all that PYD has to offer. I wondered what their lives would be like if they weren’t offered such programs and weren’t told that they could “Help make it happen,” which is PYD’s motto. I wondered what it would be like if my cousin’s baby was born with a disability. Would my family ignore it, as they do most delicate issues, or would they be able to change?

All of these thoughts happened in a matter of seconds, but then I looked at the faces of my family and knew I could speak for them. I smiled and said, “No matter what the baby’s name is, he or she will be embraced in this family!”

Gays: Get Tested

Filed under: blog #8 — csomerville @ 12:18 pm

According to an article published in the Washington Post, a recent study of 500 gay men in Washington D.C. reveals that gay men are not getting tested for HIV/AIDS as frequently as they should. Of those interviewed, 40 percent were unaware of their HIV/AIDS diagnosis prior to the study, and about a third of them did not know the HIV/AIDS status of their most recent sexual partner. The results of the study have caused D.C. city officials to ask gay men to be more vigilant in getting tested for HIV/AIDS. A man who is unaware that he is HIV positive is not only putting his own health at risk, but possibly the health of others. Condoms are the most effective method for sexually active men to prevent contracting HIV. Unfortunately, the study found that more than 40 percent of the men interviewed had not used a condom with their last sexual partner.

Though this study was conducted of men only in D.C., the message from the results applies to sexually active gay men everywhere. Gay men need to get tested for HIV/AIDS regularly to be aware of their health. Though the treatments offered to HIV positive people today have enabled many people to lead successful lives, the virus is incurable and, if left untreated, deadly. The only way to be informed is by getting tested.

For information about HIV/AIDS, or to find testing sites near you, visit

Information and statistics used are from the following article:

Girls in Science: Social Pressures and Stereotypes

Filed under: blog #8 — ElizabethOstebo @ 12:05 pm

Two weeks ago, Science Club for Girls and Microsoft put together an event for young girls to actually meet and talk with women in science, engineering and technology. To start the event, the women introduced themselves and their careers. Afterwards, the girls formed three discussion groups that also included two or three of the professional women. Although the organizations created the event to expose young girls to role-models and to let the girls ask the women about their science-related careers, the girls had some other questions for the women.

In a group of two girls and two women in science, one curious middle-school girl asked the women “How did you meet your husband?” and “How will you manage your family and professional life?” Although the women weren’t expecting the questions, both of them shared their stories about meeting their significant others and thoughts about juggling a family and a career.

Evidently, some girls begin to think about the roles of women at an early age. It also seems like they think about whether a science-related career is going to interfere with their personal and social lives. So how does that relate to girls’ interest in science?

In 2007, Sean Cavanagh wrote the article “Science Camp: Just for the Girls,” which touches on the topic of how peers pressure girls to stay away from science and math through suggesting that if you like those subjects, you lack a social life. Girls may still be interested in science, but choose to avoid science-related subjects as a result of peer pressure. Other girls may resist the influence their peers have. However, more reasons other than peer pressure explain why some girls lose interest or simply avoid science-related subjects.

A recent article in the Salt Lake City Tribune, “Girls really do have an appetite for math and science,” agrees with Cavanagh and says that occasionally, “girls become distracted by clothes and hairstyles and how they appear to others.” But Salt Lake City Tribune writer Paul Beebe also emphasizes that “there are lots of theories to explain the withering of interest, such as the perception that work involving science and math is men’s work.” The stereotype that science, engineering and technology fields are masculine can prevent girls from studying those subjects.

When schools and other organizations expose young girls to women in science it helps to emphasize that science-related fields are not just for guys or masculine women. In addition, it shows that women can work within science, technology and engineering fields while they also have families and social lives. Although after-school science clubs create a science-friendly environment, the after-school programs also need to address the social pressures that face girls in other social settings.

The full Education Week article “Science Camp: Just for the Girls” by Sean Cavanagh can be found through the Academic Search Premier database.

Not Your Everyday Videogame

Filed under: blog #8 — carolinerichov @ 12:01 pm

It begins with a girl on a train platform. She notices you looking at her and you choose your method of assault. The girl steps into the subway and you, the videogame player, follow her aboard. With a just click of your mouse, you can grope and rape… It’s all part of the game.

Pretty sick, huh? The Japanese videogame, RapeLay, allows the player to have his way with the game’s female characters. The motive in each story is revenge. The player can assault, molest and even impregnate a girl and urge her to have an abortion.

It’s no wonder RapeLay caused major controversy when it was first released in Japan in 2006. The game makes Grand Theft Auto look G-rated; it was never released in the U.S. because of its questionable content. Today the game has gone viral and is being played across the globe. 

CNN covered the story last week when international outrage from women’s rights groups resurfaced interest in the game. Women, Action and the Media is concerned with gender equality across all kinds of media- including videogames. As part of its mission, WAM! wants to change how women are represented through media. The WAM! Web site states, “since 2004, there has been a 120% increase in depictions of violence against women on television. An even more disturbing finding was the 400% increase in the depictions of teen girls as the victims of violence.”

Taina Bien-Aime, of Equality Now, states, “These sort of games normalize, promote and simulate extreme sexual violence, sexual torture, stalking and rape against women and girls. They have no place in our communities.” Personally, I couldn’t agree more.

Women’s History Month

Filed under: blog #8 — marissaestrada @ 11:08 am

March is Women’s History Month, and this year marked the 30th anniversary of celebrating women and their place in history. Herstory Month – as it is sometimes called today – began in 1978 when the Education Task force of Sonoma (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a Women’s History Week during the week of March 8. The celebration of women was positively received, and a number of other organizations began to have celebrations of their own. By the following year, the idea of celebrating women’s history became very popular, and organizations such as Sarah Lawrence College became determined to start more projects like this one, and even agreed to push support for Congress to institute a national Women’s History Week. In 1981, Women’s History Week was instituted, and in 1987 the resolution was expanded to celebrate Women’s History Month during the entire month of March.

Women’s History Month celebrates women in many areas of history including writing, science, art and education. The women it celebrates are the women who overcame the barriers society set on women and the women who made it possible for women to have the rights that we have today. I find it incredibly important to celebrate such women. So many women and girls in the world today need to know that challenges can be overcome and that women and men are equal in society. Teen Voices is dedicated to shaping teen girls to be become women like the ones from the past that are celebrated today.

More information about Women’s History Month can be found at

Graduation Day

Filed under: blog #8 — mtamayo26 @ 10:25 am

According to a Newsweek article published in February 19, 2010 titled “Why Minority Students Don’t Graduate From College,” the United States once held the highest graduation rate of any nation. However, now it stands at tenth; causing a concern that the rising generation will be less educated than the previous one. Although many financially disadvantaged and nonwhite students aspire to go to college, their desire to graduate falls short. At the University of Wisconsin 81% of its white students graduated while only 56% of its blacks students graduated within six years. At the University of Northern Iowa 67% of its white students graduated by only 39% of its blacks students graduated.

Hillary Pennington, director of postsecondary programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who has closely studied enrollment patterns in higher educations says “Some critics blame affirmative action—students admitted with lower test scores and grades from shaky high schools often struggle at elite schools.” Another problem is that colleges are getting more expensive, so some students can’t afford their education. Leaving the school with the first year or so of tuition, and the student leaves without a degree, a lot of debt and off the track to a successful career.

Goodwill is an organization that helps individuals with barriers to succeed, much like college dropouts, who struggled in the past and are now looking for any outlet to help them advance in their careers. Goodwill has always been an organization that has helped adults learn the basic skills needed to work, but more recently Goodwill has offered programs to children and young teens to help with their education. With after school programs, summer camps, and weekend retreats Goodwill is there to guide underprivileged children in the right direction from early on so they can succeed later in higher education schools.

UCP’s New Sensory Room

Filed under: blog #8 — Jackies blah-g @ 9:49 am

United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile, Ala.  finally has a dream come true. Thanks to the hard work of many volunteers and countless hours, UCP of Mobile has built a sensory room for children. The sensory was a project that was stopped due to the lack of funding, however, the Junior League and the Mobile Homebuilders Association came together to help finish the project.

Cerebral palsy is a chronic condition caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain affecting body movement and muscle coordination. The brain damage usually occurs during fetal development or during infancy.

 This new space is designed to help children with special needs to interact and develop through different areas of the room. There are areas for light therapy, deep pressure therapy, and just an area to help the children feel safe. There are climbing exercises, pianos to dance on, or even a swing to lay in for the children.

Susan Watson of United Cerebral Palsy states, “We could have never done something like this on our own, and the results are just amazing.” This is the beginning of the development for the “My Child Without Limits” program. As United Cerebral Palsy sets out to help children with disabilities, UCP of Mobile has set a prime example.

For more information and to see the news video, visit

Volcano Trumps Carbon Emissions

Filed under: blog #8, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — morganhowell @ 9:21 am

It turns out global warming isn’t the biggest issue affecting the earth’s weather any more. Liberals rejoice! No longer must we strive to be “environmentally conscious.” Now we can drive the biggest, oldest and clunkiest cars as fast and as far as we want, leave the lights on and the water running, and let the AC blare. There’s a volcano in Iceland that’s about to blow, and when it does we’ll be sent into a mini-ice age, according to a scientist at the National Weather Service.

Actually, a volcano already erupted in Iceland a couple weeks ago. That volcano, eloquently named Eyjafjallajokull, isn’t the real problem though. Katla, the active volcano next to Eyjafjallajokull, which is being subdued by an overlaying glacier, has a historical record of spewing ash into the atmosphere and causing earth’s temperatures to plummet.

Another historical trend: the only thing that is unclear whenever Eyjafjallajokull erupts is how long it will take for Katla to follow suit.

Not everyone agrees though. Since the initial eruption, which caused 500 nearby residents to be evacuated, tourists – like the one that took that video – have been hiking as close to Eyjafjallajokull as possible in order to get the best view of the volcano, which continues to spurt lava. In fact, the spokesman from the local Civil Protection Department, Vidir Reymissom says no one in the area is in danger, despite a second fissure opening up and causing ash to now flow in two directions. No one definitively knows what will happen, so the only thing to do is wait.

Whether this nice weather we’ve been having in Boston will last is still up in the air, but either way, I say get out and enjoy it.

$50,000 Public Art Project

Filed under: blog #8 — marringoodall @ 9:02 am

            “There is never enough funding for the arts!” This is something I hear often. It’s not briefly mentioned in conversation or just casually muttered. People I know, especially students at Emerson, like to passionately declare this matter of fact. Cambridge, however, is in the process of providing a $50,000 grant for a public art installation.

            The Cambridge Arts Council is holding a contest to choose a public art piece that will be brought to life by the end of May. The proposals are visual, performing, mixed media, architectural, landscape and social art works that stretch 1 mile on Cambridge Street from Inman Square to Lechmere Square. So far, 10 proposals have be chosen from a pool of 110, including an idea where ceramic “gossiping birds” would project local-related tweets onto the street. Jeremy Gaucher, the city’s public art administrator said, “We wanted people to really think about the street.”

            Although this project does make a bold effort to beautify a neighborhood and support the work of local artists, it raises the question of how well governments and organizations like the Cambridge Arts Council is spending its money. $50,000 is no small sum. I feel that this nugget of funds could have been better spent in the areas of art education in local public schools and supplementary programming. Obviously there is no way to force groups to delegate resources in any particular way, but projects like that of the Cambridge Arts Council do illuminate the lack of attention for youth and arts.

            One of the primary issues Press Pass TV faces is the funding deficit. The nonprofit organization relies on charitable donations, corporate sponsors, and dedicated professional staff to continue its programs with local Boston students. For Press Pass TV, $50,000 means better equipment, more help, and more availability for students. $50,000 means more students get to learn about creating socially responsible journalism and acquire technical skills that will prepare them for professional media production. I’ll argue that this eventually means less crime and higher education rates.

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