Tag Archives: support

Illinois law requires stylists to be trained in domestic violence support

Illinois has a new law requiring stylists in the state to be trained in domestic violence support and response.

The law will take effect Jan. 1.

Pin-Up Hair Studio stylist Jamie Feramisco in Quincy, Illinois, said hairdressers sometimes learn about incidents of domestic violence through chatting with clients.

She said she often hears accounts of domestic violence in her salon and that she tries to support women facing such circumstances.

The mandate was passed as an amendment to the Barber, Cosmetology, Hair Braiding and Nail Technology Act of 1985.

The legislation aligns the Professional Beauty Association’s Cut It Out program, which pushes similar efforts.

“The salon is a safe place to go. People tell their stylists things they don’t even tell their family or friends,” PBA Director of Charitable Programs Rachel Molepske said. “We have gotten testimonials from people that said this program saved them.”

Feramisco said she plans to host a training session at the salon once the state has established a curriculum.

“The whole idea is to help hairdressers deal with disclosures. There is a right way and a wrong way to talk to someone. It can make or break the way a person handles their assault,” Quanada Prevention Educator JJ Magliocco said. “We are teaching them that they can make a difference. They don’t have to keep their mouth shut.”

The legislation is HB4264.

Justice Dept: 2 Milwaukee men charged with support for ISIL

Jason Michael Ludke, 35, of Milwaukee, has been charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Yosvany Padylla-Conde, 30, also of Milwaukee, was charged in the same complaint with aiding and abetting Ludke’s attempt to provide material support to ISIL.

The announcement was made by assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad of the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Ludke and Padylla-Conde were arrested near San Angelo, Texas. The complaint alleges they were traveling from Wisconsin to Mexico, where they intended to acquire travel documents necessary to travel overseas to join ISIL.

“The United States is committed to identifying and arresting persons intent on providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations. Those organizations pose a threat to United States’ interests at home and abroad.” said Haanstad.

Special Agent in Charge Justin Tolomeo of the FBI’s Milwaukee Division stated in a news release, “The arrest of these two individuals from Wisconsin, underscores how the real threat of terrorism can occur anywhere, at anytime.”

If convicted both men face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.00.

A criminal complaint is an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes.

Beloved ally left behind Milwaukee’s oldest operating gay bar

After June Brehm opened the bar This Is It in 1968, gay people just started showing up. Perhaps it was because other gay bars in the area were moving south, speculates Don Schwamb. Once word got out that This Is It welcomed gay people and treated them with respect, he said, the rest became part of Milwaukee LGBT history.

By the time Schwamb was a regular at the bar in the mid-1970s, it was known as an LGBT gathering place.

Brehm couldn’t have known at the time that This Is It would go on to become the city’s oldest operating gay bar and play a significant role in the city’s LGBT history — so significant it’s recognized by the Wisconsin Historical Society. But she would have liked it, according to people familiar with the bar’s history.

Gay-friendly places were hard to find in Milwaukee during the 1970s, said Schwamb, a longtime activist and volunteer in Milwaukee’s LGBT community. He is the leading organizer of the Milwaukee LGBT History Project.

Schwamb became a This Is It regular at a time when, if someone’s car was vandalized near a gay bar, the victim would think more than twice before notifying the police. Milwaukee’s law enforcement officers were often brutal to LGBT citizens in those days.

Police also raided bars and arrested patrons. They were particularly harsh toward lesbian or gay bars frequented by African Americans. Patrons of those clubs would race for the back door at the first glimpse of a badge.

This Is It was different. Schwamb can’t recall a single police raid on the establishment. Until recently, there was no sign on the building’s façade that signaled This Is It was a bar, much less a gay bar.

Located at 418 E. Wells St. near Cathedral Square, This Is It felt safer than most of the other bars at the time, which were tucked away on dark backstreets. It was also close to the downtown hotels, making it a destination for visitors to the city.

Joe Brehm, June’s son, took over the bar in 1980. But even after suffering a stroke, she continued to help out at what had become the family business. She died in 2010.

Like his mother, Joe Brehm was a staunch LGBT ally, even though he lost friends and had his home and car vandalized because of it. He solidified the bar’s role as a community resource, using it to raise money for HIV/AIDS and other causes. He supported PrideFest, the Cream City Foundation, the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center and other community groups.

Brehm died on April 3 at age 68. His loss was mourned not only by the LGBT community but the entire city. Days before his death, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett proclaimed March 31 to be Joe Brehm Day. Barrett praised him for continuing his mother’s legacy.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin wrote a tribute in which she said, “Thank you for making the world a more welcoming, generous and understanding place.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Jim Stingl penned a moving remembrance of Joe and a tribute to This Is It. “Joe grieved customers lost to AIDS, and he was a comforting presence when the gay community struggled to heal after it was victimized by serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer,” Stingl wrote.

Friend and mentor

After Brehm’s death, his partner in the business, George Schneider, 31, took over the bar. He plans to bring This Is It more fully into the social media era, but said he’d make few additional changes to the décor.

Schneider was working as food and beverage director at the Iron Horse in the waning days of 2011 when he decided that he was “burned out on the hotel scene,” he said. Schneider was considering a move to Dallas before Brehm called to say, “There’s something I want to talk to you about.”

Schneider had tended bar at This Is It for a year and a half, and Brehm asked him to stay in Milwaukee and take a full-time job managing the bar. The two men became close friends and partners in the business for the five years preceding Brehm’s death.

“He was a mentor to me,” Schneider said. “He always said, “Stick to your guns, George. Sometimes you might be the only one standing up there, but if you’re true to yourself, you’re going to end up coming out ahead in the end.”

Schneider said Brehm appeared to be in good health for the first few years of their partnership. But looking back, there were subtle warning signs that his health was faltering, Schneider said. He and the bar’s other employees didn’t worry, though: “We were thinking, ‘This is your lack of a healthy diet catching up with you.’”

Last fall, Brehm complained about numbness in his foot. Not long afterward, he was diagnosed with ALS, a deadly, progressive disease that kills nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. In January, he was put into hospice care.

Schneider tries to remember Brehm as he was before the illness set in. He holds close to his heart the memory of the bar’s Christmas party in 2014. “He was as happy as can be, and that’s how we all want to remember him,” Schneider said.

Brehm wanted the bar to continue after his death, and he and Schneider had long conversations about how he envisioned the future of This Is It without him. He saw the bar as a legacy to the community from his mother and him, and he wanted it to be preserved.

Brehm also asked Schneider to take care of the business and his family, including his wife Karen, his two daughters and his two grandchildren.

“My relationship with Karen was almost non-existent until he got sick, but now I call her almost every other day,” Schneider said.

And there’s not a day that goes by without Schneider thinking of Joe.

“Joe and June had the bar for the first 50 years, and I’m here to make sure it lasts for another 50,” Schneider said.

The façade of This Is It, 418 E. Wells St. The historic bar is now under the ownership of George Schneider, Joe Brehm’s partner in the business.  PHOTO: Desagesse/Wikimedia
The façade of This Is It, 418 E. Wells St. The historic bar is now under the ownership of George Schneider, Joe Brehm’s partner in the business. — PHOTO: Desagesse/Wikimedia

Tea party support falls

Support for the tea party movement has fallen to an all-time low, according to a recently released Gallup Poll.

Only 17 percent of adults surveyed nationwide consider themselves tea party supporters, according to the poll. That’s down by nearly half from the 32 percent support that the movement enjoyed in 2010. On the other hand, opposition to the tea party has dropped to 24 percent after peaking at 31 percent ahead of last year’s midterm elections.

The drop was fueled not by a switch to opposition but rather an increase in the percentage of people who say they neither support nor oppose the tea party. That number’s risen to 54 percent. 

Liberal Democrats are the movement’s strongest opponents. 

The tea party arose during 2009 as a reaction against the 2008 victories of President Barack Obama. In 2010, the movement played a key role in electing standard-bearers such Scott Walker, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Although the tea party has positioned itself as a grassroots movement, studies have shown it was funded by the tobacco industry and the Koch brothers, who’ve used it to enact an anti-tax and anti-regulatory agenda.

In its report, Gallup noted that support for the tea party could ratchet up again as the 2016 elections heat up. 

Opposition to the tea party has increased most among Americans with postgraduate educations, whose disapproval has grown from 36 percent in 2010 to 53 percent. Opposition has dropped among several groups, including: 18-29 years olds, people with low incomes and unmarried women. But most of the people in those groups have moved from opposition to no longer having an opinion about the movement.

Happy birthday and many more: Social Security turning 80

As Social Security approaches its 80th birthday Friday, the federal government’s largest benefit program stands at a pivotal point in its history.

Relatively modest changes to taxes and benefits could still save it for generations of Americans to come, but Congress must act quickly, and even limited changes are politically difficult.

The longer lawmakers wait, the harder it will become to maintain Social Security as a program that pays for itself, a key feature since President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on Aug. 14, 1935.

“The more time that they take, the less acceptable the changes will be because there needs to be adequate time for the public to prepare and to adjust to whatever changes Congress will make,” Carolyn Colvin, acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration, said in an interview.

Social Security’s long-term financial problems are largely a result of demographic changes. As baby boomers swell the ranks of retirees, relatively fewer workers are left to pay taxes.

In 1960, there were more than five workers for every person receiving Social Security. Today there are fewer than three. In 20 years, there will be about two workers for every person getting benefits.

“Remember, these are our most vulnerable population,” Colvin said. “These are the elderly who helped to build this country. These are the disabled who certainly did not wish to become disabled.”

The options fall into broad categories: benefit cuts, tax increases or a combination of both.

None is popular.

Nearly 60 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children get monthly Social Security payments, a number that is projected to grow to 90 million over the next two decades.

About 168 million workers pay Social Security taxes.

Adding to the gridlock, policymakers are moving in opposite directions. Republicans are pushing to cut benefits while a growing number of Democrats is pulling to expand them. The debate is playing out in Congress and the presidential campaign, increasing the likelihood that Washington will deal with Social Security the same way it has so many other issues – not until it becomes a crisis.

Some 72 members of Congress signed a letter to President Barack Obama in July, calling for Social Security benefits to be enhanced.

“In my view, given the fact that poverty among seniors is going up, that seniors are struggling, that people with disabilities are struggling, we have got to expand benefits, not cut them,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is running for the Democratic nomination for president.

The poverty rate among those 65 and older has inched up in recent years. But it still is significantly lower than the poverty rate for younger age groups, in large part because of Social Security.

Sanders has proposed increasing Social Security’s annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, and increasing minimum benefits for low-wage workers.

The average monthly payment is $1,221. That comes to about $14,700 a year.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, scoffs at the idea of expanding benefits.

“Where are they going to get the money?” asked Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Social Security. “They don’t ever seem to give any consideration to how deeply in debt our country is and how difficult it’s going to be to get out of it.”

For much of the past three decades, Social Security produced big surpluses, collecting more in taxes than it paid in benefits. Social Security’s combined trust funds are now valued at $2.8 trillion.

The retirement trust fund has enough money to pay full benefits until 2035. At that point, the program would collect enough payroll taxes to pay about 79 percent of benefits, triggering an automatic 21 percent cut.

The disability trust fund is projected to run out of reserves much sooner, in late 2016. If that happens, it would trigger an automatic 19 percent cut in benefits.

Obama and other Democrats want to redirect tax revenue from the much bigger retirement fund to the disability fund, as Congress has done in the past. But Republicans say that would be like robbing seniors to pay the disabled.

If the two funds were combined, they would have enough money to pay full benefits for both programs until 2034, according to the trustees.

But long before then, Social Security’s long-term financial problems could become too big to solve without painful remedies or excessive borrowing.

Once the surplus is gone, the gap between scheduled benefits and projected tax revenues starts off big and quickly becomes huge. In the first year, the gap would be $571 billion, according to agency data. Over the first decade, the deficit would total more than $7 trillion.

Social Security uses a 75-year window to forecast its finances, so the projections cover the life expectancy of every worker paying into the system.

Options to address Social Security’s finances, along with the share of the 75-year shortfall that each one would eliminate:


Social Security is financed by a 12.4 percent tax on wages. Workers pay half and their employers pay the other half. The tax is applied to the first $118,500 of a worker’s wages, a level that increases each year with inflation.


-apply the payroll tax to all wages, including those above $118,500. This option would wipe out 66 percent of the shortfall.

-increase the combined payroll tax rate by 0.1 percentage point a year, until it reaches 14.4 percent in 20 years. This option would eliminate 49 percent of the shortfall.


Workers qualify for full retirement benefits at age 66, a threshold that gradually rises to 67 for people born in 1960 or later. Workers are eligible for early retirement at 62, though monthly benefits are reduced.


-gradually increase the full retirement age until it reaches 68 in 2033. This option would eliminate 15 percent of the shortfall.

-raise the early retirement age to 64 in 2023, and the full retirement age to 69 in 2027. This option would wipe out 29 percent of the shortfall.


Each year, if consumer prices increase, Social Security benefits go up as well. By law, the increases are pegged to an inflation index. This year, benefits went up by 1.7 percent.


-adopt a new inflation index called the Chained CPI, which assumes that people change their buying habits when prices increase to reduce the impact on their pocketbooks. The Chained CPI would reduce the annual COLA by 0.3 percentage point, on average.

This option would eliminate 19 percent of the shortfall.

-adopt a new measure of inflation that takes into account the higher costs that older people have to pay for health care. This measure, called the CPI for the Elderly, would increase the annual COLA by about 0.2 percentage point, on average.

This option would increase the shortfall by 13 percent.

On the Web…

How would you fix Social Security? http://interactives.ap.org/2012/social-security/

Galano Club helps LGBT people get sober

Every alcoholic and addict hits bottom differently.

For some, it might be breaking a family heirloom piece of china due to shakiness from cocaine. For someone else, it might be killing someone during a drunken blackout.

But for all alcoholics and addicts, the bottom is that moment they realize that their drinking or addictive behavior has taken control of their lives. Only then can the process of recovery begin — a lifelong process that requires a lot of support.

Since 1973, LGBT Milwaukeeans and visitors to the city have found the support they need at the Galano Club, currently located at 7210 W. Greenfield Ave. in downtown West Allis. The club hosts meetings for a variety of 12-step programs and is paid for by voluntary dues, contributions and fundraisers. It also provides socializing opportunities and group events. Straight people, of course, are welcome at the meetings, which are for anyone with a genuine desire to get clean and sober.

The club also has meetings that support people who are involved with someone struggling with addiction (Al-Anon) and a recovery book club, Pages of Healing. In the latter, people read books such as Co-Dependent No More to help them heal from addictive relationships and other harmful behaviors. 

“I think that many times people don’t know that help is available for improving your own sanity when dealing with a loved one who is an addict,” says Raymond K-K, a charter member of the club and former board member who’s been clean and sober for 30 years. (Members of 12-step programs remain anonymous in the press by not using their last names.)

Raymond has seen membership and participation ebb and flow over the years. Currently about 160 people are regularly involved with the club. Over the years, Raymond has witnessed varying trends in addiction, from cocaine to crack to meth to heroin.

Some of the meetings hosted at Galano focus on alcohol, others on narcotic substances and others on behavior, such as sex addiction. But all follow the same 12-step format and principles, which is based on peer support from other alcoholics and addicts.

Recovery is a deeply personal journey that involves sharing one’s innermost thoughts and private experiences. No one in recovery can afford to hold back. For those reasons, many LGBT people feel safer with a group such as Galano Club, which was founded by and exists for them. Before Galano Club came along, 12-step programs in Milwaukee that were welcoming of LGBT members were coded using the numbers 94 as their last two digits for identification. 

Despite the enormous gains in visibility and social acceptance LGBT people have experienced since 1973, a lot of people still feel more comfortable being out and open around people like them. Many of them also feel as if other LGBT people understand issues that are unique to them, so they don’t have to explain aspects of their lives that are familiar to people who have lived in the same culture and shared many of the same kinds of experiences. 

“As a member of the LGBT community, the Galano Club is a great place to get into recovery because you’re not afraid to talk about things that relate to your personal life,” says Deb S., who’s been sober for 20 years. “It’s safe within those rooms. There’s that community feeling.”

For Deb, like many other LGBT people, struggles with sexual identity helped fuel her drinking. Numbing herself with alcohol helped her cope with the nascent realization that she’s a lesbian. 

“When I first discovered my sexuality, I wasn’t accepting of myself and I drank a ton,” Deb says. “It was a (way) to avoid who I was. I thought it helped relieve some of those (negative) feelings. No, it wasn’t the answer I was looking for — not one bit.”

Twenty years ago, when Deb was coming out, socializing in bars was an LGBT tradition. That’s changed as society has grown more inclusive. Now LGBT people feel free to socialize in the world at large.

But alcohol is a traditional way of socializing in all of America, and having a non-drinking community of LGBT people to associate with — a community such as Galano offers — is vital to helping people like Deb stay sober, she says. 

“I need to put myself in situations that support my sobriety, like hanging around with people who aren’t using and are having a good time without drinking,” says Raymond K-K. “Going out to dinner after a meeting, going on road trips with other people who are sober helps me stay sober.”

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence says that nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population — 18 million people — abuse alcohol. Statistics also show that 100,000 Americans die each year of alcohol-related causes and that driving under the influence is a factor in nearly half of the nation’s highway deaths.

In the LGBT community, the numbers are even scarier. Studies have found that LGBT people abuse alcohol at three times the rate of heterosexuals. 

Raymond K-K says that being LGBT is not the only risk factor for becoming alcoholic or addicted. Socioeconomic factors also play a large role, as do aging, racism and other characteristics.

But no matter what their race, age or sexual orientation, all addicts have one thing in common.

According to 12-step philosophy, Raymond K-K says, “When you’re dealing with somebody who’s chemically dependent, there’s these two specific things that are different from people who just abuse chemicals or just get drunk now and then. (Addicts) have this obsession of the mind and an ‘allergy’ of the body. Something happens different to a person who’s an alcoholic or an addict when they use.”

Raymond K-K believes that “there’s a genetic predisposition that’s clearly marked. You can’t separate far from the DNA of another addict.”

Coping with addiction is a lifelong battle, according to 12-step programs. There’s a saying among alcoholics that “one drink is too many and a thousand not enough.” If an addict starts drinking or using again, no matter how long he or she has been sober or clean, it’s the beginning of an inevitable spiral back into what Raymond calls the “horror” of active addiction.

The first of the 12 steps is accepting “powerlessness” over one’s addiction. That powerlessness never goes away.

“I’m 30 years sober and I still need this program,” Raymond says. “I need to continue to use this program. It’s not just like I go to it to help others. This really helps me. Without it I am selfish, I am that rude person on the telephone, I am self-centered. This helps me to live differently.”

For more about the Galano Club, visit galanoclub.org.

More support required under oil pipelines in Great Lakes waterway

Two oil pipelines at the bottom of the waterway linking Lakes Huron and Michigan will get additional support structures to help prevent potentially devastating spills, officials said this week.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Dan Wyant, director of the Department of Environmental Quality, said they had put Enbridge Energy Partners LP on notice following the company’s acknowledgement it was partly out of compliance with an agreement dating to 1953, when the pipelines were laid in the Straits of Mackinac.

As a condition of an easement granted by the state, Enbridge agreed that support anchors would be placed at least every 75 feet. In a response last month to a lengthy series of questions about the condition of the lines from Schuette and Wyant, the Canadian company acknowledged some sections don’t meet the requirement, although the average distance between supports is 54 feet.

“We will insist that Enbridge fully comply with the conditions of the Straits Pipeline Easement to protect our precious environmental and economic resources and limit the risk of disaster threatening our waters,” Schuette said.

Enbridge spokeswoman Terri Larson said the company had agreed to add more supports, even though engineering analyses peer-reviewed by experts at Columbia University and the University of Michigan concluded previously that gaps of up to 140 feet between supports would be safe. The work will begin in early August and be completed within 90 days, she said. Afterward, the average distance between supports will be 50 feet.

“The Straits of Mackinac crossing has been incident-free since it was constructed in 1953,” Larson said. “Through even greater oversight, the use of new technology and ensuring all risks are monitored and where necessary mitigated, Enbridge is committed to maintaining this incident-free record into the future.”

The two pipelines are part of the 1,900-mile Lakehead network, which originates in North Dakota near the Canadian border. A segment known as Line 5 runs through northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before ducking beneath the Straits of Mackinac, then continuing to Sarnia, Ontario.

The line divides into two 20-inch pipes beneath the straits at depths reaching 270 feet and carries nearly 23 million gallons of crude oil daily. The 5-mile-wide straits area is ecologically sensitive and a major tourist draw.

A June report by hydrodynamics specialist David Schwab of the University of Michigan Water Center concluded that because of strong currents, a rupture of the pipeline would quickly foul shorelines miles away in Lakes Huron and Michigan.

Larson said Enbridge began installing steel anchors for the underwater lines in 2002, replacing sandbag supports. They consist of 10-foot-long screws augured into the lakebed on either side of the pipes, holding a steel saddle that provides support. No washouts have been seen during inspections since then, she said.

Schuette and Wyant said their staffs are still reviewing Enbridge’s responses to other questions about the pipelines.

Enbridge Energy Partners is a unit of Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc.

Hispanic groups announce historic support for LGBT families

Twenty-one of the nation’s leading Hispanic organizations announced this weekend their endorsement of a public-education campaign aimed at strengthening support for LGBT families.

The campaign is called “Familia es Familia.”

Public opinion polls show that Latinos lead the way when it comes to attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Recent studies by the Pew Hispanic Center, Bendixen & Amandi International, 2012 Opportunity Agenda and SSRS found strong support among Hispanics for a number of LGBT issues.

Familia es Familia, according to a news release, is bilingual campaign providing resources and information that are culturally appropriate to empower voices within and from Latino families and communities.

The campaign will provide training, technical assistance and support to the 21 founding organizations and will spearhead a national effort to educate with a bilingual website and social media tools.

“The polling shows that many in the Latino community already understand that there is one struggle for equality, a struggle that benefits from appreciating common mission,” said Thomas A. Saenz  of Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund. “Familia es Familia is a campaign that will help to deepen the understanding that a discriminatory deprivation of rights on any basis is a cause of concern for all. Together, we can overcome all of the irrational biases that adversely affect any member
of the Latino community.”

 Janet Murguia of National Council of La Raza said, “NCLR is deeply committed to the civil rights of all Americans, including our friends and family in the LGBT community. We are very proud that this ground-breaking public education campaign, ‘Familia es Familia,’ is being launched at our Annual Conference this year in Las Vegas.”

Brent Wilkes, executive director of League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation’s oldest Latino civil rights organization added, “Since its inception, LULAC has fought for the equality of minorities. All individuals regardless of their race, ethnicity, country of origin or sexual orientation, deserve equal rights.”

Freedom to Marry provided the seed funding and serves as fiscal sponsor for Familia es Familia. The Gill Foundation has  committed to providing additional resources.

The founding partners include:

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), Cuban American National Council, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Hispanic Federation, Hispanic National Bar Association, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), LatinoJustice PRLDEF, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), MANA – A National Latina Organization, Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF), National Association of Hispanic in Publications, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National Hispanic Council on Aging, National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, National Hispanic Media Coalition, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Puerto Rican Coalition, SER Jobs for Progress, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, US Hispanic Leadership Institute.

On the Web: www.familiaesfamilia.org.

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Gay adults rejected by parents suffer poorer health

A comprehensive new study led by Boston University School of Public Health researcher Emily Rothman shows that LGB adults rejected by their parents have poorer health.

Two-thirds of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults surveyed in Massachusetts reported receiving positive support from their parents after coming out to them. Their incidence of mental health and substance abuse problems was significantly lower than those who did not receive support, the survey said.

Overall, three-quarters of LGB adults in Massachusetts reported having come out to their parents, typically when they were about 25 years old.

The response to their coming out led to different health outcomes. Gay and bisexual males whose parents did not support them had six to seven times the odds of serious depression and binge drinking, while lesbian and bisexual females had five times the odds of developing serious depression and 11 times the odds of illicit drug use.

In the study, published in the Journal of Homosexuality, Rothman and her colleagues surveyed 5,658 adults ages 18-64 years old in Massachusetts using a statewide surveillance system.

They explored whether coming out – and the reaction that it received – was associated with better or worse adult health. The authors controlled for factors including age, race, education level and health insurance status, in order to focus as narrowly as possible on the association between coming out and adult health status.

“These results do not surprise me at all,” said Nicole Sullivan, a 22-year-old student at Bunker Hill Community College who came out as bisexual when she was 19 years old. “I struggled with mental health and drug problems during my adolescence, and I know that some of it is because I didn’t feel accepted at home. I am really grateful that I had cousins who supported me, and it’s because of them that I was able to get healthy.”

The authors found that the act of coming out was generally associated with better health for lesbian and bisexual women, but that this was not similarly true for gay and bisexual men.

“It’s possible that the stress of not disclosing your sexuality to your parents affects men and women differently,” said Rothman, an associate professor of community health sciences. “In general, gay and bisexual men may be able to conduct their sexual lives apart from their parents with less stress. On the other hand, it’s also possible that this was an artifact of our particular sample.”

Rothman added: “Given the high rates of suicide and self-harm among lesbian, gay and bisexual youth – and the high costs of treating mental-health and substance-abuse disorders – it’s critical that we understand what we can do to promote better health for LGB kids.”

In the study, the authors propose that a low-cost but potentially far-reaching strategy to improve LGB youth health would be for national academies of pediatric medicine to develop and disseminate guidelines or recommendations to members. These guidelines would encourage pediatricians to provide all parents of adolescents with tips for supporting children if they come out as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

“The way that parents treat their LGB children when they come out is an important public health topic that has received too little attention to date,” Rothman said. “Our message is that parents should take note: The way we treat our LGB children, even from before the time they disclose their sexual orientation status, may have a long-term, significant impact on their health and ability to handle life’s challenges.”

Besides Rothman, researchers on the study were Mairead Sullivan of Emory University and Ulrike Boehmer of community health sciences at BUSPH.

The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Solid majority of Americans would support gay presidential candidate

A Gallup Poll taken last month found that by Americans, by a more than a 2-1 majority, would vote for a well-qualified gay candidate for president if he or she were nominated by their party.

Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed said they would vote for a gay person. By comparison, 94 percent said they would vote for a black candidate, 93 percent for a woman, 89 percent for a Hispanic, 76 for a Mormon and 49 percent for an atheist.

The 67-percent support for a gay candidate shows a steep improvement over a relatively short period of time. In 1978, the first time Gallup included the question about a prospective gay candidate in the survey, one in four said they would vote for a homosexual for president. In 2007, 55 said they would.

The change in support has been seen across nearly all groups.

In 2007, 39 percent of Republicans said they would support a gay presidential candidate. Now 54 percent say they would.

Forty percent of those who attend religious services every week said they would support a gay candidate in 2007. Today, that percentage has risen to 52 percent.

Among conservatives, 38 percent had said they would support a gay candidate in 2007. That group is now evenly split, with 49 percent saying they would support a gay candidate and 49 percent saying they would not. 

Support for a prospective gay presidential candidate is stronger among women than men. Seventy-two percent of women say they would vote for a gay presidential candidate, compared with 61 percent of men.

The greatest difference among gay supporters is age. Among adults under 30, eight of 10 say they would vote for a qualified gay candåidate, by far the highest percentage of any age group.

But even among their grandparents, changes in attitude can bee seen. In 2007, 38 percent of those 65 and older say they would vote for a gay presidential candidate. Now 52 percent of seniors say they would.