Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Talking to Kids About Marriage Equality

In breaking news, Maine's representatives have passed the Marriage Equality bill out of committee and it now goes to the Senate. I am desperately hoping that the Senate passes it without attaching an amendment that would send it out for referendum. Maine can not afford a referendum about civil rights right now -- not financially or emotionally.

I have been thinking a lot about how children hear us talk about these issues. It seems so important to talk about why some families might choose to be married and how all families deserve equal rights, but also how some families do not choose marriage and how single parent families and grandparent-caregiver families and foster families are also abundant and normal and healthy places for children to live. We don't want to overstate the importance of marriage, but do want to provide some context for helping kids think about why Gay and Lesbian parents/couples might want to be married.

The following resources provide books and suggestions for helping children (and adults) maintain a broad sensibility about who can be a family and might help children develop some consciousness about exclusion or heterosexism. If the anti-marriage campaign heats up, we're likely to hear a lot more hate speech and will need to develop more resources for helping kids speak up for themselves, their families, and other people's families.

Tibury House publishes Lucy's Family Tree and provides resources to go with it -- the story emphasizes the range of families we live in and problematizes a simply biological approach to thinking about families.

Ava McCall, referenced in my last post, has a 75-book annotated bibliography about families.

COLAGE offers downloadable "respect all families" posters, book resources for LGBTQ parents, and resources for people with LGBTQ parents. They also offer a link to download this report:

Involved, Invisible, Ignored: Collaborative Report on the experiences of Students with LGBT Parents, and LGBT Parents in Schools written by GLSEN, COLAGE and Family Equality Council

GLSEN - the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network also offers a ton of resources for parents and teachers.

Maine's Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence offers testimony and research about the experiences of LGBTQ families in this free report: Honoring All Maine Families

Great Bibliographies

While looking for resources for using Poetry to teach about social justice, I stumbled upon these amazing annotated bibliographies by Professor Ava McCall. She has so many ideas for books and does a fabulous job describing the content, issue area and age the book is intended for. I can't wait to take the lists to the library!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Recommended Feministing Post

This is a feministing post!

Mother/Child literature Posted by mzmuze at 3:45 PM

Being a mom in fiction is a rough deal. If you haven't been killed off to make way for the Evil Stepmother, you're probably wasting away with illness. Or hopelessly out-of-touch, like Coraline's mom. Or, like Eloise's, simply absent from your child's life.

There's a good reason for these tropes. Much great literature for children is focused on the child, and the child's ability to solve problems for herself, or grow into an adult role. Removing adults, especially mothers, from the story often provides the space and motivation for children to have these adventures. You'll notice that it's much more common to be an orphan in literature than it is in real life.

As Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown put it in their excellent book, "Packaging Girlhood," "As in children's literature, myths and fairy tales, these books also tend to show parents are useless or dead. Perhaps this is a common concept because mothers are so important to children; however, it also means we rarely see good mothers represented."

While there are many wonderful stories that focus on children who have been separated from their parents by death, boarding school or a serendipitous fall down a rabbit hole, it's refreshing to be able to share a tale with one's daughter that doesn't fall into these stereotypes.

Flashlight Worthy Books
recently posted a lovely list of stories in which children connect with their moms. I'll be watching for these titles at the library.

Here are a few of my favorites from our home collection:
Tucking Mommy In, by Morag Loh
Little Bear, Elsa Holmelund Minarek
On Mother's Lap, by Anne Herbert Scott

I note that these are all books for Very Young Children. I wracked my brain a very little bit, and can think of almost no Good Mothers in literature for older kids or young adults. A few of L.M. Montgomery's books, and Little Women. I hope that as my daughters and I grow through their childhoods, we'll find many more images of powerful moms to treasure in our library.

Parenting for Peace: Free Public Lecture May 12th @ 1 Mackworth Island

Dear FSP PARENTS :  Please help us spread the word about this free talk for parents (at this time the workshop is full, but we are accepting a waiting list)!   At a time when Sponge Bob is encountering sexy dancing to promote eating at Burger King   and Dora is getting a tweeny make-over,  we are lucky to have Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commerical Free Childhood in Falmouth to talk with us about how to help kids meet these media images and use creative play to write new scripts for themselves...  Please share this info far and wide...   Thank you, Kim

(Shucks -- the poster didn't come through... please e-mail me for the full info!)

Parenting for Peace: Free Public Lecture

Dear Friends and Children's Advocates :  Please help us spread the word about this free talk for parents (at this time the workshop is full, but we are accepting a waiting list)!   At a time when Sponge Bob is encountering sexy dancing to promote eating at Burger King (??????)  and Dora is getting a tweeny make-over,  we are lucky to have Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commerical Free Childhood in Falmouth to talk with us about how to help kids meet these media images and use creative play to write new scripts for themselves...  Please share this info far and wide...   Thank you, Kim   (Kim Simmons, member of the board of the Friends School of Parents and mother of 2!). 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fwd: Take Back the Night!

Take Back the Night, the annual community gathering in response to sexual assault, will be held on Friday April 24th at 6pm at the First Parrish Church.  There is a rally during which Prevention. Action. Change. is leading "NO" and "YES" Circles, followed by a march through the streets of Portland.
This year as part of a public education effect, we are collecting bystander pledges (pledges to act to prevent and respond to Sexual Assault) and Speak Outs from survivors of sexual violence. The Speakouts are anonymous and you choose how they are used.
If you would like to submit either a By-stander Pledge or a Speak Out.  You can return them via email tojohanna@sarsonline.org or by mail to: SARSSM PO Box 1371, Portland, ME, 04104.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fwd: Tell Nick and Burger King: SpongeBob and Sexualization Don't Mix

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood Reclaiming Childhood from Corporate Marketers

Dear Kimberly,

Nickelodeon and Burger King have reached a new low. They've partnered to produce a new, highly sexualized, ad for a Burger King SpongeBob SquarePants Kids Meal. The commercial, which randuring the men's NCAA basketball championship last night, features The King singing a remix of Sir Mix-A-Lot's 1990's hit song, "Baby Got Back" with the new lyrics, "I like square butts and I cannot lie." The ad shows images of The King singing in front of women shaking their behinds for the camera intercut with images of SpongeBob dancing along. The King even measures the behind of one of the woman who has stuffed a phonebook under her dress. After the King informs children about the free SpongeBob toy they get with the purchase of a Burger King Kids Meal, the ad ends with Sir Mix-A-Lot, lounging on a couch with two female admirers, saying, "Booty is booty."

It's harmful enough when a beloved media icon advertises junk food to children, but it's utterly reprehensible when SpongeBob simultaneously promotes the objectification of women through sexualized imagery.

Please take a moment to view the ad for yourself athttp://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pressreleases/spongebobburgerking.html. If you agree with us that this is an egregious way to advertise a kid's meal -or anything--to children, tell Nickelodeon and Burger King to immediately pull this commercial off the air by visitinghttp://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/621/t/6725/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27008.

There is little doubt that Burger King was hoping to court controversy when they produced this ad. The company continually positions itself as an edgier alternative to other fast food chains. But it's one thing to market edginess to adults. It's another to exploit children in the process.  It is simply unacceptable that Burger King is objectifying women and using sexual stereotypes to lure young children to its restaurants. 

As for Nickelodeon, it's bad enough that the company profits from using their most popular characters to sell kids on junk food. But to associate a beloved male cartoon character with lechery SpongeBob sends an even stronger message about how little Nick cares about the wellbeing of their devoted audience. 

Tell Nickelodeon and Burger King that this ad needs to stop. Now.



Dear Kim,

Today we received important information that the public hearing of our marriage bill has been changed toWEDNESDAY, APRIL 22 at the AUGUSTA CIVIC CENTER.

Given the overwhelming number of people on both sides who are planning to attend the hearing, the Legislature made the decision to move the location to the Augusta Civic Center on the nearest available day, Wednesday April 22.

Now more than ever, we need you at the public hearing.RSVP to april22@equalitymaine.org. Include your name, address, and phone number.

This will be the most important day of the campaign outside the final vote. The media, legislators, governor, and the people of Maine will be watching. We cannot let the opposition outnumber us on this critical day.

Please spread the word to your friends and family. This will be a family-friendly event, with activities and spaces for children and their loved ones.

The hearing starts at 9 am. Doors open at 8 am. Large crowds are expected, please plan to arrive early.

Remember to RSVP to april22@equalitymaine.org. Once you RSVP, you will receive important details about the hearing.

We cannot win without you. See you on April 22.


Betsy Smith

Executive Director

P.S. If you previously sent an RSVP, be sure to send another RSVP for the new date and location: april22@equalitymaine.org


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fwd: You're invited to The Thin Line - April 14th at 7pm

This is a unique opportunity! 

alt web photo
Come see "The Thin Line" next Tuesday
Bowdoin College is sponsoring a performance of Add Verb Productions' nationally touring one woman play, The Thin Line.  Admission is free and open to the community, please contact us if you would like to attend.

When:  Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 7pm

Where:  Kresge Auditorium (basement of the Visual Arts Center)
    Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME

RSVP:   Contact Amanda Bailey at 207-772-1167
             or email amanda@addverbproductions.com

Who should attend:  Anyone who would like to better understand how eating disorders impact family, friends and the community.  Suitable for mature middle school, high school and college students and their supporters.

Check out the recent article in The Forecaster about The Thin Line

Also if you know of anyone who would be interested in seeing The Thin Line, feel free to pass this email on! 

More About The Thin Line
Thin Line Photo

The Thin Line is an engaging and effective tool in reaching audiences, inspiring personal reflection and conversation around healthy and unhealthy behaviors.  Developed from personal interviews and research, the play composites a look at how an entire community is impacted by the disease, not just the person who is diagnosed. 

Watch The Thin Line Promo Video
See what others have been saying about The Thin Line

See where The Thin Line has been performed

What are others saying about The Thin Line?

Mere minutes into the performance, tears were streaming down my face. The play was a reflection of my life. My struggle was there for all to see, I was not alone, and someone was putting words to what I could not. The Thin Line is the most accurate portrayal I have seen, heard or read. This play helped my loved ones to understand. It showed my parents a little of what was going on in my head. This play captured my emotions, my thoughts and my struggles.
--KV, recovering anorexic

The Thin Line is one of the most accurate examinations of the experience of eating disorders. It shows the insidious hold eating disorders develop on an otherwise rational, resourceful, reliable person; how it destroys self-confidence, judgment, and relationships; how they affect the families and friends; how they defy logic and destroy the spirit.  The Thin Line may serve to both prevent eating disorders and to provide insight and hope to those who suffer from them. It will be a valuable tool in our attempts to defeat the "Body Wars" that plague girls and women in western culture.
--Dr. Margo Maine, author of Body Wars: Making Peace with Women's Bodies.
To date, The Thin Line and You the Man have toured to 32 states (as well as Bermuda and Japan!), and reached over 115,000 people.

To keep up to date on upcoming performances for all of Add Verb's programming,
Sign up for our enews announcements! 

Safe Unsubscribe
Add Verb Productions | PO Box 3853 | Portland | ME | 04101

Kimberly Simmons, Ph.D. 

Friday April 24 - Public Hearing on Marriage Equality

Dear friends:

Maine’s marriage campaign is moving to the next level. The public hearing on the marriage bill has been scheduled for Friday, April 24 at Cony High School in Augusta.

Make no mistake about it—April 24 will be the single most important day of this campaign outside of the final vote. The media, legislators, governor, and people of Maine will be watching.

Our opponents—Michael Heath and the Christian Civic League, Bob Emrich and the Maine Marriage Alliance, and national groups like Tony Perkins' Family Research Council—have already announced they will have over 1,000 people at the hearing.

We cannot let the opposition outnumber us on this critical day. The LGBT and allied community must come together like never before. Please join us in Augusta and bring your family and friends with you. Children are encouraged to attend—this will be a family-friendly event.

RSVP for the hearing by sending an email to April24@EqualityMaine.org. Be sure to include your name, address and phone number. Once you RSVP, you’ll receive an automatic response with the important details about the hearing.

Get ready for a day you'll never forget. This is history in the making!


p.s. Please forward this message to friends and allies.

Betsy Smith
Executive Director
PO Box 1951
Portland, ME 04104
207-761-3752 fax
207-939-7769 cell

Monday, April 6, 2009

Courage to Teach - Aroostok County

If any of you live The County or know teachers who do, this looks like a fabulous opportunity. Doug Babkirk was once my neighbor and he is an outstanding person - I'm sure a pleasure to be at a retreat he is facilitating. The Courage to Teach model is such a great one, too.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Alliance for Childhood ~ Little Kids Need Time To Play

The Alliance for Childhood has released their report on why young children need time for play (unstructured play) at school. The full report is available for download at their website.

For those interested in this topic in Maine, we at the Friends School of Portland are thrilled to be bringing Susan Linn (author of the Case for Make Believe and associate director of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood) to Maine for a teacher workshop and public lecture. Her talk, also entitled the Case for Make Believe, will be held at the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf on Mackworth Island on May 12th at 7pm. It is free and ASL interpreting will occur.