Mount Scopus Memorial College – not the safest school on the block

February 14, 2013

Mount Scopus Memorial CollegeCome on Mount Scopus, it’s 2013 and it’s ok to say the words GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER, INTERSEX and QUEER.  Really, it is.

It’s also ok to teach kids about homophobia and transphobia.  Offering a safe environment for students goes well beyond a basic anti-bullying program.  Telling students it’s not ok to tease or bully another student because they’re “gay” or “fat” or “stupid” is only the start in educating them about diversity, inclusion and acceptance.  It goes well beyond that, something that any educationalist worth their salt should know.

Parents, watch this video and then ask your Principal, Rabbi James Kennard, why he is refusing to give your students the safest possible schooling your hard-earned money can buy when he says he won’t join the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (web site / Facebook page).  You are currently paying for a SECOND RATE school while many others, including King David School, are offering a far safer environment for their students than Mount Scopus.

Sign Daniel Baker’s petition too and leave a message about why a safer school for your precious children is so important.  They only get one chance.  As parents, ask yourself if you and your school are doing the absolute best to make it the safest chance possible?


Update (Mar 6 2013): Bialik College signed up as a member of SSCV on March 1 2013.  Read the Aleph Melbourne media release.


FRIEND Film: Joseph’s Story

October 4, 2012
Please Watch & Share
Joseph’s Story of almost committing suicide & overcoming being bullied.
I would be forever grateful if you would share this amazing story of a young teen on your Facebook Page. I met Joseph in Tennessee while interviewing LGBT teens across America. His story changed my life and inspired me to really honor him in my writing.  Our goal is to get the video viral by October 11 for Coming Out Day.
Once Again Thank You,
Elliot London
FRIEND Film is about a gay & transgendered teenager dealing with coming out in 2012. A world of social networking and social change.

www.indiegogo.com/friendproject
www.facebook.com/myfriend
www.facebook.com/elliotdlondon


Director Elliot London Wants You as Friend to LGBT Youth through

National Awareness Campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(LOS ANGELES – OCT. 2, 2012) – It’s no doubt difficult being a teenager in today’s society, especially a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered teen.

But through it all, having strong allies and friends does tend to make it easier.

Once a victim of childhood bullying and homophobia himself, film director Elliot London (The Wedding Dance) has embarked today on an empowering and eye-opening campaign across America, hoping to bring awareness to the plight of LGBT youth bullying, and the importance of support systems.

The “Friend Project” is a new campaign showcasing two separate, yet thematically connected digital vignettes from two teenagers in different parts of rural America sharing their raw and tear-jerking stories of growing up gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered in the conservative heartland of America.

Starting today, each week for the next two weeks, London will share a new video with the public, with the ultimate goal of bringing these stories and others to life through an upcoming feature film entitled Friend.

In a completely hands-on and hybrid approach, both teenagers are also acting as creative liaisons on the project, having helped integrate their own life stories into the script.

“It’s a film that will bring the narrative and the reality into one,” says London. “We will be integrating a point of view from real life teenage experiences, rather than from a room of writers in Hollywood.”

He continues, “It’s so important that we continue to support and foster true independent American cinema. Unlike many other influential nations, we do not have the luxury of much government funding, grants and support they do for indie cinema, especially in a niche market.”

In the first film,  viewers will get to meet Joseph, a timid, yet courageous 16-year-old boy from Tennessee who once thought suicide was the only way out from the pain and torment that bullying carved into his impressionable young soul.

Anyone interested in becoming a part of Friend is encouraged to visit the project’s IndieGoGo campaign page at indiegogo.com/friendproject All donations are tax-deductible, as this film is being supported through Fractured Atlas, a registered 501(c)3.

 

Contact Information
phone: 310.691.4616
losangeleselliot@yahoo.com


From zero to front page in two weeks

February 23, 2012

The Jewish community is a funny animal.  Two weeks ago, on February 10, I brought to the attention of senior community leadership news of a story that was going to break that would put a spotlight on the Jewish community.  After some resistance, a statement was issued by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry distancing the Jewish community from the distasteful views of a certain ‘respected’ rabbi.

The following week saw the story get the front-cover on both the Melbourne commuter newspaper mX and gay community newspaper Star Observer.  Sydney’s Gay News Network also comprehensively covered the story as it unfolded.  GLBT community radio JOY 94.9FM and veteran journalist and broadcaster Doug Pollard was also swift on covering and helping to break the story both on air and online.  Even bloggers Mike Stuchbery and Torrents of Scorn took a stance on the issue.  The take-up and interest by these outlets was impressive.

This week’s edition of the Australian Jewish News sees a highly reactive cover-story response to the news that I brought to the attention of the Jewish community two weeks ago.  I am of the firm belief that if I had not responded to a tip-off from Doug Pollard on this story and set into place a chain of events, including bringing the developing stories to the attention of the Jewish News, that the paper would not have given this story the high-profile status that it has received this week.  Kudos to the AJN for the coverage of an important issue nevertheless.

The actual issue at play here is a deeply odious statement by Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen that challenges the ethics of an anti-bullying program that affirms homosexuality.   So offensive is the stance of this academic that both the ECAJ, the Monash University Faculty of Education staff and the Monash University media office have distanced themselves from his views.

Adding an extra dimension to this story, Monash University has been found to have an adjunct/honorary association with Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen, ongoing to 2015.  Monash University have advised that the academic is not an employee of the university and that they believe the association with him is meritorious.

I have petitioned the university to hold Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen to account for his homophobic views, such that he compares homosexuality to incest and bestiality, and put it to the university that they would not be so welcoming of an academic who’s speciality was Holocaust denial.

The issue of homophobia and bullying is firmly on the radar of the Australian Jewish community now.  It will be interesting to see the response from the community to an issue that makes so much of it deeply uncomfortable.  It will also be interesting to see how Monash University handles the uncomfortable situation they find themselves in.


Ilana Leeds shows strong support for shunned virulently anti-gay rabbi

February 16, 2012

In September 2010 Ilana Leeds told us she was a victim of bullying.  On Monday this week (Feb 13 2012), Ilana Leeds showed her support for Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen, a man who wants to delegitimise an anti-bullying program, simply because it affirms homosexuality.

20120213 Ilana Leeds blog supporting Rabbi Shimon Cowen

The hypocrisy here is amazing.  Really it is.  It’s beggars belief that a self-professed anti-bullying campaigner is promoting the very attitudes, based on disproven junk science, that have been shown to contribute to the alarmingly high rates of youth suicide in Australia.

The bullied anti-bullying campaigner joins ranks with the bully who wants to disband the life-saving anti-bullying program.


History making statement issued by Australia’s Jewish peak body against ‘respected’ Orthodox Rabbi

February 15, 2012

ECAJ logoLast Friday, February 10 2012, news came to me by way of Queer community journalist Doug Pollard that Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen had published a paper via the virulently anti-gay Australian Family Association, slamming homosexuality and along with it the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria.  The SSCV web site describes itself as “Dedicated to supporting gender and sexual diversity in schools.”

Doug Pollard has a personal interest in the welfare of SSCV as he was instrumental in helping the program get off the ground.  I have a personal interest in fighting homophobic intolerance in the Jewish community.  So without delay I wrote to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) and asked they intercede in this unpleasant matter, as they had made a commitment to countering hatred against GLBT people.  Together with Doug Pollard and also Rob Mitchell of the RJM Trust we had a dialogue with the ECAJ, explaining our concerns and reasons why a prompt response from the ECAJ would be beneficial.

On Monday, February 13 2012 Peter Wertheim, Executive Director of the ECAJ, issued a statement indicating the rabbi’s views were not representative of those of Australian Jewish community and in doing so, distanced themselves from his toxic viewpoints.  To the best of my knowledge this single acts sets a precedent for the Australian Jewish community (and perhaps even globally), as there has never been an organisation representing, in part, the Orthodox Jewish community that has spoken out publicly against an Orthodox Jewish rabbi.

I have to praise Peter Wertheim and the ECAJ for their professionalism, sensitivity and swift action in handling the concern presented to them.  They have told the community that it is unacceptable to vilify homosexuals and attack organisations and programs that have been established to prevent young people from bullies, especially bullies of the likes of Rabbi Cowen and his cohorts.

In saying that though, there is ample room for improvement in the position taken by the ECAJ.  Their cautiously worded statement lacked the necessary gravitas to tell the Orthodox Rabbinate that they must never again speak ill of homosexuality, that they must never refer to it as an illness, that they must never offer ‘reparative therapy’ as a ‘cure’ for homosexuality and that they must actually accept that homosexuality is a normal and healthy expression of human sexuality.

I have presented the ECAJ with a statement each from the Australian Psychological Society and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.  These statements are absolutely unambiguous in their message and leave no room for uncertainty as to what these two professional bodies believe is the best approach to the issue of reparative therapy.  Yet the ECAJ has refused to publicly acknowledge these two statements.  Why?  It surprises me that an organisation that has access to a plethora of psychologists and psychiatrists in the Jewish community didn’t source one of each to help them understand and convey these plain language statements.

The presence of Professor Kim Rubenstein on the ECAJ executive adds the necessary relevant academic and scientific qualifications to the repertoire of the ECAJ, as she is the convenor of the Gender Institute at the Australian National University, and is well-connected on these matters.  With her talents at hand, and access to a wealth of resources through the ANU, the ECAJ currently has no reason for saying “but it’s outside our area of expertise”.

I need to remind myself that the Jewish community, at its official level, is excellent at fighting hate from beyond its borders.  However it is far from having perfected that art when the hate emanates from within.  What is rewarding though is seeing that it is trying hard to get there.


JCCV – Victoria’s serial Jewish bully

March 10, 2011

[SOURCE]

This week the Australian Jewish News advised that the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has launched a new reporting system for anti-Semitic incidents.  They’ll be working with their Community Security Group and Victoria Police.  That’s good news. This sort of hate needs to be identified and countered.

Welcoming the initiative, JCCV president John Searle said, “This is a great step forward in our relationship with the police.  They will now have a much better understanding of the issues we face.”

No doubt they will.  The JCCV are not shy at bringing “the issues we face” to the attention of the community and authorities, when they are so motivated.

I have a message for JCCV president John Searle.  Next time you’re on the phone to Victoria Police, please ask them to transfer you to their Gay and Lesbian Advisory Unit.

Please tell the GLAU that GLBT members of the Jewish community face homophobia, intolerance, marginalisation, hate, discrimination and contempt and that the JCCV tolerates and contributes to these attitudes originating from both within and external to the community.

Please tell the GLAU that the JCCV sees GLBT people as inferior members of the community, to be feared, and does not believe they are worthy of being admitted as members of the JCCV because they are perceived to be a risk to community stability.

Victoria Police needs to know that the JCCV is a serial bully, constantly crying out against anti-Jewish attitudes, but simultaneously perpetrating anti-gay attitudes and intolerance.

The JCCV is not playing the game fairly.  It plays by its own duplicitous rules, doing what it wants, when it suits it.

Time is up JCCV.  The Jewish Community bully is a bad boy and it needs a really good spank.


A response to the JCCV’s Victorian Community Report

November 25, 2010

[SOURCE]

In J-Wire, Geoffrey Zygier of the JCCV says:

Finally Searle said that ”the GLBT Reference group formed by JCCV, is continuing to work towards combatting discrimination, vilification and managing mental health issues for this community. The plan is to look at speaking with school representatives in regards to bullying issues.

and

Searle has pledged to host more politicians’ lunches, conduct more interfaith activities starting with the Croatian community and expects to welcome more new affiliates next year in keeping with the JCCV’s policy of inclusion.”

Combatting bullying in schools necessary, as we know from the It Gets Better Project, but we need to hear the JCCV say that any intolerance of homosexuality is unacceptable to know they are taking the issue seriously.  To date that is the one thing they refuse to say.

For a secular organisation, with no official religious position, it is evident they are biased toward the interests of their Orthodox membership, and this is not the role of the organisation that is supposed to represent the entire Jewish community.

As for the “JCCV’s policy of inclusion”.  That is deceitful.  The JCCV has a strong history of excluding various organisations in the Jewish community, including the gay group Aleph Melbourne, and it certainly has excluded me from any discussions.

The JCCV needs a major overhaul, which I would suggest should start with the removal of the president.  Only then might the organisation start to become representative.


The “It Gets Better” Project

October 25, 2010

Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project, to try to make a positive difference to the lives of young people who are being bullied and struggling because of factors relating to their real or perceived sexual orientation.

I made a video for the project.  You can view it here.  My partner Gregory also told his story.

I invite you to also record a video for the project.  It’s really easy to do.  Just open your phone cam, plug in a web cam on your laptop or personal computer, or ask a friend to help you out.  Take a minute or longer and tell your story.  Tell a story of how you survived your school years, how you helped a friend get through, how you might have been a bully and how you regret it, how you said something once that you think might have had a negative impact on someone and wish you could have taken it back.  Please, just say something, something sincere and from the heart.  You might just make someone sit up and listen.  They might think twice about taking their life, or give them a ray of sun to lighten a dark place.

Joel Burns told a deeply moving story.   President Barak Obama has spoken from the White House.  These are just two of the more amazing contributions to the project.  There are hundreds more.  Every one adds a little extra piece to the puzzle of hope and love.

You can make a difference.  You owe it to someone who needs your help.


Ilana Leeds unleashes her inner bitch

October 17, 2010

Oblivious to the recent spate of teen suicides in USA caused by anti-gay bullying, Ilana Leeds lets herself off the leash again and barks out more anti-gay venom, ignorance, misinformation and bullying in her latest blog:

While I do not, and I m very clear on this, advocate causing harm to any person who is homosexual or otherwise different, I do not regard their behaviour as ‘normal’. That is my opinion. I base it on a number of facts including the idea that it is not normal sexual behaviour, even in the animal world.

I have sympathy for those born homosexual because I believe that it must be a difficult burden to deal with but by the same token, I think there are many therapies available and even if they cannot be cured they are able to come to terms with the fact that they need to address some issues in their lives.

Younger people with emotional problems can be taken advantage of in this very sensitive stage of their life by older more experienced homosexuals who may be just looking for a bit of fresh meat so to speak, and are apt to convince a younger impressionable person that they are gay because they (the older person) desires it to be so.

I will not be bullied or forced into accepting homosexuality as a normal sexual behaviour.

This religious whack-job is out of control.  She’s out of touch with reality, totally deluded and to top it all off appears to have a bad case of kennel cough.  Her views are poisonous and should not be tolerated.  Intelligent people will not be fooled by her ignorance and misinformation.  It’s only other ignorant people out there who will fall victim, unfortunately.

In closing, I’d like to remind you that despite the rabid rantings of Ilana Leeds, there is hope for anyone who feels they are struggling with their sexuality and aren’t sure what to do.  Taking your life or hurting yourself is not the answer.  Go to the It Gets Better Project and listen to the stories of the people out there who have been tormented by barking bullies like Ilana Leeds.


Are bullies a victim of bullying?

September 27, 2010

[SOURCE]

I recently wrote a blog on bullying [see here].  The person I was writing about has now described how she was previously a victim of bullying and relates her experience.  It makes a really interesting read:

20100927 Ilana Leeds comment 15290 on Galus Australis - header

20100927 Ilana Leeds comment 15290 on Galus Australis - tail

Ilana Leedssays:

B’H

Violence is bullying and most bullies will not sit and debate or discuss because fear drives them and their life is about power and somehow justifying their methods of denigration of others in order to justify their erroneous ideas.
I have been a victim of bullying and lost my teaching position because someone wanted to teach me a lesson about who is boss. Real leaders are not afraid of dissent because only with dissent do we learn and grow. If we all agreed with one another, what a strange world it would be.
I don’t care what culture, colour, gender or sexuality you are, respect is paramount in dealing with others and a good sense of humour.

One would expect a victim of bullying would be a little more understanding of the issues, especially when it comes to their personal views on homosexuality.

Clearly it’s not always the case.


Ilana Leeds – the biggest bully in town

September 21, 2010

Ilana Leeds declared war on homosexuality today.  She wrote some comments on Galus Australis (here and here):

…if they want marriage and all the other things that go with it,(Like the adoption of children) they need to give up their deviant practices and return to a heterosexual lifestyle and put themselves in order.

and

…those poor sick individuals who have to follow their unnatural desires and indulge in sexual practices that are not normal.

and

No I feel discriminated against, because I am not allowed to hold the view that homosexuality is deviant sexual behaviour, which it is.

It’s easy to understand how a person so steeped in their fundamentalist religious lifestyle can hold these extreme views.  It’s because she lives in an extremely blinkered world, and in that world there are a lot of people who are ignorant of understanding and accepting the diversity of human sexuality.

What’s less easy to understand is how someone so bigoted and hateful as Ilana Leeds can be genuinely concerned about the hot topic of bullying in schools.  She has a background in secondary education.  You can read all about it on her LinkedIn profile (PDF).  Further, she seems to be so interested in the topic of bullying in schools that she felt driven to write a novel about it, as you can see on her Twitter profile.  Her latest tweet was:

I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if she didn’t get past the first line.

And now “educator” and anti-bullying crusader Ilana Leeds has submitted a snide comment to my previous blog:

Author : Ilana Leeds (IP: 115.128.58.22 , 115.128.58.22)
E-mail : nobullies@education.com.au
URL    :
Whois  : http://ws.arin.net/cgi-bin/whois.pl?queryinput=115.128.58.22
Comment:
B’H

Only hateful sweetie pie, because you don’t like what I am saying and if it did not touch a raw chord and have an element of truth you would not react so hard.
Have a nice day.

So here you have it.  One the one hand Ilana Leeds calls homosexuals deviants and unnatural, and on the other hand she claims to be concerned about bullying at schools.  My guess is that the part of her brain that allows her to believe in god has grown so big that’s it’s squashed the part of her brain that bestows her intelligence and reason to the size of a shrivelled pea.

Often school kids are bullied because they are gay.  And often they are the most likely candidates for suicide or self-harm.  Any intelligent educator would know this, or be able to easily find it out, unless they have their head firmly lodged up their arse.

Ilana Leeds is one of the biggest bullies in town and as an educator she should be ashamed of herself.


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