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  • Queer Youth and Vulnerability

    August 22nd, 2014


    by Janet Madsen  |  @janet_madsen

    Although things have come a long way for many people in queer communities, they’re not ideal yet. Sure, there is greater acceptance of gays and lesbians.  In North America, we have celebrities like Laverne Cox and Ellen DeGeneres and Jim Parsons.  If we want to, we can marry in more places than ever, even though that battle is still being waged in many states and countries. Same sex parents are more present, although we still get stupid questions. Trans folks certainly still have tons to battle, and bisexuals can point to Anna Paquin’s education of Larry King as a perfect illustration of how misunderstood sexuality can be.  And yes, there are countries that make us illegal.


    I’ve read a couple of articles in the past few weeks that have reminded me of the vulnerability of queer youth in particular. One was a seemingly contradictory piece about how teen pregnancy rates are higher for queer kids than straight kids. That one makes sense to me- how better to establish straight credentials? I had boyfriends in high school, although I longed for the girls. Sex education can be heterocentric, or something queer kids just tune out.

    Another piece reported on a study of suicidal behaviour in LGBTQ youth. Study participants were three times as likely to have attempted suicide in the study year than their straight counterparts. Racial distinctions were gathered in the study, and found that “Latina LGBT girls had a significantly higher prevalence of suicide attempts than youth of any other race; and Latino LGBT boys reported feeling sad twice as often as boys of other racial categories.”  Researchers recognized that further study needs to look at the social influences that home, school and culture play in the lives of youth from varying backgrounds.

    Yes, “It Gets Better.” But all of us, queer and our allies, need to remember the tenderness of youth. It’s so easy to feel alone in a world where you’re supposed to appear surrounded by tons of friends. We need to think about little and large ways to make change happen.


    Photo: Jeltovsky, Morguefile

    You’ve got mail—where is it?

    August 15th, 2014

    by Erin Seatter | @erinlynds


    When Canada Post revealed its plan to end home delivery and erect community boxes instead, people were understandably unhappy.

    One obvious problem was that seniors and other people with restricted mobility would no longer have ready access to their mail and would perhaps have to put their bodies in harm`s way in order to retrieve it.

    The chief executive of Canada Post, Deepak Chopra, responded that seniors desire the exercise and “want to be living fuller lives” (because hoofing it to pick up your mail brings meaning to your existence). He also said that people with restricted mobility could get someone to pick up their mail for them (because service delivery can be pushed onto those receiving the service, and so what that not everyone has a trusted person to rely on?)

    Eight months later Canada Post says there may be a few more options. Here’s what Canada Post representative Jon Hamilton told media, as reported by CTV:

    “Or we may visit the idea of delivering the mail five days a week to the community box and then once a week, clearing it out and delivering it to the door,” Hamilton said.

    For that solution, customers would need to send in a note from their health care provider explaining their circumstances. Hamilton says the doctor’s note requirement is not unusual.

    A doctor’s note to receive your mail?

    “It is pretty ridiculous needing a doctor’s note in order to receive home delivery,” one PWN member told me when asked for her thoughts. “There will absolutely be HIV+ people who will need home delivery. Is it an essential service? I think it is for some communities.”

    Confidentiality is a big deal for people with HIV. As they can tell you, the more people (even so-called professionals) who find out about a person’s status, the greater the chance of a breach of that person’s privacy.

    The same PWN member reminded me that some HIV-positive people in small communities (geographically or within a city) “are already hesitant to get their meds at the local pharmacy for fear of disclosure” and now they may need to disclose a medical condition to the postal service.

    On the topic of confidentiality, here’s what Hamilton had to say, again as reported by CTV:

    Hamilton said a dedicated team has been assigned to determine individual needs, and the process will be completely confidential.

    We’re in the mail business and have been for years, so protecting information is core to our business,” said Hamilton.

    Such reassurances may not prove soothing for people with HIV, who may need to deal with forced disclosure, medical documentation, and further bureaucracy just to get their mail.