Archive | March 1, 2015

Kids in Same-sex Households at Greater Risk of Mental Health Problems*

Kids in Same-sex Households at Greater Risk of Mental Health Problems*

A new study published in the February 2015 issue of the British Journal of Education, Society, and Behavioural Science appears to be the largest yet on the matter of same-sex households and children’s emotional outcomes. It analyzed 512 children of same-sex parents, drawn from a pool of over 207,000 respondents who participated in the (US) National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) at some point between 1997 and 2013.

Results reveal that, on eight out of twelve psychometric measures, the risk of clinical emotional problems, developmental problems, or use of mental health treatment services is nearly double among those with same-sex parents when contrasted with children of opposite-sex parents. The estimate of serious child emotional problems in children with same-sex parents is 17%, compared with 7% among opposite-sex parents, after adjusting for age, race, gender, and parent’s education and income. Rates of ADHD were higher as well—15.5 compared to 7.1 percent. The same is true for learning disabilities: 14.1 vs. 8%.

Gay Parents Raising Children: The Mark Regnerus Study

The study’s author, sociologist Paul Sullins, assessed a variety of different hypotheses about the differences, including comparative residential stability, experience of stigma or bullying, parental emotional problems (6.1% among same-sex parents vs. 3.4% among opposite-sex ones), and biological attachment. Each of these factors predictably aggravated children’s emotional health, but only the last of these—biological parentage—accounted for nearly all of the variation in emotional problems. While adopted children are at higher risk of emotional problems overall, being adopted did not account for the differences between children in same-sex and opposite-sex households. It’s also worth noting that while being bullied clearly aggravates emotional health, there was no difference in self-reported experience of having been bullied between the children of same-sex and opposite-sex parents.

Vocal critics, soon to emerge, will likely home in on the explanatory mechanism—the fact that two mothers or two fathers can’t possibly both enjoy a biological connection to a child—in suggesting the results of the study reveal nothing of value about same-sex households with children. On the contrary, the study reveals a great deal. Namely, there is no equivalent replacement for the enduring gift to a child that a married biological mother and father offer. It’s no guarantee of success. It’s not always possible. But the odds of emotional struggle at least double without it. Some critics might attribute the emotional health differences to the realities of “adoption by strangers,” but the vast majority of same-sex couples in the NHIS exhibited one parent with a biological relationship with the child.

Even research on “planned” same-sex families—those created using assisted reproductive technology (ART)—reveals the significance of biological ties. Sullins notes such studies

have long recognized that the lack of conjoined biological ties creates unique difficulties and relational stresses. The birth and non-birth mother . . . are subject to competition, rivalry, and jealousy regarding conception and mothering roles that are never faced by conceiving opposite-sex couples, and which, for the children involved, can result in anxiety over their security and identity.

The population-based study pooled over 2,700 same-sex couples, defined as “those persons whose reported spouse or cohabiting partner was of the same sex as themselves.” This is a measure similar to that employed in the US Census, but it has the advantage of clarity about the sexual or romantic nature of the partnership (being sure to exclude those who are simply same-sex roommates). Among these, 582 had children under 18 in the household. A battery of questions was completed by 512 of them.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

This is not the first time the NHIS data have been used to analyze same-sex households and child health. A manuscript presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the Population Association of America assessed the same data. Curiously, that manuscript overlooked all emotional health outcomes. Instead, the authors inquired only into a solitary, parent-reported measure of their “perception of the child’s overall health,” a physical well-being proxy that varies only modestly across household types. Hence, the authors readily concluded “no differences.”

I’m not surprised.

This juxtaposition provides a window into the state of the social science of same-sex households with children. Null findings are preferred—and arguably sought—by most scholars and journal editors. Indeed, study results seem to vary by author, not by dataset. It is largely a different approach to the presentation of data that distinguishes those population-based studies hailed by many as proof of “no differences” from those studies denounced by the same people as “junk science.”

In fact, population-based surveys of same-sex households with children all tend to reveal the same thing, regardless of the data source. It’s a testimony to the virtues of random sampling and the vices of relying on nonrandom samples, which Sullins argues—in another published study—fosters “a strong bias resulting in false positive outcomes . . . in recruited samples of same-sex parents.” He’s right. Published research employing the New Family Structures Study (NFSS), the ECLS (Early Childhood Longitudinal Study), the US Census(ACS), the Canadian Census, and now the NHIS all reveal a comparable basic narrative, namely, that children who grow up with a married mother and father fare best at face value.

The real disagreement is seldom over what the data reveal. It’s how scholars present and interpret the data that differs profoundly. You can make the children of same-sex households appear to fare fine (if not better), on average, if you control for a series of documented factors more apt to plague same-sex relationships and households: relationship instability, residential instability, health and emotional challenges, greater economic struggle (among female couples), and—perhaps most significantly—the lack of two biological connections to the child. If you control for these, you will indeed find “no differences” left over. Doing this gives the impression that “the kids are fine” at a time when it is politically expedient to do so.

This analytic tendency reflects a common pattern in social science research to search for ‘‘independent’’ effects of variables, thereby overlooking—or perhaps ignoring—the pathways that explain how social phenomena actually operate in the real world. By way of a helpful comparison, I can state with confidence that after controlling for home ownership, residential instability, single parenthood, and neighborhood employment levels, there is no association between household poverty and child educational achievement. But it would be misleading to say this unless I made it clear that these were the pathways by which poverty hurts educational futures—because we know it does.

The academy so privileges arguments in favor of same-sex marriage and parenting that every view other than resounding support—including research conclusions—has been formally or informally scolded. I should know. The explosive reaction to my 2012 research about parental same-sex relationships and child outcomes demonstrates that far more is at work than seeking answers to empirical research questions. Such reactions call into question the purpose and relevance of social science. Indeed, at least one sociologist holds that social science is designed “to identify and understand the various underlying causal mechanisms that produce identifiable outcomes and events of interest.” That this has not been the case with the study of same-sex households raises a more basic question.

Is the point of social science to win political arguments? Or is its purpose to better understand social reality?

What to Expect from a Topic Emerging from Its Infancy

One by-product of better data—or perhaps the smell of impending victory by proponents of civil same-sex marriage in America—may be greater intellectual honesty about such relationships. Indeed, researchers have admitted the tendency to downplay “any inequities between same-sex partners . . . in part because of the dominant mantra that same-sex couples are more equal than different sex couples.”

It’s not the only consequential admission. Scholars are increasingly—and openly—squabbling over the nature of sexual orientation itself, signaling the comparative infancy of the social science here. Moreover, there’s a good deal of sexual identity switching being reported among young adults, a fact that does not comport with a honed narrative of immutability.

So should scholars trust self-reported sexual orientations? If people report something different a few years later, should we attribute this to their malleable sexuality or consider them heterosexual “jokesters” bent on messing with survey administrators? It is profoundly ironic that social scientists make strong social constructionist arguments about nearly everything except sexual orientation.

Stanford demographer Michael Rosenfeld’s survey project How Couples Meet and Stay Together (HCMST) reveals that while only 3% of heterosexual married persons reported being “at least sometimes attracted” to persons of a gender other than the gender of their current partner in the past year, the same was true of 20% of men in same-sex relationships and 33% of women in same-sex relationships. While the malleability of self-identified lesbian women is now taken for granted among social scientists of sexuality, the one-in-five figure among men in gay relationships is higher than most would guess.

In keeping with the data, expect those robust legal arguments leaning on the immutability of sexual orientation to bleed out within the next five years. Indeed, sociologists have never been fans of such biological essentialism, but have kept their mouths shut out of a sense of political duty to a movement they helped birth. No more.

Social scientists will soon wrestle with, rather than overlook, the elevated levels of poverty among well-educated lesbian women in America (as seen in the ACS, NFSS, NHIS, and HCMST). Until now, scholars predictably elected to employ income as a control variable in their studies of child and adult life outcomes, enabling them to avoid confronting the reasons for the unprecedented negative association of education with income among the population of same-sex female couples. Here again, it’s not been about understanding but about winning political battles.

We will also learn much more about the relationship stability distinctions that are common in the data between gay and straight parents. Unpublished research exploring the stability rates of same-sex and opposite-sex couples using data from yet more population-based surveys finds that claims about thecomparability of same-sex and heterosexual couple stability (again, after a series of controls) are actually limited to couples without children. For couples with children, the dissolution rate for same-sex couples is more than double that of heterosexual couples. What remains unknown yet is whether this difference is an artifact that will disappear with legal marriage rights. I doubt it, given that same-sex relationships are distinctive in other ways, too. But it’s an empirical question.

As it turns out, the NFSS was not unique. It was simply more transparent than most datasets and offered a clearer glimpse into the messy reality of many Americans’ household histories. It did the work social science was intended to do—to richly describe and illuminate—but in so doing invited unprecedented hostility.

On a Thursday morning in late June 2015, Americans will be treated to the Court’s decision about altering an institution as old as recorded human history. But one thing that day will not change is the portrait of same-sex households with children. After a series of population-based data-collection projects, we know what that looks like: a clear step down, on average, from households that unite children with their own mother and father.

Biology matters—as new research released this week confirms—and no amount of legislation, litigation, or cheerleading can alter that. Whether the high court will elect to legally sever the rights of children to the security and benefits of their mother’s and father’s home is anyone’s guess.


Related Topics:

Sexual Liberation a Tool of Mass Control*

Why is the Legalization of Gay Marriage so Important to the Queen?*

****Up Nature: Sex change for Nine-year-olds*

Ontario’s Premier Grooming Youngsters for Sex

UN’s Heterophobic Agenda*

Social sciences and the destruction of individuality

Mexican Study: Lower Mother Mortality and Violence against Women in Less ‘Liberal’ States*

Mexican Study: Lower Mother Mortality and Violence against Women in Less ‘Liberal’ States*

An international team of medical researchers comparing maternal mortality rates and abortion laws in 32 Mexican states claims it has disproven the claim of abortion promoters that easy access to abortion will reduce maternal deaths.

Comparing 14 states with constitutional protection for the unborn with 18 states with varying degrees of permissiveness over 10 years, the Chilean-Mexican-American team found that the less permissive states had a maternal mortality rate 23% lower, and a post-abortive mortality rate “up to” 47% lower.

Team member Dr. John Thorp of the University of North Carolina medical school said in a video released along with the study that it “pretty much refutes the conventional wisdom” that freer access to abortion will reduce maternal fatalities because abortions will be done in safe conditions.

The research director, Dr. Elard Koch, director of the sponsoring MELISA Institute and an associate researcher with the University of Chile’s faculty of medicine, said in the same video that the study does not show “making abortion laws less permissive will automatically decrease maternal deaths.”

But what it does show is that more difficult access to abortion has none of the negative impact on death rates claimed by organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute.

At the same time, the study shows that states with more permissive laws had higher rates of violence against women. Meanwhile, those states with less permissive laws regarding abortion provided better prenatal care, more skilled maternity staff, and better emergency obstetrics.

Out of 10 factors examined, the one bearing the strongest relationship with reduced maternal mortality rate (MMR) was the mother’s literacy and education levels, which bring knowledge about pre-birth health and hygiene and dispel counter-productive folk “wisdom.” Less permissive states had better literacy rates.

Thorp said the results were not a surprise. A similar study tracking Chilean MMR through several changes back and forth in abortion laws showed the same factors correlating strongly with a reduced MMR, especially female literacy maternal and access to modern medicine. It also showed that legal abortion access had little to no relevance. Thorp also noted a study comparing abortion laws and the rate of complications arising from abortions in 23 U.S. states also showed that tighter abortion laws went with fewer complications.

Other factors the study found to be related to higher maternal death rates were

“Poverty, malnutrition, and exposure to infectious diseases during the fertile age of women increase the risk of maternal death,” according to Sebastián Haddad, MD, a researcher at the Universidad de Anáhuac in Mexico.


Related Topics:

Cancer as a Case Against Abortion

Society’s Obligation to Mothers

How Feminism Destroys Society*

The Never-ending Feminist War on Children*

Sexual Liberation a Tool of Mass Control*

If Terrorism is Such a Grave Threat, Why Does the FBI Keep Manufacturing Plots?

If Terrorism is Such a Grave Threat, Why Does the FBI Keep Manufacturing Plots?

By Glenn Greenwald

The FBI and major media outlets yesterday trumpeted the agency’s latest counterterrorism triumph: the arrest of three Brooklyn men, ages 19 to 30, on charges of conspiring to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS (photo of joint FBI/NYPD press conference, above). As my colleague Murtaza Hussain ably documents,

“it appears that none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant.

One of the frightening terrorist villains told the FBI informant that, beyond having no money, he had encountered a significant problem in following through on the FBI’s plot: his mom had taken away his passport. Noting the bizarre and unhinged ranting of one of the suspects, Hussain noted on Twitter that this case “sounds like another victory for the FBI over the mentally ill.”

In this regard, this latest arrest appears to be quite similar to the overwhelming majority of terrorism arrests the FBI has proudly touted over the last decade. As my colleague Andrew Fishman and I wrote last month — after the FBI manipulated a 20-year-old loner who lived with his parents into allegedly agreeing to join an FBI-created plot to attack the Capitol — these cases follow a very clear pattern:

The known facts from this latest case seem to fit well within a now-familiar FBI pattern whereby the agency does not disrupt planned domestic terror attacks but rather creates them, then publicly praises itself for stopping its own plots.

First, they target a Muslim: not due to any evidence of intent or capability to engage in terrorism, but rather for the “radical” political views he expresses. In most cases, the Muslim targeted by the FBI is a very young (late teens, early 20s), adrift, unemployed loner who has shown no signs of mastering basic life functions, let alone carrying out a serious terror attack, and has no known involvement with actual terrorist groups.

They then find another Muslim who is highly motivated to help disrupt a “terror plot”: either because they’re being paid substantial sums of money by the FBI or because (as appears to be the case here) they are charged with some unrelated crime and are desperate to please the FBI in exchange for leniency (or both). The FBI then gives the informant a detailed attack plan, and sometimes even the money and other instruments to carry it out, and the informant then shares all of that with the target. Typically, the informant also induces lures, cajoles, and persuades the target to agree to carry out the FBI-designed plot. In some instances where the target refuses to go along, they have their informant offer huge cash inducements to the impoverished target.

Once they finally get the target to agree, the FBI swoops in at the last minute, arrests the target, issues a press release praising themselves for disrupting a dangerous attack (which it conceived of, funded, and recruited the operatives for), and the DOJ and federal judges send their target to prison for years or even decades (where they are kept in special GITMO-like units). Subservient U.S. courts uphold the charges by applying such a broad and permissive interpretation of “entrapment” that it could almost never be successfully invoked.

Once again, we should all pause for a moment to thank the brave men and women of the FBI for saving us from their own terror plots.

One can, if one really wishes, debate whether the FBI should be engaging in such behaviour. For reasons I and many others have repeatedly argued, these cases are unjust in the extreme: a form of pre-emptory prosecution where vulnerable individuals are targeted and manipulated not for any criminal acts they have committed but rather for the bad political views they have expressed. They end up sending young people to prison for decades for “crimes” which even their sentencing judges acknowledge they never would have seriously considered, let alone committed, in the absence of FBI trickery. It’s hard to imagine anyone thinking this is a justifiable tactic, but I’m certain there are people who believe that. Let’s leave that question to the side for the moment in favour of a different issue.

We’re constantly bombarded with dire warnings about the grave threat of home-grown terrorists, “lone wolf” extremists and ISIS. So intensified are these official warnings that The New York Times earlier this month cited anonymous U.S. intelligence officials to warn of the growing ISIS threat and announce “the prospect of a new global war on terror.”

But how serious of a threat can all of this be, at least domestically, if the FBI continually has to resort to manufacturing its own plots by trolling the Internet in search of young drifters and/or the mentally ill whom they target, recruit and then manipulate into joining? Does that not, by itself, demonstrate how over-hyped and insubstantial this “threat” actually is? Shouldn’t there be actual plots, ones that are created and fuelled without the help of the FBI, that the agency should devote its massive resources to stopping?

This FBI tactic would be akin to having the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) constantly warn of the severe threat posed by drug addiction while it simultaneously uses pushers on its payroll to deliberately get people hooked on drugs so that they can arrest the addicts they’ve created and thus justify their own warnings and budgets (and that kind of threat-creation, just by the way, is not all that far off from what the other federal law enforcement agencies, like the FBI, are actually doing). As we noted the last time we wrote about this, the Justice Department is aggressively pressuring U.S. allies to employ these same entrapment tactics in order to create their own terrorists, who can then be paraded around as proof of the grave threat.

Threats that are real, and substantial, do not need to be manufactured and concocted. Indeed, as the blogger Digby, citing Juan Cole, recently showed, run-of-the-mill “lone wolf” gun violence is so much of a greater threat to Americans than “domestic terror” by every statistical metric that it’s almost impossible to overstate the disparity:

In that regard, it is not difficult to understand why “domestic terror” and “homegrown extremism” are things the FBI is desperately determined to create. But this FBI terror-plot concoction should, by itself, suffice to demonstrate how wildly exaggerated this threat actually is.


The ACLU of Massachusetts’s Kade Crockford notes this extraordinarily revealing quote from former FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes, as he defends one of the worst FBI terror “sting” operations of all (the Cromitie prosecution we describe at length here):

If you’re submitting budget proposals for a law enforcement agency, for an intelligence agency, you’re not going to submit the proposal that “We won the war on terror and everything’s great,” cuz the first thing that’s gonna happen is your budget’s gonna be cut in half. You know, it’s my opposite of Jesse Jackson’s ‘Keep Hope Alive’—it’s ‘Keep Fear Alive.’ Keep it alive.

That is the FBI’s terrorism strategy — keep fear alive — and it drives everything they do.


Related Topics:

22 Years of Fake “Islamic Terror”*

Lockerbie Lies to Subvert Independent Sovereign Countries *

How Many Muslim Countries Has the U.S. Bombed Or Occupied Since 1980?*

Questioning the Legality of the House of Windsor*

Questioning the Legality of the House of Windsor*

Is this why they keep concocting new ways to create a baby on unsuspecting wealthy couples while reducing the rest of the population?

House of Windsor Coat-of-Arms

By Ekaterina Blinova

The history of the British Royal Houses has always been shrouded in mystery: citing the results of DNA tests as well as hereditary genetic disorders researchers, have called into question the legitimacy of the present British royalties.

Scientists from the University of Leicester claimed last year there could be a break in the royal blood line, citing an astonishing mismatch of the DNA of Richard III to that of some of his descendants: it is not possible to trace his modern male-line relatives through the Y chromosome. Henry VII Tudor, who seized the power in 1485 after defeating the king in the Battle of Bosworth Field, cemented his power by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and niece of Richard III.

The current royal family share a direct blood line to the Tudors, researchers underscored, calling into question the House of Windsor’s right to rule. In addition to the suspicious DNA tests’ results scientists also pointed to some hereditary genetic disorders, suggesting there could have been some skeletons in the closet of the Queen Victoria’s mother, German-born Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

In 1995 a book Queen Victoria’s Gene by D.M. Potts was published examining the defective hemophilia gene in the royal bloodline. The author claimed that while Queen Victoria’s son Leopold as well as some of her grandchildren suffered from the deadly disease, no member of the royal line before Leopold had been struck by the condition. In this light there could be only two possibilities: either one of Victoria’s parents had an extremely rare gene mutation (1 in 50,000), or Queen Victoria was the illegitimate child of a hemophiliac man.

According to the scientists from the Royal Society of Medicine, the defective gene has not been registered in seventeen generations of the family on Queen Victoria’s mother’s side. So far, experts suggest, neither the queen, nor her descendants could be recognized as legitimate British monarchs. However, Victoria was considered the only hope of the British crown: none of her grandfather George III’s sons produced a healthy heir, her uncle George IV’s daughter died when she was 21 in 1817, and none of King William IV’s ten children by the actress Mrs. Jordan could take the throne in accordance with the royal rules.

Historians note that hemophilia has played an important role in Europe’s history: the defective gene passed through Victoria to many of her descendants, including the son of Russian Tsar Nicholas II, Alexei, the heir to the Russian throne. Experts speculate that it was Alexei’s disease that led to the entry of Rasputin into the Tsar’s family undermining its prestige and contributing to the disastrous Russian revolution.

In addition, experts point out that George III, Victoria’s grandfather, suffered from porphyria, a rare inherited disease, resulting in such conditions as mental disorder, abdominal pains and itchy skin. Remarkably, none of Queen Victoria’s descendants has ever suffered from porphyria disease.

The question remains open whether the evidence obtained by scientists will ultimately shake the positions of the House of Windsor and particularly its current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.


Related Topics:

Royal Babylon

Heavenly Signs: A Celestial-Terrestrial Drama in the Making

Princess Diana’s Mother Is A Rothschild

Another Law Passed to Prevent Any Paedophile Connection to British Royalty*

Between the State of the City of London and the Crown*

The British Monarch Vetoes Legislation that Doesn’t Serve It’s Interests*

UK. Breaking the Social Contract Set’s it Back to Post-WWII*

Why is the Legalization of Gay Marriage so Important to the Queen?*

Bertrand Russell on the Manipulation of Society*

Why a Christian Woman is Wearing Hijab For Lent*

Why a Christian Woman is Wearing Hijab For Lent*

In an effort to break down barriers between Islam and Christianity, an Illinois mother and church director has elected to wear hijab for all 40 days of the Lenten season

Jessey Eagan is a good Christian. She says following Jesus is her main focus in life, and it’s evidenced by her position as children’s director of her local church. Which is why it’s slightly puzzling to learn she has decided to wear hijab, the traditional head-covering worn by Muslim women, for all 40 days of Lent.

She’s aware this sounds a little strange, especially in light of the current tensions between Christians and Muslims across the globe, but she sees it as a way to foster understanding and challenge perceived differences.

“In Lent you give something up or take on a specific practice, so I decided I would take on the practice of hospitality by putting myself in the shoes of another,” Eagan says over the phone from her home in Peoria, Illinois.

“I wanted to see what their life is like, to see how it’s different from mine, and to remind myself of what it feels like to be an outsider.”

Eagan’s interest in Muslim culture and the experience of “the other” is not an accident. It began when she and her husband, Jeff, decided to move to Jordan seven years ago on a whim. They wanted to “do something crazy before settling down,” and after meeting a missionary who lived and worked in the Middle East country, they decided to give it a try.

While there, they volunteered at an Iraqi refugee clinic and taught at an Islamic school. They made many Muslim friends, but being a Christian with blond hair and blue eyes, Eagan “stuck out like a sore thumb.”

Still, this turned out to be a transformative experience.

“Going over there, we didn’t know anything about Islam,” she says.

“But we totally changed our perspective on the religion. We realized we had a passion for these people.”

Today Jeff works for Crescent Project, an organization that teaches North American Christians about Islam and works to build bridges with Muslims. After returning from Jordan, Eagan herself briefly taught at the local Islamic school and began making friends in the large Islamic community she discovered in her hometown. This, in addition to what she believes is the media’s misguided tendency to conflate terrorism with Islam, is what eventually led her to make the decision to wear hijab every time she leaves her home throughout Lent.


But before committing to her new uniform, Eagan decided to call a Muslim friend to ask her opinion. To her surprise, the friend expressed 100 percent support and even offered to lend Eagan her headscarves.

“My hijab drawer is yours, come and pick what u like,” she wrote over text message.

“If u don’t have time I can bring them to u, just let me know what colours.”

Eagan is currently on Day 9, and apart from the staring, her hijab-wearing has proved to be a largely uneventful—which is to say positive—experience so far. Both her friends at church and her Islamic friends have received her new look well, and she even had the opportunity to wear a “birkini” when she took her children to the YMCA pool. For those unfamiliar, this is a three-piece, lycra swimsuit that covers the wearer from head to toe.

Eagan is aware her empathy quest may be seen as offensive by some Muslims—as a form of cultural appropriation designed to benefit her own conscience and not much else—but Eagan insists this is not the case.

“The last thing I want to do is offend,” she says.

“I am trying to break down cultural barriers, and I’ve found that this is a very simple way to do it, and I hope that people will understand that, and maybe walk along with me in this journey.”

She is also blogging about the experience, with the goal of encouraging her readers to begin a dialogue with someone of another religion, so they can better understand each other.

“In doing this I hope that people, especially Christians, can be a little more brave in just saying hi, or starting a conversation [with a Muslim] in the grocery store,” she says.

This seemingly simple gesture is something many of us fail to do, whether out of prejudice, or more often, because we fear an awkward situation.

To demonstrate this, Eagan relays a story about Jeff, who introduced himself to two Saudi students on a Chicago-bound bus after he heard them speaking Arabic. They invited him into their conversation and told him that they had been studying in the United States for nine months. In that time, they said, he was the first American who had ever said anything to them. The two students did not say that people had treated them unkindly or with malice, but that people chose not to see them at all can be seen as another form of intolerance.

“The stares don’t bother me all that much,” Eagan says of her experience wearing hijab. “This could be because I have dreads, so I get a lot of stares anyway.”

“The stares don’t bother me all that much,” Eagan says of her experience wearing hijab. “This could be because I have dreads, so I get a lot of stares anyway.”

The same can be said for the retail giant Abercrombie & Fitch, purveyor of skimpy prep-wear, which chose to ignore the fact that 17-year-old Samantha Elauf was highly qualified for the salesperson position she was applying for, solely because she chose to wear a headscarf. The company denied her the job, citing its “Look Policy,” and Elauf subsequently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which Abercrombie has continued to fight. The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments yesterday for the discrimination case and is expected to side with Elauf this June.

Eagan feels fortunate to have had an easier experience than Elauf thus far, but she also wonders if she has been overcompensating by being especially friendly with people, just because she is wearing hijab.

“I’m not getting my hopes up that this will stay positive the entire time,” Eagan says.

But no matter how the next 31 days go, she’s sure she’ll come out of the experience with a more informed perspective than she had before.

“In reminding myself what being an outsider is like, I can learn to better love and serve them—Muslim or otherwise.”


Related Topics:

Hijab Ban Overturned on French Beaches*

Turkey Ends Hijab Ban*

Hope for Womanhood as Non-Muslims Sympathize with Attacked Pregnant Muslimah

Major UK Department Store to Sell School Hijabs*

Mandatory Dress Code for New Jersey*

U.S. Bishops Find Iran has No Nuclear Proliferation*

Gender Equity in Islam

Venezuela Bans ‘Terrorists’ Bush, and Cheney *

Venezuela Bans ‘Terrorists’ Bush, and Cheney *

Two months and two coups into 2015…

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a new mandatory visa requirement for all Americans visiting the country. The leader also called to review and downsize the number of US embassy staff in Caracas.

“In order to protect our country…I have decided to implement a system of compulsory visas for all Americans entering Venezuela,” Maduro said in a speech on Saturday.

This is a reciprocal measure and now all Americans will have to pay tourist visa fees equal to what “a Venezuelan pays to travel to the US.”

When announcing the new regulations for US tourists, Maduro said that Venezuela apprehended American citizens who were involved in “espionage activities.”

“We have captured some US citizens in undercover activities, espionage, trying to win over people in towns along the Venezuelan coast,” he said.

A group of four missionaries had been called in for questioning after participating in a medical assistance campaign in the coastal town of Ocumare de la Costa, the head of a Venezuelan evangelical organization said on Friday.

The four had reportedly left the country for Aruba after having been questioned.

Maduro also said that Venezuela captured a US pilot of Latin American descent in the western state of Tachira, who he claims was also conducting “covert” espionage activities.

At the same time, Maduro asked to review and reduce the number of US diplomatic staff in the country, after allegations of “conspiratorial meetings” against Venezuela.

“I’ve thought about it…First I have ordered the Foreign Ministry…to proceed immediately, to review…[and] limit the number of officials at the [US] embassy in Venezuela,” Maduro said. “They have 100 staff, we have 17.”

He added that former US President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Republican Congress members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Robert Menendez, and Marco Rubio will be denied visas into the country, labelling Bush and Cheney as “terrorists.”

The travel bans, Maduro said, target those who “violated human rights and bombed villages as in Iraq, Syria and Vietnam.”

From now on, US diplomats will be required to seek approval from the Foreign Ministry for meetings they conduct in Venezuela.

The allegations were made amid widespread protests in the country in the first half of 2014, triggered by high levels of inflation, mass power cuts, and a lack of basic goods. Demonstrators demanded Maduro’s resignation amid an economic crisis that was hitting the food sector the most.

Later in February, Venezuela’s leader announced that the country successfully defeated an alleged US-sponsored coup, adding that a plot involved an attack on the presidential palace or another top target, Maduro said.

Prior to that, Maduro claimed at the end of 2014 that there were “recordings” disclosing the US plan to bribe and corrupt Venezuelan authorities.

Washington and Caracas have been at odds with each other since Venezuela’s iconic former leader Hugo Chavez came to power in 2000. Previously, the US had been accused of trying to undermine the Venezuelan government in 2002, when a coup saw Chavez ousted from office for 47 hours before order was restored.


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