Give Every Student The Customized Assistance They Deserve

Who says that help has to be a bad thing? These days, people talk about the educational system in such a way that makes it sound like a student is “bad” or “in trouble” if they need help. But as an American in Sweden sending her two beautiful mixed-culture children to school here in Stockholm, I realize there are many problems with this statement.

You see, I’ve had the benefit of seeing both educational systems in action, both here and back in the States. The schools here in Sweden are fantastic, and every student truly feels like they’re getting the attention they need and deserve. But no matter how much time you spend with a student, they’re bound to run into a problem that they can’t solve on their own. As a parent, watching your child be frustrated by a problem they just can’t figure out is heartbreaking.

Homework_Help

Yet there’s another issue that comes up all too often: the student that has stellar performance, but seems a bit lost as to how to continue. That student tends to fall through the cracks far too often, because a teacher’s concern is making sure that everyone understands the material. That’s true here, as well as back in the States. The reality here is that we need to be able to address both students, yet we only have enough time to address one.

So, how do we address both problems at once? We have to start looking into private solutions, rather than trust the state school system to handle everything.

My oldest child has difficulty in figuring out what he should focus on next, and it’s caused him to be pretty indifferent about school lately. However, I looked into a private option most don’t think about or even know about: Allakando.se. This site features professionals that actually work with students of all levels. So if your student is struggling in one or more classes, these people can help you out. Likewise if your student is passing everything with great performance, but they just need a little more challenge.

A teacher instructs a schoolgirl in a high school class

Good homework help isn’t about giving a student all of the answers, or doing it all for them. It’s about meeting the student at their level and helping them succeed. What’s great about allakando is that they go out of their way to help as many students as they can — over 5400 students a year, to be exact. If you live in a decently populated area, the teachers will come out and give private lessons directly to your students. Since we live in Stockholm, I just had a private tutor come in after school a few times a week.

Using services like this are great when you want to give your child a few additional tools they can use for success no matter what. This company has teachers for all courses, and you can meet the teachers in a public place if that would make you more comfortable. The first few times they came out, I met with them at the library. Both of my children received private teaching lessons at the library, but each child received a bit different instruction, tailored to their needs.

We all love to give gifts to our children and spoil them from time to time. This is one gift that you can shower your children with that will affect their education for many years to come. Check it out today!

Gay Marriage Comes to South Dakota – Finally!

The fight for marriage equality shouldn’t be this hard. After all, it’s not like anyone’s asking straight people to suddenly take on a gay partner forever and ever. It’s merely an acknowledgement that other people want to have the same rights that many straight people take for granted. Alas, the battle for equal rights is going to be a long and very drawn out one. But today we have some great news. A federal judge in South Dakota ruled that a ban on gay marriage is simply unconstitutional, and gay marriages must be acknowledged by the state.

This means that couples in South Dakota can finally be acknowledged as married, after all the dust clears.

We keep seeing sharp comments around news articles, questioning whether or not these announcements matter. We think that in order to answer that type of question, we have to look at the people affected by it. For a straight person, gay marriage is something that they can take or leave. It’s something that pops up in their news feeds on Facebook, or they see it when they read the morning newspaper offline. Maybe a coworker mentions something in the workplace, and a few people nod their heads. Free speech is a bit more curtailed at work, so the uptight coworker that thinks marriage should be between a man and woman only can’t necessarily voice their opinion. The trouble with creating a non hostile workplace is that you can’t police people all of the time. When you’re gay and trying to be a professional, it’s hard not to participate in these types of conversations. It’s difficult in part because there’s so much at stake.

gay marriage south dakota

When we’re talking about gay marriage, we’re actually talking about someone’s future. We’re talking about the natural inheritance rules that are limited to only a chosen set. The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered among us don’t get to have a legally binding wedding. This means that there’s always a chance for a legal battle. How could anyone say that’s okay? What happens if one partner dies? Are you going to fight for gay rights when it’s time for the surviving life partner to take those assets and keep them for the next generation? Gay couples want to adopt children, another issue that tends to light people up. They make the argument that gays shouldn’t adopt because they can’t get married. Now gay marriage is slowly but surely being taken off the table. Now what is the excuse for not allowing gay adoptions?

We see articles that talk endlessly of the concern that children raised by gay couples will turn out to be far more dysfunctional, but no one ever stops to think about if that’s the case for the children born to straight people.

It’s a nasty double standard, and it needs to end in 2015. But you can be part of the change movement in a few small ways. [Read more…]

Support for Transgender Youth is More Important Than Ever

What does it mean to be transgender? We’ve heard it described a few different ways but one description rings in our heads the most: like being born in a bad costume that you can never, ever take off without undergoing intense pain. You know that if someone describes being transgender like that it’s time to pay attention. Unfortunately, we’re not paying attention. Being gay, lesbian, or bisexual has its share of challenges, and we’ve talked about them endlessly in the past. But what does it mean to be transgender, and why are we ignoring the problem?

We think that the conversation on transgender youth needs to definitely be out there. It’s okay to be LGBT, and that definitely includes transgender. But when you have no articles discussing your lifestyle, it’s hard to feel included at the table. We’ve read some reader feedback about this, and felt it was time to correct the situation. Since we’re not transgender, we apologize for any hurt feelings that the lack of inclusion may have caused.

Transgender Youth

Being transgender means a complex series of decisions. Do you consider yourself a male or a female? Do you want to look at gender reassignment surgery? Do you want to dress as a woman, but keep the genitals of a man? There’s no easy answer here, and there’s no wrong answer either.

laverne-cox

As a society, we need to allow the discussion to take on more than just genitals and dresses. We also need to highlight transgendered people in the media. Laverne Cox is speaking out about transgender issues. She is an MTF transgender activist and actress who wants the world to accept transgendered people as who they are, rather than as whom the world thinks they should pretend to be. Media representation is the fastest way to increase people’s view of transgender issues, but it’s also a way that criticism creeps in. People tend to reject what they don’t understand. Unfortunately, gay and lesbian people tend to also be in that category. We have to embrace transgender people as allies, not as enemies. We’re all in the same battle. Don’t you want them to have the same freedoms that you enjoy? The “gay agenda” has enjoyed a long time in the sun, but there’s room in the sun for everyone’s issues. We don’t have to pick and choose, though it can feel that way at times. Throw in subjects of race, class, and disability, and the conversation gets even more complicated. [Read more…]

Should You be Openly Gay On Campus?

Everyone wants to fit in whether they want to admit it or not. Even though we’re a gay community, we’re not going to say that there aren’t times where we wish to fit in a lot better than we do. Even as adults, we still look back on our school days and wish that people could just accept us the way we are. Unfortunately, people aren’t always that accepting or forgiving.

As more gay youth find the courage to graduate from high school and start thinking about college, a question hangs in the air: should you be openly gay on campus? Can you be openly gay on campus without risking your entire college career?

There are plenty of openly gay students. I think the question is unfair, because not everyone wants to be openly gay. Not everyone wants to open that part of their life up to public scrutiny. You can’t expect for zero criticism to take place. Anytime you reveal that something about you is different, people are going to talk about it.

Coping with the College Crowd

College is rough because no one really teaches you how to cope. You will find your “niche” in college as long as you stand up for yourself. Don’t be afraid to be weird. Many, many college students are waking up and realizing that being against gays is wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being gay, and we need to treat it as a healthy, normal part of someone’s sexuality.

Openly Gay

The changes, in our opinion, also start from within the gay community. Pressuring someone else is come out is never okay. On the other hand, we should be encouraging to other people that want to be out, but find that they just can’t get themselves to commit to such a big change right away. If your university has a group for LGBT people, join it. If there’s a bigger group in the city where your university is located, join it! You won’t meet like minded people unless you go out there. Some gay people expect everything to be handed to them, and that’s just not the case.

We’re not saying that you’re automatically going to get along with other LGBT youth, just because you share a designation. That’s not the point of this. The point is to find people that you’re going to resonate with. Being locked up in your dorm room isn’t going to help your social life.

Should you “come out” to professors and other staff members? Not as much as you might think. For staff that will be potentially involved in social issues, it might be a good thing to “own up” to being gay. But for your run of the mill professor that is grading your papers and teaching you different subjects? It’s frankly none of their business what your sexuality is. You’re free to love whoever you want to love. The school should have a strong anti-discriminatory policy. But here’s the thing about those politics: they only work when you’re committed to speaking up. If someone is threatening you, file a complaint. Get help. Don’t just assume that your voice will be silenced because you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

We know firsthand how tough college can be, so we’ll touch on the subject numerous times before the school year is over.

Why Attacking the CEO of Apple for Not Coming Out Is Wrong

As the iPhone 6 gets ready to launch, everyone is taking notice. But here’s something that people are taking notice of that isn’t a cell phone: Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. He’s got big shoes to fill after Steve JobsĀ“s death, but it looks like he’s doing just fine.

Yet there’s a growing wave of concern over one issue that Tim Cook seems to avoid: talking about his sexuality. He has backed LGBT issues before, and supported Apple’s $100,000 donation to stopping Prop 8 from passing.

Tim Cook

Many LGBT activists believe that if someone is going to identify as gay, they need to be gay everywhere rather than shying away from the topic. Yet we are firm believers in one principle above all: everyone has the right to remain silent and share what they feel is public information. Tim Cook doesn’t look like he’s ashamed to be identified with LGBT issues at all.

What he looks like to us is a busy executive that really doesn’t want to have a thousand eyes poking into his private life. We can’t blame him at all for taking that stance. Pressuring him to speak about a big issue like his homosexuality isn’t kind, and it destroys the heart of what we believe here.

It’s no one’s business but yours. If you want to sing it from the rooftops, go ahead and do that. But if you want to make it more of an intimate thing that everyone knows but doesn’t hassle you about, then that’s fine too. [Read more…]

Teach Yourself Something This Summer – Why Wait

The online learning boom is here to stay, and we’re definitely glad for it. With so many LGBT youth feeling out of place in the traditional educational system, why aren’t we standing up and making our own choices? Is it fear? Is it the possibility that others will not accept that we’ve taken learning into our own hands? Don’t get us wrong: if you know that your upcoming career of choice is going to require a degree, then you should definitely reach for one. But if you’re just going to pay a lot of money for a degree that won’t serve you, why not skip it?

If you’re unfamiliar with free online courses, you might assume that they’re going to be low quality, or you won’t learn anything. But did you know that professors from MIT, Harvard, John Hopkins and other top tier schools have developed courses that are free to the public? While they will not give you college credit, they could give you some new understandings about a bunch of different subjects.

online learning

You also get the freedom of not having to show up in an environment where you’re going to be judged. Since it’s online, nobody knows that you’re gay. Of course, you can come out and talk about it but this really isn’t the venue for that type of discussion. It doesn’t really matter if you’re gay, because people aren’t concerned. They’re more concerned about showing up to get the valuable lessons they can use for their own lifelong learning journey. It’s freeing being somewhere that you can just relax, right? Absolutely!

Online learning isn’t always going to be easy. Sometimes the work might sound unclear, or you’re going to have to do more research than what you might be used to in a traditional school environment. Don’t get discouraged; see it as a challenge to branch out into subjects you don’t know much about. [Read more…]

Codependency and Gay Youth

Do you feel like it’s impossible to actually get anything done in your life because you feel like you have to take care of other people? Does it always feel like just as you start moving forward, other people have to drag you down? Do you feel hopeless, like nothing you ever do will come out right because someone will just come along and break it? Friends, you might be dealing with codependency.

A lot of gay youth actually come from homes that are less than stellar, and that’s okay. I’m from a dysfunctional family myself. What I’ve learned is that I can’t really function unless I’m fixing the problems that other people leave in my midst. That’s a tough way to live, because it means that you’re controlling other people. Even though you might feel that they can’t take care of themselves and they require you to fix it, you really are mistaken here. See, when we step in and take over other people’s responsibilities, we’re making them dependent on that service for the long run. It’s not that they can’t function, but that they simply choose not to function very well. It makes a lot more sense to take the path of worrying about your own life.

codependency

I think that codependency strikes gay youth harder because we feel like we “have to” fix everything even more, since we’re the “weird ones”. We’re the ones in the family that “aren’t right”. This is a bad way to live, because it means that you’re basically apologizing for being gay. With every action that you do to save someone in your family, you’re apologizing for being gay.

Friends, there’s no need to apologize for being who you are. What needs to happen is that you stand up for yourself and really look at the life that you’ve created. What type of life would you really lead if you weren’t worried about what everyone thinks about you? What type of pleasure would you get out of life if you didn’t have to stop and fret about what other people do with their time? How would you feel if you could focus on your own burdens rather than feeling like you have to carry the entire world on your shoulders?

There are ways out. Try to look for a therapist that works with LGBT youth, or LGBT people in general. Regular therapists might work, but they may have a bias against you, or try to indirectly shame you for being who you are. There are lists of gay-friendly therapists in just about any city.

Remember our post about building your own gay support team? If nothing else, this is one of the biggest reasons why you need a support group around you. Because when you aren’t able to set your own boundaries, you need someone confident enough to do it for you until you develop that skill. Notice the difference: they’re not going to be propping you up forever. There will come a time where you have to spread your own wings and fly to your own rhythms. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it just means that you have to look at more than just what’s pleasant. This path can be rough, but don’t worry: we have you covered.

The next post will go more in depth to looking for LGBT youth friendly therapists. Stay tuned!

Your Gay Support Team Awaits

Trying to be a gay youth on your own, with no support group, is downright insanity. I know that most will tell you to just toughen up and go it alone but this is a bad idea for a lot of different reasons. For starters, you need to realize that if you try to go on your own, you’re just setting the scene to be disappointed. It actually makes a lot more sense to focus on building the right team. Unfortunately, chances are good that nobody’s really taught you about the type of support team that you’re supposed to actually have. You can’t just go with anyone. I hate to break it to you, but not everyone is looking out for you. Not everyone is worried about your success. You have to be able to move forward and embrace a brighter future than that. It’s okay if you’re having some second thoughts, or you’re really worried about the future. It’s just a matter of letting go and letting things unfold as they’re going to unfold.

Support

Trying to control your support team is a bad idea. Trust me, there are going to be times where your support team says something that you absolutely disagree with. You’ll hate even hearing about it, but they’re going to tell you anyway. And that’s the first step to getting a support team in place. You need to pick people who aren’t just going to agree with everything you do. That’s not support, that’s enabling. What you must do instead is to look at the type of people that are going to be able to stand up for you. We are attacked by many voices around the gay community, but that doesn’t mean that they’re right. Your support team can tell you who is worth listening to, and who is just…well, noise.

Another point that you’ll want to think about is the type of skills your support team has naturally. If they’re not really interested in helping you, then they are going to bog you down in some pretty rough ways. It’s better that you get a support team that really has the skills to lift your life up from every corner. You want to move? Having somebody in your network with a truck helps! What about when it’s time to look for a job? You want to move with people that are truly movers and shakers. Even though you might be young, there’s still a lot to think about. Just leaving it up in the air doesn’t work out at all.

Think long and hard on who you really want within your support term, and then go from there.

Bringing Gay Partners Home for the Holidays

Are you looking at trying to go home for the holidays? If you really love your family, you probably dream about a warm, comfortable evening at home with the people that matter most to you. However, in the gay community we don’t have the luxury of just assuming your families are going to accept everything about us. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the potential for major conflict.

If you’ve just recently come out as a gay person, you might struggle with the decision to go home for the holidays, let alone actually bring your gay partner with you. Whether you’re the other half of a gay couple, or a lesbian couple, or a bisexual couple, you have to think about all parties involved. Even though you might feel the urge to just bring home your special someone regardless of what your family thinks…this is the wrong idea, for many reasons. If your family is hostile to the idea of same sex relationships, they’re not going to treat your partner with the kindness, respect, and grace that they deserve. Could you really sit there while your family talks about your partner behind their back, or otherwise shuts them out of the flow of conversation?

Gay couple holding hands

I had a girlfriend for a time and we couldn’t go around her family. They made sure to let me know in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t welcome, that they didn’t approve of my relationship with their relative. That’s a hard battle to win. Sure, they might tolerate you in time but you don’t want to just have tolerance. You want to have acceptance. You want to have love as time goes on. If you’re constantly chasing some idea of acceptance by just hanging around until they break down, this isn’t a good idea either. You need to still consider that sometimes, families just don’t heal the way you want them to heal. They don’t do what you want them to do. And while you may love them, the best remedy is often to put a lot of distance between you and them.

This is the best way to make sure that you’re on the right side of the line in terms of your own sanity. Pushing a gay partner on your family as a surprise isn’t a good idea even when your family is accepting. Logistics in families is a touchy topic. There might not be enough resources to go around, and adding an extra person that wasn’t announced can be troublesome.

So where do you really go from here? You need to sit down had have a good discussion with your family several weeks before you plan to visit them. See where they are at emotionally. If they are still feeling from you revealing that you’re LGBT, and then they aren’t going to be receptive to your partner.

You may go home and find that they do not allow you and your partner to sleep in the same bed. Even though this is annoying, frustrating, and a bit outdated, the reality is that it’s your parents’ house, not your house. You cannot dictate terms to a house where you don’t live there regularly. You have to go with what they want and what they feel is best. Try to handle it politely, even though it might make you upset. Besides, just think about all of the hot gay action you can get when you’re back in your regular place!

The time is right to be open, up front, direct, and honest with your family about your lifestyle. Be prepared for questions, but really? We’re coming to the point where even the most conservative of conservatives has at least one gay friend. Times are truly changing!

Supporting a Family Member That Recently Came Out

When we’re dealing with our own issues as gay people, we can forget how important it is to support our fellow gays at every single turn. Indeed, if you’re just hoping that everything will fall into place for a gay family member that just came out of the closet, you have a lot to learn. The experience of coming out is different for everyone. If you had a great experience, then you might not realize how hard it is when others don’t have as good of an experience as you do. It’s time to make absolutely sure that you’re standing by the family member, and there’s ways to make it work.

First and foremost, you need to let them own the conversation. It’s very tempting to start teaching, or preaching, and that’s not the attitude that we need to cultivate here. You need to be the personal that goes with the flow and treats this all as very normal. Now, this doesn’t mean that you get to cut them off mid-sentence or assume that you understand all of their pain. Even though both of you are gay people, your experiences are going to be naturally different.

Supporting a Family Member

It’s going to be difficult not to make assumptions about what happened, or any type of fallout related to the issue. Some people will have a problem being this open and honest, while others will handle it very well. The way you handle it says a lot about your own skills, of course.

Are you looking to spend more time with the family member that came out? Believe it or not, they might not want to talk that much about being gray. Don’t try to force the issue or tell them about the power of counseling. If they are a grown person, they know what types of resources are out there for them. You can remind them a couple of times, but you just need to step out of their space as quickly as possible. That’s going to be the key to getting things done in a big way.

While you’re sitting here thinking about all of your plans, you might as well think some about your hope for the future as far as it relate to your relative. Do you have children that you need to include in this person’s life? Do you work together with a family member? If so, you may need to help them work through what they’re going to say at the office, if they choose to say anything at all.

Now is the perfect time to look at how you can truly be a shining member of the gay community.