The Real Impact of Betsy DeVos' Title IX Revisions

The Real Impact of Betsy DeVos' Title IX Revisions

Innocent until proven guilty now means innocent even when proven guilty

Dear Betsy DeVos,

When you were first announced as Trump's choice for U.S. Secretary of Education, I was less than thrilled. As a current student at a United States university, I didn't feel you knew what today's students needed and what was so difficult. But then I realized I was still speaking from a position of privilege. I had the privilege of going out of state to school, to a private four year university and not worry about where my next tuition payment was coming from. I didn't even take out loans for my first three years of undergrad. But I still knew so many people that took out a lifetime worth of loans with crippling interest rates for four years of their life. There is some sick sense of irony at the fact that I'm "only" $22,000 in debt, but I don't want to discuss my student loan debt with you because as you and so many other will point out, I didn't have to go to this school and I made the decision to take out student loans. I want to talk to you about something far more important: your reversal to Title IX policies.

Sexual assault is a country-wide epidemic that affects 1 in 5 college age females and 1 in 16 college age males and disproportionately higher in members of the LGBT+ community. But you felt that policies put in place under the Obama administration needed to be "revised."

By doing so, you're making the statement sexual assault on college campuses isn't the problem of the government. And while it may seem hypocritical that people will protest with signs saying to "keep your laws off my body" and "my body, my choice" these laws were put in place to protect students. They were not put in place so that females could make wild accusations at males just to ruin them. These laws were put in place to have a comprehensive system where victims of sexual assault had a clear legal path to seek just action and hold their institutions accountable for what happens on their campus. But thanks to you that system will now fail so many students. According to you, colleges and universities will now be able to change their requirements to a "clear and convincing standard" of proof. But what exactly does that mean? Could you honestly require that any victim of sexual assault subject themselves to whatever absurd requirements you come out with next? Even before this change, the university's system of Title IX related cases failed so many students. And as a result colleges come under federal investigation for Title IX cases being handled improperly, my own included. But they tried to pretend it was part of a routine investigation not because of recent complaints that a case brought to the attention of the Title IX coordinator was not handled properly.

In a flawed system that already fails so many, how can you pretend this issue isn't really a problem? How can you rescind parts of the policy that helped countless students across the country? How can you blatantly support a system of victim-blaming, rape culture, and innocent even when proven guilty?

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9 Queer Pride Flags That You Probably Didn't Know About

The rainbow flag is certainly the most recognizable, but it isn't the only Pride Flag there is.

It's Pride Month yet again and fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies are celebrating. Normally around this time of year, we expect to see that all-too-familiar rainbow colored flag waving through the air, hanging from windows and sported on clothing of all types. Even when not strictly a flag, the colors of the rainbow are often displayed when showing support of the larger queer community. But what many people do not realize is that there are many, many pride flags for orientations of all kinds, so Natasha and I (Alana Stern) have created this handy guide to some others that you may not yet be familiar with:

1. L is for Lesbian and G is for Gay

The most recognizable letters of the entire acronym, L (Lesbian) and G (Gay), represent the homosexual people of the LGBTQ+ community. Homosexuality is defined as being exclusively sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Again, although the rainbow Pride flag is easily the most iconic and recognizable, there is a Lesbian Pride Flag as well. Specifically for "Lipstick Lesbians," this flag was made to represent homosexual women who have a more feminine gender expression. Here are the Lesbian Pride Flag (left) and Gay Pride Flag with the meaning of each stripe (right).

2. B is for Bisexual

Bisexuality is defined as the romantic and/or sexual attraction towards both males and females. They often go unacknowledged by people who believe that they cannot possibly feel an attraction for both sexes and have been called greedy or shamed in many ways for being who they are, but not this month. This month we recognize everyone and their right to love. Here is the flag and symbol that represents the big B!

3. T is for Transgender (Umbrella)

Gender identities are just as diverse as sexual orientations. Transgender people are people whose gender does not necessarily fall in line with their biological sex. That is to say, someone who is born male may not feel that calling oneself a man is the best way to describe who they are as a person; the same can go for someone who is born female or intersex (we'll get to that in a bit). Someone born female may feel that they prefer to be referred to as a man. Someone born male may feel that they don't mind being referred to as either a man or a woman. And someone may feel that neither term really fits. Identities can range from having no gender, to multiple genders, to having a gender that falls outside of the typical gender binary of man/woman, to anything in between. The colors of the flag are blue (the traditional color for boys), pink (the traditional color for girls) and white (to represent those who are intersex, transitioning, or have a gender that is undefined).

Okay! Here's where we get into the lesser-known letters of the acronym. You may have heard of some of these before but didn't quite know what they meant or how they fit into the larger queer community, or you may not have heard of them at all. Either way, we'll do our best to explain them!

4. I is for Intersex

Intersex people are people who are have a mix of characteristics (whether sexual, physical, strictly genetic or some combination thereof) that would classify them as both a male and a female. This can include but is not limited to having both XX and XY chromosomes, having neither, being born with genitalia that does not fit within the usual guidelines for determining sex and appearing as one sex on the outside but another internally. It is possible for intersex people to display the characteristics from birth, but many can go years without realizing it until examining themselves further later in life. Here is an older version of the intersex flag which utilizes purple, white, blue and pink (left) and a more recent one that puts an emphasis on more gender-neutral colors, purple and yellow (right).

5. A is for Aro-Ace Spectrum

The A in the acronym is usually only defined as Asexual, which is a term used to describe people who experience a lack of sexual attraction to any sex, gender, or otherwise. People who are asexual can still engage in healthy romantic relationships, they just don't always feel the need or have the desire to have sex and are not physically attracted to other people. If that's confusing, think of it this way: you are attracted women, but not men. You may see a man and think, "He's kind of cute" or "That's a pretty good-looking guy," but you still would not feel any desire towards that person, because that's not what you're into. Asexual people generally feel that way about everyone. That's the "Ace" half of "Aro-Ace."

"Aro," or Aromantic, is a term used to describe people who do not experience romantic attraction. Aromantic people still have healthy platonic relationships, but have no inclination towards romantic love. The reason Asexual and Aromantic are together is because they are very heavily entwined and oftentimes can overlap. Underneath that spectrum are also other variations of asexuality (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are asexual but experience sexual attraction in very rare circumstances, or only after they have a romantic connection) and aromanticism (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are aromantic but experience romantic attraction in very rare circumstances).

Below are two versions of the Aromantic Pride Flag (top and middle) and the Asexual Pride Flag (bottom).

6. P and O are for Panseuxal and Omnisexual

Pansexual and omnisexual people are not limited by gender preferences. They are capable of loving someone for who they are and being sexually attracted to people despite what gender their partner identifies as. The word pansexual comes from the Greek prefix "pan-", meaning all. Pansexuals or Omnisexuals will probably settle for whoever wins their heart regardless of that persons gender.

7. But what about the Q?!

The Q can be said to stand for Queer or Questioning, or both. "Queer" is more of a blanket term for people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community or who identify as something other than heterosexual or cisgender (a term that has come to describe people who feel that their gender does fall in line with their biological sex; i.e. someone born male feels that he is a man). It is also possible for someone to identify as queer, but avoid using it to refer to specific people unless you know they are okay with it; some people still consider it insulting. Questioning means exactly what it sounds like: it gives a nod to those who are unsure about their sexuality and/or gender identity or who are currently in the process of exploring it.

There's no one flag specifically for the letter Q, as all of the above sexualities and identities technically fall underneath this term.

This list is hardly comprehensive and there are a number of other flags, orientations and identities to explore. Pride Month is still going strong, and there's always more to learn about the ever-changing nature of sexuality as a whole and the way we understand it. It's a time for celebration, but also a time to educate and spread the word.

For a more in-depth description of different types of attraction and how they work, click here.

For more complete lists of gender identities throughout history, click here or here.

For a general list of commonly used words in the LGBTQ+ community and their definitions, click here.

Now go grab a flag and fly it high--you've got a ton to choose from!

Cover Image Credit: 6rang

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You're Right, The 'Gay Agenda' Exists

This is my plan to suck you heterosexuals into the gay lifestyle.

Since June is pride month, I thought I would lay out the "gay agenda" for you.

I've heard a lot of people who believe there is a gay agenda give their opinions of what it actually is. From gay chemicals in the water, to gay people being the reason for unemployment and immigration problems, I have been shocked of how close to the truth people have come.

I figured it out! I'm going heterosexual to save America! Say goodbye to unemployment! Say goodbye to the immigration issue!

Just kidding, proud to be me. I honestly have no clue as to how I affect unemployment and immigration based on who I love. If someone could explain to me how this conclusion came to be, please let me know. Until then, I am going to sit here in my rainbow socks, my sweatpants and my sports bra.

The most common issue that I have heard people having with lesbians are that "we are all whores." Let me just say, this is SO false. Media warps the image of many groups of people. When you add the image porn creates of promiscuity, the idea of a lesbian being a "whore" comes into play.

This concept doesn't just happen in the LGBTQ+ community, when you hear something about a group from people, media, or anything else, it's like playing "Telephone."

Being in theater throughout high school, I have heard many opinions of what the gay agenda is. From the classic "gay boys are hired to recruit more boys into theater" to "theater is the reason you're a lesbian," I can't help but to laugh.

Here's the thing. Yes, there are LGBTQ+ people in theater. Guess what? We are everywhere, and every other type of person is as well. There is no recruitment in the LGBTQ+ community. If you identify as part of the community, you do. If you don't that is totally okay. Theater has no part of me being a lesbian. I participate in theater not only because I enjoy it, but the enjoyment it gives the audience.

Around 99% of the people I know in the LGBTQ+ community do NOT hate people outside of the community. I absolutely HATE when people assume we do. We just want everyone to be happy. Everyone deserves a place in the world. We want everyone to have the opportunity of happiness.

So, this is what you have been waiting for, my "gay agenda." I want to be able to live my life to the fullest, with my future wife, children and god only knows what else will come into my life. Maybe a dog or cat, both? Possibly several of both?

I want all my friends to have this chance in their lives. One day, I want people to be able to "come out" to their families without being kicked out. One of my friends was physically abused because they came out to their parents. This can NOT happen anymore.

Life is hard for everyone. Why make it harder based on love, gender and everything else. Love is love PERIOD. Love is not love with hate. Love is not just a religion or belief. Human kindness is what will solve the problems in the world, not being something we are not.

So, that's my "gay agenda." I will continue to help people whenever possible, keep being who I am and guide people who are trying to find who they are. Try to stop me, I dare you.


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