Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Department of Education tells Harvard to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

Posted By on Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 4:30 PM

click image Jasmine Lester, founder of founder of Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault at Arizona State University and Know Your IX organizer from the KYIX website.
  • Jasmine Lester, founder of founder of Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault at Arizona State University and Know Your IX organizer from the KYIX website.
In the last year, there's been a lot of news about campus rape. Colleges generally didn't know what to do with themselves as students protested leniency with attackers and accused rapists defended their honor. This week, the  U.S. Department of Education is saying they had better figure it out.

Because of increased attention and organizations like Know Your IX—a very cool organization that helps students deal with sexual assault at their colleges—there's been a lot of pressure to get things right.

Yesterday was a big day in the direction of progress. The U.S. Department of Education announced it had found Harvard University and its Law School had fallen short in its campus sexual assault responsibilities. The ruling means that Harvard will have to redo it's sexual harassment policies. 

From yesterday's U.S. Department of Education press release
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced today that it has entered into a resolution agreement with Harvard University and its Law School after finding the Law School in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for its response to sexual harassment, including sexual assault.

"I am very pleased to bring to close one of our longest-running sexual violence investigations, and I congratulate Harvard Law School for now committing to comply with Title IX and immediately implement steps to provide a safe learning environment for its students," said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. "This agreement is a credit to the strong leadership of Harvard President Drew Faust and Law School Dean Martha Minow, for which I am deeply grateful and from which I know their students will benefit significantly."

Following its investigation, OCR determined that the Law School's current and prior sexual harassment policies and procedures failed to comply with Title IX's requirements for prompt and equitable response to complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The Law School also did not appropriately respond to two student complaints of sexual assault. In one instance, the Law School took over a year to make its final determination and the complainant was not allowed to participate in this extended appeal process, which ultimately resulted in the reversal of the initial decision to dismiss the accused student and dismissal of the complainant's complaint.

During the course of OCR's investigation, the Law School adopted revised procedures that use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard for its sexual harassment investigations and afford appeal rights to both parties, in compliance with Title IX. The Law School also complied with the Title IX requirements relating to the designation of a Title IX Coordinator and publication of its non-discrimination notice.

The Law School has committed to take further specific steps to ensure that it responds to student complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence promptly and equitably. As part of its monitoring of the agreement, OCR will review and approve all of the policies and procedures to be used by the Law School, including the Law School's use of the new University-wide sexual harassment policies and procedures adopted for this academic year. The changes relating to the University-wide policies and procedures will be published in supplemental guidance and will affect all of the University's schools as they, like the Law School, decide how to implement the new University-wide policies and procedures.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Law School must:
  • Revise all applicable sexual harassment policies and procedures to comply with Title IX and provide clear notice of which policy and procedure applies to Law School complaints;
  • Through its Title IX Coordinator, coordinate provision of appropriate interim steps to provide for the safety of the complainant and campus community during an investigation;
  • Share information between the Harvard University Police Department and the University and notify complainants of their right to file a Title IX complaint with the Law School as well as to pursue the criminal process in cases of sexual assault or other sexual violence;
  • Notify students and employees about the Law School's Title IX coordinators and their contact information;
  • Train staff and provide information sessions for students on the policies and procedures applicable to Law School complaints;
  • Conduct annual climate assessments to assess whether the steps and measures being taken by the Law School are effective and to inform future proactive steps to be taken by Law School;
  • Review any complaints of sexual harassment filed during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years to carefully scrutinize whether the Law School investigated the complaints consistent with Title IX and provide any additional remedies necessary for the complainants; and
  • Track and submit for OCR's review information on all sexual harassment/violence complaints and reports of sexual harassment/violence filed during the course of the monitoring and responsive action taken by the Law School.
The agreement announced today relating to the Law School does not resolve a still-pending Title IX investigation of Harvard College and its response to sexual harassment, including sexual assault, of undergraduate students.

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Start 2015 off with Some Yoga at These Spots Around Tucson

Posted By on Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 3:00 PM

click image New Year's Day yoga options... you know, if you can get out of bed. - JULIAN GARDUNO/FLICKR
  • Julian Garduno/Flickr
  • New Year's Day yoga options... you know, if you can get out of bed.

I'd like to extend all of my respect out for the folks who will wake up tomorrow, ready to greet the new year with more than just the last half of a cold burrito and a headache. For those do-gooders and teetotalers, you can start 2015 off with intentions set and a good stretch by heading out for some New Year's Day yoga.

The Yoga Tree off of Oracle Road south of Orange Grove Road is offering an all level yoga class beginning at 9 a.m. The class will blend pranayama and meditation classes and will finish off at 10:30 a.m. with warm tea and scones. Single class rates are $15 per class.

Tucson Yoga at Fourth Avenue and 12th Street is also offering a special New Year's Day celebration from 9 until 10:30 a.m. Single classes are $6.

Finally, each of the Yoga Oasis locations are offering the following classes:

Yoga Oasis Downtown (245 E. Congress Street, Suite 101)
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.: Yoga Hour

Yoga Oasis Central (2631 N. Campbell Avenue)
9 - 10 a.m.: Intro 2 Yoga
11 a.m. - 12 p.m.: Yoga Hour
12:15 - 1:45 p.m.: Expanding
2 - 4 p.m.- Articulate Your Aim Workshop
4:15 - 5:15 p.m.: Yoga Hour
5:30 - 7 p.m.: Expanding
6 - 7:15 p.m.: Intro 2 Basics

Yoga Oasis East (7858 E. Wrightstown Road, Suite 116)
6:30 - 7:30 a.m.: Basics
4:15 - 5:15 p.m.: Yoga Hour
7:15 - 8:15 p.m.: Yoga Hour

Drop-in rates for all Yoga Oasis classes are between $5 and $11 per class, depending on which class you attend. For more information, visit the Yoga Oasis website.

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Transgender Teen's Suicide: Parents, There Are Resources Out There That Can Help You Support Your Child

Posted By on Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 1:00 PM

If you've used the Internet in the past few days, you probably already saw Leelah Alcorn's story.

The 17-year-old from Ohio committed suicide by jumping in front of a tractor trailer on Sunday morning. A note set to publish on her Tumblr a few hours after her death detailed the why.

Leelah was assigned the sex male at birth but expressed identifying as a girl since age 4.
  • Leelah was assigned the sex male at birth but expressed identifying as a girl since age 4.

In her note, she referred to herself as being a girl trapped in a boy's body, "And I've felt that way ever since I was 4." 

At age 14, when she learned that were more like her out there, she felt relief. She wasn't crazy...there are others who were assigned a sex at birth but growing up identified otherwise. Leelah told her mom about what was happening.

"She reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn't make mistakes." 

I have had the pleasure of meeting and writing stories on a handful of moms whose child - some as young as three and four-—expressed identifying as the opposite gender, and the moms' responses were, "How can I be a great parent to my child, provide him or her with the best resources so that she or he can be happy?" 

A few months ago, I did a story on a local camp for transgender and gender creative kids for the publication I worked at the time. I met three amazing mothers who taught me so much about the importance of being a backbone to children going through what Leelah went through.

They searched everywhere to find people and places where their daughters could be reassured that what they were feeling wasn't wrong—it was simply who they were and they were going to tackle it in the best way possible. They spoke about their daughters with pride, happy that they were healthy, did good in school...with such devotion. 

One told me about getting her daughter hormone blockers, so she wouldn't start going through puberty, which can be traumatizing to children assigned the sex boy but identifying as girl and vice versa.

This is something Leelah wanted. At age 16, she asked her parents for permission to start transitioning. They said no.

The rest you can read in her suicide note. Many media outlets in Ohio continue calling her "Joshua" (her birth name, not her preferred name) and using the pronoun "he."

It's horrific to still have cases like Leelah's. The world needs more moms and dads who stay true to what being a parent is - standing with your children even if they don't meet what society defines as the "norm." What the hell is it, anyway? It certainly goes beyond two boxes marked male or female.

In January, the LA Times wrote about a study looking into the "exceptionally high suicide attempt rate" among transgender or gender nonconforming people. It said about 41 percent had attempted suicide in their lives, nearly nine times the national average. 

If you're a parent with a child who expresses identifying as the other gender, there are local resources where they can explain you what is happening. You can meet others going through the same experience...just fucking be there for your child. The outside world is crushing enough to deal with.

Here's a link to Southern Arizona Gender Alliance's trans parents group. This local organization is amazing, please use it. It makes a huge difference if you find the support and the information. We cannot have more cases like Leelah's. It's just inhumane.

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AZ Supreme Court Green Lights Lawsuit Against Brewer's Medicaid Expansion

Posted By on Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Less than a week before Gov. Jan Brewer officially stops being governor, she gets a blow from the Arizona Supreme Court. Her expansion of Medicaid may get kicked. Her move to sign that bill was actually a good one, though.

From The Associated Press today.
The Arizona Supreme Court is allowing a lawsuit challenging Gov. Jan Brewer's Medicaid expansion to proceed in a major blow to her signature achievement as governor.

The court ruled Wednesday that lawmakers can sue over a hospital assessment that funds the expansion. Republicans in the House and Senate sued after a bare majority passed the expansion in June 2013. They argued the assessment is essentially a tax requiring a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

A Maricopa County judge in February dismissed the case, saying the Legislature itself decides if a super majority vote is needed. But the court of appeals overruled that in April and the Supreme Court agreed.

Goldwater Institute lawyers representing 36 Republican lawmakers plan to ask the county judge to halt the assessment immediately.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Teen Worries for Father's Health in Immigration Detention Center; Turns to Facebook for Community Support at Hearing Friday

Posted By on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 2:12 PM

I first met Ana Cobos Lugo at a Tucson City Council meeting a few weeks ago. She was there, alongside close to 50 other community members, protesting the implementation of a security program between TUSD and the Tucson Police Department - because of SB 1070, officers at schools could have potentially been able to interrogate students about their immigration status if they ended up in police custody. Now we all know that isn't happening...

Anyway, I recently found out her father has been detained at the Eloy Detention Center for nearly four months and his hearing is scheduled for Jan. 2. 

  • Courtesy of Ana Cobos Lugo

Ana created an event page on Facebook - right now more than 200 people have been invited but merely 24 have tentatively agreed to attend her dad's hearing in Eloy. She said she wants as many people as possible to come - advocates, media, etc. - so the judge will see her father, Felipe, has "connections in the community." Hopefully, that'd have some influence in the outcome.

The 17-year-old is the oldest of four, and she's stepped up to be a co-parent with her mom since her dad has been gone. 

"My dad is such a hard-working man," she wrote on Facebook. "He has worked so hard to give (us) everything we need. He has a great heart, is very smart, responsible and respectful. He is our huge emotional and economic support."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, took custody of Felipe while he was trying to arrange paperwork that could eventually grant him legal status in the U.S. He was barely in the first step of that process, when he was apprehended.

He's been in the country for close to two decades. Felipe and his wife moved here with Ana when she was only a few months old.

His three other children are U.S. citizens - which is one of the requirements to qualify for Obama's deferred action for parents program. I asked Ana if his dad's attorney had looked into that, but she said his first lawyer pretty much gave up on the case because "there was nothing she could do," the second said the only solution is volunteered deportation...

As of today, her mom raised enough money to pay the third lawyer - whom the family hopes will help Felipe stay, leave detention - or do anything.

On top of it all, Felipe has a skin infection on his lower back, which is progressing and if he doesn't get surgery in the next few days, he could possibly be paralyzed. He has received some medical treatment but Ana said it's very sensitive, and the conditions in detention only make it worse.

When I spoke with Ana, she said they had just gotten off the phone with her dad and that he is not positive about the outcome of his case. 

"He is losing hair because he is under so much stress. He doesn't want to go back to Mexico. He has no one there. All of his family is here. My mom doesn't want us to go there either because she says there are no opportunities for us," she said during a quick phone call.

Ana hopes her dad can at least qualify for bond some time after the hearing, and that they can gain some more time to figure out how they can keep their family together.

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Maker House Hosts New Year's Eve— Nerd Style

Posted By on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Get ready to time travel this New Year's Eve. - COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Courtesy of Universal Pictures
  • Get ready to time travel this New Year's Eve.

Just in case one of these ten New Year's Eve options didn't really catching your eye, Maker House is joining forces with Tucson Comic Con to offer three parties crammed into one for their Time Traveler Ball. The event is peppered with replica memorabilia from your favorite TV shows and movies and, of course, cosplay is encouraged.

As the name would suggest, you can traipse through time between three parties: the past's 1955 Enchantment Under the Sea dance (you know, from Back to the Future), the present's Maker House courtyard, and the future's Blade Runner and Fifth Element EDM room. Live performances by eight live bands and DJs including The Outlaw Rebels and Al Foul will keep guests entertained on three separate stages. 

You can also snap a picture of yourself with all manner of time traveling devices including Arizona Doctor Who's TARDIS, Bill & Ted's excellent phone booth, and a DeLorean DMC-12 from the Universal Studios Back to the Future ride.

The event is 21 and up and begins at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 31. Tickets are $10 in advance or $20 at the door, with VIP and table pricing available. For more information and to snatch up your tickets to the 300 person cap party, visit the Maker House website.

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Get Your Free Condoms on New Year's Eve!

Posted By on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Cynde Cerf, director of communications and marketing at Planned Parenthood Arizona, sends along an op-ed reminding those who are going to get busy during the holiday season to remember to use protection. Planned Parenthood will be supplying free condoms on New Year's Eve for patrons at Hotel Congress, The Shanty and Pastiche.

The holidays are upon us—time with family and friends, parties, champagne, and, even romance. At this time of year there can be such an overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness that when you add twinkling lights on a tree and a sprig of mistletoe, who knows where the evening could go?

Campaigns about watching one’s alcohol consumption during the holidays are prevalent and serve as wonderful reminders to celebrate responsibly. But, when we are finding ourselves “in the mood” at this time of year, another way to celebrate responsibly is to use a condom when you have sex.

In the United States, about half of all pregnancies are unintended and each year there are 20 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs). As the largest provider of sexual health care in Arizona, we want to remind everyone that if there is a chance you may have sex on New Year’s Eve, make sure you have a condom in your purse or wallet. The condom should be one of your most essential holiday accessories and that’s why we created the Party Prepared community health initiative.

To make it a little easier to access condoms, we have partnered with restaurants, bars and clubs in across Arizona, making 15,000 free condoms available on New Year’s Eve to communities. In Tucson, you can find free condoms at the following locations: Hotel Congress, Pastiche and The Shanty.

Condoms are not the only way to party prepared. Another way to make sure you are off to the best start in the New Year is to have emergency contraception on-hand. Condoms can break and sometimes, even with the best of intentions, they can be forgotten. If you need a primer on how to put a condom on correctly, we have you covered. Go to for more information and answers to questions you may have, as well as a full list of locations participating in this year’s campaign.

We wish everyone a safe and happy New Year’s Eve filled with fun, music, good food, flirting and romance. Here is to a healthy 2015!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Kick off 2015 Looking at your Beautiful Self

Posted By on Mon, Dec 29, 2014 at 5:00 PM

When January rolls around, the people behind the Body Love Conference are hoping you'll do things a little differently this year. No pledging to conform to magazine cover beauty standards, no blowing money on uncomfortable shapewear. Meet up with the team, take some pictures. Look at yourself and love it.
Take a step toward self love this new year with the Body Love Conference team at their #lovethemirror photo set launch party. Prepare to throw out all of those old and tired new year's resolutions and kick off 2015 with a promise to start to love who you see in the mirror. There will be mirrors inviting you to check yourself out. Take a selfie and commit yourself to a year of positivity and loving the mirror. It's all happening on January 4th at Fluxx Studios from 4-8pm. No cover, suggested donation: $5. 

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