Category Archives: equality

Obituary: Paul Patrick, teacher and gay rights activist.


One of the more unfortunately blow backs from the north of Ireland’s troubles, is that unlike the rest of western Europe, where many of the big societal issues were debated through and legislated upon from the late 1960s onwards. The North of Ireland, as far as the more prominent of these issues was concerned was passed by and they are only now coming to the fore.

In many ways the north of Ireland is still in the dark ages as far as Gay Rights, Comprehensive education and ‘A Woman’s Right to Choose’ is concerned. Whilst some legislation has been placed on the Statute book, the northern political elite’s attitudes on the aforementioned issues are very reactionary, at best even progressive political party’s like Sinn Fein prefer to side step issues like a woman’s right to choose due to there fear of the Roman Catholic church’s reactionary influence.

I therefor thought I would repost the Guardian’s obituary of Paul Patrick,* one of the pioneers of the English Gay and Lesbian rights movement.** For Paul was one of those political activist that worked tirelessly away from newspaper headlines to change societies attitude towards Gay people. By personal example, in his work place and by arguing and debating through the right of equality for all GLBT. Gay rights is one of the better examples that from small steps great change can be driven.

* http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/7c/PaulPatrick.jpg/180px-PaulPatrick.jpg&imgrefurl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Patrick&h=246&w=180&sz=27&hl=en&start=1&sig2=81WPHgADvlqNp7QyNqg9zg&um=1&tbnid=Uw1fys32mgBaMM:&tbnh=110&tbnw=80&ei=RhdJSLzmGqbaeoqbuOAE&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dpaul%2Bpatrick%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den%26sa%3DN

**http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/06/gayrights

MH

Paul Patrick
He was in the vanguard of gay rights, especially in schools and colleges.
By Carole Woddis

Paul Patrick, who has died aged 57 from a lung condition, was passionate, voluble, big-hearted and an inspired and inspiring teacher. In the 1970s he became almost certainly the first openly gay teacher in Britain to not only keep his job, but to get promoted. In 1986 he produced, for the Inner London Education Authority (Ilea), the first video to go into schools highlighting homophobia, A Different Story: The Lives and Experiences of a Group of Young Lesbians and Gay Men. In the 1990s he was one of the first single gay men to become the foster parent of a young male heterosexual – recounting the experience on John Peel’s Home Truths programme on Radio 4.
Paul was one of the country’s leading activists on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) issues. He challenged oppression wherever he found it, especially in schools, where his work focused on bullying and homophobia. His influence on the National Union of Teachers helped bring about a sea change in his union’s attitudes, and put it at the forefront of equality issues.
Paul came out in 1969, two years after the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. In 1974, shortly after starting his teaching career at Roger Manwood school (RMS) in Lewisham, south-east London – where he became head of drama – he co-founded the London Gay Teachers Group. In 1981 this became Schools Out, which he co-chaired with a longtime friend and work colleague, Sue Sanders, from 2002. In 2004, with Sanders, he helped set up LGBT history month, working on talks and lectures, and touring nationwide.
Paul was born in South Shields, Tyne and Wear. He was educated at South Shields and Burnley grammar schools, followed by the Philippa Fawcett College, in Streatham, south London, where he studied English and drama.
RMS established his teaching trademark: after-school drama projects, pastoral care and training. Under his direction, school plays became legendary. By the mid-1970s he was on the teachers’ advisory panel for Greenwich Young People’s Theatre and worked with the group producing Ilea’s drama bulletin.
In 1983, when RMS had become Crofton school, Paul became its equal opportunities officer, advising on everything from the personal and sexual to the artistic. He also coordinated a project to bring into his school adults with learning disabilities.
Soon after that Ilea made him an adviser for equal opportunities in expressive arts, particularly drama and theatre studies, personal health and social education and the pastoral curriculum. Other Ilea posts followed until the authority’s abolition in 1990.
In 1997, Paul took a post with Accrington and Rossendale College in Lancashire, became a lecturer and then joined its performing arts department. He then taught – and directed school plays – for three years at the nearby Bacup and Rawtenstall grammar school. Increasingly, he found satisfaction in amateur theatre.
A prolific writer and a compelling speaker, he wrote for, and corresponded with, many papers, including Gay News, the Teacher, and the Times Educational Supplement. A frequent Guardian correspondent, in 2002 he responded to a feature by nominating himself as one of the people who had done most to shape Britain during the Queen’s reign. “I, too, have been a queen for 50 years,” he wrote, “although under somewhat less privileged circumstances. As Britain’s first openly gay teacher not to be fired or moved to a ‘safe’ position and as a campaigner for lesbian, gay and bisexual equality for more than 30 years, I feel I have contributed a lot more to Britain than that other Queen has. I am also,” he concluded, “more attractive and a lot more fun!”
Paul was loved and admired across a wide spectrum – from teaching colleagues and gay community workers to parents, students, artists and his family. He was determined not to leave the world as he had found it, and thanks to him, the lives of many people have been made more tolerable. He is survived by his mother, sister and brother.

· Paul Patrick, teacher and activist, born July 23 1950; died May 22 2008

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Berlin Pays Tribute to Gay-Rights Activist Persecuted by Nazis.


We Communists, socialists and Jews were not the only people persecuted by the nazis, the gay and Lesbian community also suffered greatly at these neanderthals hands. The Berlin local government has just recognized the work of Marcus Hirschfeld, one of the first European fighters for Gay rights.

Mick Hall

Berlin Pays Tribute to Gay-Rights Activist Persecuted by Nazis

Berlin renamed a stretch of the Spree River in honor of a gay-rights activist persecuted by the Nazis in the 1930s as the city’s biggest hospital opened an exhibition devoted to the sex researcher.
A stretch of the Spree River in central Berlin was named after gay-rights activist and sexual researcher Marcus Hirschfeld in a dedication ceremony on Tuesday, May 6.

On the same day 75 years ago, the Nazis plundered his offices and later burned hundreds of his books.
Hirschfeld had founded the world’s first institute dedicated to fighting discrimination against homosexuals. He went into exile in France and died there in 1935.

The stretch of river bank named after Hirschfeld is near his former institute.
According to Germany’s Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD) and the Mitte district of Berlin, where “Marcus-Hirschfeld-Ufer” is located, a bronze monument to Hirschfeld will also be erected along the river.

The Charite hospital also commemorated Hirschfeld with an exhibition which opened on Tuesday at its Medical Historical Museum. Called “Sex Burns,” the exhibition focuses on Hirschfeld’s work and his persecution by the Nazis.

The tributes to Hirschfeld are “a clear acknowledgment for gays that persecution has taken place and that reparation is necessary,” said the head of Germany’s Lesbian and Gay Association, Alexander Zinn, said at the dedication ceremony.

“That is a first step in the right direction,” he said.

The Nazis declared homosexuality an aberration

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Martin Luther King: Chimes of freedom.


Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated 40 years ago; There is no better way to remember and pay tribute to the man than use his own words, below is the text of the speech Dr King delivered on the 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. It still rings out with the chimes of freedom and no matter what our racial or political differences may be, millions of people will continue to be inspired by these words and rightly so.

Mick

I HAVE A DREAM.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. *We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: “For Whites Only.”* We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”²

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!³

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Sunday 9th March: International Women’s Day


I received an email today from the good people at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, Manchester, letting me know that as usual the Library will be celebrating International Women’s Day on Sunday 9 March by holding an open meeting at which Eleanor Lewington will give a  talk about her mother Ivy Woods, who was an activist in the Co-operative Movement, the event is free, starts at 2pm and is open to women  and men. Light refreshments will be served.

The comrades also sent me a brief History of International Women’s Day which I found interesting and I thought I would share it with the readers of Organized Rage.*

MH

 
History of International Women’s Day

The first International Women’s Day [IWD] was celebrated on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. Among other relevant historic events, it commemorates the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (New York, 1911), where over 140 women lost their lives. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions. The garment workers were protesting what they saw as very poor working conditions and low wages. The protesters were attacked and dispersed by police. These women established their first labor union in the same month two years later.

More protests followed on 8 March in subsequent years, most notably in 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. In 1910 the first international women’s conference was held in Copenhagen (in the labour-movement building located at Jagtvej 69, which until recently housed Ungdomshuset) by the Second International and an ‘International Women’s Day’ was established, which was submitted by the important German Socialist Clara Zetkin. The following year, IWD was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. However, soon thereafter, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City killed over 140 garment workers. A lack of safety measures was blamed for the high death toll. Furthermore, on the eve of World War I, women across Europe held peace rallies on 8 March 1913. In the West, International Women’s Day was commemorated during the 1910s and 1920s, but dwindled. It was revived by the rise of feminism in the 1960s.

Demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik feminist Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday in Russia, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women’s Day was declared as a non working day in the USSR “in commemoration of outstanding merits of the Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Motherland during the Great Patriotic War, their heroism and selflessness at the front and in rear, and also marking the big contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples and struggle for the peace.”

In 1975, which had been designated as International Women’s Year, the United Nations gave official sanction to and began sponsoring International Women’s Day. The 2005 Congress (conference) of the British Trades Union Congress overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for IWD to be designated a public holiday in the United Kingdom.

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Women’s_Day

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Turkish Army launches ground offensive in northern Iraq against Kurdish PKK.



Yet another unwelcome spin off from GW Bush and Tony Blair’s disastrous decision to invade and occupy Iraq began last night, when the Turkish Armed Forces began to move into northern Iraq in large numbers in search and destroy operations against the Kurdish PKK, who have been engaged in an armed insurgency against the Turkish State since 1984.

A military spokesman issued a statement on behalf of the Turkish General Staff, “A ground operation backed by the Air Force was launched at 1900, [1700 GMT on Thursday] the offensive began on Thursday evening, following shelling and aerial assaults against PKK targets in the region. After the successful bombing, a cross-border ground incursion backed by the Air Force started at 1900” (1700 GMT). The spokesman went on to say, “Two divisions of the Turkish Army, 10,000 troops had been sent into northern Iraq overnight as part of the land operation.

With this invasion of northern Iraq it seems the will of the Turkish military has finally prevailed over that of the AK Party led democratically elected government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who were hoping to avoid a military incursion with land forces across the Iraqi border. The rank and file of the AK Party along with many Turks have been taken by surprise by the General Staffs decision to invade northern Iraq at this time, as earlier this week Government Ministers were telling the media that due to the weather there would be no invasion until the early spring. Which they hoped would give Erdoğan enough time to reach and agreement with the PKK to come down from the mountains.

It is not the first time the Turkish military have launched a major land-force into northern Iraq with the aim of destroying the PKK, seven divisions of the Turkish army were sent into northern Iraq in 1995 and six in 1997, neither were successful in destroying the PKK. Most military analysts doubt the Turkish military will be any more successful this time, at best they can hope to disrupt the PKK chain of command and supply.

Not least because it is thought following recent Turkish military air strikes the PKK has withdrawn its fighters from their bases in northern Iraq’s Kandil Mountains and moved them across the eastern Iraqi border into Iran, whilst setting up small bases in the Sincar Mountains in northern Iraq. Unless the Turkish military has made some sort of agreement with their Iranian counterparts to expel the PKK fighters back across the Iraqi border, it is difficult to see how the current invasion will be any more successful than the previous two I mention above. Indeed for the Turkish Government it can only make a bad situation worse as past history has shown that any military incursion to attack the PKK in Iraq has acted as a recruiting sergeant for that organization.*

Photos above are of
1/ Map of where the Kurds live in the region.
2/PKK fighters
3/ Turkish troops in northern Iraq.

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All children no matter their class, race or religion should attend local schools.



An interesting report on the Private-State schools conundrum, which many middle class people in the UK face, has been drafted by Diane Reay of Cambridge University, and academics from the University of the West of England and Sunderland University. They examined the experiences of 248 parents and children from white middle-class homes in London and two unnamed urban areas who had sent their children to average or badly performing local state comprehensive schools, despite being able to afford private education or to move closer to a better state school. Most did so because they believed passionately in comprehensive education or were on the Left politically.

According to the report, “Most young people interviewed ended up making positive assessments of their experiences of school, including the benefits of a socially diverse educational environment,” “The children did well in terms of academic achievement and were often favored by their middle class teachers.” [which tells us a great deal about the pull of class allegiances, MH] “The spread across a range of ages enabled us to see that all those who were old enough to have completed GCSEs did well, and that all those who were old enough to go to university did so” (with a very high proportion [15%] of these going to Oxbridge). The report concluded, “Children from white middle-class homes suffer no academic disadvantage from going to badly performing state schools, which suggests that comprehensive education is not necessarily a second-class option.”

Positive news and one can but hope more middle class parents will now send their children to the local State schools. Although the question which now needs to be asked is why are these very same schools still failing to unlock the full potential of many of there pupils who come from the working classes. Part of the answer is in the report when it said that more than 80% of the middle class parents interviewed were educated to degree level. Thus unlike many of their working class counterparts, they understood the disciplines necessary if their children were to do well at school, having experienced them when they were children. They also new what doors to open and who to cultivate, it cannot be an accident that many of these middle class parents said they had become friends with teachers and the head of the school their children attended. Nor that 57% of them became school governors. I am not criticizing them, simply stating that they understood how the system worked and were not intimidated by it, which is not always the case with working class parents.

Another factor as to why far to high a proportion of working class pupils still do not fulfill their true potential is down to a lack of parental ambition. Thankfully increasingly working class parent are coming to realize that education is the key which will provide their children with a more full-filling life. Nevertheless a lack of ambition for their children beyond their own life experiences still persists amongst some working class parents; and it is not uncommon for them to tell their children that being a doctor, lawyer, artist, whatever, is not for the likes of them. Thus they do not encouraged their child to go that extra mile educationally, as their own life experience has not equipped them to do so; and this is where the school system must step in. I must stress this has nothing to do with loving and treasuring their child, but every thing to do with having been brought up within a very restricted class based system in which people are taught to instinctively know there place.

For this situation to improve it is not only school children that need to be encouraged and inspired, but some working class parents need to leave behind their ‘such is life’ mindset. True the appallingly low rate of class mobility within the UK hardly helps, but when it is clearly stifling young lives it needs to be challenged head on. The government could start by implementing a compulsory program for all parents when their child first enters the school system, which ‘enables’ them to play a full part in the child’s schooling and which will help the parents instill in their child that anything is possible if they put their mind to it. This should be an enforceable contract between ALL parent’s and the State and would last throughout their child’s school career.

On the political front the charitable status claimed by the UK’s Public Schools should be abolished, as it is clearly based on a sham and there is absolutely no doubt that these wretched institutions play a major role in perpetuating the ‘English’ class system. Any society which allows those with wealth to buy an education for their children over and above that which is available to the overwhelming majority of its citizens has the making of a major fault line within its democratic structure and is heading for disaster. This single fact screams out to all British democrats, yet the pigmies who rules us refuse to act.

Perhaps it is also time to have positive discrimination in favor of state schools within professions that are financed by the tax payer, we could start with the civil service, law, politics and the military, for it cannot be right that many if not most of those who rise to the top of these profession still come from the public[private] school system.

As to those middle class parent’s who send they children to the local comprehensive, good on them for they have shown great courage in going against the prejudices of their class. Whilst there is clearly still some way to go, I would never the less endorse the words of Fiona Millar, state school campaigner, “This [report] destroys the myth that you are giving your child up for a second-class education if you send them to a local school.”

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