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Gender and Sexuality News Roundup (10/01/19)

October 1, 2019

One mission of CBMW is to help Christians think through secular and ecclesial trends on gender and sexuality. Through this work, we pore over a lot of different news reports and articles as we attempt to wade through the ceaseless flow of information on the web. In our weekly Gender and Sexuality News Roundups, we aim to distill some of the more pertinent information for you.

The articles below are from a wide variety of sectors and publications, organized generally into three categories. They are presented in aggregate, not necessarily endorsed.

If you see an article that you think should be featured in future CBMW News Roundups, you can send it to [email protected] with the subject “News Roundup.”


Ecclesial Trends on Gender and Sexuality

UIowa officials personally liable for religious discrimination, Becket Law (Ryan Colby)

“A vice president and other officers at the University of Iowa must pay out of their own pockets for discriminating against a religious student group. In InterVarsity v. University of Iowa, a federal court ruled that the University and its officers violated the law when they kicked InterVarsity off campus for asking its leaders to be Christian. A dozen other religious groups—including Sikhs, Muslims, and Latter-day Saints—were also kicked off campus for requiring their leaders to share their faith. But all secular groups and a few religious groups favored by the University got a pass.”

Pope Francis meets with priest to discuss LGBTQ Catholics, Religion News Service (Jack Jenkins)

“Pope Francis met one on one with American Jesuit priest James Martin at the Vatican on Monday (Sept. 30) to discuss LGBTQ Catholics, a move some advocates say is a signal of support for a priest who has come under fire for calling on Catholics to be more compassionate to LGBTQ people. “It was amazing and very consoling,” Martin said of the meeting in an interview with Religion News Service. “The conversation went very easily and focused mainly on ministry to LGBT Catholics, which (Francis) was happy to talk about. … I spent 30 minutes with a warm and compassionate pastor.”

Southern Baptists ready to put spotlight on sex-abuse crisis, Religion News Service (David Crary)

“Entangled in a multifaceted sex-abuse crisis, the Southern Baptist Convention is preparing to host a high-profile conference on the topic that has kindled skepticism even among some of the scheduled speakers. The three-day Caring Well conference opens Thursday at a resort hotel near Dallas, drawing hundreds of pastors and church officials from the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. for a program featuring victim advocates, attorneys, therapists and at least 10 survivors of sexual abuse.”


Secular Trends on Gender and Sexuality

Student accepts gender neutral homecoming title in floor-length gown on football field, CBS News (Caitlin O’Kane)

“A high school student from Memphis, Tennessee is gaining widespread attention after winning the school’s homecoming crown. Brandon Allen accepted the title of “Homecoming Royalty” wearing a floor-length, glittering dress in the middle of the football field. As a member of the homecoming court, the White Station High School student earned a small tiara, green sash and bouquet of flowers that complimented the off-the-shoulder dress. Allen won the title Friday night during the school’s football game.”

Transgender man loses court battle to be registered as father, The Guardian (Robert Booth)

“A transgender man from Kent who gave birth with the help of fertility treatment cannot be registered as his child’s father, the most senior family judge in England and Wales has ruled. In the first legal definition of a mother in English common law, Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the high court’s family division, ruled on Wednesday that motherhood was about being pregnant and giving birth regardless of whether the person who does so was considered a man or a woman in law.”

These L.A. parents don’t want to assign a gender to their baby, so the government did it for them, Los Angeles Times (Laura Newberry)

“The fight for access to accurate gender markers comes at a time when non-binary identities are increasingly visible and accepted. More than one-third of transgender or non-gender conforming people identify as non-binary or genderqueer, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality survey. And a 2015 Fusion Millennial poll of American adults ages 18 to 34 found that half of the respondents see gender as a spectrum rather than a binary.”

New Book of Mormon videos aim to include women’s voice, Religion News Service (Jana Riess)

““I’m interested in playing a woman who is strong, who is a prophetess in her home, who advocates for all of her children,” [Mellen] wrote in her application. And the early audition script seemed to promise that kind of strength. “But if you just want someone to do the laundry, nod their head in agreement, and stay in the background, I’m probably not the actress for this part.” Mellen’s candid response speaks to some of the challenges the Church is facing as it attempts to bring the Book of Mormon to life through video. Film and video have overtaken reading as the preferred method of learning for many younger people, especially since the Book of Mormon’s formal, King James-esque language can often be difficult to understand.”

Scottish Government pledge not to conflate sex and gender when publishing stats, The Scotsman (Gina Davidson)

“Concerns have been raised by academics and women’s groups, that the two terms were becoming interchangeable, undermining the collection of vital information needed in the planning of public services for women and men, changing the recording of crimes, and potentially removing sex as a protected characteristic as stated in the Equality Act 2010. The issue has also been controversial around the setting of questions for the next Census. For the first time a voluntary question on trans status will be included, but statisticians have argued the sex question must be answered by a person’s “legal sex”. However LGBT+ organisations want transgender people to be able to answer the sex question as their “lived sex”.”

Girls vs. Boys: Brain Differences Might Explain Tech Behaviors, The Wall Street Journal (Julie Jargon)

“Many parents of both boys and girls have witnessed striking differences in the way their kids use technology, with their sons generally gravitating to videogames and their daughters often spending more of their screen time scrolling through social media. Emerging research indicates that brain differences between males and females help account for the split.”

Mattell helped define gender norms for decades with Barbie and Ken. Now it’s defying them., The Washington Post (Kim Bellware)

“On Wednesday, Mattel launched its first line of what it calls “gender-inclusive dolls,” where the figures in both form and fashion are not coded as stereotypically male or female. The dolls come with a kit that includes wigs with long and short hairstyles and clothing options like skirts, jeans, leggings and denim jackets…The new line was roughly two years in the making and comes as the company recognized that both kids and the culture at large were moving toward gender neutrality. Dreger, who described her job as a “psychologist of consumers,” said one particular trend was emerging among kids about two years ago.”

Transgender woman in Supreme Court case is ‘happy being me’, The Washington Post (Mark Sherman)

“Aimee Stephens lost her job at a suburban Detroit funeral home and she could lose her Supreme Court case over discrimination against transgender people. Amid her legal fight, her health is failing. But seven years after Stephens thought seriously of suicide and six years after she announced that she would henceforth be known as Aimee instead of Anthony, she has something no one can take away. “I’m happy being me,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s taken a long time.” The Supreme Court will hear Stephens’ case Oct. 8 over whether federal civil rights law that bars job discrimination on the basis of sex protects transgender people. Other arguments that day deal with whether the same law covers sexual orientation.”


Gender and Sexuality Miscellany

How Maguire Accidentally Made the Case for Singular ‘They’, The Atlantic (Ben Zimmer)

“In an ever shifting political story centering on a person whose exact identity has remained concealed (at least for now), the singular they has proved to be the best option for a pronoun that avoids gender reference. While the more cumbersome he or she has occasionally crept in, the widespread use of they in the whistle-blower saga goes to show just how accepted—and how necessary—the singular form of that pronoun has become, despite complaints from naysayers that it is somehow ungrammatical.”

Some Men Share Their Secrets Only in Therapy, The Atlantic (Ashley Fetters)

“Speaking on Wednesday at the Atlantic Festival in Washington, D.C., Gottlieb observed that despite this difference in communication, men and women tend to struggle with the same things: parenthood, their relationships with their own parents, success, self-esteem, “what it means to be loved.” But she views the divergent meanings of “I’ve never told anyone this before” as a reflection of how few people men feel they can talk to about their personal lives. “I think that speaks volumes about how isolated men can be, how isolated in their struggles,” said Gottlieb, the author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and The Atlantic’s Dear Therapist advice column.”

Why ‘Because of Sex’ Should Protect Gay People, The Atlantic (Garrett Epps)

“If a majority of the Supreme Court concludes that discrimination against LGBTQ people is discrimination “because of sex,” thousands of people will be protected on the job. If not, many stand to lose their livelihoods.”

The Gender Gap in 6 Charts, Harvard Business Review (Gretchen Gavett and Matt Perry)

“The gaps between men and women across all of these measures are slowly getting smaller. In 2018 the WEF report showed that 68% of the overall gap is closed, a slight rise from about 65% in 2006. Much of that has to do with educational attainment and health, where gender differences have almost vanished. But two key areas of power and influence still haven’t caught up: political empowerment and economic participation and opportunity. Women hold a mere 34% of managerial positions worldwide, and fewer than 10% of countries have women as heads of state.”

How #MeToo Changed Your Lunch, The New York Times (Kim Severson)

“Some of the most blatant behaviors are dying…But real change doesn’t come with a new policy, the power of social media or better training. People who are offenders are still going to offend. The issues are systemic and intersectional, said Ashtin Berry, an activist who bartends and writes about the food and beverage business…Sexual harassment in the hospitality industry has deep roots tied to racial, gender and economic oppression, she said. A new human resource policy or a pat on the back for an enlightened manager are mere Band-Aids.”

Sexual Ethics, Human Nature, and New Natural Law Theory, Public Discourse (Melissa Moschella)

““New” natural law theorists and “old” natural law theorists both see human flourishing as the proper end of all ethics, including sexual ethics. Yet they disagree about how human nature informs practical reasoning. This first in a two-part series.”

Old Natural Law Theory, Marriage, and Sexual Ethics, Public Discourse (Melissa Moschella)

““Old natural law theory” begins with the natural end of our sexual faculties and derives ethical principles from there. But this approach has to rely implicitly on prior value judgments in order to distinguish between biological facts that are axiologically or morally relevant and those that are not. The second in a two-part series.”

Carolyn Hax: The ‘Billy Graham rule’ serves only to impede careers, not cheating, The Washington Post (Carolyn Hax)

“The “Billy Graham rule” is a profound insult to men and women alike, reducing them to unchecked impulses and plumbing. Its stubborn survival is an embarrassment. Not to mention, it’s a laughable barrier to infidelity; every day brings opportunities to stray, whether by chance, familiarity or intent, among friends, in the community or at work.”

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