Monday, November 28, 2011

Getting the Gay Out

A couple of years ago I was handing out report cards and part of the material I was asked to distribute were some fliers for an organization called PFOX – Parent’s and Friends of Ex-Gays.  (Warning! Not safe for intelligent, reasonable people).  In any case, I read the flier was totally disgusted and somehow that handout accidentally slipped into the recycling bin. What a tragedy.
Fast forward to early November, we are handing out report cards again, and there are the PFOX fliers.  However, the outrage was not only with me, but with many of my fellow teachers. PFOX is based on junk science, why are teachers asked to hand out such trash?  Well, that is an interesting question. 
First, let us see about PFOX and why they are dangerous.  PFOX feels that through therapy a person can change their sexual orientation from gay to straight.  Here is what the APA says about it:

All major national mental health organizations have officially expressed concerns about therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation. To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective. Furthermore, it seems likely that the promotion of change therapies reinforces stereotypes and contributes to a negative climate for lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. This appears to be especially likely for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who grow up in more conservative religious settings.
Helpful responses of a therapist treating an individual who is troubled about her or his same-sex attractions include helping that person actively cope with social prejudices against homosexuality, successfully resolve issues associated with and resulting from internal conflicts, and actively lead a happy and satisfying life. Mental health professional organizations call on their members to respect a person’s (client’s) right to self-determination; be sensitive to the client’s race, culture, ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, language, and disability status when working with that client; and eliminate biases based on these factors. </blockquote>

Now here is what PFOX says:
The scientifically reinforced fluidity of sexual orientation and gender identity may help to explain why, as even the APA has acknowledged, thousands (if not millions) of people have “altered their sexual orientation” with “varying degrees of satisfaction and varying perceptions of success.” It is no longer open for serious debate. Despite tremendous political pressure to find otherwise, even the left-leaning APA has been forced to acknowledge that for people with unwanted same-sex attractions, “change is possible!” It’s not always easy, but change is undeniably and conclusively possible.  emphasis mine.

Hmm, a little different I would say…but now, let us look at the backers of PFOX.   The link for their statement of principles takes you to PATH (Positive Alternatives To Homosexuality).  The list of groups that back PATH/PFOX are from every denomination, from Catholic to Evangelical, from Mormon to Judaism.  What I found surprising, they have secular groups, being a little suspicious about this, I check the link to their “secular” groups, not quite as secular as they claim.  Yes, they are not affiliated with a church; however, there are strong links to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank with deep pockets and deep religious (Evangelical) ties.  Now that we know where PFOX is supported from, it is not surprising it is backed by religious and conservative groups.  This I have no problem with.  What I do have a problem with is PFOX using the school system by obfuscating their religious/conservative background.
PFOX targets schools that have active GSA groups (Gay Straight Alliance) and support “Days of Silence”.
1) Choose those high schools where you want your flyers to be distributed. Printing flyers costs money, so choose only those schools that need your services – schools with GSA or other gay clubs that celebrate Day of Silence or other gay events, etc. These are the schools that need to hear about the ex-gay message. Check each school’s website under Student Clubs or Student Organizations to see if they have a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance), Tolerance, Diversity, or other such club. In addition, also check your state at to see if the high school has a GSA club.
Now, if PFOX is supported by good science and good intentions, why are they only targeting these schools?
Now as a teacher, what are my obligations to hand out junk science?   I see nothing in my contract saying that I must hand out these fliers.  I would love to have the time to discuss the issues associated with PFOX and bring in an alternate point of view such as PFLAG, (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).  However, I am far from an expert in this area.  I am all for having communication; I am just not comfortable with a group using the school system to reach children without having both sides of the discussion available to them. 
This situation has gone to the courts and the Board of Education, with the courts siding with PFOX, here and here.  It is obvious that PFOX is wrong.  I just want more people to know about this and to speak out.  It is the only way there will be equality for all people!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Healthy Living 2.15 - Cross Training

It was a pretty much a fun week for healthy living, didn’t do anything crazy, but things went well and binge threats were almost non-existent. Bike riding to work is still a challenge first thing in the morning, something about getting up at 4:30, eating breakfast, then getting prepared to go out in the cold.  I’m sort of looking forward to it snowing, it will give me some excitement on my ride in.  I also love the feeling of the sweat and tears from the wind freezing to my cheeks.  That is so cool!

The statistics for this past week.

BMI – 39.7 (down 6.8 total)
Calorie Intake - 1752/day
Calories Burned - 3350/day
Net Caloric difference -
Water - 72 oz/day

Proteins - Carbs - Fat distribution -- 49% - 41% - 10%

On Fridays at school, there is some pick-up basketball with some of the staff.  I figured it was time that I get some cross-training in.  Yes, I’ve been biking, doing the elliptical, and lifting weights, but every time you do a different activity you work different muscles.  I knew this going in, but felt I was in really good shape for being a fat guy.  And I was right, my cardio during the basketball was great, never got really winded, had lots of energy, and felt really strong.  I played for about an hour and felt great.  My ride home was a little slower than normal, then, about a mile from home waiting for the light to change, boom! Calf started to cramp, inside of my hamstring was cramping, I knew immediately I was in for a sore night.  I took a hot shower and got ready for a relaxing night, wow, the pain of cramps and muscles rarely used is strangely both agonizing and intriguing.  Then Saturday, I went golfing with my good friend Rob, again, different muscles, back and shoulders, I felt so strong, but again sore. 
Ahh, did it ever feel good on Sunday, I could barely move.  It took a few days for the sore to go away, but overall, my body feels strong and good.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Healthy Living 2.14 - Depression

I missed a couple of weeks, partly because of laziness, partly because this healthy lifestyle is getting me down…despite the enormous gains…er losses.  I reached a milestone these past weeks.  The first, I am now able to use the Wii Fit board.  I think that is a good thing.  Now I have to destroy all of my daughters’ records.  The second milestone deals with a round number, not really comfortable with stating my weight yet, but it was smashed through.  In any case, I’m looking at BMI as my targets.  Will be below 40 BMI soon, maybe next week…so cool!

The statistics for this past week.

BMI – 40.1 (down 6.4 total)
Calorie Intake - 1850/day
Calories Burned - 3500/day
Net Caloric difference -
Water - 72 oz/day

Proteins - Carbs - Fat distribution -- 49% - 41% - 10%

I am finding that with the healthy living comes depression. I don’t think it is bad enough to be medicated, but there are days when I find it so difficult to continue on without binging.  And the feeling doesn’t pass quickly, not at all, sometime it lasts days.  And it is not like I’m not eating!  I know studies have been done and find high rates of depression in the obese, but I cannot find any studies about depression of those going through healthy lifestyle changes.  In any case, I just tell myself to suck it up and keep going.  I know I am not alone in this.  I have the support of family, friends, my fitness team, but I am not sure what to ask for help.  That is what is frustrating.
Soon, about a year from now, I’ll be at a BMI of 28 and you won’t recognize me.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

How is this inspirational?

I love Facebook. It gives me a chance to see what friends are up to from all over the planet.  I really like hearing about their work, family, social life, and some of their jokes. However, Facebook has an annoying meme that people do not stop, that is re-posting “motivational sayings” for the world to see.  It is the new version of the chain letter.  Interestingly, most of the re-posting of chain letters comes from my Christian friends.

Now the point of this blog, a friend posted an appeal to the world that Jesus is everywhere, here is a copy of the posting.


Where to start?  Most of these types of messages always come from Christians, they have an obvious obsession with caps.  Maybe they have forgotten where the caps lock key is and couldn’t turn it off.  As annoying as this is, it is truly a sick story.  Who comes up with this stuff? If this story is real, if it is accurate, how about some citations to make it more legitimate?  The part that is really most disturbing is the part that “HE SAT NEXT TO ME BEHIND THE COUCH”.   This is supposed to be god, the most freaking awesome, most loving, caring, powerful thing in the universe?  What a bastard!?  Instead of preventing the murder suicide which any truly loving, caring compassionate person would do, he allows it to happen.  Also, assuming this is real, there is some little girl out there scarred for life, schizophrenic, and having an imaginary friend.  What is inspirational about this message?

At the end, there is a bible quote that is a non-sequitur.  Who is denying him? (except for me and most rational people who can make critical thinking decisions).  If you want to quote the bible, I could throw hundreds of quotes at you that are equally not meaningful.  Mark Twain said it best,

Do you know what these re-postings do? They get me more fired up and I will fight for people more rational and to think critically even harder.  I do not want to alienate my friends, but I will not put up with bullshit.  If you are going to say something, back it up with facts.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Healthy Living 2.13 - Anniversary Weekend

January 10, 1990, I met the most amazing woman of all time.  I was fortunate enough to pick her out at a popular bar in Quebec City.  In a couple of weeks, we knew we were in love, a couple of weeks later we were engaged.  On October, 12, 1991, we were married.  I have said this many times, but feel I cannot say it enough, but Erin makes people around her better.  Whether it is her smile, her attitude, her kindness, her work ethic, or her “je ne sais quoi?”, whatever she has, it is infectious. 
With regards to healthy living, she has been by my side for the full gamut.  When we met, I was a healthy 210 lbs, then by the time we were married, probably close to 300.  Stayed that way for a while, then got into refereeing hockey and triathlons, so got down to low 220s, stayed there for about a year before ballooning up again.  Now, the last few years, have been terrible (from a weight perspective), but each time, Erin stands by me regardless of my weight, what I look like, or my eating habits.
So this past weekend, Erin and I went to a lovely bed and breakfast for our anniversary celebration.  A very cool murder mystery, romantic walks, and a scenic bike ride through the cotton fields were awesome.  As always, my thoughts were always on food and how I could share meals with my love and at the same time be healthy.  I was very cognizant of what I was eating every single meal, eating half portions, leaving carbohydrate heavy foods on the plate, and drinking plenty of water.  Yes, I believe I did eat more carbs than normal, but my calorie count could not have been over 2000 per day.  Ugh, it was so tough.  But I enjoyed wonderful meals, plenty of fish and vegetables, and an occasional glass of wine.

As Erin and I were leaving, we discussed the weekend and how we both agreed that I ate proper portions, never overboard, nothing outrageous, had plenty of exercise, and that I should be maintaining my trend.  So, was very positive when I got home.  Checked the scale, gained three pounds?  How?  Didn’t even eat 3 pounds of food over the four days!  Will I have to live never eating like a “normal” person again?  So much work to lose 3 pounds, and doing nothing but being good for 4 days and weight comes back on.  Garbage!  So disappointed. 

The weekend was wonderful, sharing it with Erin, but then realizing that my life will never be normal sucks big time.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Healthy Living 2.12 - Binge

As I enter the fourth month of this healthy living lifestyle, I must ask myself, “Just what is wrong with me?”  I went thirteen weeks, one quarter of a year, three months without a binging episode.  Not to say the urges were not there, they were, but I just overcame them.  Today, however, I was not strong enough, and I don’t know why.  Something inside of me was telling me to get a bowl of cereal, then another, then another, until the entire box was gone, then some fruit, still never felt full.  The urges continued until I went into shower and wanted to make myself puke.  I have worked so hard these last months to lose over 40 pounds, and then in one hour, I consumed more calories than I do in 3 days.  Again, what is wrong with me?  Why are these urges so profound?  Is this what an addict feels like when they need their next fix?  An alcoholic when they need their next drink?  I hate this feeling, it sucks!

Now that the episode is over, I try to look at the causes real or imaginary or whatever that led up to this.  My food this week was pretty much normal except for one day at school, there were bagels and it was the first real “pure” carb food that I have eaten.  Last night, Saturday, I cooked a version of orange chicken, a light version, and really a healthy meal, but now, as I look back on it, I probably ate a pound of chicken and three servings of vegetables, healthy? Yes, but probably way too much.  Then today, normal breakfast, early lunch, made a breakfast of an omelet with bacon, onion, tomatoes, and mushrooms, and probably ended up eating a half pound of bacon.  Then this afternoon, I’m walking by the kitchen, boom!  Just one bowl of cereal…why did it become so many?

I guess it starts again right now.  Now, out for a walk, a cup of coffee, and some self reflection.