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Saturday December 24th 2016

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250,000 rally in Taiwan for marriage equality

taiwanAndy Towle posts on towleroad.com: Approximately 250,000 people staged a rally in support of same-sex marriage outside Taiwan’s Presidential Office on Saturday, the Asia Times reports:

Singers, public figures, concern groups and legislators from various political parties turned out to voice their support. The rallying call was for the government to amend Taiwan’s Civil Code.

The event, which took the form of a concert, was staged to coincide with international Human Rights Day. It came a week after some 70,000 people took to the streets of downtown Taipei to oppose same-sex marriage.

Taiwan has been tipped to become the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, but public opinions remain divided. Debate has centered around whether the government should extend marriage rights to all by amending the Civil Code to insert gender neutral terms in place of ones implying heterosexual marriage, or pass a special law that merely grants legal status to same-sex couples.

Connect & Breathe offers talk line for women dealing with abortions

Connect & Breathe began as a small group of people with a bold idea, a passion for ending abortion stigma, and a vision of creating a safe place to talk openly and honestly about abortion. After years of meetings, research, and planning, Connect & Breathe incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) in the summer of 2010 and turned on the phones in January of 2011.

Deanna Baker of Connect & Breathe told The Empty Closet, “Connect & Breathe was founded to combat the shame and stigma around abortion experiences. Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures — one in three women in the U.S. will have an abortion — but it’s rarely talked about openly.

“From the beginning, it was vital to the mission of our work that Connect & Breathe remain a secular, unbiased nonprofit, freeing the conversation about abortion from the constraints of politics and religion. Our work remains staunchly outside of the political debate about abortion and inclusive of diverse religious perspectives, while not representing or advocating for any particular religion or faith. Each individual caller is unique, as each abortion experience is unique and we’re here to listen and provide safe space.

“Our mission: Connect & Breathe creates safe space to talk about abortion experiences by offering a talkline providing unbiased support and encouragement of self-care.

“Our vision: We envision a world free of abortion stigma.

“We only offer talkline services. Unfortunately, those who provide in person abortion services face a number of safety and security risks. Our callers come from all over the U.S. and, while it would be great to be able to offer additional in-person services, it’s impossible given the national scope of our talkline. The talkline is the heart of our work. We are one of only three unbiased after-abortion talklines in the U.S. and the only one on the East Coast.

“However, there are hundreds of biased and usually religiously affiliated hotlines across the country that consider abortion a “sin” and use guilt as a tactic to make women feel ashamed after an abortion. Our talkline is one small, powerful way to counter that message with one of support, affirmation, and promotion of self-care.

“Some of the volunteers who staff the helpline have professional degrees in counseling or therapy. However, not all do. Overall, our volunteers have a variety of different types of educational and professional backgrounds.

“Regardless of their specific backgrounds, before they join the talkline, all volunteers participate in an extensive 18 hour training program led by two professional educators. Training includes completing and discussing readings about reproductive health and abortion, role play practice with different types of potential callers, and learning about different types of resources or referrals that might be offered to callers.

“In addition, before being on call, newly trained talkline volunteers ‘shadow’ more senior volunteers to observe how these more experienced volunteers manage calls during the shift. Talkline volunteers also participate in regular debriefing meetings with a licensed clinical psychologist.

“Our volunteers have a variety of different types of experiences with different reproductive decisions; these include experiences with abortion, adoption, birth, miscarriage, and parenting. Regardless of their own specific experiences, all volunteers undergo extensive training so that they are well informed and ready to listen and provide support.

“It’s common for callers to say that they are worried about telling other people in their lives about their abortion experiences. Some of our callers say that they haven’t told anyone at all. We have had callers specifically identify themselves as having “pro-life attitudes” or as having family members or friends who may have such attitudes. Other callers say that although their family members and/or friends seem to have politically liberal attitudes, they still worry about those family members or friends judging their decision to have an abortion. We hear from all kinds of callers and we hope to be able to provide individualized support to anyone who reaches out to us.”

This is from KaeLyn Rich, Co-President: “Much like cultural shame and stigma can keep LGBTQI people in the closet, the shame and stigma around having an abortion is what keeps people feeling isolated and alone. It isn’t a negative thing that someone identifies as LGBTQI or that someone has had an abortion. The negativity and internalized shame comes from cultural factors like family acceptance, religion, the media, etc. We are here to lift that veil of stigma and shame, if only for one phone call. Whether that person identifies as pro-choice, pro-life, or neither; whether they are experiencing feelings of grief, anger, happiness, or relief; whether their abortion experience was twenty minutes ago or twenty years ago; we are here to listen.

“Also, it should be noted that, while the majority of our callers are women, men and people who are non-binary have abortions, too. Transgender and gender non-binary people who’ve had abortions are, most likely, feeling even more isolated and without support. Our volunteers are trained to speak with transgender and gender non-conforming people who’d had abortions during the talkline training.”

For more information, visit the website www.connectandbreathe.org and follow Connect & Breathe on Facebook to learn more.

UR Library adds all-gender restroom

all-gender-signRush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester has recently added a new multi-stall all-gender restroom, the first of its kind on campus and in Western NY.

UR said via press release, “The construction of this restroom continues our effort to provide all our users with an inclusive environment and is part of our ongoing support of diversity in the library and beyond. The decision to put an all-gender restroom is Rush Rhees Library was a deliberate one. As the university’s most iconic structure, the library functions as a physical and symbolical crossroads that sets the tone for the campus as a whole. Having an all-gender restroom in such a central location sends a message of openness and inclusion to the entire university community and beyond.”

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