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Saturday, September 20, 2014


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Opinion Blog

LGBTQ parents paving the way in honesty with children


By Sierra Lay          Last updated: 06/22/14 3:03pm         

At various stages in our lives, we edit ourselves differently. For the most part, you speak differently to your coworkers than you do to your best friends — editing your words as you speak to present yourself in a certain way.

Some parents edit themselves for the benefit they see for their children, or because they sought different pathways in parenting. 

Straying away from editing yourself as a person or a parent is becoming more popular, particularly for parents in the LGBTQ community.

Rather than hide an aspect of their lives from their kids, many LGBTQ parents are being open with their children. In a recent Huffington Post article, a bisexual man married to a bisexual woman describe how they approach such subjects with their children.

The man, Neal Boulton, said he and his wife have always made their whole lives a part of the family's discourse. 

He and his wife believe that if parents "edit" themselves in front of their children by hiding aspects of their lives, their children will grow up to edit themselves and the problem will perpetuate.

Boulton and his wife are open about their past relationships and to me, this practice is a thing of the future. 

It's a choice those parents are faced with when raising their children. They have to decide how and what to explain to their kids about their own sexualities as parents, and about their relationship with each other and the communities they live in.

It seems so much easier to simply explain to your kids the reason they have two mothers or two fathers, or mothers and fathers who don't identify the way other kids' parents might. 

If we can raise our children to understand and be understanding, to listen and respect the choices and viewpoints of others, we should do that in any way we can.

I'm not a parent yet, but maybe we should start by being honest with children ourselves.

There has to be a point where we draw the line, where we decide to be ourselves regardless of the consequences — exposing our true natures. 


College isn't so fishy after all


By Sierra Lay          Last updated: 06/18/14 3:11pm         

My entire life, I have avoided seafood. With a long-standing opinion specifically against fish (they have no concept of personal space) when I came to college, I had no intention of making the leap to consume fish in any form. 

But the funny thing about college? It is a collection of unique people, trying new things and subsequently exposing each other to new things. 

College is a cultural melting pot, in which exposure is the main ingredient. This is the time for us to explore.

This is not to say that when you come to college, you're going to have a line of people waiting to force something new down your throat. But it does mean that it is easier to try new things and to be more willing to try new things when you're in a brand new environment. 

Take for example the composition of the businesses and nightlife on Grand River Avenue here in East Lansing. Everywhere you turn, there's a sushi place, a hookah bar, a coffee shop or a high-end clothing boutique. Looking at these establishments, it's entirely possible that a new student could come into MSU and East Lansing dressing, eating or socializing a certain way, and leave as a completely new person. 

Recently, while out with some friends, I tried sushi — a salmon roll, to be exact. Reluctantly, yes, but I can say that I've at least tested the waters with something I hadn't been comfortable with before. I wouldn't exactly get sushi again, but I'm glad to say that I at least tried it.

These meshing and melding pieces of American and foreign culture are what make MSU and East Lansing the culturally-infused place they are now. 

So while you're here, try something you don't think you'd like. Listen to a new genre of music. Taste exotic and bizarre foods. Do it all because you might never experience something like this — like college — ever again.


Neighbors shouldn't be nervous of each other


By Michael Kransz          Last updated: 06/15/14 7:32pm         

When neighbors phone the authorities on each other over nonviolent issues that arise between them, it replaces one problem with another and their property lines define a divide.

Several weeks ago, I arrived at home to find an ordinance violation notice slapped on a housemate's car that had been sitting in the driveway for several months with flat tires and an unregistered vehicle permit.

The ticket mandated that the "abandoned vehicle" be operational and registered within five days, or else the East Lansing Parking and Code Enforcement, or PACE, would be forced to tow it.

After talking with the PACE officer and explaining that the housemate had traveled back home for the summer, the officer allowed for an extension of the tow date, which was a generosity, he explained, because the notice was issued following a neighbor's complaint.

Although the car would either be fixed or taken away, the circumstances offer no real resolve between neighbors.

Without an understanding of each other's motives — why this person failed to maintain their vehicle and why this other person called on a third party to deal with it —  the situation breeds isolation. Neighbors feel as if they can't speak to each other.

Although there will always be minor annoyances when living in close proximity to another, neighbors can turn into great friends and are those closest when an emergency occurs, so being in their good books is a pretty good idea.

It is easier, and not to mention more mature, to call the owner of the car to resolve the issue personally rather than have a third party deal with your issues. 


Despite responsibilities, dogs and college students are good match


By Colleen Otte          Last updated: 06/11/14 6:13pm         

Some would say college students are barking up the wrong tree when they inquire about owning a puppy in their small apartment that they're constantly in and out of for class, work, parties, weekend trips home and more. 

And really, what broke college student would sign up to feed a furry, four-legged child when they can only afford a granola bar and popcorn for their own breakfast and dinner?

What college student would agree to take a puppy to get shots when a trip to the doctor for their own cold medicine is almost out of the question?

What college student would be willing to take the dog out in brisk winter temperatures in the midst of finals week?

The kind-hearted, I guess.

I know what you're thinking: huh?! So it's "kind-hearted" to have a dog in a cramped apartment when you're busy with class and can barely scrape together the funds to take care of yourself, let alone a dependent being?

Yes, it is. At least when you consider one of the possible alternatives which happens all too often.

Each year, the number of dogs euthanized in shelters in the United States is in the millions. Other dogs wait in crowded shelters' small kennels for extended periods of time.

They would probably love nothing more than to be welcomed into a small house or apartment where a familiar face greets them each day.

And owning a dog in college is possible, especially with the support and cooperation of roommates, friends and family.

Not only is it possible, but in a number of ways, it can be beneficial.

Who needs to unwind with a beer after a stressful day when you have the unconditional love and unselfish cuddles of a soft, fuzzy pup?

And I'm sure most of us have wished for a study buddy — and then wished that our study buddy would quiet down. Why not have an adorable dog in your lap, who won't blabber about how ridiculously easy or difficult their exam was this morning?

While a dog would help you relax by flopping its head in your lap, it would also encourage you to take a refreshing break by sitting beside the door and giving you that upward glance prodding, "C'mon, isn't it walk time?"

If a college student wishes to adopt a dog and is willing to take on the responsibilities that come along with it, they should by all means do so. It can be beneficial and rewarding for all parties involved.


Double standards hold women back


By Sierra Williams          Last updated: 06/08/14 2:06pm         

Women are slowly but surely becoming more equal to men as time goes on, but it seems as if double standards are still holding us back. 

Double standards should not exist. I'm tired of people acting like double standards are some type of key rule to life. There is no law that states women are required to be domestic simply because they are women.

It seems as if older generations believe in double standards the most. My grandpa is probably one of the most sexist people I know. He says cooking and cleaning is a woman's job and that women should only wear dresses or skirts and never wear pants. The man's only job is to work.

What does my grandma do all day? Cook and clean. My mom and dad had a similar relationship. While my dad worked all day, my mom scrambled to make sure laundry was clean, the house was spotless and that dinner was ready.

Women should stop being so domesticated. I've noticed on plenty of social networks, Twitter especially, that young women are conforming to these harmful gender roles. 

Some tweet say things like, "I'm so good at cooking. My future husband is going to be lucky," or "Girls need to stop trying to do what boys do. It's not attractive." 

It's okay to be happy that you're a great cook — but not only because you want to impress men. There is no such thing as "trying to do what boys do." There isn't a list set in stone for activities that only boys do and activities that only girls do.

It's deplorable that sexism and double standards are still a factor in today's society. Women have come too far. Not all men are sexist and not all women are domesticated, but women worry too much about double standards. 

Just live your life care free and pretend that double standards do not exist. 


Not all men should be "banned"


By Derek Gartee          Last updated: 06/04/14 3:20pm         

While casually perusing my Facebook feed yesterday, I came across a BuzzFeed article titled "33 Reasons Why Men Should Be Banned." Being a man, I was interested. "Why would you want to ban half of the population of Earth?" I said to myself.

The two authors (who are men) showcased 33 of the most shining examples of my gender. By shining, of course, I mean rude, repulsive, and devoid of social skills. Picture after picture featured iPhone screenshots of casual conversations turned explicitly sexual by these superstars.

At the bottom of the screen laid the comments section — and boy was I surprised. I assumed I would see people marveling at this minority of humans. I was instead met with groups of both men and women commenting on how representative this group was.

"ALL MEN ARE PIGS!"  "Men SHOULD be banned!" I was blown away.

I am ashamed that my gender is viewed this way. I really am. If this is the true majority, then on behalf of all men — I am sorry.

On the other hand, the polarity of this subject is concerning. Grouping all men into this category is not helping the problem. 

I know plenty of men who use dating websites in a respectable way. Most guys I know would never snapchat pictures of their privates at all — let alone out of the blue.

Portraying all men as evil pigs does not help equalize genders. It creates an "us vs. them" mentality that sets back change.  Fighting against these men is not going to change anything in the long term. We need to change what it means to be a man for the future.

By we, I mean society as a whole. Our society need to stop valuing dominance and "machismo." We need to stop equating manliness to intensity and forwardness. 

If our culture begins to accept and encourage a different kind of man, I believe we will see change in the long term. 


Parents should support their children, no matter what


By Casey Holland          Last updated: 06/01/14 5:11pm         

The world can be a harsh place, especially for children whose lives exist outside of society's definition of "normal." 

Too often do parents turn their backs on their children — a close friend of mine, a senior in high school, lost his connection with his mother after he came out to her as gay. He couldn’t find her support when he needed it most.

One family, featured in a video on the website Upworthy, did the opposite. When they discovered their young daughter didn’t identify as a girl and instead saw herself as a boy, they did what they needed to embrace their child's identity.

This is parenting done the correct way.

In the video, they said they cut his hair, changed all addressing pronouns to him and he and notified other family members of the change.

While some did not agree with what they were doing, it didn’t phase the parents. What was important to them was their child’s well-being, and they said the people who mattered stayed and supported them.

Parents should support their children no matter what comes their way and they should love who they are. The love a parent has for their child is meant to be unconditional, and it should be a safe place in a world that sometimes responds to these situations in cruel and even violent ways. 

One thing that shook these parents was when they stumbled upon the number of suicide attempts a year that are made by transgender people, they didn't want the same to happen to their child, and did everything they could to support him.

Parents are the first people we should learn about unconditional love from. If more parents responded to their children the way these two did, maybe these children wouldn't feel as alone as my friend did.


Don't forget those who served on memorial day


By Colleen Otte          Last updated: 05/21/14 3:07pm         

Memorial Day. The last Monday in May. A regular, typically uneventful 24-hour day in which we remember and celebrate the lives of those who spent much longer than 24 hours in unfamiliar environments, in fear of invasion, or under a stomach-turning adrenaline rush as bullets whirred between their own ear and the ear of the comrade beside them.

And yet, it is a day we — the citizens those soldiers put their lives on the line to protect — traditionally spend leaning back in lawn chairs, enjoying a barbecue, or sharing drinks and laughs around a bonfire.

We could be doing more with this free time on our day off from work, and specifically at MSU, on our day off from summer classes.

Beyond simply closing the university, students and staff should invest more effort in organizing events to pay respect to fallen soldiers and lost loved ones.

Federal holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July have increasingly become excuses to forget our worries and, for many, unwind at gatherings with family and friends. But these should not be days we utilize to forget. In fact, their purpose is meant to be just the opposite: for us to remember. To remember our struggles, to remember our triumphs, to remember our roots. To remember the culmination of things that has shaped us into the nation we are today.

At very least, please take a moment to reflect on our forefathers and family members as you unfold your camp chairs, wait for your hamburgers to be grilled to perfection, and carry kindling to the bonfire.

I especially encourage my fellow students to celebrate the long weekend safely. Our veterans selflessly placed themselves in harm's way to protect us; we should not take this for granted and put ourselves in unnecessary danger.


New HIV prevention method should be affordable


By Sierra Lay          Last updated: 05/18/14 3:12pm         

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released new guidelines regarding the pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP pill. The pill, which should be taken daily by those at high risk for contracting HIV, can help reduce the rates of infection by more than 90 percent. cb

The pill should be used in addition to condoms. Used by the correct people in the most effective way, the pill could be a huge step toward reducing the contraction and spreading of HIV. The downside? Expense.

PrEP will run patients bills in the ballpark of 1,300 to 1,700 dollars a month according to a CNN article, and to work effectively, the pill must be taken daily. It is possible, however, that insurance providers will cover the expenses presented by the pill. cb

These factors create a dilemma for those looking to lower their risk of infection. It could mean lower-income couples paying large sums of money to increase prevention, while they already have difficulty making ends meet.

The government should subsidize at least the partial cost of the drug — not only to help an individual not infect their partner, but in the interest of public health.

To help change the course of the epidemic, users should include anyone who has had sex without a condom, injected drugs or shared drug paraphernalia or who is not infected but is in a sexual relationship with an HIV-infected partner, among many other situations.

According to the CDC, there are more than 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States alone. If it is possible slow or stop the increase of the infected population, there's no doubt that efforts should be made to do everything possible to bring that goal to fruition. cb


Rude employees ruin shopping experience


By Meagan Beck          Last updated: 05/11/14 10:17pm         

Last week, I went into a particular store in Eastwood Towne Center with a friend just to look around. In most stores, customers are greeted the instant they walk through the doors. Yeah, most stores.

My friend and I were not greeted and no associate came over to even ask if we were finding everything alright after we had been in the store for a decent amount of time.

When I found some clothes in the store I wanted to try on, I went to the dressing room and the attendant took the clothes from me without offering help if I were to need it — or even telling me her name.

Maybe the girl was having a rough day, and that is understandable. However, as someone who has worked different retail and food service jobs, I know being friendly is mandatory when at work.

The store I went to is one of my favorites but almost every time I go there, I experience sub-par customer service.

On another occasion, I purchased clothes and after the transaction was finished, the cashier did not thank me for coming in or even tell me to have a good day. Though the gesture is small, it's important to say.

I was told to always thank people for coming in when I worked as a cashier. The whole point of being nice to the customer is to make sure they have an enjoyable experience and try to get them to come back.

If there was another one of this particular store in the area, I would probably go there instead because of the unfriendly workers at the location.

Maybe the companies I have worked for were just more persistent about making the customers feel welcomed and this chain is not like those. But I thought kindness was a mandatory trait to possess when working in retail or food service jobs.

Everyone has their off days, but it’s important to remember when an employee comes off as rude or annoyed to a customer, the attitude of the customer is likely to change as well.

I always think to myself how well the phrase “treat others the way you would like to be treated” applies to working retail and food service jobs.