In 2011, chef Michel Nischan started a non-profit called “Wholesome Wave,” that provides redeemable prescriptions for fresh food at New York City farmers’ markets. Nischan started the group to promote access to fresh food after helping his sons control their Type 2 diabetes through healthy diets. Participants get $1 a day for everyone in the family to use on free or low-cost produce from over 100 farmers’ markets. In the last two years, over 1/3 of participants have reduced their weight and improved their health in the process.
In September, a 7-year-old African American girl was sent home for violating her Oklahoma charter school’s dress code policy by wearing her hair in dreadlocks. The policy states: “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” Tiana’s father immediately enrolled her in a different school, and 20,000 community members rallied behind the family and persuaded the school’s board to change its outdated and racist policy. This successful story gives encouragement to young students of color across the country!
After three years of publically transitioning to life as a girl, Cassidy Lynn Campbell won the vote for homecoming queen at her Huntington Beach, CA public high school. She said, “I was doing this for so many people all around the county and the state and possibly the world and I am so proud to win this not just for me, but everyone out there.” A month before Cassidy’s victory, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) mandated that public schools allow transgender students to join sports teams and use facilities that are “consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”
A teacher at North Carolina middle school was suspended for showing “Same Love,” a popular music video by rapper Macklemore, in order to help students answer critical thinking questions in Social Studies class. The song was written to generate support for Washington state’s gay marriage referendum, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2012. The School Superintendant called the video “inappropriate” and “outside the bounds of the curriculum.” The teacher was allowed to return to school within a week.
Federal law permanently prohibits gun ownership for anyone convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, but Texas allows ownership 5 years after the conviction, and the many loopholes in Federal law enable people to access guns easily. The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) hopes to make progress on gun control by focusing on efforts to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. In 2011, TCFV says, guns were used in 64% of the 102 murders of women by their current or former partners. TCFV is hoping to add Texas to the list of states where background checks for domestic violence convictions can reduce the number of murders.
The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) succeeded in forcing the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) health plan to drop coverage for abortion care services, which had been included in the coverage for the last 25 years. (Thanks to state mandate, CNS failed to also restrict contraceptive coverage.) In response, LMU’s faculty Senate passed a unanimous resolution affirming its “commitment to diversity and freedom of conscience.” Perhaps CNS missed Pope Francis’ recent statement that the Church should be less obsessed with homosexuality and abortion.