Global Roundup: High School Dress Code Protests, Cuba LGBTQ+ History Month, Thesis on Palestinian Women, Queering Nature and Environmental Issues, Muslim Woman TV Writer
Curated by FG contributor Samiha Hossain
Students from Béatrice-Desloges Catholic High School protest the implementation of a dress code Photo by ERROL MCGIHON /POSTMEDIA via The World
Students and activists in Canada are criticizing the Ottawa police for their response to a student protest outside a Catholic high school over a dress code “blitz.”
Students held a large protest outside Béatrice-Desloges Catholic High during lunch break, a day after students say teachers called several female students out of class for alleged violations of the school dress code. Protesters said the “blitz” explicitly targeted females, who were taken to the principal’s office to have their shorts and skirts measured by — and in front of — male and female staff members.
They were getting us to bend over and touch our toes to prove our underwear wasn’t showing, and were touching the inside of our thighs to measure us — which is sexual assault, because we did not consent. - Cloé Dumoulin, a student at the school
Dumoulin and another student, Cheyenne Lehouillier, said up to 60 students were told to change clothes or to go home and come back with a different outfit. None of the students targeted were male, they said, who were also wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts due to the 30-degree weather. The pair were among more than 100 students who mounted a demonstration in front of the school against staff’s treatment of the students. Many wore shorts in protest.
The police say in a statement that one person was arrested for “for causing a disturbance and trespassing,” but was later released without charges. Videos circulating on social media, however, show police putting hands on more than one person as they responded to a group of students who were protesting across the street in solidarity. The police response quickly prompted outcry from social media users, as well as concern from elected officials in the city.
School dress codes disproportionately – if not exclusively – affect girls and gender nonconforming students. Students are rejecting this misogyny and refusing to be sexualized in a place where they are supposed to feel safe and learn.
LGBTI+ march in Cuba. (Photo by Yariel Valdés González/Tremenda Nota) via Washington Blade
Cuba has become the first Latin American country to celebrate LGBTQ+ history month, with advocates hoping the milestone spurs other nations to mark old wins and prevent new discrimination. There will be lectures, panel discussions, workshops and more throughout May to "promote inclusion" and "reflect on current issues in [the] country," according to founder Raul Perez Monzon, a historian and assistant professor at the University of Havana.
LGBTQ+ History Month is intended to help eliminate many years of discrimination. LGBTQ+ people have been afraid to call attention to themselves for fear of consequences, such as verbal abuse, attacks and exclusion. - Raul Perez Monzon
Legal persecution and social exclusion were once the norm for many LGBTQ+ people in mainly Roman Catholic Cuba. In the 1960s, under then-President Fidel Castro, some gay men were sent to forced labor camps known as Military Units to Aid Production for what government called "re-education."
But LGBTQ+ campaigners say the island has since made strides. In 2008, its National Center for Sex Education said it would offer free gender-confirmation surgery to transgender patients.
Lawmakers banned workplace and housing discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity in 2013 as well.
However, changes that would have allowed same-sex marriage were scrapped in 2018 due to religious opposition. Juan Carlos Gutierrez Perez, a professor at the University Marta Abreu of Las Villas and a festival co-organizer, said a "great wave of conservative religious fundamentalism has been developing in Cuba" in recent years.
At least a dozen countries - from Canada to Finland, Hungary to Britain - have marked their LGBTQ+ heritage since Rodney Wilson organized the world's first LGBTQ+ history month in the United States in October 1994. Cuba and Italy will be joining for the first time this year.
Soraya Musleh, a Brazilian researcher of Palestinian origin, obtained a PhD in Arab Studies from the University of Sao Paulo (USP) via Middle East Monitor
Soraya Musleh, a Brazilian researcher of Palestinian origin, obtained a PhD in Arab Studies from the University of Sao Paulo with a thesis titled "The History of Palestinian Women: From Salons to the Beginnings of Resistance Literature.”
The paper, presented in Portuguese, discussed the story of Palestinian women from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1960s, a period that included the main events that changed the reality in Palestine, during which the heroic and historical Palestinian resistance manifested. It also focused on the lives and work of Palestinian pioneers in literature, arts and politics, such as May Ziada, Karima Abboud, Kulthum Odeh, Asma Toubi, Sathej Nassar, Hind Al-Husseini, Samira Azzam, Najwa Kawar and Fadwa Toukan.
Palestinian women have never been silent and will continue the historical and heroic resistance, such as Shireen Abu Akleh, who was cowardly assassinated by the Zionists. She joined the group of journalists who were targeted by the occupation forces in cold blood, and we will not stop demanding justice for her, because it is justice for us all. - Soraya Musleh
Musleh says that she “sought through her paper to narrate an important aspect of Palestinian women's history to dismantle the stereotype prevailing in the world that Arab women in general, and Palestinian women in particular, are submissive and are not a part of the public space.” She also spoke about how is was not easy to find translated materials into English and Spanish or even Arabic about Palestinian women. Documents were also lost due to the Nakba.
The Palestinian women in the literature of the resistance are inseparable from their struggle against the Nakba. Even female writers worked directly in the resistance movements. - Soraya Musleh
Reclamation of the Exposition by Tayo Adekunle. (SEAS) via Pink News
Dr Gil Mualem-Doron is a queer, Arab-Jewish artist, and the creative director of Socially Engaged Art Salon (SEAS), a Brighton-based art organization. Launched out of Mualem-Doron’s living room in 2016, SEAS’ central aim is to promote the work of queer Black and people of colour artists, especially those with disabilities, migrant refugees, and artists from working class backgrounds, all of whom are often excluded from the insular mainstream art world. It’s the only queer BPOC art group in the south east of England.
SEAS not only works with artists from these marginalized groups, showing socially engaged and political art, but also reaches out to those same communities in the south east, in the hope of improving their access to and interaction with art. The group’s latest exhibition, Queer/in/g Nature, looks at the dichotomy of the natural and artificial, and how nature is often looked at through a western, heteronormative lens. Artists exhibiting work in Queer/in/g Nature looked at the idea of queerness as artificial or unnatural, and how LGBTQ+ people negotiate this when interacting with nature.
Because identity, when it’s celebrated, is great, but sometimes it can really make you tired, you know? You’re exhausted because you’re expected to perform your identity…Other artists tried to expose how nature itself is queer. The exhibition is, in a way, saying that being LGBTQ+ is the most natural thing there is. - Dr Gil Mualem-Doron
Mualem-Doron believes that discussing nature is impossible without confronting the climate crisis, which is likely to have the quickest impact on marginalized communities.
Europe, definitely the UK, is closing its borders, and when there is mass migration of people migrating because of the environment, you will have LGBTQ+ people who even in a normal situation need to escape… these LGBTQ+ people will find it far more difficult. - Dr Gil Mualem-Doron
Mualem-Doron’s own piece, titled Interweaving Spaces, is a large-scale installation which recreates the experience of swimming in a kelp forest, and links the diverse ecosystems of the kelp forests to diversity among people.
I used textiles from communities all over the world that live near kelp forests – African textiles from South Africa and some other countries, textiles from Scandinavia, from Scotland, from north of England, from the States, especially from California and the indigenous tribes there… In addition, there will be also a dance by Lya Abdou Issa who’s from an island nation which is already affected by the rising of the sea and the changing climate. - Dr Gil Mualem-Doron
Via Toronto Star
Zarqa Nawaz, a TV writer behind “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” creates stories that challenge stereotypes about Muslim women and in her new comedy series, she plays a divorced Muslim woman trying to get even with her ex. The web comedy called “Zarqa” premiered on CBC Gem.
“Zarqa,” an engaging comedy about a divorced Muslim woman who decides to one-up her ex-husband when she hears he’s marrying a much younger white woman, presented a new challenge for Nawaz: she not only wrote and produced it, she plays the lead character despite never having acted before.
There are very few shows out there with Muslim women as leads, for sure, which is why I’m working hard to get this show off the ground and other shows off the ground. - Zarqa Nawaz
Nawaz wanted “to explore that whole issue of divorce” as she has had a lot of friends who are divorced, and recognizes the universality of feeling unvalued and replaceable.
Just last week Nawaz’s second novel “Jameela Green Ruins Everything” was released in the US, which she hopes to adapt into a series. Making “Zarqa” was a fantastic way to learn “the nuts and bolts of production” and how “to run my own production company,” she said. Ultimately, Nawaz is interested in laying the groundwork for other women of colour to make their own shows.
Samiha Hossain (she/her) is a student at the University of Ottawa. She has experience working with survivors of sexual violence in her community, as well as conducting research on gender-based violence. A lot of her time is spent learning about and critically engaging with intersectional feminism, transformative justice and disability justice.
Samiha firmly believes in the power of connecting with people and listening to their stories to create solidarity and heal as a community. She refuses to let anyone thwart her imagination when it comes to envisioning a radically different future full of care webs, nurturance and collective liberation.