Campaign unites youth to free Cuban 5

The first International Youth Meeting in Solidarity with the Cuban Five is set for April 29-30, in Havana, under the sponsorship of the Young Communist League (UJC) and other Cuban student groups.

UJC leaders say youth groups from the U.S., Spain, Poland, Brazil, Mexico, Cyprus, Russia and Nicaragua have confirmed their plans to attend, along with “Free the Five” committees from Venezuela and Ecuador. Relatives of the Five are also expected to participate.

The Five — Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramon Labañino and René González — were arrested by the FBI in Miami in 1998 and sentenced to long prison terms for trying to monitor and foil the activities of extremist, right-wing anti-Cuba groups there. Over recent decades such groups have carried out numerous violent attacks against the socialist island, causing thousands of innocent deaths.

Homelessness among LGBT youth

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Coalition for the Homeless say the federal government is neglecting an epidemic of homelessness affecting tens of thousands of gay and lesbian youth.

In a joint report, the groups found that many gay youth leave home because of conflicts with their parents during the process of coming out. One-fourth of LGBT teens are kicked out of their homes after parents learn of their sexual orientation. They often experience physical violence.

LGBT youth make up as much as 40 percent of the total number of homeless and runaway youth, a population estimated at 575,000 to 1.6 million each year. Homeless LGBT youth are more vulnerable than their peers to problems of mental health, substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases. More than 6,000 youths in 2004 were turned away from programs that lacked resources to help them.

The task force is urging Congress to increase appropriations for the federal Runaway, Homeless and Missing Children Protection Act, which must be reauthorized next year. Funds should be targeted specifically at boosting programs to aid LGBT youth, the groups said.

Harvard president makes history

Harvard University named Drew Gilpin Faust its the 28th president and first woman to hold the office in the school’s 371-year history.

Faust was born in the Jim Crow era in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and recalls a conversation at age 9 with the family’s African American handyman and driver, who inspired her to send a letter to President Eisenhower pleading for desegregation.

“I was the rebel who did not just march for civil rights and against the Vietnam War, but who fought endlessly with my mother, refusing to accept her insistence that ‘this is a man’s world, sweetie, and the sooner you learn that, the better you’ll be,’” she wrote in her autobiography.

Faust is expected to ease faculty tensions after the five-year presidency of Lawrence Summers, who created an uproar when he said that genetic gender differences might explain why so few women rise to top science jobs.

Black youth still discriminated against

A survey conducted by University of Chicago researchers of 1,600 Black, Latino and white youth called the “Black Youth Project” says that decades after the civil rights movement’s greatest victories, Black youth often still feel discriminated against.

The study’s aim was to provide data that goes beyond stereotypes and focuses on issues like sex education and hip-hop. Fifty-eight percent of Black youth say they listen to rap music every day, but the majority of them think rap music videos are too violent and often portray women in an offensive way.

More than half of the Black and Latino respondents believe government officials care very little about them, while 44 percent of white youth said the same. Over half of the Black youth surveyed feel their education was, on average, poorer than that of white youth. About a third of whites agreed with that statement.

Sixty-one percent of the African Americans surveyed said they feel held back by discrimination.

“It’s a red flag, prompting us to talk about what needs to happen in this country to bring about true equality for young people in general, and especially vulnerable young people,” said lead author Cathy Cohen of the survey’s results. See for more information.

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