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Utah Judge Drops Order on Lesbians’ Foster Child, Black Students Around U.S. Complain of Casual Ever

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Welcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we address a Utah judge’s orders about a foster child place with a lesbian couple, black students around U.S. complain of casual everyday racism, hating Muslims plays right into the Islamic State’s hands and more.

After ordering that a foster child be taken away from a lesbian couple because it was “not in the best interest of children to be raised by same-sex couples,” Utah Judge Scott N. Johansen reversed his decision — at least temporarily – under pressure from gay rights advocates and Utah’s Republican governor.  In the view of gay rights advocates, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges should have put this question to rest, as the right to marry confers the same rights that other married couples have.  APA filed an amicus brief in this case, and applauded the Supreme Court’s ruling.  Judge Johansen subsequently recused himself from the case amid calls for his impeachment.

Last week, University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe resigned amid protests by the football team and other students that the university was indifferent to repeated complaints about ongoing racial slurs and other racist behavior directed toward Black students.  Protests spread to other universities across the U.S., with students complaining of “casual, everyday racism.”  In this CBS News article, we hear from Sheryce Holloway, who is tired of White people at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond asking if they can touch her hair, or if she knows the latest dance move; and from Dominick Hall at Chicago’s Loyola University, who sees groups of White guys stop talking when he walks by and some people grabbing their bags tighter.  These were among thousands of students across the country taking part in campus demonstrations, talking not only about explicit racism but about subtler expressions of prejudice.  Many say they face these “microaggressions” daily.  For more on microaggressions, check out posts here, on the Public Interest blog.

Following the horrific attacks in Paris this past Friday night, there has been an uptick in anti-Muslim violence, with mosques, kebab restaurants, and halal butcher shops being targeted, and anti-Muslim protests.  Similar anti-Muslim violence and vandalism followed the Charlie Hedbo attacks in January.  Psychologist Arie Kruglanski, who studies how people become terrorists, commented, “This is precisely what ISIS was aiming for — to provoke communities to commit actions against Muslims.  Then ISIS will be able to say, ‘I told you so. These are your enemies, and the enemies of Islam.’”  Some counterterrorism experts believe that Islamist militants intend to make Muslims in the West feel isolated and turn against their own communities.

In a study published in APA’s Journal of Applied Psychology, non-overweight men applied for jobs at retail stores or went shopping, and then donned overweight prosthetics and did the same thing, at different stores. According to Dr. Enrica Ruggs, one of the researchers, the men in overweight prosthetics experienced more discrimination, for example: “Employees they interacted with would try to end the interaction early, there was less affirmative behavior like less nodding or smiling; there was more avoidance types of behavior like frowning and trying to get out of the interaction.”  These findings suggest that men who are overweight experience more discrimination than men who are not, which is a pattern similar to that for women.

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out?

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