A study of twins aims to clarify the roles genes, environment play in autism

At first glance Christopher and Gerald Dixon seem like any other pair of twins. They look alike, dress similarly and play together. But Gerald is autistic and Christopher isn’t. The boys were one of 1100 twin pairs who participated in the largest ever study of Autism in twins, the California Autism Twins Study (CATS). The study found that the environment plays a much bigger role in causing autism than previously thought.

For transgender people, a life without binary norms

As a child, West Oakland resident Jack B. Pierson, 27, hated wearing the pink and purple outfits his mother chose for him. He craved the sensible, utilitarian clothing his older brother got to wear, the kind that permitted a more rough-and-tumble lifestyle. Pierson was a girl back then.

In Oakland, a center works to protect Cambodian girls from sexual exploitation

CERI is a non-profit organization that provides mental health and social services to refugee and immigrant families, mostly Cambodians. All of the girls in its support group have parents who are Cambodian refugees, and they all live in high crime neighborhoods in the East Bay. Many of them know other girls—friends, former classmates—who have become involved in “the life,” a term for the underground world of prostitution.

Looking for local gifts this holiday season? Here’s our guide for Oakland shoppers

In a season that grows increasingly materialistic with each passing year, why not at least support the local economy while showering your loved ones with presents? Oakland’s swelling arts scene, assortment of independent businesses, and, of course, its medical marijuana economy all make for endless gift options. Our guide lists ten possible sources for holiday gifts to fit every price range. Goodbye Target, hello Oakland.

Reacting to closures, 3 Oakland public schools ask to become charters

On October 26 representatives from three of Oakland’s public elementary schools –ASCEND, Learning Without Limits, and Lazear—presented petitions to the school board to convert into charter schools. Closing the five schools, by the school district’s estimate, would save about $2 million. But if these three schools become charters, the district could lose as many as 1000 students from its rolls, pulling more than $4 million from OUSD.

At Bridges Academy, a school’s teaching staff marches to support Occupy Oakland

All 22 teachers from the Bridges Academy at Melrose elementary school, plus six parents, one infant and one middle-schooler, represented their school as they marched in support of Occupy Oakland’s general strike on Wednesday morning. Toting protest signs, tambourines, maracas, and a giant banner they walked from their school, near 53rd Avenue and International Boulevard, to downtown Oakland.

Students at Oakland International High School describe their immigration experiences with graphic art

Thi Bui has just begun her fifth year teaching at OHIS. During her time here she has worn several hats. She taught social studies for one year, then art, reading and literacy for another; for the past two years she’s been the art and media teacher. As she begins her third year teaching a combined comic book and oral history curriculum, she finds she is doing a little bit of everything.

At Oakland schools on the closure list, distraught pleas to reconsider

The Oakland Unified School District spent a week in October hosting meetings at each public schools recommended for closure: Lakeview, Marshall, Maxwell Park, Lazear and Santa Fe Elementary Schools. These meetings were a chance for parents, teachers, students and concerned community members to ask questions about what their future might look like.

Ethiopian families gather in Oakland to celebrate the Ethiopian Orthodox holiday of Meskel

Hundreds of Ethiopian immigrants and their families from around the Bay Area gathered at the Ethiopian Orthodox Cathedral on Mountain Boulevard Sunday for Meskel, or the finding of the True Cross, one of the most important holidays in the Ethiopian Orthodox calendar and a national holiday in Ethiopia. Wearing snow-white linen, worshippers congregated outside the church for much of the day while others prepared food which filled the air with the aromas of East African spices, turning the church parking lot into a scene out of their home country.