In Indiana, approximately 100 students from the Center For Inquiry School 27 held a walk-out to protest the state's "Don't Say Gay" bill, which would restrict how teachers are able to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom, IndyStar reported. The student-led walkout was organized by three fifth-grade students who said they wanted to take action after hearing how House Bill 1608 could impact their school.
And speaking of "Don't Say Gay," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is moving to expand the law into high schools, NBC News reported. The proposal, which would not require legislative approval, is scheduled for a vote next month before the State Board of Education and has been put forth by the state Education Departmentboth of which are led by DeSantis appointees. The rule change would ban lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity from grades 4 to 12, unless required by existing state standards or as part of reproductive health instruction that students can choose not to take.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) commended Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly for vetoing HB 2238, a bill banning the participation of transgender student-athletes in school sports. According to an HRC press release, this is the third discriminatory sports ban Kelly has vetoed during her time as governor. Despite there only being three trans students competing in school-related sports in Kansas and the fact that the veto has been expected, lawmakers continued to push this bill.
On the other end of the spectrum, Republican Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon criticized an anti-transgender sports bill as "draconian" and "discriminatory"yet allowed it to become law without his signature, The Advocate reported. The bill, Senate File 133/Senate Enrolled Act 92, bans trans girls and women from competing in female sports from eighth through 12th grades. Gordon announced that he would not sign or veto it but let it become law without his signature to avoid "divisive debates."
However, Gov. Mark Gordon signed a bill banning abortion pills in the state and also allowed a separate measure restricting abortion to become law without his signature. USA Today reported. Wyoming's ban on abortion pills would take effect in July, pending any legal action that could potentially delay that.
On St. Patrick's Day, President Joe Biden welcomed openly gay Ireland Prime Minister (or Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar, The Advocate reported. In a meeting between the countries that had been postponed due to the pandemic, the two leaders spoke, among other things, about the bonds between the two countries, per the Associated Press. Biden also presented Varadkarthe first gay individual and person of color to lead Irelandwith a bowl of shamrocks. Varadkar and his partner, Matthew Barrett, had breakfast earlier that day with Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff.
At California State University-Monterey Bay's recent Diversity Celebration Series, Tyller WilliamsonMonterey's first Black and first openly gay mayorspoke, according to a school publication. In part, he said, "The path I took had a lot of scenic routes and had more than one pit stop on the dark side of town, but each one came together to teach me lessons and to help me grow." Williamson added that the best lesson he learned is the power of meeting people face to facesomething that isn't as common as it should be.
RuPaul's Drag Race winner Jinkx Monsoon recently discussed the flood of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the United States and sent a message to the queer community across the country, PinkNews noted. "My message is, 'Always find your community.' Sometimes that means having to move, which sucks. We should be safe wherever we live," Monsoon said on MSNBC's 11th Hour. "Do what it takes to keep yourself safe and find your community so you can live your life truthfully and unapologetically."
Out gay Manhattan Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell urged N.Y. Gov. Kathy Hochul to ban all non-essential travel to six states that have recently approved anti-trans/LGBTQ+ bills, Gay City News noted. In part, O'Donnell (the brother of entertainer Rosie O'Donnell) said, "I ask for you to again take that step and issue an executive order banning non-essential state travel to the following states, due to legislation that has recently become law…" The states are Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.
U.S. House Republicans, on March 24, passed the Parents Bill of Rights Actwhich would require public schools to share educational materials with parents and also contains provisions that would trigger the outing of LGBTQ+ students without their consent, The Washington Blade reported. Critics say the measure would allow schools to edit out content addressing race, or materials containing LGBTQ+ characters or themes, among other things. The Congressional Equality Caucus noted the likelihood of that outcome; the group's chair, U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-California), called that possibility "dangerous," pointing to its requirement for "schools to forcibly out transgender students, even if it puts those youth in harm's way."
More than 150 South Carolina healthcare professionals released a letter calling on state lawmakers to reject a series of bills that would block healthcare access for transgender people, according to a press release from the SC United for Justice & Equality. The letter's signers include physicians, nurses, physician assistants, psychiatrists and mental-health professionalsand many of them work directly with transgender adolescents or young adults. The letter is at tinyurl.com/mwaexbpn ..
Democratic Nebraska state Sen. John Fredrickson, who's openly gay, went viral for breaking down in tears as he apologized to trans people for Republican state senators' attacks and comments about trans people, LGBTQ Nation noted. "I wish I could say or do something to change this," Fredrickson said during a filibuster by state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh (D), who wants to stop a bill banning gender-affirming care for trans youth. "To my LGBTQ family, I spoke to you at the beginning of the week, and I'll speak to you again. Regardless of what happens today, heads up. Chins up. We're survivors. Me standing in this room is proof of that."
The organization that until recently was known as NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists is changing its name, per Press Pass Q. The organization is adding a plus sign to LGBTQ "to reflect the many identities that make up our growing community," read the recent announcement from Ken Miguel, the group's national board president. Cynthia Laird, news editor of the Bay Area Reporter, noted that other organizations have made the same change to their names; one of those is the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which is rebranding as the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC announced that singer-songwriter Ava Max will perform at the 2023 HRC Los Angeles Dinner on Saturday, March 25, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles, per a press release. "I am so thrilled to participate in this year's Human Rights Campaign's Los Angeles Dinner," Max said. "HRC's important work to help create an inclusive and safe world for the LGBTQ+ community is inspiring, and I am honored to support this organization."
Transgender flight attendant Kayleigh Scott, 25who became widely known after appearing in a United Airlines commercialwas found dead in her Colorado home, per The New York Post. Scott, who shared her transition story for a 2020 Trans Day of Visibility video produced by United, declared in an Instagram post that she was planning to end her life. According to comments on her final post, Scott's friends called Denver authorities, asking them to do a welfare check on the flight attendant.
According to Outsports, Baylor and Oral Roberts universities topped all the other March Madness schools when it comes to homophobia. A private conservative Baptist university, Baylor's official school policy describes marriage as a union between a man and a woman; moreover, Brittney Griner has said that her former coach, Kim Mulkey (who's now at LSU), barred her from publicizing her sexual orientation. Oral Roberts, named after the late televangelist, has an honor code that bans same-sex relations. Like other religious institutions, Oral Roberts gets to skirt certain Title IX requirements.
Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has named former Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper to the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, according to The Washington Blade. Cooper, an Army Reserve officer who served in the Iraq War, as Log Cabin Republicans' executive director during 2010-12; he currently is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council (a nonpartisan organization) and is married to fellow combat veteran Michael Marin.
In Florida, Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger sought to shoot down a proposal that the city hold a gay pride event this coming June, the Miami New Times noted. In the mayor's mind, events that celebrate a particular culture or demographic are implements of exclusion and run the risk of alienating residents and making people feel like they don't belong. In August 2022, the town commission voted three to two to allow the flag to fly during Pride Month this year after declining to raise it last year.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation released new data detailing how LGBTQ+ community members believe ending the blood donation ban should be a priority for the Biden-Harris Administration, per a press release. The data revealed that nearly three-quarters of the LGBTQ+ community find the current blood-donation policywhich prevents gay, bisexual, queer and same-gender-loving (GBQ/SGL+) men from donating blood if they had reported sexual conduct with a man in the prior 90 daysunacceptable. Nearly 90% believe the federal government needs to prioritize investing in more technologies and research to expand eligibility.
In Wyoming, Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens has temporarily blocked a state abortion ban that just went into effect, CNN noted. The sweeping ban, called the "Life is a Human Right Act," went into effect March 19; it bans abortion in most circumstances, with exceptions only for incest, sexual assault, cases of "lethal fetal anomaly" or danger to the pregnant person's life. Violation of the law is a felony and carries penalties of up to five years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Out CNN journalist Anderson Cooper is anchoring a weekly newsmagazine on Sundays starting April 16, per The Hollywood Reporter. The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper will feature investigations, character-driven profiles, interviews and other long-form reporting. The program will utilize CNN's global team of reporters and correspondents.
Ari Shapirothe out co-host of NPR's All Things Considered and former White House correspondenthas released his memoir-in-essays The Best Strangers in the World: Stories From a Life Spent Listening, Out noted. In the book, Shapiro shares everything from the story of his relationship with husband Mike Gottlieb to Och and Oy! (his cabaret-show collaboration with LGBTQ+ actor Alan Cumming) why he dislikes the question "What's your favorite interview?"
Washington Blade Editor Kevin Naff published his first book, How We Won the War for LGBTQ EqualityAnd How Our Enemies Could Take It All Away, the publication noted. The book commemorates Naff's 20 years editing the Blade and features two decades of his work updated with new insights and commentary.
D.C.'s Capital Pride revealed that "peace, love, revolution" will be the theme of this year's celebration, The Washington Blade reported. Officials with Capital Pride Alliancethe group that organizes D.C.'s annual Pride eventsalso announced at its Reveal celebration that the 2023 Pride events will set the stage for 2025, when D.C. will host WorldPride 2025.
In California, Derrick Patterson stands accused of using Grindr to rob more than 20 gay victims and held two at knifepoint, PinkNews noted. The LA deputy district attorney, Richard Ceballos, said that Patterson used a Grindr profile with a different picture to arrange to meet up with men in their homes; Patterson then allegedly used the victims' phones to steal money (via payment apps). If convicted of all charges, Patterson faces up to 60 years in prison.
In Kentucky, a trial slated for this summer will determine what damages former Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis might owe a Morehead couple for violating their constitutional rights, WKYT reported. A jury trial in the case of David Ermold v. Kim Davis was originally scheduled for July 11 at the federal courthouse in Ashland. Davis' actions during 2015 turned Morehead into an epicenter of the battle over same-sex rights following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry.
Buster Murdaughthe only surviving son of recently convicted S.C. attorney Alex Murdaughpublicly denied being involved in the death of gay teenager and former high-school classmate Stephen Smith (whose death has now been ruled a homicide), according to Yahoo! News. "This has gone on far too long," Buster said in a statement. "These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false. I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family." In 2015, Smith's body was found in the middle of a rural road in Hampton County; his death was initially ruled a hit-and-run, but his family called for the body to be exhumed and for a new autopsy to be performed. Also, it turned out that, in 2016, Smith's mom sent a letter to the FBI about the mishandling of her son's death investigation, saying he was murdered for being gay and naming Buster as a possible suspect, per TMZ.
Siena, a 7-year-old Girl Scout, recently sold about 100 boxes per weekend in WeHo's LGBT Rainbow District, selling out her entire supply of cookies, The Advocate noted. "I was dreading selling Girl Scout cookies, but the [people] have made it so much fun that now I'm happy to drive 40 minutes to sell cookies," mother Jenn Levin said. "We were so excited that drag queen Billy [Francesca] bought the last four boxes of Lemon-ups, so mom could go home and relax with a glass of wine." Siena's younger sister and her auntWest Hollywood resident Lulie LaPlaca, a producer on TV shows such as The Bacheloraccompanied her as well.
Self-help guru Marianne Williamson is in the midst of controversy after 12 of her staffers from her 2020 presidential run said Williamson was verbally and emotionally abusive, according to Politico. Those interviewed say the best-selling author and spiritual adviser subjected her employees to unpredictable, explosive episodes of angermatching what Paul Hodes, a former U.S. congressman who served as Williamson's 2020 New Hampshire state director, said was his experience working with her. In an email to Politico, Williamsonwho has launched her second Democratic campaign for presidentsaid such accusations of her behavior were "slanderous" and "categorically untrue."