Equality Florida condemned the filing of a bill, announced by Republican Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, that would eliminate training and permitting requirements for the concealed carrying of firearms. In a press statement, Equality Florida Press Secretary and Pulse Nightclub shooting survivor Brandon Wolf said, "LGBTQ Floridians know all too well that this country's obsession with easy access to deadly weapons can take discrimination and bigotry and make it lethal. Gun violence is not abstract or hypotheticalit is stealing our loved ones. Instead of stripping away common sense safety precautions like background checks and proficiency training, the legislature should be focused on ways to keep Floridians safe. If passed, permitless carry will cost lives."
In a New Hampshire presidential poll, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg edged current President Joe Biden, The Advocate noted. The University of New Hampshire Survey Center asked likely Democratic primary voters. Twenty-three percent said Buttigieg, who sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination; 18 percent said Biden, tying him with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, another 2020 presidential aspirant. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders came in at 15 percent.
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), an LGBTQ+ organization, criticized The College Board for paring down its official curriculum for its Advanced Placement course in African-American studies after Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized it. In a press release, NBJC noted that the College Board specifically "removed topics of critical race theory, Black Lives Matter, Black feminism, and the Black LGBTQ+/Same-Gender Loving (LGBTQ+/SGL) experience from the curricula." NBJC Executive Director Dr. David A. Johns said, in part, "To wake up on the first day of Black History Month to news of white men in positions of privilege horse trading essential and inextricably linked parts of Black History, which is American history, is infuriating. The assault on my existence feels like gaslighting."
Transgender students and their parents gave emotional speeches, begging lawmakers not to advance several bills that restrict what Iowa schools can teach about gender identity or how they can accommodate trans kids—but it was all in vain as the measures advanced, The Des Moines Register reported. Sen. Jeff Taylor, R-Sioux Center, argued that science about gender dysphoria has been "politicized" as the bills are a step closer to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signing them into law. LGBTQ+ families and advocates argue the measures will make schools even more hostile for the most vulnerable students.
On Jan. 28, Republican Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed a measure that would ban gender-affirming health care and hormone therapy for transgender children. The move follows similar legislation enacted in other GOP-led states amid a larger wave of anti-trans bills, many of which target youth, Axios noted. SB16, introduced by family doctor and state Sen. Michael Kennedy (R-Alpine), would prohibit gender-reassignment surgeries and puberty blockers for trans minors.
With the Indiana 2023 legislative session underway, state lawmakers have introduced several House bills and Senate bills that target transgender youth, the Indiana Daily Student (IDS) reported. These bills would ban or restrict gender-affirming care for minors in healthcare and the education system. "Bills that aim to ban essential medical care for transgender youth are part of a coordinated, hate-driven campaign to push trans people out of public life," ACLU of Indiana Advocacy Strategist Kit Malone stated.
Embattled Republican U.S. Rep. George Santos of New York is dealing with yet another law-enforcement probe, per The Washington Blade. This time, it's over allegations the congressman ran a GoFundMe scam in 2016 by crowdsourcing for a U.S. Navy veteran and his cancer-stricken service dog before disappearing with the money. Politico reported that the veteran, Richard Osthoff, provided text messages to the FBI, which is reportedly conducting a parallel investigation into Santos' campaign finances. The news came a day after Santos resigned from his two committee assignments following a meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California).
Following in Florida's footsteps, Wyoming has its own "Don't Say Gay" bill in its GOP-heavy House of Representatives, South Florida Gay News noted. The bill has been supported by local chapters of Moms for Liberty, just as it did in Florida. The Wyoming House consists of 57 Republicans and five Democrats. The contents of the bill closely resemble Florida's, including a ban on the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade, or at any grade level in a way that's deemed "not age-appropriate."
The House Early Childhood/Innovation subcommittee in the Virginia House of Representatives unanimously voted to reject a bill targeting trans students, LGBTQ Nation noted. H.B. 1434, introduced by Republican state Del. Jason Ballard, would have required trans students to obtain a court order to update their names on any school records. In response to the subcommittee's decision, the ACLU of Virginia tweeted, "Trans & non-binary students should be able to go to school and be called by their chosen names, without fear of being outed."
The AIDS Activities Coordinating Office (AACO) of the Philadelphia Department of Health has changed its name and is now known as the Division of HIV Health (DHH), a press release announced. Then-Mayor W. Wilson Goode established the AACO in 1987 to manage the growing HIV epidemic in Philadelphia. The release stated, in part, "Today, according to Dr. Kathleen Brady, Director of the Division of HIV Health, most people with HIV will never develop AIDS. Therefore, the term AIDS is no longer reflective of the work of the Division. Its focus is now on health. Thanks to the advances in HIV treatment, a person with HIV can expect to live an essentially normal life span and healthier lives."
Three men who visited the New York City gay leather spot The Eagle NYC were robbed of thousands of dollars using facial recognition access on their phones, NBC News reported. The three menwho were in their late 30s and 40s and who visited the bar on separate nights in October and Novemberwere each robbed of $1,000 to $5,000. Police believe the criminals used facial recognition to access the victims' phones and funds once they were incapacitated.
In NYC, former Hunter College professor Jeffrey T. Parsons-Hietikko and the university agreed to reimburse the federal government for longtime improper billing to the National Institutes of Health for scuba-diving trips, international flights and improper bonuses, Law360 reported. Parsons-Hietikko and Hunter College reached separate False Claims Act settlements with the federal government, with Parsons agreeing to repay $375,000 and the college agreeing to a repayment of $200,000. As part of Parsons-Hietikko's settlement, he admitted to seeking reimbursement for scuba-diving trips to the Cayman Islands, Bonaire, Cuba, Costa Rica, Fiji, Cozumel and Belize while claiming the trips were related to CHEST (Center for HIV Educational Studies & Training) research, which involves HIV/AIDS prevention. According to his LinkedIn resume, Parsons-Hietikko taught at Hunter during 2000-19.
In California, the debate over whether trans woman Christynne Wood should have been allowed to use a women's locker room at the local YMCA continued at a Santee City Council meeting, Fox 5 San Diego reported. Wood felt it was time to speak out for herself in the same place 17-year-old Rebecca Phillips first brought attention to this story, which has since received national attention. Although Wood had supporters, there were also critics, including former Miss California and San Diego native Carrie Prejean, who said, "This is war. This is a war on women, children and the truth." In 2021, Wood settled with an El Cajon gym to resolve allegations that she was not allowed to use the women's locker room and restroom in violation of state law, CBS8 reported.
In Michigan, newly elected Republican commissioners affiliated with the activist group Ottawa Impact dissolved Ottawa County's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office and fired its staff, Bridge Michigan reported. Commissioners also named John Gibbsa former President Donald Trump-endorsed congressional candidate who his electoral race in November 2022as the new county administrator. Ottawa County includes such cities as Grand Haven and Holland.