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NATIONAL Trans women's updates, Virginia case, Lambda Legal, GLAAD, gay men's chorus
by Windy City Times staff
2021-08-01

This article shared 817 times since Sun Aug 1, 2021
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The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office (DAO) announced updates on the murders of trans women Michelle "Tameka" Washington and Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells at a press conference, Philadelphia Troy Bailey, who was convicted of murdering Washington in 2019, was sentenced to 25 to 50 years of state incarceration. A preliminary hearing in the murder of Fells revealed DNA evidence against Akhenaton Jones "to suggest that Dominique, or Miss Fells, was killed in [the suspect's] home," Assistant DA Chesley Lightsey added. Fells' body was found June 8, 2020 near the banks of the Schuylkill River.

In Virginia, Lynchburg Circuit Court Judge J. Frederick Watson dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Virginia Department of Education's (VDOE's) model policies for transgender students that are to be implemented for the 2021-2022 school year, The Washington Blade reported. The VDOE introduced the policies in March to better protect and affirm trans and non-binary students in schools, considering they are more likely to face discrimination and harassment from their peers and students. Several conservative organizations—including the Christian Action Network and families whose children attend Lynchburg public schools—had sought to overturn the VDOE's policies, citing freedoms of speech and religion.

Lambda Legal announced, per a press release, that Kristine Kippins has joined the organization as the new deputy legal director for policy, based in its Washington, D.C. office. Before joining Lambda Legal, Kippins was director of policy for the Constitutional Accountability Center and a federal policy counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. She received her J.D. from William & Mary Law School and B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.

GLAAD announced Jenni Olson as the organization's new social-media safety program director, per a press release. Olson will build and staff GLAAD's work to increase safer spaces for LGBTQ people on social media platforms and apps as well as develop GLAAD's public education and watchdog work to hold social media companies accountable to the LGBTQ community. Olson spearheaded the organization's recently launched inaugural Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) report. Olson previously served as vice president of e-commerce and marketing at LGBT film distributor Wolfe Video.

Big Apple Performing Arts, the company that runs the New York City Gay Men's Chorus (NYCGMC), reinstated ousted member Jonathan Gibbs with probation after investigating claims that he was booted for calling out racism in the organization, according to Gay City News. Gibbs, a longtime chorus member, discovered he was terminated in a group-wide email in June after leaders alleged he violated the organization's social-media policy that warns against "disparaging" the group online. (Gibbs had posted on Facebook, "I guess white supremacy is stronger than fraternal bonds.") The internal uproar marked just one of multiple allegations of racism and sexual harassment within the group dating back several years.

After going almost entirely virtual last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NYC Black Pride is back with a wide range of events to commemorate the Black LGBTQ community starting Aug. 18, Gay City News reported. Events are slated to include an opening mixer at the Black-owned LGBTQ bar Lambda Lounge; the virtual Zoom event "Health as a Human Right"; and NYC Black Pride's drag brunch, at B2 Harlem, among others. NYC Black Pride organizer Lee Soulja-Simmons said this year's NYC Black Pride would be smaller than usual because of COVID-19 safety guidelines and restrictions.

Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican nominee for New Jersey governor, is shown on video at a campaign stop last month saying he is against having kindergartners learn about "gender ID and sexual orientation" and sixth-graders about "sodomy," and that he'd "roll back" new LGBTQ curriculum requirements in the state's schools, NJ.com noted. The remarks—first published by Gothamist/WNYC—were quickly denounced by gay-rights advocates and supporters of Gov. Phil Murphy, the Democratic incumbent Ciattarelli is trying to unseat in the Nov. 2 election. Steven Goldstein—founder of Garden State Equality, New Jersey's leading gay-rights group—said by "equating LGBTQ relationships with 'sodomy,'" Ciattarelli is "now Frankenstein's clone of Marjorie Taylor Greene for New Jersey."

The 11th Circuit struck down a Florida evangelical Christian ministry's claim that it was discriminated against and defamed after the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labeled it a hate group, causing Amazon to deny its application to fundraise through the online retailing giant's charitable website, Courthouse News Service reported. A unanimous three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court upheld an Alabama federal judge's September 2019 decision to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Fort Lauderdale-based Coral Ridge Ministries Media (also known as D. James Kennedy Ministries) against Amazon, the AmazonSmile Foundation and the SPLC. The panel found that Coral Ridge's defamation claim against the SPLC failed because it did not show that the organization "acted with actual malice" when it listed the ministry on its "hate map" as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

Four members of Congress—U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Massachusetts), Chris Pappas (D-New Hampshire), Sharice Davids (D-Kansas) and Mondaire Jones (D-New York)—introduced a bill that would require federally funded universities to apply for waivers from the U.S. Department of Education before they can receive a religious exemption from Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, according to The Washington Blade. The Exposing Discrimination in Higher Education Act would also require "the Department of Education and the exempted higher education institutions to prominently display the waiver on their websites in order to inform students of their beliefs before arriving on campus."

In Kansas, the North Lyon County School District plans to offer anti-discrimination training to staff and teachers in response to complaints about how an eighth-grade student was treated after she said she was a lesbian, according to U.S. News &World Report, citing the AP. The ACLU had threatened to sue the district after Izzy Dieker—an eighth grader at the time—was suspended from riding the bus for two days in January because she said "I am a lesbian" while on the bus. She said she didn't ride again for two weeks because she felt humiliated.

The Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference (PTWC) took place virtually July 22-24, after having been postponed in 2020 due to pandemic safety measures, Philadelphia Gay News reported. More than 3,500 people attended the conference this year—making it the largest trans-centric conference in the world. Among the roughly 120 professional and general track workshops were topics including barriers to healthcare for trans men; legal issues that trans and non-binary people face in everyday life; transfeminine and non-binary gender affirmation surgeries; eroticism and the trans body; and more.

In West Virginia, South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens said discrimination will not be tolerated in the city and now there is an ordinance in place there that follows a U.S. Supreme Court's decision, according to WVMetroNews.com . Recently, the South Charleston City Council approved a nondiscrimination ordinance protecting LGBTQ residents from discrimination. Mullens said the city already had a policy; however, this was a tweak to mirror the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, in which the Court ruled six to three that an employer who fired an employee for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Sarah Green—the granddaughter of the anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant—is lesbian and engaged, The Advocate noted. Bryant, a beauty queen and pop singer, was a spokeswoman for Florida orange growers in the 1970s when she gained new fame with her opposition to gay rights. Talking on Slate's podcast One Year, Green said she had no intention of coming out to Bryant, but she was spurred to do so on her 21st birthday; Bryant responded by telling Green that homosexuality is a delusion invented by the devil and that her granddaughter should focus on loving God.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional in 2003 and Massachusetts has legally recognized same-sex marriage since 2004—but sections of state law still feature discriminatory restrictions on sexual interactions between consenting adults, lawmakers and advocates said, the State House News Service reported. A bill filed by Rep. Jay Livingstone (H 1758) would repeal a ban on "unnatural and lascivious acts" and strip other anti-sodomy statutes from Chapter 272 of the Massachusetts General Laws. LGBTQ=rights advocates told the Judiciary Committee that sections of that chapter—broadly titled "Crimes Against Chastity, Morality, Decency and Good Order"—were historically implemented to punish individuals for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

A House Republican whose opposition to LGBTQ rights has been front-and-center on his campaign and Wikipedia pages appears to have tried to sweep his record under the rug—and evidence suggests the person responsible is his communications director, according to The Washington Blade. Rep. James Comer, first elected four years ago to represent Kentucky's 1st Congressional District, has made his opposition to LGBTQ rights clear from the start. However, the "issues" page has been scrapped from his campaign website entirely, much of the identical information can be found on his congressional webpage. Missing, however, is the portion from his campaign page that once denoted his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Gender-affirming healthcare is now covered as part of Alaska's Medicaid program, helping to cover costs for low-income individuals, The Advocate noted. The change comes after a lawsuit settlement in late June. The suit had been filed against Alaska's health department for not covering trans Alaskans and their transitions, according to The Anchorage Daily News. The suit said the state's refusal to cover such healthcare costs was a violation of trans Alaskans' civil rights.

A city councilor in Roseburg, Oregon, was criticized after making an anti-trans remark in jest during a public virtual council session—and now faces calls to resign after making more derogatory, anti-trans remarks, LGBTQ Nation reported. During a June 28 meeting, the misspelling of another councilmember's name led Council President Bob Cotterell to quip, "Well that's fine, you're in Oregon. You can be a boy today and a girl tomorrow." After being called out in a resident's email, several members of the council apologized and denounced Cotterell's comments. Later, when contacted by the News-Review, Cotterell not only said that he didn't apologize for the comments, but called the very notion of people having gender identities "a joke."


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