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NATIONAL Utah board member, Baths founder dies, Fla. protests, DoJ equity plan
by Andrew Davis
2024-02-16

This article shared 6727 times since Fri Feb 16, 2024
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Utah's Republican governor and lieutenant governor urged the State Board of Education to take action against a conservative board member whose social-media post questioning the gender of a high school basketball player incited threats against the girl, a Santa Maria Times item noted. Natalie Cline, who has previously come under investigation for inflammatory comments about LGBTQ+ students, singled out the Salt Lake City athlete in a since-deleted Facebook post. In a joint rebuke with Republican Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Gov. Spencer Cox said Cline has "embarrassed the state."

Steve Ostrow, the bisexual founder of the famed Continental Baths in the basement of NYC's Ansonia Hotel, died on Feb. 4 at the age of 91, Gay City News reported. Ostrow aimed to open the bathhouse in 1968 after identifying a vacant space in The Ansonia, then a hotel at 2109 Broadway. The bathhouse only lasted until the late 1970s but it left a lasting legacy: It is perhaps best known for paving the way for the careers of stars like Bette Midler and Barry Manilow. The bar—which featured lockers, a disco, steam room, restaurant, chapel, gym, travel desk, sexual health clinic and store—was raided 200 times in its first year of operation, Ostrow said in his 2022 memoir, but that settled down once Ostrow paid the police 10% of his profits.

In Florida, trans activists held die-in protests at DMV offices around the state, The Advocate noted. Dozens of people showed up draped in transgender flags or orange road-safe vests and laid down in lobbies and offices in an effort to draw attention to the state's latest attack on trans identity. The events took place following a decision by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration that criminalizes changing gender on a license to reflect a transition in gender identity. Prism, Youth Action Fund, Equality Florida, Hope CommUnity Center, GLSEN Central Florida, and SPEKTRUM Health organized the die-ins.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) recently released its 2023 Equity Access Plan. Among other things, for the fiscal year 2024, the department plans to advance five strategies that include promoting an inclusive, diverse, and expert law enforcement workforce; and improving the response of law enforcement and criminal justice personnel to crimes that disproportionately affect women, girls, transgender individuals, and gender non-conforming people; and others. The summary is available at https://www.justice.gov/d9/2024-02/EO_14091_DOJ_EAP_2023_0.pdf.

In Michigan, the recently elected mayor of the city of Menominee was elected as chair of the Menominee County Republican Party—making LGBTQ+ history, WLUC noted. Casey Hoffman is the first openly gay mayor in the Upper Peninsula and he's also the first openly gay GOP chairperson in the whole state. Hoffman said Menominee Republicans voted for him because of his policies, not his sexual orientation.

In Texas, interfaith organizer and LGBTQ+-rights advocate Doug Greco has entered the race for mayor of Austin, the Austin Monitor noted. In the process, Greco announced he was stepping down from his post as executive director and lead organizer of Central Texas Interfaith. Greco's 2023 book, To Find a Killer, lays out an organizing vision for the next phase of the LGBTQ+-rights movement and analyzes the 2011 murder of one his former students, who was targeted because she was lesbian. In addition to Greco, the candidates for mayor include former City Council Member Kathie Tovo, activist Carmen Llanes Pulido and, presumably, current Mayor Kirk Watson.

Chad Morris and James Pence—a gay couple in Missouri that owns the St. Louis spot Bar:PM—are still dealing with problems with city officials after a police vehicle crashed into the building in December, The Advocate noted. The building's owners received a letter from the city's Building Division detailing violations and setting a re-inspection date to assess compliance with the Property Maintenance Code; the letter initially raised concerns among the bar's owners and patrons about potential condemnation, especially in light of the damage caused by the crash. Building Commissioner Frank Oswald, however, subsequently reassured the building owners that the city had no intention of condemning the property.

A Montgomery County, Maryland survey that found trans youth face difficulties in accessing care prompted Council Vice President Kate Stewart and nonprofit Trans Maryland to convene a virtual roundtable, per The Washington Blade. Stewart said, in part, that Trans Maryland's work helped make syringes more available now, but more needs to be done to increase access to equitable care at the local level. Maryland's Trans Health Equity Act, which became effective Jan. 1, requires Medicaid to cover trans-affirming care; however, a Montgomery County survey found 41 percent of those needing such care reported difficulty finding it in the county.

Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia's biggest LGBTQ+ health agency, has had significant operating losses for three years in a row, as it has struggled to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, per The Philadelphia Inquirer. The nonprofit's financial condition became so bad that its latest financial statements, issued in October, contained a rare warning from its auditing firm that it might not be able to continue meeting its financial obligations for more than a year. A spokesperson for the organization noted that annual statements covered the year that ended June 30, 2022, and that a recovery is happening, with patient volumes back to pre-pandemic levels.

In Minnesota, St. Louis Park Public Schools will allow opt-outs for families who don't want their children to read books with LGBTQ+ characters, after six Somali Muslim families threatened to sue the district, per The Sahan Journal. In a statement, St. Louis Park Public Schools said it was proud of the diverse books in its literacy program and was committed to honoring all students' identities. Under Minnesota law, every school district must have a procedure for parents to review instructional materials, and, if the parent objects to the content, "to make reasonable arrangements with school personnel for alternative instruction."

On Feb. 13, dozens of people turned out for a ceremony led by British Ambassador Dame Karen Pierce to dedicate a mural painted on the outside wall of the D.C. gay bar Little Gay Pub that the UK government sponsored, per The Washington Blade. A statement released by the British Embassy says the mural, "Great Love is for Everyone," was co-designed by local U.S. artist Lisa Marie Thalhammer, the British Embassy of Washington and the Little Gay Pub to spotlight the "UK's 'GREAT LOVE' international campaign, which celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community and the UK's values of equality and inclusion."

In Texas, University of North Texas (UNT) legal counsel recently advised the campus libraries to suspend planned events for Pride Week, per the Tyler Morning Telegraph. The events are the latest casualty of a ban that state lawmakers passed to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, programs and recruiting documents in Texas public colleges. UNT administration complied with the new law, Senate Bill 17, by reorganizing the longstanding Multicultural Center and Pride Alliance into the UNT Center for Belonging and Engagement for the entirety of the student body. In 2023, the UNT Libraries hosted Pride Week events during March 27-29.

Tagg Magazine, a D.C.-based media outlet for Black lesbians, has a new editor-in-chief/owner in Sondra Rose Marie, who succeeds founder Ebone Bell, The Washington Blade noted. After two years as a freelance writer, Marie moved up to senior content writer and spent nearly five years in that role before she became editor-in-chief. Late last year, Tagg stopped printing its magazine and went fully digital; Marie said she hopes the magazine garners new audience members.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita launched a form for reporting schools that teach about LGBTQ+ issues, Black history, or topics deemed to be "political ideology" in schools—and it has been flooded with memes, The Advocate noted. In making the announcement on the Tony Kinnett Show, livestreamed on YouTube, Rokita said investigators would go over submissions and post any they believed to be credible onto a publicly viewable database. However, after people deluged the form with memes and jokes (including Indiana Jones slapping a Nazi), local news agencies questioned the efficacy of the initiative.

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. after a super PAC supporting his independent presidential campaign aired a $7 million Super Bowl ad that appropriated a 1960 ad aired by his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, according to Illinois Politico Playbook. His apology on X read, "I'm so sorry if the Super Bowl advertisement caused anyone in my family pain. The ad was created and aired by the American Values Super PAC without any involvement or approval from my campaign. FEC rules prohibit Super PACs from consulting with me or my staff. I love you all. God bless you."


This article shared 6727 times since Fri Feb 16, 2024
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