Gayborhood News: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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gayborhood_smBy: Emily Scagel/TRT Assistant Editor–

Boston, MA

Trans nondiscrimination policy approved in public school district

The Medford School Committee has approved a new gender identity nondiscrimination policy for Medford Public Schools. The new policy is based on guidelines from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in response to the law passed in 2011 that protects transgender youth and adults from discrimination in employment, education, housing and lending. The executive director of MassEquality stated that the number of people that support positive policies for transgender equality is at an all-time high, and commended the committee for moving closer to the finish line to achieve true equality in Massachusetts.

Groups urge lawmakers to create LGBT Elder Commission

MassEquality and the LGBT Aging Project have called on lawmakers to create an LGBT Elder Commission that would study and recommend ways to meet the unique needs of LGBT elders. The executive director of MassEquality said that the Patrick Administration issued a directive last year to elder service agencies requiring them to do targeted outreach to LGBT elders in Massachusetts, and now they are urging lawmakers to take the next step. Surveys by SAGE, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the LGBT Aging Project have all shown that LGBT elders have a great need for services, but they are unlikely to request them.

Lesbians, bisexual women at greater risk for cervical cancer

An analysis from The Fenway Institute found that lesbians and bisexual women are as likely as heterosexual women to develop cervical cancer, but much less likely to get regular screenings, putting them at greater risk. Lesbians and bisexual women are up to 10 times less likely to receive routine screenings. The majority of cervical cancers in the US occur among women who never were screened, or who were not screened within five or more years. The analysis also noted that other countries have recognized this disparity and have increased screening rates for this population.

Burlington, VT

Former ex-gay commended

Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit that fights anti-LGBT extremism, has commended a former “ex-gay” poster-boy who has taken the first step in being honest about who he is. Once the most well-known and influential person in the “ex-gay” industry, John Paulk has stated that he no longer endorses efforts to change people’s sexuality or the ex-gay movement. John and his estranged wife still have more to do to make up for the damage they have inflicted.

Chicago, IL

First ever Trans 100 list revealed

We Happy Trans and This is H.O.W. have announced the first ever Trans 100 list. The list is an overview of the breadth and diversity of work being done in, by and for the trans community across the U.S. The list intends to shift coverage of trans issues by focusing on positive work being accomplished and by providing visibility.

NAACP supports freedom to marry, full equality for everyone

The Illinois NAACP has released a statement on marriage equality saying that the fight for freedom and equality encompasses all people. The Illinois NAACP State Conference President stated that the NAACP will always stand for full equality under the law and that their commitment to civil rights and freedom will not change, despite the changing nature of the struggle.

Columbus, OH

Students petition for rehire of teacher

Students at an Ohio Catholic high school have launched a petition asking for the rehire of a teacher who was fired after someone complained that a female partner was listed on the obituary of the teacher’s mother. Apparently, the person filing the complaint was “appalled” that the teacher was teaching at the school, and a few days later, she was fired. Each signature on the Change.org petition is delivered via email to the Diocese of Columbus. A city ordinance states that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on sexual orientation.

Houston, TX

Trans student allowed to wear dress to prom

A Texas school that previously told a transgender student that it was unacceptable for her to wear a dress to the prom because boys have to wear tuxedos has reversed its position after receiving a letter from the ACLU. The national ACLU and the ACLU of Texas explained to the principal that both federal law and the U.S. Constitution protect the student’s right to wear a prom dress.

Los Angeles, CA

Report: Every state saw increase in marriage equality support

An analysis by the the Williams Institute Public Opinion Project Director and the Senior Scholar of Public Policy reported that every state has seen increases in same-sex marriage support over the last eight years. Research revealed a 31 percent difference between the lowest level of support found in a state and the highest level. The report examines public support for marriage equality by state, and reveals the current position of each state’s general population, how public opinion differs nationwide, and the change in opinion since 2004.

PSA campaign features straight celebrities, athletes

GLAAD launched a new public service announcement campaign featuring a group of straight celebrities and athletes coming out as supporters of equality and calling for other Americans to speak out. Participants include Jackie Chan and Sarah Shahi. Comcast and NBCUniversal are media partners for the PSA campaign, and are contributing $1.5 million in national airtime on its cable systems over the next year, reaching over 20 million homes.

New York, NY

Many petition for end to anti-trans college policy

GLAAD has joined over 3,000 Change.org petition signers and student organizers at Smith College to call for an end to the college’s policy that rejects admission applications from some transgender women. In March, admission was denied to a transgender woman because the gender marker on her FAFSA form did not match her stated gender identity. Smith’s school policy turns a blind eye to the complications and challenges that trans people sometimes face in correcting their gender markers on identification documents.

RNC restates anti-equality position

The Republican National Committee has passed a resolution reaffirming its stance against marriage equality. The campaign manager of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry stated that this approval shows a party that is stuck in the past and not aligned with the majority of Americans or with the next generation of the conservative movement.

LGBT elder population grows, urgent need for policy solutions

SAGE has released a report that examines health disparities faced by LGBT older people of color. The report, Health Equity and LGBT Elders of Color, also offers policy solutions in 10 areas to address these challenges. The need for new policy solutions is growing more urgent as the population becomes older and more diverse. Conservative estimates indicate that by 2050 the number of LGBT elders will more than double in size to 3 million.

Boy Scouts resolve ban on youth, maintain ban on adults

The Boy Scouts of America have maintained their ban on gay and lesbian adult leaders, despite revising the language to allow gay youth in the organization. An Ohio mom who was removed as the leader of her son’s Cub Scouts pack for being gay asked how many times families like hers have to be rejected by the organization, and stated that the release of this dividing and discriminatory information at the same time that fellow Americans in Boston are suffering so much is despicable.

Providence, RI

Online campaign details effects of marriage equality legislation

A new online ad campaign has been designed to tell the story of thousands of Rhode Island families affected by marriage equality legislation. The campaign, launched by Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, also discusses the appropriate religious exemptions included in the bill. The campaign director for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage said that these ads are coming at a critical time, and showcase the grassroots campaign that actively engages RI voters with their senators across the state.

Marriage equality bill passes in Senate

The Rhode Island Senate has voted 26-12 in support of marriage equality legislation. The bill now returns to the House because of small changes made since the House last approved the legislation. Gov. Chafee has then promised to sign the bill into law.

San Francisco, CA

California’s health plans clarified, everyone guaranteed access

The Department of Managed Health Care in California has issued guidance that clarifies the obligations of California’s health plans under the Insurance Gender Nondiscrimination Act. This confirmed that California’s Insurance Non-Discrimination Act of 2006 guarantees everyone the right to access coverage for medically necessary care regardless of gender identity or expression.

Immigration reform proposal announced

The long-awaited immigration reform proposal was unveiled by a bipartisan group of Senators. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act provides a massive overhaul to many of the aspects in the current immigration approach. The legislation has a number of provisions that will provide a path forward for undocumented immigrants, including those who are LGBT, but the bill also lacks several key components, including how it treats LGBT families.

Washington, DC

Coach bullies players, is terminated

Video footage has been released of the Rutgers University men’s basketball coach using homophobic slurs to berate his players. The athletic director fined Rice upon being shown the video. In response, the HRC issued a statement calling for his immediate termination. The president of HRC stated that this may be viewed as license to bully, and that Rutgers has an opportunity to send a powerful message that this behavior should not be tolerated. Since then, the coach has been terminated.

HRC supports comprehensive immigration reform

The Human Rights Campaign has released a statement of principles as part of an ongoing effort in support of comprehensive immigration reform. The document, Comprehensive & Inclusive Immigration Reform: Nine Problems Deserving Solutions, is organized by HRC’s four guiding principles in support of immigration reform, and details key problems in each that urgently require legislative solutions. HRC is also beginning a public education effort within the LGBT community on the importance of comprehensive immigration reform.

Number of Senators supporting marriage equality grows

The total number of U.S. Senators backing marriage equality has reached 53. The president of HRC released a statement saying that the bipartisan wave of support will continue to swell as time progresses, and that Washington leaders are finally catching up to the American people who recognize that gay and lesbian couples deserve the right to marry.

Democratic Senators urged to announce support for marriage equality

MoveOn has urged Democratic Senators to come out in support of marriage equality nationwide. Their campaign targeted nine Senators who had not yet come out in support of marriage equality. Six out of the nine who were targeted announced their public support within seven days of local MoveOn members launching targeted campaigns. Only three Democratic senators have yet to support marriage equality. MoveOn.org members are urging the senators in Arkansas, West Virginia and Louisiana not to be the last Democrat to come out in support of the freedom to marry.

Taxpayers send $300 billion each year to business that do not protect LGBT workers

A new brief announced that American taxpayers send almost $300 billion per year in federal contract dollars to businesses in states that do not have LGBT workplace protections. The brief stated that of the 25 states in which businesses received $5 billion or more in federal contracts, 60 percent had no employment protections based on sexual orientation and 68 percent have no nondiscrimination laws covering gender identity. The brief’s authors: the Center for American Progress, Freedom to Work, HRC, the Movement Advancement Project and Out & Equal Workplace Advocates all call on President Obama to issue an executive order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT individuals.

Video campaign reveals effects of DOMA

The newest video in Freedom to Marry and OutServe-SLDN’s “Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry” campaign featured a gay U.S. Marine Corps Captain and his husband. The couple was the first-ever same-sex couple to get engaged at the White House. The video details the effects of DOMA on their marriage. The Captain’s husband will not be allowed to join him on base, and the military does not provide the same housing allowance and assistance for same-sex married couples. The founder and president of Freedom to Marry stated that it is time to end the discrimination of military families and repeal DOMA.

Rise in housing discrimination against LGBT people

The 2013 Fair Housing Trends Report highlights the need to amend the Fair Housing Act to outlaw discrimination based upon sexual orientation, gender identity and more. The report, “Modernizing the Fair Housing Act for the 21st Century,” found a rise in the number of housing discrimination complaints, with a 35 percent spike in harassment complaints. Housing discrimination against LGBT people is legal in most states. There was an increase of 43% in sexual orientation complaints and gender identity/expression complaints were reported for the first time.

Campus rejects discriminatory bill against LGBT organizations

The HRC has praised the decision of the Texas A&M Student Body President to veto a bill that would have allowed discrimination against LGBT campus organizations. The proposal would have allowed opting out of activity fees directed toward the campus LGBT resource center. The HRC Youth & Campus Program Director stated that campus resource centers are vital to providing a safe and comfortable place for youth, and more needs to be done to create an atmosphere of inclusion.

Bill introduced to end tax on domestic partner insurance

Two Senators have introduced a bill which would end unfair taxation of employer-provided health insurance for domestic partners, and also the penalty imposed on employers who provide equal benefits to their LGBT employees. The Tax Parity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act address a fundamental flaw in the U.S. tax code that taxes employees on health coverage for same-sex partners, while the same health coverage is tax free for opposite-sex spouses.

Student Non-Discrimination Act reintroduced

Two representatives announced that they have reintroduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act that would help protect public school students from bullying, harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill currently has over 110 original cosponsors in the House, and the Representatives that sponsor it say that all young people deserve to have a safe learning environment.

West Hollywood, CA

Trevor Project best practice for suicide prevention

The Trevor Project has announced that its cornerstone education program has been listed officially as a best practice for suicide prevention. The Trevor Lifeguard Workshop is the first to address the unique needs of LGBTQ youth in the SPRC/AFSP Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention.