Gayborhood News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

gayborhood_smBy: Emily Scagel/TRT Exec. Assistant Publisher—

Boston, MA

Boston Police issue order for police interactions with trans* individuals

The Boston Police Commissioner has issued a special order that outlines guidelines for police interactions with transgender individuals. It states that the Boston Police Department’s policy is to treat all individuals with dignity, respect and professionalism, and specifically mentions rules to abide by when interacting with transgender individuals. The order also allows transgender individuals to request a male or female officer to conduct their search and says that a frisk shall not be performed solely to determine an individual’s anatomical sex.

Mass. Senate adopts amendment for LGBT youth

The Massachusetts Senate has adopted amendments to fund the Massachusetts Commission on LGBT Youth’s work and to expand the definition of bullying to encompass all school personnel. A Democratic senator filed an amendment to give $250,000 to the Commission in order to expand its capacity to improve school climate and provide training and technical assistance in schools. A Republican senator proposed a further amendment to extend the anti-bullying law’s scope to prohibit bullying of all school personnel, including athletic coaches and other staff.

Camden, NJ

Study looks at sexual minority women’s health

A new study aims to advance understandings of sexual minority women’s health and the influences of romantic relationships on health. The psychology professor’s research surveyed 144 women in monogamous, romantic relationships and found that there was a link between women’s own weight status and concern and their partners. These findings replicate what was discovered in regard to heterosexual couples. The professor said that this is significant because it disproves common stereotypes and misconceptions regarding sexual minority women, such as the notion that they don’t care about their appearance or weight.

Chicago, IL

Illinois launches campaign for marriage equality

Equality Illinois has announced a half-million dollar “Fight Back for Marriage” campaign. The campaign has pledged half of the money toward an educational campaign focusing on areas and neighborhoods of Chicago where there is a need to strengthen the advocacy for and defense of marriage equality. The other half of the money will be used to match marriage opponents dollar-for-dollar on the political battlefield, as the so-called National Organization for Marriage has threatened to spend that amount to oppose Republican legislators who support the freedom to marry.

Major organizations commit to fight against HIV/AIDS

Executive directors from over 35 LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations across the U.S. have released a joint letter committing themselves and their organizations to re-engage the community in the fight against HIV. HIV continues to ravage the LGBT community, but issues of marriage equality and employment protections have taken center stage.

LGBT organization joins AMA House of Delegates

The American Medical Association has voted the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA): Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality into its House of Delegates. The GLMA is the first and only LGBT organization in the House of Delegates, AMA’s principal policy-making body. This is a significant milestone in the advancement of understanding LGBT healthcare needs and promoting equality. The executive director of GLMA stated that they will be able to leverage the strength of the AMA’s support and influence to build understanding within the medical community about the LGBT community’s unique needs.

Los Angeles, CA

Marriage equality returns to California

The Supreme Court has restored the freedom for same-sex couples to marry in California. The decision returns the federal court ruling that invalidated Prop. 8 in 2010 and concluded that it violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and the fundamental right to marry. With the repeal of DOMA, same-sex couples in California and other states will also have full access to federal benefits and protections.

New York, NY

Petition urges to remove anti-gay app

The pro-equality group All Out delivered a petition containing 150,000 signatures to Google urging them to remove an app that claims to release people from the “bondage of homosexuality.” Apple responded within 24 hours of the petition launch by removing it from iTunes, but Google has yet to also remove the app.

Report looks at intersectionality links in the South

A report released by the Applied Research Center looks at challenges and opportunities at the intersection of the movements for racial justice and LGBT activism in the South. The report, Better Together in the South, identifies changes and trends that Southern organizations have been using and outlines recommendations for continued work on these issues.

LGBT media spending up, outperforming mainstream press

Rivendell Media, the leading media representation firm for most LGBT publications in the country, has released the annual Gay Press Report revealing that spending in gay press is up from last year, showing that the gay press has fully recovered from the recession. Spending and circulation is up, outperforming the mainstream press. Rivendell Media reports that 2013 spending should reach a new high.

Transgender Professionals group launches

The Association of Transgender Professionals has launched and intends to serve people who have, had, or will have non-confirming gender expressions/identities and seek to advance their professional careers. The goal of the group will be to encourage networking and mentoring.

San Francisco, CA

Bill passes for transgender students

The California Senate Education Committee has passed the School Success and Opportunity Act that provides crucial support for transgender students. This bill will ensure that California public schools allow transgender students to fully participate in all school activities, programs, and facilities. It will also provide guidance to district and school leaders about how to meet their obligations to protect the safety and well being of all students, especially transgender students.

Springfield, IL

Same-sex marriage act fails to be brought up in the House

The Illinois House of Representatives failed to vote on or advance the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act that would grant same-sex couples the freedom to marry in the state. The bill has passed in the Senate, and was promised a vote on the House floor. Despite this failure, the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal  says it will continue to push toward passing this law as soon as possible.

Tampa Bay, FL

Mother petitions school board to require tolerance training

A mother of a 14-year-old Florida boy is petitioning the Pinellas County School Board to demand that the district require tolerance training for all faculty and staff after her son was ordered out of class for wearing make-up. Hundreds of Floridians have signed the petition within one week of its launch.

Washington, D.C.

Defense of Marriage Act declared unconstitutional

The U.S. Supreme Court has declared DOMA to be unconstitutional. The ruling means that millions of same-sex married couples will gain access to all of the rights associated with marriage. There are over 1,100 places in federal law where responsibility or protection is based on marital status, including health care and Social Security. Couples who are legally married but live in a state that discriminates against marriage equality may still face barriers to their federal protections. 11 major LGBT organizations are issuing a series of fact sheets to provide guidance to same-sex couples and their families.

Same-sex couples face discrimination in housing, HUD says

A study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows that same-sex couples experience significantly less favorable treatment than heterosexual couples in the online rental housing market. It was the first large-scale study to assess housing discrimination against same-sex couples in metropolitan markets. The president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance stated that the study serves as evidence that there is a need to include protections for LGBT people in the federal Fair Housing Act.

Gender identity non-discrimination act passes in Delaware

The Delaware Legislature has passed the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act, which adds gender identity to the list of existing protected non-discrimination categories and allows for enhanced penalties for targeting someone based on gender identity. When the bill is signed into law by the governor, Delaware will become the 17th state, along with the District of Columbia, to prohibit discrimination due to gender identity and expression.

Report details LGBT workplace discrimination

A new report examines how LGBT workers can be legally fired, denied equal benefits and are required to pay thousands of dollars more in taxes because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The report, A Broken Bargain, illustrates how antiquated and discriminatory laws make it difficult for LGBT workers to provide for themselves, as well as offers policy recommendations for addressing inequalities. The report brings together a coalition of leading LGBT organizations, policy experts and business advocates, including the HRC, National Center for Transgender Equality and Out and Equal Workplace Advocates.

HIV examined among black gay and bisexual men

The National Minority AIDS Council has released a new report that examines HIV among black gay and bisexual men. RISE Proud: Combatting HIV Among Black Gay and Bisexual builds on previous public health strategies to address structural and social contributors to HIV vulnerability, instead of epidemiological factors that much of the public health discourse focuses on.

Study shows LGB Americans more likely to be poor

LGB Americans remain more likely to be poorer than heterosexuals, post-recession. A new research report published by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found that gender, race, education, age and geography all influence poverty rates among LGB populations. The study, New Patterns of Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community, updates and extends a similar 2009 report.

Amendment proposed to undermine Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

The House Armed Services Committee has adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would compromise religious liberties and undermine the successful Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) repeal. OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) executive director and Army veteran said that the military already has adequate protections for religious freedom in place and that this measure would be unwarranted. The new amendment would protect inappropriate, defamatory and discriminatory speech and actions with no recourse.

Partnership formed to highlight cybersecurity tips for LGBT service members

The LGBT Technology Partnership and OutServe-SLDN have announced that they are collaborating to launch a series of cybersecurity tips that will encourage greater awareness about privacy and security issues affecting LGBT service members. The co-founder of the LGBT Technology Partnership stated that LGBT communities are often the earliest adopters of new technology, and that their mission is to make sure that this community is aware of the benefits and challenges that come with this early adoption.

PSA series to engage Latino community in LGBT equality

The national partnership to engage support for LGBT equality and inclusion within the Latino community, Familia es Familia, has released a new PSA featuring civil rights leader Dolores Huerta speaking out on the importance of marriage equality. The partnership includes dozens of Latino-based organizations and is hosted by Freedom to Marry. This video is the first of a series that will appear online or broadcast on television, and includes several in Spanish. Those promoting the video include Eva Longoria, Ricky Martin and America Ferrera.

Student forced to repay tuition after being expelled

A petition has been launched on behalf of an undergraduate student who was expelled from college one semester shy of graduation because she is gay. The school revoked her scholarships and is now forcing her to repay tuition for the final semester that she was not allowed to complete. The petition was started by her wife after the school refused to transfer the student’s transcripts to another university until she pays the outstanding tuition, blocking her from achieving her dream of becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college.

Latino LGBT youth face greater rates of rejection

A new report on LGBT Latino youth released by the HRC in partnership with the League of United Latin American Citizens has found that LGBT youth who identify as Latino face greater rejection from their communities and schools than non-LGBT Latinos. The report further analyzes the results of a previous survey and explores the experiences of 2,000 Latino LGBT youth. The survey shows that the most difficult problems facing LGBT Latino youth are related to negative responses to their identity, and concern about family acceptance is the top problem identified.

Republican Senator speaks out for same-sex marriage

Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski has announced her support of marriage equality, making her the third Republican senator to speak out in favor of marriage. A majority of U.S. senators publicly support the freedom to marry. The president of HRC stated that there is a growing bipartisan coalition standing up for the rights of all couples.

LGBT adults, youth use tobacco at higher rates

An article in the American Journal of Public Health analyzed survey results and found that LGBT adults smoke cigarettes at rates that are 70 percent higher than the general population. A new study from Legacy shows LGB young adults are also smoking at disproportionately higher rates; 25 percent of homosexual young adults use tobacco, while 31 percent of bisexual young adults do and only 22 percent of heterosexual young adults do. The study suggests the need for surveillance on sexual orientation in national health surveys in order to improve the available information on disparities and identify possible interventions.

Proposed law would restore benefits to discharged gay and lesbian service members

A proposed law, the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, would ensure that gay and lesbian service members who were discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) have their records upgraded to reflect their honorable service. From WWII to the repeal of DADT in 2011, approximately 114,000 service members were discharged due to their sexual orientation. Depending on what kind of discharge was received, service members could be blocked from voting and benefits.

SSA removes barriers to update gender markers

The Social Security Administration is the latest federal agency to modernize its policy regarding updating gender markers in Social Security records. The new policy allows a person to update their gender marker if they can show they’ve updated their passport or birth certificate, or if they have had the appropriate medical treatment. Previously, a restrictive surgery requirement barred about 50 percent of transgender people from being able to update their records. The SSA also issued guidelines for how staff should interact with transgender people.

Act introduced to prohibit credit discrimination

The Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act was introduced in the Senate and the House. The FDCA would amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to prohibit discrimination in the provision of credit based on sexual orientation or gender identity. There is currently no federal law protecting LGBT Americans from discrimination in securing credit, leaving them to face unfair challenges in going to college, starting a business, or buying a home. Only 12 states and Washington, D.C. have passed laws prohibiting credit discrimination specifically based on sexual orientation, and only ten prohibiting gender identity-based discrimination.

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