Gayborhood News: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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gayborhood_smBy: Emily Scagel/TRT Assistant Editor–

Albany, NY
NY to introduce transgender nondiscrimination measure
A bill is making its way in NY state legislature that would protect gender identity and expression from discrimination. This measure would add gender identity to state law that already prohibits discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, age and more. Law enforcement officers testified that this law would help them to act more quickly on threats to head off violence. 16 states and several cities already have this protective law.

Boston, MA
Guidance issued to ensure schools follow transgender nondiscrimination law
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has issued guidance to ensure that public schools in Massachusetts comply with the new nondiscrimination law that prohibits discrimination against transgender students in all school programs and activities. These guidelines were applauded by advocates, educators, families and youth. The Transgender Equal Rights Law took effect in July 2012 and prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, credit and education.

Funds raised for domestic violence through plunge into Boston harbor
The GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project, formerly the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project, is hosting its annual Winter Plunge fundraiser. This community fundraiser helps to raise awareness about domestic violence, as well as raise funds to provide support and services to survivors. Participants raise money by collecting pledges for plunging into the Boston harbor in costume. For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/cm99qfu.

Colorado Springs, CO
Transgender child faces school discrimination
The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund has filed a complaint on behalf of a 6-year-old girl who has been banned from using the girls’ bathroom at her elementary school. The first-grader was using the girls’ bathroom for the past year, but was told in December by the school district that she would no longer be able to. The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination against transgender students in schools, but the District has refused to reconsider its decision. The girl’s parents have removed her from school and are home schooling her until the issue is resolved. To read more, visit http://tinyurl.com/cqqu9pr.

Indianapolis, IN
Facebook page created to applaud and encourage gay youth
Indiana PFLAG has created the “You Have a Purpose” project, which will use a Facebook page to collect videos submitted to encourage gay youth. The project started after an Indiana teacher said that she believes gays have no purpose in life, and town residents proposed holding a prom that would ban gay students. The organizers of the “You Have a Purpose” campaign said that this is not about the remarks, but about the kids themselves.

Leesburg, FL
School board attempts to ban all non-curricular clubs to prevent GSA formation
A Florida school board plans to ban all student clubs to prevent the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance. A group of students at a middle school tried to establish the GSA, saying that it was need to address bullying and harassment in school. In response, the school board began the process to ban all other clubs, instead of following their legal obligation to recognize the GSA.

Montclair, NJ
Coalition formed to end bullying and support marriage equality
The HRC and Garden State Equality have formed a coalition of LGBT, civil rights, labor, progressive and faith organizations in an effort to win equality and end bullying in New Jersey. The coalition will work to win statewide, bi-partisan support for marriage equality, and also includes anti-bullying work in schools.

New York, NY
Report details experiences of LGBT student athletes
GLSEN has released a research brief detailing the experiences of LGBT student athletes. The brief, The Experiences of LGBT Students in School Athletics, shows that students may greatly benefit from participating in school athletics, but they also experience negative harassment and discrimination. Findings uncover four key concerns, including that LGBT students may be underrepresented on sports teams and may not fully be supported by athletic staff and policies, but the study also shows that LGBT student athletes report better academic and mental health outcomes.

Princeton, NJ
Study shows distribution of LGBT adults in each state
Gallup has released a poll and report based on a survey of the percentage of U.S. adults who identify as LGBT in each state. The results reveal that all states are within two percentage points of the nationwide average of 3.5 percent. This study is the largest single study of LGBT population distribution, and the first time that a study has had enough participants to provide estimates per state. The report showed that states with high percentages tended to be more liberal and foster more supportive LGBT legal climates. Hawaii had the largest percentage, while North Dakota had the lowest.

Providence, RI
RI Bar Association endorses gay marriage
The RI Bar Association, which represents RI’s licensed attorneys, has endorsed gay marriage. Both the association’s executive committee and the House of Delegates have endorsed the legislation, which is awaiting consideration in the Senate and has passed the state’s House of Representatives. The decision may hinge on an exemption that allows religious leaders who oppose gay marriage to not participate in same-sex marriages.

Salt Lake City, Utah
School district settles lawsuit, agrees to not restrict access to library books
A school district in Utah has agreed to never again remove a children’s book about a family with same-sex parents from its library shelves. This is in response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the ACLU of Utah on behalf of a mother with children in the district. The mother who filed the challenged said that no one should be able to tell other people’s children what they can and cannot read. Originally, the districted had restricted access to a children’s book about a family with two mothers.

San Francisco, CA
Fund helps undocumented LGBT youth
A fund made possible by over four dozen LGBT organizations will help LGBT undocumented youth receive work permits and reprieves from the threat of deportation. Obama created a program to enable those who came to the U.S. as children to apply for work permits and deportation relief. In response, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the LA Gay & Lesbian Center and the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund launched the “LGBT DREAMers Fund” that will help pay for the fees to apply for relief under Obama’s program. Over $100,000 has been raised so far, and 160 LGBT DREAMers have received financial assistance.

Springfield, IL
Illinois passes same-sex marriage bill in the Senate
The Illinois Senate has passed a bill extending marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples. This bill poises Illinois to become the 10th state to recognize marriage for gay and lesbian couples, and the bill will move to the House for a vote. Marriage equality legislation has been endorsed by every major newspaper in Illinois, and 50 of the state’s most prominent business leaders and corporations have called on the General Assembly to pass the bill.

Washington, D.C.
AIDS United awards nationwide grants for HIV programming
AIDS United, in partnership from the MAC AIDS Fund, is awarding $1 million in grants to seven organizations nationwide for their Retention in Care Initiative. This money will be used to help define and expand programming that helps to keep HIV-positive people in care and on treatment. Retention in care is critical to fighting HIV, as treatment is proven effective in prolonging lives and in reducing transmission. Even so, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates that only 41% of individuals living with HIV are retained in care.

Act reintroduced to reform immigration law to include gays and lesbians
Representatives have reintroduced the Uniting American Families Act that would allow gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor their partners for legal residency. This right is currently only for married heterosexuals under United States immigration law. It is being asserted in Congress that any legislative proposal for immigration reform must include equality for LGBT families.

Boy Scouts charged with more anti-gay discrimination
Boy Scouts of America has been charged with new acts of anti-gay discrimination. The BSA job application explicitly states that they will not employ known or avowed homosexuals. This language contradicts the organizations practice of not inquiring about employees’ sexual orientation. HRC’s president stated that the Boy Scouts must do more to end this discrimination and send a message to youth that there is nothing wrong with being gay. GLAAD president said that the organization is becoming defined by discrimination, instead of focusing on scouting.

Gay and lesbian military families to receive some equal benefits
The Pentagon has announced that it will extend a slate of equal benefits to gay and lesbian military families over the coming months. The announcement guarantees some, but not all, of the benefits provided to straight military members. DOMA still prevents full equality to gay and lesbian service members and their families.

Obama called upon by senators for non-discrimination executive order
37 U.S. senators are calling for a ban on discrimination in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The senators sent a letter to the president, urging him to issue a non-discrimination executive order. It is legal to fire or not hire someone based on their sexual orientation in 29 states, and based on gender identity in 34 states, because of a lack of federal protection. To read more, visit http://tinyurl.com/cb325us.

Wilmington, DE
Delaware labor unions endorse same-sex marriage
Three major labor unions in Delaware have endorsed marriage equality. These unions represent 40,000 Delawareans and say they will support a marriage equality bill once it is introduced in the General Assembly this session. The president of Equality Delaware stated that this support makes it clear that this is the year for marriage equality in Delaware. The support of organized labor has been a crucial part of the passage of marriage equality bills in a number of state legislatures and winning ballot measures. Delaware Governor also fully supports a same-sex marriage bill.