Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Thus runs the headline from a post by the HRC:
Today, Utah legislature introduced yet another anti-LGBT bill, this time targeting school discussions around sexuality.
The “Protections on Parental Guidance in Public Schools” bill would require a school to obtain written consent from a student’s parents before exposing students to “any course material” or “discussing” a number of topics, including “sexuality,” “marriage,” “pregnancy,” and “child birth.”
HB 447 comes on the heels of the dangerous SB 297, a poison pill targeting religious minorities, racial minorities and LGBT people introduced just four days ago.
HRC is proud to stand in support of Equality Utah and the ACLU of Utah in opposition to these bills.
Friday, March 6, 2015
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — ON Tuesday the Supreme Court of Alabama prohibited the state’s probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This decision effectively throws down the gauntlet, challenging the federal courts to make earlier federal rulings stick — including last month’s refusal by the United States Supreme Court to stay a federal judge’sdecision requiring the state to recognize same-sex marriages. It draws on a disturbing line of thinking in the history of American federalism, one that, were it to gain currency as a model, could compromise our entire system of law.
The story is from three days ago:
Today is the first day of the state legislative session in Tallahassee and already mean-spirited, anti-transgender legislation has been put on the calendar for a vote.
The Transgender Discrimination Bill, H.B. 583, seeks to criminalize transgender people by making it illegal for them to enter sex-segregated facilities such as bathrooms, locker rooms, or dressing rooms. H.B. 583 would also compel businesses to discriminate against their own employees and customers, and invalidate nondiscrimination policies that already exist on the local level.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Facebook users who don't fit any of the 58 gender identity options offered by the social media giant are now being given a rather big 59th option: fill in the blank.
"Now, if you do not identify with the pre-populated list of gender identities, you are able to add your own," said a Facebook announcement published online Thursday morning and shared in advance with The Associated Press.
Facebook software engineer Ari Chivukula, who identifies as transgender and was part of the team that made the free-form option, thinks the change will lead to more widespread acceptance of people who don't identify themselves as a man or woman.
"We're hoping this will open up the dialogue," Chivukula said.
As mainstream understandings of bodies and identity evolve and change, it's only fitting that industries, such as fashion, evolve too.
That's the case with NiK Kacy, one of the first luxury footwear brands to describe their product as gender-neutral. At HuffPost Gay Voices we've been documenting the shifting nature of queerness within the fashion world through our series"FABRICATIONS: Emerging Queer Faces of Fashion Design." The NiK Kacy brand is certainly emblematic of this shift and an exciting prospect for bodies existing outside of binary understandings of gender.
NiK Kacy is currently engaged in a Kickstarter campaign in order to fund the brand's first line. The Huffington Post chatted with Kacy this week about their vision for this footwear line, as well as its cultural significance.
Monday, March 2, 2015
Wesleyan University has created a special dorm that is meant to house the LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM crowd. From the school website:
Open House is a safe space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderfuck, Polyamourous, Bondage/Disciple, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism (LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM) communities and for people of sexually or gender dissident communities. The goals of Open House include generating interest in a celebration of queer life from the social to the political to the academic. Open House works to create a Wesleyan community that appreciates the variety and vivacity of gender, sex and sexuality.
I must say that I am ambivalent about this. Is this a good thing for the students in the dorm? To segregate themselves so completely like this from the rest of the school? So too I find disturbing the notion that all these quite different groups would naturally share a desire to live together, simply because they are sexually marginalized in society.....
Friday, February 27, 2015
A counter to the perspective expressed in the previous post, there's the HRC case against conversion therapy:
Research shows that young people experience conversion therapy as a form of family rejection, and LGBT youth who experience family rejection face increased health risks. In one study, such youth were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, and 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs compared with peers who had not experienced such rejection. On the other hand, family acceptance has been shown to be an important protective factor that can help to prevent suicide behavior and mental health issues. Providers who engage in conversion therapy under the veneer of state license can mislead families about the risks involved, leading to negative psychological outcomes and irreparable damage to family cohesiveness. This legislation is needed to protect families from these damaging practices.
OKLAHOMA CITY — A bill guaranteeing the right of parents to seek therapy for “same-sex attraction” for their minor children cleared the Oklahoma House of Representatives Committee on Children, Youth and Family Services on Tuesday.
House Bill 1598 author Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, turned aside a question about whether such therapies might “push” young people toward self-destructive behavior.
“In our schools, in our movies, the kids are being pushed in the direction that they’re born homosexual and they can’t change,” Kern said. “This bill will allow children who are struggling with these feelings … to go and have some counseling to get both sides of the issue to find out why they’re struggling with this.”
Kern agreed that nothing currently in state law prevents parents from sending their children to such counseling, but she said HB 1598 is a “pre-emptive” measure against legislation banning so-called “conversion therapy.”
Monday, February 23, 2015
It is startling to think that in Glendale, Arizona a person can be evicted from their home or fired from their job simply because of whom they love or their gender identity. In Glendale, LGBT citizens still lack basic legal protections at work, at home and in public spaces.
The Glendale City Council started the process of protecting LGBT residents with a non-discrimination ordinance, however the process has stalled.
The momentum continues to build among Glendale residents- LGBT and allies alike. Supporters are anxious to ensure that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity not be tolerated.
Last week, HRC hosted a phone bank to encourage Glendale residents to call the Mayor and City Council to get the ordinance back on track. Conversations with residents reinforced the need to move this ordinance forward and make sure that all Glendale citizens are equally treated under the law.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
PRINCETON — Princeton University plans to switch its single-stall bathrooms to "gender-neutral" facilities to create a more inclusive environment for the campus, officials said Thursday.
Michele Minter, vice provost for institutional equity and diversity at Princeton, said the issue has been raised many times over the years, particularly among staff in the university's Office of Disability Services because neutral spaces would be more accessible to those who require assistance from caretakers.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
LINCOLN — A bill to prohibit employment discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity has advanced to the floor of the Nebraska Legislature.
Legislative Bill 586 would ban job discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender Nebraskans. The eight-member Judiciary Committee advanced the legislation Tuesday with the required minimum of five votes.
Lawmakers debated a similar proposal last year that would ban employment bias against gay, lesbian and transgender Nebraskans. Opponents killed the measure with a filibuster.
On Tuesday, committee members amended the bill to make it clear that religious corporations, associations and societies are exempt from the nondiscrimination requirements based on religious beliefs.
Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld, a member of the committee who sponsored LB 586, said he was pleased that the bill will be discussed by the full Legislature.
“There will be a robust debate, I have no doubt,” he said after an executive session of the committee.
Monday, February 9, 2015
Gay marriage has been legal in Florida for a month now, and at this point, even the state’s hardcore conservatives seem increasingly resigned to the fact that marriage equality is here to stay. Accordingly, Florida’s more bigoted legislators have decided to turn their ire toward another maligned, disfavored minority—trans people—by proposing one of the most viciously sadistic, hypocritical bills the legislature has ever considered.
The basic purpose of the bill is quite simple: to forbid trans people from using the public bathroom that matches their true gender. According to the bill’s text, any trans person who enters a “single-sex public facility” that doesn’t match their “biological sex” is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. A “single-sex public facility” includes bathrooms “maintained by an owner of public accommodations, a school, or a place of employment”—basically, any public bathroom in the entire state. Any trans person who violates the act could be sentenced to one year in prison.
Friday, February 6, 2015
California judges will no longer be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts after the state Supreme Court voted last week to eliminate an exception to a rule that bars jurists from being a part of discriminatory organizations.
The Boy Scouts of America in 2013 lifted a ban on openly gay youths but continues to bar openly gay and lesbian adults from serving as leaders in the organization.
California's judicial code of ethics bars judges from holding "membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, national origin, ethnicity or sexual orientation."
And a furious reaction from a judge, here.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
From the NYT:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday on the definition of sexual intercourse in a test of a law requiring HIV-positive people to tell partners of their status.
The case arose in Key West where Gary Debaun was charged in 2011 with falsely telling a man he did not have the virus before they engaged in sex acts. Monroe County Circuit Judge Wayne Miller dismissed the case, saying state law defined "sexual intercourse" as between men and women.
The state appealed, arguing that the 1986 law Debaun violated, which requires HIV-infected people to inform their partners, was intended to cover all sex acts, both homosexual and heterosexual, even if it did not precisely define the nature of sexual intercourse.
In large part that was because the law was written in gender neutral language, the state argued.
A district appeals court overturned Miller's ruling and asked the Supreme Court to intervene.
Monday, February 2, 2015
Deep inside complex legislation to legalize phone-based car services such as Uber and Lyft sat language meant to prohibit drivers from discriminating against gay or transgender riders.
The wording, picked up from legislation proposed in states where gay rights are enshrined in state code, went unnoticed until the bill made it to the Senate floor. Once the passage was discovered, the bill was abruptly sent back to committee for what was described as a “technical” fix, stripped of that language and returned to the chamber, where it passed this week.
Neither side is happy:
The matter was handled so quietly that activists on both sides of the gay-rights issue were in the dark until after the wording had been nixed — a change that took place at a quickie meeting of the Transportation Committee on the Senate floor, with members huddled around the desk of the panel’s chairman, Stephen D. Newman (R-Lynchburg).
The episode disappointed gay-rights activists and alarmed conservatives in a state where court rulings legalized gay marriage last year but where the state constitution still bans it. The Republican-controlled legislature has continued this year to kill bills to recognize gay marriage and other gay rights in state code.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
It was close to 5 o’clock on the afternoon of Nov. 4, 2013, and Sasha Fleischman was riding the 57 bus home from school. An 18-year-old senior at a small private high school, Sasha wore a T-shirt, a black fleece jacket, a gray newsboy cap and a gauzy white skirt. For much of the long bus ride through Oakland, Calif., Sasha — who identifies as agender, neither male nor female — had been reading a paperback copy of “Anna Karenina,” but eventually the teenager drifted into sleep, skirt draped over the edge of the bus seat.
As Sasha slept, three teenage boys laughed and joked nearby. Then one surreptitiously flicked a lighter. The skirt went up in a ball of flame. Sasha leapt up, screaming, “I’m on fire!” Two other passengers threw Sasha to the ground and extinguished the flames, but Sasha’s legs were left charred and peeling. Taken by ambulance to a San Francisco burn unit, Sasha would spend the next three and a half weeks undergoing multiple operations to treat the second- and third-degree burns that ran from thigh to calf.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
After years of behind-the-scenes meetings between LGBT advocates and top Mormon leaders, church officials Tuesday announced for the first time general support for legislation to protect LGBT people in areas such as housing and employment – as long as accommodations are made to protect the freedom of religious people who oppose such measures.
“We must all learn to live with others who do not share the same beliefs or values,” read a statement released at a midday Salt Lake City news conference.
Church officials emphasized that there has been no change of the doctrine. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches that it goes against the law of God to have sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman.
LGBT advocates had mixed reactions to the announcement, which mirrors a national discussion about how to balance civil rights of gays and lesbians with the religious freedom of conservatives of different faiths who oppose gay equality, among other liberalizing moves.
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- The governor is calling for an amendment to the state's civil rights law to protect transgender New Yorkers from discrimination in housing, employment, credit, education and public accommodations.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says in his state of the state speech Wednesday that the Legislature should pass a bill to add "gender identity or expression" as a protected class.
Previous amendments have expanded the 1945 law that banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed and national origin.
And some commentary from the Human Rights Campaign.
Friday, January 23, 2015
Duke University recently became the first Common Application school to explicitly ask about students’ sexual orientation and gender identity.
The optional LGBTQ-inclusive essay question, which has a 250-word maximum, is intended to promote diversity and show Class of 2019 applicants that Duke is a welcoming community for all students, Christoph Guttentag, the university’s dean of undergraduate admissions, wrote in an e-mail.
Monday, January 19, 2015
A recent student Note in the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly examines the status of intersex prisoners. It's available here and the abstract reads:
Miki Ann DiMarco spent 438 days in the most restrictive and isolated housing pod at Wyoming Department of Corrections due to the fact that she was “classified as an individual of ambiguous
Even though DiMarco identified herself as female since puberty, she was segregated from the general prison population because of her gender ambiguity. Biologically speaking, she “has a
nearly complete set of male reproductive organs however [sic] does not have testicles . . . [or] female reproductive organs.”
People who are intersex, such as DiMarco, “fail to fit neatly into the traditional male/female binary construct.” DiMarco’s case demonstrates the difficulty in determining appropriate housing arrangements in the prison system for people whose bodies do not conform to the
traditional male/female dichotomy.
This Note seeks to examine the problems that arise due to the insistence upon a binary society with regards to sex. First, this Note sheds light on sex as a spectrum, rather than the classic male/female dichotomy—particularly focusing on the different conditions of intersex people. Next, this Note discusses the ways in which prison authorities house and treat intersex prisoners. The potential constitutional violations of these housing classifications is analyzed with special emphasis on the DiMarco case.