ADL leader to speak at Beth El Binah at Resource Center

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Roberta Clark

Roberta Clark, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League for North Texas and Oklahoma, will speak at Congregation Beth El Binah shabbat service, which takes place at Resource Center, 2701 Reagan St. at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Friday, April 24). Clark’s topic will be Rules, Civil Rights, and Jewish Values.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Now national civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.

Throughout her ADL career, Clark has developed and implemented the first Interfaith Security Conferences for the Florida and Austin ADL offices; has trained well over 1,000 law enforcement professionals in ADL resources and programs as well as worked closely with them on cases concerning hate groups, extremism and terrorism; worked with dozens of educational institutions and school districts to successfully negotiate church/state issues and to provide trainings in the areas of bullying and cyberbullying; and provided guidance and assistance to community members who believe they have been the victims of discrimination and/or hate crimes.

Clark came to the ADL Dallas office as an Associate Regional Director in September 2008, was appointed Community Director in January 2012 and Regional Director in July 2014.

Everyone is welcome.

—  David Taffet

Urban Outfitters under fire for pink triangle tapestry

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Urban Outfitter’s “Triangle Stripe Curtain.”

File this under “Seriously?! What the hell are they thinking?!”:

Hipster clothing store chain Urban Outfitters has angered the LGBT community and the Jewish community by offering for sale a tapestry that the Anti-Defamation League called “eerily reminiscent” of the uniforms gay men were forced to wear in the Nazi concentration camps.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director and a Holocaust survivor, said: “Whether intentional or not, this gray and white stripped pattern and pink triangle combination is deeply offensive and should not be mainstreamed into popular culture. We urge Urban Outfitters to immediately remove the product eerily reminiscent of clothing forced upon the victims of the Holocaust from their stores and online.”

According to the New York Daily News, the tapestry has apparently been removed from the company’s website, while a “Triangle-Stripe Curtain,” with no picture provided, was listed as “sold out.”

Urban Outfitters is the same company that came under fire just a few months ago for offering for sale a “vintage Kent State sweatshirt” that appeared to be splattered with blood, and in 2012 for offering for sale a t-shirt with the yellow star of David, the symbol Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany and in the concentration camps.

—  Tammye Nash

Glenn Beck equates Reform Jews to radical Islam over support of Obama’s DOMA position

Glenn Beck

After the Obama administration decided to drop its defense of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism praised the move.

In reaction, Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck compared Reform Judaism, the largest branch of Judaism in North America, to radical Islam.

The RAC, a social action organization affiliated with Reform Judaism, wrote, “The announcement by the Obama Administration, through the Justice Department, that it will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage act is as welcome as it is overdue. Now is the time for Congress to repeal the discriminatory law once and for all.”

Beck’s anti-Semitic response was: “Reform rabbis are generally political in nature. It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way… radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. When you look at Reform Judaism, it is more about politics.”

But most mainstream Jewish groups supported the Obama administration’s decision.

—  David Taffet

Texas schools that don’t protect kids against anti-gay bullying now risk Title IX lawsuits

Stacy Dorman and Debi Ellison have convinced the U.S. Department of Education to investigate their bullying complaint against the Birdville Independent School District.

Two pieces of good news, if you will, on the bullying front today.

First, the Georgetown Independent School District has settled a lawsuit brought by the mother of now-16-year-old Ryan Mitchell, who has reportedly endured years of bullying based on his perceived sexual orientation.

Neither Texas nor the federal government explicitly prohibits anti-gay bullying in schools. But this lawsuit is part of a very positive trend in which the U.S. Department of Education under President Barack Obama is treating anti-gay bullying as a violation of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on gender in any education program that receives federal funding. Austin’s KXAN.com reports:

“This is the first suit that the Texas Civil Rights Project has brought under title 9 alleging discrimination based on gender stereotyping and sexual orientation,” said Todd Batson, with the Texas Civil Rights Project. “However, that’s a developing area of the law.”

“I was spit on. I was knocked unconscious. My books were thrown in the trash. My finger was broken, lots of stuff,” said Ryan Mitchell, 16. “People called me gay, faggot on a daily basis.”

Terms of the settlement haven’t been disclosed, but they will include the district working with the Anti-Defamation League’s anti-bullying program, No Place for Hate.

Meanwhile, a little closer to home, a lesbian couple has succeeded in convincing the Department of Education to investigate — under Title IX — longstanding complaints of bullying against the Birdville Independent School District.

The couple, Stacy Dorman and Debi Ellison, allege that their 12-year-old son, Caine Smith, has been the victim of sexual harassment, also prohibited by Title IX. We don’t know all the details of the case, but we’re guessing the bullying is at least partly related to the fact that Caine has two moms and long hair. CBS 11 has the story.

UPDATE: We should know better than to post something like this without calling Ken Upton at Lambda Legal. Upton sent over a lengthy e-mail clarifying — and correcting — my legal analysis. In a nutshell, Upton says public school students have long been protected against anti-gay bullying under the constitutional rights of equal protection and free speech. “I just wanted to be sure we point out that while this administration has demonstrated that it cares more about the health and well-being of students than some prior administrations, and the full weight of the Department of Education indeed does change the equation in our favor, these protections are not new. More parents and attorneys willing to represent students need to be aware of them.” I’ve posted Upton’s full analysis after the jump.

—  John Wright