Point Foundation honors Tyler Clementi with scholarship named after him

The Point Foundation, an organization that provides scholarships for LGBT students, this week announced the creation of a new scholarship named after Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old gay Rutgers University student who committed suicide last fall after his roommate and another student secretly videotaped him having sex with another man and posted the video online.

Tyler Clementi

Clementi’s death, on Sept. 22, was one of a string of gay teen suicides that sparked a national conversation over anti-LGBT bullying and prompted a number of highly-visible campaigns against bullying.

According to a press release from The Point Foundation, the foundation created the scholarship “with the cooperation of Clementi’s parents, Joe and Jane, to honor his memory and to further the efforts to end the bullying that many LGBT youth face within education environments.” A statement attributed to Joe and Jane Clementi said: “Our son Tyler was a kind and gentle young man who enjoyed helping people. This scholarship will help college students and it will raise awareness of young people who are subject to abuse through malicious bullying — and so it will help people in Tyler’s memory.”

The Point Foundation has already set aside funds for the Tyler Clementi Scholarship, and will accept donations in his name from the public and current Point Foundation supporters. Donations can be made online at PointFoundation.org or by phone at 866-33-POINT.

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Franko running in District 14

4 candidates have started campaigns in Oak Lawn district; still no definite word from Hunt on mayoral candidacy

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Vernon C. Franko is one of four candidates who have already appointed campaign treasurers to run this year for the District 14 seat on the Dallas City Council, according to information posted online by the Dallas city secretary.

And that doesn’t count incumbent Councilwoman Angela Hunt, who may — or may not — choose to run for mayor instead of for re-election to the Council.

Franko said in a recent interview that he has been planning to run for the council for about two years because “I just didn’t think we were getting the representation we deserve in this district.”

Franko said that he is “upset that property taxes didn’t go back down after the adjustments for the [housing bubble]. We have seen some decrease, but not enough.

“I think we need to bring back integrity and fairness to the Council,” Franko continued. “There have been some closed-door meetings held that I really didn’t like. Everything should be out in the open. We just aren’t getting the kind of representation we had in this district back in the 1980s and ’90s.”

Franko also said that he is unhappy with the way “education issues” are being handled in Dallas, and that public school teachers have been “underpaid for way too long” and property taxes levied by the school districts are too high.

Although the City Council has no authority over public schools in the city, Franko said he believes the council “should be working with the school districts around here to make these issues better known. The council is prominent enough to help bring attention to these issues in a way that the school board can’t.”

And, he said, the council should also work with other entities that assess property taxes in Dallas, like the hospital districts.

“Homeowners are being discouraged from buying and maintaining homes because the way the tax situation is handled just isn’t equitable,” Franko said. “Property owners — and even renters who have to pay higher rents so that property owners can pay taxes — they are all carrying a disproportionate share of the tax burden.”

Franko, who lives on Cedar Springs Road, said he has been an insurance agent and small business for 15 years. Although he did not say if he is gay, he did describe himself as “a part of the Oak Lawn community,” and pledged to treat all his constituents fairly and equally if he is elected.

“I think the LGBT people should be represented just as fairly and equally as any other community,” Franko said. “I believe in fairness in representation for all groups, whether it’s about race or gender or orientation or what have you.

“I am a part of the Oak Lawn community, but I wouldn’t want to give Oak Lawn residents better treatment than someone from another community. All community’s deserve equal treatment,” he said.

Council election overview

Dallas City Council and mayoral elections will be held May 14.

Although candidates have already started filing paperwork designating campaign treasurers, the candidates cannot actually file to run for the council until Monday, Feb. 14. The deadline to file is March 14. The drawing for placement on the ballot will be March 18, and March 21 is the last day that candidates can withdraw from the races.
April 1 is the deadline to register to vote in the May elections. Early voting runs from May 2-10.

Four candidates for District 14 — considered the district with the largest LGBT population — have registered information on their campaign treasurers with the city secretary’s office so far: James Nowlin, Jim Rogers, Erin C. Lasseter and Franko.

District 14 incumbent Angela Hunt has said publicly she is considering a run for mayor to replace first-term incumbent Mayor Tom Leppert, who has said he will not run for re-election. However Hunt has not yet registered a campaign treasurer with the city secretary’s office for either a District 14 re-election bid — incumbents running for re-election are not required to file a new campaign treasurer form — or as a mayoral candidate.

Nowlin, who is openly gay and was the first to register a campaign treasurer, said he has been discussing the possibility of running for the District 14 seat with Hunt for more than a year, and he is confident she will run for mayor.

Rogers, however, said that if Hunt decides instead to run for re-election to the council, he would drop out of the race.

Two other incumbents in districts with significant LGBT populations — Delia Jasso in District 1 and Pauline Medrano in District 2 — so far face no declared opposition in their re-election bids.

But in District 3, neighborhood activist Scott Griggs has appointed a treasurer and is running to replace incumbent Dave Neumann. The District 3 seat was long held by Ed Oakley, the openly gay man who made national headlines with his 2007 campaign for Dallas mayor against Leppert, a race Leppert won in runoff balloting.

Other candidates who have registered campaign treasurers with the city secretary are Monica R. Alonzo and John M. Lozano, running for the District 6 seat held by incumbent Steve Salazar; Edward D. Turner, running for the District 7 seat held by incumbent Carolyn R. Davis, and Richard P. Sheriden, running for the District 13 seat held by incumbent Ann Margolin.

Other council incumbents facing no declared opposition yet are Dwaine R. Caraway in District 4, Vonciel Jones Hill in District 5, Tennell Atkins in District 8, Sheffie Kadane in District 9, Jerry R. Allen in District 10 and Linda Koop in District 11.

District 12 incumbent Ron Natinsky is a declared candidate for mayor.

Mayoral election overview

Natinsky is one of three candidates who have registered campaign treasurers with the city secretary, and is considered — at least so far — the frontrunner for the seat. Oakley, who lost the mayor’s race in Leppert four years ago, has already endorsed Natinsky’s mayoral bid, as have several other well-known leaders in the LGBT community.

Jim Moore, an attorney with offices in Oak Lawn, was the first mayoral candidate to register a campaign treasurer. He recently joined Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and he, too, said he counts LGBT leaders as friends and supporters.

The third declared candidate to replace Leppert is former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle who, during his years leading the Dallas Police Department, earned a reputation for treating the LGBT community fairly, and who was the first Dallas Police chief to participate each year in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

How Come Nobody Makes Homophobic Anti-Abortion Campaigns?

Billboards in Austin, Texas, are popping up that have been banned elsewhere. How come? Because they target African-Americans in their discouragement of abortions. The clearly racist outdoor media campaign has been spotted elsewhere, including Boston and Houston, and is actually an attack on Planned Parenthood, claiming, "The most dangerous place for some children is in the womb." The spots, from the pro-life group Heroic Media, point drivers to a website, where the claim is made Planted Parenthood wants to "stop the reproduction of the unfit," including black babies. Which makes me wonder: When's the last time an anti-abortion ad was created just for the gays? And while targeting gay men might be a waist of dollars (anyone willing to spend 0k just to have a kid probably isn't going to abort it), isn't it time pro-lifers stop discriminating against America's lesbians and start calling on them not to ditch their "oops" babies? Can I get a HYMEN?


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Out dance artist Brian Kent releases new video for ‘I’ll Find a Way’

I have to admit I didn’t know who Brian Kent was until today’s email. Very little digging showed me that this guy’s been making dance music for the past five years with singles and remixes here and there with a full-length release, Breathe Life, in 2008. He told Popnography earlier this year, that his newest single, “I’ll Find a Way,” is a tribute to his grandmother.

The new single is called “I’ll Find a Way” and is dedicated to his 89-year-old grandmother who recently found herself facing breast cancer. “I was inspired by her confidence and I was just amazed that she just kept finding a way to get through everyday. In this day and age whether it’s cancer, relationships, money…everyone is just trying to find a way and move forward,” Kent says.

The video for the song was just released yesterday. “Way” might be a tad too positive affirmation for some, but it is catchy and I did like the video. It reminded me somewhat of both the NOH8 and Bully Suicide Project campaigns and says a whole lot in the span of three minutes and some change. And how can you go wrong when men and women end up topless by the end?

—  Rich Lopez

Anti-gay Rep. Sally Kern: ‘What I think doesn’t matter. What the Bible says is what counts’

Anti-gay Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern and Democratic opponent Brittany Novotny, a transgender woman, appeared on KFOR’s Flash Point over the weekend (video above). Novotny says on her website she wanted to have a town hall forum where she and Kern could address issues of concern to House District 84 residents, but Kern wouldn’t agree to the format. So instead they went on Flash Point. The clip is worth watching in its entirety, but here’s a snippet:

HOST: Do you have a problem with Brittany’s lifestyle, somebody who’s transitioned from a man to a woman through surgical and medicinal means?

KERN: “Well that’s a great question and I have to answer it like this with another question. As Christians are we supposed to believe and obey the Bible?  The Bible says in Psalm 139, it says God created us, he formed us in our mother’s womb, and we’re fearfully and wonderfully made. And so what I think doesn’t matter. It’s what the Bible says is what counts, and that’s what I try to live my life by. But you know the Bible also says God loves every one one of us, has a purpose and a plan for every one of us, forgives each one of us if we come to him and humbly ask his forgiveness. I can’t judge anyone’s heart and have never tried to do that, although I’ve been accused of that. But you know, it’s not the norm, I’ll just say that.”

The race between Novotny and Kern was also featured in The New York Times over the weekend, in an article about transgender candidates across the country:

Not that gender issues have not been raised in some campaigns. In the Oklahoma House race, Ms. Novotny — who had a sex change operation in 2007 — shrugged off a recent e-mail from Charlie Meadows, the chairman of a conservative political action committee, which referred to her as an “it.”

“That’s just the typical politics I would expect out of that side,” she said. “And frankly it’s what voters are tired of.”

Read the full New York Times article by going here.

—  John Wright

Which Of These Dueling ‘Better Project’ Anti-Bullying Campaigns Will Triumph?

On Sept. 23 writer Dan Savage formally launched the "It Gets Better Project," a video series aimed at reaching LGBT kids to let 'em know school bullying will eventually end, and they'll have greener pastures to look forward to. Yesterday the Gay-Straight Alliance Network formally launched the "Make It Better Project," which, according to a release, will "give youth the tools they need to fight back against anti-LGBT bullying and make schools safer for LGBT youth" and "includes a website and YouTube channel where students and adults can upload video messages to share what they are doing to prevent suicide and make it better for LGBT youth in schools now." So that won't be confusing at all.

CONTINUED »


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—  John Wright