Resource Center calls on DISD to pick new leader versed in LGBT issues, do more for gay parents

Cece Cox

Resource Center Dallas is calling on DISD trustees to keep LGBT issues squarely in mind as they select a new superintendent. In a letter sent to all nine school board members today, RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox notes that the district recently adopted fully LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying and non-discrimination policies. But Cox adds that while the district may be ahead of most in Texas when it comes to these things, “far too often, there is a gap between policy and practice.”

“Additionally, I encourage the district to do more to reach out to LGBT couples who have children,” Cox writes. “According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are roughly 6,700 LGB couples in Dallas County, and around one in four of them are raising children. The superintendent should lead district efforts to reach out to these LGBT families so that they are welcomed and included in DISD schools.”

As an exclamation point, Cox mentions this week’s settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin school district, suggesting that DISD is legally obligated to enforce the anti-bullying policy and support LGBT students.

Read Cox’s full letter after the jump.

—  John Wright

LGBT advocates take their fight to have mayor sign marriage pledge to the Dallas City Council

LGBT advocates who attended today's council meeting gather in the Flag Room afterward. They are, from left, Daniel Cates, Patti Fink, Dennis Coleman, Cece Cox, Omar Narvaez and Rafael McDonnell. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

It’s becoming clear that Dallas’ LGBT community doesn’t plan to let Mayor Mike Rawlings off the hook over his refusal to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

Five LGBT advocates spoke during public comments at the start of today’s regular City Council meeting, calling on Rawlings to sign the pledge — and asking the City Council to formally back pro-equality state and federal legislation.

“I’m here to ask Mayor Rawlings to do something, and I’m here to ask you as council people to support him in signing the pledge for marriage equality,” said Cece Cox, executive director and CEO of Resource Center Dallas, the first of the speakers. “This is a matter of standing for justice. Pure and simple, that’s what it’s about. ”

Cox noted that Rawlings has argued that marriage equality doesn’t fall within the mayor’s duties.

“When one stands up for justice, it requires courage,” Cox said. “It requires going outside the regular rules and the regular lines, and that’s what I’m here to ask for today.”

—  John Wright

New dental suite dedicated at Nelson Tebedo is named for Camp

Bret Camp, former associate executive director for health and medical services for Resource Center Dallas, checks out the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic’s new dental suite, named in his honor on Friday, Dec. 16.

RCD’S Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox and members of the Resource Center staff gathered at the clinic for the dedication ceremony, as did Camp, who retired last summer due to health issues. The new facility and staffing was paid for by a grant from United Way. Cox said that the added chair is expected to cut waiting time for appointments from four months to less than four weeks and increase the number of clients served by 175 people to 1,155.

Camp said he completed chemotherapy treatment recently, has been given a good prognosis and is feeling strong and healthy.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center hires Marisa Elliott as chief operating officer

Resource Center Dallas has hired Marisa Elliott to fill the newly-created position of chief operating officer effective Aug. 9, RCD officials announced today.

Elliott will be responsible for the internal, day-to-day operations of the center and will work closely with staff to strengthen existing programs and develop new opportunities, according to a statement announcing her hiring.

Elliot joins the center from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where she served as the program coordinator and division manager for their psychiatry education program.

Previously, Elliott served as the interim chief executive officer and chief operating officer for the YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas; regional director of operations for American Habilitation Services, which provides support and services to individuals with developmental disabilities, and director of services for Pecan Valley Mental Health/Mental Retardation of Stephenville.

The center added the COO position following a needs assessment and restructuring initiated earlier this year. Cece Cox, formerly the executive director, assumed the additional title of CEO in April, and will have an increased focus on external relations and with the center’s board of directors.

“Marisa’s strong business background and wide variety of non-profit experience will help Resource Center Dallas grow for the future while refining and refocusing our current programs,” Cox said.

—  David Taffet

RCD receives $2 million gift from Dallas couple

Cece Cox

Eric V. Culbertson and David W. Carlson pledged $2 million to Resource Center Dallas, the second largest gift from a living donor to an LGBT organization in the United States. The money will go toward the construction of a new building in Oak Lawn.

Culbertson is a co-owner of Salon Three-Thirty in Uptown. He also recently founded Strength Through Yoga, a non-profit committed to bringing the healing aspects of yoga to organizations, including Resource Center Dallas.

Carlson, the founding chief financial officer of Grapevine-based GameStop, recently retired and is now a co-owner of Uptown Energy Fitness, a high-energy, trainer-based gym located in the West Village. GameStop has been the presenting sponsor of the Black Tie Dinner.

“This is a transformational gift that will have a great impact on thousands of people each year,” said Cece Cox, executive director and CEO of the center. “I am truly thankful for Eric and Dave’s generous investment in our work as we plan to meet the increasing needs of the communities we serve.”

“The driving force for our donation was the center’s staff,” Culbertson said. “They make [the center] what it is, working so hard and doing so much.”

“After touring all the facilities, and understanding the full scope of services, we knew that the center needed to have a new building, and very soon,” Carlson said.

RCD has a capital campaign is in progress to consolidate its three facilities into one building that would double the center’s available space. Property near Cathedral of Hope has already been acquired for the new facility.

—  David Taffet

Federal funding cuts affect Resource Center Dallas’ Insurance Assistance Program

Cece Cox

Because of decreased funding from the federal government, Resource Center Dallas is making cuts to its Insurance Assistance Program effective Aug. 1.

The program helps people with HIV who have lost their jobs but still have insurance to maintain that coverage and covers co-pays for HIV medications.

As of Aug. 1, assistance with co-pays will be discontinued. In its letter to affected clients, the organization sent information to help them maintain their medical regimen.

Eligibility for insurance premium coverage will also tighten. Clients will have to verify information quarterly. Gross rather than adjusted gross income will be used to qualify for the program.

Money was cut in the current fiscal year but how these cuts are affecting individual programs is just becoming apparent. In the current budget cutting climate, more cuts could come for the next fiscal year.

“Anybody providing social services is getting hit,” said Cece Cox, executive director and CEO of Resource Center Dallas. “The people who need help most will get hurt the most.”

—  David Taffet

AIDS at 30: HIV isn’t someone else’s problem

By CECE COX

In reflecting on the past 30 years since HIV and AIDS entered our vocabulary, it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thirty years ago, an HIV infection was often followed with serious illnesses and, in many cases, swift death. Today, medications and greater awareness and understanding of HIV/AIDS result in better quality and longer lives — at least, for those who know their status and have access to those medications and medical care.

However, much of the misunderstanding and stigma associated with HIV has not changed.

Early in the pandemic, the predecessors of Resource Center Dallas took legal action so that persons with HIV could receive care at the public county hospital, which was denying life-saving treatment for pneumocystis pneumonia, an opportunistic infection and leading killer of those who had HIV. Stigma and fear created bias and prejudice toward those needing care — primarily gay men — at that time.

Regretfully, fear, stigma and ignorance remain rampant today. We must speak frankly about a disease whose cause is now known and whose progression can be controlled. Many in the GLBT community have lost dozens of friends to the disease, yet 65 percent of new infections in Dallas County are among men who have sex with men.

As a community, what are we doing to stem the tide of new infections? How are we taking care of one another?

AIDS activist Larry Kramer was eviscerated in the 1990s when he screamed that the LGBT community must take responsibility for its own health and change unsafe sexual behavior. Wasn’t he right?

We now know HIV cannot be transmitted by a mosquito, a hug, a drinking glass or from a cough. We know it is transmitted by direct contact with infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk.

We can talk safe sex, but preventing HIV is not that simple. We also must create an environment where people who are at risk of engaging in unsafe sexual behavior have alternatives. Many factors play into decisions that lead to unsafe sex: lack of knowledge, low self-esteem, drug use, fatigue from worrying about HIV, inability to afford condoms and — again — fear and stigma that scare us away from talking about sex and HIV.

Resource Center Dallas is one of many organizations committed to addressing these issues. We provide mental health counseling so that those dealing with self-esteem, fear, depression or other concerns can receive support, regardless of their HIV status.

Additionally, we offer some of the leading HIV prevention programs in Texas targeting those at the greatest risk: FUSE, U-BE and C3 — programs that empower participants to make better decisions and take responsibility for their behavior.

And, as a leading LGBT community center, we provide community and a safe place to gather and get involved in programs, events and volunteer opportunities.

We all have a role: Let’s talk honestly about health and sex, to our partners, friends and children.

HIV is not someone else’s problem. As community, let’s act up to end HIV infections.

Cece Cox is executive director and CEO of Resource Center Dallas.

—  admin

DONATION

LEAGUE AT AT&T GIVES TO RCD | Representatives of Dallas-based AT&T present a check for $5,000 to Resource Center Dallas in support of the center’s programs and services. Pictured are, from left, John Cramer, national public affairs director for LEAGUE at AT&T; Angela Ross, AT&T external affairs director; Theresa Bates-McLemore, national LEAGUE president; Jennifer Hurn, client services manager for Resource Center Dallas; and Cece Cox, executive director and chief executive officer of Resource Center Dallas.

—  John Wright

Resource Center Dallas’ Cece Cox to attend LGBT Pride Month Reception at White House

Cece Cox

Cece Cox, executive director and CEO of Resource Center Dallas, will be among those attending the third annual LGBT Pride Month Reception hosted by President Barack Obama next week at the White House. Cox said she was honored to receive an invitation to the reception set for Wednesday, June 29, and plans to take her partner, Barbara Houser, who serves as chief U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Northern District of Texas.

“I think it speaks very welll of what Resource Center Dallas has done, and our role in being educators and advocates for this community,” Cox said of the invitation. “I’m incredibly honored to represent what Resource Center does.

“There are some serious issues on the table that I will hope there will be some substantive dialogue and answers to,” she added. “There are opportunities for him in regard to making progress for our community.”

The White House typically doesn’t release many details about Pride Moth receptions in advance or provide lists of invitees. The first LGBT Pride Reception in 2009 featured national LGBT leaders from around the country. The second one in 2010 was mostly LGBT youth and leaders from state equality groups.

“This year I’m surmising because of others that I know who are going, it is LGBT community leaders, meaning I think more of a local focus,” Cox said.

Cox said she felt it was important to take Houser.

“She’s a federal employee who has served her country in her position, and is still not entitled to all the rights and benefits that she and I would be entitled to if we happened to be able to be legally married,” Cox said. “I think when there’s an opportunity to represent as a couple, we think that’s important.”

—  John Wright

Southwest flight attendants respond to pilot’s rant, call for airline to ‘remedy this injustice’

TWU Local 556, which represents 9,400 flight attendants at Southwest Airlines, issued a statement this afternoon in response to a homophobic, misogynistic rant by one of the company’s pilots that was captured on an open cockpit microphone back in March. As we told you Tuesday night, the pilot was suspended without pay for the incident, but the company won’t say for how long. The company also hasn’t released the pilot’s name.

We spoke briefly today with Brad Hawkins, a gay former WFAA reporter who’s now one of Southwest’s spokespeople. But Hawkins said he couldn’t comment beyond a statement that was posted this morning on the company’s website, which is identical to the one it gave KPRC Channel 2 for its original story about the incident. (The company has also posted a video statement from Capt. Chuck Magill, its vice president for flight operations.)

The flight attendants union, in its statement, says it is “dismayed by the response from Southwest Airlines’ management” and that the company has “added ‘insult to injury.'” The union also says its attorneys will investigate the possibility of filing an EEOC complaint with the federal government based on the incident. “We hope not to have to go that route, and instead, we are counting on Southwest Airlines to remedy this injustice. Bigotry in the workplace is bad business and unacceptable behavior on the ground and at 30,000 feet,” reads the union’s statement, which we’ve posted in its entirety below.

Also issuing an official statement about the incident today was Resource Center Dallas, whose executive director Cece Cox was quoted extensively in KPRC’s original story. Cox’s follow-up statement notes that Southwest Airlines has been been a supporter of the LGBT community for many years, has a nondiscrimination policy that includes LGBT employees, and provides diversity training. Cox says the incident was “in stark contrast” to an inclusive culture and calls for the company to “to explore the effectiveness of their current diversity training program, and both evaluate and affirm their corporate commitment to inclusivity and safety.” Cox’s full statement follows the union’s statement after the jump.

Finally, in case you haven’t heard it yet, here’s the raw audio of the pilot’s rant:

Houston Pilot Caught on Tape by Christina Warren

—  John Wright