Fairness Fort Worth Legacy Project honors community leaders

Fairness Fort Worth honored five community leaders for their activism for the acceptance and rights of LGBT people in the community last night, Friday, Oct. 25 at a private home in Fort Worth.

Todd Camp, a founder of both Fairness Fort Worth and QCinema, was emcee.

The five honorees were: Kelly Smith, immediate past president of and long-time volunteer with the AIDS Outreach Center; Xavier Khan, a OD Wyatt High School sophomore who founded the school’s gay-straight alliance; DeeJay Johnannessen, executive director of HELP in Fort Worth; Jean Wallace, vice president for human relations at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics; and Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead. Wallace and Halstead were unable to attend.

Rev. Carol West received the inaugural Tom Anable Recognition of Excellence Award.

 

 

 

 

 

—  James Russell

PHOTO: Vandals spray-paint anti-gay epithets on lesbian couple’s SUV in Arlington

Vandals spray-painted anti-gay epithets on a lesbian couple’s vehicle and on other vehicles in the same block in Arlington on Saturday in an apparent hate crime, according to David Mack Henderson of Fairness Fort Worth:

Many of you may have seen the enclosed photo circulating online today. Fairness Fort Worth would like to update our community on what actually occurred and also what steps have been taken since. Yesterday, a lesbian couple in Arlington, TX, discovered their car had been vandalized with large spray-painted anti-gay epithets. Sadly, they weren’t alone. Other cars of non-LGBT residents on the same block were also vandalized with sexually derogatory language.

The same-sex couple is grateful for community support and wants you to know that the Arlington Police Department responded in a timely and professional manner. Further, Acting Police Chief Will Johnson has indicated he is willing to engage in dialogue with FFW to assure continued cooperation. The APD also has at its disposal other law enforcement resources that may prove helpful regarding this particular crime.

If there is a silver lining for the same-sex couple – it’s that they are very encouraged by the support of their neighbors on the block who abhor what all of the victims are going through as much as the LGBT Community does. FFW will update you further as circumstances warrant.

Fairness Fort Worth President Thomas Anable added this in an email:

FFW is in contact with Arlington police and victims through local representatives. The victims were contacted by Arlington police at the initiation of the police department and were not the only victims on the street who received sexually oriented vandalism. The other victims were not members of the LGBT community.  The LGBT victims are currently satisfied with the timely and professional response of the police. The neighborhood has been extremely supportive of the victims.  FFW will reach out to Arlington police and put them in touch with the DOJ to assist in reviewing their hate crimes policies and procedures, but all is progressing in a very acceptable manner.

A spokeswoman for Arlington police couldn’t immediately be reached Monday morning. Stay tuned to Instant Tea for more.

—  John Wright

Rural AIDS agency to shut down

ARRT served people with HIV in 29 counties west of Fort Worth

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

WEATHERFORD — AIDS Resources of Rural Texas will close on Sept. 1.

The agency serves clients in 29 counties with clinics in Weatherford and Abilene. In addition to providing primary medical care, its programs include case management, HIV testing, a food pantry, transportation, prevention education and housing, utility and emergency financial assistance.

The closure is blamed on a cut in federal funding.

The closest AIDS service organizations will be in Fort Worth, but ARRT board members said that some clients have no transportation and many are indigent. And while Weatherford is just 30 miles west of Fort Worth in Parker County, Abilene is about 150 miles from Cowtown. AIDS services are also available in Midland, which is 150 miles west of Abilene.

Kristen Bradbury, who works at the Weatherford office, said, “We are very worried about our clients.”

She said that the Weatherford clients were better off than those served by the Abilene office.

Board members are not speaking publicly about the closing and will issue a statement next week.

About 150 people will be left without care in Abilene and 130 in Weatherford. Clients received a letter encouraging them to seek medical care elsewhere, but no suggestions were made.

Some infectious disease specialists can be found in the area, but most have little experience with HIV and some refuse to treat it.

ARRT began in the 1980s as an AIDS support group and incorporated as a nonprofit to provide services in 1993.

Rafael McDonnell, spokesman for Resource Center Dallas, said he doesn’t expect an influx of clients to Dallas HIV organizations. Distance is one reason, but also many grants that are awarded to AIDS agencies are geographically limited.

Fort Worth agencies and John Peter Smith Hospital may feel more of an impact.

AIDS Outreach Center in Fort Worth provides many of the same services as ARRT. Some clients who can get to Fort Worth will probably access that agency’s services.

David Mack Henderson is on the North Central Texas HIV Planning Council, which covers Tarrant County as well as the 29 counties serviced by ARRT.

He said that negotiations are under way with other service providers to make sure some services continue seamlessly.

“They provided an amazing product for the consumers who needed it,” Henderson said.

He said he’s grateful for the 60 days notice to prepare for the agency’s closing rather than finding that they had simply locked the doors.

Bryan King of North Texas Infectious Disease Consultants at Baylor had another suggestion for some clients of ARRT — looking for a drug study.

Clients are classified as either naïve or experienced. Naïve clients are those who have never been on medications before. In those studies, all drug costs, labs and doctors fees are covered. Experienced clients are those who have taken medication before. In those cases, only the trial drug would be covered.

However, he said patients are paid for their visits and often gas is covered.

“I have one who comes from Shreveport and he gets $100 for gas,” King said.

He suggested looking for trials at ClinicalTrials.gov. Under search, type “HIV AND Dallas.”

Some of the clients of ARRT have insurance and will find local doctors to treat them. If the regional HIV planning council can find other agencies and federally qualified health centers to pick up the services provided by ARRT, low-income clients without insurance may find care without traveling up to 150 miles.

ARRT was named a 2012 Black Tie Dinner recipient. Nan Arnold, co-chair of this year’s Black Tie Dinner, said this was the first time that she could remember losing a beneficiary because it closed before the event.

—  John Wright

Fort Worth school board adds gender identity and expression to anti-harassment policy

Carlos Vasquez

The Fort Worth school board passed a new student conduct policy Tuesday that includes gender identity/expression in anti-retaliation, nondiscrimination and anti-harassment language. Sexual orientation was already protected.

Gender identity/expression had previously been included in FWISD policies for faculty and staff. Tuesday’s change makes Fort Worth the first district in Texas to protect students, staff and faculty based on both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in conduct policy handbooks. Some districts, including Dallas, have added both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to their anti-bullying policies.

The new FWISD policy was on the consent agenda, which means it passed without discussion along with other non-controversial changes.

Openly gay FWISD board member Carlos Vasquez said he was delighted the new policy passed on June 28, the second anniversary of the Rainbow Lounge Raid and the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

He said the policy passed without public discussion but with some private discussions among board members.

“One didn’t know the terminology,” he said.

Vasquez said that before the policy passed for faculty and staff earlier this year, “We didn’t have a gay and lesbian teachers organization. Now we do.” While the policy doesn’t address bullying, he said it would affect bullying policy.

“If they violate the policy, they can be sanctioned and placed in an alternative school,” Vasquez said.

He said the district has a number of gay and lesbian principals and administrators. The only teacher he knew that would be covered by the new policy was a substitute who had some problems at one school where she worked.

“This settles that as far as policy is concerned,” he said. “This is a preventive policy to make sure people know we’re here to protect them.”

Fairness Fort Worth was instrumental in getting the policy passed, he said. He gave special credit to Tom Anable and David Mack Henderson for working with board members to get the policy passed.

—  David Taffet

Fort Worth City Council approves settlement with Rainbow Lounge patrons Gibson, Armstrong

Tom Anable
Tom Anable

The Fort Worth City Council voted without discussion this morning to award a settlement of $400,000 to Chad Gibson, the Rainbow Lounge patron who was injured during the Police Department’s raid of the gay bar in 2009.

Also approved was a settlement with Rainbow Lounge patron George Armstrong, who was also injured. Because that amount awarded to Armstrong is less than $50,000, it did not need to be approved by the council.

David Mack Henderson of Fairness Fort Worth was at the council meeting during the vote. He said no one signed up to speak at the end of the meeting. He said TV cameras were at City Hall, but no one from his group was giving interviews.

“We’re just part of the city — the way it should be,” Henderson said. “Moving on. Nothing to talk about.”

Officer Sara Straten, the Fort Worth Police Department’s liaison to the LGBT community, was scheduled to speak to TV news this afternoon about the improved relations between the city and the LGBT community, according to Henderson. Straten was appointed in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid.

Tom Anable, of Fairness Fort Worth, was in Austin for the anti-bullying hearings in the Senate Education Committee this morning but called Dallas Voice during the recess. Anable called the settlement unprecedented. He said this is the first time the city of Fort Worth has entered mediation without a federal lawsuit being filed. He also said it was the first time the city made a settlement with someone from the LGBT community.

Still pending is the settlement between Gibson and Armstrong and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which conducted the raid along with the FWPD. While there is an agreement in place, TABC still must review and sign it.

—  David Taffet

Fairness Fort Worth wants you (to fill out a survey on LGBT issues in Tarrant County)

Fairness Fort Worth, the group formed in the wake of last summer’s raid on the Rainbow Lounge, is asking LGBT people in Tarrant County to participate in a survey designed to “gather basic data on the makeup of our community.”

It will be kind of like “our own census,” said FFW’s David Mack Henderson. “This is essential information when we reach out to work with policy makers.”

The survey is also intended to get the perspective of LGBT Tarrant County residents on what they see as the “needs and goals of our community going forward.”

Participation is entirely anonymous, Henderson said, adding, “Please share three minutes with us to make Tarrant County a richer place for GLBT people who live, work and contribute to this corner we all call home.”

Fairness Fort Worth hopes to get at least 1,000 participants by mid-June and results will be available shortly afterward, Henderson said.

Go HERE to take the survey.

—  admin

Report: Man found dead outside Rainbow Lounge had been mugged but refused help

Note: AN UPDATE TO THIS POST IS HERE.

We’re still awaiting a press release from the Fort Worth Police Department about a man who was found beaten to death outside the Rainbow Lounge last night. In the meantime here’s a report from David Mack Henderson of Fairness Fort Worth:

Several Fairness Fort Worth board members came to the scene as soon as we heard and had a brief opportunity to speak with police. Understandably, in the midst of an active investigation, they could only share so much at that point, but here’s what we know. Approximately 9:30 an “elderly gentleman” was walking in the vicinity of W. Cannon St. a half-block south of the Rainbow Lounge. He was mugged and beaten but remained conscious. The officer I spoke with shared that someone (whom they’ve interviewed) came upon this gentleman and offered to help by calling 911 or otherwise. The victim replied no, that he would drive himself to the hospital. Apparently, he didn’t get that chance as he was discovered deceased shortly afterward.

—  John Wright