Navy: Ensign Unfairly Disciplined After Anti-Gay Harassment Complaints

You may remember the story of Steve Crowston, an ensign in the US Navy, who filed anti-gay harassment complaints last year against his commanding officer after being taunted with nicknames such as “Gay Boy,” “Fagmeister,” “Cowgirl,” and “Romo’s Bitch.” Crowston claimed that, after filing the complaint, he was then unfarily reprimanded. An investigation by the US Navy has now concluded that he was indeed the victim of reprisal.

6a00d8341c730253ef013486374b72970c-800wi The The Virginian-Pilot reports:

"In a Feb. 2 letter to Crowston, the Navy IG said its investigation found that he was improperly punished because of his complaints. A letter from the Defense Department IG to the Navy IG, sent two weeks earlier, states that the Defense Department reviewed the Navy's investigation and supports its conclusions."

"'Based on our review, we agree that Cmdr. Liam Bruen, Commanding Officer, Strike Fighter Squadron 136, issued Ensign Crowston an unfavorable fitness report in reprisal for his protected communications,' the Defense Department letter says. Christopher, who is not named in either letter, is now the commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 136, which is deployed aboard the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier Enterprise. Bruen is assigned to the carrier John C. Stennis."

"Neither of them could be reached Wednesday. Crowston said he considers the IG findings an overdue victory. "I've always known it was reprisal," said Crowston, now at Naval Special Warfare Group 2 at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek. "There are rules against reprisal, and they were broken. It was time for the Navy to acknowledge that." The Navy IG letter says Crowston may now petition to have the bad performance report removed from his file."

Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Gay couple burned out of home; trans discrimination study; marriage updates

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A gay couple in Clayton, N.C., was burned out of their home (above) in a possible hate crime on Friday after suffering anti-gay harassment repeatedly over the last year. A neighbor says the couple had their tires slashed, had a gay slur written on their home in marker and received a note with a gay slur in their mailbox telling them to move. Police, however, still aren’t convinced it was a hate crime. Watch a video report here.

2. The largest study ever on discrimination against transgender people showed that 41 percent have attempted suicide, compared to 1.6 percent of the general population. The study, by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, also showed that trans people are four times more likely to live in extreme poverty, and that 26 percent said they’d lost a job because of their gender identity/expression. Read more here, or download the full study here.

3. Same-sex marriage updates from Maryland, Rhode Island and Indiana.

—  John Wright

Study: Gays earn less, suffer more in Oklahoma

Men in same-sex couples in Oklahoma earn 26 percent less than their straight married counterparts, according to a new study on employment discrimination against LGBT people in the Sooner State.

The study, released today by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, also concludes that LGBT Oklahomans are frequently subject to harassment and discrimination in the workplace because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The study estimates that there are between 43,000 and 57,000 LGB people working in Oklahoma, along with as many as 6,800 transgender people.

Expanding the state’s nondiscrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity would have little impact on state agencies, resulting in only 21-29 additional complaints per year, according to the study.

“Laws that provide protection from discrimination not only benefit employees, but also help businesses recruit and retain highly-skilled employees,” said study co-author Lee Badgett.

To read the full study and press release, go here.

—  John Wright

FWISD adds LGBTs to policy

Tom Anable
Tom Anable

Change includes bullying in anti-harassment rules, specifically lists gender identity, expression in protected classes

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor

The board of the Fort Worth Independent School District this week quietly approved a new anti-bullying policy for employees that specifically includes prohibitions based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

The policy passed as part of the consent agenda after a second reading during the Tuesday night, Jan. 18 school board meeting. Clint Bond, external communications coordinator for the district, said Wednesday, Jan. 19, that a similar policy applying to students will likely be approved in the near future.

“The student policy hasn’t been changed yet, but it is certainly under discussion,” Bond said. “I think that will go forward and probably will include an update in the near future.”

The student policy already includes “sexual orientation” in the enumerated list of protected classes, but not “gender identity or expression.”

School district officials have said in the past that when they amended the policy to include sexual orientation, they believed that phrase also included gender identity.

The new Employee Welfare Freedom From Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation policy, in essence, amends the previous policy to include specific prohibitions against bullying and to specifically include “gender identity or expression” and “military/veteran status” among the protected classes, Bond said.

It also switches responsibility for administering the policy from the Human Resources department to the new Employee Health and Wellness Department, he said.

Under the policy, the school district is required to “provide training and counseling as needed promote awareness of this policy and the elimination of bullying, harassment, discrimination, or retaliation based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, age, or sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression, or military/veteran status throughout the district.”

In addition to bullying, the policy prohibits discrimination including harassment, and briefly defines the terms discrimination, harassment and bullying, although it does not include the term “cyberbullying.” Bond said other policies define bullying to include cyberbullying.

The new policy also describes the process for reporting and investigation any such incidents.

Tom Anable, president of Fairness Fort Worth, said this week the new policy “looks to be thorough” and is “a very positive step forward for the employees of the Fort Worth ISD.”

He noted that the new policy has the support of the local teachers union and stressed that the amendments to the policy were pushed by FWISD administrators, not community advocates.

“This has been an administration-led effort, which is an even more positive sign that they are really looking at their policies across the board,” Anable said. “They pretty much initiated this on their own. And I think it is really nice that they took the initiative in this without a lot of outside pushing.”

Anable acknowledged that the decision to add “gender identity and expression” to the FWISD policy was likely a response to a vote by Dallas Independent School District trustees in November to enact a specifically LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policy.

But he also stressed that Fort Worth was already moving in the right direction before the DISD vote, and that community advocates have not had to push as hard for the changes, as Dallas activists did.

“Yes, this is pretty much a response to what the Dallas school district did, but Fort Worth had already added ‘sexual orientation’ to their policies back in March. When they saw what Dallas did, they went back and checked their policies. And when they realized some of the language was missing, they immediately started the dialog to make the changes they needed to make,” Anable said.

“We have had some nice conversations with people in the administration, but it hasn’t taken us the kind of effort it took in Dallas to get this done,” he said.

Anable said he was pleased to see that the policy change “went through on the consent agenda and there wasn’t a big uproar about it.” But he warned that might not be the case when the board discusses changing the policy relating to students.

“This has been very low-key, without a lot of fuss. But when [anti-gay activists] hear about this, they will probably be watching for the student policy to come up for a vote,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright

Gay bullying die-in planned at Texas Capitol on opening day of legislative session

The 82nd Texas Legislature gets under way next Tuesday, and in this Friday’s Voice, we’ll have a full preview of what to expect — and not to expect — on the LGBT front. But for now, we thought we mention that a group called Queer Texas United is planning a die-in Tuesday evening to support anti-bullying legislation. From the Facebook event page:

Let’s get out and show our support for the victims of bullying and tell our legislature to protect students from these cowardly thugs! We will be demonstrating by laying on the steps of the capitol building, each person representing a different LGBT person who has committed suicide as a result of bullying. We must send a clear message to our representatives that state-sanctioned discrimination, bigotry, and harassment is not acceptable!

The die-in will be from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, and a planning meeting will be held at 7 p.m. this Thursday at Cheer Up Charlie’s, at 1104 E. 6th St. in Austin.

—  John Wright

Gay Miner Sues for Harassment, Threats

COAL MINING X390 (WIKI) | ADVOCATE.COMA gay coal miner in West Virginia is suing his employer, Massey Energy
Co. subsidiary, because he says several of his coworkers have harassed
him because of his sexual orientation. Daily News

—  admin

Hate is not an Aggie value

Members of GLBT Aggies were targeted with anti-gay epithets during Midnight Yell earlier this month, and they say it wasn’t an isolated incident.

By Camden Breeding, Vice President, GLBT Aggies

A recognized student organization since 1985, GLBT Aggies are part of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie family, too.

This was the statement we made by attending the Nov. 19 Midnight Yell. As an organization, we proudly displayed rainbow flags and “Hate is Not an Aggie Value” buttons as we joined in the chorus “BTHO Nebraska.” Unfortunately, that chorus was interrupted by the voice of hate as members of GLBT Aggies were harassed for expressing who they are.

“Put the rainbow flags away, faggots,” one Midnight Yell participant shouted across hundreds of people down an exit ramp toward members of GLBT Aggies. Shortly thereafter he continued the harassment by yelling “faggots” multiple times into the same group.

This is not an isolated incident, nor is it even uncommon at Texas A&M. Earlier this semester, in the College of Engineering, I was branded “fudgepacker,” while “fag” bounced across classrooms in the Zachry Building like a game of pong.

Karla Gonzalez, president of GLBT Aggies, experienced similar harassment in the College of Construction Science her freshman year, where she says the first words spoken to her in the college were “fag” and “dyke.”

The reality is, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students feel unsafe and unwelcome at Texas A&M. Some might contend that by wearing GLBT related T-shirts and carrying rainbow flags, we brings the harassment upon ourselves. I would argue that I see people on campus, every day, expressing important parts of their identity by wearing shirts that convey their religious beliefs or affiliations, their cultural identities, and that promote organizations on campus and political ideas. I cannot agree to expect harassment on the campus that I love because I want to express an important part of who I am. I expect more from the Aggie family, and I know your fellow GLBT Aggies deserve more from the Aggie family.

Your fellow Aggies deserve more than the constant threat of verbal and physical harassment. Your fellow Aggies deserve more than to be targeted by bullies on a daily basis. Your fellow Aggies deserve more than to feel unsafe and unwelcome walking across campus. Your fellow Aggies deserve more than to think that suicide is the only option because they are afraid to come out in a hostile environment.

Your fellow Aggies deserve more than your indifference.

The time is NOW to speak up and stand up for the dignity of your Aggie brothers and sisters. Speak out against hate speech on campus, visit the GLBT Resource Center in Cain Hall C-118, become an Aggie Ally by registering for a free workshop at Speak up, Aggies. Never let them say you weren’t at Texas A&M, never let them say you weren’t there for your family, never let them say hate is an Aggie Value, and remember the Aggie Honor Code:

An Aggie does not lie about who they are, cheat someone out of a positive experience, or steal someone else’s dignity.

—  admin

Ranker: Top 12 Most Invasive TSA Sexual Harassment Cases (So Far)

The sad truth is that there are probably more than these twelve that are worthy of exposing, but here are two examples that made Ranker’s top of the list

Hands in Underwear

It seems to be a recurring theme that most of these assaults tend to happen to people working in the news and broadcasting industry, because they’re the few who have the ability to report on it. The amount of sexual assaults that happen (TSA or not) every single day that go completely unreported is actually quite soul-crushing and devastating.

So the TSA gets another setback when an ABC producer rings in her opinion by stating a trip to the TSA is worse than “a trip to the gynecologist.” Meaning the agent she dealt with during her pat-down felt her underwear, felt the inside of her underwear and searched for an explosive device which was, of course, never found.

This Guy

Do you remember LolCats and those pictures with quotes like ‘I Can Haz Cheezeburger?”

Of course you do.

Well, the picture to your left may very well start of its own line of LolJunkGrabbing. This photo snapshot miraculously managed to go unnoticed by the TSA when it was taken (cameras are a threat to the US, you know.) What we get is the entire focal point of the pat-down debate and just how unpleasant, awkward, and downright scarring the new and improved procedural are proving to be.

Even the TSA agent seems to be hating on his life at that moment as he digs into that guy’s junk like it’s a unmovable car part that just won’t give.

All that this picture is missing is the agent being red-faced and sweaty with Ren-and-Stimpy-detailed veins popping out of his neck. Seriously, that grimace is sure to inspire hundreds of ridiculous quotes. This picture has been featured in more new stories and internet coverage than any TSA picture thus far and this man will no doubt become an internet superstar (or will sue the pants off of someone.)

The newspaper source got its topic right. This is an image that your mind will not get rid of.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

New GSA is opening doors — and minds — at Navarro College

Members of P.R.I.S.M. say new group is being well-received by administration, most classmates

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor

LEADING THE WAY  |  Officers of P.R.I.S.M., the new gay-straight alliance at Navarro College in Corsicana, meet each Tuesday. Officers are, back row from left, Kristen Joyner, assistant historian; Mauricio Palacios, treasurer; Max Tucker, prime historian; Chasidy Merida, public relations chair, and Jessica Martinez, secretary; and front row from left, Juan Tenorio, president; Brandi Collard, faculty sponsor, and Micheal Dickens, spiritual advisor.
LEADING THE WAY | Officers of P.R.I.S.M., the new gay-straight alliance at Navarro College in Corsicana, meet each Tuesday. Officers are, back row from left, Kristen Joyner, assistant historian; Mauricio Palacios, treasurer; Max Tucker, prime historian; Chasidy Merida, public relations chair, and Jessica Martinez, secretary; and front row from left, Juan Tenorio, president; Brandi Collard, faculty sponsor, and Micheal Dickens, spiritual advisor.

Think of Corsicana, Texas, the county seat of Navarro County located about 55 miles south of Dallas on I-45, and “liberal enclave” isn’t likely to be the first description that comes to mind.

The town of about 25,000 is known as home of the Collin Street Bakery, famous around the country for its fruitcakes. But Corsicana is also home to the main campus of Navarro College, which now has what its members call the first gay-straight alliance to be formed — and recognized as an official campus organization — at a Texas community college.

Members of the group and faculty advisor Brandi Collard recently answered a few questions about the alliance for Dallas Voice.

Dallas Voice: Who came up with the idea of starting a gay-straight alliance at Navarro College? What is it called?

P.R.I.S.M.: Our GSA was truly a collaborative idea, and several people were instrumental in starting the group. The organization is called P.R.I.S.M., which stands for Promoting Respect In Sexual Minorities.

DV: Why did the group start? Was there a specific event, or series of events that led to it being started?

P.R.I.S.M.: We started the group because we wanted to form an organization that would provide support for LGBT students and cultivate lasting positive relations between the LGBT and straight communities. No specific event or series of events triggered the formation of the club.

DV: When was P.R.I.S.M. started?

P.R.I.S.M.: We began developing the framework for the group in late August of this year. We became an official campus organization on Sept. 20.

DV: Have you encountered any opposition from administrators? From other students? From the community around the college?

P.R.I.S.M.: We have received nothing but support from the administration. We have had a few cases of individualized harassment of P.R.I.S.M. members by other students, but nothing our members haven’t been able to handle on their own. The community response has been mostly positive so far.

DV: How has the school administration helped or hurt in forming the group?

P.R.I.S.M.: We have been treated exactly the same as any other organization — with fairness and equality.

DV: How many members are in P.R.I.S.M. and how often do you meet?

P.R.I.S.M.: We currently have 40 members, and we’re still growing. The club meets every Thursday afternoon, with an additional meeting on Tuesday just for officers and our advisor.

DV: What kind of activities have you done already?

P.R.I.S.M.: We had a booth at the Club Fair on campus where we signed up new members and handed out rainbow awareness ribbons and bags of Skittles with our meeting info on them. The members are currently selling candy bars as a fundraiser.

DV: What kind of activities do you have planned?

P.R.I.S.M.: We have a “Partners with You” night planned at the Cotton Patch Café. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of participating patrons’ total bills to the group. We’ll also have a booth at the Navarro College Homecoming post-game festivities. Our biggest event so far is a “Science Fiction Double Feature” at the end of October. We have an opportunity to volunteer with a pet adoption event for the local animal shelter in November. We will also be participating in Phi Theta Kappa’s holiday food drive, and we’re planning a holiday bake sale near the end of the semester.

DV: What can people in the LGBT community outside Navarro College do to support your organization?

P.R.I.S.M.: People can help us a lot by contributing to our fundraisers and supporting our events. We’re also looking for guest speakers to inspire and encourage the members of the club.

DV: What else do people need to know about the GSA?

P.R.I.S.M.: We at P.R.I.S.M. want to emphasize that we are an alliance. There is a misconception on campus that we are simply a “gay club,” but we’re so much more. We’re a group that promotes awareness, respect, and unity for all.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 22, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

San Diego Firefighters Harassment Judgement Upheld

Remember this case where several San Diego firefighters sued their city for forcing them to participate in in a gay pride parade in 2007 in which they claim they suffered sexual harassment? The firefighters testified that after the parade, they experienced "headaches, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome and other stress-related symptoms." A jury found in their favor last year. Now an appellate court has upheld that judgement.

Sdfire The San Diego Union-Tribune reports:

Joseph Infranco, co-counsel in the firefighters’ case, said he hopes the ruling “will end the city’s attempts to defend its act of compelling people to participate in sexually charged events against their moral and personal convictions.”

The individual firefighters were awarded damages ranging from ,000 to ,200. The trial court also awarded attorney fees to the firefighters in the amount of 2,980 and costs in the amount of ,383. Those fees and costs, plus 7 percent interest, must be paid, according to the appellate ruling. In addition, fees for fighting the appeal will also be assessed in an amount to be determined later.

This was the second time the firefighters went to trial on the sexual harassment claim. A jury deadlocked in October of 2009. In that trial, the jury was asked to award each firefighter up to million. LiMandri didn’t request a specific figure in this trial.

According to th San Diego Union-Tribune, "a spokeswoman for the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, said the city has not yet decided whether to take the case to a higher court."

Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright