Austin, Fort Worth, San Antonio top Texas cities on HRC’s Municipal Index

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This year’s Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index released Tuesday ranked 16 Texas cities, compared to seven last year.

Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio saw a score increase, while Arlington saw a 5-point decrease. Fort Worth, which ranked higher than Dallas last year, is again ahead of Dallas in the report. Dallas, however, saw a 9-point increase.

San Antonio received a score of 86, jumping from a 48 last year, despite the controversy this summer over a nondiscrimination ordinance.

Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell said Grand Prairie’s score of 21 impressed him. He said the city’s leaders quietly adopted a nondiscrimination policy for city employees in 2008 and later implemented Dallas Independent School District’s LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policy in 2011.

“It shows that the quest for equality isn’t just a city of Dallas or a county or quasi-governmental issue,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that’s available to be done throughout the area.”

The report ranked 291 cities this year, compared to 137 cities last year, on a scale of 0 to 100, which reflects their commitment to LGBT equality.

For more on the 2013 MEI, see Friday’s paper.

Below is a list of Texas cities included in the report from highest to lowest score.

—  Dallasvoice

S. Texas school says it will allow trans teen’s tuxedo photo to run in yearbook

Jeydon Loredo

Jeydon Loredo

Trans student Jeydon Loredo will now be remembered in his senior yearbook for the way he wants to be remembered after his school district consented late last week to allow his photo to run in the book.

The La Feria Independent School District  previously told Loredo his photo wouldn’t run because he needed to be pictured wearing feminine clothing. He appealed the decision to the school board last Monday. And the Southern Poverty Law Center, joined by the Human Rights Campaign, intervened on his behalf, threatening legal action if the district didn’t run the photo.

The decision was reversed on Friday when attorneys with the district and SPLC met to ensure Loredo would be included in the yearbook. In addition to agreeing to run the picture, the district will have the superintendent apologize to Loredo for the treatment he received and have the school board discuss adding gender expression to its nondiscrimination policies.

“We are very pleased that the school district has recognized Jeydon for who he is and will allow his photo in the yearbook along with all his classmates,” SPLC staff attorney Alesdair Ittelson said in a statement. “This is as a signal to other school districts that transgender students should be recognized as important members of their communities rather than ostracized and subjected to discrimination. We applaud Jeydon’s courage in standing up for his rights.”

HRC President Chad Griffin applauded the decision.

“We’re thrilled Jeydon will be getting the justice he deserves,” Griffin said in a statement. “It’s a shame that it took a threat of legal action for the school board to make the right decision, but we’re grateful that, in the end, Jeydon’s photo will be included in the yearbook. Discrimination has no place in our society — especially our schools.”

—  Dallasvoice

9 ways to fabulize your week

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It’s a music-filled week in Dallas.

For more traditional concerts featuring gay artists, Saturday is super-busy, with Deborah Vial and Jane Doe reuniting for a concert at The Kessler Theatre (doors open at 6 p.m.). Down the road in The Cedars, Eric Himan, pictured, launches his new national tour promoting his CD Gracefully at Poor David’s Pub (doors open at 7:30 p.m.).

If you prefer dance music from a DJ, Dick’s Night Out is back at the W Hotel Ghostbar on Friday, with DJ Charlie Phresh spinning. Then on Sunday, Honey Pot celebrates its first anniversary with Summer Chill at the Dallas Eagle, with DJ Medic making some noise.

Prefer your music in showtune form? You can still try to get tickets to see The Book of Mormon, which settled into the Winspear with a Tony Award-winning score. (The musicals Kiss of the Spider Woman, Xanadu and Miss Saigon all close this weekend, so if you haven’t seen them yet, this is your last chance.)

For non-musical outings, Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown delivers the laughs at Teatro Dallas, and the irrepressible Molly Ivins spins her homespun liberalism in Red Hot Patriot at WaterTower Theatre. And Gaybingo is back at the Rose Room with a Slumber Party theme on Saturday with Drag Racer Latrice Royale in tow, and the HRC’s Fruit Bowl rolls into Richardson on Sunday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DFW Federal Club hosts Town Hall discussion on DOMA, Prop 8 rulings

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The DFW Federal Club is hosting a HRC Town Hall event tomorrow evening that will discuss the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings.

HRC Legal Director Brian Moulton will explain the rulings, answer questions, and explain what LGBT advocates should expect and do next in the marriage equality movement.

An individual has offered to match federal club pledges made at the event up to $25,000.

The event is Friday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Tower Club on the 48th floor of Thanksgiving Tower, 1601 Elm St. RSVP is required.

For more information or to RSVP, go here.

—  Dallasvoice

Local high school students raise money for HRC

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Jacob Herstein, left, and Braden Fineberg

Two local high school students led their B’nai B’rith Youth Organization fundraising program this spring and donated proceeds to the Human Rights Campaign and the Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center.

Braden Fineberg, 16, a sophomore at Townview Magnet School, headed the fundraiser with chapter president Jacob Herstein, 16, a sophomore at Yavneh Academy.

“A few years ago, upperclassmen in out local chapter observed an issue with derogatory language,” Fineberg said. “They began a campaign called ‘I Don’t Say That’ in an effort to remove the language in our group.”

Fineberg and Herstein created the AZA Card, a 15 percent discount card that could be used at local merchants during a three-week period in May. AZA is the boys division of BBYO.

“After gaining the support of my chapter, we began going into stores to gain their support,” he said. “At the beginning, stores were reluctant to participate, but as more joined the card, it became easier.”

—  David Taffet

10% of LGBT workers have quit jobs due to non-inclusive work environment

Deena Fidas, deputy director of HRC’s Workplace Project, spoke about inclusive practices in the workplace Degrees of Equality Luncheon Workshop at Thanksgiving Tower Monday.

Deena Fidas, deputy director of HRC’s Workplace Project, spoke about inclusive practices in the workplace at a Degrees of Equality Luncheon Workshop at Thanksgiving Tower on Monday. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Ten percent of LGBT workers have left jobs because the work environment wasn’t inclusive, according to a new Human Rights Campaign study.

Deena Fidas, deputy director of HRC’s Workplace Project, spoke about the study’s unpublished results at a Degrees of Equality Luncheon Workshop at Thanksgiving Tower in downtown Dallas on Monday.

Fidas said the study was first done in 2009 where LGBT workers were asked about the workplace climate. That study showed that 51 percent of workers were closeted on the job.

The study was redone last year and its results will be made public in a couple of weeks, but Fidas gave a few of its findings at the luncheon. In addition to the 10 percent of workers who leave over the climate, she said one in four workers have stayed with a company because of an inclusive environment.

—  Dallasvoice

PHOTOS: Oak Cliff’s gay-friendly Earth Day draws 5,000-plus

DFW Human Rights Campaign booth promotes equality

DFW Human Rights Campaign booth promotes equality

More than 5,000 people attended Oak Cliff’s gay-and-family-friendly Earth Day in Lake Cliff Park.

Many of the booths offered gardening tips and samples for the garden including the Rainbow Garden Club. LifeWalk was busy recruiting walkers for AIDS Arms’ fall fundraiser while Human Rights Campaign promoted equality from its booth.

About the only non-Earth Day-related merchandise — including bumper stickers, hats and T-shirts — was from Get Gay Stuff.

Oak Cliff neighborhood groups were well represented. A number of organizations did presentations on water management, composting, environmentally friendly landscaping and other earth-friendly topics, but the stars of the afternoon were the animals.

They included dogs staffing the kissing booth, dogs in costume for the best-dressed contest, goats and sheep in a petting zoo, raptors from the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center near Lake Lavon, a lemur and parrot. A porcupine was unhappy in his cage but his handler said all he wanted was to get out and play with all of the dogs in the park.

More photos below.

—  David Taffet

Dallas’ Cd Kirven played role in Supreme Court rally controversy

Cd Kirven at Supreme Court - High Res

Cd Kirven at Supreme Court (Photo courtesy Cd Kirven)

Dallas activist Cd Kirven says she played a role in the much-publicized controversy involving a transgender pride flag at a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court last month.

Kirven said that after an HRC staffer told transgender activists to remove a transgender pride flag from behind the podium,  she picked it up and tried to make sure it was in every camera shot.

On March 26, about 8,000 people rallied for marriage equality outside the Supreme Court while justices heard oral arguments in a case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. The rally was organized by United for Marriage, a coalition of 180 groups, but Kirven, who was a scheduled speaker, said HRC was in control of the stage and the event. Kirven is a national board member for GetEQUAL.

Kirven said she had to submit her speech and got it back about 15 minutes before she was about to speak with sentences blacked out and words changed. She said she stumbled through parts of it because it wasn’t her words.

“They said I was too aggressive and dark,” Kirven said.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Business Journal honors Miller with Minority Business Leader Award

4Felicia MillerBlack lesbian leader Felicia Miller will be honored Thursday by the Dallas Business Journal with a Minority Business Leader Award. Miller is regional director of human resources central region for Tenet Healthcare Corp. overseeing 15 hospitals with 11,000 employees in three states — Texas, Missouri and Tennessee.

The award honors minority business owners and executives who also have leadership roles in their communities.

Miller served on the board of Black Tie Dinner and the Human Rights Campaign’s DFW Steering Committee. Nationally she was on HRC’s Board of Governors on the National Diversity Committee. She worked to help HRC partner with groups such as Lambda Legal, Dallas Southern Pride and Legacy of Success Foundation.

She was a founding member of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce.

Miller joined Tenet in 2010 from Texas Health Resources where she was director of human resources for Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas.

Miller was born in San Antonio. She earned bachelor’s degrees in health information and healthcare administration from Texas State University and began her career with the Bexar County hospital system, work in medical records and cancer statistics. She lives in Dallas with her partner, Katrina Franklin.

On Saturday night, Dr. Steven Pounders and Jim O’Reilly will hold a reception in Miller’s honor at their Turtle Creek condo.

—  David Taffet

Congresswoman Johnson speaks out against more spending to defend DOMA

U.S. House Republicans’ funding of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act continued Thursday as they authorized more spending to defend it in court.

Republicans included authorization of their efforts to defend DOMA in the Rules of the House of Representatives. Spending for DOMA’s defense has reached nearly $2 million.

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, joined several who spoke out against the continued funding.

“House Republicans continue to demand drastic cuts to government programs at all levels under the guise of reducing wasteful spending,” Johnson said in an emailed statement. “Yet, the GOP’s decision to retain a private law firm to defend the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act is both hypocritical and a waste of taxpayer funds.  It needs to be very clear to the American people that the views of the House of Representatives are not being fully represented.”

Johnson voted for DOMA in 1996, but is now a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA.

Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, and the Human Rights Campaign also issued statements.

“It’s truly disheartening that, on a day of new beginnings on Capitol Hill, the leadership of the House of Representatives is advancing a measure, through its rules, to continue spending taxpayer dollars on expensive lawyers to defend the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in court,” Solomon said. “This law has been struck down as unconstitutional 10 times, with support from judges appointed by Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes. It’s past time for the Republican leadership to listen to their constituents, a majority of whom support the freedom to marry, and stop wasting precious resources in an effort to treat fellow Americans as second-class citizens.”

HRC’s statement is below.

—  Dallasvoice