What’s Brewing: Maryland Senate kills gender identity bill; anti-gay hate crime at UNC

Quinn Matney was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime at the University of North Carolina.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. For a third straight week, LGBT advocates plan to speak during the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s meeting today and call on commissioners to add transgender employees to the county’s nondiscrimination policy. Last month, commissioners voted to add sexual orientation but not gender identity to the policy. The Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. in the County Administration Building, 411 Elm St.

2. The Maryland Senate on Monday voted to kill a measure that would have protected transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment and credit — but not public accommodations. The vote marks the second major disappointment this year for LGBT advocates in Maryland, where the House thwarted a marriage equality bill last month.

3. A University of North Carolina freshman says he was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime on the school’s campus last week. The UNC administration, which failed to notify students until a week after the attack occurred, now says it plans to report the incident as an anti-gay hate crime to the federal government.

—  John Wright

Useless headline of the day: Do teachers sometimes help target gay students?

Like there is a “no” option for this question?! (Montgomery Advertiser):

The 13-year-old Montgomery stu?dent expected to be bullied for being gay, but didn’t expect his teacher to encourage it.

He said that when a teacher ridi?culed him in class, telling him to “quit acting like a girl and start act?ing like a boy,” he was too stunned to react. When the local junior high school student talked to his mother about it, she hired an attorney who wrote a letter of complaint to the Montgomery school district.

The district’s staff attorney re?sponded in a letter that the teacher’s comment had been misrepresented and taking out of context and was not meant to be offensive.

“We wanted a written apology to my son and myself and we never got it,” said La’Daytra Walker, mother of the boy. “We received the state?ment from the staff attorney at the school, but they didn’t apologize.

And this is why headlines like the above are ridiculous. There are studies bearing out the fact that those in the best position to help bullied teens in many cases only jump in on the bullying.

After the publicity that fol?lowed several well-publi?cized cases of gays who com?mitted suicide after being bullied, research has been re?leased showing that authori?ty figures often either take part in the bullying or allow it:


* A Yale University study published this week found that gay teens are more like?ly than their straight peers to be punished for the same bad behavior. The study reports that gay and lesbian teens suffer at the hands of teach?ers, police and the courts.

* In Minnesota, an Anoka-Hennepin School District teacher who was accused of harassing a student he thought was gay is suing the state because the Depart?ment of Human Rights dis?closed his name in a report about the investigation. Walter Filson filed suit against the state of Minneso?ta in late December. Filson was one of two teachers ac?cused of harassing Alex Mer?ritt, who is not gay. Merritt got a ,000 settlement from the school district in 2009.

* A teenage activist noti?fied officials at every school in Arizona that they need to put a stop to the bullying of gay and lesbian students or face a lawsuit, according to the Arizona Republic. Caleb Laieski, 15, e-mailed the let?ter to more than 5,000 school administrators, city-council members and state lawmak?ers demanding improved measures to fight discrimi?nation.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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The Hong Kong Schools That Are Aiding And Abetting The Bullying Of Gay Students

No, this is not the Tehachapi Unified School District in California. It's Hong Kong, where Wing, now a college student, says he was tormented by classmates in high school when confiding a same-sex attraction to a friend led to his entire school finding out. So why didn't he go to administrators? Because he doesn't think the school could've done anything to help him. And there was the fear of them telling his parents. But they found out anyway, and it didn't have a happy ending. Then there's the story of Jack, a student at an all-boys Catholic school, whose "friend" starting charging him a day to keep his secret. "It's actually extortion," he says of the nine-month blackmail, which ultimately cost him ,200. Suicide seemed like an obvious way out. And I can see why: When you live a society that doesn't even protect you from such discrimination by law, watching a few It Gets Better videos sometimes just doesn't cut it. And then there's the 16-year-old girl whose school issued her a booklet, Homosexuality And Hope, about how to prevent "same-sex attraction"; being "gay" is never mentioned. Not surprisingly, it's produced by the Catholic Medical Association. [The entire segment is subtitled, in case you can't hear over the loud background music.]


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Queerty

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Massachusetts Veterans Educate Local Students on DADT

Students at Scituate High School organized a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discussion with Massachusetts veterans last night. The event was open to the public and was attend by 50 community members.  After hearing from veterans, attendees made calls to Senator Scott Brown urging him to follow through this year on his promise to repeal DADT.

Travis Hengen spoke at the event about his experience as a gay veteran discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.  Travis said that the law needs to be repealed so “troops serving in Iraq don’t have to worry about using the wrong pronoun when talking about their relationships back home and can focus completely on the mission at hand.”

John Affuso, who also served under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” commented on Senator Scott Brown’s recent statement supporting repeal.  “It was great to see Senator Brown endorse repeal,” said Affuso, “but we really need to see him show some leadership and make sure this comes up for a vote this year.”

Caroline McCall, a student at Scituate HS and one of the event’s organizers, said “We felt that since this issue is such a pressing issue, we wanted to plan this event to help inform the community and show that so many people care about making sure we do right by our troops by honoring and supporting everyone that wants to serve.”

In anticipation of a Senate vote on the Defense bill, volunteers at MassEquality’s headquarters in Boston have been mobilizing pro-repeal veterans to contact Senator Brown’s Boston and D.C. offices.  You can read a Bay Windows article about this work here.

If you are in Massachusetts and want to get involved, contact me at karl.bach@hrc.org.  And no matter where you live, find out about actions you can take TODAY at www.hrc.org/repealDADT.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Watch: Belmont University Denies Firing Coach for Telling Students She’s Gay, as Students Protest

Howe

I posted about this briefly in the round-up the other day, but it deserves more attention.

HoweNashville's Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher today denied firing soccer coach Lisa Howe after she told students that she is a lesbian and her same-sex partner was pregnant. 

News Channel 5 reports:

Dr. Bob Fisher spoke at a news conference at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the campus' Student Life Center. Up until now, Fisher hadn't spoken a word publicly about the controversy.

Fisher said, first and foremost, he has done a poor job communication with the public since the controversy started last Wednesday. He did not take any questions from reporters, and said he would not specifically talk about Lisa Howe's departure since it was a personnel issue.

***

Mike Curb, the founder of Curb Records and the name behind the Curb Event Center where Lisa Howe worked, said on Tuesday he wanted to see Belmont act like Christians and rehire the soccer coach.

Curb released this statement on Wednesday:  "President Fisher has asked me as a member of the Board, now that I've made my statement completely, to hold off making any further statements to give him an opportunity to resolve these issues so that this type of injustice can never happen again."

Students have been protesting since Howe's departure and show no signs of stopping.

Just after the controversy erupted, Marty Dickens, chairman of Belmont's board of trustees defended the school's actions, saying, "We do adhere to our values as Christ-centered, and we don't want to make apologies for that."

There is now a Facebook group demanding Dickens' resignation

Watch News2Nashville's report on the firing and protests, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

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Teacher Accused of Assaulting, Showing Porn to Students

JOHN WILLIAM GIBSON (WINDSOR STAR) X390A former high school geography teacher is on trial on charges of sexually
assaulting two male students on multiple occasions more than 20 years
ago.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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Virigina Students Push Webb and Warner on Repeal

The following is from HRC Field Organizer Sarah Showalter:

As a Virginia resident and new member of the HRC team, I was very excited to hit the ground today in Richmond. I am already overwhelmed by the community support for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” here in my hometown.  We hit the streets of Virginia Commonwealth University this morning to find that students are very supportive of our continued efforts to end this discriminatory law once and for all.  Students at VCU are energized and ready to take action by calling Senators Warner and Webb. A student film crew even stopped us on the street for an interview about our actions on campus.  It was very exciting to meet so many people who realize that the time for repeal is NOW!

If you are a family member of a veteran or active duty service member from Virginia, please call Senator Webb’s office today at 202-224-4024 and ask him to put aside politics and pass the National Defense Authorization Act with language that repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

To get involved in our DADT efforts in Virginia, please call Sarah Showalter at 804-283-5435 or email me at showalterse@gmail.com. Time is short. We need your help.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Federal Court Rules Students Must Hear Pledge Of Allegiance

A federal appeals court has ruled that a New Hampshire Patriot Act requiring the “voluntary” recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance does not force religion on students. The Freedom From Religion Foundation had argued that even a so-called voluntary recitation of the words “under God” violated the Constitution and made outcasts of students unwilling to participate.

The panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on Friday rejected the claim that exposing children to group recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance violated their constitutional rights. The judges, a Clinton nominee, a George W. Bush nominee and an Obama nominee, agreed the pledge references religion, but they said its purpose is to encourage patriotism. The ruling affirms a 2009 ruling by U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe at the federal court in Concord. “In reciting the Pledge, students promise fidelity to our flag and our nation, not to any particular God, faith or church,” wrote Chief Judge Sandra Lynch. “The New Hampshire School Patriot Act’s primary effect is not the advancement of religion, but the advancement of patriotism through a pledge to the flag as a symbol of the nation.”

Christianist website World Net Daily hailed the decision with this headline: “Court: Constitution ‘does not require complete separation of church and state’.” In 1954 the words “under God” were added to the Pledge after the Knights Of Columbus pressured members of Congress to make the change.

Joe. My. God.

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Ohio State University Students Work for DADT Repeal

Every time I get the opportunity to work with university students, I feel renewed hope for our future.  Their passion for social change together with what might be called, ironically ,a blasé attitude towards LGBT people –an utter embrace and welcome of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities to the degree that it’s a total nonissue— is so refreshing.

They are also willing to take action when they see injustice, which is what the Ohio State University Democrats did at the conclusion of their recent meeting – making phone calls and writing letters to Senator Voinovich urging him to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  They also joined me at the Veterans’ Day rally at the Ohio Statehouse this week.

These talented, open, affirming and engaged students at OSU are our future, and I am feeling so good about that future. 

Please join the OSU students, the families of active duty service members, our veterans and the many fair-minded citizens of Ohio to take action in the coming weeks to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Please visit our Repeal DADT site and take action NOW.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Students Call on Senator Brown for DADT Repeal

I am so excited to be on the ground in Massachusetts right now, putting everything that I have into making sure that the Senate hears our voice when it comes to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Already I have been hard at work, this time with student at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. It goes without saying that college students are more familiar with email and twitter than faxes and letters.  However, I recently joined students here who got together to hand-write letters to Senator Scott Brown urging him to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

One student had this to say:

“Senator Brown,

As a student at Brandeis University, an institution founded upon and permeated by social justice, I urge you to vote to repeal the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.  I recognize the many valuable and indispensable members of the Armed Forces are gay, lesbian and bisexual.  Forcing these service people to conceal a significant facet of their identity for fear of their job security is unfair and negates the ideals of justice supported by my university and my country.  The majority of your constituents share my opinion, and I sincerely hope that you will honor them and the military personnel who have been affected by this law.”

This is just the first of several upcoming events here in Massachusetts to help mobilize local advocates to push the Senate to repeal this outdated law. This coming Tuesday, students and veterans will be discussing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at Wheaton College. One of these veterans will be Travis Hengen, who met with Senator Brown’s office earlier this year to urge him to support repeal.

I hope that you will consider joining us for this event. Keep visiting HRC Back Story in the coming weeks to hear about all of my work here on the ground.

What: Discussion with veterans on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Where:
Wheaton College
26 East Main Street
Norton, MA 02766
Mary Lyon Hall
When:
Tuesday, November 16th at 7 pm


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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