Denton County sheriff candidate cancels meeting with Equality Texas

Tracy Murphree

Tracy Murphree

Tracy Murphree, the Republican candidate for Denton County sheriff who grabbed headlines late last week with a Facebook post implying he would use violence against transgender women in public restrooms, has cancelled a planned meeting with representatives of Equality Texas and Denton County couple who have a transgender child.

The meeting had been set for Thursday morning. But, according to a statement released today (Friday, April 29), Murphree sent a message Wednesday evening saying, “I won’t be at the meeting tomorrow. I feel I have made my position clear that I am not targeting transgenders but concerned about predators taking advantage of the policies. I really have nothing else to add.”

In a post to his Facebook page on Friday, April 22, referring to laws like the one recently passed in North Carolina that prevent transgender individuals from using appropriate public restroom facilities, Murphree wrote: “This whole bathroom thing is craziness I have never seen. All I can say is this. If my little girl is in a public women’s restroom and a man, regardless of how he may identify, goes into that bathroom, he will then identify as John Doe until he wakes up in whatever hospital he may be taken to. Your identity does not trump my little girl’s safety.”

Many people saw Murphree’s post, which has since been removed from public view, as a threat of violence against transgender women in public restrooms. Denton County residents Adam and Amber Briggle, parents of an 8-year old transgender child, publicly expressed their concern with Murphree’s statements. Murphree later issued an apology of sorts — saying he understood people’s anger over his statements and that he had been referring to pedophiles and other sexual predators, not trans women — and agreed to meet with the Briggles and Equality Texas representatives.

After Murphree cancelled the meeting, Equality Texas board Chair Steve Rudner issued a statement, telling the candidate, “What you’ve not done is allow yourself the chance to listen.”

In the written statement, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization said: “At Equality Texas we believe it is inappropriate and unacceptable for any law enforcement official to make inflammatory statements that condone violence against any member their community. No Texan should ever have to live in fear of violence because of their gender identity or gender expression, especially from someone that has taken an oath to serve and protect them from harm.

“Equality Texas will continue to work with the Briggle family, local organizations, and Denton County area residents to end falsehoods about the LGBT community that do nothing to serve and protect victims and potential victims of violence. We believe ending sexual violence begins by treating all people, including those who are transgender, with fairness and respect.”

Murphree, who defeated Republican incumbent Sheriff William Travis in the March primary, is widely expected to win his general election race against Libertarian Randy Butler. Following Murphree’s post on April 22, Butler posted a statement on his Facebook page pointing out that in most cases in which a child is molested, the culprit is a family member,r family friend or clergy member, not a stranger.

Butler went on to say: This issue isn’t about protecting the children though. It’s about the same problem us humans have always struggled with — bigotry and hatred towards those we don’t understand. … We are ultimately responsible for the safety and well-being of our children, but we are also responsible for the well-being and safety of our fellow humans.”

 

—  Tammye Nash

FWISD superintendent signs new guidelines protecting trans students

FWISD Guidelines art

From left: FWISD Superintendent Kent Scribner, LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S. President Sharon Herrera and Fairness Fort Worth President David Mack Henderson

Tammye Nash  |  Managing Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

 

Fort Worth Independent School District Superintendent Kent Scribner this week announced that he has signed a set of detailed guidelines designed to protect transgender students by clarifying the district’s existing anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies.

Clint Bond, FWISD’s external and emergency communications director, said Scribner made the announcement at the Tuesday night, April 26 meeting of the district’s Board of Trustees. “He just wanted the board to know that he had signed these comprehensive guidelines,” Bond said.

In 2011, the district, then under the leadership of interim Superintendent Walter Dansby, the FWISD school board expanded the district’s anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies to include protections based on gender identity and gender expression. Protections based on sexual orientation were already included.

Bond said the new guidelines were designed to give “more specificity” to existing policy.

Sharon Herrera, founder and president of LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S, on Wednesday, April 27, praised Scribner for issuing the guidelines, saying the superintendent “is indeed walking his talk. He genuinely means all students, preparing them for college, career and community leadership.”

She added, “I applaud FWISD and anticipate that along with these guidelines, there will be training.”

LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S is an organization created to “foster the well-being of LGBTQ students and staff in the public schools of Fort Worth and surrounding communities by promoting safe, egalitarian and supportive environments and policies, Herrera explained. She said the organization works to provide LGBTQ students and their families with resources related to LGBTQ issues and safe spaces for social and personal development.

Herrera noted that her organization continues to hear reports from local districts of bullying, not only from students but also adults, including teachers and administrators. “Until our LGBTQ youth can feel safe on their school campuses, our work is not done,” she said.

Fairness Fort Worth President David Mack Henderson said Wednesday that he and his organization “applaud Dr. Scribner and his staff for working to insure our most vulnerable students have both equal protection and opportunity.”

Henderson continued, “My read is that FWISD is making their proactive, inclusive position clear. They not only intend to comply with federal Title IX guidelines, they’ve elucidated best practices to accomplish just that. The beauty of these guidelines is that one group of students isn’t being compromised to help another. They’ve actually found a means to assure privacy for every student, regardless of their views, while still providing equal access.

“These guidelines serve as an excellent template for other schools seeking a reasonable solution to this issue,” Henderson continued. “My hope is that other school districts quickly implement similar guidelines so we can all get on with the business of educating our kids.”

FWISD’s expanded policy notes that the district “prohibits discrimination, including harassment, against any student on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, national origin, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law. The district prohibits dating violence, as defined by this policy. Retaliation against anyone involved in the complaint process is a violation of district policy and is prohibited.

The guidelines — which, Henderson pointed out, can be put into force with just the superintendent’s signature whereas a policy change requires a vote by the board of trustees — reiterates a number of points related to the nondiscrimination policy while elaborating on protections for transgender students.

The guidelines “seek to ensure that no student experiences an unsafe or unwelcome learning environment,” while acknowledging “Transgender youth may experience additional challenges at school” and that “support from classmates and school personnel may help transgender students who otherwise feel ostracized or disengaged.”

The eight-page guideline package presented to the board pointed to “growing support for research indicating that enforcing fixed notions of what it means to be a boy or a girl may have negative effects on children,” especially in a learning environment. The school district is implementing the guidelines, the statement noted, “to provide direction for personnel to address issues that may arise concerning the needs of and challenges facing transgender students, and to foster an inclusive and productive learning environment for all students.”

The guidelines include an extensive list of terms and definitions regarding transgender people and issues, but also points out that “not all people will fit a particular definition or pattern. Instead of focusing on what definition applies to a particular person, school personnel are required to show respect for the student’s desires and wishes to the extent practical so as to foster a productive educational process for all.”

The guidelines also lay out specific reporting procedures in the event of complaints, and names a specific person — Employee Relations Director Rufino Mendoza — as the Title IX coordinator for the district and the person to whom complaints should be reported.

The guidelines require faculty and staff to “acknowledge the gender identity that each student consistently and uniformly asserts,” without need of a medical or mental health diagnosis or treatment. Campus counselors are designated as the allies for students who need or want to discuss gender identity issues.

The guidelines also require district personnel to use a student’s preferred name and pronouns unless otherwise required by law for record keeping purposes. “Continued intentional misuse of a student’s new name and pronouns coupled with reference to the student’s former gender,” the guidelines state, “undermines the student’s desires and is contrary to the district’s goal of treating students with dignity and respect.”

The guidelines stress that a student’s name and gender on official records can be changed only with a legal court order. But no such order is necessary for personnel to use the student’s preferred name and pronouns and gender identity.

If you don’t know how the student prefers to be identified, ask them in private, the guidelines direct. And students have the right to keep their actual or perceived gender identity and expression private, including from their parents or guardians. Only share such information if the student gives his or her permission, and that goes for sharing the information with parents or guardians, too, the guidelines say.

“Transitioning is a very private matter,” the guidelines warn. “Students may choose whether or not to have their parents participate in this process. In fact, notifying a parent or guardian carries risks for the students in some cases,” so school personnel need to talk to the student about what to tell the parents.

Regarding restroom facilities, the guidelines say, “If other students feel uncomfortable sharing a restroom with a transgender student or if a student has a need or desire for increased privacy, the school must allow the student(s) access to a single stall restroom, gender neutral restroom or the opportunity to visit the facility when other students are not present. A single user restroom, however, must not be given as the only option for transgender students who need or desire increased privacy.”

The schools are required to make similar accommodations for locker rooms, and the guidelines prohibit school personnel from using dress codes to prevent a transgender student from living full time “in the role consistent with his or her gender identity.”

The new guidelines also require schools to give all students, including transgender students “equitable access to [all] activities and programs,” including cheerleading, homecoming, prom and sports. But the guidelines acknowledge that “UIL may have ultimate authority to determine the team on which a student can participate in league play.”

That, Henderson said, remains a problem because of rules recently adopted by the University Interscholastic League, which governs intermural sports in Texas public schools, which requires students’ gender be determined for the purpose of such sports teams based on their physical gender at birth.

“The new UIL rules still leaves districts in the untenable position of either complying with Title IX for federal funding or with the sports authority to qualify for team play,” Henderson said. “The UIL rule is clearly in violation of federal law. The question remaining is will UIL and UT, their host organization, force Texas schools and trans students to pay the price for UIL’s illegal rule?”

He concluded, “When we permit loud voices to err on the side of fear, the result is hysteria. I say we don’t let them play that game with us anymore. We’re done reacting to every nonsensical cry of social Armageddon.

“These are our lives, our families and our children, too,” Henderson declared, “and we get to set the tone and the narrative from now on, period.”

For the complete text of the new guidelines, go here.

—  Tammye Nash

Denton County Sheriff candidate Randy Butler: ‘Creating more victims isn’t the answer’

Randy Butler

Randy Butler, Libertarian candidate for sheriff of Denton County

On Friday, Tracy Murphree, Republican candidate for sheriff of Denton County, put a post on his Facebook page threatening to beat any trans woman who happened to try to go pee in a restroom where Murphree’s daughter was also peeing. Dallas Observer broke the story (and I blogged about their report here), and noted that Murphree is expected to win the race for sheriff in the November elections.

No Democrat is running in the race, but Murphree is opposed by a Libertarian candidate, Randy Butler. I am gonna suggest that any registered voter in Denton County who supports equality and individual freedom take a good long look at the two candidates and keep in mind Murphree’s hateful comments and Butler’s intelligent, measured response to Murphree’s “toxic spill” post.

“Creating new victims isn’t the answer,” Butler says, noting that the vast majority of children are not molested or harmed by strangers but by family members, family friends and, yes, clergy members. He goes on to say, “This issue isn’t about protecting the children though. It’s about the same problem us humans have always struggled with — bigotry and hatred towards those we don’t understand. … We are ultimately responsible for the safety and well-being of our children, but we are also responsible for the well-being and safety of our fellow humans.”

If you ask me, Randy Butler gets it, while Tracy Murphree misses the mark.

Here’s the full text of what Butler posted on his Facebook campaign page:

“Being a Libertarian, I could care less what gender you are genetically or otherwise. I also don’t care what takes place in your bedroom or life in general. I especially don’t think it’s the government’s business to even ponder on those issues.

“I have 2 grown daughters and 5 of my 6 grandkids are girls. Yes, people can be victims and yes many of those victims are kids and happen to be female. However, it’s not the transgendered that molest these kids and cause them harm. It’s family friends, relatives and even leaders of the church.

“Creating more victims isn’t the answer to this issue. The only issue we should address, is if anyone harms, molests, inappropriately touches or films a child or any other victim, they should be dealt with and dealt with severely.

“Creating a feeding frenzy of fear and hatred to a group of people who already deal with more hate and evil towards them on a daily basis, isn’t the answer.

“I have a step daughter that is a molestation surviver by the hands of her biological father. She doesn’t fear transgender, gay, lesbian or any other label when it comes to her kids. If anyone wishes to do harm towards her children, they will pay the price as they should.

“This issue isn’t about protecting the children though. It’s about the same problem us humans have always struggled with, bigotry and hate towards those we don’t understand.

“I’m not here to pander to any of your emotions or biases.

“I’m here saying, we do not harm but we don’t take crap either.

“We are ultimately responsible for the safety and well being of our children, but we are also responsible for the well being and safety of our fellow humans.”

—  Tammye Nash

Equality Texas condemns Denton County sheriff candidate; video shows consequences of anti-trans bathroom bills

Tracy Murphree

Denton County sheriff candidate Tracy Murphree

This weekend, as Equality Texas was condemning violently anti-trans hate speech from Tracy Murphree, a candidate for sheriff of Denton County, video surfaced online of a male security officer and a female security officer (possibly police officers, the video isn’t clear), accosting a young butch lesbian and throwing her out of a public women’s restroom as her friends videotape the incident while screaming out the officers that their target is female.

Dallas Observer on Friday, April 22, broke news of Murphree’s comments on Facebook in which he threatened violence against trans women in public restrooms:

“This whole bathroom thing is craziness I have never seen. All I can say is this: If my little girl is in a public women’s restroom and a man, regardless of how he may identify, goes into the bathroom, he will then identify as a John Doe until he wakes up in whatever hospital he may be taken to. Your identity does not trump my little girl’s safety. I identify as an overprotective father that loves his kids and would do anything to protect them.”

The Observer also notes that Murphree, a Republican, is most likely to win the race for sheriff. He faces Libertarian candidate Randy Butler, who by the way, has posted on his Facebook that trans people in bathrooms aren’t the ones molesting children.

Murphree’s post was quickly swamped with support, racking up “likes” and supportive comments. When Amber Dyden Briggle, mother of an 8-year-old transgender son, dared take Murphree to task, she too was attacked by the candidate and his supporters. Murphree responded:

“Maybe I’m a bit jaded after almost 30 years of seeing kids assaulted and sexually abused. Maybe I realize that child molesters will use these new rules to their benefit. Maybe, just maybe I have the same right to advocate for the safety of my kids. I’m angered that when someone says bathrooms should be gender specific, they are made to be a horrible person. Yes, I will be the next sheriff, and I will serve all citizens. I will not sit back and not voice my beliefs and opinions. I will not give in to the political correctness police. I won’t be threatened by those who may call me a bigot or ignorant. I have no issue with transgenders. That’s between them and God. The few transgenders rights do not trump the rights of the many. I will not stand by in political correctness afraid of being labeled and allow a male to enter a bathroom my daughter occupies. I just won’t do it.”

Steve Rudner, Equality Texas’ board chair, said his organization believes, “No Texan should ever have to live in fear of violence because of their gender identity or gender expression,” and that “it is inappropriate and unacceptable for any law enforcement officials to make inflammatory statements that condone violence.”

Meanwhile, last week Instinct Magazine posted video from last December of a butch young lesbian being manhandled out of a public restroom by a male security officer (police officer) because she couldn’t produce any ID to confirm her gender. (The girl looked to be in her mid-to-late teens, maybe 16-17. I have a son who is 16-going-on-17 who has yet to get his driver’s license and who has no ID other than his school ID, which isn’t something he carries around all the time and which doesn’t note his gender anyway). The girl’s friends — one of whom videotaped the encounter — are crowded around telling the male officer — a man in a women’s restroom, by the way — and his female fellow officer that the girl was a girl, and not just a girl but a cis-gender girl, which is the only kind of “girl” that some people are willing to acknowledge as female.

And if that’s not enough to prove to you that bathroom bills lead to discrimination and violence, check out this report below by WXYZ News in Detroit, from last summer, about a woman suing a restaurant after their security pulled her out of the bathroom and kicked her out of the restaurant because they decided she looked like a guy.

—  Tammye Nash

Tennessee lawmakers approve bill allowing counselors to deny services to LGBT patients

Gov. Bill Haslam

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III has warned lawmakers in his state that they risk losing billions of dollars in federal funding if they move ahead with legislation restricting transgender students ‘ access to appropriate bathroom facilities. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has already warned that the state could lose about $3 billion in federal dollars over the proposed legislation.

But while everybody’s attention was focused on the possibility of an anti-trans bathroom bill, lawmakers went ahead and passed legislation allowing counselors and therapists to deny services to LGBT people based on the mental health professionals’ “sincerely-held principals,” according to the Times Free Press.

State Sen. Jack Johnson, who sponsored this piece of shit bill, said it would be the same as allowing a lawyer to refuse to write a will for a client charged with first-degree murder.

The American Counseling Association as well as a large number of individual counselors and therapists have come out strongly against Jackson’s bill, saying that allowing their own personal beliefs to interfere with helping a patient in need goes against everything they are trained to do.

And by the way, Tennessee lawmakers also recently approved a bill designating the Holy Bible as the official book of their state. That legislation is also awaiting action by Gov. Haslam.

—  Tammye Nash

Transwoman among two dead in Houston shooting

Isaac.Shante

Shante Isaac

A transwoman is among two people killed in Houston last night (Sunday, April 10).

ABC 13 misgendered Shante Isaac, instead calling her “Robert.”

Isaac’s sister said witnesses saw “a group of people around Isaac and that she was possibly hit in the head with something,” according to the network.

Isaac is among the many trans people killed so far this year. In 2015, 271 transgender people around the world were killed, according to the Trans Murder Monitoring Project. Of these, an estimated 26 were murdered in the U.S. alone.

More than 2,000 trans people were killed in the last 8 years across the world, according to a report released by TMMP last month.

The motive in Isaac’s murder is unclear. The second victim has not been identified. A manhunt is underway for the suspects.

Dallas Voice will update as we receive new information.

—  James Russell

McCrory and his lies about North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’

McCrory.Pat

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory in March signed into law a bill that not only rolls back an equal rights ordinance recently passed in Charlotte to protect LGBT from discrimination and prohibits such local ordinances from being passed in the future, but also prohibits transgender men and women from using the appropriate public restrooms. Since then, individuals, businesses and others — like Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz — have been standing up in droves to denounce McCrory and the legislation, and announce their intentions to boycott the state.

Last week, McCrory told the press that the bill doesn’t take anyone’s rights away and that all the hoopla was created by the media and political correctness run amok. I already called him out for being a Mr. Lying Liarpants on that. Now here’s a video offering some proof that he’s lying.

—  Tammye Nash

Eight-year old transgender activist wants to purchase house across from Westboro

IMG_6287

How could you deny Avery Jackson her vision to create a Transgender House across from Westboro Baptist Church?

Avery Jackson, an eight-year-old transgender child, wants to help a LGBT nonprofit do something bold: purchase a house across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan.

Planting Peace, which wants to buy the property, already manages the neighboring Equality House. The house, painted the colors of the rainbow, was founded in 2012 to counter the Westboro Baptist Church’s angry message with love and compassion and serve as a symbol to the LGBT community that they are not alone.

With another house now available next to the church, Avery and Planting Peace need to raise $70,000 via the fundraising website CrowdRise platform. The goal for the transgender house is to continue the organization’s LGBT equality efforts. It will be painted blue, pink, and white – the colors of the transgender flag.

Avery was the inspiration for establishing the house, Planting Peace President Aaron Jackson said in a statement.

Avery first visited the Equality House when it was painted with the colors of the transgender flag. After hearing Avery describe how the house made her feel proud to be transgender, Aaron realized the need for a transgender house.

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Avery and Aaron Jackson, president of Planting Peace.

“I was deeply touched when Avery visited us and said it brought her joy and gave her confidence. She inspired us to partner with her to create a symbol of support for the transgender community by expanding the Equality House and permanently painting our neighboring house the colors of the transgender flag,” Aaron said.

“The Equality House has always been a positive, iconic landmark for LGBT people to visit,” said Debi Jackson, Avery’s mother. “I would love to see a Transgender House embraced the same way – with enthusiasm, love and pride.”

“We’ve painted the house the colors of the transgender flag each year to honor the transgender community, and specifically, those who have taken their lives because of violence and bullying,” Aaron said.

Having a house next door painted blue, pink, and white would make the annual tradition instead a daily one.

—  James Russell

Dear Gov. McCrory ….

Tammye NashAn open letter to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory;

Dear Gov. McCrory,

So yesterday, you told NBC News that the nation-wide uproar and backlash over legislation you signed into law last week is just a bunch of “political theater,” a “calculated smear campaign” concocted by the big, bad gay people who are throwing a temper tantrum because they didn’t get their way.

North Carolina’s new law — the one that prohibits transgender people from using appropriate public restrooms and prohibits forward-thinking, equality-leaning local governing entities from enacting ordinances to protect some of their most vulnerable residents — doesn’t discriminate against anyone, you said. It’s just codifying the “norms and etiquette” that have existed for generations, you said.

All these objections, you said, are just “political correctness run amok.”

Well Gov. McCrory, let me tell you something. You are wrong. Plain and simple.

You want to know what’s really run amok there in North Carolina? Bigotry and ignorance.

Screen shot 2016-03-29 at 2.25.07 PM

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory

Of course your damn law discriminates against people! It discriminates against that gay teenager being bullied who had hoped the ordinance recently passed in the city of Charlotte might have offered some protection, or at least, some legal recourse. It discriminates against the lesbian couple were refused an apartment lease because they are lesbians. It discriminates against the gay man refused service in a restaurant because he’s gay.

It discriminates against those people because it tells city governments, county governments that they can’t pass laws to specifically protect those people. It tells the LGBT people in your state they aren’t worthy of equal rights, that they don’t deserve protection.

And as for that bathroom thing …. Seriously Governor, I am surprised bolts of lightning didn’t strike you when you tried to claim that part isn’t discriminatory. And ignorant. That whole “men in women’s bathrooms/men in girls’ locker room showers” argument is such total bullshit.

Your whole argument is based on a bullshit lie. Because we aren’t talking about men in women’s restrooms. We are talking about transgender women — WOMEN, Governor — using women’s restrooms. Oh, and by the way, we’re talking about transgender MEN using men’s restrooms, too. And all your bullshit about protecting women and children from predatory men who dress in women’s clothing just to get into the women’s restrooms is just that — BULLSHIT.

And just so you know, your stupid law won’t stop predators — rapists and pedophiles — from going after women and girls or after men and boys in restrooms. Because people like that DON’T OBEY THE LAW in the first damn place! All your stupid law does do is make criminals out of law-abiding citizens who just need to pee.

Governor, all the calls for boycotts against North Carolina — from individuals, businesses, organizations and even governing entities like the city of San Francisco — that’s not political theater. That’s the rising tide of common sense and fair-mindedness as people stand up for their own rights and the rights of others.

The Rev. Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It’s been a long time coming, but the universe truly is bending toward justice for LGBT people. People like you and the other bigots in the North Carolina legislature are fighting against that justice, but we won’t let you win. The “political theater” over your new law is proof of that.

—  Tammye Nash

#I’llGoWithYou

Screen shot 2016-03-25 at 10.58.34 AMToday on Facebook I found this link on a relative’s page, and I wanted to share it here.

I don’t know how my relative identifies when it comes to gender; I have never asked. Perhaps I should. I know that Anh was born biologically male. I also know that Anh is quite beautiful physically, whether presenting as male or female or neither or both. Perhaps the best term is gender queer.

I also know that children in Anh’s neighborhood have shouted insults at him. I know that people who meet Anh/see Anh in person are often confused as to his gender. I know it’s too bad that people can’t just see Anhn as a beautiful, funny, talented, creative person and instead feel they must see either Anh the man or Anh the woman. I know it’s too bad people can’t just see Anh.

The same goes for so many other transgender and gender-queer people. In fact, the same goes for all of us. Why can’t we just see each other?

Until that day comes — that day when we can all just see each other — I want my transgender and gender-queer friends and family to know, I stand with you. As long as the forces of ignorance and bigotry keep attacking you, I stand with you. As long as your own government keeps trying to turn you into a criminal and keeps putting your safety at risk simply because you need to go to the bathroom, I stand with you.

As long as #WeJustNeedToPee, #I’llGoWithYou.

—  Tammye Nash