Meeting to discuss LGBT employment protections in Waco rescheduled

Susan Duty

A discussion about adding LGBT protections to the Waco’s nondiscrimination employment ordinance has been postponed until April.

A group of LGBT advocates was set to discuss their proposal during the Equal Opportunity Employment Advisory Committee meeting Thursday, where they would vote whether to have Waco City Council discuss adding employment protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

Susan Duty, who spearheaded the changes, said the discussion was postponed by the committee until its next meeting in April so members could gain a better understanding of the issue.

“We were a little disappointed to have it postponed, but it’s a great opportunity to educate the committee,” Duty said.

Duty also clarified that the protections would be part of a citywide nondiscrimination ordinance. She previously said the changes would apply to the city’s own employment policy. But she now says the ban would be citywide if added to the city’s existing employment nondiscrimination ordinance.

—  Dallasvoice

Waco city committee to vote on LGBT protections proposed by Baylor student

Susan Duty

After Susan Duty realized LGBT workers in Texas could legally be discriminated against in employment because of who they are, she started looking into what she could do locally in Waco.

“It means something to me,” she said, adding that she has a gay brother and gay friends. “I wanted to do something about it.”

Duty, a straight ally, attended an Equality Texas event a few months ago, learning that the state doesn’t offer protections against anti-LGBT job discrimination. Legislation has been filed for the current legislative session to add the statewide protections.

“When I found out that it was legal to discriminate against LGBT people in employment, I was like, that’s ridiculous,” Duty said. “We can’t change it in the state, but we can change it in our city. We can change it in our community.”

Duty then began her research on how to add the employment protections to the city of Waco’s nondiscrimination policy. She and a friend drafted a letter requesting that the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee recommend the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to City Council. The policy currently protects employees based on race, gender, color, religion, national origin, age and disability.

The letter will be read to the six-member committee Thursday, Jan. 24, and members will vote whether or not to recommend it to the City Council, which is comprised of five members and the mayor.

—  Dallasvoice

Students launch gay group at Baylor University

More than 50 students reportedly met last week to discuss forming an LGBT student group at Baylor University. (Baylor Lariat)

Patti Fink, a Baylor University alum who serves as president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, alerted us to this story from the Baylor Lariat newspaper about a new group for LGBT students at the Baptist school in Waco:

The group, named the Sexual Identity Forum, is in the process of applying to be an officially chartered student organization at Baylor, and its founding members expect a final decision on the chartering to be made before the end of the month.

Alvarado senior Samantha Jones, the organization’s president who affirmed during the meeting that she is openly gay, said she was motivated to start a discussion group because she believes the administration has not always been accepting of students with alternative sexual identities.

“I feel as though the student body in and of itself is very welcoming,” Jones said. “Everyone I’ve come out to or approached has been very welcoming and very compassionate and tolerant. I feel as though the high administration … refuses to recognize that there are gay students on campus, and they refuse to allow a group like this to exist.”

The story goes on to say that Baylor prohibits students from participating “in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching.” However, the university’s director of students services wouldn’t comment on whether the Sexual Identity Forum is likely to receive a charter.

This is a remarkable development at a school where Kenneth Starr is president and where, in the past, students have been expelled for being gay.

UPDATE: The group’s charter has been denied. Read more here.

—  John Wright

Anti-war activist and LGBT ally Cindy Sheehan takes controversial position on DADT repeal

Cindy Sheehan

Activist Cindy Sheehan came out against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Sort of.

Ever since I first met Cindy Sheehan in 2004, she has been controversial. She was the first Gold Star Mom — the mother of a fallen soldier — to come out publicly against the war in Iraq. When I interviewed her then, I asked what her goal was. At the time, her main focus was that what happened to her shouldn’t happen to another mother.

She rapidly became the center of the small anti-war movement. For her efforts, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

After she demanded a meeting with President George Bush, who refused to meet with her or any other Gold Star Mom, she camped out in a ditch off Prairie Chapel Road outside the Bush “ranch” in Crawford, about 19 miles from Waco.

“Camp Casey,” named after her son who was killed, moved from the ditch to Bush’s backdoor neighbor’s property. That neighbor couldn’t stand the president or his policies either.

In today’s Al Jezeera, Sheehan wrote, “Don’t go, don’t kill.” She makes the interesting argument that the gay rights movement, which is a human rights movement, shouldn’t measure progress based on anything related to the military. She emphasizes that she is as much a marriage-equality advocate as she is a peace activist.

She reasonably asks whether enacting the bill “is going to stop the current systemic harassment of gays in the military?”

Her choice of forum is as controversial as she is. Her opinion is interesting and worth debating. She’s really saying — of course gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve. And now that you have the right, don’t do it.

When Sheehan was in Dallas for the protest against the groundbreaking of the Bush Library, she told me she’s thinking of a run for president. She promised we’d be among the first to know when she makes her decision.

—  David Taffet

SMU drops 2 spots to No. 16 on Princeton Review’s list of most homophobic schools

The Princeton Review’s Annual College Rankings were released Monday, and SMU again appears on the list of the nation’s 20 least LGBT-friendly schools. However, after finishing at No. 14 for two consecutive years, SMU dropped two spots to No. 16.

Other Texas schools that made this year’s least LGBT-friendly list are the University of Dallas in Irving at No. 7, Baylor University in Waco at No. 11, and Texas A&M University-College Station at No. 17.

No Texas schools made the most LGBT-friendly list, which is led by Emerson College in Massachusetts, followed by Stanford University and New York University.

To view the full rankings, go here.

—  John Wright