Help our LGBTQ Students: Urge your U.S. Senators to vote YES on the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) as an amendment to Every Child Achieves and YES to the bill on the Senate floor the week of July 6th!
On the week of July 6th, it is expected that the Every Child Achieves Act, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), will come to the Senate floor for a vote, and when it does, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), sponsor of The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), will introduce it as an amendment. We need your help to urge your Senators to vote YES to the SNDA Amendment and to the Every Child Achieves bill.
Please reach your US Senators by clicking HERE (especially if Senators/states listed below) and use this message:
As your constituent and as a member of PFLAG, I urge you to vote YES on the Senate floor the week of July 6th when Sen. Al Franken introduces The Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 846; S. 439) as an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and to vote YES for the bill. SNDA was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) andin the House by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). and would establish a comprehensive Federal prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. America’s values are PFLAG’s values and that includes ensuring that our schools are safe for everyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Thank you if you are already a co-sponsor of this bill and please consider signing on if you have not yet,. Most importantly, please vote YES for SNDA as an amendment and YES for Every Child Achieves when each comes to the Senate floor for a vote the week of July 6th.
Note: Remember to specify your name, full address and to include your zip code.
Please be sure to act, especially if any of these listed are your Senators. We badly need, and are not sure we have, the following Senators’ votes on SNDA as an amendment when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote the week of July 6th:
For more information on SNDA, please visit pflag.org/safeschoolslegislation.
Marriage was at the top of every media list this week, of course. Click here for coverage of beautiful marriage visuals from across the country!
Equality Pioneers Speak at Logo’s Trailblazer Honors. A room full of pioneers for the LGBT community gathered on June 28th for Logo’s Trailblazer Honors, a celebration of the advances the LGBT community has made in equality and the people who have worked to make it happen. This year, PFLAG National partnered with Logo to honor Trailblazing parents, including PFLAG leaders Marsha Aizumi and Sheila Lopez, andMatthew Shepard Foundation founders Judy and Dennis Shepard. The evening’s other honorees included Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees founder Arsham Parsi, social influencer Connor Franta, and civil rights leader Bayard Rustin posthumously.
USA Network show ROYAL PAINS features trans actress, PFLAG PSA. Trans teen–and member of the extended PFLAG family–Nicole Maines made her acting debut on the June 23rd episode of the popularrUSA Network show ROYAL PAINS. The episode focused on the health and wellbeing of a trans teen, and also featured a brand new PSA about trans health awareness, featuring PFLAG.
Jim Obergefell will launch the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration.Organizers of the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration in Philadelphia, from July 2nd to 5th, announced that Jim Obergefell will launch the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration by laying a wreath at the Gay Pioneers historic marker.
Is It Time for the End of “AIDS”? On July 1st, Poz.com published an article rich with statistics and history that asks whether it’s time to take terminology to where HIV stands today.
We need to protect LGBT youngsters from harassment at school.Arliss Sturgulewski, a two-time GOP candidate for governor and a former Alaska State Senator for 14 years, discusses the necessity of the Student Non-Discrimination Act in an op-ed published July 1st. “No young person should have to fear harassment, discrimination or even physical abuse just because of who they are, particularly in our schools” Sturgulewski writes. “Ensuring the right to a safe and supportive learning environment is a nonpartisan issue if there ever was one.”
John Oliver Discusses Transgender Rights. On the June 28th episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver devoted his main segment to the indignities still faced by the transgender community, despite the various high-profile strides (Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover, Transparent’s Emmy win, Laverne Cox’s Madame Tussaud’s debut) made this year.
NYC Pride Hosts First Out Fluid Bisexual Grand Marshal. J. Christopher Neal worked as NYC Pride’s first out fluid bisexual grand marshal, one of four chosen for this year’s Pride March on June 28th. A bisexual educator and artist, Neal leads FluidBiDesign, an organization focused on creating safe spaces for “fluid men of African Descent” to have conversations on their fluid sexualities.
More than a dozen US Landmarks turn rainbow. After sunset on June 26th, following the Supreme Court decision upholding marriage equality, landmarks throughout the US turned rainbow in support of the SCOTUS decision and the LGBT community. The landmarks included the White House, Niagara Falls, the World Trade Center and others.
First out gay player welcomed in pro baseball game. Professional baseball welcomes its first out gay player in a minor league game on June 25th. Sean Conroy, a pitcher, took to the mound for the Sonoma Stompers and agreed to come out publicly ahead of his team’s LGBT pride night. While several professional baseball players have come out after retirement, 23-year-old Conroy is understood to be the first to come out and keep playing.
‘Cisgender’ added to Oxford English Dictionary. The term “cisgender” entered the pages of the historic dictionary for the first time on June 25th. Noting that the language of gender is changing and that the word has now entered common parlance, the dictionary defines cisgender as “designating a person whose sense of personal identity corresponds to the sex and gender assigned to him or her at birth”.
New York Declares Stonewall in a city landmark. Manhattan’s Stonewall Inn, the bar which was the site of 1969 protests that gave birth to LGBT rights movement, was declared a New York City landmark on June 23rd, making it the first time a place has been granted landmark protection because of its place in LGBT history. PFLAG New York City President Drew Tagliabue testified at the hearing at which this landmark status was approved. It is not the first time, however, that the site of an historic moment in LGBTQ has been honored: in 2013, at a special ceremony, an honorary plaque was placed on the Church of the Village (formerly the Duane Metropolitan Church), the site of the first PFLAG meeting on March 26, 1973.
State, National LGBT Groups Call For End To Government Displays Of Confederate Flag. Twenty-nineLGBT groups across the country said on June 23rd that the Confederate battle flag should not be displayed on the South Carolina capitol grounds or as part of any state flag. The groups joined a chorus of calls for the removal of the flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds in the wake of last week’s shooting deaths of nine black people in Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17th.
Trans swimmer joins Harvard men’s team. Trans man Schulyer Bailar has been welcomed onto the men’s swimming team at Harvard University. Bailer said in an interview on June 20th, “Harvard swimming as a whole has been incredible in this process, providing me with the amazing opportunity to be me and continue my transition.”
Out student athlete creates LGBT mentoring program. Rex Woodbury came out while an athlete at Dartmouth College, and struggled to reconcile his sexuality with his love of sport. He recently founded “Connect,” a service that pairs young LGBT people with mentors who can offer them advice and support.
Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide. On June 26th SCOTUS ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. “No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in the historic decision. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.” PFLAG National released a statement on the decision the same day.
Supreme Court upholds Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court on June 25th upheld President Obama’s health care overhaul law, saying its requirement that most Americans obtain insurance or pay a penalty was authorized by Congress’s power to levy taxes. The vote was 6-3. PFLAG National released a statement on the decision the same day.
Supreme Court upholds key tool for fighting housing discrimination. SCOTUS handed down a surprising ruling on June 25th when it upheld a key tool (i.e. disparate impact) used for more than 40 years to fight housing discrimination.The justices ruled 5-4 that under the Federal Housing Act, discriminatory practices that harm protected classes are prohibited, regardless of whether the discrimination is intentional. PFLAG National released a statement on the decision the same day.
U.S. Navy and Marine Corps attempt to limit separation of transgender service members; raise level to Asst. Sec. of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs to decide removal. On July 2nd–and taking effect immediately–both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps raised the bar on who can decide whether to remove a transgender servicemember to a senior civilian official. This change applies to personnel with a diagnosis or history of gender dysphoria, who identify as transgender, or who have taken steps to externalize the condition, effective immediately.
ICE issues guidance for trans immigrants in detention. On June 29th, the agency of the Department of Homeland Security responsible for detaining, housing and deporting undocumented immigrants released new guidance for a “respectful, safe and secure environment” for transgender people in immigration detention. The guidance spells out new instructions to update data systems, identification and processing and housing placement for transgender detainees.
VA confirms benefits for same-sex couples after marriage ruling. Following the Supreme Court of the U.S.’s decision in favor of same-sex marriage across the country, the Department of Veterans Affairs on June 29th confirmed that it’s ready to issue spousal benefits to gay, lesbian and bisexual veterans regardless of their state of residence.
Gay U.S. ambassador, husband prioritize human rights. U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster and his husband have met with local LGBT rights advocates several times since Brewster formally assumed the post in late 2013. Along with other foreign government ambassadors, they have decided to fly the Pride flag over their respective embassies in honor of Pride month despite controversy among some religious leaders in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.
Feds Order Federal Employee Health Plans To Cover Transgender Health Services. The federal government on June 23rd ordered federal employee health insurers to include transition-related health coverage for transgender employees in their plans. The change was made through the Office of Personnel Management’s issuance of a new “carrier letter” with instructions to federal health plan participating insurers.
Obama didn’t lift trans military ban for Pride. Despite growing calls from lawmakers and advocates to lift the ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces, President Obama didn’t announce a policy change on the issue during the June 24th LGBT Pride reception at the White House. The WH Press Secretary said implementation of a change like open trans service requires military leaders to complete a process when asked if the administration’s previously stated openness to the idea is incongruous with the military’s continued policy of expelling trans troops.
States Push Back on Supreme Court Marriage Equality Decision. Various states have pushed back against the June 26th SCOTUS decision upholding marriage equality, citing conflicting state laws, religious freedom, and paperwork issues for justification. On June 28th Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that local officials issuing marriage licenses may, under state or federal religious liberty protections, be able to refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples. In Mississippi, some state officials said marriages must wait for a lower court approval, while in Louisiana a 25-day waiting period was suggested for county clerks issuing marriage licenses. In Alabama, in more rural counties, clerks have protested the SCOTUS marriage ruling by stopped issuing marriage licenses for all couples..
California: California anti-LGBT Group Launches Anti-Trans Ballot Initiative. The anti-trans group “Privacy for All,” founded by the anti-LGBT Capitol Resources Institute received a title and summary on June 25th for their latest attempt to prohibit transgender people from using government facilities that match their gender identity. California Attorney General Kamala Harris named the bathroom policing initiative “Limits on Use of Facilities in Government Buildings and Businesses.”
Judge Strikes Down California’s Ballot Initiative To Kill Gays. A ballot initiative that calls for the wholesale execution of gays and lesbians was struck down on June 22nd by California judge Raymond M. Cadei who issued an order that declares the Sodomite Suppression Act “unconstitutional on its face.”
California set to launch first LGBT Studies class. Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts has made plans for California’s first LGBT class, which is set to launch this Fall. The class will consist of a semester on LGBT communities’ history and contributions as well as the June 26th SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage.
Massachusetts: Key Businesses Support New Campaign to Secure Nondiscrimination Protections. Some of the region’s and nation’s biggest businesses are supporting a new campaign aimed at updating Massachusetts’ nondiscrimination law to include public accommodations protections for transgender residents and visitors. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Google and Eastern Bank are among the corporations voicing their support today as part of the Freedom Massachusetts launch, along with our Greater Boston PFLAG chapter.
Mississippi: Transgender Teen Killed In Mississippi. Mercedes Williamson, 17, was found dead in a wooded area on June 2nd. She is the ninth confirmed transgender homicide victim in the United States this year.
New Jersey: Conversion Therapy Is Fraud, N.J. Court Rules. A New Jersey jury delivered a unanimous verdict on June 25th that the New Jersey–based nonprofit Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) violated the state’s consumer fraud protection laws by claiming it could “cure” clients of being LGBT. The Jewish group has been ordered to pay $72,400 to the plaintiffs, which represents three times the cost of JONAH’s “therapy,” in addition to the cost of subsequent legitimate therapy one plaintiff sought to overcome the damage done by JONAH’s efforts.
N.J. Legislature Passes Birth Certificate Reform Bill. Both chambers of the New Jersey Legislature on June 25th passed a bill amending New Jersey’s procedures for issuing new birth certificates for transgender or intersex individuals to reflect their correct gender. The bill allows people who have undergone a gender transition or wish to amend their birth certificate to reflect their correct gender — and in some cases, correct name — to obtain new, unmarked birth certificates containing that information.
New York: NY Senate Blocks Ban On LGBT Conversion Therapy, Transgender Rights Bill. Even though the NY legislative session was extended on June 20th, the State Senate did not vote on two LGBT bills, a ban on LGBT conversion therapy for minors, and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). The former would establish a ban on licensed medical providers practicing sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts on minors, while the latter would outlaw discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.
Tennessee: Hate crime charge dropped in Memphis Gay and Lesbian Center threats. A charge of civil rights intimidation has bebeen dropped against Charles Lee, a Memphis man who hand-delivered homophobic and other hate messages and bomb threats to the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center. The hate crimes charges were dropped and not pressed federally because the threat did not meet the standards set forth in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed into law in 2009 as the first fully inclusive federal law. Tennessee Code Annotated § 40-35-114, the Hate Crimes Penalty Enhancement Act of 2000, includes sexual orientation, but not gender identity or expression. Charles Lee pleaded guilty to harassment charges and was granted probation.
Washington: Mayor Murray proposes transgender-friendly restrooms across Seattle. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray introduced legislation on June 25th that would require all City-controlled and privately operated places of public accommodation to designate existing or future single-occupancy restrooms as all-gender facilities. “The transgender community deserves the dignity and respect that most people take for granted,” said Murray, who is openly gay.
Girl Scouts turn down donation after donor says it ‘can’t be used to support transgender girls.’ The Girl Scouts of Western Washington returned a $100,00 donation after being told it could not be used to support transgender children. Girl Scouts groups across the United States have come under fire for welcoming and supporting young transgender girls, but most have defiantly continued to do so. As of July 2nd, the Girl Scouts have raised over $288,000 in response and continue to receive support.
Mexico supreme court judge urges states to legalize gay marriage. On June 30th the Mexico Supreme Court urged a host of states to bring their laws into line following the top court’s green light to gay marriage. The court ruled in a decision on June 19th that laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman were unconstitutional. Until state legislatures change their statutes, however, the couples must still petition courts case by case.
U.S. Ambassadors Participate in Pride Celebrations Around the World. On the heels of SCOTUS’s historic ruling on marriage on June 26th that affects same-sex couples in the U.S. and all of its territories, U.S. Ambassadors across the globe celebrated Pride in countries where they are posted, from Chile, to London, Germany, Spain and beyond.
U.S. ‘concerned’ over Istanbul Pride crackdown. The State Department on June 29th said the U.S. is “concerned” over the police crackdown against Istanbul Pride participants. Turkish police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons against those who were taking part in the Pride march. The Istanbul LGBTI Pride Committee, which organized the event, in a press release said local authorities announced “at the last minute” that they had banned the event because of Ramadan.
British MPs and Lords form cross-party group on global LGBT rights. Members of Parliament and peers on June 23rd formed a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on global LGBT rights to tackle LGBT issues around the world. APPGs are informal cross-party groups, which have no official status within Parliament, but dedicate their time to working on specific issues across party lines.
Pitcairn Island, population 48, passes law to allow same-sex marriage. Pitcairn Island, a tiny island in the Pacific that is home to just 48 people, passed a law on June 22nd allowing same-sex marriage, but has no gay couples wanting to wed. First settled in 1790, Pitcairn is a British Overseas Territory that has some legal autonomy and is often considered the world’s smallest country by population.
Challenge to Northern Irish same-sex marriage ban goes to High Court. The challenge, which will go to the High Court this week, is brought by the first two couples to enter into civil partnerships in the UK. Currently same-sex couples can marry in England, Scotland and Wales, but attempts to legalize equal marriage in Northern Ireland have continually been blocked.
New Zealand may include intersex option on census. Dunedincity councillors on June 29th backed adding an intersex option to the next New Zealand census. Councillor Aaron Hawkins made the suggestion after Statistics New Zealand called for local governments to make suggestions for new additions to the upcoming 2018 census.
Mozambique officially makes gay sex legal. On June 29th, Mozambique passed a law making clear that security measures cannot be taken against those who ‘habitually engage in vices against nature.’ Lambda, the country’s LGBTI rights group, has pushed for the government to fully recognize same-sex relationships.
Moroccan Court Sentences Two Men Accused Of Homosexuality To Four Months In Jail. Two men charged with “violating public modesty” have been convicted and sentenced to four months in jail and a fine of up to around $135. These arrests follow the deportation of two activists with the Paris-based feminist organization Femen took a photograph while kissing topless with the slogan “In gay we trust” written on their bodies.
Kyrgyzstan’s anti-gay law passes key second reading. The bill, which passed its first reading in October 2014, and its second reading on June 24th, 2015, would ban the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual orientation”, and appears as a harsher version of Russia’s controversial law, signed by President Putin in October 2013.
High Colombian Official Urges Courts to OK Same-Sex Marriage. On June 28th, Colombia’s Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo urged Colombia’s courts to legalize same-sex marriage and support the right of such couples to adopt. “Equality is unstoppable and equality also will come to Colombia,” Cristo said as thousands from Colombia’s LGBT community staged a gay pride march in the capital.
Dear Policy Matters
Dear Policy Matters,
I enjoy using your guide to being a trans ally and new Our Trans Loved Ones… as resources for language, but is there a handy place to see some federal policy priorities that are specifically needed for transgender or gender-diverse people that others in our community might not have as priorities at this time?
Always Trans Inclusive
In a word, yes. The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) published on June 29th an update to A Blueprint for Equality: A Federal Agenda for Transgender People which includes the policy issues that NCTE prioritized since 2009, and it also shows where progress has occurred.
Some of the issues identified also affect LGB and ally people and families. But the focus for the publication has been and remains gaps in equality for transgender and gender diverse people, generally illuminating the more pronounced or broader gaps for people who identify as transgender than for their LGB community counterparts.
Following are topics from the new NCTE publication. You can reach the issue page that you seek by clicking the related topic: