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Friday, March 03, 2017

LGBTQ News Compilation-March 3

Art exhibit on resistance to Nazis has special meaning now

Dallas, TX - Bullying and bravery are the themes of Holocaust Heroes: Fierce Females, an exhibit now on display at the Museum of Biblical Art and National Center for Jewish Art in Dallas. It features a series of leather collages created by lesbian artist Linda Stein that honor women who were heroes of the Holocaust. “How do you keep your self-respect and survive?” Stein’s work asks. The women she honors in her artistic creations maintained their self-respect, though some didn’t survive.

For example, Hannah Senech joined the British army and parachuted behind enemy lines to rescue Jews who were being transported to Auschwitz. She was captured, tortured and then killed by firing squad. Another woman featured in the exhibit is Ruth Gruber, a photographer who may be more responsible for bringing images of the Holocaust to the U.S. than any other journalist. She survived the war, but just recently died at the age of 105. The Nazis would have described her work as “fake news.”

Stein’s work, though created some time ago, is more relevant than ever in the current political environment, where white supremacists are treated as just a normal part of the political spectrum, rather than being called out as Neo-Nazis and condemned for their hatred. Stein pointed out what she calls “the four Bs” that allowed the rise of Nazism, adding that she sees many parallels in today’s world. For instance, she said, the Holocaust began with bullying. Bullies thrive on having a class of people that they can attack. While only a small portion of the population in Nazi Germany were the bullies or the bullied, most people stood on the sidelines and allowed the bullies to escalate their terror into violence. Those are the one’s Stein calls the bystanders. But what ultimately defeated the Nazis were the brave, Stein added — those who stood up to the violence, hatred and oppression. During the current administration, Stein said she sees women as once again being heroes. The first resistance to the Trump administration came in the form of the women’s marches held across the country the day after Trump’s inauguration. In a time when immigrants — Muslims in particular — are being bullied in many of the same ways Jews in Nazi Germany were bullied, Stein’s exhibit is a valuable commentary. (Dallas Voice – David Taffet at dallasvoice.com)


Trump ends pro Trans student guidance issued by Obama

Washington, D.C. - The Trump White House announced on February 22 that it will reverse the Obama administration's guidelines allowing Transgender students to use restrooms that correspond to their gender identity. Trump had to intervene personally in the issue to support the views of new Attorney General Jeff Sessions and overcome the reluctance of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to a report in the New York Times. Sessions is known to oppose civil rights protections for LGBT people. Trump sided with him, the Times sources said, and DeVos, faced with the choice of resigning or defying the president, agreed to go along.

White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said the administration was pressed to act now because of the pending US Supreme Court case, Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board. (See next news note.) “The president has maintained for a long time that this is a states' rights issue and not one for the federal government,” Spicer said, echoing Sessions' views. “I think that all you have to do is look at what the president's view has been for a long time, that this is not something the federal government should be involved in, that this is a states' rights issue.”

Soon after Trump's decision was announced, hundreds of protestors gathered outside the White House, waving rainbow flags and chanting 'No hate, no fear, Trans students are welcome here!' Dallas Voice reported that the evening after Trump issued the executive order allowing discrimination against transgender students in schools, about 150 people gathered in Belo Gardens across from the Earle Cabell federal building in Dallas to protest the order. All of the speakers at the rally were transgender. “We’re not going back in the closet,” Ethan Avanzino told the crowd. “We’re not going into the wrong restrooms.” Gavin Grimm responded to the news by joining the White House protesters. “I've faced my share of adversaries in rural Virginia. I never imagined that my government would be one of them. We will not be beaten down by this administration,” he said. (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew & Dallas Voice at sgn.org & dallasvoice.com)


...And Trans rights now fully up to the Supreme Court

Washington, D.C. – In C & M Health Law, David Didier Johnson analyzes recent federal court decisions addressing the rights of Transgender students and patients under Obama Care and Title IX of the federal education law and concludes that the Supreme Court is likely to settle these issues when on October 8 it agreed to hear the case of Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board. In that case the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled that discrimination based on gender identity was prohibited under Title IX. Although the Justice Department is not a party in the case, the Obama administration had filed a letter in support of Virginia Transgender boy and high school student Gavin Grimm's lawsuit. That letter has now been withdrawn by Sessions.

The Obama Care law prohibits entities that receive federal funds for health activities or programs from discriminating on the grounds prohibited by Title IX.  Title IX generally prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex by recipients of federal education assistance. Title IX, however, permits federal fund recipients to set up “separate living facilities for the different sexes. But in recent years, federal agencies increasingly began to interpret sex discrimination laws as encompassing gender identity.  In May 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wrote that “Section 1557’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity.” In April 2014, the Department of Education (DOE) issued guidance stating that “Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity.”  In January 2015, the DOE wrote a transsexual rights advocate stating that “[w]hen a school elects to separate or treat students differently on the basis of sex ... a school generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity. In September 2015 and May 2016, HHS issued proposed and final rules which provided that discrimination on the basis sex encompasses gender identity. The DOE and HHS pronouncements led to a flurry of lawsuits, which reached opposite conclusions.

The Supreme Court’s pending decision in Gloucester is likely to settle whether discrimination on the basis of sex in Title IX (and likely Title VII) and their implementing agency regulations and guidance includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity.  The nationwide injunctions issued by the Texas district court are likely to have the effect of further slowing down litigation on this matter as well – at least until the Supreme Court issues its ruling.  And some courts may be receptive to motions to stay cases regarding gender identity until Gloucester and the nationwide injunctions are resolved. (C & M Health Law - David Didier Johnson at

https://www.cmhealthlaw.com/2017/02/waiting-for-the-supremes-high-courts-decision-in-gloucester-county-to-determine-validity-of-aca-section-1557-gender-identity-and-transgender-services-rules/)


Italy's anti-bias chief quits after gay sex club scandal

Rome, Italy - Reuters reports that the head of Italy's anti-discrimination office resigned on February 20 after accusations that government funds meant to promote diversity projects and tackle racism had been earmarked for gay sex clubs masquerading as cultural centers. Francesco Spano quit just hours after an investigative TV program showed his department had authorized funding of up to 55,000 euros ($58,400) each for at least three such clubs.

The TV show, called The Hyenas, visited the three businesses and found they housed male prostitutes and offered their members so-called "dark rooms" for sexual encounters. Opposition parties called on the government to explain its funding program.

Rightist leader Giorgia Meloni said the anti-discrimination office (UNAR) should be shut immediately. "Not one more euro of tax payers' money should be thrown away on paying their salaries," she wrote on her Facebook page. The government said in a statement that while UNAR would stay open,

Spano had resigned "out of respect" for the work his office was carrying out. (Reuters - Crispian Balmer at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-italy-discrimination-idUSKBN15Z23A?il=0)


Movie about lesbian mother and her daughter wins Teddy

Berlin, Germany – The Taiwan News reports that the documentary "Small talk" by Taiwanese filmmaker Hui-chen Huang, an intimate portrait of the relation between herself and her lesbian mother, won the Best Documentary at the 2017 Teddy Awards, which could not be more timely given the recent parliamentary steps towards the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan. “We come from Taiwan, a small but beautiful island, which may soon become the first country in Asia with same-sex marriage this year. This award is the best gift for those who have been fighting for the marriage equality,” said director Huang in her acceptance speech.

The documentary is a letter from Huang to her mother, who silently suffered from an abusive relationship that arose from a forced marriage in Taiwan in the 1970s, as well as a rejection of her sexual orientation by society and gradual estrangement from her two daughters. It took Huang almost 20 years to finish the film. After coming across of the form of film making called documentary in 1998, Huang realized that there is a way for her to tell her own story to the world, and talk about what is it like to be a child with a lesbian mother.

The Teddy Award is an international film award for films with LGBT topics, presented by an independent jury as an official award of the Berlin International Film Festival (the Berlinale)."Small talk" was selected for the Festival Panorama Section, which drew a lot of attention and favorable review. The film is the first documentary of children who grew up with gay parent that recording their intersection and daily lives, which also nominated for the best documentary and best editing award of the Golden Horse in 2016. (The Taiwan News - Maggie Huang at http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3098070)


LGBT anti-bias law proposed for Bowling Green, KY

Bowling Green, KY - After six years of organizing and city hall visits by Bowling Green Fairness supporters, City Commissioner Slim Nash introduced a LGBT Fairness Ordinance for the first time at the City Commission meeting Tuesday, Feb. Commissioner Nash's proposed ordinance would update Bowling Green's Civil Rights statute in two key ways: it would add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as protected classes in existing employment and housing discrimination protections, and it would add a new section on public accommodations discrimination protections, which has been wholly missing from the Bowling Green Code of Ordinances for all protected classes, including disability, sex, race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Since the Bowling Green Fairness movement began in 2011, hundreds of residents have attended City Commission meetings to call for passage of a Fairness Ordinance with no response from Mayor Bruce Wilkerson or the City Commissioners. In 2015, more than 100 local businesses signed on to "Fairness on Fountain Square," calling for LGBT discrimination protections, and more than 1,000 Bowling Green residents signed petitions asking for consideration of the ordinance.

Currently eight Kentucky cities protect LGBT people from employment, housing, and public accommodations discrimination, including Covington, Danville, Frankfort, Lexington, Louisville, Midway, Morehead, and the small Appalachian town of Vicco. Bowling Green remains the state's largest city without an LGBT Fairness Ordinance. (Bowling Green Fairness Coalition Press Release)


New Jersey hockey team hosted its first LGBT night

Newark, NJ - The New Jersey Devils celebrated the National Hockey League's Hockey is for Everyone program with it’s first-ever LGBT night.  Pride Night took place Feb. 27 at the Devils' home rink, the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The Devils took on the Montreal Canadians.

The event was staged in partnership with You Can Play, Newark Gay Pride and The Essex County Reaching Adolescents in Need (RAIN) Foundation, all of which the team fundraised for throughout the evening. LGBT people and their allies were invited to a pre-game networking social at the Cure Club inside the venue. The mixer included remarks by special guests Newark Gay Pride President Sharronda Wheeler and You Can Play Brand Ambassador David Farber. Tickets to the social included admission to the game.

During the game, the Devils Den store sold Pride Night T-shirts, which featured the team's logo in rainbow colors; a portion of shirt sales will benefit Newark Gay Pride. Guests also purchased 50/50 raffle tickets to benefit the RAIN Foundation, which provides emergency housing for LGBT people. Players used sticks with rainbow tape during the game warm-up, which fans bid on after the game; proceeds from the auction will also support the beneficiaries. (Philadelphia Gay News – Jen Colletta at epgn.com)


Canadian top court to hear Christian law school appeal

Ottawa, Canada – The Calgary Herald reports that the Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear two appeals involving a British Columbia Christian university’s efforts to have future graduates from its proposed law school accredited as lawyers. The cases pit gay and lesbian rights against religious mandates.

The dispute stems from Trinity Western University’s so-called community covenant, which bans sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage and which critics say discriminates against people in the LGBTQ community who are looking to enter the legal profession. The university won in British Columbia, where an appeals court overturned a law society refusal to accredit its graduates, but lost in Ontario, where the law society refused accreditation.

The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society lost twice in court against Trinity Western and has said it doesn’t plan to appeal. As is its custom, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for deciding to hear the cases. (The Calgary Herald at http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/national/supreme+court+hear+appeals+about+christian+university+school/12972207/story.html)

Beyond the Beltway

Beyond the Beltway

Compiled by Jim Becker

These news notes have been compiled, with permission, from the online version of various newspapers and other websites. We thank these publications for allowing us to bring you their news stories. Usually the reports have been significantly edited and you can read the full story by going to the website mentioned following the item. Comments are strictly the opinions of Jim Becker and not of Baltimore Outloud or Pride Media.

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