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Friday, September 01, 2017

LGBTQ News Compilation-September 1

Trump moves to implement Trans military ban in 6 months

Washington, DC - The White House issued a two-and-a-half-page memo on August 23, ordering Secretary of Defense James Mattis to enact Donald Trump's policy barring Trans troops within six months. It was the first official action on Transgender military service since Trump's notorious July 26 tweets saying he would ban Trans people from the military. At the time of the tweets, the ACLU and other LGBT rights groups invited Trans service people to call on their legal services, and lawsuits are expected to follow once the Pentagon issues its rules.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House memo allows Mattis to consider “deployabaility” as a legal means to determine whether to discharge Trans service members from the military. In other words, if Trans service people are able to serve in a war zone, or participate in military exercises, then the Pentagon can keep them in the military. A 2016 Rand Corporation study found that almost all currently serving Transgender military personnel are deployable. On the other hand, officials who spoke to WSJ about the White House memo said it also gives Mattis the power to turn away Transgender people seeking to join the military, and to halt spending on medical treatment for those currently serving.

LGBT activists denounced the new Trump memo as unfair and based on bias rather than facts. “Transgender people are just as deployable as other service members,” Sue Fulton, former president of the LGBT military organization Sparta, told WSJ. “Other service members may undergo procedures when they are at home base, just as other service members schedule shoulder surgery or gall bladder surgery,” she said, adding that there were no “ongoing treatments” for transgender individuals that would cause them to be nondeployable. “Thus there's no difference between the deployability of transgender service members” and others, Fulton added. (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at sgn.org)


Gay pro Trump group banned from Charlotte Pride to protest

Charlotte, NC - Looks like we haven’t heard the last of the Deplorable Pride group, who support President Donald Trump. The group was blocked from participating in the Charlotte Pride parade Sunday, August 27. They hoped to have a float, which would have included a Melania Trump impersonator. Instead, the group is going to hold a protest march “against intolerance” to coincide with the parade, beginning half an hour before it starts and stopping along the route to stop and be seen.

A Charlotte Pride spokesperson defended its decision on Friday, The Charlotte Observer reports, saying “the nonprofit has the right to exclude any group it feels does not reflect the parade’s values of welcoming groups on the fringes of American society, including undocumented immigrants.” “In the past, we have made similar decisions to decline participation from other organizations espousing anti-LGBTQ religious or public policy stances,” Charlotte Pride said in a statement. “Charlotte Pride envisions a world in which LGBTQ people are affirmed, respected, and included in the full social and civic life of their local communities, free from fear of any discrimination, rejection, and prejudice.

Deplorable Pride issued a statement reprinted here in part: “Join us in Charlotte North Carolina on August 27th. Come and show your support for your fellow Trump supporters who are LGBT and are being persecuted by their own gay community. Help us show them that WE ALL STAND UNITED! … We will have items for you to make signs or you can bring your own. This will be a non-confrontational peaceful demonstration showing that you stand with your fellow Trump supporters. . . Please help us show that intolerance is not acceptable. Deplorable Pride and Carolinas for Trump will be hosting this event. (Q Notes Online – Jeff Taylor at goqnotes.com)


“Stop the Fags” poster in Melbourne causes outrage

Melbourne, Australia - The appearance of an anti-LGBT poster campaign in Melbourne that used questionable statistics to denigrate gay families has many in Australia up in arms as the country is poised to have a postal vote on the national legalization of same-sex marriage. The poster at the center of the controversy features a two menacing figures brandishing rainbow belts as if to punish a child that cowers below them. Above the child bold letters read: "Stop The Fags." Equally disturbing are the claims the poster makes: "92% of children raised by Gay Parents are abused... 51% have depression... 72% are obese"."

The Daily Mail reported that the aforementioned statistics came from a discredited 2016 study by Reverend Paul Sullings from the Catholic University of America. The Guardian noted that despite the poster's message the vast majority of studies show children with LGBT parents are no worse off than those with heterosexual parents.

According to Hit.com, long-time Australian LGBT rights advocate Rodney Croome was opposed to the government putting the marriage issue up for popular vote. "We have long warned the Government that a plebiscite or postal vote on marriage equality would amplify extremist and hateful views - yet the Prime Minister assured us of a respectful debate," Croome said. "It is now incumbent on the Prime Minister, who initiated the postal vote campaign, to take responsibility and denounce anti-LGBTI vilification like this poster." According to Bloomberg, a poll taken in 2016 showed 64 percent of respondents back same-sex marriage. (Bay Windows at baywindows.com)


Critics say Philly administration stereotypes some gay bars

Philadelphia, PA – in an article about dress codes in some Center City bars, Philadelphia Gay News reported that some critics recently blasted the Kenney administration for allegedly stereotyping LGBT bars in the Gayborhood as having racist practices and requiring 11 of them to attend anti-bias training. Critics questioned whether city officials deliberately ignored racist practices at Center City bars that don’t specifically cater to the LGBT community.

Jeffrey Sotland, co-owner of Tabu, an LGBT sports bar in Center City, said Tabu was among 11 LGBT bars required by the city to undergo antibias training. “We were never found to have done anything wrong, but we undertook all the training because there’s nothing wrong with the training,” Sotland told PGN. “But there’s an absolute double-standard if the city doesn’t force [other bars] to undergo anti-bias training. The city was under attack. They addressed the situation to appease a part of the community by requiring 11 LGBT bars to undergo anti-bias training. But don’t hold me to a higher standard than non-LGBT bars. Hold me to the same standard.”

A spokesperson for the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations issued this statement: After noting that certain dress codes could end up being discriminatory, the statement added, “ . . . The subject of our Oct. 25, 2016, hearing was discrimination in the gayborhood and within Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community and institutions.  It was spurred on by the I Candy incident and other concerns raised by members of the LGBTQ community.  At the hearings, we heard from many who complained about ‘gayborhood’ bars. The focus was on the bars, clubs, restaurants and non-profits that were mentioned, and mistreatment that had largely gone ignored or unaddressed.  That is how the bars, clubs, and restaurants we trained were identified.  Again, PCHR is here to listen and assist and we encourage people to contact us around issues of discrimination and bias. If we are not advised, we will not know.” (Philadelphia Gay News – Tim Cwiek at epgn.com)


New app to connect LGBTQ patients and doctors

Philadelphia, PA - Phil Williams recalled his experience after telling a doctor he was gay around age 11. “I was looking for someone to talk to and the response that I got was that I could be referred to someone else. . .[I]t was perceived as, ‘This is a problem to be fixed’ when all I was looking for was a word of encouragement, being told, ‘It’s OK.’” Williams, along with his colleagues and LGBT allies Naveen Jain and Jun Jeon, aims to prevent LGBT patients from having negative experiences with SpectrumScores, a web-based application. The three developers, all of whom will enter their second year as University of Pennsylvania medical students in the fall, created the app to help patients find LGBT-friendly providers.

Jain, 23, said users will find specific providers ranked based on “SpectrumScores,” a system made up of four different components: welcoming environment, inclusive policies, LGBT-specific knowledge and an aggregation of the other three rankings. Users can rate the providers based on aspects such as proper pronoun usage, unbiased interviews about sexual histories and overall knowledge on LGBT needs such as PrEP, hormone therapy and gender-confirmation surgery. This information will create a score from 1-5 to aid patients in their search. Additionally, patients can filter providers based on spoken languages and accepted insurance. The team intends to reach out to providers with low scores and provide concrete suggestions for how they can improve their LGBT competency.

The team has already begun winning accolades, such as the Audience Choice Award at Sling Health’s National Demo Day. The website is expected to launch by the end of summer, with a mobile app to follow. “We really see the primary purpose of the app to connect LGBT patients to not just [providers] who won’t be negative [toward LGBT patients] but to the best providers,” Williams said. Visit https://spectrumscores.kickoffpages.com/ for more information on SpectrumScores’ upcoming launch. (Philadelphia Gay News - Jeremy Rodriguez at epgn.com)


Trans woman running for Texas state senate seat

Dallas TX - Pam Curry is one of two Democratic candidates running for the Texas Senate District 8 seat that includes a small chunk of Dallas north of Forest Lane at Central Expressway. The seat is currently held by Van Taylor, a Republican who served for one term. He’s giving up the seat to make a run for Congress. Curry, who is transgender, has an opponent from Collin County in the Democratic primary, so just winning the primary makes this an uphill fight. “I know from the get-go, I live on the Dallas side,” she said. “It’s a long shot.”

Healthcare is Curry’s primary issue. “Healthcare was crappy before the ACA, remained crappy, and unless we do something about it, it’s going to remain crappy,” Curry said. She believes Texas should expand healthcare coverage by accepting Medicaid money to help cover more people in the state. Curry also supports quality public education. She graduated from Berkner High School in Richardson, where she received what she described as a well-funded, quality education, adding, “So it can be done.”

Curry is HIV-positive and has been doing healthcare advocacy work for years. She organized busloads of people to go to Austin to lobby the Texas Legislature to become part of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Today, the ADAP program obtains HIV medications at a lower, negotiated price and supplies them to people living with HIV who are uninsured or whose insurance won’t cover the medication. “If Texas developed a program to deal with chronic health problems and focused on keeping people healthy and on the job, it would cost our healthcare system less, lower insurance premiums, and people would take less time off work,” Curry said. Curry is one of a growing number of LGBT candidates to throw her hat in the ring for public office. To prepare, she’s taking a class on running a campaign given by Emily’s List. She said regardless of how the primaries turn out, she hopes people get out and vote in the general election. (Dallas Voice – David Taffet at dallasvoice.com)


Is verbal consent needed at sex positive spaces?

Toronto, Canada – After describing an incident at a fetish party involving a man continuously groping him in the coat check-out line and outrageously refusing to take no despite repeated rebuffs, Aeryn Pfaff writes in Xtra, “I like to party in sex-positive spaces in Toronto, where I live . . The vibes and the atmosphere are less uptight at these parties’ you meet open-minded, chill people, and you often hear music styles you might not hear at other LGBT parties. Wearing leather and other gear is fun and provides a nice relief from the way we have to act in the puritanical outside world. But I’m not a fan of non-consensual groping.

“Of course, cruising has a long history of nonverbal flirtation and cues that emerged during decades of gay oppression, when it was dangerous to ask others outright if they wanted to hook up. However, as newer generations integrate into LGBT scenes and social norms shift to prioritize clear consent, many of us interpret these non-verbal actions as non-consensual or even harassing behavior.

Young people are very conscious about consent in a way that was rarely discussed, publicized or politicized in the past. Many of us also have the luxury of verbally expressing our desire and lust without persecution. While there are aspects of our cruising culture that can be considered tradition, and therefore deserve some respect, I would argue that grabbing someone’s dick without any prior interaction shouldn’t fall under that banner. Just because you’re in a sex-positive space doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all where consent goes out the window. Just because people are at these events wearing sexy outfits is not an invitation for anyone to be groped. [Editor’s Note: According to this abridged opinion piece, the mores among some younger gay men dictate affirmative consent to touching even in sex playgrounds where groping is often an expected common occurrence. This is certainly a change I would not have expected! JB.] (Xtra - Aeryn Pfaff at https://www.dailyxtra.com/can-we-talk-about-groping-in-sex-positive-gay-spaces-77832)


Texas anti-Trans bathroom bill fails for now

Austin, TX - North Carolina’s House Bill 2 may have been repealed in name, but its legacy lives on in imitation legislation pushed by conservative lawmakers in other states. The Texan version of the infamous “bathroom bill” was left unheard when the state’s House of Representatives ended its special session — but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick hasn’t given up the issue. “You know why it’s going to be back next session? Because the people will demand it,” Patrick told reporters after the legislative session concluded. “The issue is not going to go away.”

Despite Patrick’s claims about the people’s demands, even Republican leaders in the Texas legislature have expressed opposition to perpetuating efforts to dictate LGBTQ freedoms. Like HB2, the Texas bill requires public bathrooms and facilities to be accessed according to gender assigned at birth and nullifies all local anti-discrimination laws. It’s a repetition not lost on Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, a moderate Republican who spoke against the measure. “Why would Texas, after seeing the example in North Carolina, want to walk headfirst into a giant cactus? I think it’s a good question and I hope that we don’t go there,” Straus said, alluding to a North Carolina newspaper editorial.

Supporters of the Texas bill use the same line of defense as HB2 supporters did, claiming the measure would protect women and children from bathroom assault. Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller condemns this argument as “telling lies to justify passing laws that discriminate against people simply because of who they are.” “This legislation has never been about protecting women in public restrooms. That’s why organizations that advocate for victims of sexual assault have strongly opposed it,” Miller told The Austin American-Statesman. “We’re here to say Texans across the state won’t rest until the final gavel — and beyond that, we won’t rest until our leaders recognize that discrimination is reprehensible.” Corporate opposition to the discriminatory legislation has been shouted from the rooftops, too. (Q Notes Online Maria Domingues at goqnotes.com)


Lambda Legal sues Feds to get info on trans policy retreat

New York City, NY - Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on August 22 to compel the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to release information about their decision to withdraw guidance detailing the protections transgender students have under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans discrimination in education on the basis of sex. After the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice rescinded the guidance in February, Lambda Legal filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for documents and communications on the decision to withdraw the guidance. The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice have failed to comply with the FOIA requests and have not released a single document to Lambda Legal.

“The Departments of Education and Justice pulled the rug out from under transgender students, leaving them even more vulnerable to harassment and abuse. We need to know why,” said Susan Sommer, Associate Legal Director and Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal. “Transparency and accountability are cornerstones of our country's democracy, and the Freedom of Information Act is a vital part of citizens' ability to understand how the government works and hold politicians accountable. The Departments of Education and Justice cannot be allowed to flout those ideals, to devise policies behind closed doors with terrible consequences for transgender schoolchildren nationwide.”

On February 22, 2017, the Departments of Education and Justice sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to public school districts withdrawing the guidance issued the previous year. Lambda Legal filed FOIA requests on March 13, 2017, for documents related to the decision. Issued in 2016 during President Obama's Administration, the guidance reaffirmed that Title IX's ban on sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity and clarified for schools and districts their responsibilities to protect transgender students under Title IX. In addition to requiring schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, the guidance provided clarification on name and pronoun use, privacy, dress codes and protection of students from bullying and harassment. (Seattle Gay News at sgn.org)

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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