- April 19, 2016
BREAKING: FOURTH CIRCUIT RULES IN FAVOR OF TRANS STUDENT IN DISCRIMINATION CASE: Today, a federal appeals court sided in favor of Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student in Virginia, overturning a lower court’s denial of Grimm’s claim and instructing the lower court to reconsider his lawsuit against his local school board for banning him from the boy’s bathroom. The judges ruled 2-1 in favor of Grimm, citing the U.S. Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a part of sex discrimination. This is a huge win for Grimm, as well as a clear message to states across the country facing proposed or passed legislation forcing transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity. This should count as an especially big wake-up call to fellow Fourth Circuit state North Carolina, which passed the deplorable HB2 in the dead of night last month. Today's decision does not undo all the discriminatory effects of HB2, but it does have an immediate impact on students. As a result of this ruling, the provision specifically relating to students is effectively nullified, meaning that schools should immediately reverse course and ensure they are providing students access to restrooms in accordance with their gender identity. Unfortunately, the other incredibly harmful provisions of the bill are not directly impacted, and so total repeal of HB2 continues to be critically important. The Tar Heel State is currently risking an estimated $4.5 billion in federal funding from the Department of Education. More from The Washington Post.
TENNESSEE’S ANTI-TRANS BILL WILL NOT BECOME LAW: Yesterday, Tennessee avoided the fate of North Carolina, as the sponsor of an outrageous Tennessee bill that would have forced transgender students to use restroom facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, pulled the discriminatory bill from consideration for this year. Tens of thousands of fair-minded Tennesseans; major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; country music stars; more than 60 CEOs and major business leaders; and HRC in partnership with local LGBT equality advocates at the Tennessee Equality Project, ACLU of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, had spoken out urging lawmakers to abandon the legislation. More from the Associated Press.
SAMANTHA BEE CALLS OUT TENNESSEE LAWMAKER’S HYPOCRISY IN NEW SEGMENT: After working as the longest-serving correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee has been using her new show Full Frontal to skewer the anti-LGBT laws circulating throughout the country. In her latest episode, she takes on Tennessee lawmaker Jeremy Durham, who despite being a vocal proponent of the state’s discriminatory bills on the grounds that transgender people may “harass women” in bathrooms, has in fact been recently punished for harassing his own female staff. The allegations against Durham have gotten so bad that the lawmaker was removed from the state capitol building and relocated to an entirely different office, labeled a “continuing risk” to women. Watch the full video here.
THE LATEST FALLOUT FROM NORTH CAROLINA:
- NATIONAL PEDIATRICIANS ASSOCIATION SLAMS HB2: The American Academy of Pediatrics, a nonprofit consisting of 64,000 pediatricians with specializations in infants, children, adolescents and young adults, has released a statement coming out in opposition of HB2, saying that it would harm the individuals pediatricians are entrusted to care for. The executive director for the organization said that "Pediatricians in North Carolina and across the country know what children need: they need the stability and support of nurturing adults… The bill recently signed by Gov. McCrory, and the flurry of similar bills that have been introduced in state legislatures this year, fails to meet children's most basic needs of validation and protection.” The doctors are calling for the repeal of HB2, stating that the needs of all doctors’ patients should be their first priority. Read the full statement.
- PEARL JAM AND BOSTON TAKE A STAND AGAINST HB2: NC Gov. Pat McCrory’s playlist is surely shrinking. Yesterday, legendary groups Pearl Jam and Boston became the latest music acts to announce that they are cancelling upcoming concerts in the Tar Heel State to protest the draconian anti-LGBT law recently signed by McCrory. They join a list of high profile stars including Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, Duran Duran and Ani DiFranco who’ve either cancelled concerts or spoken out against the bill at their shows. We’ve got “More Than A Feeling” this won’t be the last economic hit Gov. McCrory and North Carolina will take over HB2.
- NC STATE REP. WILL INTRODUCE BILL TO REPEAL HB2: Last week, North Carolina Rep. Billy Richardson penned an op-ed apologizing for his vote in favor of HB2. Now, he’s taking his opposition one step further by announcing plans to introduce legislation during next week’s special session that would repeal the terrible law entirely. Richardson, a Democrat, calls his bill “a commonsense approach to fixing” a “discriminatory law.” The bill proposes adding non-discrimination protections for North Carolinians based on sexual orientation and gender identity and will include provisions allowing people to file workplace discrimination claims in state court. More from The Advocate.
- NEW YORK TIMES TAKES ON “BATHROOM HYSTERIA” AND NORTH CAROLINA’S TERRIBLE EXAMPLE: Citing the “withering backlash against North Carolina for passing a discriminatory law against gay and transgender people last month,” the New York Times in a powerful editorial underscored what it called the “lunacy” driving other states to continue down the same destructive path. “It would stand to reason that lawmakers and governors in other states would think twice before peddling bills that dictate which restrooms transgender people can use,” the Times editorial board writes under the headline, Transgender Bathroom Hysteria, Con’t. “And yet, state legislators in Tennessee, Kansas, South Carolina and Minnesota are pushing similar absurd measures.” More from The New York Times.
- TRANSGENDER TEEN WRITES A MOVING LETTER TO NC GOV. MCCRORY: Skye Thomson, a 15-year-old transgender teen living in North Carolina, has written an open letter to Gov. McCrory, asking the governor to meet with him and reconsider the devastating, discriminatory effects of HB2. Thomson, a ninth-grader, was the only transgender student permitted to attend the debate on the bill last month, during which he spoke openly about his struggles with bullying and how this bill would make things worse for him in both at school and in public. Just one hour after Thomson spoke, HB2 was signed into law -- and McCrory has since admitted he spoke to no LGBT citizens about the bill before it was passed.
- BLUE DEVILS OR BLUE SAINTS?: In a statement released yesterday, Duke University officials urged full repeal of NC HB2, saying they “deplore in the strongest possible terms the new state law.” The statement went on to say, “We extend our concern and support to those who have been most directly affected -- the members of Duke’s LGBTQ+ community… We encourage anyone needing assistance to turn to the many support services that Duke offers.”
- NC DOCTORS COME OUT IN OPPOSITION OF HB2: A group of doctors specializing in endocrinology, the study of hormones, have signed a petition calling for the repeal of HB2, stating that the law flies in the face of common-sense medical practices. In addition to being blatantly anti-transgender, the physicians say they believe that the law could also harm babies who are born with chromosomes that do not match their physical anatomy. This imbalance is often due to abnormalities in anatomic development, genetic mutations, chromosome abnormalities or genetic mutations. In the case of these babies, gender assignment may take years, the doctors say. They could also require reassignment far later in life due to hormonal imbalances. The doctors petition that calls on Gov. McCrory to repeal the bill they feel “creates unnecessary hardship for these vulnerable youth.”
- NORTH CAROLINA’S ANTI-TRANS LAW A CATASTROPHE FOR PUBLIC HEALTH: Anti-transgender laws like the one recently signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in North Carolina will “compound the catastrophic health outcomes among an already vulnerable population,” exacerbating the alarming health epidemic that exists among transgender people, two researchers at the University of North Carolina write in the Washington Post. Andrew Reynolds and Shoshana Goldberg cite study after study showing the terribly deleterious public health effects of laws including those preventing transgender people, including youth, from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Even if courts ultimately overturn anti-LGBT laws, public health is degraded by negative messages sent to the LGBT community, they write. One study cited by researchers includes this horrifying statistic: 41 percent of transgender Americans attempt suicide at some point in their lives -- compared to 1.6 percent of the general population. Read more from The Washington Post.
#SAYHERNAME, ADVOCATES MOURN THE DEATH OF KEYONNA BLAKENEY: Police have identified Keyonna Blakeney, a 22-year-old transgender woman of color as the murder victim found Saturday, April 16, in Montgomery County, Maryland. She is at least the eighth transgender person killed this year, all of whom have been people of color. Blakeney is the second Black transgender woman to be killed in Montgomery County since last October. In October 2015, Zella Ziona, who was just 21, was killed during an argument near a shopping center. While few details about Blakeney’s killing have been reported, police found her body at the Red Roof Inn on Shady Grove Road and say she died from trauma to her upper body. HRC extends our deepest condolences to Ms. Blakeney’s family and friends. For more information on addressing anti-transgender violence, visit hrc.org/trans-violence.
TED CRUZ IS UNWILLING TO DIRECTLY ANSWER GAY REPUBLICAN’S QUESTION: In a Good Morning America town hall on Monday, candidate Cruz three times dodged questions from a gay Republican man pressing the candidate on how he would protect LGBT people from discriminatory measures being advanced in many states. Todd Calogne, who described himself as a “lifelong Republican,” has been married to his husband for two years. He asked how Cruz would protect Calogne and his husband from the recent slew of anti-LGBT measures should Cruz become president. Cruz, however, not only failed to answer Calogne’s question, but couldn’t seem to understand how the measures could possibly be discriminatory against LGBT couples. Despite being pressured by Calogne and the Good Morning America hosts, Cruz maintained that these bills are about “protecting religious liberty” and even suggested that it should be up to the states, not the federal government, to decide if Calonge’s marriage is legal. More from ThinkProgress.
MORE MAJOR CORPORATIONS URGE MISSOURI LAWMAKERS TO OPPOSE SJR 39: More than 60 executives from major corporations, including Time Warner Cable, T-Mobile US, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Etsy, Zynga and others have now signed onto an open letter addressed to Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson. In the letter, the CEOs and business leaders urge state lawmakers to oppose Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 39. The ballot measure proposal goes far beyond protecting the right of free exercise of one’s religion. While shrouded in language framed as prohibiting the state government from making funding or tax status decisions based on an organization’s views on marriage that are driven by religious belief, in reality it opens the door to discrimination against same-sex couples, their families and those who love them. In addition to the major CEOs and business leaders signing onto this letter, the discriminatory proposal has received widespread condemnation from fair-minded Missourians and businesses throughout the state, including Governor Jay Nixon, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, Dow Chemical Company, Monsanto, and others. The St. Louis Regional Chamber said the proposal is “counter to MO values & will have negative economic consequences.” Despite a historic filibuster by Senate Democrats attempting to stop the anti-equality majority from moving the resolution forward, the Senate passed the measure in early March, and it is now pending consideration in the House of Representatives.
NEW JERSEY DISCUSSES STATEWIDE POLICY FOR TRANS STUDENTS: Multiple public school districts throughout New Jersey have been listening to the needs of their transgender students’ and have implementing policies allowing them to use the bathroom and locker room consistent with their gender identity. But advocates believe New Jersey should go farther by enacting a statewide policy protecting transgender and gender nonconforming students. Such a policy would help ensure all districts would be held accountable to the same standards -- eliminating the current patchwork of protections for LGBT students in New Jersey’s schools. More from NewJersey.com
FLORIDA’S BAN ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY IS COSTING THEIR TAXPAYERS: Florida’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage is going to end up costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars after a judge ruled that the state was obligated to pay legal fees of lawyers who challenged the state’s law. The ban was overturned when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. Lawyers who had been working diligently to strike down the ban prior to the SCOTUS ruling must be reimbursed by the state for their fees, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ordered. The amount is yet to be determined, but one lawyer filed an estimate last year that would pay his firm $300,000 in fees.
AROUND THE WORLD
IRELAND’S BLOOD BAN REVISITED: The Irish Blood Transfusion Service Board is set to review its discriminatory ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men this week, and will likely reach a decision before the end of the month. Last December, the Food and Drug Administration formally lifted the United States’ three-decade old ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, but issued new guidance that will require them to undergo a one year period of abstinence from same-sex sexual activity. While an improvement, this remains an unacceptable solution that stigmatizes LGBT people while restricting the blood supply. HRC responded to the policy, saying it isn’t justified in light of current scientific research. The American Red Cross, America's Blood Centers and the American Association of Blood Banks have characterized the lifetime blood ban as medically and scientifically unwarranted as far back as 2006. More here from Gay News Network.
Vice celebrates how Scotland has become one of the most LGBT-friendly nations in the world, with the majority of their mainstream political parties headed by leaders identifying as LGBT… BBC discusses how the Welsh Liberal Democrats in Wales are revamping their country’s education system to specifically include teachings around sexuality and gender… Teen Vogue gives you everything you need to know about transgender bathroom rights… The Chicago Tribune expects an Illinois county to hit 10,000 marriage licenses for same-sex couples this summer… and The Atlantic delves into the group of doctors who would use “religious exception” as a means to not treat LGBT patients.