NEARLY 800 PARENTS OF TRANS CHILDREN SIGN LETTER TO TRUMP CONDEMNING ADMIN MOVE UNDERMINE PROTECTIONS FOR TRANS STUDENTS: In response to the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement that it will no longer challenge a nationwide hold on protections for transgender students, nearly 800 parents of transgender children sent a letter to President Donald Trump condemning the decision and calling on his administration to fully enforce federal civil rights laws. The letter, signed by parents from 45 states plus Washington, D.C., was organized by HRC and its newly formed Parents for Transgender Equality Council, a coalition of the nation’s leading parent-advocates working for equality and fairness for transgender people. “Just 48 hours after the confirmation of his anti-equality attorney general, Donald Trump's administration directly attacked LGBTQ equality and took aim at the rights of transgender youth,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This disgraceful action exposes transgender students to harassment and discrimination and emboldens bullies from classrooms to state legislatures. These 781 courageous parents are asking that the federal government protect their children at school, something that all families deserve. We stand with these parents and urge President Trump and Attorney General Sessions to listen to families across the country demanding basic fairness and respect for every child.” More from HRC and The Associated Press.

  • A coalition of transgender teachers wrote an open letter supporting Gavin Grimm, the transgender student who is the plaintiff in Gloucester County School Board v. Grimm, which will be heard March 28 by the Supreme Court of the United States. Grimm, a transgender teenager, filed suit against the school board alleging the district violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by denying him use of the boy’s restroom. More from The Huffington Post.
  • Award-Winning Journalist Katie Couric, who recently partnered with National Geographic on a documentary exploring gender, writes for The Huffington Post about her experience and lessons learned from the documentary. More here.

NC GOV COOPER PROPOSES ANOTHER HB2 REPEAL DEAL, BUT WITH UNNECESSARY STRINGS: Yesterday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced a proposal that would fully repeal the state’s deeply discriminatory HB2 law, but introduce unnecessary additional provisions. The new proposal comes after the state’s General Assembly failed to follow through on its end of a bargain Cooper brokered in December. It would fully repeal HB2 -- but also require a 30-day public comment period for cities considering non-discrimination laws, and strengthen penalties for certain sexual assaults. HRC and Equality NC say the new proposed language is pointless at best, considering the Charlotte City Council went through a two-year process before passing its ordinance, and there is no evidence that existing penalties for sexual assault are insufficient. “Back in December, Governor Cooper tried to engage HB2 backers in a repeal agreement, and the General Assembly completely failed to follow through with their end of that bargain,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “Tim Moore and Phil Berger continue to leave the people of North Carolina in harm’s way with their consistent failure to act. Today’s proposal is yet another chance to fix this mess, but it adds unnecessary language addressing problems that simply do not exist. LGBTQ people are the ones at risk every day HB2 remains on the books, and transgender people especially continue to bear the brunt of this shameful politicking.” More from HRC and the News & Observer.

  • Meanwhile in New Orleans… In July, the NBA stood up to North Carolina lawmakers who, after repeated warnings, refused to repeal the discriminatory HB2 law by pulling its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, N.C. The NBA subsequently announced that the game would be hosted in New Orleans -- a city with explicit LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination protections. Earning a score of 89 out of 100 on the HRC Foundation’s 2016 Municipal Equality Index, New Orleans has non-discrimination protections that explicitly protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination in public and private employment, housing, and public accommodations. More from The Associated Press.

HRC MISSISSIPPI RELEASES #LOVEYOURNEIGHBOR VIDEO CAMPAIGN: Today, HRC released the first video in a series titled “#LoveYourNeighbor,” a storytelling project focused on sharing the experiences of LGBTQ people and allies in Tupelo, Miss. The project was funded by a grant from Toyota, which has a manufacturing plant in Blue Springs, Miss, just outside of Tupelo. The first video features Meredith and Josh, a mother-son duo who talk movingly about Josh’s coming out, and the journey that they have taken toward greater understanding of each other through the lens of Josh’s identity. “To be a good parent of an LGBT son is the same as being a good parent of any child,” says Meredith, who wears a necklace marking the date and time Josh came out to her. “The importance to me was just that it represented probably the struggle that he had dealt with leading up to that moment.” More from HRC.

WHAT WE’RE READING WEDNESDAY: Felipe Molina Mendoza of Durham, North Carolina, is facing deportation after his asylum request was denied -- even though he faces  threats of physical and sexual violence and harassment in his home country of Mexico because he is gay. The News & Observer’s Mark Schultz spoke with Felipe about his case and the history of LGBTQ immigrants seeking safety in the U.S. Read the full piece from The News & Observer.

ICYMI: On Monday night, Michael Flynn resigned as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser after it was revealed that he misled top White House officials, including Vice President Pence, regarding conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Drag Superstar RuPaul (who’s unannounced 2020 presidential run is already endorsed by John Oliver) had some sage wisdom for the now-jobless Flynn:

BILL TO PROTECT LGBTQ YOUTH FROM SO-CALLED “CONVERSION THERAPY” MOVES THROUGH NM SENATE COMMITTEE: The New Mexico Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB 121, which would protect youth from the discredited and dangerous practice of so-called “conversion therapy.” The bill now moves to the Senate floor. “Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” encompasses a range of practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured, a theory that has been rejected for decades by every major medical and mental health organization. More from HRC.

HRC AND TRANS STUDENT ADVOCATE DISCUSS TRUMP ADMIN’S UNDERMINING OF PROTECTIONS FOR TRANS STUDENTS: Yesterday, HRC’s Sarah McBride (@SarahEMcBride) and Sarah Warbelow joined transgender student advocate Grace Dolan-Sandrino on Facebook Live to discuss the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw a request to halt an order against the Obama administration’s protections for transgender students. This action will effectively roll back  protections nationwide. Watch here.

TODAY -- LAVERNE COX MAKES HISTORY ON CBS SERIES DOUBT: Cox becomes the first transgender woman to be a regular cast member in a network drama. She will star as Cameron Wirth, a defense attorney. “I actually know a lot of trans folks in real life who are attorneys and the law has always fascinated me. And what happens in the courtroom can influence law, can influence public policy,” Cox said of the role. More from CBS.

YOUTUBER BRYAN STARS COMES OUT IN POWERFUL VIDEO: In a powerful video posted to his YouTube channel, social media star Bryan Stars (@BryanStars) came out as gay. “I have not been able to say those words ever -- ever in my entire life,” he said, describing his struggle to find acceptance, and the harassment he’s faced because he’s gay. Watch here.

“QUEER COUPLES COME IN ALL DIFFERENT COMBINATIONS”: Kristina Marusic (@KristinaSaurusR) writes for NewNowNext about the struggles unique to people who identify as bisexual, queer and transgender and how they are often invisible as members of the LGBTQ community. Read the full piece here.

READING RAINBOW

Glamor profiles Valentina Sampaio, French Vogue’s first-ever transgender cover model… Washington Blade notes that Capitals goalie Braden Holtby will wear a goalie mask at their Feb 24. game to promote LGBTQ equality…

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Filed under: A.M. Equality, Community

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