#AM_Equality Tipsheet: February 13, 2017

by Allison Turner

AG Sessions seeks to undermine protections for trans students; Meryl Streep’s powerful message to Trump at HRC gala

IN HIS FIRST 48 HOURS, AG JEFF SESSIONS SEEKS TO UNDERMINE PROTECTIONS FOR  TRANSGENDER STUDENTS: It didn’t take long for the Trump Administration to start rolling back critical protections for LGBTQ young people across the nation. In his first days as Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions has withdrawn a request to halt an order against the Obama administration’s protections for transgender students. This action will effectively halt the protections nationwide. "After being on the job for less than 48 hours, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has signaled his intent to undermine the equal dignity of transgender students," said HRC President Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin). "Transgender students are entitled to the full protection of the United States Constitution and our federal nondiscrimination laws. It is heartbreaking and wrong that the agency tasked with enforcing civil rights laws would instead work to subvert them for political interests. President Trump must immediately reverse course and direct the DOJ to uphold guidance protecting transgender students." Read more at The Washington Post and BuzzFeed.

MERYL STREEP, HONORED AT HRC’S NY GALA, SPEAKS POWERFULLY ABOUT STANDING UP FOR EQUALITY DURING TRUMP ADMINISTRATION:  This weekend, HRC honored legendary actress Meryl Streep with the organization’s Ally for Equality Award at its Greater New York Gala. In her acceptance speech, Streep spoke fondly of the LGBTQ teachers who helped her to become the artist she is, and took direct aim at President Donald Trump and his administration, detailing the peril they pose for equality and civil rights. “We have the right to live our lives, with God or without, as we choose,” she said. “There is a prohibition against the establishment of a state religion in our Constitution, and we have the right to choose with whom we live, whom we love and who and what gets to interfere with our bodies. As Americans, men, women, people, gay, straight, LBGTQ, all of us have the human right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And if you think people got mad when they thought the government was coming after their guns, wait till they come and try to take away our happiness!” More from The New York Times, The Hill and Variety.

  • Late-night talk show host Seth Meyers (@SethMeyers) was also honored at the gala, where he spoke about the strength of the transgender community, saying, “It does not take courage to do my job. On my best days, it requires a little nerve... Courage is what it takes for a transgender student to go to high school every day.”
  • Also honored was the cast of Moonlight, the movie that tells the story of a Black gay man, which received HRC’s Visionary Arts Award. Tarell Octavian (@octarell) accepted the award. Watch here.

MUST WATCH MONDAY: Worried you might say the wrong thing when speaking with a transgender person? Check out some helpful guidance from ATTN: and YouTube here.

THE WASHINGTON POST LOOKS AT ‘LICENSE TO DISCRIMINATE’ BILLS POPPING UP IN STATE LEGISLATURES: With at least 40 anti-LGBTQ bills in 16 states introduced so far, HRC anticipates that, like last year, anti-equality activists will push for legislation including measures that would give a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people under the guise of religion; that would target transgender people; or attempt to eliminate local LGBTQ non-discrimination protections. More from WaPo.

GORSUCH AND TRUMP -- SUPPORTING EACH OTHER, BUT NOT THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY: The president has a constitutional obligation to nominate justices to serve on the Supreme Court. The political leanings or judicial outlook of the nominee to this lifelong post will shape the American legal landscapes for a generation. This is a weighty presidential power. But, let's be clear -- it ends there. Basic eighth grade civics taught most of us that an independent judiciary is essential to promoting our dearest constitutional principles and safeguarding our way of life. Unfortunately, it looks like President Trump and his Supreme Court pick, Judge Neil Gorsuch, must have missed a few of those classes. More from HRC.

KATIE COURIC INTERVIEWS FIRST OPENLY TRANSGENDER BOY SCOUT: Watch Katie Couric’s (@KatieCouric) interview with nine-year-old Joe Maldonado, the first openly transgender Boy Scout. The Boy Scouts of America’s former policy only allowed boys to join who were listed as male on their birth certificate; the new policy will admit any boy to the organization whose parents list their gender as male on their application. This marks a significant policy shift, and will allow as members transgender boys whose parents cannot change or have not changed their son’s gender on their birth certificate. More from The Advocate.

NFL MESSAGE TO TEXAS -- NO GAMES FOR STATES WITH DISCRIMINATORY LAWS: After holding its 2017 Super Bowl in Houston, the NFL has warned Texas officials that the league will take discriminatory laws into account when making future decisions about where to hold Super Bowls. Last month, Texas lawmakers introduced SB6, a bill expressly intended to discriminate against transgender Texans. The bill, inspired by North Carolina’s HB2, would overturn non-discrimination ordinances currently providing critical protections in several major Texas cities; further, it would force state agencies, municipalities, public schools and public universities to discriminate against transgender people. More from The Dallas Morning News.

  • Call it out: When defending the transphobic SB6, Texas Rep. Briscoe Cain made woefully ignorant comments about the transgender community. Comments like these endorse discrimination or worse -- they are not just wrong, but also dangerous. More from NewNowNext.

MASSIVE MORAL MARCH IN NC CALLS TO #REPEALHB2: At the 11th annual “Moral March” in the state capital of Raleigh this weekend hosted by the North Carolina NAACP, thousands filled the streets calling for the repeal of the state’s anti-transgender HB2 law. Marchers also voiced concern over recent actions by President Trump, including his executive order banning refugees. More from The News & Observer.

  • ICYMI: On yesterday’s episode of NBC’s Meet the Press, former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory told Chuck Todd (@ChuckTodd) that he does not regret signing HB2 into law, despite the disastrous effects it is having on the state’s LGBTQ community, reputation and economy… not to mention McCrory’s political career. Read the transcript here.

LGBTQ PERFORMERS AND ALLIES HONORED AT GRAMMYS: At last night’s Grammys, late icon David Bowie was awarded “Best Rock Performance,” “Best Rock Song,” “Best Alternative Music Album” and “Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical” for “Black Star.” LGBTQ ally Beyoncé won “Best Urban Contemporary Album” for “Lemonade” and “Best Music Video” for “Formation.” Pentatonix and Dolly Parton won “Best Country Duo/Group Performance” for their rendition of the classic, “Jolene.” Bruno Mars played a tribute to the late Prince. Rounding out the night, after performing a heart-wrenching tribute to the late George Michael, LGBTQ advocate Adele took home Album of the Year. Check out all the winners here.

  • Before introducing Lady Gaga and Metallica’s performance, transgender actress Laverne Cox (@LaverneCox) urged the audience to “Google Gavin Grimm,” calling attention to Gloucester County School Board v. Grimm, a case involving discrimination against a transgender student. Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy, 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 Washington Post.
  • Last night, model Martina Robledo became the first transgender woman to act as a trophy presenter at the Grammys. More from The Associated Press.

TRANS MAN CHALLENGES DISCRIMINATORY JAPANESE LAW: A transgender man in Japan is challenging the constitutionality of a law that requires transgender people to undergo sterilization surgery before they can legally change their gender marker on official documents. More from Gay Star News.


HRC interviews David Furnish, chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation… Broadly shares the story of a transgender teacher…

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A.M. Equality