#AM_Equality Tipsheet February 14, 2017

by Allison Turner

Not-so-happy Valentine’s Day--state bills attack LGBTQ couples; Letter calls on DeVos & Sessions to keep protections for trans students

NOT-SO-HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY -- STATE BILLS ATTACK LGBTQ COUPLES AND THEIR FAMILIES: Today presents an opportunity for anti-equality state lawmakers to reflect on how the discriminatory measures they are pushing undermine loving LGBTQ couples and their families. Texas SB 6 -- dishonestly titled the “Privacy Protection Act” -- expressly intends to discriminate against transgender Texans. The bill 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. In Alabama, HB 24 -- deceptively called the “Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act” -- is simply a thinly-veiled attempt to exclude qualified LGBTQ people from becoming parents to a child in need of a family. Tennessee’s SB 127 would promote taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ Tennesseans and their families -- including allowing hospitals to deny visitation and decision-making rights to same-sex married couples. And in Virginia, HB 2025 could allow taxpayer-funded organizations including homeless shelters and adoption agencies to refuse service to same-sex couples, transgender people, and anyone suspected of having intimate relationships outside of a heterosexual marriage (such as single mothers or a cohabiting straight couple) without losing taxpayer funding, contracts, licensing, or other forms of state recognition. Read more about HRC’s efforts to stop anti-LGBTQ bills here.

  • And in better news: Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover told the Lexington Herald-Leader last week that the anti-transgender HB 106 is “dead.” He said the same of HB 141, a bill similar to HB 106 that would force transgender people to use restrooms inconsistent with their gender identity in public schools. More from the Lexington Herald-Leader.

LGBTQ GROUPS CALL ON TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO KEEP PROTECTIONS FOR TRANSGENDER STUDENTS: HRC, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Women’s Law Center and GLSEN have signed a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking them to preserve Title IX guidance documents, including the guidance regarding transgender students established during the Obama Administration. The guidance documents address important issues such as sexual violence prevention and response, bullying and harassment, and the needs and rights of transgender students. The guidance documents provide practical answers to schools on issues they face every day. This news comes after 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 continue to halt the protections nationwide. More from The Washington Blade.

TUESDAY TWEET: Nike has unveiled a powerful new campaign promoting equality in sports. The #EQUALITY campaign’s introductory video, featuring LeBron James (@KingJames) and Alicia Keys (@AliciaKeys), also highlights openly gay professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) and other athletes from all walks of life. “Equality,” the video’s narrator says, “should have no boundaries… Opportunity should not discriminate.” More from Nike.

ON THIS DAY -- ELLEN PAGE CAME OUT AT HRC’S TIME TO THRIVE: Academy Award-nominee Ellen Page (@EllenPage) came out three years ago today at HRC’s first annual Time to THRIVE conference. Since then, she has frequently discussed the positive effect coming out has had on her life, emotionally sharing her journey toward love and acceptance with Seth Meyers and Ellen DeGeneres, on the cover of American Way Magazine, and on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “And for me, honestly, being a closeted person hurt my career way more because I was sad. I was uninspired,” Page told Ellen DeGeneres. “And now I feel more excited about life and a sense of happiness that I’ve probably never felt.” Watch her coming out here.

HALLMARK FEATURES SAME-SEX COUPLE IN VALENTINE’S DAY AD: For the third year in a row, Hallmark has featured a same-sex couple in its Valentine’s Day commercial. The ad includes footage of a viral video of Spencer Stout and Dustin Reeser’s engagement following a flash mob in a Home Depot. More from Teen Vogue.

BUSINESSES STAND FOR LGBTQ PEOPLE WHEN GOVERNMENT WON’T: When state and federal lawmakers fail to step up and protect LGBTQ Americans, the private sector can play a huge role by enacting policies to protect LGBTQ employees, and putting pressure on legislators to pass good laws, says Movement Advancement Project Executive director Ineke Mushovic (@inekemushovic) for Fast Company. HRC’s most recent Corporate Equality Index found that 82 percent of Fortune 500 companies protect their employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity -- even those headquartered in states with few legal protections for LGBTQ people. More from Fast Company.

CHARLES BLOW ON THE POWER OF DISRUPTION: Openly bisexual New York Times columnist Charles Blow (@CharlesMBlow) writes about the power of resistance and what acts of resistance mean in the time of Trump. He writes, “When LGBT people fought back at The Stonewall Inn, they were being disruptive. When Act Up flooded Times Square, they were being disruptive.” Read the full piece from The New York Times.

TRANSGENDER ATHLETE OPENS UP ABOUT HB2: Transgender competitive sailor Connie Berchem writes for the Asheville Citizen-Times about a recent competition where competitors made fun of the state because of its discriminatory HB2 law, not knowing that she is a transgender woman. Read the full piece from the Citizen-Times.


Wisconsin Gazette reports on what is believed to be the first transgender doll, based on youth advocate Jazz Jennings (@JazzJennings__)… People sits down with transgender star Gigi Gorgeous (@TheGigiGorgeous) to talk about her journey to realizing that she is a lesbian… BuzzFeed shares a photo series featuring transgender and gender-nonconforming people across the Unites States…


Have news? Send us your news and tips at AMEquality@hrc.org. Click here to subscribe to #AM_Equality and follow @HRC for all the latest news. Thanks for reading!

A.M. Equality