#AM_Equality Tipsheet: February 17, 2017

by Allison Turner

NM Sen passes leg to protect LGBTQ youth from “conversion therapy”; SD bill could bar some parents from adopting/fostering children

NEW MEXICO SENATE PASSES LEGISLATION TO PROTECT LGBTQ YOUTH FROM SO-CALLED “CONVERSION THERAPY”: Yesterday, HRC hailed the New Mexico Senate’s vote to pass SB 121, legislation that would protect LGBTQ youth in the state from the dangerous and abusive practice of “conversion therapy.” “No child should ever be subjected to the incredibly dangerous practice of so-called conversion therapy,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “This crucially important legislation will help protect LGBTQ youth in New Mexico from a pseudoscience denounced by every mainstream medical and mental health association. For the sake of some of the state’s most vulnerable youth, the New Mexico House of Representatives should quickly pass this legislation and help end this barbaric form of child abuse.” “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 major medical and mental health organization. More from HRC.

MEET BILL MAWHINEY, THE KIND OF LOVING FOSTER & ADOPTIVE PARENT A SD BILL WOULD BAR FROM CARING FOR CHILDREN WHO NEED A HOME: Sioux Falls residents Bill Mawhiney and his husband work tirelessly to care for their adopted and foster children, dedicating their lives to parenting those who need them the most. But under discriminatory legislation advanced this week by South Dakota lawmakers, state-funded adoption and foster care agencies could reject qualified, loving prospective LGBTQ parents based on the agency’s purported religious beliefs. It bears noting that there are an estimated 1,174 children in South Dakota’s foster care system. “It breaks my heart to think that children could be left behind, denied the family they deserve, because of this misguided legislation,” Mawhiney writes in the Argus Leader. “We’re better than this as a state and as a people.” All loving, caring families are not the same, he says, but they all have something in common: “They put their children first. The law in South Dakota should do the same.” Read his moving piece in The Argus Leader.

TEXAS LETTER-WRITING CAMPAIGN TAKES AIM AT SB6: Dozens of Brazos Valley residents joined HRC and the Pride Community Center this week in a letter-writing campaign to Texas lawmakers, stating their opposition to the discriminatory SB 6 measure that targets transgender people. Residents wrote to four state elected officials  -- Reps. Kyle Kacal and John Raney, and Sens. Charles Schwertner and Lois Kolkhorst, the author of SB 6. Deceptively titled the “Privacy Protection Act,” SB 6 is expressly intended to discriminate against and block facility access for transgender Texans. The bill would overturn non-discrimination ordinances currently providing critical protections in several major Texas cities; and force state agencies, municipalities, public schools and public universities to discriminate against transgender people. The measure would  open up transgender people to increased discrimination and harassment as they simply live their everyday lives, and expose the state to the kind of financial, legal, and political blowback that North Carolina has been experiencing since it passed the discriminatory HB2 law. More from HRC and The Eagle.

FRIDAY FEELS: Sarah and Peter Tchoryk are the proud parents of three children. One of them -- 8-year-old Jacq -- is transgender, and they worry about what the Trump administration could mean for him. That’s why they joined more than 1,000 parents of transgender children in sending a letter to President Trump condemning the decision by U.S. Department of Justice to undermine protections for transgender students. The Tchoryks told WDIV TV that they hope the letter reminds Trump that he represents all Americans. "This is something President Trump is in position to make a bold statement (about)," Sarah Tchoryk said. The letter, signed by parents from 45 states plus Washington, D.C., was organized by HRC and its new Parents for Transgender Equality Council, a coalition of the nation’s leading parent-advocates working for equality and fairness for transgender people. More from Click On Detroit.

HRC JOINS COALITION OF CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS CALLING ON SENATE TO OPPOSE SCOTUS NOMINEE GORSUCH: More than 100 civil rights groups sent a letter to the chair and ranking member on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary urging them to reject President Donald Trump’s  SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch because he “lacks the impartiality and independence the American people expect and deserve.” Gorsuch is troubling for the LGBTQ community, which depends on the court to respect nation’s civil rights law and interpret them in ways that ensure full equality under the law. More from The Huffington Post.

ON DAILY SHOW, TRANSGENDER ACTRESS AND ADVOCATE LAVERNE COX CALLS ATTENTION TO #STANDWITHGAVIN: This week on The Daily Show, Laverne Cox (@LaverneCox) spoke with Trevor Noah (@TrevorNoah) about transgender student Gavin Grimm, whose discrimination lawsuit will be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States on March 28. Grimm filed suit against the Gloucester County School Board alleging it violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by denying him use of the boy’s restroom. “Could you imagine being 17 years old and having to sue the school board so you can be treated like all the other boys in your school? And that’s all that Gavin wants,” Cox said, also mentioning anti- trans discrimination perpetrated by North Carolina’s HB2 law, and the proposed SB 6 measure in Texas. Watch here.

END RACIAL AND RELIGIOUS PROFILING ACT INTRODUCED IN CONGRESS: Yesterday, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act. The Act would prohibit federal, state, and local law enforcement from targeting a person based on actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation without trustworthy information that is relevant to linking a person to a crime. More from HRC.

MONTANANS URGE LAWMAKERS TO PASS LGBTQ NONDISCRIMINATION LAW: In powerful testimony this week, 27 Montanans urged their lawmakers to pass nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. They shared stories of discrimination they’ve experienced in their workplaces, homes and in public -- highlighting the need to protect LGBTQ people under the law. State lawmakers are considering a bill that would add sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the state’s Human Rights Act. More from The Independent Record.

DAVID FURNISH -- FULLY COMMITTED TO THE FIGHT: As the chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), David Furnish is a leading advocate in the battle against HIV and AIDS. Launched 25 years ago by his spouse, music icon Elton John, EJAF is one of the world’s powerhouses fighting the epidemic. Based in both the United States and the United Kingdom, it has raised a total of more than $350 million for the cause. The HRC Foundation has been working closely with EJAF, the primary funder of the HRC Foundation’s HIV 360° Fellowship Program, which trains young nonprofit leaders who are working toward ending HIV. In an interview with HRC’s Equality magazine, Furnish underscored a number of challenges ahead. More from HRC.

HRC@HKonJ: Last weekend, HRC joined thousands in downtown Raleigh for the North Carolina NAACP's 11th annual HKonJ Moral March, marching with the NAACP, Equality NC and other advocacy groups. More from HRC.

PRO-LGBTQ HASHTAG TRENDS IN SAUDI ARABIA: A pro-LGBTQ hashtag in Arabic has been trending on Twitter in Saudi Arabia, a conservative Muslim theocracy and one of the most inhospitable places in the world for LGBTQ people. The hashtag, translated as “I love gays and I am not one of them,” was the number one trending Twitter hashtag in Saudi Arabia earlier this month. It was also the fourth highest trending hashtag in the world in the same period. More from HRC and Pink News.


The New York Times looks at 14 TV shows that changed the way we think about LGBTQ people… Hindustan Times profiles Mumbai University’s first openly transgender student…

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A.M. Equality