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Community College District Won’t Discriminate – Except in the Bathroom

June 18, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured

Bathroom discrimination - a okay!The San Antonio LGBT Community has been petitioning the Alamo Community College District, which oversees 5 community college campuses in the San Antonio area, to amend its existing policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.  The initiative has largely been led by the student organization, Gay and Lesbian Association of San Antonio College.  After two meetings and many conversations with the Board, the ACCD has agreed to vote on a policy which would include sexual orientation, but not gender identity/expression.

However, in what could be called an effort to be inclusive, the Chancellor for ACCD, Bruce H. Leslie, issued a “Chancellor’s Clarification” citing the existing policies against discrimination based upon gender to be inclusive of “gender identity.”  In the clarification, the Chancellor writes:

The Alamo Colleges values and affirms the diversity of its students and employees. The Alamo Colleges also supports inclusiveness that recognizes, values, and reflects the diversity of our community. This inclusiveness extends to transgendered individuals.

Sounds pretty good, right? But the Chancellor didn’t stop there.  While in one breath he declares discrimination against transgender individuals to be a violation of policy, in the next he condones discrimination:

…nothing in this clarification or the policies or procedures shall be construed to establish discrimination or harassment based on gender identity due to the denial of access to shared facilities in which being seen unclothed (even partially, such as in restrooms) is unavoidable.

Thus, denial of the use of a public restroom to transgender persons will not be construed as discrimination under the policy.  I believe the popular term for this is, “FAIL!”

In a meeting with the San Antonio Gender Association last night, representatives of the LGBT community discussed an approach to deal with this harmful “Clarification” and the pending vote on inclusion of sexual orientation in the non-discrimination policy.  I sat in on the meeting and have never been so proud of our community.  LGB person after LGB person agreed that we will not leave the “T” behind.

On Tuesday, June 22, we will again appear before the board and ask the board to postpone decision on these policies for a period of 90 days for the purpose of: (1) additional education; (2) allow reconsideration for inclusion of both sexual orientation AND gender identity/expression in the policy; and (3) a retraction of the Chancellor’s Clarification.

This decision is not without critics.  Some LGB people feel that moving forward with the exclusionary policy would best serve the community and we can fight for transgender inclusion at a later date. But they forget our history.

Some readers may note the similarity between this current issue and the ENDA episode where HRC staffers drafted a version of ENDA which was not “gender identity” inclusive.  Although it was clear that the purpose was to ensure that protections for sexual orientation would make it through the House and Senate, the authors of the proposal defended their position claiming that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provided protection for “gender identity” under the heading “gender.”  However, it’s widely accepted that the real reason was that we could not get an inclusive ENDA passed (at that time) without throwing the “T” under the bus.

While Title VII should provide discrimination protection based upon gender identity/expression, that position is, at best, only partially correct.  The Supreme Court decision in Ulane (1982) clearly excluded transgender people from the definition of “gender” as it applied to Title VII.  Although a subsequent decision by the Supreme Court in 1989 (Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins) seemed to redefine “gender” in Title VII to include gender expression (or more specifically, discrimination based upon gender stereotypes), lower court’s continue to cite the Ulane decision as precedent (even as recently as this year!).  The rare exception seems to be within the 9th Circuit, which has cited the Price Waterhouse decision to be inclusive of gender identity/expression in some instances.

The ramifications of the former exclusive ENDA proposal were far reaching, rattled our community to its core and underscored our own prejudices, fears, intolerance and selfishness.  We must learn from our history and our present and unite in order to establish full equality for all of our brothers and sisters.

LGBT Lessons for Straight People: The Endangered White Male Species

October 21, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, iQreport, LGBT Lessons for Straight People

Gay EducationIf you are like me, you can always think of a great comeback to an offensive comment. One day later.

This last week was a whirlwind for me. One week past the National Equality March and I’m still processing everything that I experienced and felt. I felt so prepared to take on the world with such powerful words given to me by the speakers, with such energy and friendliness from everyone that I met.

So imagine my surprise when I was caught off guard by a man seated next to me on an airplane. It was fairly clear that he was relatively conservative. We kept the conversation light and delicately danced around controversial topics, as often happens in real life. A part of me had been longing for real life conversations. Because on the Internet, it is so easy to be rude. I often find myself thinking, would you say that to a person’s face?

Now it was my turn to wonder what I would say to a person’s face.  As the flight was close to its end, my fellow passenger stated that he was worried about his son’s ability to find a job after finishing college. Well, who wouldn’t be with the current economy? My son is in college and I said “I hear ya.”

He continued “Yea, I’m worried because there are all these special groups that want protection. Sexual orientation, Latinos. I worry about my normal white male species disappearing.”

I could see by his facial expression that my face already revealed my feelings. The tension rose. My mind went in several directions in those few seconds. Do I stay silent? Silence implies agreement. As a person who does not like conflict, who was raised to be polite and not start arguments, I wanted to fight that urge. My emotions wanted to oversimplify this person into a bigot and put him down. There’s a lot of indignation in the world these days. The media and the blogosphere thrive on it. It’s easy to be irate. I get irate all the time. There is a lot to be irate about.

This was in real life. What would I say to a person’s face? After all, here I am a self-proclaimed LGBT ally and supporter of human rights for all people. I, of all people, should have been able to remain clear headed and have the perfect persuasive response.  The right words that would open this man’s mind and heart in just 30 seconds.

I blurted out something like “I don’t care about a person’s race, sexual orientation, religion or politics when I hire employees. I want them to work hard, be honest and decent. We are all human. If your son can do that he will be fine.”

Awkwardly, I half smiled and left the plane. Was this man part of the “movable middle”? Did I make him think? Or did I lose that one and only chance that many people will give you? Did I anger him?   Will he be quiet, yet still have those feelings? I’m all for getting people to stop saying hurtful words. Knowing it is unacceptable is the first step to ending the cycle of bigotry and discrimination, but if children are still taught discrimination at home, it won’t really end.

So what did I think of a day later that felt like the perfect comeback? Not an answer but a question. A question asked in all sincerity. Because really, we should want to know the answer. It’s a question that all of us should ask ourselves. We find civilized discourse, honest reflections and soul searching to be boring and weak. Yet, they are the essential keys to changing another person. To changing ourselves. I don’t know how I affected this man because I didn’t ask him a question. I made a statement with a tone that said “This is final” and I missed my chance to know if I could make a difference. After all, I was not in any danger of physical harm.

I wish I had asked  “And how do you think you would feel if your son were Latino or gay? I’m serious, I would really like to know.”

Is this response perfect? I don’t know. But it is open and sincere. Without defensiveness.  Given in the hopes of letting someone feel safe enough to change before my eyes.

If you have arrived at this website by accident, if you don’t like gay people, or any other group, take a moment to ask yourself how you would feel if it were you.  Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can be quite the wake up call. Take a moment to be human. Take the next moment to realize that we are all human. Then watch your understanding unfold before your eyes.

Next time, I’ll be ready. After all, now I am hoping you are the stranger next to me that strikes up a conversation.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

LGBT Notable News Happenings – (August 26, 2009 – September 2, 2009)

September 06, 2009 By: MJ Category: Featured, LGBT News

LGBT NewsFL Gay Adoption Ban Goes to State Appeals Court (August 26, 2009)

November 2008 a Miami-Dade County judge ruled that the Gay Adoption Ban is unconstitutional.  The ruling made in the case of Martin Gill and his partner who had adopted two young boys.  State attorneys have taken the case to the court of appeals and the ACLU is representing Mr. Gill.

Men to be Tried for Murder of Lesbian in South Africa (August 26, 2009)

Last year a group of men assaulted and then stabbed to death Eudy Simelane (29 yrs) who played on national sport teams.  Gay Rights activists are using this case to show that women continue to be raped in an attempt to change their sexual orientation.  Lesbians who attended the hearing were threatened by young men and the three men accused have pleaded not guilty.

Proposal in MI to Add Sexual Orientation to Anti-Discrimination Law (August 26, 2009)

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony recently on whether to add Sexual Orientation to their existing Anti-Discrimination laws.  This legislation would extend housing and employment protections to the LGBT community.  Recently Steven Harmon (15 yrs old) of Portage was beaten for being gay and his case seems to have added more impetus to the fight for the legislation.

Men Convicted For Assault on Gay Man in Texas (August 27, 2009)

Jimmy Dean was walking home during the summer of 2008 when he was brutally beaten by Bobby Singleton and Dean Gunter.  Mr. Gunter has already been convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.  Officers classified the assault and robbery as a hate crime and Mr. Singleton – who more seriously assaulted Jimmy Dean – has now been sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Death of Sen Kennedy in MA is Loss for LGBT Community (August 27, 2009)

Many will miss Sen Edward Kennedy including his family, friends and the LGBT Community.  He was a strong supporter of HIV/AIDS funding, LGBT Hate Crimes legislation and Same-Sex Marriage.  In 1996 he was one of only 14 senators who voted against D.O.M.A.  Bye to Ted.

Camp in Canada for LGBTQ Youth Offers Comfort & Variety (August 27, 2009)

In Manitoba there is a one of a kind camp for LGBTQ  youth (ages 14 to 21) to have fun and just be themselves.  Those who are not yet out are also welcome to join in the activities and supportive atmosphere.  The camp has most activities available at other camps – but for those bored with the regular camp activities – there is an introduction to drag.

Female Transgender Inmate Sexually Assaulted in Hawaii (August 27, 2009)

She is a 31 year old Transgender female who has not yet had gender reassignment surgery – but she was held in a prison module for men.  While working on the breakfast cleanup crew a male adult corrections officer forced her to perform a sexual act.  An investigation has been launched and she will be released after having  served eight years of her 10 year sentence.

Uruguay House Passes Same-Sex Adoption Bill (August 27, 2009)

The Chamber passed the bill and it is now on it’s way to the Senate which approved a previous version to the bill.  They must now vote on the most recent modifications which would allow Uruguay to be the first country in Latin America to allow adoption by Same-Sex couples.

Transgender Women Stabbed in D.C.-One Dies (August 27, 2009)

Nana Boo and her friend were walking on the sidewalk when a man approached and stabbed them both.  Nana Boo’s wounds were caused her to die and her friend was severely wounded but lived.  The police said they are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Action Taken as Result of Rainbow Lounge Raid in Texas (August 28, 2009)

The Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission has fired two agents as a result of the raid.  Their direct supervisor Sgt. Terry Parsons  is also being fired effective September 2, 2009. Sgt. Parsons’ direct supervisor Lt. Gene Anderson will be suspended three days then on probation for six months, and Capt. Robert Cloud has received a written reprimand.

Lawsuit Filed by Gay Man – Victim of Harassment in PA – Reinstated by Fed Judge (August 29, 2009)

Brian Prowell of Penn Hills had filed a lawsuit against his employer after he was harassed by co-workers then laid off by his employer.  A federal judge then dismissed the suit claiming it was based on Sexual Orientation not covered under federal law.  A federal appeals judge reinstated the lawsuit stating the decision should be left up to a jury.

LGBT Group Requests Temporary Block of Referendum 71 (September 1, 2009)

The LGBT group Washington Families Standing Together are still working to keep Referendum 71 off the November ballot – and to allow the new law broadening recognition of Domestic Partner benefits to take effect.  The secretary of state’s office claims there are enough signatures to put the Referendum on the ballot, but supporters of the new law claim many signatures are not valid.

Vermont First Same-Sex Marriages Begin One Minute After Legal (Sept 2, 2009)

The new law was only one minute old when Bill Slimback and Bob Sullivan became one of the first couples to say their vows and become legally married.  They travelled from N.Y. and had a midnight wedding at a rustic lodge where the co-owner is also a Justice of the Peace.  Now five states allow Same-Sex Marriage.

School District Decides in Favor of Student in Minnesota (September 2, 2009)

Earlier this year two teachers repeatedly mocked a student who they believed was Gay.  The student Alex Merritt (18 yrs) said he was heterosexual but because the teachers persisted he eventually had to transfer to another high school.  The school district has recently made decisions and the two teachers are now on a leave of absence – and substitute teachers will immediately take over their classes.

Ex-Roommate of Murdered Transgender Woman Arrested for Sexual Assault in Colorado (Sept 2, 2009)

Angie Zapata was roommates with J.J. Alejandro for three months before she was murdered.  J.J. Alejandro is now in jail facing charges for sexually assaulting five teenage girls.  Authorities had difficulty finding Mr. Alejandro during the murder trial for Angie Zapata – but he did show up just in time to testify for the defense.

mjpngwnz: MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is summarizing LGBT current events each week for jaysays.com and the Why Would You Say That – Really? series. She is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King.

LGBT Notable News Happenings – (August 19, 2009 – August 25, 2009)

August 28, 2009 By: MJ Category: Featured, LGBT News

LGBT NewsTrial Date Set for Fed Lawsuit Against CA Same-Sex Marriage Ban (August 19, 2009)

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker announced that the trial will begin January 11, 2010 in the federal lawsuit against California’s same-sex marriage ban.  Judge Walker ordered the depositions and the discovery process to start right away.  The Judge indicated that he was surprised Governor Schwarzenegger has taken such a passive role in the case.

Lesbian Couple Embraces Then Asked to Leave Restaurant in MD (August 19, 2009)

They noticed a heterosexual couple  kissing in another booth of the family restaurant – so they embraced each other – but did not kiss.  Aiyi’hah Ford and her partner Torian Brown were then asked to leave the restaurant in Silver Spring.  They returned with some supporters hoping for an apology – but the manager would not apologize.   Once they stepped outside the waitress followed them and apologized, then advised them that this sort of thing happens a lot at the restaurant.

LGBT Tenants in New York Mistreated by Co-Op Board (August 20, 2009)

A group of tenants who live at the Kew Gardens apartments have made complaints to the Co-Op Board regarding a leaking terrace that has caused damage to apartments connected to and below the area.  The apartments which were damaged are occupied by gay and lesbian tenants.  After filing the complaints, the tenants began receiving homophobic threats.

Late Lesbian Writer to be Honored in Ohio (August 20, 2009)

Writers have been honored previously in the state of Ohio – but never with their sexual orientation noted on the marker.  The marker, honoring Natalie Barney, might be the first with that distinction.  Natalie Barney was born in Ohio and was the author of lesbian and feminist themed stories.  She passed away in 1972.  The vote on the honor is scheduled for August 26, 2009.

West Hollywood Park Will Have Plaque Honoring Same-Sex Marriages (August 21, 2009)

The City Council of West Hollywood has decided to unveil a bronze marker at West Hollywood Park to honor Same-Sex Marriages.  The plaque will be unveiled on September 8, 2009 and bear a quote from Nelson Mandela: “I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me.  The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.”

Lesbian Families Gain in Parental Rights in Tasmania (August 21, 2009)

A bill which would give parental rights to both mothers in a lesbian family has passed the Lower House in Tasmania and is on it’s way to the Legislative Council.  The Gay and Lesbian rights group in Tasmania has praised this step forward.

Mayor in Massachusetts Will Marry her Partner (August 21, 2009)

Denise Simmons is known as the first black lesbian mayor in the United States. She was elected as mayor of Cambridge in 2008 and has served on the city council since 2001.  Ms Simmons will marry Mattie B. Hayes on Sunday August 30, 2009.

Copenhagen Might Change Wording of Civil Unions  Slightly (August 25, 2009)

Copenhagen already has Civil Unions for LGBT couples.  Currently when a couple enters a Civil Union, the presiding official pronounces the couple as Registered Partners.  A majority of the Copenhagen City Councilors are in favor of a proposal to change just one aspect of the current Civil Union which would allow LGBT couples to be declared Married.

Tucson Man Convicted in Attack on Transgender Woman (August 25, 2009)

Janey Kay is a Vietnam veteran who completed gender reassignment surgery early last year.  While at a a dog-racing track, Janey Kay was approached by Richard Ray Young and asked if she was a “Drag Queen.”  Ms. Kay answered no then Mr. Young began verbally and physically assaulting her.  Before police arrived Mr. Young broke away from security staffers and assaulted Ms. Kay once again.  Richard Ray Young was convicted of assault and disorderly conduct for the attack.  Mr. Young has said he is gay.
mjmj: MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is summarizing LGBT current events each week for jaysays.com and the Why Would You Say That – Really? series. She is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King.

Who Are the Victims of Hate Crimes?

June 04, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Hate Crimes, LGBT News

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, Hate Crimes Statistics for 2007 is likely the most reliable report available to answer the question “Who is Hurt by a ‘Hate Crime?’  Regrettably, the FBI data even admits that:

  • During 2007, 13,241 law enforcement agencies participated in the UCR Program’s hate crime data collection. Agencies provided 1 to 12 months of data about bias motivated crime, and of those agencies, 2,025 (15.3 percent) reported 7,624 incidents.
  • The remaining 84.7 percent of the participating agencies reported that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions.

It’s obvious by these statistics that the report was lacking in complete information; however, a remarkably high number [approximately 21 per day] were reported in the remaining 15.3% of reporting jurisdictions.

The report indicated that over half of the hate crimes reported were based upon a person’s race, followed by religion with sexual orientation coming in 3rd:

Hate Crimes Chart

The report goes a step further and breaks down the number of reported hate crimes by subcategory within each bias area.  For example, the hate crime victim group with the most reported crimes is the “Race” category.  Perhaps not surprisingly, anti-black hate crimes topped the group with 68% of hate crimes being committed against “blacks” (2,658 incidents).  However, what may surprise you is that white people were “runner-up” with 19% (749 incidents) of the reported hate crimes in the Race category.

2007 Hate Crimes – Race Category:

Hate Crimes Chart - Race

The category with the second most hate crimes reported is “Religion.”  As with race, the report breaks down hate crimes based upon which religion was assaulted.

2007 Hate Crimes – Religion Category:

Hate Crimes Chart - Religion

These statistic tend to evidence what we should already know, antisemitism is still alarmingly prevalent in the U.S.  In fact, crimes against the Jewish community outnumbered all other reported crimes in the category of religion – meaning that, if you total all other crimes against religions other than Jewish, they still don’t number as many as those against people of the Jewish faith.

The report breaks sexual orientation down into the following categories:

  • Anti-Male Homosexual
  • Anti-Female Homosexual
  • Anti-Homosexual [generally]
  • Anti-Heterosexual
  • Anti-Bisexual

It’s important to note that the report only includes three sexual orientations (lumping homosexual into one group rather than three).  The reason this notation is so important is because religious groups and those opposed to hate crimes legislation have argued that there are hundreds of sexual orientations, including pedophilia.  Well, here’s your government sanctioned version of what sexual orientation is: Homosexual, Heterosexual, Bisexual.

Out of the 1,265 reported hate crimes against people based upon sexual orientation, 1,221 were against homosexuals, 22 against bisexuals and 22 against heterosexuals. Notably absent in the report were crimes committed against individuals based upon gender identity.

Further, 1,007 hate crimes were reported based upon Ethnicity/National Origin and 79 hate crimes were reported against the disabled.

It is obvious from the report that hate crimes legislation is all inclusive, white, black, gay, straight, Muslim, Christian, Jewish and disabled.  Because we can all be victimized by these crimes, we should all support the passing of such legislation.  Hate crimes legislation is not just a gay issue, it’s a human issue.