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04/19/2007


Arkansas Student Excluded from Yearbook for Being Gay Faces New Bullying from Peers, Teachers

Taylor_ellis

Over the past few days we've bee reporting on Taylor Ellis. Ellis's school, Sheridan High School is refusing to run a yearbook profile on Ellis because he's openly gay.

Chad_griffinThe disgusting censorship led to the Human Rights Campaign staging a rally at the Arkansas State Capitol demanding the school change its mind. Instead, the school administrators dug in their heels. Ellis's case is now drawing national attention and has been featured on CNN.

Sheridan School District Superintendent Brenda Haynes released a statement:

Haynes“We must make decisions that lead in the proper direction for all of our students and for our community. We must not make decisions based on demands by any special interest group. The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook...It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for the operation of the district have the obligation to make decisions which are consistent with the mission of our school. We have done so."

But what's happening back at school is even more disgusting. Ellis tells Slate:

T_ellisToday was my first day back [after a school trip]. People were talking about it while we were on our trip, texting all of us, making comments. I was about to lose it...

At first, everybody kept quiet. I’m in choir—that’s a good group. All the guys were nice. People were telling me I’m doing a good thing. My teacher said if I had any problems in any other classes I could just come back and sit in her room. … Geometry was fine, too. The teacher was fine with it; she understood and talked to me a little bit. She told me, “it’ll all pass, it’ll all be fine.” She’s a really good teacher. I don’t think she said anything negative to me.

[By] fifth period I was ready for the day to be over. All these people were negative, quiet—just weird.  I was ready to be home, just trying to get away from everything. Then I got in the Instagram page someone made that said “Sheridan School = No Gays.” I was looking at all the people [at Sheridan] who liked it and who followed it—people I don’t need to talk to. Three of them were in that class, sitting right across from the room from me.

A screenshot of the page, which is still live, is below. Ellis adds:

I asked [a few other students] why they were following this hate page [on Instagram]. And my teacher said, you don’t need to be talking about that in class. You need to go sit down. You have assignments to do. This teacher has never gotten onto me, never had a problem with me. But now she just kept saying stuff and I was just sitting there, shaking and crying. That’s what I do when I get mad—I shake and cry.

Stay strong. Taylor. We are with you.

Nogays


Arkansas Transwoman Fired For Using Women's Restroom: VIDEO

Kaye Bowens

Kaye Bowens of Star City, Arkansas claims she was fired from her job at McDonald's for using the women's restroom. Bowens is transgender, a fact that she was up front with from the very beginning of her employment, and had been using the women's room for three months without issue. Then one day two weeks ago a shift manager confronted her about it, and the next day Bowens was called into the general manager's office and fired. 

Bowens threatened with a lawsuit and was offered her job back, but only on the condition that she used the men's room going forward. The franchise owner Michael Retzer issued the following statement about the incident:

We believe in the value of a diverse workforce, equal opportunity and a workplace free from all forms of unlawful discrimination and harassment.  As such, we continue to do our best to meet the needs of our employees and customers, and we are reviewing this situation carefully. It is important for us to share that the employee in question is a current employee and has not been terminated. We have asked the employee to discuss this issue with us, but we have not received a response.

Bowens in the meantime has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and is considering hiring a lawyer. You can watch a news interview with Bowens AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Arkansas Transwoman Fired For Using Women's Restroom: VIDEO" »


Arkansas Superintendent Defends Censorship of Gay Student from Yearbook: VIDEO

Chad_griffin

On Monday we reported that Sheridan High School in Arkansas was refusing to run a student's yearbook profile because the student, Taylor Ellis, is openly gay.

The Human Rights Campaign, which sent a letter to school officials demanding the profile be replaced after the "unconscionable" decision to exclude it, rallied on the steps of the state capitol in Little Rock on Tuesday, led by HRC President and native Arkansan Chad Griffin. Ellis was also there.

Watch a news report on the rally, and interviews with Ellis and the yearbook editor who exposed the censorship, AFTER THE JUMP...

HaynesMeanwhile, the Sheridan School District Superintendent Brenda Haynes is digging in her heels.

Said Haynes in a statement to the Arkansas News:

“We must make decisions that lead in the proper direction for all of our students and for our community. We must not make decisions based on demands by any special interest group. The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook...It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for the operation of the district have the obligation to make decisions which are consistent with the mission of our school. We have done so."

Watch KATV's report on yesterday's rally, AFTER THE JUMP...

Taylor_ellis

Continue reading "Arkansas Superintendent Defends Censorship of Gay Student from Yearbook: VIDEO" »


Arkansas High School Refuses To Run Openly Gay Student's Yearbook Profile

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin has written a letter to administrators of Arkansas-based Sheridan High School, who are refusing to run a yearbook profile on openly gay student Taylor Ellis (pictured), demanding they not censor it.

TaylorThe letter reads in part:

Regardless of print deadlines, it would be unconscionable to release the yearbook with the omission of Taylor's well-deserved profile.

If not resolved immediately, this act of discriminatory censorship will send a dangerous message to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in Sheridan, across Arkansas and around the nation — that they are second-class citizens and their lives are not equally valid. Instead of respecting the wishes of Taylor's fellow students to recognize him in their yearbook, you have told him and other students who may already feel marginalized that they are not an equally valued part of the Sheridan high school student body.

Cases similar to this have popped up every so often during the past few years.

In 2013, a Texas high school pulled a lesbian couple’s photo from the yearbook and another Texas school refused and then assented to include a yearbook photo of a trans student in a tuxedo.

In 2012, four Colorado yearbook staffers left the publication after their advisor required them to remove a gay couple from a spread on high school relationships. In the same year, a Tennessee school board member protested the inclusion of an article entitled, “It’s OK to be Gay” in the Lenoir City High School yearbook.


Freedom to Marry Launching $1 million Campaign to Build Southern Support for Gay Marriage: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 11.11.42 AM

At a press conference on Monday, Freedom to Marry is expected to announce a new $1 million television ad campaign in Southern states in the hopes of swaying public opinion and the judges who will decide the fate of state bans on gay unions. As it stands, there are about two dozen lawsuits challenging bans on gay marriage that are pending before state and federal courts in Southern states. The Washington Post reports:

“Freedom to Marry’s national strategy has always been to build a critical mass of states and support to create the climate for the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution. We don’t have to win within every state, but we have to win enough states,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 11.13.09 AMAtlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will join the group at its Monday press conference. The group will also try to tie same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement, by featuring Rep. John Lewis [right], the longtime Georgia Democrat who ran the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in a testimonial.

“I see the right to marriage as a civil rights issue. You cannot have rights for one segment of the population and one group of people and not for everybody,” Lewis says in the video.

Watch Lewis' video for the new campaign, AFTER THE JUMP...

Co-chairs of the new initiative will include Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), as well as Mark McKinnon, a former senior adviser to George W. Bush and Lance Bass, the ‘N Sync singer.

Continue reading "Freedom to Marry Launching $1 million Campaign to Build Southern Support for Gay Marriage: VIDEO" »


Shirtless Frat Bros Dress Katy Perry's 'Roar' Up with Snow Angels: VIDEO

Road1

It snowed in the South, so naturally a group of frat bros at the University of Arkansas raided the costume closet and made snow shirtless snow angels for a lip dub video to Katy Perry's "Roar".

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

2_roar

Continue reading "Shirtless Frat Bros Dress Katy Perry's 'Roar' Up with Snow Angels: VIDEO" »


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