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Duke Athletes Tackle Homophobia And Other Slurs With 'You Don't Say' Campaign

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An ad campaign started by a group of college students to bring awareness and combat words that marginalize and belittle people based on their sexual orientation, gender, race or disability has now blossomed to include 41 student-athletes from Duke University reports OutsportsThe athletes pose in uniforms and training outfits next to words they don't say and why they don't say them. The campaign was founded by senior Daniel Kort and juniors Anuj Chhabra, Christie Lawrence and Jay Sullivan and on Jan. 7 issued its second online push featuring the student athletes.

Said Kort:

"Sports are really integral to our campus culture, and with that comes a pretty big microphone around our athletic culture. It's easier to dismiss a message if it's coming from a social justice-oriented group on campus...by getting people who aren’t traditionally seen as the social justice kids on campus to stand up for this message, it carries a lot more weight. It’s also that these student-athletes care a lot about the issues."

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 5.18.10 PMKort and his collaborators work received national recognition from the Huffington Post and CNN. Although a sizable portion of the campaign deals with homophobic terms, other ads tackle racist terms such as "oreo," and "illegal alien," sexist comments including "man up," and "they asked for it," and mental illness pejoratives such as "psycho," and "retarded."

Of course, the worthwhile campaign is already receiving detractors attempting to tear down the campaign's message. Those who oppose "You Don't Say" claim the campaign is based on censorship and the project is a "hypersensitive" attempt to limit free speech. Kort said that last time most of the negativity came from Facebook, although after the relaunch, detractors have taken more to Twitter to combat the project. Kort and Sullivan have been adamant throughout their two campaigns that the project is not meant to censor speech, but rather to bring a new light to the way students use it. With the student-athletes support, it seems the message is clearly heard on Duke’s campus.

You can follow the "You Don't Say" campaign on Twitter.


Peter LaBarbera Found Innocent Of Mischief In Canada, Says He's 'Sorry To Disappoint All The Nasty Gay Activists'

Labarbera

Anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera was found not guilty in a Canadian court Monday of a mischief charge stemming from his arrest in April for protesting at the University of Regina.

LaBarbera, of Illinois-based Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, and Canadian anti-gay activist Bill Whatcott were arrested after they refused to leave campus despite an order from police.

Officials alleged LaBarbera and Whatcott were violating the university's Respectful Workplace Policy, because students said they felt discriminated against during previous protests by Whatcott. Police asked LaBarbera and Whatcott to leave because they were in possession of graphic anti-gay materials, including a large sign saying "Sodomy is sin" and T-shirts showing a woman who was murdered by a gay man. 

CBC News reports on the not guilty verdict:  

Today, Bill Whatcott reacted to the not guilty ruling by saying he'll return to the campus some time next year.

"They need to be a free and open place that allows debate and so I hope they reconsider their position and that they welcome debate or at least tolerate it," Whatcott said. "People with views that differ from theirs have a right to try to make their case on a publicly-funded campus."

Peter LaBarbera is in the United States and didn't attend court.

At their trial in October, court heard they were asked to leave the campus because their activities violated the U of R's policy on maintaining a respectful work environment.

The Leader-Post reports that Whatcott, who'd been arrested before for protesting on college campuses, uttered "thank you lord" upon hearing the verdict from Judge Marylynne Beaton of the Regina Provincial Court:

At the time, U of R provost Thomas Chase called the materials "graphic" and "disturbing."

But "the validity of (their) beliefs are not in issue," Beaton wrote in her decision.

"I find that the purpose of (their) attending the University of Regina was to communicate information and their actions were passive and non-aggressive," Beaton wrote. "The university's response was disproportionate to the peaceful distribution of flyers."

Whatcott said he plans to return to the University of Regina in January. No word on whether he'll bring LaBarbera. 

In any case, the not guilty verdict is probably a good thing, because it avoids turning this lovely pair into martyrs for free speech, which may have been what they wanted.  

LaBarbera, who spent the night in jail and was voluntarily deported the next day, said in a statement on AFTAH's website

“Hopefully, this ruling will open up door to a resurgence of true tolerance and freedom in Canada. The Left in Canada, as in the United States, does not want debate but rather control. They fear unfettered exposure to moral truth and compelling facts about homosexuality–hence their campaign to silence Christians and others who speak out against sexual immorality and gender rebellion.

“The very fact that I was detained and searched at length twice by Border police upon entering Canada–merely because I and AFTAH espouse historic, biblical, Judeo-Christian teachings on homosexuality–reflects escalating ‘thought tyranny’ and anti-intellectualism in Canada which, if allowed to take root, will only lead to more rigid repression against believers in this great land.”

LaBarbera also reacted to the news on Twitter: 

Tweets

h/t: Joe.My.God. 

Read the judge's full decision here

Listen to The Leader-Post's video report on the not guilty verdict here, and watch video of the arrests, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Peter LaBarbera Found Innocent Of Mischief In Canada, Says He's 'Sorry To Disappoint All The Nasty Gay Activists'" »


Lesbian Basketball Players Sue Pepperdine University For Discrimination, 'Mental Anguish' - VIDEO

Pepperdine

Pepperdine University basketball players Haley Videckis and Layana White are suing their head coach and the school for alleged civil rights violations regarding their sexual orientation, reports OutSports.

Pepperdine, a private religious school in California which is allegedly in receipt of some public funding, says its purpose is to pursue the highest academic standards "within the context that celebrates and extends the spiritual and ethical ideals of the Christian faith."

Back in 2012, the Malibu-based university blocked the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance called 'Reach Out' because Dean of Students Mark Davis said homosexuality is against "God's Will".

Videckis and White claim they were harassed for being in a relationship with each other. They allege the mental anguish ultimately led to a suicide attempt by White.

The two are suing coach Ryan Weisenberg and the university for violating their civil right to privacy and for violations of a 1972 California law which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities.

The complaint alleges that coach Weisenberg said "Lesbianism is not tolerated on this team” and is “a big concern in women's basketball."

In a statement released over the weekend, the university said”

“We take allegations of this kind very seriously. We conducted an immediate and thorough investigation and found no evidence to support these claims. The University remains committed to a diverse and inclusive environment.”

Watch Videckis discuss a game victory back in February, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lesbian Basketball Players Sue Pepperdine University For Discrimination, 'Mental Anguish' - VIDEO" »


Check Out The Beautiful Story of Max Lenox, the Army Basketball Captain Raised By Two Gay Dads: VIDEO

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This week's Sports Illustrated has the moving and remarkable story of the captain of Army's basketball team and the two gay dads who raised him. Maxwell Lenox, 22, is a senior at West Point and though he's not the star player for the Black Knights, he's been voted captain two years running due to his exceptional leadership abilities and the way he inspires his teammates. “I’ll be lucky if I do half the stuff Max does, become half the leader he is,” says sophomore forward Tanner Omlid. “I want to be like him.”

Sports Illustrated, which made big news last year with Jason Collins' coming out cover, has posted this amazing story on their website, written by S.L. Price with candor, emotion, and a remarkable sense of how much the world has changed since Lenox's adoption. Lenox was born to a crack-addicted mother in Philadelphia in 1992, at the height of the urban drug epidemic. Just three days later, he was adopted by a couple from North Carolina who were eager to start a family: Dave Lenox and Nathan Merrell. Though they had reservations about the unknown challenges of raising a "crack-baby," the bigger problems turned out to be with Merrell's conservative family who was not too thrilled to find out all at once that he was gay, had a partner, and that they were grandparents to a black infant.

Lenox_merrellsIn the touching video which accompanies the story, Merrell struggles to relate how his father denied that Max was his grandchild while his mother, for the first time in her 36-year marriage, actually defied her husband. The whole story is filled with emotional moments like this as the couple faced many struggles raising Max, including Max's difficulties in school and a serious injury that derailed a potential pro career. Now, given how Max has become such a leader, the two dads are thrilled how things have turned out as there's talk their son might make general someday. A truly inspiring story.

Check out a video on Lenox and his dads, AFTER THE JUMP....

And for the full story on Max's incredible journey, head over to Sports Illustrated here

Continue reading "Check Out The Beautiful Story of Max Lenox, the Army Basketball Captain Raised By Two Gay Dads: VIDEO" »


University Of Texas Fraternity Suspended For Anti-Gay Discrimination - VIDEO

Lambda Phi Epsilon

The University of Texas (UT) has temporarily suspended a fraternity following reports that a student had been denied a bid due to his sexual orientation, reports The Daily Texan.

The UT Austin chapter of Lambda Phi Epsilon is under investigation by its national board after civil engineering senior Diwu Zhou said he rushed for the fraternity this fall but was asked a “derogatory” question in the initial interview process. He said that the interview panel included members of the official UT chapter along with members who ran an “underground” chapter that operated while the organization was banned from campus 2005-2011.

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb0794b2d4970d-800wiThe seven year ban came about after Phanta ''Jack'' Phoummarath, a freshman pledge at the fraternity, was found dead after a fraternity house party.  His body had been defaced from head to toe with tags including “FAG,” “I’m gay” and “I AM FAT.”

The fraternity restarted at UT in fall 2013 and is on probation this year.

Zhou said that when he was told he did not receive a bid, a member of the fraternity told him the reason he was not selected was because he is gay.

Charles Andrean, the fraternity’s national president, said:

“We have received a complaint about the undergraduate chapter, and our priority right now is a full investigation and finding out everything that potentially could have occurred here.”

Phil Butler, sorority and fraternity life advisor for the Office of the Dean of Students, confirmed that Lambda Phi Epsilon is currently banned from conducting any activity on campus but added that he is not aware of an “underground” fraternity organization.

David Chen, business graduate student and officer and media contact for the UT chapter, declined to comment on behalf of the fraternity.

Back in April, a student at the Central University of Florida claimed that he was rejected by the Beta Theta Phi fraternity because he is gay.

As part of their legal settlement following the death of Phoummarath, fraternity members participated in the production of an educational anti-hazing video which you can watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "University Of Texas Fraternity Suspended For Anti-Gay Discrimination - VIDEO" »


University of California to Adopt New Guidelines for Trans Students

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In more good news out of California for LGBT people, the University of California school system will adopt new considerations for its students.

Out of concern for transgender students and employees' comfort, UC will add preferred names to student records and change exisisting single-stall restrooms to be gender-neutral.

Via San Jose Mercury News, said UC president Janet Napolitano (pictured) of this decision:

UC should be the gold standard where these issues are concerned...We want to look at not only what we are doing now, but also in the medium and long term for our students, our staff, our faculty and the communities where our campuses are situated.

The changes come from a new LGBT advisory council Napolitano established in June. The council's next move is to develop proposals for improving employee training on LGBT issues, and to develop a conference to "showcase faculty research into issues of sexual orientation and gender identity."


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