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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

Lenox1

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...

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University of California to Adopt New Guidelines for Trans Students

  New-UC-President-Janet-Napolitano-600x393

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."


Obama Mentions LGBT Victims of Sexual Violence at 'It's On Us' Campaign Rollout: WATCH

Rollout

On Friday President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced the White House’sIt’s On Us” campaign designed to heighten the public’s awareness of sexual assault. Working in collaboration with Generation Progress, a progressive political non-profit focused on college campuses, It’s On Us is the latest addition to the White House Task Force on Sexual Assault’s broader initiative to standardize the processes through which rape and sexual assault are reported and addressed in college settings.

In April the Task Force published a 20-page reportd detailing steps that university leadership should take to more effectively engage with their students, faculty, and security personnel in the on-going conversation about rape-culture.

“An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years -- one in five.” Obama said during Friday’s press conference. “Of those assaults, only 12 percent are reported, and of those reported assaults, only a fraction of the offenders are punished.”

Obama made a point of highlighting the prevalence of sexual assault across multiple demographics, adding that while discussion of rape-culture tends to focus on women, men and members of the LGBT community also deserve the same kinds of protections.

“[W]hile these assaults overwhelmingly happen to women, we know that men are assaulted, too. Men get raped. They’re even less likely to talk about it. We know that sexual assault can happen to anyone, no matter their race, their economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity -– and LGBT victims can feel even more isolated, feel even more alone.”

It’s On Us’s emphasis on bystander prevention and encouraging men to talk about their own experiences marks the White House’s future plans to further expand the Task Force’s focus to K-12 schools, representatives asserted.

“Obviously, many of these habits do not begin as young people arrive on college campus – it begins earlier than that,” explained a senior White House representative. “Today’s announcement is a critical part of the administration’s work to prevent sexual assault, but it is not the final step.”

Watch It's On Us's firist video PSA featuring actors Jon Hamm, Kerry Washington, Rose Byrne and others AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Obama Mentions LGBT Victims of Sexual Violence at 'It's On Us' Campaign Rollout: WATCH" »


As College Enrollment Dwindles, Schools Aim To Attract Growing LGBT Student Population

CampusPride

University enrollment is slowly dwindling--perhaps because of exorbitant costs and student loans--but a 2013 study from the Pew Research Center shows that twenty, smack dab in the middle of college, is the average age at which LGBT persons are coming out in America. Many schools are perking up their ears, then, and realizing that as attitudes change about sexual orientation in the United States, LGBT students who feel comfortable expressing themselves will need more support and resources available to them than ever before.

Time reports:

“It’s a competitive advantage,” says Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, one of the nation’s first on-campus support centers for LGBT students. “If you want to attract the best and brightest students, you don’t want competitors to get a leg up.”

A growing number of campuses are launching programs to attract and hold onto LGBT students, including college fairs aimed at LGBT applicants, LGBT student-support offices, special graduation ceremonies, and housing and healthcare for transgender students. Colleges and universities are also putting more resources into LGBT student centers, including by hiring full-time employees to direct them.


With Campus Pride and The Princeton Review tracking the level of LGBT-accessibility and friendliness at campuses around the country, it is easier than ever for students to pick and choose the schools they apply to based on criteria specific to sexual orientation. Over 400 schools have taken Campus Pride's index survey, says executive director Shane Windmeyer.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c6d8d5ca970b-200wi“Campuses today want to be called gay friendly,” Windmeyer says. “They see they’re going to lose students if they’re not, [and] realize the pool of non-LGBT students is dwindling.”

Josh Bergeleen (right), a gay recent graduate of Emory University who found more support from his school's LGBT resources than from his family in Texas, agrees that schools will realize the tide is changing soon enough.

“As there is more awareness of LGBT [people] in the larger community,” he says, “more and more kids are going to want to know what resources and information are available. Schools will catch up.” 

(Photo of Bergeleen via Time.)


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