Gay Rights Hub

Texas University Bars Student-Athletes From Same-Sex Dating, Publicly Supporting Gay Marriage


A Texas university has banned gay student-athletes from dating and all athletes from publicly supporting same-sex marriage. 

LeTourneau University is an NCAA Division III school in Longview, Texas, with an enrollment of 3,000. The private interdenominational Christian university was recently named one of "America's Best Colleges" in the West by U.S. News and World Report. 

OutSports first reported on the anti-gay policy in LeTourneau's Student-Athlete Handbook, which is readily available on the school's website and reads as follows: 

The following activities are prohibited

Whether they are observed by a member of the community, verbally described, or personally shared with the public in verbal or written form (for example, through a personal website or social network). These behaviors are subject to administrative intervention and disciplinary action which may include Disciplinary Warning; Disciplinary Probation, Suspension, and/or Dismissals.

Sexually immoral or immodest conduct or the promotion of such, outside of marriage.

These include activities such as (but not limited to): sexually graphic text messaging, chatting, or video conferencing; fornication; sexual promiscuity; and adultery – whether they are heterosexual or homosexual in nature. Cohabitation (sharing a room, apartment, or home) with a member of the opposite gender is included in this prohibition.

Based on biblical standards, we believe that God has created the institution of marriage to be between one man and one woman, and only within this institution does God bless intimate sexual expression; all other intimate sexual expression outside of marriage is considered immoral behavior. Consistent with our desire to celebrate and model a Scriptural approach to sexuality;, the University prohibits same-sex dating behaviors and public advocacy for the position that sex outside of a biblically-defined marriage is morally acceptable.

Any student concerned about their experiences with sexual temptation, participation, or addiction – either heterosexual or homosexual in nature – may proactively seek assistance from the Office of Student Life or our counselors without fear of disciplinary action (see “Personal Growth initiative”).

OutSports notes that LeTourneau has a history of anti-gay efforts, including hosting "ex-gay" speaker Christopher Yuan last year, according to the school's website

What many would consider their worst nightmare has become the reality for Christopher Yuan. While attending dental school, he began living promiscuously as a gay man and experimenting with illicit drugs. Within a few years, he was expelled from dental school, imprisoned for drug dealing and discovered that he was HIV positive.

But God has turned his nightmare into an exciting and inspiring story of redemption, grace and transformation. Christopher has an understanding heart for and desire to minister to those working through issues of sexuality and to those living with HIV/AIDS. He speaks locally and internationally to youth, on college campuses, in churches and in prisons.

The LGBT group Soulforce published a letter from a closeted gay Letourneau student back in 2007: 

I will soon be graduating from LeTourneau University, and I plan to fully come out once I have. I have only chosen to remain mostly closeted because I do not want to risk being kicked out of school or forced into one of those infamous therapy camps. I have yet to reach a conclusion about my faith, however. I came to LETU hoping to be energized and changed, but I have become cynical and jaded about faith and religion.

OutSports' Cyd Zeigler says Letourneau's anti-gay policy for student-athletes is new and part of a national trend:

The movement by trustees and administrations to explicitly marginalize LGBT students on college campuses across the country is growing, even as students and faculty become increasingly accepting. Recent episodes at Erskine CollegeHillsdale College and an unnamed Christian school in the South have been particularly troubling. ... 

How other NCAA members allow schools with these kinds of bigoted policies to be part of the NCAA is difficult to understand.

Kyrgyzstan LGBT Activists Attacked On International Day Against Homophobia: VIDEO


Members of a Kyrgyzstan LGBT group were attacked, threatened and insulted by anti-gay activists and abused by police on May 17th during commemorations for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, reports Transgender Europe (TGEU).

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c6f55abf970b-250wiFollowing the attack, members of LGBT NGO Labrys were taken to a police station where they spent more than five hours without access to medical aid, bathrooms, water or food. The group was also denied access to legal representation and police demanded that several participants reveal their genitals in a search for trans people.

TGEU representative Richard Köhler said:

“Not even a month ago Labrys’ office was damaged in an arson attack, signalling the rapidly shrinking space for LGBT civil society.

"The debate of a homo- and transphobic law in the formerly liberal Central-Asian state is the breeding ground for hate and puts trans and LGBTIQ people’s lives at risk. The law proposal needs to be withdrawn immediately and Kyrgyz authorities need to assure credibly that homo- and transphobia has no space in Kyrgyz society.”

TGEU co-chair Alecs Recher added:

“The attack is an unacceptable attack on the freedom to expression and peaceful assembly, the right to life and dignity, which all persons are entitled to. The behaviour by the police, siding with the aggressors, and denying the victims their basic rights is scandalous. Kyrgyz authorities and European institutions need to swiftly condemn the attack. The perpetrators amongst the attackers and law enforcement have to be brought to justice.”

Earlier this year, MP Narynbek Maldobaev called for the extermination of all gay people.

Watch a report on LGBTI rights in Kyrgyzstan, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Kyrgyzstan LGBT Activists Attacked On International Day Against Homophobia: VIDEO" »

Bullied Gay Student And LGBT Activist Isaiah Smith Sues Texas School District


Isaiah Smith was 16 when an episode of "What Would You Do?" inspired him to petition the City Council in small, conservative Keller, Texas, to add LGBT protections. He would go on to speak repeatedly at council meetings, including calling on the mayor to sign a pledge in support of marriage equality. 

A year later, Smith was suspended from Birdville High School for carrying a Bible from which he'd ripped out pages containing anti-gay passages. Smith, a Christian, said his decision to carry the Bible was a silent protest against bullying, after other students told him being gay is a sin and he was going to hell. 

After the American Humanist Association sent a complaint to the school district alleging it had violated Smith's First Amendment rights, the suspension was overturned, and he was allowed to continue carrying the Bible. Which brings us to this week, when the AHA filed a lawsuit on Smith's behalf against the district and its board over its practice of promoting Christian prayers. Fort Worth Weekly reports: 

According to the lawsuit, filed on behalf of a former student, Isaiah Smith, the school board has had a longstanding policy of choosing students to offer Christian prayers at the beginning of public school board meetings. Smith claims that the prayers made him feel unwelcome at the public meetings and that the school board endorsed Christianity. Students and teachers also regularly attend the meetings. ...

The lawsuit asserts that the Birdville District is a repeat offender of the separation of church and state, including school sponsorship of religious baccalaureate ceremonies, school overnight trips to churches, and inclusion of Christian iconography in classrooms. In addition, Smith was wrongfully suspended from his high school for carrying a ripped Bible as an act of peaceful protest against students who bullied him because of his sexual orientation. The legal center successfully convinced the school district to expunge his record, but it so far refused to cease prayers in school board meetings.

In addition to enduring bullying at school, Smith was kicked out of his home by an unaccepting parent, according to his Facebook page. Last year, he launched a petition calling on the US to cut off all aid to Uganda over the country's anti-homosexuality law. And earlier this month, Smith received the AHA's Humanist Pioneer Award.   

U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu Introduces Federal Bill That Would Ban Ex-Gay Reparative Therapy


LGBT conversion therapy would be considered fraud and outlawed in all 50 states through the Federal Trade Commission under a proposal introduced by a California Democrat on Tuesday. 

As a member of the California Legislature, U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu authored the Golden State's ban on conversion therapy to change people's sexual orientation. However, his federal "Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act" would go further than the California law, applying to people of all ages and not just those under 18. The proposal would also explicitly prohibit therapy to change people's gender identity, an idea that has gained momentum in the wake of the death of Leelah Alcorn.  

BuzzFeed News reports: 

“The public views conversion therapy as quackery, as something that harms people,” Lieu told BuzzFeed News on Monday afternoon, just after landing back in D.C. from California. “Eventually, I believe Congress will catch up to that, but you do need to start somewhere, so that’s why we’re introducing this legislation.”

He faces an uphill battle: The legislation, which would label conversion therapy an “unfair or deceptive act or practice” that would be illegal under the Federal Trade Commission Act, is being introduced with less than three dozen co-sponsors — all of whom are Democrats.

Lieu does, however, have a powerful ally in his effort. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has signed on as an original co-sponsor of the bill.

California, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington, D.C. are the only jurisdictions that have passed laws banning conversion therapy, but only for minors. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama came out in support of banning the discredited practice. 

David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, said the following of Lieu's bill: 

“This vitally important legislation has the potential to save countless lives across this country by helping to end a practice that uses fear and shame to tell LGBT people the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. We’re proud to work alongside Congressman Lieu and our partners to send a different message - a message of hope, acceptance, and love where such a demeaning and destructive practice isn’t promoted as useful therapy. Ending this harmful profit-making practice is something that all of Congress should be able to rally behind.”

Russian Police Decide Balloons Are 'Gay Propaganda,' Arrest 17 LGBT Activists In Moscow


Seventeen gay rights activists were arrested in Moscow on Sunday at a rally to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHO). 

The activists had planned to release colorful balloons into the air during the flashmob demonstration, according to Reuters

Some 50 people assembled on a square outside a Moscow theater but crowd control police drove up a bus and started shoving the protesters inside before they managed to unfurl any banners or chant any slogans.

One of the organizers, Andrei Obolensky, said later that he and others were still detained at a police station, and only one of them had so far been released.

The LGBT community has come under increased pressure in Russia as President Vladimir Putin has charted a more conservative course since starting his third term in 2012.

The activists apparently were arrested under Russia's 2013 law banning so-called gay propaganda. However, a similar demonstration in St. Petersburg was allowed to go forward. The Moscow Times reports: 

Russia2The Sunday gathering at Field of Mars park in the center of the city had been approved by the authorities — despite Russia's law that bans gay "propaganda" in front of minors. Police were standing by to protect demonstrators from any opponents as well as to shield children who happened to pass by from the influence of "propaganda," Russian media reports said.

A little girl tried to approach the demonstration asking for a colorful balloon, only to be held back initially by both police officers, who warned against "propaganda," and rally organizers, who feared a "provocation," Open Russia news portal reported.

After a brief delay, however, she received a balloon, the report said.

Noticeably absent from the St. Petersburg demonstration was Valery Milonov, the anti-gay lawmaker who was the architect of the anti-gay law. Participants in the IDAHO demonstration reportedly handed out lollipops shaped like Milonov's head with notes that read, "Don't suck in St. Petersburg." 

Watch Reuters' video report on the IDAHO demonstrations in Russia here

LGBT Advocates Score Another Victory In Texas, But Risk Of Anti-Gay Legislation Remains


Texas LGBT advocates dodged another bullet Monday, when an anti-gay adoption amendment was derailed — at least for now — in the state House of Representatives. 

Last Thursday, an anti-gay marriage bill died in the Texas House when the deadline expired for the chamber to pass it. 

Four days later, GOP Rep. Scott Sanford (above) laid out an amendment on the House floor to allow state-funded, faith-based adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT people based on "sincerely held religious beliefs." 

The Washington Blade reports: 

But after he proposed the amendment on the floor, Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) raised a point of order on the vehicle bill on the basis the amendment wasn't properly filed. The Texas House agreed to the point of order, sending both the proposed amendment and the vehicle bill back to committee. ... 

Sanford invoked the decisions of Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusetts and D.C. to halt operations there after marriage equality came to those jurisdictions, as well as Catholic adoption agencies in Illinois after the state legalized civil unions, saying the agencies were "forced" to take those actions. Each of agencies were already required not to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of non-discrimination laws in those jurisdictions and halted operations on their own volition.

After the point of order against the anti-LGBT adoption measure was sustained, LGBT advocates claimed victory. It wasn't immediately clear whether the point of order was the last opportunity for the measure, or whether it could be revived at later time in some other fashion. The Texas legislative session continues until June 1.

The adoption amendment began as one of more than 20 anti-LGBT pieces of legislation in Texas this year, believed to be the most in the history of any state. However, with less than two weeks remaining in the legislative session, none of the anti-LGBT legislation has yet passed. 

That could change soon, though, as the House is set to take up the so-called Pastor Protection Act, ostensibly designed to protect pastors and churches from being forced to participate in same-sex weddings. The measure has already cleared the Senate, and anti-gay Gov. Greg Abbott has said he would sign it. 

As Matt Baume mentioned in his weekly Gay Marriage News Watch, pastors and churches already enjoy those protections under the First Amendment, as well as under the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But the Texas bill is written so broadly that it could allow discrimination by religiously affiliated individuals who are acting in a secular capacity, such as justices of the peace. 

The so-called "Pastor Protection Act" could also serve as a vehicle for GOP Rep. Cecil Bell to try to introduce his anti-gay marriage bill — which died last week — as an amendment. 

Stay tuned.  


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