Mississippi Hub




Transgender Man Sues Employer After Being Ordered to Follow Female Dress Code: VIDEO

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Tower Loan, a Mississippi-based finance company, fired Tristan Broussard after learning he is transgender.

Listen to Broussard's powerful story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Yesterday, Broussard filed suit against Tower, represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Altshuler Berzon LLP, and Delaney & Robb Attorneys at Law LLC:

“I was well qualified to do my job but was fired solely because of my gender,” Broussard said. “Rather than being treated like any other male employee, my employer told me I would be fired unless I dressed and acted as if I were female. The treatment I went through was inexcusable. It was wrong to be fired for who I am.”

The suit alleges that Tower Loan’s termination of Broussard violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the federal law that protects employees from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Courts across the country have repeatedly recognized that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination protects transgender workers.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the primary agency charged by Congress with interpreting and enforcing Title VII, has made clear that employers cannot fire or refuse to hire employees solely because they are transgender.

BrussardSays Broussard in a video released alongside details of the suit:

"The manager tapped me on the shoulder...asked me to go to the back with him and the other manager Miss Leah, and so we go to the back and the first thing he does is he slides me a little stack of papers and I'm looking at 'em, 'what's this?' And it's a guideline, obviously, of the dress code and the paper said 'female' on it, and I'm reading it. He's like, 'you know I had a talk with the corporate and basically we had to draw a line here...'

Broussard also talks about growing up transgender and a confrontation he had with this father when the Catholic church said that he needed to wear a dress to his confirmation.

Listen to Broussard's powerful story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Transgender Man Sues Employer After Being Ordered to Follow Female Dress Code: VIDEO" »


Mississippi Man Claims Facebook Panic In Brutal Beating Of Gay Man: VIDEO

Scott

Corinth, Mississippi resident James Scott denies that a vicious attack on gay man Devin Norman last weekend was a hate crime, reports WREG.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c768cd54970b-800wiScott (above) has admitted to attacking Devin Norman (right) in the car park of a Corinth Walmart last Friday.  Norman suffered a broken cheekbone and other serious facial injuries.

Scott alleges that Norman threatened to out him using images posted on Facebook.

Scott said:

“I cannot see how it could be a hate crime. I don’t even have an emotional hatred for him. The only thing I dislike about it was that he took something from me...I should have know better. I should have been more of an adult. I should have thought before I acted.”

Charges against Scott are likely to be upgraded from simple assault to aggravated assault after police found out Norman suffered broken bones.

Watch an interview with Scott and Norman, AFTER THE JUMP...

 

 

Continue reading "Mississippi Man Claims Facebook Panic In Brutal Beating Of Gay Man: VIDEO" »


Gay Man Brutally Beaten In Possible Hate Crime In Mississippi

Norman

Police in Mississippi are investigating a brutal assault that may have been an anti-gay hate crime.

Devin Norman (above) suffered a broken cheek bone and other serious facial injuries when he was attacked in the parking lot of a Walmart in Corinth, Mississippi, on Friday afternoon. 

From WTVA-TV

ScottInvestigators said James David Scott (right), 23, of Tishomingo County, confronted the victim, Devin Norman, 26, of Corinth, about an alleged post made on social media.

"The alleged Facebook post was apparently sexual in nature," Police Chief Ralph Dance said. "We haven't been able to verify that there was ever a Facebook post made."

After a few words were exchanged between the two, police said Scott threw Norman to the ground and kicked him several times in the face.

Scott fled on foot before being captured, but was later released on bond. He is currently charged with simple assault, but police say the charge will be upgraded to aggravated assault because Norman suffered broken bones. 

Norman and his friends say the incident was an anti-gay hate crime, but police haven't confirmed that, according to WTVA-TV: 

They are, however, investigating to see if there's a possible hate crime. 

Dance also said the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been contacted by members of the community, and it's currently being investigated.

"We've heard from several people, including the victim, that the suspect beat him up because he's homosexual," Dance said. "So far, we don't have any proof that's the case."

Mississippi's hate crime law doesn't include sexual orientation, but Scott could face federal charges under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act. 

A post about the attack went viral on Facebook over the weekend, and Norman's friends launched a GoFundMe campaign, "Justice For Devin," to help with medical and other expenses. They also staged a rally outside the Walmart on Sunday (below). 

"Devin Norman is a rockstar in our small town in MIssissippi," the GoFundMe campaign states. "Everyone knows him and everyone loves him, so we were shocked and completely heartbroken when he was brutally attacked in a Walmart parking lot. He was completely defenseless as his cowardly attacker relentlessly beat him for being gay. ... Nobody should ever feel this way or be treated this way. Violence is not the answer — love is!"

WalMart


Starkville, Mississippi Officials Override Mayor's Veto, Repeal Historic Gay-Rights Initiatives

WeAreStarkville

One year ago today, Starkville, Mississippi, became the first city in the state to pass a resolution recognizing the dignity of its LGBT citizens. 

However, instead of celebrating the anniversary of the historic resolution, the city's LGBT community is reeling from the Board of Aldermen's decision to undo it on Tuesday night. 

Wiseman.ParkerAs expected, the board voted 5-2 to override Mayor Parker Wiseman's (right) veto of its previous vote to repeal the pro-LGBT resolution. Perhaps more importantly, the board also voted to override Wiseman's veto of its vote to repeal domestic partner benefits for city employees, which were passed in September

The votes came after hours of public comments from dozens of speakers, most of whom expressed support for the pro-LGBT policies. The LGBT community also staged a rally and launched a hashtag, #WeAreStarkville, in advance of the vote. 

Human Rights Campaign Mississippi director Rob Hill issued this statement

“Though upsetting and disappointing, the board’s vote tells us that we must do more community engagement to show the leaders of Starkville that equality is important to move the city forward. Fairness and inclusion is critical to attracting new business to Starkville, diverse students to Mississippi State and quality workers to join the city’s workforce. Mayor Parker Wiseman showed tremendous leadership, courage and confidence to represent all residents of Starkville, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT people are our friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members, and we must ensure all people are welcomed within their communities."

Ultimately, the board's decision to override the mayor's veto won't have much practical impact. No employees had signed up for domestic partner benefits, according to Wiseman. Assuming that the U.S. Supreme Court makes marriage equality the law of the land in June, gay employees in Starkville will be eligible for spousal benefits. 

The resolution, meanwhile, was nonbinding and largely symbolic, and needless to say aldermen can never take away LGBT citizens' dignity, no matter how hard they try. 

If anything, as HRC's Hill suggested, the primary effects of the board's decision will be to hurt the city's economy and Mississippi State University's ability to recruit top students and faculty. 

So congratulations, aldermen. 

Twitter reactions to the Board's vote, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Starkville, Mississippi Officials Override Mayor's Veto, Repeal Historic Gay-Rights Initiatives" »


LGBT Activists In Starkville, Mississippi, Stage Rally, Launch Hashtag In Support Of Gay-Rights Initiatives

Starkville

Earlier this month, we reported that the mayor of Starkville, Mississippi, had bravely vetoed a Board of Alderman decision to repeal two historic gay-rights initiatives. 

With the Board of Alderman expected to override Mayor Parker Wiseman's veto on Tuesday night, LGBT activists launched a Twitter hashtag, #WeAreStarkville, and staged a rally Saturday outside the county courthouse. 

The Commercial Dispatch reports: 

Besides local calls, the Human Rights Campaign, a national supporter of LGBT rights, issued a notice for pro-equality advocates to attend Tuesday's 5:30 p.m. meeting at City Hall. 

"As a Mississippi State University graduate and lifelong resident of the Magnolia State, I realize this is the moment to show the world the road to advance equality in Mississippi begins in Starkville," Rob Hill, HRC Mississippi director, said. "The city has already proven once before it is on the right side of history, and what happens Tuesday will determine whether it remains the statewide leader of inclusion, fairness and opportunity." ... 

At MSU's Mitchell Memorial Library on Thursday, organizers estimated about 200 people took pictures together with signs bearing the #WeAreStarkville social media hashtag.  

On Saturday, pro-LGBT activists again spoke out publically against the city's recent action at the steps of the Oktibbeha County Chancery Courthouse. 

"We're here, and we're not going anywhere. We're going to keep fighting and speaking out," said rally organizer Melissa Grimes. "There are about 900 more days until we can elect new officials. Their time is coming, and we have their number. We're going to make sure that those who supported us are taken care of. Those aldermen who didn't, we'll show up and vote them out of office." 

Starkville, which has a population of 24,000 and sits adjacent to Mississippi State University, became the first city in the state to approve a statement of support for LGBT equality last January — and the first to extend benefits to the domestic partners of employees in September. 

However, after some members flip-flopped under pressure from anti-LGBT religious groups, the Board of Alderman voted 5-2 in a closed session earlier this month to repeal the policies — prompting Wiseman's veto. If the 5-2 majority holds, it will be enough to override the mayor's decision. 

The five aldermen who voted to repeal the measures were Lisa Wynn, Ben Carver, David Little, Roy A. Perkins and Henry Vaughn. In case you're wondering, their contact info can be found here

View more photos from the #WeAreStarkville hashtag, AFTER THE JUMP... 

Continue reading "LGBT Activists In Starkville, Mississippi, Stage Rally, Launch Hashtag In Support Of Gay-Rights Initiatives" »


Bigoted Mississippi School District Officials Fighting to Stop Formation of Gay-Straight Alliance

A school district in central Mississippi is pulling out all the stops in an attempt to prevent students from creating a gay-straight alliance on campus, The Clarion-Ledger reports:

Weathersby[Rankin County Superintendent Lynn] Weathersby (pictured right) brought up the issue at Wednesday's school board meeting, making clear his intentions to limit such organizations in Rankin County schools.

"I talked to (board attorney) Freddie (Harrell) and several administrators about what we could legally do to limit organizations like that on campus that we don't want to endorse and don't want," Weathersby said.

Although school board members and officials said they were not aware of any attempt to form a club in the district, Brandon High School theatre teacher Janice Weaver said she was approached by a student in December who expressed a desire to create a gay-straight alliance (GSA), or a student-led, student-organized club aimed at combating anti-gay discrimination and bullying in schools. Weaver said the student submitted the proposal for the club to school administrators. 

At the meeting, Weathersby said the best way to stop the "gay club" would be to require parents to sign a consent form allowing their children to participate in the club.

The paper continues:

School board attorney Freddie Harrell echoed Weathersby, saying a gay club might violate educational standards and principles adopted by the school district such as abstinence-only sexual education.

Newly appointed board member Ira Singleton asked Harrell what would happen if parents did consent to their children participating in such a club. Harrell responded that at that time, it would be up to the school's principal to decide whether the club meets school requirements.

In a statement, HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill blasted the district's actions, saying:

“The policy sends a harmful message to LGBT students in Rankin County that they are not welcomed within their classrooms, at school functions or on the bus. The board’s actions tell LGBT students that they should be ashamed of who they are and that their lives are valued less than their peers. Keeping our children safe is critical. We demand the Superintendent, and the board, reverse its decision to publicly humiliate, degrade and embarrass young LGBT people."

The ACLU of Mississippi, meanwhile, has already sent a letter to Weathersby letting him know that the district could land in legal hot water if students are blocked from forming GSA clubs. You can read the letter below:


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