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Delaware School Board Member Opposes Curriculum's Discussion Of Homosexuality, Gender Identity

DelawareDelaware has not had the best school board-related news of late. In August, the Cape Henlopen school board voted to remove a coming-of-age book about a lesbian girl from its summer reading list (after which the summer reading program was removed altogether). Now, the Indian River school district board of education is facing a particularly irate and talkative member who opposes any mention of homosexuality and gender identity in the curriculum.

Pink News reports:

Last week, Shaun Fink, Indian River School District Board of Education member, spoke out at a school board meeting against lesson plans that would address issues of gender identity and sexual orientation in Indian River high schools...

He said: “I am objecting publicly to anything that discusses gender identity, homosexuality. Schools have no role in teaching someone ‘if you’re gay you’re normal.’ That is not the school’s role. When did the school become the arbiter of what’s normal and what’s not normal?”

One response? Schools have always been arbiters of normalcy, and leaving definitions of varied identities out of the curriculum only furthers some students' lack of understanding. Nina Lou Bunting, another member of the school board, had an appropriate response at the ready as well.

She said: “Whether you go into transgender, cross-dressing, all the different aspects, is that really so important? It’s just if someone is different, we are to respect them as human beings as we wish to be respected.”

It turns out that Mr. Fink also opposes lessons about STI, HIV, and pregnancy prevention, citing Title 14, which enforces an abstinence-focused education.

He said: “You can’t teach both sides of it. Condoms don’t belong in a classroom. End of story.”

Miseducation, or an utter lack of education, has never been a means to fight misunderstanding. Hopefully Fink's comments will not derail further discussion of these issues in the Indian River school district.


California Governor Jerry Brown Extends Minority Provisions To LGBT Business Owners

BrownCalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a historic bill that will result in new opportunities for certified businesses owned by LGBT people, reports SDGLN.com.

Brown is known for his pro-LGBT advocacy. Last week, he outlawed the "gay panic" defense in court. In August, he signed a bill that will provide unprecedented protections for transgender students in California.

The new law means that starting in 2015, public utilities in the state will be required to extend to LGBT certified business owners existing provisions already granted to those owned by ethnic minorities, women, and disabled veterans.

The law - which came about through testimony and advocacy by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) - is believed to be the first bill of its kind in the United States. It defines an “LGBT business enterprise” as one that is at least 51% owned by an LGBT person or persons, or, in the case of any publicly owned company, at least 51% of the stock is to be owned by a LGBT individual or individuals.

Justin Nelson, NGLCC co-founder and president of NGLCC, said:

"Gov. Brown has further added to his impressive record on economic development and LGBT issues with his signing of this bill into law. We are very proud of the hard work of our team, all seven of our California Local Affiliate Chambers, our certified LGBT business owners, the California Small Business Association and other allied organizations that made this law not only our priority, but also their priority. We also are grateful for the wide support of this law from diverse business communities and the unwavering and consistent support from AT&T and Southern California Edison.”

NGLCC co-founder and CEO Chance Mitchell added:

“The LGBT business community owes a huge debt of gratitude to [lead sponsors] Assemblyman Gordon and Sen. Leno for their hard work in passing this bill that will have real impact on the lives of LGBT California business owners and the many Californians employed by them.”


Full-Page Advertisement In Minnesota Newspaper Paints Transgender Teens As Locker Room Predators: VIDEO

TransphobicMN

A full-page advertisement in Sunday's issue of the Minnesota Star Tribune had a deeply transphobic and infuriatingly close-minded message to put across to readers. Depicting two shower heads in a locker room, the ad asks: "A male wants to shower beside your 14-year-old daughter. Are YOU ok with that?" The image is in reference to a policy to be discussed this week by the Minnesota State High School League which would allow transgender students to join sports teams based on their gender identity. 

Not only does the ad completely deny transgender students' gender identification (by referring to a person who identifies as female as "male"), it was also paid for by an entity titled the Minnesota Child Protection League, casting a sinister light on an already maligned minority group. 

My Fox 9 Twin Cities reports:

It remains unknown if any transgender athletes have been barred from sports in Minnesota, but the state's high school league believes it's only a matter of time. In fact, ever since Dr. Renee Richards decided to play women's tennis nearly 40 years ago, the sports world has wrestled with transgender issues. The International Olympic Committee and NCAA both have similar policies in place...

Those like Autumn Leva, of the Minnesota Family Council, say they share the concerns about locker rooms, privacy, and the "fundamental fairness" cited in the [Minnesota] draft.

"We segregate teams for a reason -- for safety reasons, for privacy reasons," she said. "Now, you have a biological male to female taking the place of a female student. That becomes really problematic."

Yet, the MSHSL says that's why they need a policy -- to be ahead of the ball for when schools encounter such a scenario. The draft aims to provide schools a framework for identifying trans athletes and guidelines for working with doctors who may be administering hormone therapy that would equalize the playing field.

Many Minnesotans were outraged by the transphobic advertisement. CityPages.com reported about several subscribers' tweets on the issue, including "Well that's the end of me buying the Star Tribune" and "Why did @StarTribune publishers amplify that hate?" The paper has reportedly stated that the advertisement "met all the requirements of [their] ad policy."

A disturbing story to say the least. We will keep our fingers crossed for a vote in favor of the policy this Thursday.

Check out news coverage of the story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Full-Page Advertisement In Minnesota Newspaper Paints Transgender Teens As Locker Room Predators: VIDEO" »


What Makes Amazon's 'Transparent' So Special?

TRANSPARENT_101_00627 (1) copy

You might want to cancel your weekend plans. Today Amazon releases all ten episodes of their excellent original series, Transparent. Not only is it far and away the strongest offering from the streaming service (and one of the best this television season), it’s also a new high-water mark in telling trans-inclusive stories.

The series follows a Los Angeles family with three adult children as they cope with their father’s coming out as a transgender woman. Forced to re-examine their family dynamics, the sun-soaked dramedy pushes and pulls at all members of the Pfefferman clan, as they struggle to live openly and honestly with one another and within themselves.

Maura Pfeffermen isn’t exactly the sort of role you’d envision for Jeffrey Tambor — the self-described “schlumpy” 70-year-old actor best known for portraying George Bluth on Arrested Development and Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show - but he is beyond fabulous. Labels like “career-defining” don’t do justice enough to his work here.

“I’m so proud of this show,” the actor told us earlier this month. “This show shines a light on something that needs to be shone and a conversation that has to move forward … That’s important, and that makes me smile when I get up in the morning.”

Find out more about what makes Transparent so special, with thoughts from the creator, cast and more, AFTER THE JUMP

Continue reading "What Makes Amazon's 'Transparent' So Special?" »


South Africa LGBT-Friendly Mosque May Close Down Barely A Week After Opening - VIDEO

Open Mosque South Africa to close down

South Africa’s first gay-friendly mosque could be shut down barely a week after it opened because it has violated municipal by-laws by not having any parking spaces, reports AFK Insider.

According to Taj Hargey, the director of the “forward thinking” organization Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford and Imam of the university’s Islamic Congregation, the Open Mosque in Wynberg, a Cape Town suburb - which opened last Friday - welcomes all genders, religions and sexual orientations. The mosque also allows women to lead prayers.

Taj hargeyHargey said that he has received many positive responses to the mosque but confirmed that he has also received “a lot of death threats.”

The Muslim Judicial Council, an umbrella organization of the South African Islamic clergy, condemned the mosque, stating that Hargey’s establishment cannot be considered a true mosque given that it does not adhere to both the Qur'aan and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

However, Hargey told the BBC that although his “autonomous and independent” mosque has been targeted by the City Council using “ridiculous bylaws,” he “will not be threatened by them or anyone else.”

Protesting outside the mosque, Imam Bilal Ghorieb said that his argument against the mosque is personal and "not part of the religion['s] understanding, my understanding, a selfish understanding."

Elsabeth Muirhead said that, as a Unitarian, she went to the opening to support the mosque's message of "tolerance, interfaith dialog and equality with women."

Watch a report on the opening of the Open mosque, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "South Africa LGBT-Friendly Mosque May Close Down Barely A Week After Opening - VIDEO" »


Philippine Province Among First In Country To Ban LGBT Discrimination

Agusan del norteAgusan del Norte has become one of the few areas in the Philippines to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) that protects people irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, reports Outrage.

Provincial Ordinance No. 358-2014 also prohibits discrimination in the province on the basis of age, disability, ethnicity, health status, physical appearance, political affiliation, religion, and social status.

The ordinance “recognizes as a policy...to value the dignity of every human person and guarantee full respect of human rights to promote equality and to effectively eliminate all forms of discrimination that violate and offend the guarantee of equal protection of human rights.”

The ADO prohibits denial of services; refusing admission/dismissal from educational institutions; denial of access to use private and public establishments, facilities and utilities; employment rejection; publication and/or use of derogatory/humiliating images and/or statements against persons; and uploading/posting of images and/or videos online to debase and humiliate a person.

BacasmasYsang Semacio Bacasmas [pictured right], executive officer of LGBT rights group Ladlad Caraga Inc., said:

“I feel very happy and at least we now have this that can help our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQIA community. To our fellow LGBTs, hopefully we continue the fight for us to have a peaceful and good lives.”

According to HapiHumanist.org, Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch reported that a total of 103 killings from 1996 to 2011 in the Philippines have occurred on account of sexual orientation.


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