South Bend Woman Claims Discrimination At Michigan Water Park….

WildWater Adventure in Muskegon

Was a bathing suit controversy at a Michigan water park discrimination or a failure to follow the rules? A South Bend woman says managers at WildWater Adventure in Muskegon told her she couldn’t go in the water because of what she was wearing.

It happened at the water park connected with Michigan’s Adventure July 9. Instead of a women’s bathing suit she wore men’s swimming trunks.

“I hate to say it, but I think it’s because I’m a lesbian,” said Jill Sweeney, who feels she was singled out.

Last Wednesday she and her wife spent the first three hours of their bachelorette party at WildWater Adventure with family and friends.

“I’d already been in the lazy river and the wave pool and then my sister in law went up to go down the slide. And that’s when I was stopped,” Sweeney said. “A supervisor had come up and she said, ‘Ma’am, you have to wear a women’s bathing suit. You’re not allowed to wear men’s.’”

Sweeney was shocked.

“It’s not right. It’s not fair,” she told WSBT.

She said she checked the park’s rules online ahead of time, which “requires all participants to be in swim suits.” It also says street clothes such as athletic clothing and jean shorts are not allowed.

“There’s nothing on their site that says gender specific so what’s wrong with what I was doing compared to anyone else?” she asked. “There’s a lot of females out there that don’t like to expose their body and will wear what I had on.”

Sweeney said she was wearing men’s swimming trunks, a tank top and sports bra.

When contacted by telephone, the park’s general manager told WSBT Sweeney was in violation of park rules.

“A sports bra would not be a swim suit. We require our patrons to wear swim suits and street clothes of any kind would not be allowed,” said WildWater Adventure general manager Camille Mark.

Mark went on to say, “There are all kinds of non-gender specific swimwear available. …According to state guidelines, we do require soap showers and swimwear like all public pools in Michigan.”

But Sweeney said the park has no rules about gender specific clothing.

“It’s embarrassing and it hurts. It really does,” she said.

Sweeney also said she’s contacted several attorneys who handle discrimination cases, but said it’s not about the money. She wants an apology for how she was treated.

When asked about Sweeney saying she felt singled out because she’s gay, Mark said, “I couldn’t possibly comment on that. How would anyone be aware of [Sweeney’s] sexuality?”

Sweeney also showed WSBT pictures of other people at the park who were in the water, not wearing bathing suits.

Mark said lifeguards might be less likely to notice people who are not wearing proper swim attire in places like the wave pool because there are lots of people in it at the same time. But the slide situation – where Sweeney was stopped – is a one-on-one interaction with lifeguards.

Kelli Stopczynski – WSBT

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Groups Celebrate Executive Order Banning Anti-Gay Workplace Discrimination….

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Groups have praised Barack Obama for today signing an Executive Order banning anti-gay workplace discrimination.

Earlier today the US President signed the order in a White House ceremony, banning discrimination against LGBT people by federal contractors, amending two existing anti-sexism orders to protect gender identity and sexuality.

Greg Nevins of Lambda Legal said: “We applaud the Obama administration for taking this important step towards protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors.

“Like many presidents before him, President Obama is taking action to ensure that taxpayer money is not wasted on workplace discrimination or harassment.”

“This is a tremendous step forward because so many workers live in states without effective legal protections and the federal employment protections for LGBT workers are not explicit.

“This executive order will ensure that there are at least some workplaces in every state with explicit, legally binding protections for LGBT Americans.”

Andre Banks of All Out said: “In a single, bold action, President Obama has thrown open the doors of opportunity for millions of lesbian, gay, bi and trans employees.

“The executive orders set a powerful statement for similar policies at home and abroad.

“Today, the President has stood up for the powerful and proven idea that employment protections are good business and good policy — without loopholes and compromises that create opportunities to discriminate against a person because of who they are or whom they love.

“In a majority of US states and in most countries around the world, you can be fired for being lesbian, gay, bi or transgender.

“But when leaders like Obama take unequivocal steps to ensure more people are treated equally under the law in the face of powerful opposition, it has the power to inspire new and better employment protections on the national and global stages.”

HRC President Chad Griffin said: “With this action, President Obama has cemented his legacy as a transformative leader.

“Consistently, this administration has taken unprecedented and historic executive actions to advance LGBT equality in this country and around the world.

“The focus now shifts to the House of Representatives, where the Employment Non-Discrimination Act must be brought to a vote by the House leadership.

“A bipartisan coalition of Americans is standing behind LGBT equality, a bipartisan coalition of our elected leaders should be doing the same.”

Pink News

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Jeffrey the series: “Hydrate” (Episode 6)….

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Gay Man Subjected To “Interrogation” In Front Of His Four-Year-Old Son By UK Passport Official….

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The Home Office has suspended a UK passport official, pending disciplinary investigations, after the employee reportedly subjected a gay man to an intrusive line of questioning in front of the man’s four-year-old son.

The interrogation included information on the man’s sexual history and details about the adoption of his children.

American-born Randall Cole, aged 44, is married to a British man Stuart Wales, 42.

They moved to the UK from the US last year and Cole, a charity worker, became a British citizen in May. When he was invited to an interview with immigration officials, he believed that it would be a straightforward formality in order to process his application for a British passport.

He duly turned up to the interview centre in Chelmsford, Essex, with his four-year-old son, but has told The Guardian that he was left feeling ‘violated and dirty’ by the interviewer’s line of questioning, which he felt was ‘clearly homophobic’.

The interview took place in an open-plan office while Cole’s young son sat on his lap.

‘I told her I am here with my son Samuel and that he has an older brother [aged eight] but that my husband is looking after him,’ said Cole, ‘and when I used the term husband that’s when you could see something immediately changed in her. She began to fixate on questions about my family.’

He says that the interviewer began to quiz him on his biological connection to his child, and after she had ascertained that he and his husband were fathers through adoption, said, ‘Oh, so that’s why you’re able to have children’.

She went on to ask what the children’s birth mother ‘think about all of us?’ and ‘Aren’t the children confused by it all?’

He said that she then asked whether he wondered what people ‘make of you when they see you walking down the street with your kids?’

She went on to grill him about the children’s mother: ‘Do they call her mum? Why didn’t she want to keep her children?’

Cole says that although Samuel is aware of his adoption, he felt forced to again explain things to him while the interviewer grilled him: ‘At this point I felt I was failing my son, failing to keep him safe.’

Cole says that he objected to the line of questioning when the interviewer asked him – again in front of his son – if he had previously had sex with women. Noting his objection, the interviewer replied: ‘We can ask anything we want, regardless of whether or not it makes you feel uncomfortable.’

When Cole mentioned that he worked part-time, he says the interviewer interrupted to say, ‘Oh, so you’re like the housewife.’

Cole has since filed an official complaint. A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Intrusive questions about someone’s sexuality as part of an interview would be inappropriate and is not a reflection of our policy.

‘The member of staff in question has been suspended and a disciplinary investigation is now under way.’

Commenting on the case, veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told MailOnline: ‘It’s truly shocking in this day and age that a Home Office official can behave in this intrusive and bigoted way.

‘I’m delighted that the official has been suspended. No-one applying for a passport should be subjected to such humiliation for any reason.’

David Hudson – Gay Star News

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Chelsea Manning To Begin Gender Treatment….

Army Private Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning, is escorted away from his Article 32 hearing February 23, 2012, in Fort Meade, Maryland.

The Bureau of Prisons has rejected the Army’s request to accept the transfer of national security leaker Pvt. Chelsea Manning from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to a civilian facility where she could get better treatment for her gender-identify condition. The military will instead begin the initial treatment for her.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved the Army’s recommendation to keep Manning in military custody and start a rudimentary level of gender treatment, a defense official said Thursday. The initial gender treatments could include allowing Manning to wear some female undergarments and also possibly provide some hormone treatments.

The decision raises a number of questions about what level of treatment Manning will be able to get and at what point the private would have to be transferred from the all-male prison to a female facility.

Manning has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, the sense of being a woman in a man’s body. Civilian prisons can provide treatment, and the Defense Department has argued repeatedly that it doesn’t have the medical expertise needed. As a result, the Army tried to work out a plan to transfer Manning to a federal prison.

Officials said Thursday that federal authorities refused the proposal. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly by name.

Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but in May he contended that civilian prisons were not as safe as military facilities.

In a statement, he said, “It is common knowledge that the federal prison system cannot guarantee the safety and security of Chelsea in the way that the military prison system can.”

The Army sends an average of 15 to 20 prisoners a year to civilian prisons. But Manning’s appeals have not been exhausted, she’s still in the military and her case is of national security interest. Those are factors that normally could prevent a transfer.

According to a complaint filed by Manning, she asked that a treatment plan consider three types of measures: “real life experience,” a regimen in which the person tries dressing and living in the new gender; hormone therapy, which changes some physical traits such as breast and hair growth; and sex reassignment surgery. Manning has not publicly said whether she wants surgery, and the proposed plan was not released.

Manning’s treatment request was the first by a transgender military inmate, and it set up a dilemma for the department of how to treat a soldier for a diagnosed disorder without violating long-standing military policy.

The former intelligence analyst was sentenced in August for six Espionage Act violations and 14 other offenses for giving WikiLeaks more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents, along with battlefield video, while working in Iraq in 2009 and 2010.

After the conviction, Manning announced the desire to live as a woman and legally changed her name to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning from Bradley Edward Manning.

Manning cannot be discharged from the service while serving her 35-year prison sentence.

Lolita C. Baldor – Associated Press

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Lebanese Police Use Banned Anal Exam To “Test” Homosexuality….

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The Lebanese police are reportedly still using a “test” for homosexuality banned in 2012 that involves an anal exam deemed to be “torture” by the nation’s Order of Physicians.

The Daily Star Lebanon reports on five new cases in which a forensic doctor identified only by the initials A.M. was hired by the judicial police’s Moral Protection Bureau to determine the sexuality of five Lebanese and Syrian men accused only of being gay — a crime in Lebanon.

The test involves inserting an egg-shaped metal object into the rectum. It has been called useless, and described as a torture akin to rape.

“We are asking the Order of Physicians to sue him [the doctor] for professional misconduct,” attorney Legal Agenda Editor Nizar Saghieh told The Daily Star. “There are many sanctions available, so it is up to the people who are hearing this case to decide on what is adequate.”

Gay Star News reports the test was banned by Lebanon’s Order of Physicians in August 2012, a month after it was used on 35 men arrested in a porn cinema in Burj Hammoud in July 2012. The LGBT rights group Helem protested the incident, and Lebanon’s Justice Minister spoke out against it, but legal experts say it is now being used.

“Such techniques do not give the desired result and constitute a gross violation of the rights of persons who are subject to it without their consent. The practice is humiliating and is torture in violation of the [United Nations] Convention Against Torture,” read a report by the Legal Agenda.

Saghieh said he suspects that there are other unreported cases of this “test” being implemented, and has reportedly called for the doctor to be punished for his actions, saying, “We are asking the Order of Physicians to sue him for professional misconduct.”

Winnie McCroy – Edge: New England

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Gay Teacher Fired Over Plans To Marry Partner Sues Catholic School For Gender Discrimination….

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The former band director and music instructor at a Macon, Ga., Catholic school has filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming gender discrimination after he was fired over his plans to marry another man.

Flint Dollar says he was fired from Mount de Sales Academy in May, where he has taught since 2010, after announcing on Facebook that he planned to marry his longtime partner in Minnesota this summer.

Since neither federal law nor state law in Georgia expressly forbids employers from discriminating against gays, Dollar cites gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as the basis of his lawsuit, reports NPR.

He says his sexual orientation was never a secret at Mount de Sales Academy, and that he was clear with church leaders when he was hired that he is gay.

But in May, on the last day of school, Dollar was called in to see the school president: “I was told that … the bishop of the Diocese of Savannah called and expressed his concern that if I was to return it would be against the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

“I was told that there were no student complaints, no parent complaints. There was nothing in my personnel file,” said Dollar. “It was not because I’m gay, but because I am marrying my partner, I will not be allowed to return.”

Dollar’s attorney, Charles Cox, says his client was penalized for not conforming to gender stereotypes.

“When you fire somebody because they are engaging in a same-sex marriage, I think that pretty clearly fits with gender discrimination,” says Cox. “You’re being fired because you’re not complying with traditional gender stereotypes, and that’s wrong, and we believe it’s unlawful.”

Cox makes an argument used in another civil rights case brought by Peter TerVeer, a federal employee at the Library of Congress who claimed that he faced discrimination after his boss found out that he was gay.

“His romantic or intimate interest in men is something that the women workers at the office were not penalized for, but he was,” says LGBT rights attorney Greg Nevins, who is assisting in that case. “[TerVeer] made that claim in federal district court, and the court allowed it to proceed, despite a motion to dismiss by the Department of Justice.”

Dollar says he does not plan to return to the school even if he wins the suit.

LGBTQ Nation

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