Green Bay Schools Ban LGBT Bullying….

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The Green Bay Area School District has banned bullying based on gender identity, and educators are looking for other ways to make the school day easier for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender kids.

The Green Bay district is among the first in Wisconsin to train staff on related issues and consider ways to make gay-straight alliances more effective, said Brian Juchems, of the Madison-based Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools.

Each of the Green Bay district’s four high schools and Washington Middle School have GSA groups. The district provided training for staff and parents last year.

“We know there is bullying and harassment going on, and we want students to know that that is not acceptable,” said Elizabeth Wetzel Gracyalny, a social worker at East High School and the district’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning coordinator.

“There wasn’t a special rule for making fun of kids for gender expression, and we wanted it to be in black and white. If we have a rule, we can say ‘This is a rule you are breaking.'”

In addition to the bullying policy, district officials are looking at other measures to make schools more accommodating for transgender students, such as gender-neutral bathrooms or special locker room accommodations. It’s working with a state advocacy group to make changes.

The Janesville School District recently adopted a policy barring discrimination based on gender identity. That district will allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room of the gender with which they identify if parents and principals give the OK.

Even smaller steps can make a difference, Green Bay officials said. For example, Southwest High School administrators could reconsider a tradition that has graduating seniors wearing blue gowns of they are male and white if they are female.

“Why not just have one color so it isn’t a dilemma for the transgender student?” Gracyalny suggested.

Reports show lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — or LGBT — students struggle in school.

A 2011 national survey of nearly 8,600 middle and high school students found eight out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school in the previous year. The study, conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, said more than half of LGBT students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation and about 40 percent felt unsafe because of gender expression.

The New York-based network’s website says its goal is “for every student, in every school, to be valued and treated with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

The survey included 212 Wisconsin students, who said they had all heard the term “gay” use in a negative way.

Nine out of 10 students said they heard students say something negative about a person’s gender expression. About a third said they heard similar remarks from school staff, and one out of 10 said they regularly heard school staff make homophobic remarks.

Juchems has helped train staff in Green Bay and De Pere. Advocates also met with Green Bay parents, Gracyalny said.

“Educators want the school experience to be positive. The emotional traumatization that happens with bullying or other issues takes them out of the learning environment,” Juchems said.

Awareness is important, he said.

“If the teacher inadvertently uses the wrong name or a substitute teacher comes in and used the birth name, and refers to them by a female name and the students know them as male, you’ve outed them. Or if they use ‘he’ instead of ‘she.’

“Instead of saying ‘all right boys and girls, or ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ just say ‘y’all or ‘all right, learners,'” he said. “That helps create a safer experience.

“These are the kinds of things staff need to be sensitive to.”

Surveys indicate students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender generally report higher drug and alcohol use, Gracyalny said.

“It confirms what we thought,” Juchems said. “They are more likely to be depressed, more likely to think about suicide. This should be a clear calling to communities that harassment is not OK.”

Gracyalny noted the Gay-Straight Alliance group at East works to promote the “Day of Silence” event in mid-April aimed at protesting harassment, discrimination and hate.

“I think awareness is a big part of it,” she said. “I think just the presence of a GSA makes kids feel safer and more accepted.”

Patti Zarling – Green Bay Press Gazette

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Suspect In Philadelphia Attack Resigns As Part-Time Basketball Coach….

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Suspects September 11 robbery and attack of two gay men in Philadelphia.

A suspect in the recent Philadelphia attack of two gay men lost his job coaching high school students.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia released a statement today, 18 September, announcing the suspect in the crime no longer works as a basketball coach.

‘Violence against anyone, simply because of who they are, is inexcusable and alien to what it means to be a Christian,’ Archbishop Charles Chaput, said in a release.

‘A recent beating incident…allegedly involved, in some way, a part-time coach at Archbishop Wood High School. After inquiries by school leadership, the coach was contacted regarding the matter and he resigned,’ the archbishop continued.

Philly.com reports the suspect quit.

All 10 to 12 suspects allegedly are Archbishop Wood graduates. The coeducational school is located approximately 30 miles (48km) from the city.

According to police, on 11 September the victims, both in their late 20s, were on the 1600 block of Chancellor Street (located in the Center City neighborhood of the city).

The group, all in their early 20s, approached the couple.

‘Is this your fucking boyfriend,’ someone in the group asked, according to Philly.com.

The gay men were allegedly attacked, held as other members in the group punched them in the face, head, and chest.

One of the victims dropped a bag, containing his cell phone, wallet, and credit card. As police approached, a suspect picked up the bag and the group fled.

The victims were transported to hospital. The police report one victim sustained facial fractures, deep lacerations to his face, and a wired shut jaw.

After authorities released a video of the suspects, walking on a sidewalk, an anonymous Twitter user tracked them down with a Facebook photo taken at a restaurant.

There have been no arrests. However, police have spoken to a number of the suspects.

Pennsylvania’s hate crime laws do not include sexuality or gender expression.

Gay Star News

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Restaurant Says They Sell “Straight” Ice Cream, Internet Responds In The Best Way Possible….

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A New York restaurant has decided to go down the rocky road of saying they serve ‘straight’ ice cream.

Italian venue Gallo Nero, which is located in New York’s West Village neighborhood, put up the sign over the weekend as a direct response to the Big Gay Ice Cream shop from across the road.

And when the gay shop heard about the sign, they tweeted a photo of it.

‘If you pass by @galloneronyc maybe you could pop in & let em know what you think of this advertising campaign,’ they said.

Responses to the pic include: ‘Apparently the “true taste of Italy” that @GalloNeroNYC creates is homophobia. Mmm…tasteless.’

‘Wow! That is the most inappropriate ad I’ve seen in a long time! Obviously @biggayicecream must be a threat.’

‘Funny how your homophobic ice cream is boring and @biggayicecream has fun flavors. A lot like life, huh?’

And on Yelp, the restaurant’s rating is plummetting over the sign.

One review includes: ‘Had spent the last few Saturday afternoons having some drinks at the bar with friends. If I knew how homophobic the management was, we would have never spent a dime there.

‘The food sucks, but we thought the bar was welcoming enough for a drink. We won’t make that mistake again. A pathetic excuse for a business in the west village.’

And another says: ‘Homophobia does not belong in new york. Don’t bother with a place that advertises it blatantly!’

‘What’s the issue?’ a manager at the restaurant reportedly told Gothamist. ‘We can call our ice cream whatever we want.’

Joe Morgan – Gay Star News

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Ben & Jerry’s Backs Supreme Court Marriage Equality Brief….

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Ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s has backed a brief calling on the US Supreme Court to rule on marriage equality.

The company is the latest to sign the Employers’ Amicus Brief, urging the Supreme Court to take up one of the pending marriage ban cases from Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia when it begins its new session next month.

It adds its name to the more than 30 companies including Amazon, CBS, eBay, Nike, Target, Intel and Viacom, that have filed in favour of an equal marriage ruling.

Spokesperson Chris Miller said: “Often, it’s not enough to change the way you do business, or change the practice within your business.

“Unless you’re willing to stand up and advocate for the rights of others, not just here in our backyard but around the world, it’s often just not good enough.

“This is not just a concern of the gay rights community. There is a broad base of support for a single standard across all 50 states that recognize same sex marriage.”

Mr Miller also denied the move was a ‘lefty business’ decision, saying: “If you look at the list [of businesses], you’ve got some very large, mainstream, well-recognized corps and brands, and I think that brings some credibility to the issue – the broader the base of support you have, the more likely it is you’re going to make a change.”

It is not the first time Ben & Jerry’s has backed marriage equality, releasing special’Apple-y Ever After’ and ‘Chubby Hubbies’ editions previously.

A majority of US states have also called on the Supreme Court to issue a ruling on same-sex marriage, across two separate legal briefs.

One brief backed by Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington calls on the court to rule in favour of marriage equality.

A second, supported by Colorado, ,Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin, calls on the court to end protracted legal battles by ruling on the issue.

Pink News

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Transgender Girl Crowned Homecoming Princess At Colorado High School….

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A transgender student has been crowned homecoming princess at a Colorado Springs, Colo., high school.

The Gazette of Colorado Springs reported Saturday that Scarlett Lenh received the majority of the votes from her junior class at Sand Creek High School, besting three other girls for the honor.

Lenh, 16, was bestowed the honor during Friday night’s football game. She began identifying as a girl this school year, and said she’s known she was a girl since about age 7 or 8.

“It was really exciting. It felt really good. I couldn’t stop smiling,” Scarlett said after she found out at an afternoon assembly that the majority of the junior class had voted for her.

Two of the other girls who were nominated by their peers were “extremely supportive,” Scarlett said, and the other “was really upset.”

Scarlett said she didn’t think she’d be nominated.

“One of my friends mentioned it, and I didn’t think anything of it because I didn’t think I’d be nominated. But, now, it really matters to me,” she said. “This is something I’ve wanted to do since my freshman year. I want people to be themselves and not feel uncomfortable in their own body and mind.”

The school in Falcon School District 49 is in the same city as Focus on the Family and the National Association of Evangelicals.

“The leaders at Sand Creek High School and in District 49 respect the decision of the Scorpion student body in electing their homecoming court,” district spokesman Matt Meister said in a statement. “Our board policy sets the standard that we do not exclude any person from participating in any program or activity on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.”

Not everyone is supportive.

“It’s craziness,” said Jana Neathery, whose granddaughter attends Sand Creek. “Originally, it was a joke that he was going to be nominated for homecoming princess, but he got a lot of nominations,” she said, referring to Scarlett, “and now there are a lot of upset girls because a spot was taken from them.

“I’m very sympathetic that he’s transgender, but he should be on the boys’ side, not the girls’.”

Last year, a transgender first-grade girl won the right to use the girls’ restroom at another Colorado Springs-area school district. The Colorado Civil rights Division ruled that not allowing Coy Mathis to use the girls’ bathroom violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act.

Associated Press

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To Be Takei – Official Trailer….

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A Closer Look At Discrimination Within Assisted Living Facilities….

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LGBT discrimination doesn’t stop as someone ages, and no one knows this better than Bruce Williams.

The senior services coordinator at the Pride Center in Wilton Manors, Williams began working on a project to compile LGBT-friendly assisted living facilities about five years ago. He would call and knock on doors to get more information on each location, and the results were “scary,” he said.

While some were open to participating in the project, others would hang up on his calls or give him “lame excuses” as to why he couldn’t come inside. Just a few weeks ago, while he was speaking with a regional marketer from a large, long-term care corporation of homes, her demeanor immediately changed when she saw his business card and where he worked.

“All of a sudden there was a wall of ice between us. I tried to pitch the [Pride Center senior expo] to see if they would want to represent their facilities there and her response was, ‘Well, I only have one facility that might possibly be interested in that.'”

According to the LGBT Aging Center, there are 1.5 million LGBT people older than 65 in the country. By 2030, the number is expected to double. Because LGBT seniors are more likely to be single, and without someone to care for them in old age, more are looking to find an assisted living facility to live in. However, many such facilities are not welcoming.

Williams says that he consistently receives calls once or twice a month with complaints from seniors looking for an assisted living facility. Sometimes the calls are from outside of South Florida or even the state. A gay man said he struggled to visit his partner and bring him food in hospice. A gay senior wanted to host an LGBT meet-up at his facility, and the idea was shot down.

“They would tolerate his orientation, but they were not going to tolerate any open advertising of any kind of activities,” Williams said.

This is a generation that experienced immense discrimination in their youth or perhaps did not even come out until recently. With that, the problem of LGBT senior housing becomes twofold: Not only are some facilities giving this population the cold shoulder, but the fearful senior community also tends to force themselves back into the closet. This might also explain why many LGBT-exclusive facilities have not been successful, aging LGBT people are just not ready.

“We need to make changes, but those changes should not be the responsibility of the people that need the care right now. The changes need to be brought about by those of us [younger LGBT adults] who are not yet ready for it. You can’t fight that battle from within; it’s just too much,” Williams said.

Perhaps one of the most successful facilities to the LGBT community has been Forest Trace in Lauderhill. Owner Stanley Rosenthal made bold moves by including same-sex couples in their marketing materials and ensuring that staff was trained to handle LGBT residents coming in.

“We wanted to show that we are gay-friendly and doing everything possible to reach out to and support the gay community,” Rosenthal told SFGN in a previous story.

Other facilities have teamed up with the Pride Center to help host its Coffee and Conversation programming, a weekly senior discussion group that draws about 150 LGBT seniors every week. Representatives will bring coffee and snacks and mingle with participants.

“They put their money where their mouth is,” Williams said. “There’s always a chance that may be done just to fill beds, but you can weed that out kind of in a hurry just by visiting and talking and getting a feel for the individual.”

However, even with open-minded management, should someone step down from their position, they could quickly be replaced by someone who is not in favor of LGBT residents. To avoid this, it’s important for facilities to make a company-wide decision to be accepting of the LGBT community and aware of laws, to work to make accommodations within their facility and to publicize their stance so seniors know they are safe before they walk through the front doors, Williams said.

“The facilities take the lead in something like that. If they absolutely make it known and have policies to go ahead and back that up, that they are tolerant, that they are accepting, then the future resident has less to be concerned about that,” Williams said. “They don’t have to go in wondering.”

Christiana Lilly – South Florida Gay News

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