GLAA is proud to be part of a diverse coalition of DC-based organizations that wrote on Wednesday to the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee opposing congressional imposition of private school vouchers on the District of Columbia.
The letter begins:
Dear Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings:
As organizations that represent residents of the District of Columbia, we write to express our opposition to the DC private school voucher program, which was implemented by Congress as part of the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act.
Our organizations represent a diverse cross section of the residents of Washington, DC, with a wide variety of interests and concerns. We are united, however, in opposing this voucher program, which was imposed upon us by a Congress in which we have no voting representation. Some of the undersigned groups oppose the DC voucher because the program is ineffective and lacks accountability; others because the program offends the notion of home rule; and still others because the program allows private schools to receive federal funds and educate our students while they maintain exemptions from federal and District of Columbia civil rights protections.
Organizations signing the letter are ACLU of the Nation's Capital; Anti-Defamation League, Washington, DC Region; DC Vote; Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.; Jews United for Justice; National Organization for Women, DC Chapter; and Washington Teachers' Union.
Excellent speech by Mrs. Clinton, appearing at Columbia University.
I am glad this measure got some Republican votes. That the rest of that caucus could not be minimally humane is very disturbing but sadly not surprising. When you say there is no difference between the political parties, and when you don't bother voting, or abandon an imperfect Democrat in favor of a third-party candidate you know cannot win, you should not be surprised when you get legislative results like this.
Think Progress reports:
An Oklahoma legislative committee overwhelmingly voted to ban Advanced Placement U.S. History class, persuaded by the argument that it only teaches students “what is bad about America.” Other lawmakers are seeking a court ruling that would effectively prohibit the teaching of all AP courses in public schools.
The reason I don't advocate nuking Oklahoma for this is that history teaches us that it would be a terrible idea.
Jack Jacobson, Ward 2 representative to the D.C. State Board of Education, has been elected by his colleagues as the body's president. A State Board news release states:
Mr. Jacobson’s focus has been on raising educational achievement in the District’s traditional public and public charter schools, constituent services, public safety, and cooperation between District agencies. Most recently, Mr. Jacobson served as the Chair of the State Board’s Implementation Committee, where he oversaw the review and subsequent adoption of the District’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver....
After taking office, Mr. Jacobson shared, “I look forward to working with all of my colleagues, as well as the community, our students, teachers, principals, and other stakeholders, to ensure that our education system is exemplary and that all students have the opportunity to receive an excellent education. I also look forward to strengthening the relationship between the State Board and the State Superintendent of Education, the Deputy Mayor for Education, the Chancellor, the Public Charter School Board, the DC Council’s Committee on Education, and all of our school leaders.”
Congrats to Jack, who is my own State Board rep and is the highest-ranking openly gay elected official in the District, following the departures of David Catania and Jim Graham from the D.C. Council. Best of luck to him in his new post.
WMC Action News in Memphis reports the latest in satanic subversion.
Wait, aren't there 50 of these devilish symbols on THE AMERICAN FLAG? I'm just trying to be helpful. Just one more comment: given that this kind of aggressive ignorance and paranoia are running rampant, anyone who is comparatively sane and reasonable, yet makes excuses for not voting, deserves to be possessed by demons.
The Christian Post reports that Voice of the Voiceless wants to sue the District of Columbia over B20-0501, the Conversion Therapy for Minors Prohibition Amendment Act of 2013. GLAA testified in support of the bill (Yvette Alexander, Chairperson; Committe on Health June 27, 2014) As the Department of Health said, being gay is not a disease and there is no legitimate reason to treat it as such. Furthermore treating it as a disease is harmful to the individual. Christopher Doyle maintains that B20-0501 violates the District's Human Rights Act as it curbs options for minors with unwanted same-sex attraction. The problem is that no licensed professional in DC who practices this widely discredited therapy has been identified nor have they found someone on whose behalf to sue.
My column looking at the year ahead appears in this week's Blade, revised a bit. Here's an excerpt:
2015 promises continued fights against right-wing aggressions that include vagina policing and other gender-based discrimination; attacks on church-state separation; xenophobia; quackery disguised as science; biased profiling and excessive force by police; and criminalization of healthcare issues.
None of these will be resolved by the likely nationwide victory for marriage equality in the U.S. Supreme Court. Thus, in the words of Ella Baker, "We who believe in freedom cannot rest." Here are some thoughts for the work ahead.
Curb the language cops. We will win the marriage fight even if some use the misleading phrase "gay marriage." If people who are not belligerent use the wrong pronouns or otherwise display their ignorance, be like my amazingly patient transgender friends and politely clue them in. Creating change requires the politics of addition; we must always seek new ways to connect with people.
When Sarah Palin spoke Friday afternoon at the Values Voter Summit, she referred to the address of the White House as 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue. I suppose she could have been referring to the Commerce Department, which is on that block, though its address is 1401 Constitution Avenue. On the other hand, there is plenty of space there, and I am sure special arrangements can be made if she is determined to move to 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Of course, there is also 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, just steps from the Metro, as the realtors say. And she can see the Capitol from the roof.
My column this week looks at indecency. Here is an excerpt:
It is amazing what indecent things some people say and do in the name of decency.
If your Christian parents throw you out of the house for being gay, and they cite Scripture, it is probably St. Paul, specifically 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, "Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."
Regarding the reference to homosexuality, Bible Gateway explains, "The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts." But let's not quibble over translations, nor scour the Bible Concordance for the precise connection between God's kingdom and kicking out children. The point is that some people really believe this crap, and it's causing harm, and it's time we stopped being shy about it.
After organizers of New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade decided to allow an NBC-affiliated LGBT group to march, the Catholic League's Bill Donohue envisioned gay marchers masturbating in the street. Father Charles Pope, blogging for the Archdiocese of Washington, called the parade an "anal sex" celebration. These gentlemen are quieter about the papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic fleeing to Rome to avoid justice for abusing shoeshine boys.
Conor P. Williams at TPM writes about the departure of former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michele Rhee from the group Students First.
Williams notes that education reform is extremely difficult, and that Rhee had her strengths. I grant that. But I confess that I disliked Rhee from the moment she took over DCPS. Her imperious manner, her contempt for large numbers of stakeholders (such as parents in the eastern half of the District), her undemocratic approach, and her demonization of teachers all worked against the cooperation essential to sustaining reforms. The people who cheered her and her tone-deaf boss Fenty should be ashamed of themselves; instead, they dug in and focused on getting revenge on his successor.
Reforming public institutions is hard. But efforts to bypass the hard slog of political give and take in favor of imposing top-down solutions, as demonstrated by the recent experience in Newark, NJ, are bound to have harsh encounters with reality down the road.
John Riley of Metro Weekly reports:
The Board of Directors of Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL), an organization dedicated to working with and empowering LGBTQ youth, announced early Thursday morning that it has named Sultan Shakir as its new executive director.
Shakir, a community organizer who most recently served as the youth and campus engagement program director at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s top LGBT rights organization. He also previously served regional field director for HRC, the campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality during the legislative push to pass Maryland’s marriage equality law, and the political director during the organization’s successful attempt to defend the law at the ballot box in November 2012. Shakir was chosen following a search led by SMYAL board member and former board chair Betsy Pursell and conducted by Washington-based search firm LeaderFit.
Congrats to Sultan. GLAA gave him our Distinguished Service Award in 2010 for his work on the D.C. marriage equality effort as a regional field director for HRC.
Metro Weekly reports:
“You know, what I kept thinking is: how can I be the principal of Wilson High School, and oversee a Pride Day, and tell kids to be themselves and be who you are, and me not do that? It’s hypocritical.”
–Pete Cahall, principal of Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest D.C., in an interview with local ABC affiliate WJLA after coming out in a speech given during Wilson’s LGBTQ Pride Day celebration.
Good for Principal Cahall. We have learned that he will march with D.C. Councilmember and mayoral candidate David Catania, who chairs the Council's Education Committee, in the Capital Pride Parade on Saturday, June 7.
(Photo courtesy Woodrow Wilson High School)
Congrats to LeVar Burton on his huge crowdsourcing success with his Reading Rainbow reboot. He exceeded his $1 million goal within 24 hours, and has now set a new goal of $5 million to expand the program into more classrooms. A great many of us fell in love with him (and those eyes) 37 years ago with his legendarily soulful and shattering performance as Kunta Kinte. How the hell can we be that much older? Anyway, the cause of literacy just got a much-needed boost. Good on him and all the people who joined the cause. You can kick in here.
The Westboro Baptist Church is coming to DC to protest at Wilson High School the Washington Post Reports. Next month students there are holding their second annual Pride Day lunchtime festival
“The message of Pride Day is that as a public school in our Nation’s Capitol, we support LGBTQ+ students, and we are committed to making our school and our Capitol a safer and more welcoming space for everyone,” says 15-year-old sophomore Neilah Rovinsky.
More than 20 community organizations and government agencies are expected to participate. Last year the Mayor attended the event. As usual, the event sponsors should give thank you letter to the WBC for their opposition since this immediately raises the profile of the event and dramatically increases turnout.
Many people are persecuted and discriminated against due to a single characteristic, whether that be skin color, gender, religion or sexual orientation. And bigoted people turn to religion to justify their actions. Segregationists said the Bible called for the races to be separate, sexists said God wants women to be at home obeying their husbands, and homophobes like the members of the Westboro Baptist Church claim that "God Hates Fags." It is interesting to note that their founder Fred Phelps has been excommunicated from the church reputedly because he made a statement that wasn't sufficiently anti-gay.
One anti-gay student interviewed said something familiar: he has no problem with people being gay as long as they don't go parading about the school. Translation: It's okay to be gay as long as you're completely invisible and don't organize to stop bullying.
Right Wing Watch reports:
Conservative groups including the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America and Liberty Counsel are urging parents to keep their children at home on April 11, the annual anti-bullying Day of Silence, in order to avoid exposing them to protests against anti-LGBT bullying.
As usual, the homo-haters act like they are the true victims of bullying, claiming that they are being silenced. If someone is silencing them, how are they still talking?
The latest battle in California is over 37 words. They are the final clause in a law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed this summer affirming the rights of transgender students to use facilities and play on sports teams that align with their gender identity. On Friday, groups led by the same strategist who masterminded the successful drive to ban gay marriage in California will submit a petition to the state that could lead to the landmark measure being overturned.
Right Wing Watch shares this video from "Coach" Dave Daubenmire that illustrates the topsy-turvy perspective of the anti-gay right: Not letting them bully us constitutes bullying them. Their religious freedom entitles, indeed obligates, them to trample everyone else's religious freedom by imposing their religious views on everyone else using the power of the state.
Paul Guequierre at HRC Blog reports.
I have nothing purple to wear, but happy Spirit Day - and thanks to my many fellow advocates who work to stop bullying. Here is an essay I wrote on the subject: "Strange Fruit".
Terrell Jermaine Starr at NewsOne slams CNN's Don Lemon for taking up the topsy-turvy reasoning of Fox's Bill O'Reilly, who responded to the Zimmerman verdict by saying "you've got to stop young Black women from having babies out of wedlock," and "you've got to demand discipline in your public schools in the inner cities." Lemon's contribution was to criticize young black men who wear saggy pants.
Wow. What came over Don? He seemed quite reasonable before (though I don't watch CNN much). Going into the saggy pants discussion in the context of the Zimmerman verdict is classic blame-the-victim stuff, which is especially gratuitous because Trayvon was doing no such thing. They might as well have started criticizing "scary African hairstyles," which would have been equally egregious and gratuitous and laughable and unintentionally revealing. Is George C. Wolfe writing a play about this? Did we fall into a time warp? Next up, top ten things women should do to avoid being raped, plus if you weren't so damn queer you wouldn't get beaten up. Meanwhile, I can't get out of my mind the image of the lifeless body of an innocent kid the same age as the ones I advise on their thesis topics. These kids whose vulnerability to racist violence should make us all ashamed in 2013. STFU about their fashion choices and stop killing my kids.
(Hat tip: H. Alexander Satorie-Robinson)
The Nation reports. A quick-witted 17-year-old surreptitiously turned on his iPod after being stopped-and-frisked for the third time.
A secret audio recording of a stop-and-frisk in action sheds unprecedented light on a practice that has put the city's young people of color in the NYPD's crosshairs. Read the full story here.
This crap has to stop.
Update: Just watched it again. Outrageous beyond words. The shame of this persistent injustice should hound Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly to the end of their days.
Lou Chibbaro reports in the Blade:
In a little-noticed development, an organization that oversees the city’s housing programs for the homeless terminated its contract with the local group Transgender Health Empowerment to operate the Wanda Alston House, the city’s only residential facility for homeless LGBT youth.
The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness on July 1 awarded the Alston House contract to Casa Ruby, an LGBT community center on Georgia Avenue in Northwest D.C. with an outreach to the Latino and transgender communities.
The action by the Community Partnership, which is funded by the D.C. Department of Human Services (DHS), came after it determined that T.H.E. was no longer capable of overseeing the Alston House due to financial problems that forced it to lay off most of its employees in May, sources familiar with the organization said. T.H.E. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 7.
Best of luck to Ruby, and thanks to her for stepping up.
This sad news of 17-year-old Carlos Vigil is a reminder that bullying can kill even the strongest youth. We can pass model laws, and thank goodness we have GLSEN to provide leadership and resources. But changing the expectation of student peer groups from fear and isolation to intervention against bullying has proven extremely difficult.
Kids have high-tech tools in their pockets without the wisdom to use them properly, and they act as accelerants that magnify and worsen the impact of bullying into something that can overwhelm. I remember being relieved as a youth that others were bigger targets for bullying than I; isn't that awful? But we didn't have cell phones or the Internet then, and a bullying incident was pretty much localized. As we mourn another lost child, we must keep looking for ways to stop the cruelty and the isolation.
Tragic as the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has been, it is shocking to discover that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, while archbishop of Milwaukee, moved $57 million off the archdiocesan books into a cemetery trust fund six years ago in order to protect the money from damage suits by victims of abuse by priests.
Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has denied shielding the funds as an “old and discredited” allegation and “malarkey.” But newly released court documents make it clear that he sought and received fast approval from the Vatican to transfer the money just as the Wisconsin Supreme Court was about to open the door to damage suits by victims raped and abused as children by Roman Catholic clergy.
If this surprises you, you are a nincompoop.
(Image source: www.patheos.com)
Upholding Christ's love in Mecklenburg County. The Southern Baptists weigh in.
Happy LGBT Pride! It's been a busy year for LGBT advocacy in D.C., and below is a list of highlights.
GLAA's next meeting will be on Tuesday, June 11 at 7:00 pm in Room 104 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. (Closest Metro stations: Metro Center, Federal Triangle.) Click here for the meeting agenda. Please bring your concerns and issues you want us to address, and your ideas and suggestions for our next efforts. I am going to propose that we change from the quarterly meeting schedule that we implemented earlier this year to a monthly meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. (I expect, however, that we will take the months of July and August off.)
Three bills that GLAA called for in our Agenda: 2012 policy brief are currently before the D.C. Council:
The fabulous Andy Bowen talks about her work as Social Policy Organizer for the DC Trans Coalition. This video is part of the oral history project of students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School on Capitol Hill.
This 52-minute video on how we won marriage equality in Washington, D.C., was made by students at the Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School on Capitol Hill in March, 2013. Thanks to them and teacher Ayo Magwood. There are many more videos by a variety of advocates in various fields, and I will post some of them in the days ahead.
Amid the continued violence, the need for role models is all the more clear. This guy is golden.
Saeed Jones writes on BuzzFeed that "black gay kids need heroes too."
Monday, February 18, 2013
Contact: Rick Rosendall
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C., is pleased to announce its 2013 Distinguished Service Award recipients. GLAA presents awards to local individuals and organizations that have served the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the national capital area. The awards will be presented at GLAA’s 42nd Anniversary Reception on Thursday, April 25 from 6:30 to 9:00 pm at the Washington Plaza Hotel at 10 Thomas Circle, NW. Tickets are $55 and can be purchased by contacting GLAA at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 667-5139; a range of donor levels is also available.
GLAA’s 2013 Distinguished Service Award recipients are:
Today, February 6, is National Gay-Straight Alliance Day. Stand up against bullying, and for every young person's right to a safe educational environment.