News Briefs for the Week of Apr. 5, 2017

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Check out the latest news from around the nation!


US Rep. Joe Kennedy Urges NCAA to Keep NC Sports Boycott

(AP) The latest member of the Kennedy clan in Congress is urging the NCAA to continue steering championship sporting events away from North Carolina over the refusal of politicians to allow local laws that protect LGBT residents from discrimination.

U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts said Monday he's speaking up because he says last week's law repealing House Bill 2 still violates the civil rights of transsexuals.

He wrote the NCAA last week urging the college sports organization to keep boycotting North Carolina. The association this week is expected to announce championship sites for 2018 through 2022.

Kennedy is an LGBT rights advocate whose college roommate at Stanford was Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player.

Kennedy is the grandson of the late Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.


ACLU Takes Legal Action to Defend Rights of Transgender Students in Pennsylvania

(EDGE) The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a legal motion today to defend the Boyertown Area School District's practice of allowing students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

The motion to intervene in the case was submitted in a federal lawsuit that is seeking to overturn the practice. The ACLU's action was filed on behalf of Aidan DeStefano, a student at Boyertown Area Senior High who is transgender, and the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, a coalition of LGBTQ youth leaders and youth organizations. One of the organizations is the Boyertown Gay-Straight Alliance, whose members include transgender students who would be harmed by the lawsuit. 

"Transgender students just want what everyone else wants, to be accepted for who we are," said DeStefano. "Reversing the practices that have allowed me and other trans kids to thrive at school would be devastating."

Jason Landau Goodman of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress said, "Schools that foster inclusive environments for all students, including transgender youth, should be commended, not sued."

The lawsuit against the school district was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by a pair of conservative legal organizations, the Alliance Defending Freedom and Independence Law Center. This case is similar to lawsuits filed by those organizations around the country that seek to exclude transgender students from locker rooms and restrooms that match their gender identity.


Mississippi LGBT Law Being Argued in Federal Appeals Court

(AP) A federal appeals court is hearing arguments about a Mississippi law that would let merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves halted the law before it could take effect last July, ruling it unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for LGBT people.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Monday about the Mississippi law in Lubbock, Texas.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and other supporters say the law protects beliefs that marriage can be between only a man and a woman, and that a person's gender is determined at birth and cannot be changed.

Gay and straight plaintiffs who sued the state say the law gives "special protections to one side" in a religious debate.


Hillary Clinton's back in the spotlight, but decidedly not on the campaign trail

 (CNN) -- Hillary Clinton's speech Wednesday night to a group of businesswomen in San Francisco may have been the most political she has been since losing November's election. But people close to the former secretary of state stress the speech doesn't foretell a more forceful jump back into the political fray.

The small group of Clinton aides who are still in regular contact with the 2016 Democratic nominee say Clinton, through a series of speeches she will give in the coming months, won't shy away from defending "core American values" when they are questioned or challenged.

Clinton learned about Fox News' Bill O'Reilly's comments about Rep. Maxine Waters' hair and Spicer's back-and-forth with April Ryan on Twitter, aides said, and decided Tuesday that she wanted to work the comments into her speech on sexism.

"She was patronized and cut off as she tried to ask a question," Clinton said of Spicer's exchange with Ryan, adding later: "Any woman who thinks this couldn't be directed at her is living in a dream world."

Clinton's next speech will be at Georgetown University, where she will discuss women in politics and peace efforts. And on April 10, Clinton will speak at a fundraising dinner for the LGBT Community Center in New York. Clinton will also speak at the Wellesley graduation later this year, a speech that will bring her back to the 1969 commencement speech that helped launch her career.

The former secretary of state is regularly talking to friends, former donors and close campaign aides, but those who have spoken with her describe the calls as more personal than political or professional.

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