OpEd: Rants, Ruminations, News and Notes from Chairman Norm

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Transgender Student Wins Florida LegalVictory

First, some breaking news from Ponta Verde, Florida, wherever that may be. A federal judge, Timothy Corrigan, came down on the right side of history yesterday. 

He ruled in favor of a 17-year-old transgender plaintiff, Drew Adams, who had been denied access tothe boys’ bathroom at Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida.  

The school board argued it was concerned for the privacy and safety of both trans and non-trans students, but the judge ultimately dismissed those arguments. National nonprofit Lambda Legal teamed with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s Miami law office to take on the case pro bono, which is God’s way of saying "for free," an English phrase many American lawyers do not understand. So thank you to the law office, and Jennifer Altman, the attorney who handled it. 

 “The evidence is that Drew Adams poses no threat to the privacy or safety of any of his fellow students,” Corrigan wrote in a 70-page  opinion issued July 26.”Rather, Drew Adams is just like every other student at Nease High School, a teenager coming of age in a complicated, uncertain and changing world. When it comes to his use of the bathroom, the law requires that he be treated like any other boy.” Nice to find in the Age of Trump a decision of merit. 

A senior attorney at the Pillsbury law firm, Omar Gonzalez-Pagan told the Daily Business Review, “the school’s policy of barringstudents from accessing whichever restroom suitstheir gender identity degrades, humiliates and serves as a scarlet letter. ” 

 

Former Secretary of Navy Lambasts Trump on Transgender Policy 

In an unrelated transgender news piece, I want to thank Ray Maybus for ripping into President Trump about his directive last year banning transgender persons from serving in the military. CNN.com picked up his comments last week, and they are piercing and appropriate. 

"This notion that all of this work's been done and these people felt safe as transgender, felt safe coming out, joining the military, and then suddenly the rug gets jerked out from under -- it's not the way to treat patriots, it's not the way to build a great military force either," Mabus said on "The Axe Files," a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.  

Kicking people out of the military for being transgender, Maybus reasoned, made no sense: "How much weaker does that make us? How much worse a force does that make us.  We were asking people to lie about who they were, what they were about. And it's just, from every standpoint, it's wrong and it's dumb militarily," he said.

I got to meet Secretary Maybus when I was invited out to San Francisco two summers ago for the christening of the USS Harvey Milk. He has spoken out for diversity in the military, and the courts have so far been backing LGBTQ initiatives, but there is a shaky road ahead, folks. Trump is making more and more appointments to the federal courts of individuals who are faith based and totally unsympathetic to issues that matter to us and our friends. 

The future rulings can lead to reversals and setbacks of our rights for decades. Keep that in mind and remember to vote locally in order to change the world globally. We have a primary here in Florida at the end of August, and a small group of dedicated voters can impact local elections. Turn out. Remember, there are good people like Judge Robert Lee facing a primary challenge for the first time in 20 years. Get out there and make your voice heard.

 

Manors ‘Egging’ Makes National News

Three gay men were egged outside of the Gym Bar in Wilton Manors last Monday, and the story has caught the attention not only of local media outlets but the national gay press, including the Washington Blade. You don’t expect that kind of crap here, and you certainly should not take it.

Maybe we all need to carry eggs. After all, the only way to stop a jerk and bad guy with eggs is to be a good guy with eggs. Brian Carter and his two friends were standing outside of Gym Bar when a driver in a black BMW M3 drove by saying, "Do you want to be gay?”

“I mostly just heard the yelling and was pelted right away,” Carter told Local 10. “It was a pretty heavy hit right here, but it splattered so much and it hit a couple other people.”

“They were definitely shaming us for being something that we feel like we were born with. I feel no shame for who I am,” Carter continued.

Apparently, egg yolks were also found on the sidewalk outside of Out of the Closet thrift shop, which is affiliated with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and outside of the Wilton Manors police station.

Carter posted a picture of himself covered in egg yolk on Facebook but says he wasn’t scared. Instead, he says he feels bad for the perpetrator.

“It didn’t hurt. I didn’t go home and cry. I went home and went to bed,” Carter said. “I kind of laughed it off, but I feel bad for the person that threw it. Why would he feel like he needed to do that?”

Gym Bar owner Rick Schmultzer told Local 10 he thought the person responsible is “cowardly. Gym Bar took a light-hearted approach to the incident by having a promotion on egg salad sandwiches. Yes, you can laugh off the idiots, but be alert. An eggshell in the eye can cause serious damage, and then it would not be so laughable. The real question is, who is contributing to a national attitude that it is OK to be homophobic? Might start by looking at the tenant living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.

Twitter Slurs Strike Out Baseball Players — MLB Orders ‘Diversity Training’ 

It's been a rough few weeks for Major League Baseball’s Diversity Program, but it should keep our friend Billy Bean active for the next few months. Minutes after throwing a near no hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers last week, 25-year-old Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb was greeted by Twitter with posts he had published when he was 18 years old, demeaning “fags.” His would-be celebratory moment was destroyed by words from his youthful past. 

Ironically, a week before, the same thing happened to Milwaukee Brewers all-star Josh Hader, who has been one of the premiere relievers in the majors this season. After his selection to the national all-star game in DC, Twitter emerged with his homophobic posts from a decade ago, when he was a much younger man.  

Both players have since apologized for their youthful indiscretions, and the baseball lords will send them and their teammates to the diversity training programs they have set in place. So look at it this way. 

We know that jocks are macho and live in a world of their own where the meek are mashed by the mighty. But hey, baseball and society is saying no more, me too, and that bullying has to go away. We are moving to a day when this behavior won’t be tolerated. More than that, you won’t even see it anymore. We will have arrived when the day comes those taunts never exist. But then human nature being what it is…..


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