News Briefs: Google Helps Celebrate Pride, Mississippi Blocked from Anti-Gay Law & More!

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Check out this week's latest news from around the world!

 

Education – LGBTQ Students Subjected to Unfair School Discipline, Increasing Drop-Out Rates

According to a new report, LGBTQ students experience high rates of school discipline, such as detention and suspension, as well as expulsion from school.

The report from GLSEN, the leading national educational organization focused on assuring safe and affirming school environments for all students, revealed that compared to non-LGBTQ students, LGBTQ students were much more likely to have experienced multiple forms of discipline, often as a result of the harassment and discrimination they face daily at school.

“It is abundantly clear that LGBTQ students face disproportionately high levels of school discipline due to hostile school climates that ultimately deprive many of them, not only of their education, but also at the success in life that education affords,” Dr. Joseph Kosciw, GLSEN’s Chief Research and Strategy Officer, said. “Given the findings of Educational Exclusion, we must redouble our efforts to create supportive schools for LGBTQ students, particularly transgender and gender nonconforming students, students experiencing homelessness, students with disabilities and students of color.”

GLSEN also put out a series of recommendations to schools in order to keep LGBTQ students enrolled and out of the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Some of these recommendations include teachers incorporating positive representations of LGBTQ people and topics into their curriculum, laws and policies specifically protecting LGBTQ students from harassment and discrimination, and staff training on LGBTQ bullying prevention. 

 

National – LGBT Gun Group Membership Spike after Florida Shooting

(EDGE) Memberships have more than doubled in a national LGBT pro-gun rights organization since a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Florida, killing 49 people.

Pink Pistols Utah chapter President Matt Schlentz said Pink Pistols membership has grown from 1,500 to 4,000 since Omar Mateen's June 12 rampage, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

"It's really sad that something on this scale had to happen for people to realize this is a need for our community," Schlentz said. "But the reality is, we still get attacked for kissing our partners or holding hands in public. We get windows smashed for having an equality sticker on them."

Schlentz owns semi-automatic rifles similar to the Sig Sauer MCX that Mateen used, and said he gets mixed reactions from people who learn he's a gun rights advocate.

"Obviously, as a gay man, I have to have some liberal views socially. But on this one point, I have very conservative views. The reality is what it is - the world is a violent, terrible, scary place, and people do wish me harm based on who I love."

Pink Pistols organized in 2000 in response to a series of violent incidents like the murder in Wyoming of gay college student Matthew Shepard. Some early slogans were "Queers bash back" and "Pick on someone your own caliber."

Stonewall Shooting Sports of Utah is another pro-gun LGBT group.

"As awful as Orlando is, I feel like this is a huge eye-opener for a lot of people that the world is not a perfect place, especially for a group that's at risk for this kind of violence," said Scott Mogilefsky, the group's president and an Army veteran.

There was an increase in people inquiring with the group after Orlando, he said.

"Security should be armed at all gay nightclubs, and all employees should run through a defensive shooting course once a year," Mogilefsky said. "When you think about supremacist groups, a gay bar is an easy target. And the shooter knew that. It was like shooting fish in a barrel."

 

Legal North Carolina Lawmakers Leave Bathroom Law Largely Intact

(CNN) North Carolina's controversial bathroom law survived largely unscathed after last-minute wrangling at the close of the state legislative session.

Late Friday, the General Assembly passed a slightly tweaked version of House Bill 2, repealing only a workplace lawsuit provision, according state Rep. Chris Sgro, a Democrat who opposes the measure.

The law was modified to restore workers' rights to use state law to sue over employment discrimination. It now goes to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory, who had requested the change.

Still, most of the provisions that outraged gay rights advocates, entertainers and business leaders remained in the bill -- such as the requirement that people use the bathroom corresponding to their gender at birth in government facilities.

"I am woefully embarrassed that this is the result of two and a half months of conversation about the most disastrous piece of legislation in the state's history," Sgro said of the modifications, according to CNN affiliate WRAL.

The revision was a far cry from what LGBT groups and other critics demanded: a full repeal of the law.

"Legislators shamefully walked away from their job ... without fixing the deeply harmful and outrageous mess they created with HB2," JoDee Winterhof with the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement.

"Lawmakers may have run out the clock on this short session, but they won't be able to run away from North Carolina's voters in November."

And it's unclear whether the revised measure will affect a pending lawsuit from the federal government over the law. The Justice Department lawsuit seeks declaratory relief and threatens to curtail federal funding to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina.

After the law's initial passage in March, musicians Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, and the bands Pearl Jam and Boston canceled concerts in the state. Those cancellations have cost one major venue nearly $200,000 in ticket sales.

 

Legal – Mississippi Blocked from Enacting Anti-Gay Law

(OFO) U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves has struck down a recent Mississippi law that discriminated against same-sex couples. He ruled that Mississippi circuit clerks can’t cite their own religious views to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Roberta Kaplan, the attorney who represented Edie Windsor in the case that found parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, also represented two lesbian couples in the state’s marriage equality lawsuit in 2014. She filed a motion in the marriage equality case. Reeves found in favor of marriage equality and after the Obergefell decision, his ruling was certified by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The new “religious liberty” law would have gone into effect on July 1. Kaplan argued the law would create uncertainty for same-sex couples who wouldn’t know which clerks would stand in the way of their constitutional right to marry. The state shouldn’t be able to continue to create new legal barriers to marriage, she argued.

According to the Jackson Clarion Ledger, Gov. Phil Bryant recently received an award from the Family Research Council for signing the bill into law.

 

Technology – Google Gives Everyone the Chance to Walk in a Pride Parade

Pride is more than just a word. When we took to the streets one year after the Stonewall riots, Pride became synonymous with people standing up for what they believe in, surrounding themselves with those that share the same values, and a minority taking to the streets to declare visibility and change.

Every year, as the spring months warm up into summer, cities across the globe celebrate Gay Pride Month with rallies, parades, and celebrations of life. But, not everyone can join in on the love. No matter the circumstances that prevent these queers from Pride, it is a celebration that should not be missed. That’s why Google has you covered with their new #PrideForEveryone virtual reality Pride parade.

The immersive footage features LGBT Google employees taking part in Pride parades from around the globe in 25 different countries. You can participate in celebrations like Brussels, Tel Aviv, Sao Paolo, and Australia.

“This year we gave it a lot of thought how we bring Pride to people who can’t physically not attend or are not really that comfortable in attending Pride,” Arjan Dijk, Google’s vice president of growth marketing and executive sponsor of Gayglers told USA Today. “We are bringing Pride to millions of people who can march in a virtual way and be part of it all.”

“When you are at Pride, you get this sense of excitement and this sense of a community coming together. What we are aiming to do is bring this sense of excitement and this sense of community to people who normally would not be able to get to do that.”

He added: “I do think after Orlando this message is even more relevant, that people should be proud of who they are and who they love and Google as a company fully supports that. In light of Orlando, it’s very important that we celebrate life.”

 

National – New Estimate Doubles the Number of Transgender Americans

(OC) Almost 40,000 Ohioans identify as transgender, according to a new national report that doubles previous estimates of the national population of trans Americans.

The report released today by the Los Angeles-based Williams Institute estimates that 1.4 million Americans – 0.6 percent of adults – identify as transgender. In 2011, when much less data was available, it was estimated that 0.3 percent of Americans were transgender.

The estimate for Ohio, based on residents’ answers to a 2014 federal survey of health and other issues, is that 0.45 percent of the state’s population is transgender. Estimates range from 0.3 percent of the population in North Dakota to 0.78 percent in Hawaii.

“The findings from this study are critical to current policy discussions that impact transgender people,” Jody Herman, one of the authors of the study, said in a Williams Institute news release. “Policy debates on access to bathrooms, discrimination and a host of other issues should rely on the best available data to assess potential impacts, including how many people may be affected.”

Ohio was one of 19 states that asked people their sexual orientation or gender identity when surveying residents for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Researchers used U.S. Census Bureau data for estimates in other states.

Nationally, the percentage of people who identify as trans is highest among those 18- to 24-years-old and lowest among those 65 and older. That statistic is the same in every state as well. More than 5,500 Ohioans between 18 and 24 identify as transgender, which is 0.5 percent of that population.

Interestingly, states with transgender populations above the national average include some of the most socially and politically conservative: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Almost 45,000 people identify as trans in North Carolina, where lawmakers and the governor approved a law dictating which restrooms transgender people must use.

 

Technology – California Judge Rules ChristianMingle Must Allow Same-Sex Matches

A recent lawsuit has resulted in the Los-Angeles based Sparks Networks Inc. opening up its many sites, including ChristianMingle.com, to those looking for same-sex matches, LGBTQ Nation reports.

Two gay men in 2013 filed a class-action lawsuit against Spark Networks with the claim that the company’s carious dating sites (SilverSingles.com, BlackSingles.com, CatholicMingle.com, etc.) failed to include same-sex matching options.

Users were forced to choose either “man seeking woman” or “woman seeking man,” which, according to the couple filing the lawsuit, violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and anti-discrimination law in California that requires businesses to provide “full and equal accommodations,” regardless of sexual orientation.

A state judge approved the terms, requiring Spark to apply these changes within two years.

Vineet Dubey of Custodio & Dubey LLP, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, said, “I am gratified that we were able to work with Spark to help ensure that people can fully participate in all the diverse market places that make our country so special, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Now, most of the company’s dating sites (excluding Jewish dating site JDate.com) will only ask for the user’s binary gender. Spark Networks has also agreed to add search terms and profile features for those seeking same-sex partners in the future.

As new changes are applied to ChristianMingle and other site under the Sparks networks umbrella, LGBT couples may find it to be a more wholesome alternative to sites like Grindr.


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