News Bites for October 7, 2015

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender headlines for the week.

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Lesbian

Lambda Legal: Federal Law Prohibits Discrimination Against Lesbian Instructor

(Lambda Legal) Last Wednesday Lambda Legal urged the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to reverse a lower court ruling and allow Kimberly Hively to present her case alleging that Ivy Tech Community College, where she worked as an instructor for 14 years, denied her fulltime employment and promotions, and eventually terminated her employment, because she is a lesbian.

Last August, Hively filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana against South Bend, Indiana-based Ivy Tech, claiming the school was violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against her because of her sexual orientation, a form of sex discrimination. Ivy Tech successfully moved the trial court to dismiss Hively’s claim, arguing that Title VII does not protect employees from antigay discrimination. At today’s hearing, Lambda Legal argued that several court rulings and a recent decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) support Hively’s contention that sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination under Title VII and that the dismissal should be reversed.  

“Ivy Tech claims there is no authority supporting Kim Hively’s position, ignoring the many decisions of the EEOC and federal district courts across the country specifically holding that allegations of sexual orientation discrimination may be brought under Title VII,” said Lambda Legal Counsel Greg Nevins. “In fact, just this past July, in Baldwin v.  Foxx, the EEOC stated quite plainly that sexual orientation discrimination ‘necessarily’ is sex discrimination. Ivy Tech unfairly denied Kim Hively full-time employment on six different occasions before it eventually terminated her. It is time for courts to recognize that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination, and is unlawful.”

The case is Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College. 

Gay

Tim Cook Tells HRC Why He Came Out as Gay

Apple CEO Tim Cook received the Visibility Award from the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. on Saturday for his role as an out leader within the LGBT community.

As Recode.net reports, Cook then delivered a heartfelt speech on the importance of coming out and the challenges that remain standing against LGBT equality.

“We are closer than ever to the day Martin Luther King dreamed of when his children would only be judged by the content of their character. But that day is not here yet,” Cook said onstage.

“I wrote an essay that was deeply personal. I wanted to lend my voice to people who might not be ready to exercise theirs. It was an open letter to the public, but it was addressed most of all to everyone who had been rejected by their friends, their communities, or even their families simply because of who they are. I’ll tell you I did not do it for attention. I’m a private person by nature. Growing up, I was taught that you distinguish yourself in life by what you do, not by what you say or by how loudly you say it. But sometimes you just have to be loud. People need to hear that being gay is not a limitation. People need to hear that being gay doesn’t restrict your options in life. People need to hear that you can be gay or transgender and be whatever else you want to in life.”

Video of the full speech is available at https://youtu.be/iHguhlFE_ik

Bisexual

Norway’s 2nd Richest Billionaire Comes Out as Bi in Front of 3m Viewers

Supermarket tycoon and one of Norway’s richest men, Stein Erik Hagen came out as bisexual on one of Norway’s most popular chat shows, Skavaln, reports the Independent.

Forbes estimates that Hagen’s fortune is somewhere around $4.3 billion, a legacy from the RIMI supermarket founded by Hagen and his father in 1977.

Hagen initially told 3 million of Skavaln’s viewers “I realized I was gay well into adulthood. When I was in my 20s we didn’t know what it was. We heard about it but did not associate ourselves with it.”

He noted that Norway’s law against homosexuality wasn’t repealed until he was 16, in 1972. “Until then, it was illegal to be homosexual, or to practice it,” he recalled. Hagen told Skavlan that he now feels there’s far greater acceptance for homosexuality in Norway than there was just 20 years ago.

“I gradually discovered that I was attracted to men,” he explained. “I was almost 30 years old when I realized I was bisexual.”

According to Qweerty, Hagan said the only reason he’s taken this long to come out publicly was for the sake of his children. He wanted to wait until they were older.

“I have full support from the kids,” he said. “It feels good. They support me 100 percent.”

As for whether he’s seeing anyone right now, Hagan had this to say: “I’m open to everything … Right now I have it very good. I have four children and am very happy.”

“I have no boyfriend.”

Transgender

National Transgender Listening Campaign Kicks off with #Transneeds Hashtag

(TransNeeds) Stemming from a recent White House gathering of LGBT and tech leaders, a volunteer-led group on Wednesday launched #transneeds — an effort to hear from the transgender community how the federal government and society as a whole could better protect and serve the community.

“The mostly invisible transgender community is finally being seen through pop culture and social media but the reality is that government processes and misunderstanding continue to hamper full participation in society,” said Ginger Chien, an AT&T engineer and participant in the White House summit. “This project hopes to gather new data by giving direct access to the transgender population to speak to their own experiences and needs." 

U.S. Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil is discussed the launch Wednesday as part of a keynote speech he gave at the Strata conference in New York.

“In talking with people from the transgender community, it became clear to me just how little data we have,” Patil said. “As we pursue efforts like precision healthcare, making sure we properly represent transgender Americans is critical. I'm excited for the #transneeds project and the data that comes out of it."

A group of a dozen people from the tech, telecom and LGBT communities has put together the effort, which was among a number of projects that grew out of last month’s White House LGBT Tech & Innovation Summit.

Those interested in taking part can post to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the #transneeds hashtag or text in their need to 844-876-7637 (844 TRNS NDS).

The effort, to continue over the coming weeks, aims to gather feedback from a broad cross section of the transgender community in order to report back to the White House with a series of recommendations and directions for further study.


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