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Society -- Father Sues School After Antigay Bullies Drove His Son to Suicide
Tristan Seehus was a 13-year-old boy who committed suicide after being taunted by bullies at a Minnesota school. The boy’s father is suing the school for failing to safeguard his son from being targeted as a “gay freak,” according to LGBTQ Nation.
According to the suit, the district failed to respond to the repeated complaints of bullying Tristan had been exposed to, including constant homophobic slurs including “freak,” “homo,” “fag,” “emo” and more.
The suit also states that Tristan did not “conform to the traditional stereotypes of masculinity.”
Tristan, as well as other boys, were called names, told they “looked like a girl,” physically abused, shoved in lockers and more in “plain view of school officials and school surveillance cameras,” according to the complaint.
The suit says that the only response to by district officials “was to ignore, minimize and dismiss abusive behavior. Tristan’s suicide was a foreseeable result of Defendants’ failure to provide him a safe educational environment.”
Legal -- Cleveland Mayor Signs Transgender Rights Bill
According to the Washington Blade, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson signed a bill Friday that expands his city’s nondiscrimination law to include transgender protections.
Ordinance 1466-13 amends Cleveland’s discrimination law to prohibit businesses from banning employees and customers from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity.
“Cleveland is a place where we want to be welcoming to everyone and that everyone is the same and everyone is someone that has equity,” Jackson said before signing the bill.
Jacob Nash, the transgender man who co-chaired the campaign in support of the proposal, said Ordinance 1466-13 makes Cleveland “a more welcoming city for every individual.”
“It doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight, cisgender or transgender, racial or white,” he said. “Cleveland has come together today to say we are ready for all people, we welcome all people and we would love for you to visit our city because our city is one of the greatest cities in the country.”
Nash also noted that Ordinance 1466-13 passed against the continued outrage over a North Carolina law, which prohibits transgender use of public bathrooms consistent with their gender identity, and bans local municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances.
“We are seeing so much visceral responses to transgender people in restrooms,” Nash told the Washington Blade. “We have Cleveland that’s saying no, we want transgender individuals to be able to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity.”
Politics -- Hillary Clinton: ‘It Is Still Dangerous to Be LGBT in America’
According to the Advocate, presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton met last week with Orlando community leaders, friends and family of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting that claimed 49 predominantly LGBT and Latino lives on June 12.
“We need to acknowledge and be very clear who this attack targeted: The Latino LGBT community,” Clinton said to the Orlando Sentinel. “What does that mean? Well among other things, it means that it is still dangerous to be LGBT in America.”
Later during the meeting, Clinton said it was an “unfortunate fact” that LGBT community members “are more likely than any other group in our country to be targets of hate crimes.”
Clinton pledged to advocate for change at every level of government during a closed meeting at Holden Heights Community Center. She aims to “promote the kinds of changes that will prevent this from happening to other people, other families, and other communities.” She also cited a ban on assault weapons, as well as “sensible gun reform” to be among these changes.
Clinton ended her visit by leaving flowers at a memorial at the Pulse nightclub and met with first responders.
National -- Philadelphia Students Plan Pride Celebration
(PGN) A group of young adults has spent months planning the Youth Pride celebration, which is returning next month.
The second Youth Pride will take place noon through 4 p.m. on Aug. 6 at Palumbo Playground, 700 S. Ninth St.
Last year, Youth Pride was held in July due to a collaboration with Philly Pride Presents, and fell on a holiday weekend, but August was more convenient this year for organizers.
As the Ally Safe Schools Coordinator at the Mazzoni Center, Tasha Wirth keeps the youth organized, but they handle the bulk of the work.
“I help to create spaces and move things along in the planning process, but it’s all youth-driven. It’s students from our student leadership board as well as just students from other schools across the city who connected with us through other programs,” Wirth said. “But it’s all their vision, what pride means to them. And I’m just sending the word along and making the purchase requests.”
There will be some changes from last year’s Youth Pride. The workshops and drag performances will be replaced by more spoken-word performances by young people. There will be a variety of other activities such as crafts, water balloons and a dunk tank. Along with the carnival-themed activities, the event will even have its own Snapchat filter.
Youth Pride provides an opportunity for young people ages 13 through 24 to enjoy themselves and celebrate their identities in a non-alcoholic environment. It also recognizes the efforts of youth, who have tirelessly worked towards LGBT safety in schools.
“I think that the work that young folks do is sometimes overlooked and this space specifically is for them to be able to let their hair down, to feel safe and to be recognized for the work they’ve been doing,” Wirth said.
Culture -- Boy Scouts One Year After Easing Ban On Gay Adults
It has been nearly 12 months since the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) National Executive Board decided to end the long-standing ban on participation by openly gay adults. Youth membership, according to Edge, is on the verge of stabilizing after a long period of decline, and corporations that halted donations on the grounds of the ban have resumed their support.
The majority of units affiliated with conservative religious denominations -- such as the Roman Catholic, Mormon and Southern Baptist churches who were vocally dismayed at the decision -- have continued participation, still free to exclude gay adults if it matches with their religious doctrine.
Until last year, the Boy Scouts had carried a ban on gay adults for over three decades, even winning a Supreme Court case in 2000 on the issue. The 5-4 decision in favor of the ban only served to fuel protests by gay-rights supporters.
In 2013, the BSA allowed the participation of gay youth, but struggled with hiring gay adults to be a part of their leadership staff.
On July 27, 2015, a 45-12 vote by the BSA National Executive Board ended the ban on gay adult leaders, placing the decision to hire gay leaders on the individual groups so as not to challenge the religious doctrine of certain troupes.
One of the groups that campaigned against the BSA’s ban on both youth and adults -- Scouts for Equality -- is trying to establish a national network of Scout units that publicly identify as welcoming gays, according to Edge.
Zach Wahls, co-founder of the program, said that it is active in 31 states, with more than 4,800 participating youths and 2,300 adults.
“We still have a ways to go,” said Wahls, 24 and an Eagle scout. Wahls was raised by lesbian mothers in Iowa.
National -- Gay Victim of Trump Rally Violence Sues San Jose
(EDGE) A gay Latino Republican is among the 14 people who filed a lawsuit last week against the city of San Jose, its mayor and police chief due to being attacked after attending a Donald Trump rally.
As the B.A.R. reported last month, Santa Clara resident Juan Hernandez was one of several supporters of the Republican presidential nominee who were punched by anti-Trump protesters after leaving the June 2 event held at the San Jose Convention Center.
Hernandez, 38, a rehabilitation counselor, suffered a broken nose and said he was contemplating suing the city. He has been vocal in his criticisms of how city leaders, particularly Mayor Sam Liccardo and Police Chief Edgardo Garcia, handled the incident.
Liccardo, while defending the actions of the police and city, also laid blame for the violence with Trump and his incendiary language he has used. The police have arrested 22 people accused of attacking the Trump supporters.
Nonetheless, Hernandez is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed by attorney Harmeet K. Dhillon, a former chair of the San Francisco Republican Party. The plaintiffs are alleging their constitutional rights, including the rights to free speech, peaceful assembly and due process, were violated and are seeking unspecified damages and have requested a jury trial.
"My intention is someone needs to be accountable for it, either the mayor or the police chief," Hernandez told the B.A.R. about why he decided to join the lawsuit. "Also, I wanted to change the way rallies happen. Other cities need to be aware more. They need to protect their citizens no matter who they are voting for. This mayor failed because he let his political bias get in the way."
Related: Column: Two Times Zero Is Still Zero
Politics -- Democratic Convention Makes History With First Openly Transgender Speaker
Sarah McBride, HRC Foundation national press secretary, will make history at this week’s Democratic National Convention by being the first openly transgender individual to speak at the party’s convention, according to Gay Star News.
The LGBTQ civil rights group made the announcement July 24 that McBride would be a featured speaker at the DNC. She will speak on the assembly’s last day, July 28. The organization’s president, Chad Griffin, will also speak on that day.
McBride is a volunteer for the steering committee Trans United for Hillary, the political group that supports the party’s presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton.
“People must understand that even as we face daily harassment, tragic violence and an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ political attacks across the country, we are real people merely seeking to be treated with the dignity and respect every person deserves,” McBride said in a statement. “I’m so proud to stand with the LGBT Caucus and speak out in support of Hillary Clinton, because we know she stands with us.”
Griffin released a statement on McBride’s participation in the DNC, stating, “Sarah’s inclusion in Thursday’s program is a significant milestone for our community, and it sends a strong message that transgender people and their voices matter.”
The HRC endorsed Clinton this past January, according to Gay Star News.