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NATIONAL Amazon, condo collapse, T-shirt controversy, GLSEN
by Windy City Times staff
2021-07-18

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At least two Amazon employees have resigned in recent weeks to protest the company's decision to continue to sell a book they say frames young people who identify as transgender as mentally ill, NBC News reported. The resignations come after a complaint posted to the company's internal message board in April drew the support of over 467 Amazon corporate employees, according to a copy obtained by the news outlet. The employee-led petition calls for the removal of the book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, by Abigail Shrier. While Shrier denies that her book frames LGBTQ identities as a form of mental illness, Amazon workers pointed to a passage where Shrier writes, "Many of the adolescent girls suddenly identifying as transgender seemed to be caught in a 'craze'—a cultural enthusiasm that spreads like a virus."

Same-sex couple Fabian Nunez, 55, and Andres Galfrascoli, 45, along with 6-year-old adopted daughter Sofía, are among the missing in the condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, according to Instinct Magazine. As of July 12, the death toll had risen to 94, per CBS News. Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said it was uncertain when recovery operations would be completed because it remains hard to know when the final body would be found.

In Wyoming, the discovery that a Cheyenne bar was selling a violent, homophobic T-shirt drew strong criticism from community and state leaders, The Casper Star-Tribune reported. Pro-LGBTQ group Wyoming Equality released a statement calling attention to the bar, which it did not identify out of fear that doing so may bring more business to the establishment. (However, per The Advocate, Cowboy State Daily reported that the bar in question is the Eagle's Nest, located in Cheyenne.) The shirt depicts a bearded man dressed in a biker outfit pointing a revolver at the viewer, and it reads, "In Wyoming we have a cure for AIDS. We shoot f—-in' f——s." The shirt was quickly criticized by several leaders and organizations, including Gov. Mark Gordon.

GLSEN announced that, at this year's Respect Awards, it will honor outgoing Executive Director Eliza Byard for her two decades years of service and leadership, a press release noted. The virtual ceremony—a combined LA and New York event that will premiere Oct. 14—will celebrate GLSEN's accomplishments during her tenure and look to the future at what's next for the organization. Some of the honorary co-chairs for the event include Octavia Spencer, Julia Roberts and Danny Moder, Mj Rodriguez, Matt Bomer and Simon Hall, Zachary Quinto, Billy Porter, Charlie Carter, Tim Cook and Rosario Dawson.

In California, Murrieta Valley High School fired Michael Henderson, head coach of cheer and stunt program, after he served three years in that job—and he believes it happened because he's gay, patch.com noted. Henderson filed a wrongful termination lawsuit alleging that the process leading to his dismissal was "flawed." In support, many of his student-athletes and their families gathered at a rally, holding signs that read "Bring Back Coach Mike."

A gay teacher sued the city of Ceres, California, alleging a police officer threatened him at his home and flashed a gun in retaliation for reporting homophobia at Central Valley High School to school administrators, The Modesto Bee reported. David Cole made the accusations against school resource officer Lorenzo Beltran in a federal complaint, and told The Bee he struggles to feel safe after the incident two years ago. Cole added he has lost 75 pounds while dealing with insomnia and gastrointestinal issues from the distress.

In Texas, LGBTQ students at Baylor University have been pleading with school leaders for years to officially recognize a group on campus—and the board has sent what some have said is a confusing message by considering allowing such an organization, TexasTribune.org noted. The board of regents has passed a noncommittal resolution that will allow university leaders to explore the possibility of approving a LGBTQ student group in an effort to be a more "caring community." However, the board simultaneously stressed the school was not abandoning its official position on human sexuality, which states marriage is between a man and a woman.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a final state budget that includes $3 million for LGBTQ cultural competency training for public school teachers, NBC News noted. That makes the state the first in the country to allocate funding in this specific way, according to Equality California. The funding is a win for advocates, who were disappointed after then-Gov. Jerry Brown—a Democrat, like Newsom—vetoed a similar bill in 2018.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed an education transparency bill requiring public and charter schools to allow parents to opt their child into sex education and prohibiting sex education before fifth grade, The Center Square reported. "Parents should have the right to know what their children are learning in school," Ducey said in a press release. Opponents of the bill say that it harms LGBTQ students, criticizing its requirement for parents to opt-in their child to history lessons related to sexuality.

A new campaign has launched with the focus of combatting the continuous legislative attacks on transgender youth, young adults and athletes—and it involves trading cards, LGBTQ Nation noted. Stack the Deck Against Hate is an initiative created by a partnership between advocacy groups Lambda Legal and Athlete Ally, marketing agency Campbell Ewald and several other businesses supporting the "100% pro bono effort." The cards—which include trans athletes such as Fallon Fox and Patricio Manuel—are currently only available publicly for those who make a donation to the campaign; visit www.stackthedeckagainsthate.org/.

Black AIDS Institute (BAI) has relaunched its "African American HIV University" (AAHU) program, per a press release. Aligned with BAI's "We The People: A Black Strategy to End HIV," which is rooted in Black empowerment, the reinvigorated and expanded AAHU program aims to build Black leadership and mobilization skills as an upstream, structural and sustainable intervention to end the epidemic in Black America. Of its seven interconnected components designed to strengthen the HIV workforce, AAHU's two flagship initiatives—Science and Treatment College and Community Mobilization College—are accepting applications through Aug. 15. See blackaids.org/bai_program/science-treatment-college/ and https://blackaids.org/bai_program/community-mobilization-college-aahu/.

In Montana, a transgender man and woman filed suit to overturn a new law requiring transgender citizens to get surgery and a court order before they can change the sex on their birth certificate, calling it an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, KTVH.com reported. The suit, filed in state District Court in Billings with the help of ACLU-Montana, seeks to invalidate Senate Bill 280, which Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law in April. The bill passed by fairly close margins—26-23 in the Senate and 54-46 in the House—with all "yes" votes coming from Republican legislators.

The Michigan elections bureau announced that a ballot-drive effort to protect LGBT people from discrimination has failed, The Hill reported. The Associated Press noted that Fair and Equal Michigan failed to collect enough valid signatures to force action on a bill aimed to prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. Advocates collected nearly 299,000 signatures, falling short of the roughly 340,000 needed.

A three-judge panel of New Jersey's Appellate Division court ruled that Arthur Goldberg and Elaine Berk—co-directors of the conversion-therapy outfit JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing)—must pay $3.5 million to lawyers for a group of former JONAH "patients," Gay City News reported. Goldberg and Berk must pay for violating both the state's consumer-fraud law and a court injunction requiring them to terminate the organization and desist from conversion-therapy activities. The initial 2012 lawsuit generated several litigated pre-trial motions and then a lengthy jury trial in which the plaintiffs testified about their experiences with conversion therapy, which had not altered their sexual orientation.

Transgender California gubernatorial candidate and former Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner attended this year's second Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)—but not without heckling and deadnaming outside the conference, while anti-trans skits and denouncement of gay people went on inside, according to LGBTQ Nation. In one instance, a live-streaming YouTuber known as "The Black Conservative Preacher" deadnamed Jenner and called her a "sick freak." Jenner did not address the man, and had not responded to requests for comments from Newsweek on the matter.

In a related matter, Richard Grenell—the gay man who served as former President Donald Trump's ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence—announced that he will not run in the California recall election, LGBTQ Nation noted. The decision by Grenell leaves Caitlyn Jenner as the only LGBTQ person in the race.

In the weeks following the abrupt dissolution of Philly Pride Presents, a group of Black and Brown LGBTQ+ community leaders have begun formulating plans for a new Philadelphia Pride event and, potentially, a brand new Pride organization, Philadelphia Gay News reported. The group held a press conference in late June, where activist and Black and Brown Workers Cooperative co-founder Abdul-Aliy Muhammad stood beside fellow organizers Maso Kibble, Diamond Anthony, Jessica Kallup, Manny Frank-Lampon, Rich Frank-Lampon, Andre Henson aka Alzei Barbei Mizrahi, Elicia Gonzales and Jamaal Henderson to announce plans to revamp Philly Pride. After a second meeting on July 8, organizers discussed holding two upcoming Pride events: one in October 2021 and the other in June 2022.

In New Jersey, Montclair resident Taylor Lee is hoping to defy expectations in the pageant world and become a role model for those who are part of the LGBTQ, Black and STEM communities, according to Montclair Local. Lee, 24, will compete in the Miss New Jersey USA Pageant from July 30-Aug. 1 at the Hilton Parsippany hotel. She describes herself as the first Black, openly lesbian contestant at Miss New Jersey USA.

California Republicans introduced a measure to honor former First Lady Nancy Reagan's centennial birthday for an entire year—but out bisexual Assemblyman Alex Lee (D) let it be known why he wasn't on board with it, LGBTQ Nation reported. "Republicans want to honor an entire year after Nancy Reagan. Completely absurd to praise someone who escalated the war on drugs & let the AIDS crisis ravage the LGBTQ+ community. Reagans deserve no commemoration," Lee tweeted with a video of his speech. "I told the Assembly 'Just say NO.'" However, members passed the resolution 48 to five.

Independence, Missouri, updated its city code to include protections for people assaulted for their gender identity or sexual orientation, KCUR.org reported. Independence City Council voted unanimously to add language that enhances the penalty for assault targeting victims for those motives. The city ordinance already includes protections for individuals targeted for their race, ancestry, religion, color, sex, marital status, age, national origin or disability.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) is apparently upset over a petition by University of Notre Dame students to keep fast-food chain Chick-fil-A off the Indianapolis campus, LGBTQ Nation noted. Graham swears he'll "go to war" to defend the fried chicken spot's Christian "principles." Students and faculty have objected to the fast-food chain's history of homophobia and its lack of healthy options.

Key West, Florida will host the annual Tropical Heat celebration—described as "an adventurous long weekend of all-male adult fun"—Aug. 11-15, per a press release. The festival's events range from pool parties to a sunset cruise to late-night gatherings at the island's LGBTQ bars and nightclubs. The official start of the heat wave is a kick-off party at Island House, 1129 Fleming St., set for 5 p.m. ET on Wed., Aug. 11.

The new batch of proposed emojis was released by Emojipedia—and it includes a pregnant man, a saluting face, heart hands, and gender-inclusive and nonbinary options, out.com noted. Approval of the final version of the emojis won't take place until September, and they won't go live until some time after that. If and once approved, this new batch of emojis (14.0) will go live on a majority of platforms sometime next year.


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