Equality Virginia discussed proposed guidelines for transgender rights in schools in during a virtual town hall that guided participants through crafting public comments in support of the guidelines which solidify protections for trans students and school staff, The Washington Blade reported. The event was in response to new guidelines proposed by Virginia's Department of Education that would codify requirements for schools making their own LGBTQ policies. Equality Virginia and Virginia-based LGBTQ youth advocacy organization Side By Side were joined by Virginia First Lady Pam Northam and Gavin Grimm, a trans activist who filed a lawsuit against his Virginia school district in 2015 when it refused to let him use the men's restroom.
A federal judge in Columbus, Ohio, sided with transgender residents who sought to overturn a state policy blocking them from changing sex markers on their birth certificates, The Columbus Dispatch reported. U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson granted summary judgment to four transgender individuals, noting that the state had allowed such birth-certificate changes in years past. "[The] ruling affirms that the state must recognize the dignity and true identity of every transgender Ohioan," ACLU of Ohio staff attorney Elizabeth Bonham said in a prepared statement. "It is incredibly frustrating that our clients faced years of unlawful discrimination, but we celebrate this victory as an acknowledgement to their commitment to justice."
The San Diego Police Department is investigating a video depicting Adolf Hitler that circulated among some department members, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The video "negatively portrays the community and department leadership" and includes a homophobic comment about the city's new mayor, Todd Gloria, a police spokesman confirmed. Gloria, who took office Dec. 10, is the city's first openly gay mayor. Police spokesman Lt. Shawn Takeuchiwho said the clip is from the 2004 film Downfall, a historical drama that depicts Hitler in the final days of World War IIcalled the video "extremely disturbing and offensive."
The Pentagon named eight new members to the Defense Policy Boardincluding Trump loyalist and former House Speaker Newt Gingrichless than a month after purging many of the group's influential members, Politico reported. The other appointees are Thomas Carter, Edward Luttwak, Scott O'Grady, Thomas Stewart, former Rep. Randy Forbes, former Sen. Robert Smith and Charles Glazer. Smith, a former New Hampshire senator, was also an opponent of LGBTQ rights and voted against federal funding for schools that taught acceptance of homosexuality. The Pentagon removed nearly a dozen members of the panel in November, including Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, along with former Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Foreign Policy first reported.
In Florida, Boca Raton and Palm Beach County asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a potentially far-reaching ruling that blocked bans on the controversial practice known as conversion therapy, OrlandoWeekly.com noted. Attorneys for the city and county filed a petition seeking a rehearing by the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or by a panel that last month ruled local ordinances banning conversion therapy violated the First Amendment.
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) announced the latest installment in its ongoing collaboration with Cartoon Network, a press release noted. On Dec. 14, Cartoon Network released a comic strip highlighting the power and importance of respecting gender identity through the use of gender pronouns. The comic was designed by members of the NBJC Youth and Young Adult Action Council with artist Steven Lowe; a team of creators from Cartoon Network Studios; and leadership from NBJC's director of education programs and research, Dr. Kia Darling-Hammond. This collaboration grew out of Cartoon Network's goal of meaningfully engaging with organizations serving the LGBTQ+/SGL community, and is a part of the network's continued support for NBJC.
The Human Rights Campaign's Equality Votes PAC launched a six-figure digital ad campaign focused on voter education and turning out the vote in Georgia early in person by mail and on Election Day (Jan. 5), a press release noted. The campaign, consisting of new videos and peer-to-peer postcard campaign, is focused on educating voters on early voting, and mobilizing them to turn out to vote to elect Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. HRC's Equality Votes PAC also launched a postcard campaign to make sure that at least 15,000 pro-LGBTQ Georgians, who may be at risk of not voting, have the information they need to cast their ballots; see hrc.im/postcardstogeorgia.
Also, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF), the educational arm of HRC, announced the launch of a new small grants program as a part of the organization's Transgender Justice Initiative (TJI), a press release noted. The program will award 30 $1,000 grants to community members advancing transgender justice initiatives rooted in partnership with outside organizations. Four grants per city will be available in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans and Philadelphia; an additional six grants will be available nationally. To learn more about applying for a grant, visit https://form.jotform.com/203525280512042.
In Kansas, the Topeka City Council voted to expand the city's anti-discrimination ordinance to include LGBTQ residents and military veterans, KWCH.com noted. The council unanimously approved an the ordinance that prohibits discrimination in work, housing and public accommodations because of gender identity, genetic information, sexual orientation or veteran status. The ordinance also was updated to prevent discrimination through telecommunication, which includes harassment over social media, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
And the borough of Gettysburg became the 63rd municipality in Pennsylvania to enact an LGBT-inclusive anti-bias ordinance. On Dec. 14, by a vote of seven to zero, the Democrat-controlled borough council passed the new ordinance, effective immediately. The ordinance also has jurisdiction over Gettysburg College adjacent to the Gettysburg Battlefield, which is a private liberal arts institution with about 2,600 students.
A famed Atlanta gay bar is being given a significant boost by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, 11Alive.com noted. The Atlanta Eagle, described by the mayor's office as "one of the Southeast's most famous LGBTQ social establishments," will be designated a historical landmark. According to Historic Atlanta, the spot's 1987 opening "marked Atlanta's place in the family of independently owned gay bars that operate under the 'Eagle' name. 'Eagle' bars began in New York City after the Stonewall riots [of] 1969."
In Savannah, Georgia, LGBT-rights icon Bobby Soletto, 74, died after a brief battle with COVID-19, WJCL.com reported. Soletto was a dancer at New York City's Stonewall Inn in 1969, and was a part of the Stonewall Riots.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) marked the five-year anniversary of the settlement in Michael Ferguson, et al., v. JONAHa first-of-its-kind lawsuit brought by the SPLC and co-counsel partners on behalf of four young men and two of their mothers against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a New Jersey-based organization offering so-called conversion therapy to people who are gay, a press release noted. SPLC Interim Deputy Legal Director Scott McCoy said, "Today, the legislatures of 20 states and the District of Columbia have prohibited the practice on minors by licensed professionals. Yet horrifyingly, these dehumanizing and abusive treatmentswhich have been discredited by every major U.S. medical and mental health associationpersist in some parts of the country."
In Texas, the Dallas/Fort Worth Black Tie Dinnerthe nation's largest LGBTQ fundraising dinnerdistributed $875,000 to its 17 beneficiaries (including AIDS Services of Dallas, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Planned Parenthood of Greater North Texas), The Dallas Voice reported. Black Tie Dinner officials handed the funds out Dec. 17 during the Digital Wrap Party, which was underwritten by BBVA & Lexus. Also during the Digital Wrap Party, Black Tie officials announced the 40th annual dinner will be held Nov. 13, 2021, at Sheraton Dallas Hotel.
On Dec. 11, Death Cab for Cutie released "The Georgia EP" on Bandcamp for one day only, with all proceeds going to Fair Fight ActionStacey Abrams' voters-rights organization that promotes fair elections around the country through voter education, election reform and opposition to voter suppression, Variety reported. The EPfeaturing new covers of songs by Georgia-connected artists TLC, R.E.M., Neutral Milk Hotel, Cat Power and Vic Chesnuttnetted proceeds of more than $100,000 within that brief window of time.
In South Carolina, it turns out a Greenville County councilman routinely forwards emails from constituents to people outside government, causing an outcry that he is endangering their welfare and spreading private information, TheState.com reported. Councilman Joe Dill has forwarded emails on a variety of subjects including rescinding Greenville County's anti-LGBT resolution from the 1990s and contentious zoning issues. Several people have decried his actions at public meetings recently, including one woman who said she fears retaliation and another concerned her private medical information has been passed around. Dill has apologized: "If I hurt somebody's feelings, I'm sorry."
A far-right drag queen was heckled as she was speaking at the Million MAGA March in D.C. in protest of the presidential elections that Joe Biden won, LGBTQ Nation reported. Lady Maga spoke at the rally in support of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist and white nationalist group that encourages its members to engage in violence against the left. The rally was also attended by the "Groyper Army," a loose group of white nationalists associated with Nick Fuentes and Michelle Malkin. Conservative writer Jon Miller posted video of people at the rally chanting "SHAME" as Lady Maga addressed the crowd.
On a related note (connected to the same event), as pro-Trump supporters descended on D.C. for the second MAGA march some men wearing Proud Boys gear were seen sporting yellow kiltsto the shock of the Virginia-based kilts' maker, WUSA9.com reported. The owner of Verillas in Fredericksburg, Allister Greenbrier, said his business produced the yellow kilts seen in the photo taken by NPR reporter Hannah Allam. Greenbrier's business is LGBTQ-owned and operated and has long-supported GLAAD, so since its inception in 2014, he said Verillas has been a bastion of love and acceptance.
District 6 San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney introduced a resolution to grant landmark status to the Eagle, the South of Market gay-owned leather bar, according to The Bay Area Reporter. The resolution is expected to first go to the supervisors' land use committee early in 2021; the Board of Supervisors would then vote on it. After that, the proposal goes to the historic preservation commission, which has 90 days to weigh in on the proposal. It then returns to the supervisors for a final vote officially designating the property as a city landmark. The same process is currently underway for the historic home of late lesbian pioneers Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin at 651 Duncan St., in the city's Noe Valley neighborhood.