Sports icon Billie Jean King, U.S. National Women's Soccer Team Co-Captain and World Cup Champion Megan Rapinoe, and WNBA stars Layshia Clarendon and Brianna Turner joined more than 150 fellow athletes in women's sports to support providing girls and women who are transgender the equal opportunity to participate in sports, a Lambda Legal press release noted. The athletes joined the Women's National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA), Athlete Ally and the Women's Sports Foundation as signatories to a friend-of-the-court brief Lambda Legal filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, urging the court to affirm a lower court ruling dismissing a challenge to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference's trans-inclusive policy enabling transgender students to participate in school sports.
A Texas man was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison for his role in a scheme that targeted LGBTQ men on the dating app Grindr, Gay City News noted. Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas, pled guilty Oct. 13 to committing violent crimes such as kidnapping, carjacking, and hate crimes against victims he perceived as gay on the app, the Department of Justice stated. Jenkins was the last to be sentenced in a group of defendants, including Michael Atkinson, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon and Daryl Henry.
The Timothy Ray Brown "The Berlin Patient" Memorial Campaign consortium dedicated a boulder in the National AIDS Memorial Grove to honor his life and journey during a ceremony held Oct. 16, a press release noted. Brown (1966-2020) was an American considered to be the first person cured of HIV/AIDS. He was diagnosed with HIV while studying abroad in Berlin in 1995, and later developed acute myeloid leukemia.To memorialize Brown's life and journey, a consortium of HIV/AIDS organizations collaborated with Tim Hoeffgen, Brown's life partner, in the effort to launch the Timothy Ray Brown "The Berlin Patient" Memorial Campaign.
Royal Poetical Starz, a 26-year-old Black transgender musician and masseur, was shot to death in broad daylight Oct. 2, LGBTQ Nation noted. Starz' friend, family law attorney Sandy T. Fox, said Starz was shot 20 times as she sat inside her Hummer SUV on a residential street in Miami Gardens, Florida. Police and media initially misgendered Starz, leaving LGBTQ media outlets uninformed about her murder for weeks.
Citing inadequate healthcare coverage and other flaws, employees at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF), a non-profit transgender litigation group based in New York, unveiled plans to form a unionand the organization's leadership swiftly vowed to recognize the labor drive, Gay City News noted. TLDEF, which is known for fighting anti-trans policies in healthcare, work, schools, and other areas, is facing an internal reckoning after two trans employees of color had gender-affirming surgeries denied under the company's healthcare plan.
A coalition of civil-rights groups sued the state of Oklahoma over a law limiting instruction about race and gender in public schools, NBC News reported. It is the first federal lawsuit to challenge a state statute implemented to prevent the teaching of critical race theory. The suitbacked by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law argues that HB 1775, which took effect in May, violates students' and teachers' free speech rights and denies people of color, LGBTQ students and girls the chance to learn their histories.
Eight new people recently joined three returning members of the United States Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, or PACHA. They include Tori Cooper, MPH, the director of community engagement for the D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign's transgender justice initiative. Cooper, according to NPR, is the first Black trans woman to serve on the council. Then-President Bill Clinton established the council in 1995, but PACHA was thrown into upheaval in June 2017, when a half-dozen members resigned in protest of then-President Donald Trump.
Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine made history again. According to LGBTQ Nation, Levine was sworn in as a four-star admiral, making her the first transgender four-star officer in all eight of the uniformed services. Levine is also the first female four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Levine's historic nomination to be Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was quickly followed with the distinction of being the first transgender federal official to be confirmed. There are only 44 other four-star active-duty officers in all the uniformed services.
GLAAD, Equality Texas and Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) issued a joint statement on the passage of Texas' ban on transgender children, kindergarten through 12th grade, participating in school sports on teams that align with their gender. TENT Executive Director Emmett Schelling said, in part, "Our hearts are broken seeing HB 25 pass in the state of Texas. Instead of focusing on legislation that would genuinely be of help to the people of Texas we saw our state leaders bully, belittle, and treat our most vulnerable Texans with cruelty and indifference. We will continue to fight for and stand with trans children and their families."
Seven students are suing a Texas school district over its dress-code policy banning boys from having long hair, the BBC reported. School officials suspended a 9-year-old boy for a month, barred him from recess and normal lunch breaks as punishment for long hair, the lawsuit claims. According to out.com, six boys and one non-binary student, ages 7 to 17, are mentioned in a suit filed in a federal district court against the Magnolia Independent School District, claiming the school's dress and grooming codes "imposed immense and irreparable harm" and violate both the students' civil rights as well as Title IX federal law which prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools.
Equality California and LGBTQ Victory Fund jointly announced their endorsements of Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton in her race for California Senate District 28, according to a press release. In 2017, Middleton became the first out transgender person elected to a non-judicial position in California when she won her race for Palm Springs City Council. Only eight out transgender people have ever been elected to state legislatures in the United States; all are currently serving.
In New Jersey, prosecutors filed first-degree murder charges against a man they say shot and killed his stepfather following a dispute about an LGBTQ+ houseguest, out.com noted. Christian A. Smith, 23, allegedly shot stepfather, Dennis McKenzie, 43, three times Oct. 9 following the escalation of an argument over the sexual orientation of a person brought to the house by a relative. According to a report from NJ.com, Assistant Prosecutor Dana Anton told a court that Smith "made it known to his stepfather that he did not approve of that person coming into their house" because, as Smith allegedly saw it, "their house was a house of God."
In Sacramento, California, school officials warned teen Emma Houlewho identifies as a genderfluid queer person and uses they/them pronounsafter they pulled out a large pride flag after being nominated for homecoming princess, according to The Sacramento Bee. School administrators confirmed Houle waved the flag at the rally, but would not discuss warnings given to Houle because they "cannot comment specifically on student conduct," said Tina Tedesco, the school's communication director. "They want to empower young women to change the world, but then they say, 'Well they are minors, they don't have the power to decide right now [if they are gay],'" said Houle's mother, Katharine Smith. "That's a poor display of leadership to say minors can't make decisions on their own about their beliefs and sexuality."
In North Carolina, the Raleigh City Council voted unanimously to pass a nondiscrimination ordinance that protects residents and visitors from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, natural hairstyle and other characteristics in employment and public accommodations, a joint statement from Campaign for Southern Equality and Equality NC stated. Raleigh City Councilman Jonathan Melton said, "As an LGBTQ person myself, it's so meaningful to know that my city is striving for inclusivity and dignity for everyone, and as an out elected official I'm grateful to work with colleagues committed to doing the right thing." All five of North Carolina's five largest citiesCharlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham and Winston-Salemhave now passed LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances.
In New York state, dozens of Paul Smith's College students walked out of their classes Oct. 21 to protest the college's handling of a variety of issues, particularly its treatment of queer students, handling of sexual assault and harassment cases involving students and faculty, and reports of racist incidents, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported. College Provost Nicholas Hunt-Bull attended and said he believes the students' concerns are validbut that he attended to listen, not talk. During Title IX trainings in freshman orientation, many students said they heard other newcomers make light of date rape drugs, they/them pronouns or racism. Then, they spend four years attending classes and living on the same campus with those students.
NYC Health + Hospitals held a rainbow ribbon-cutting ceremony to launch the opening of the Jacobi Pride Health Center in the Bronx, Gay City News reported. The center will provide patients across the LGBTQ spectrum with LGBTQ-competent services, including primary healthcare, reproductive and family planning services, HIV and STI testing, mental-health support and access to PrEP as well as gender-affirming hormone therapy.
The Cincinnati-based National Underground Railroad Freedom Center held its International Freedom Conductor Awards Oct. 16, per a press release. Amal and George Clooney, Bryan Stevenson and the late Congressman John Lewis joined the ranks of past award recipients and social justice icons Rosa Parks, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and more. The International Freedom Conductor Award is the Freedom Center's highest honor. The award recognizes the contributions of contemporary individuals who, by their actions and personal examples, reflect the spirit and courageous actions of conductors on the historic Underground Railroad, the nation's original social-justice movement.
As part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA's) Inclusion Week, the University of Connecticut (UConn) football team hosted its first Pride Game on Oct. 23, NBC Connecticut reported. "We are happy to host the first Pride Game in our history," Athletic Director David Benedict said in a press release before the game. "UConn athletics aspires to promote an inclusive environment for all of UConn Nation and we plan on hosting additional pride games in the future." The team and coaching staff wore Pride stickers; also, free rainbow headbands were handed out, and The Hartford Gay Men's Chorus sang the national anthem before kickoff.
To commemorate 50 years of queer media in Pennsylvania, the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University hosted an event Oct. 11 that coincided with National Coming Out Day, Pittsburgh City Paper reported. The event featured a gallery exhibit of Pittsburgh queer media over the last five decades and a panel discussion with LGBTQ journalists, bloggers and communicators representing publications across the commonwealth.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump announced he will launch his own social media platform, TRUTH Social, according to TechCrunch+. Trump's new social network is set to launch a beta version in November, which will be available to invited guests only. Its national rollout is expected in the first quarter of 2022.
Two long-time House Democrats, North Carolina's David Price and Pennsylvania's Mike Doyle, announced they will not seek re-election in 2022, CNN.com noted. Price, first elected in 1986, and Doyle, first elected in 1994, both represent districts President Joe Biden carried comfortably in 2020. However, the retirement of long-serving lawmakers may reflect worries about Democrats holding onto the House next year.