Connect with us

National

Trump scraps tradition, declines to issue Pride proclamation

Silence discontinues tradition under Clinton, Obama

Published

on

impeachment, gay news, Washington Blade

President Donald Trump has not issued a Pride proclamation at the start of June. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Trump has declined to issue at the start of June a proclamation designating the month as a time for celebration of Pride, breaking with a tradition started under the Obama administration.

By the end of the last weekday in May, President Obama each year during his time at the White House issued a proclamation recognizing Pride. Trump, on the other hand, had thus far issued no such proclamation — or even recognized June as Pride from his often-used Twitter account.

Trump on the last day of May issued five separate proclamations recognizing June as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, African-American Music Appreciation Month, National Homeownership Month, Great Outdoors Month and National Ocean Month. Absent from the list was anything related to Pride.

The White House last month hadn’t ruled out the possibility that Trump would recognize Pride, telling the Washington Blade the decision would be announced at the time of the June proclamations. But after the White House omitted any Pride proclamations from its series of proclamations on Wednesday, the White House didn’t respond to a request on whether a recognition of Pride would be forthcoming.

The tradition of presidential Pride proclamations started under President Clinton, although President George W. Bush discontinued that practice during his time in office. Obama renewed that tradition for each of his eight years at the White House, recognizing not only Pride in his proclamations but also achievements in LGBT rights, such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriage nationwide.

Obama also started a tradition of hosting annual receptions at the White House recognizing June as Pride month. It seems unlikely Trump would continue that practice and hold a similar reception after declining to issue a Pride proclamation, not to mention his unpopularity with LGBT community after policies such as revoking Obama-era guidance assuring transgender kids have access to school bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

Instead, a group of former LGBT Obama administration officials, led by former White House LGBT liaison Gautam Raghavan and Aditi Hardikar, are planning a “NOT the White House Pride Party,” taking would cue from Samantha Bee’s “Not the White House Correspondents Dinner” event.

The event is scheduled to take place June 10 to coincide with Capital Pride and the 2017 Equality March. Set to attend are Valerie Jarrett, former senior advisor to President Obama, and former Army Secretary Eric Fanning. Proceeds will go to Casa Ruby, a D.C. based shelter and center for trans women of color and immigrants.

Meanwhile, LGBT affinity groups for federal agencies are continuing their traditions of holding events to observe Pride. Agencies known to the Blade that are hosting events are the Pentagon, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing & Urban Development and the Justice Department.

A representative of HUD GLOVE told the Blade HUD Secretary Carson was invited to speak at the HUD event. It remains to be seen whether he’ll take that opportunity given an anti-LGBT record that includes comparing homosexuality to bestiality and calling transgender people.

For the Pentagon event on June 12, DOD Pride invited Defense Secretary James Mattis to speak. A DOD spokesperson said the department’s leadership instead will send a lower level official, Tony Kurta, acting under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Florida

Florida middle schoolers post racist photo using N-word to social media

School district officials confirmed the photo was authentic. They said it was taken by students at Hidden Oaks Middle School

Published

on

Screenshot/WPBF ABC News 25

STUART, FL. – A picture of six Martin County School District middle school students, each holding up at letter that spells out the highly offensive epithet N-word is circulating on social media and has prompted an investigation by officials.

Dr. John D. Millay, Superintendent of Schools for the Martin County School District in Florida notified the district’s community Tuesday evening after a board meeting regarding actions officials are taking in a statement:

Last night, the Martin County School District launched a comprehensive investigation into the origin and authenticity of an inappropriate and disturbing photo circulating on social media. We are moving with all deliberate speed to interview all those who may have been involved in this shameful incident, and, unfortunately, can confirm that the photo is authentic. We expect to have our investigation finalized within the next 48 hours,” Millay wrote.

(Editor’s note; WARNING: The following image is graphic and is offensive in nature, racial slur.)

Screen capture from a mobile phone posted to Twitter

Students who were involved in this disgraceful incident will be provided the due process afforded under federal and state law, and our investigation will not compromise those rights.

“The District is, however, appalled, and saddened by this incident which is contrary to our values, and the ideals that are instilled in our students.

Upon the completion of its investigation, the District will mete out appropriate disciplinary consequences to any students who participated in this behavior, pursuant to the District’s Code of Student Conduct. Federal law precludes us from identifying specific students and the specific disciplinary actions taken.

The Martin County School District reaffirms, without reservation, to all our students, our families, our employees and this community that the Martin County School District is committed to promoting and maintaining a learning environment free of hateful, racist and discriminatory actions or conduct. We will not condone or allow any conduct that may harass any student or class of students, has the effect of substantially interfering with any student’s educational performance, or has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of any school.

We have and will continue to enforce a zero-tolerance policy in this regard. I will work towards partnering with the leaders in our community to reinforce our values in this regard and will continue to strive towards fostering a learning environment free of bigotry and racism,” Millay said.

WPBF ABC News 25 reported Tuesday afternoon, school district officials confirmed the photo was authentic. They said it was taken by students at Hidden Oaks Middle School in Palm City.

Officials said the students made the letters in an art class.

“It’s disgusting,” said district spokesperson Jennifer Deshazo. “And it’s against everything that the Martin County School District stands for.”

The president of the Martin County chapter of the NAACP, Jimmy Smith, told 25 News it’s about so much more than just a photo.

“I was very heartbroken,” said Smith. “We all have made mistakes,” Smith said. “But when you get to that degree and that depth to come up with an idea like that, there’s something else going on.”

The incident with the Hidden Oaks Middle School students comes on the heels of racially motivated violence in Buffalo, New York after a gunman radicalized by online hate groups opened fire in a predominately Black Buffalo neighborhood Tops Supermarket killing 10 people.

WPBF ABC News 25:

Continue Reading

U.S. State Department

U.S. demands regular access to Brittney Griner in Russia

Out WNBA star detained in Moscow in February.

Published

on

Brittney Griner (Photo by Lorie Shaull, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

MOSCOW — U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan on Tuesday said Russian officials have denied consular visits to detained WNBA star Brittney Griner three times this month.

“For the third time in a month, Russian authorities have denied an embassy visit to detained U.S. citizen Brittney Griner,” said Sullivan in a statement the U.S. Embassy in Moscow posted to its Twitter account. “This is unacceptable. We call on @mfa_russia (Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry) to provide timely consular access, in line with Russia’s international and bilateral obligations.”

Griner — a center for the Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist who is a lesbian and married to her wife — was taken into custody at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February. Russian officials said customs inspectors found hashish oil in her luggage.

The State Department earlier this month determined Russia “wrongfully detained” Griner. 

A Russian court on May 13 extended her detention for another month. The Women’s National Basketball Players Association, a union that represents WNBA players, has endorsed a Change.org petition that urges the Biden administration to “prioritize” Griner’s release.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Tuesday told reporters during his daily press briefing that a consular official “was able to speak with” Griner “on the margins of her court proceedings” on May 13.

“That consular official came away with the impression that Brittney Griner is doing as well as might be expected under conditions that can only be described as exceedingly difficult,” said Price.

“But sporadic contact is not satisfactory,” he added. “It also may not be consistent with the Vienna Convention, to which Russia has subscribed. That is why we continue to urge the Russian government to allow consistent, timely consular access to all U.S. citizens detained in Russia, in line with those very legal obligations, and to allow us to provide consular services for U.S. citizens detained in Russia.”

Price on Tuesday also said Secretary of State Antony Blinken “had an opportunity in recent days to speak with” Griner’s wife.

Blinken spoke with her on May 14.

He conveyed once again the priority we attach to seeing the release of all Americans around the world, including Brittney Griner in the case of Russia, Paul Whelan in the case of Russia — those are Americans who we consider to be wrongfully detained,” said Price.

Continue Reading

Minnesota

Minnesota teachers fear retaliation over support of LGBTQ+ students

According to staff, teachers are afraid the move is intended as “a fishing expedition to prove that teachers encouraged students to protest”

Published

on

Screenshot/ FOX 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul

BECKER, Mn. – Following protests over the anti-LGBTQ+ Minnesota Child Protection League’s (MNCPL) March 14 presentation to the Becker County School Board, staff in all the district’s public schools will be required to turn over a trove of documents related to that event, The Los Angeles Blade has learned.

According to a staff member at Becker High School, teachers are afraid the move is intended as “a fishing expedition to prove that teachers encouraged students to protest” in a bid to “get the Board to fire” them.

The mandatory request was filed by Chris Klippen, a local attorney who addressed the School Board on March 14 ahead of the representative from MNCPL, echoing many of the group’s lies about LGBTQ+ people and objections to measures designed to protect the community’s youth.

As the Los Angeles Blade reported, controversy over the School Board’s decision to hear a presentation from the MNCPL was the latest in a series of events that have escalated tensions between area schools and LGBTQ youth, along with their families and allies.

Last year, a Facebook post that falsely claimed classrooms were replacing the American flag with the Pride flag invited comments that included homophobic and transphobic remarks. When students shared screen shots of the post on their social media pages, the Becker chief of police demanded they remove them, earning a rebuke from the ACLU of Minnesota.

Becker Public Schools/Facebook

LGBTQ+ students regularly face harassment at Becker High School, according to the staff member and Ella Rick, a junior who is active in the school’s GSA club.  

While the state’s legislature has successfully passed some protections for LGBTQ+ youth in schools, proponents of additional measures face virulent opposition from anti-LGBTQ+ groups whose influence has increasingly been felt in schools across the country amid a corresponding rise in legislation targeting the rights of LGBTQ+ students and their families. 

MNCPL is among the organizations currently advocating against Minnesotan Democrats’ proposed bill that would outlaw conversion therapy for minors and vulnerable adults.

Both Rick and the staff member at Becker High School said that following the MNCPL’s presentation to the School Board, participants in the protest felt targeted with veiled threats that left them fearing they would face retaliation from administrators and county officials.

An email Tuesday from Becker Superintendent Jeremy Schmidt instructs all recipients to collect and share, by the end of the month, electronic documents as well as “personal notes, post-it notes and handwritten notes” from February 1 to “the events on March 14, 2022.”

Statutorily, interested parties are permitted to file mandatory requests for documents from Minnesota’s public schools, and in this case it will apply to communications between staff and a breadth of different parties, from the media and advocacy groups to individuals and law enforcement.

LGBT students protest controversial presentation at Becker school board:

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular