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Jon Davidson is leaving Lambda Legal

Shock hits LA activists

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About half way through Chris Johnson’s Washington Blade story about Lambda Legal staff seeking to unionize came this unobtrusive little note: “Jon Davidson, who’s been legal director for Lambda for 22 years, was set to depart the organization on Wednesday.”

Wait—what? Jon Davidson leaving Lambda Legal? The sentence struck the brain like a cathedral bell stuck clanging high noon. At a time when the LGBT community needs quietly strong continuity, the Atlas of one of the movement’s most dependable organizations is laying down the weight of Lambda litigation and walking away. Why?

He wouldn’t say. But Davidson did send the Los Angeles Blade a statement for the record.

“Yes, I am leaving,” Davidson said in an email. “I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with my wonderful colleagues at Lambda Legal and its sister organizations these many years on behalf of so many courageous clients and our brave LGBTQ community. It’s been an honor to be part of the incredible progress we have made. I am proud to have built a terrific team of talented lawyers at Lambda Legal, who I am confident will protect our gains and continue to advance equality, dignity, and justice for all LGBTQ people and for everyone living with HIV. I’m currently exploring a number of different next steps in my career. Wherever I end up, I plan to continue to be part of the more critical than ever fight for social justice in our country,” says Davidson, 62, who is still on his sabbatical leave and official departs on Dec. 15.

Jon Davidson with LA LGBT Center CEO Lorri Jean at Supreme Court marriage victory rally in 2015

Acting Legal Director Camilla Taylor wrote a very comprehensive farewell tribute to the gay man who worked at Lambda Legal for 22 years, serving as legal director for the past 13 years, with a thoughtful list of many of his accomplishments.

“If I had a nickel for every time I’ve witnessed JD up at ungodly hours to work, sifting through legal materials and strategizing with his colleagues about how to conquer a problem or action against our community, mastering every minute detail, we could shut down Lambda Legal, colonize Mars and turn it into the queer utopia of everyone’s dreams,” Taylor wrote.

“During Jon’s tenure, Lambda Legal secured nationwide marriage equality, along with massive advances in the rights of LGBTQ and HIV+ people at work, at school, in health care, in immigration and criminal justice and beyond.

Under his leadership, Lambda Legal hired the organization’s first openly transgender lawyer and launched its Transgender Rights Project. It expanded its consideration of intersectional and racial equity issues and dramatically increased the representation of people of color and trans and gender-nonconforming people on Lambda Legal’s staff,” she said.

“He inspired us every day through his courage and integrity,” Taylor wrote. “He encouraged us to litigate bravely, fiercely and always honorably. He fearlessly took calculated litigation risks, buoyed by his faith in the goodness of other people.”

Taylor lists cases with which Davidson was involved while at Lambda since he joined the LGBT legal firm in 1995. Not included in the otherwise excellent personal post is a really critical point that makes the shock of his leaving so important: Jon Davidson has also been the LGBT people’s lawyer.

A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, Davidson was a partner at the important LA law firm Irell & Manella when he left in 1988 to join the ACLU of Southern California. He wanted—he needed to be of service to the LGBT community during the horrendous wave of the AIDS crisis. And that meant not only litigation but working on the ground, directly with the community, to explain what was going on, what could and could not be done and working with local leaders and community partners such as the LA Gay & Lesbian Community Services Center to find solutions for desperate people.

Jon Davidson with Rev. Mel White and others on panel about legal rights for domestic partners

Davidson translated legalese into language hurting and frightened people could understand, such as holding seminars to explain why gay couples needed legal protections for their relationships so a lover could see his dying partner in the hospital, make medical decisions and stay in their shared house as the anti-gay family swooped in to claim everything.

He was also on the street during demonstrations, from the massive AB 101 protests after Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed the gay rights bill he promised to sign in 1991 to protests against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, to name a few. He was a brainiac lawyer who was accessible to the people.

And while he was an extraordinary explainer-in-chief, Davidson was someone with whom other brainiacs, politicos and everyday LGBTs could argue without the long knives of revenge or forever-grudges interfering with the “greater good” of the LGBT people.

Jon Davidson with the late broadcaster and LA City Council member Bill Rosendahl at a marriage rally on May 15, 2008

While surely one of Davidson’s crowning achievements (with Shannon Minter from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, among others) was the marriage victory on May 15, 2008 with the consolidate In re Marriage Cases, there were two other cases with significant ripple effects that need to be acknowledged—his long, long fight against the LAPD with the Sgt. Mitch Grobeson case and the Boy Scout cases, especially their first one with Tim Curran.

Sgt. Mitch Grobeson is pictured here with former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates. Photo courtesy sgtmitch.com

Macho-macho man LAPD Chief Daryl Gates had publicly declared that “homosexuality is unnatural” and rejected gay officers because “Who would want to work with one?” The LAPD also housed Deputy Chief Mark Kroeker and his secret “God Squad” that fast-tracked the careers of like-minded anti-gay Christians.

“After he was outed and harassed at work, falsely accused of misconduct, and had his life put at risk when members of the department intentionally refused to send backup to assist him in a life-threatening situation, Grobeson felt he had to take action, even knowing that doing so would surely lead to further character assassination,” Davidson told the Los Angeles Blade, describing his work with civil rights lawyer Dan Stormer on Grobeson’s behalf in what turned out to be 25 years of litigation starting in 1988. “Grobeson didn’t want what happened to him to happen to anyone else.” The lawsuits led to numerous reforms in the LAPD’s hiring, personnel, and policing practices.

But it was Jon Davidson who brought Grobeson’s case and the silent plight of other LGBT police officers to the attention of the independent Christopher Commission in 1991, which investigated the LAPD in-depth after the riots following the acquittal of four officers accused of videotaped beating Rodney King. In addition to looking at discrimination against the lesbian and gay officers, the Commission—which included attorney and later ambassador David Huebner—found that LAPD officers held homophobic bias toward LGBT citizens.

“There’s an important lesson here,” Davidson told The Los Angeles Blade on the anniversary of the riots. “When racism and police violence against black and brown communities are tolerated, homophobia, transphobia, and violence against LGBTQ people often are present, as well. Efforts to end certain forms of official bias can diminish other forms, as well. All Angelenos, including those of us who are part of the queer community, are better off because of the reforms of the last 25 years.”

When Warren Christopher—the former Sec. of State who led the investigation—died in 2011, Davidson wrote a remembrance that places him in LGBT history.

“The Christopher Commission’s 228-page report documented virulently anti-gay sentiments of LAPD officers, such as mobile digital police car transmissions referring to crimes against gay people as ‘NHI, “meaning ‘no humans involved.” The Commission’s detailed examination of police records also proved false LAPD claims that anti-gay sting operations in Griffith Park were justified by frequent complaints,” Davidson wrote. “When I and others pressed the Commission to hear testimony from current and former lesbian and gay officers, they agreed and took steps to protect those who were still in the closet. That testimony showed a widespread pattern of discrimination and harassment based on perceived sexual orientation against both LAPD employees and civilians.”

The Christopher Commission’s report was used to pressure homophobic LAPD Police Chief Daryl Gates to leave. Davidson and Christopher later worked together when his law firm, O’Melveny & Myers, helped Lambda Legal represent a gay youth harassed at his high school. “Christopher had stood behind his firm (which was long considered a conservative institution) taking on that case, and he expressed great pride in the result we jointly obtained—establishing a constitutional right of lesbian and gay youth to be out at school as well as the largest pretrial settlement ever of a case of this nature,” Davidson wrote. “[O]ur community should remember him for helping make tackling inequality based on sexual orientation a mainstream concern.”

Another case with far-reaching ripple effects was the fight against discrimination in the Boy Scouts of America. Tim Curran was excited to get his Eagle Scout patch in 1980. But, as he notes in his website about the wrenching experience, “Little did we know that only a few months later, the troop would be forced to excommunicate me after the local Mount Diablo Council found out I was gay. My own troop leaders had known for some time, and had continued to accept my leadership as an Assistant Scoutmaster,” Curran writes. “I was shocked when the letter from the Council arrived at my UCLA dorm room. But it didn’t take too long before I got mad. I called the ACLU of Southern California, and they agreed to take the case.”

The BSA, largely funded by members of the Church of Latter day Saints, had a policy excluding all “known or avowed homosexuals” from membership, which the ACLU and Lambda asserted violated California’s law prohibiting discrimination by business establishments. Between 1981 and 1998, attorneys Sue McGreivy and the late George Slaff early on, then Davidson and Paul Hoffman fought for that case until the California Supreme Court finally ruled on March 23, 1998 in favor of the Boy Scouts.

The court also handed Davidson another loss that day with a decision against two 9-year-old twin brothers, Michael and William Randall, who were denied membership to an Orange County Cub Scout den in 1990 because they refused to declare a belief in God.

”This is the end of the line for this decision,” Davidson told The New York Times about the Curran case, “but not for this question nationally.” He was right. Even people who could care less about scouting became angry about the blatant discrimination against gays and got involved. Eventually, through a succession of openly gay LA Police Commissioners, the LAPD was forced to change it’s alliance with a youth mentoring front group with ties to BSA and the national organization has since struggled with its admission policies.

Through it all, Davidson remained loyal to the cause and the people who needed help.

“Jon became my lawyer when he joined the ACLU of Southern California in the late 80s,” Curran, who became a filmmaker and journalist, told the Los Angeles Blade. “He was young, daring, and extremely capable – and managed to push the Boy Scout case forward through obstacles that would have made other attorneys give up. John’s a tremendous legal talent, a great guy, and the LGBT community—and I—owe him a great debt of gratitude that stretches back many decades.”

Lambda Legal still has many stalwart attorneys, but with Davidson’s leaving, the torch has been passed to a new generation, members of advocacy organizations or the law firms from whence they came—but no one knows who they are, other than Jenny Pizer, who is also a community activist.

Davidson is now deciding what to do in the next stage of his remarkable life, as he celebrates 13 years with Syd Peterson. But it is imperative that we not forget all the experience, the institutional knowledge, the inspiration, and the out-of-the-box thinking that Davidson has contributed to the LGBT community for so many years. If he’s no longer a fit for Lambda Legal, where might he land? Because this gay dude ain’t done yet!

All photos by Karen Ocamb

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U.S. Federal Courts

Supreme Court declines Maryland anti-LGBTQ+ guidelines suit

Three parents of students in the school district outside of D.C., — none of whom have trans children — filed the lawsuit

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U.S. Supreme Court (Photo: Washington Blade/Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a lawsuit against Montgomery County Public Schools guidelines that allow schools to create plans in support of transgender or gender non-confirming students without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

Three parents of students in the school district in suburban Maryland outside of D.C., — none of whom have trans or gender non-confirming children — filed the lawsuit. 

A judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last August dismissed the case. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

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Montana

ACLU asks court: Stop Montana state agencies harming trans folks

ACLU argues the rule violates the right to privacy, which the Montana Constitution says is “essential to the well-being of a free society”

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Lewis and Clark County District Courthouse 228 E Broadway Street, Helena, Mont. (Photo Credit: Lewis and Clark County/Montana BW)

By Keila Szpaller | HELENA, Mont. – People who are transgender need to be able to amend their birth certificates and driver’s licenses without interference from the state of Montana, plaintiffs in a lawsuit argued this week in a request for a preliminary injunction.

So the Lewis and Clark County District Court should block the Department of Public Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice from unconstitutionally preventing them, the plaintiffs said.

The status quo not only violates the constitutional rights of transgender Montanans, it causes harm, said the motion filed Thursday.

“Uncorrected identity documents serve as constant reminders that one’s identity is perceived by society and the government as ‘illegitimate,’” said the ACLU Montana in the filing.

The result can exacerbate gender dysphoria — a serious medical condition associated with incongruity between assigned sex and gender identity — and cause psychiatric disorders and even the risk of suicide, the plaintiffs said.

On the other hand, The World Professional Association for Transgender Health states that “changing the sex designation on identity documents greatly helps alleviate gender dysphoria,” the filing said.

Last month, the ACLU Montana filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jessica Kalarchik, Jane Doe, and “all others similarly situated” alleging Gov. Greg Gianforte, the Department of Public Health and Human Services, and the Department of Justice are violating the constitutional rights of transgender people.

The plaintiffs argue people who are transgender used to be able to amend their birth certificates without issue and without negative consequences to the state.

However, a 2022 rule through the health department, a new Motor Vehicle Department practice through the DOJ, and Senate Bill 458 treat them differently than cisgender people — whose gender identity corresponds to their assigned sex — and infringes on their rights.

“The 2022 Rule, the new MVD policy and practice, and SB 458 are solutions in search of a problem,” the plaintiffs said.

A spokesperson for Gianforte earlier said the governor stands by the bill he signed in 2023 “that brings the long-recognized, commonsense, immutable biologically-based definition of sex — male and female — into our state laws.”

The state health department earlier said it does not typically comment on pending litigation. The Department of Justice earlier denied the MVD had changed its policy on updating a sex designation on a driver’s license.

This week, the plaintiffs asked the court for a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the rule, practice and law, citing infringement of their constitutionally protected rights.

They also asked the court to certify the lawsuit as a class action on behalf of all Montanans who are transgender and need to change their birth certificates and driver’s licenses.

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of New York and Nixon Peabody of Chicago also are representing plaintiffs, pending approval from the court.

DPHHS Director Charlie Brereton and Attorney General Austin Knudsen also are sued as heads of state agencies.

Different law, same fight

Starting in 2017, people who were transgender could change their sex designations by submitting an affidavit to the health department.

In 2021, the Montana Legislature adopted Senate Bill 280, which restricted the ability of people who are transgender to change their birth certificates. But in a separate lawsuit, the court temporarily halted the law and ordered the health department to use the 2017 process instead.

“DPHHS pointed to no adverse consequence of having had to revert to the 2017 procedure,” said the filing this week.

The district court permanently enjoined SB 280 in 2023 and also found DPHHS to be in contempt for “openly and repeatedly defying” its order.

In February 2024, however, the state health department said it wouldn’t amend birth certificates based on gender identity, but only to correct errors, citing an administrative rule from 2022 and its alignment with Senate Bill 458.

Signed by Gianforte in 2023, SB 458 states that “there are exactly two sexes, male and female … (and) the sexes are determined … without regard to an individual’s psychological, behavioral, social, chosen or subjective experience of gender.”

The DOJ took action this year as well, ending the prior practice at the MVD of allowing changes to sex based on a letter from a doctor stating the person was changing or had changed their gender, according to the court filing.

“Instead, without following any notice-and-comment procedure, the DOJ and Attorney General Austin Knudsen adopted a new policy and practice that the MVD would only issue an amended driver’s license with a sex designation consistent with a person’s gender identity, rather than their assigned sex at birth, if the person provided an amended birth certificate — which the 2022 Rule prohibits transgender people from obtaining,” said the filing.

Constitutional rights violated, plaintiffs allege

The plaintiffs argue the changes violate multiple constitutional rights.

They violate their right to equal protection because the health department and MVD “single out transgender people for different and less favorable treatment vis-a-vis cisgender people,” the filing said.

The rule and practice also don’t serve a compelling state interest, the plaintiffs said.

In fact, 45 other states allow transgender people to amend their sex markers on their birth certificates, and 38 allow them to change the same on their driver’s licenses without an amended birth certificate, the filing said.

“Many of these states have allowed these changes to birth certificates and driver’s licenses for years without any widespread problems with the ability of those states to maintain ‘accurate vital statistics,’” the filing said.

They noted Montana was in the same boat earlier, making changes at the health department “without incident” from 2017 until the 2021 law was adopted.

The plaintiffs also argue that the rule, MVD practice and law violate the right to privacy, which the Montana Constitution says is “essential to the well-being of a free society.”

The state says that right shall not be infringed without a compelling state interest,” and the plaintiffs note the state affords even broader privacy protections than the federal constitution.

And they said health information is personal, sensitive and private.

“The mental and emotional toll of being forced, against one’s will, to publicly share personal information related to one’s transgender status is both humiliating and degrading,” the plaintiffs said.

If transgender people can’t change their birth certificates, they’re forced to reveal their transgender status every time they’re required to show those documents, the plaintiffs said.

“This forced ‘outing’ has serious adverse psychological effects and health consequences and often results in outright hostility toward transgender people,” said the court filing.

“Conversely, transgender people whose identity documents are consistent with the way they present themselves to the public experience better mental health and less mistreatment.”

The plaintiffs cited a study that said transgender people who changed their sex designation on documents were 35% less likely to have experienced related mistreatment than those who hadn’t made the changes.

“Other studies have shown that accurate identity documents promote economic benefits, including higher rates of employment and increased income,” the plaintiffs said.

They noted nearly one-third of transender people fall below the poverty line and the same number have experienced homelessness.

The state also is forcing people who are transgender to “express or embrace a viewpoint to which they disagree,” in violation of the right to be free from compelled speech, the plaintiffs allege.

Rather, transgender people are forced to carry and present identity documents with a sex designation that conflicts with what they know their sex to be and one that forces them to “disseminate the state’s view of their sex,” the plaintiffs argue.

The rule, policy and law are also “scientifically incorrect,” said the court filing.

“They ignore the existence of multiple genes involved in sex differentiation; the breadth of the endocrine system, which has multiple organs with multiple functions; and growing research documenting that gender identity is biologically based,” the plaintiffs said.

Class certification request

The plaintiffs also propose a class that includes all transgender people in Montana who want to change sex designations on their birth certificates or driver’s licenses.

Citing a study, the filing estimates roughly 0.41% of Montanans over 18 identify as transgender, or more than 3,400, and an estimated 49% don’t have documents that reflect the sex to which they identify, or some 1,700.

It said a class action case would account for the high number of potential plaintiffs, their geographic dispersion in a state such as Montana, the resources of the court, the resources of individual class members, and their vulnerability to threats of violence.

“Proceeding as a class diminishes the salience of such threats to any individual class member, as there is both safety in numbers and relative anonymity for class members,” said the request for class certification.

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Keila Szpaller

Keila Szpaller is deputy editor of the Daily Montanan and covers education. Before joining States Newsroom Montana, she served as city editor of the Missoulian, the largest news outlet in western Montana.

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The preceding article was previously published by the Daily Montanan and is republished with permission.

The Daily Montanan is a nonprofit, nonpartisan source for trusted news, commentary and insight into statewide policy and politics beneath the Big Sky.

We’re part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.

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Alabama

New policies tie Alabama library funding to LGBTQ book restrictions

A former employee of the Autauga-Prattville Public Library said the guidelines allow the APLS to “basically act like Big Brother”

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“Gender Queer,” a graphic memoir by Maia Kobabe, was the most challenged book in America in 2022, according to the American Library Association. (Photo by New Jersey Monitor)

By Ralph Chapoco | MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Libraries that do not restrict access to materials deemed sexually inappropriate by the Alabama Public Library Service Board could lose state funding under rules adopted by the APLS Board on Thursday.

The changes, recommended by Gov. Kay Ivey but pushed considerably further by a board member who also chairs the Alabama Republican Party, come amid divisive battles over content and leadership in libraries around the state, often over books with LGBTQ+ themes or characters.

“I think the important thing here, and one of my priorities from the beginning, is that we protect children in the state of Alabama,” said John Wahl, the chair of the Alabama Republican Party and a member of the board who led the push for the changes. “No one should want a child to stumble across sexually explicit material in the children’s section of the libraries.”

Opponents say the new rules amount to censorship and that the language is too vague to determine what materials fall under the ban.

“The policies approved today by the state Public Library Service are a sequel that no one asked for,” said Read Freely Alabama, a group originally organized to oppose restrictive circulation policies in Prattville. “They are virtually identical to the harmful censorship policies that Prattville’s extremist-stacked library board imposed earlier this year on families who rely on the community’s public libraries.”

Under the new rules, libraries must develop a materials selection policy, addressing how minors “are safeguarded from sexually explicit material deemed inappropriate for children or youth.” They must have a policy outlining where books will be located or relocated if they are “sexually explicit or other material deemed inappropriate for children or youth.”

Libraries must also develop policies for obtaining advance approval for placing such materials in displays targeted to children. The rules leave it unclear who would approve the display materials. They must also have stated guidelines that ensure sections for children do not have materials that are obscene, sexually explicit or believed to be inappropriate.

Local policies must also bar the purchase of such materials for the collection and state that minors younger than 18 years old must have parental approval before borrowing materials designated for the adult section.

APLS is responsible for distributing funding allocated to libraries by the state. Ivey sent a letter to APLS Director Nancy Pack last fall  requesting that the organization condition library funding on them adopting “sensible” policies to allow parents to better supervise their children while visiting a library.

She also wanted libraries to affirm that they will respond to parents’ concerns regarding materials they believe are sexually explicit or inappropriate on library shelves. Ivey also wanted money allocated to the American Library Association to be subject to approval by a “relevant governing authority.”

The changes adopted Thursday by the APLS Board went even further and included several proposals that Wahl believed were necessary to mitigate confusion by the public, including the selection criteria for minors that should exclude sexually explicit materials.

Right-wing groups have been targeting content in libraries, particularly books reflecting the experiences of LGBTQ+ people. The battle over content at the Autauga-Prattville Library began last year when a parent complained that a book contained inclusive pronouns.

Critics say the restrictions reflect an attitude that the existence of LGBTQ+ people is in itself obscene. Lacie Sutherland, a former employee of the Autauga-Prattville Public Library who attended Thursday’s meeting,  said the guidelines allow the APLS to “basically act like Big Brother.”

“Just because you think talking about LGBTQ+ plus books is inappropriate doesn’t mean they are,” she said in an interview following the meeting. “You just have a very disgusting viewpoint about the existence of human beings.”

Ivey’s recommended changes to the administrative code sparked a public input process. APLS solicited feedback from the public for several months since that October letter from Ivey was received.

Outside groups suggested their own changes. The Alabama Library Association proposed a code that would direct libraries to adopt policies to deal with patrons and children who were unsupervised by adults, the location of materials as well as establish a display policy. The Eagle Forum, a right-wing organization, wanted further restrictions beyond what Ivey had suggested.

APLS hosted a public hearing April 30 where more than 100 people spoke, most in opposition to the rules. Another 6,000 letters were submitted. APLS said about 1,600 of them favored the changes recommended by the Alabama Library Association while another 2,179 aligned with the changes submitted by Eagle Forum. The rest were a smattering of recommendations.

“Everyone is clearly very sincere in their views,” said Ronald Snider, the chair of the APLS Board. “We don’t question the sincerity of what their positions are. I have said this before, all this dissension has hurt the libraries of this state generally, as evidenced by the cut in our funding.”

The APLS has a total budget of about $15 million in the Education Trust Fund budget, which passed the Legislature earlier this month. Most of that funding goes to outside programs. About $4.12 million goes to its operations. For this year, that figure is roughly $3.77 million, almost 9% less.

The Alabama Legislature cut $351,000 (9%) from the APLS’  2025 operating budget, bringing it to roughly $3.77 million. The House of Representatives originally cut the agency’s budget by $701,000, but the Senate reduced the reduction by half.

House Ways and Means Education Committee Chair Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, who oversaw the budget, said in April the cuts were not punitive and that the money would be allocated to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and Better Basics, a Birmingham-based nonprofit that assists children with reading and math skills.

The allocation for the Imagination Library, under the Department of Early Childhood Education, increased by $250,000 in the final version of the ETF. Better Basics received $500,000.

The day began with a subcommittee meeting led by Wahl who introduced the proposed changes.

“It is time that we make sure Alabama libraries are safe for children in their children’s sections,” Wahl said. “I think we accomplished that today.”

Snider, who voted against the proposed amendments, abstained on a motion to change the administrative code. He noted that the Autauga-Prattville Library faced a lawsuit over restrictive policies it adopted earlier this year.

“We all are aware that the Prattville Library is now in litigation in federal court over the proposals they adopted that are substantially similar to what you have suggested,” Snider said to another board member, Amy Minton. “I would hate for the agency itself to be involved in litigation with respect to that.”

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Ralph Chapoco

Ralph Chapoco covers state politics as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. His main responsibility is the criminal justice system in Alabama.

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The preceding article was previously published by the Alabama Reflector and is republished with permission.

The Alabama Reflector is an independent, nonprofit news outlet dedicated to covering state government and politics in the state of Alabama. Through daily coverage and investigative journalism, The Reflector covers decision makers in Montgomery; the issues affecting Alabamians, and potential ways to move our state forward.

We’re part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.

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National

Over half of states sue to block rule protecting LGBTQ+ students

Twenty-six GOP-led states are suing the Biden administration over changes to Title IX which are due to take effect August 1, 2024

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Typical classroom in a New Jersey school via the office of the New Jersey governor. (Los Angeles Blade file photo)

By Shauneen Miranda | WASHINGTON — Twenty-six GOP-led states are suing the Biden administration over changes to Title IX aiming to protect LGBTQ+ students from discrimination in schools.

Less than a month after the U.S. Department of Education released its final rule seeking to protect against discrimination “based on sex stereotypes, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics,” a wave of Republican attorneys general scrambled to challenge the measure.

The revised rule, which will go into effect on Aug. 1, requires schools “to take prompt and effective action when notified of conduct that reasonably may constitute sex discrimination in their education programs or activities.”

The lawsuits hail from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

All of the attorneys general in the 26 states suing over the final rule are part of the Republicans Attorneys General Association.

Various advocacy groups and school boards have also tacked onto the states’ legal actions. The lawsuits carry similar language and arguments in vehemently opposing the final rule. They say the new regulations raise First Amendment concerns and accuse the rule of violating the Administrative Procedure Act.

LGBTQ+ advocates say the revised rule offers students a needed protection and complies with existing law.

“Our kids’ experience in schools should be about learning, about making friends and growing as a young person. LGBTQ+ students deserve those same opportunities,” Sarah Warbelow, vice president of legal at the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said in an emailed statement. “In bringing these lawsuits, these state attorneys general are attempting to rob LGBTQ+ students of their rights, illustrating a complete disregard for the humanity of LGBTQ+ students.”

GOP states band together against new regulations

In the most recent effort, Alaska, Kansas, Utah, and Wyoming sued the Biden administration on Tuesday, accusing the Department of Education of seeking to “politicize our country’s educational system to conform to the radical ideological views of the Biden administration and its allies.”

The lawsuit claims that under the updated regulations, teachers, coaches and administrators would have to “acknowledge, affirm, and validate students’ ‘gender identities’ regardless of the speakers’ own religious beliefs on the matter in violation of the First Amendment.”

In another lawsuit, a group of Southern states —  Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina — sued the administration in federal court in Alabama over the new regulations.

Republican Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said President Joe Biden “has brazenly attempted to use federal funding to force radical gender ideology onto states that reject it at the ballot box” since he took office.

“Now our schoolchildren are the target. The threat is that if Alabama’s public schools and universities do not conform, then the federal government will take away our funding,” Marshall said in a press release.

The lawsuit also drew praise from Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said “Biden is abusing his constitutional authority to push an ideological agenda that harms women and girls and conflicts with the truth.” He added that the Sunshine State will “not comply” and instead “fight back against Biden’s harmful agenda.”

Individual states sue the administration 

Meanwhile, some states have opted to file individual lawsuits against the administration.

In Texas, Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration late last month in federal court in Amarillo. Paxton filed an amended complaint earlier this week, with two new plaintiffs added.

In an April 29 press release, Paxton said the Lone Star State “will not allow Joe Biden to rewrite Title IX at whim, destroying legal protections for women in furtherance of his radical obsession with gender ideology.”

Oklahoma’s Republican Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration earlier this month in federal court in Oklahoma. The state’s education department also filed a separate suit against the Biden administration.

A hodgepodge of states

 

In late April, Republican attorneys general in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration in federal court in Kentucky.

The states argued that the U.S. Education Department “has used rulemaking power to convert a law designed to equalize opportunities for both sexes into a far broader regime of its own making.”

Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi and Montana also sued the Biden administration in late April, echoing the language seen in the other related lawsuits. Seventeen local school boards in Louisiana also joined the states.

Earlier this month, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota also brought a collective legal challenge to the final rule.

A spokesperson for the Education Department said the department does not comment on pending litigation but noted that “as a condition of receiving federal funds, all federally-funded schools are obligated to comply with these final regulations.” They added that the department looks forward “to working with school communities all across the country to ensure the Title IX guarantee of nondiscrimination in school is every student’s experience.”

The department has yet to finalize a separate rule that establishes new criteria for transgender athletes. So far, 24 states have passed laws that ban transgender students from partaking in sports that align with their gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project.

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Shauneen Miranda

Shauneen Miranda is a reporter for States Newsroom’s Washington bureau. An alumna of the University of Maryland, she previously covered breaking news for Axios.

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The preceding article was previously published by the States Newsroom and is republished with permission.

News From The States brings expert, on-the-ground reporting from all 50 states together in one place.

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National audiences need this too. News From the States brings together daily reporting and commentary from States Newsroom’s affiliates, legacy partners and independent nonprofit content partners. Constantly updated, with curated featured stories and highlighted trends, it illuminates state government across the U.S. like never before.

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Louisiana

Trans bathroom restrictions heads to Louisiana governor’s desk 

The bill would also require a trans man, even one who has transitioned via hormones & gender affirming surgery, to use women. facilities

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Rep. Roger Wilder walks back to his desk on the House floor. (Louisiana Illuminator/Allison Allsop)

By Piper Hutchinson | BATON ROUGUE, La. – The Louisiana Senate easily passed a controversial bill restricting what bathrooms, changing rooms and sleeping quarters transgender people use in public facilities, sending it to the governor’s desk for action. 

House Bill 608 by Rep. Roger Wilder, R-Denham Springs, passed the Senate on a 29-10 vote after less than 15 minutes of discussion. Senate President Pro Tempore Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, voted with Republicans on the bill. Sen. Katrina Jackson-Andrews, D-Monroe, voted against the bill but later added her name as a co-author. 

Wilder’s bill, which he’s dubbed the “Women’s Safety and Protection Act,” would segregate all bathrooms, changing and locker rooms as well as sleeping quarters by sex in public schools, domestic violence shelters and correctional facilities, prohibiting transgender people from using facilities that align with their gender identity. 

When he presented his bill to the House last month, Wilder was unable to point to a specific incident in Louisiana in which a woman or girl was harmed by a transgender woman at a public restroom or changing facility. 

Kate Kelly, a spokesperson for Republican Gov. Jeff Landry, was not immediately able to confirm Landry’s plans for the bill. The arch-conservative governor has openly supported other anti-LGBTQ+ measures, including two that restrict the discussion of gender and sexuality in K-12 schools

The bill also defines the terms “man,” “woman,” “girl,” “boy,” “male” and “female.” These definitions specifically exclude gender identity, which the bill does not define. 

Wilder’s proposal was carried on the Senate floor by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, who authored a law that prevents transgender people from competing in women’s sports

The bill was opposed by several LGBTQ+ rights advocates who argued the bill needlessly harms transgender people. The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates there are approximately 20,000 transgender people living in Louisiana

“This bill represents a deeply troubling attempt to deny the humanity and dignity of an already vulnerable population by seeking to eliminate legal recognition of gender identities beyond the binary,” SarahJane Guidry, executive director of Forum for Equality, an LGBTQ+ rights organization, said at a committee hearing on the bill last week

Transgender people tend to experience higher rates of domestic violence and have higher suicide rates than people who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. While many domestic violence shelters already turn away transgender people, Wilder’s bill would require they do so unless they have the space to offer separate sleeping quarters and bathrooms for transgender people. 

While Wilder pitched his bill as a way to keep women and girls from feeling uncomfortable or unsafe when men enter private areas, the legislation would require a transgender man, even one who has transitioned via hormones and gender affirming surgery, to use facilities designated for women. 

A transgender man is a man who was assigned female at birth. Transitioning refers to actions taken by a transgender person to align their bodies with their identified gender. 

The bill would allow anybody who experiences, or is expected to experience, direct or indirect harm as a violation of the bill to sue, including someone who is retaliated against for pointing out a violation. 

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Piper Hutchinson is a reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator. She has covered the Legislature and state government extensively for the LSU Manship News Service and The Reveille, where she was named editor in chief for summer 2022.

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The preceding piece was previously published by the Louisiana Illuminator and is republished by permission.

Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Louisiana Illuminator maintains editorial independence.

Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and Twitter.

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New Hampshire

New Hampshire passes 3 anti-Trans bills in one day, more to come

New Hampshire appears poised to become one of the most risky states for transgender youth and adults in the Northeast

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New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu speaking at the National Governors Association, September 2023. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor/Facebook)

By Erin Reed | CONCORD, N.H. – On Thursday, the New Hampshire Legislature passed three separate anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ bills targeting transgender people in sports, schools, and medical care.

All three bills are now headed to the Governor Chris Sununu’s desk for final passage, but he has not yet indicated whether he will sign the bills. However, the governor previously joined 24 other Republican governors in a letter opposing President Biden’s Title IX rules that bar discrimination against transgender people in schools. More anti-trans bills are expected to be heard and potentially voted on next week.

Among the bills that passed were:

  • House Bill 1205: This bill bars transgender youth from participating in sports that match their gender identity from grades 5-12. If a student’s “biological sex” is unclear or challenged, the law requires that “other evidence” of their assigned sex at birth be provided. This provision has been interpreted to potentially require genital inspections. Senator Ruth Ward, when confronted with these concerns, stated, “There are ways of finding out whether you’re a male or female… I would check with the coach or medical physician for the team,” which did not alleviate concerns. Similar laws have been blocked in courts in West Virginia and Ohio.
  • House Bill 1312This bill is similar to “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” legislation that has been passed in a variety of other Republican-controlled states nationwide. It defines LGBTQ+ topics as “objectionable” and requires two weeks of notice before any curriculum or course material used for instruction around sexual orientation or gender identity is introduced and could allow parents to opt their children out. Democrats argued that the bill was overly broad and could require notice for any book dealing with gender identity and sexuality, including books depicting heterosexual relationships. Similar concerns were used to dismiss a law in Iowa in court after a judge determined that merely mentioning a husband and wife could run afoul of the law.
  • House Bill 619: House Bill 619 bars bottom surgery for transgender youth in the state. Although such surgeries are exceedingly rare and no evidence was presented that they are occurring in New Hampshire, the bill sets a precedent that elected officials should have a say over the healthcare decisions of individual transgender patients and their doctors. Importantly, the law also prohibits referrals out of state, which could limit options and information for transgender youth.

Two more bills are still being considered in the state and may be heard next week. House Bill 1660 would bar Medicaid coverage for any gender reassignment surgeries for those under 18, including chest masculinization or feminization surgeries. Courts have recently ruled that such bars on coverage is unconstitutional, including landmark rulings from the 4th and 11th Circuit Courts of Appeal. Also pending is House Bill 396, which could roll back discrimination protections for transgender people and would allow for discrimination in bathrooms, sports, competitions, correction centers, mental health hospitals, and more.

New Hampshire appears poised to become one of the most risky states for transgender youth and adults in the Northeast. All surrounding states have passed significant protections for transgender people, including “shield” laws that protect the privacy of patients seeking reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare across state lines. Should nondiscrimination protections be rolled back, transgender people may face a confusing landscape over such simple questions as whether they are allowed to use the bathroom as they travel through the state. Similarly, regional sporting events could be heavily impacted.

The votes in New Hampshire previously came down to the wire in the House. For every bill listed, a number of House Democrats voted yes, were marked as present not voting, or missed the vote and were recorded as absent.

Although Democrats do not hold a majority in the House, more than 12 Democrats failed to vote “no” on virtually every bill when they were heard in the House, allowing the bills to pass. Some legislators have contended that this is due to the size of the New Hampshire House, which consists of 400 members, leading to many members missing votes due to illness.

This issue seemed to affect Democrats more severely than Republicans for most votes, and even motions for reconsideration on separate days similarly failed. Notably, the “objectionable materials” bill passed by only a single vote, with 13 Democrats not voting or abstaining.

Reacting to the votes, Linds Jakows, Founder of 603 Equality, said, “Today, the so-called ‘Live Free or Die’ State sent a harmful message to LGBTQ Granite Staters, especially transgender young people, by attacking their healthcare, opportunities for inclusion at school, and access to learning about people like them. Now, Governor Sununu must clearly affirm that these bills have no place in a state that just 6 years ago, became the first entirely Republican-controlled state legislature to update its nondiscrimination law to include trangender people. In 2018 he said repeatedly that ‘it’s the right thing to do.’ Mr. Sununu, treating transgender people with dignity and respect is still the right thing to do.” 

Remaining votes are scheduled for next week. Meanwhile, Governor Sununu has not indicated whether or not he will sign the bills that have passed.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Congress

House ethics complaint filed over GOP staffer’s anti-trans email

“You’re disgusting and should be ashamed of yourself. Don’t email me or anyone from my office ever again!” 

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Matthew Donnellan, chief of staff to Republican U.S. Rep. Carol Miller (W.Va.), in 2012. (Screenshot/YouTube San Diego City Beat)

WASHINGTON — A federal government employee has filed a complaint to the U.S. House Ethics Committee over an email they received from Matthew Donnellan, chief of staff to Republican U.S. Rep. Carol Miller (W.Va.), which contained combative and anti-trans language. 

The Washington Blade has seen the correspondence between the parties, in which the confrontation was apparently kicked off when the congresswoman’s top aide received an email that included the sender’s preferred pronouns in the signature box, triggering his reply.

Donnellan wrote, “As a father, it is disgusting that anyone would ever tell my son or daughter that something is wrong with them and they should take sterilizing hormones or have surgery to cut off their genitals.”  

“The fact that you support that ideology by putting pronouns in your signature is awful,” he said, adding, “You’re disgusting and should be ashamed of yourself. Don’t email me or anyone from my office ever again.” 

A senior government official told the Blade in a written statement that the email was not out of character for Donnellan:

 “I’ve heard from two colleagues several months apart about two separate transphobic emails, using identical language, from Matthew. Unfortunately these emails—though inconsistent with the typical collegiality one would expect from a Chief of Staff on the Hill—is likely a reflection of both increased partisanship on the Hill and a rise in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from the right.

“Not only is this virtual, hate-filled temper tantrum unbecoming of a Chief of Staff, inappropriate, and unprofessional, it also hurts his boss’s constituents. DC is built on congressional staff, members of Congress, and executive officials being able to put aside their differences to find unlikely areas of commonality where they can work together. 

“Even some of the most progressive members, like [U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Jerry Nadler (N.Y.)] have partnered with some of the most conservative members, like [U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio)], respectively, when they can find common ground. 

“Matthew’s refusal to work with an agency department or office just because a staffer has pronouns in their signature isn’t just hateful—it means he’s cutting off opportunities to deliver results for his boss’s constituents, especially in a divided Washington.”

Donnellan told the Blade by email that his response to the government employee is “a reply I send to anyone who uses pronouns or pushes gender ideology in any way.” 

“No one is ‘born in the wrong body’ and it’s horrific to tell anyone that they need genital mutilation surgery or sterilizing drugs,” he said. “People who push gender ideology, actively or passively, are awful and should be confronted every single time.”

“If the blunt reality of the terrible things that they are pushing is offensive to them then they should strongly reconsider what it this they believe and the harm that they are doing rather than simply trying to conform to liberal luxury beliefs,” Donnellan said. 

Addressing the complaint filed against him, Donnellan said, “I haven’t heard anything from Ethics and doubt that I will, they generally don’t waste their time with sheltered progressives being forced into the real world for the first time.”

A House Ethics Committee spokesperson declined to comment when asked if they could confirm receipt of the complaint.

Asked whether Miller might object to the way that she and her Congressional office are represented with these confrontational email exchanges, Donnellan said his boss’s “motto is ‘cut the bull’, and gender ideology is some of the biggest bull there is.”   

On Friday, the congresswoman’s son Chris Miller placed third in the Republican primary contest for West Virginia’s gubernatorial race, where the state’s Attorney General Patrick Morrissey secured his party’s nomination in a decisive victory with 33 percent of the vote. 

Leading up to the election, trans issues had emerged as a dominant focal point as the GOP candidates squared off against each other, with Miller’s campaign attacking Morrissey with allegations that he had profited from “the trans agenda” and backed a drug company that “helps turn boys into girls” when working as a healthcare lobbyist in Washington.  

In one ad that was paid for by a super PAC chaired by his father, Miller said the pronouns used by Morrissey are “money-grubbing liberal,” an interesting charge to level at the conservative Republican attorney general of West Virginia (even notwithstanding the fact that those three words are not pronouns but, rather, nouns and verbs.)

Declaring preferred pronouns in workplace email signatures has become commonplace in both the public and private sector, whether for purposes of sending an affirming message to transgender and gender expansive employees and officers or to mitigate the chances that either they or their cisgender counterparts might be unintentionally misgendered. 

The Biden-Harris administration has pushed for agencies to adopt the practice along with other measures and policies to advance the rights and wellbeing of trans and gender expansive employees across the federal government. 

In a 2021 announcement of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s issuance of updated guidance on the agency’s email signature block, Michael Watts, director of civil rights for the U.S. Forrest Service, noted that “There are plenty of gender-neutral names out there, or names from other cultures that might not give you enough information to know their gender.” 

While the inclusion of pronouns was not made mandatory at USDA, he urged employees to “strongly consider taking this small but important step toward supporting inclusiveness in the workplace.” 

“The use of pronouns in our email signatures and getting into the habit of including pronouns in our introductions doesn’t really cost us anything,” Watts added, arguing that the move constitutes “a meaningful exchange to others and makes it easier for people to be respectful in how they address each other.”

“I just think it’s the right thing to do,” he said. 

Official guidance published by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which is responsible for administering policies across the U.S. federal civil service, stipulates that agencies should “take steps to provide the option for employees to include the pronouns they use in employee systems and profiles, including email signature blocks, employee directories and employee profiles.”

Some have gone further, such as by adding pronouns to email signatures for all employees, as the U.S. Department of State did in 2023, while others like USDA have established, as official policy, that “employees are encouraged to include their pronouns in the first line of their email signature block (e.g. he/him/his). Signature blocks are a simple and effective way for individuals to communicate their identified pronouns to colleagues, stakeholders, and customers.”

“For example,” the USDA writes, “adding pronouns to signature blocks also has the benefit of indicating to the recipient that you will respect their gender identity and choice of pronouns.”

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Congress

Bill to support LGBTQ+ seniors in rural areas reintroduced

“LGBTQ+ elders and older people living with HIV live in every part of this nation & should be able to access services and care”

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U.S. Capitol Building (Photo Credit: Washington Blade/Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Sharice Davids (D-KS) reintroduced legislation to increase access to needed services and resources for LGBTQ+ seniors who live in rural areas this week.

The Elder Pride Act would bolster the capacity and ability of Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) located in rural communities to better serve and support LGBTQ+ seniors who often require affirming care, services, and supports that are often underfunded and scarce in many parts of the country.

Recent surveys show that between 2.9 million and 3.8 million LGBTQ+ people live in rural American communities.

“LGBTQ+ elders and older people living with HIV live in every part of this nation, including rural areas. We all deserve to be able to age in our communities with the services and supports we need to remain independent,” SAGE CEO Michael Adams said in the press release announcing the reintroduction of the legislation. “We commend Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Sharice Davids (D-KS) on reintroducing the Elder Pride Act. And we honor the contributions of our many LGBTQ+ trailblazers whose tireless advocacy allowed us to reintroduce this critical bill. We look forward to working alongside Reps. Bonamici, Pocan, and Davids, and our LGBTQ+ pioneers nationwide to pass this legislation.”

“LGBTQI+ seniors should be able to access services and care that meets their unique needs, regardless of where they live,” said Rep. Bonamici, Chair of the Equality Caucus’ LGBTQ+ Aging Issues Task Force.”Those who live in rural areas frequently face increased barriers, which Congress can break down. The Elder Pride Act will increase resources for programs and services that will improve the lives of LGBTQI+ elders.”

“The Elder Pride Act will improve the overall health and social and economic well-being of LGBTQI+ older adults and seniors living with HIV in rural areas by better equipping senior service providers with resources to address the unique needs of these communities. I’m pleased to introduce this important legislation with my colleagues and co-leaders on the Equality Caucus, Reps. Pocan and Davids,” Bonamici added.

“Rural LGBTQI+ seniors have been lacking access to necessary services and care for too long,” said Pocan, Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. “The Elder Pride Act creates opportunities for LGBTQ+ seniors in rural communities, benefiting everyone in the region. I look forward to advancing this important legislation.”

“Many of our LGBTQ+ elders fought tirelessly for equality in a world that refused to accept their identity,” said Rep. Davids. “While they overcame tremendous odds to give future generations the rights they deserve, our elders, particularly those in rural communities, continue to face discrimination when accessing long-term care and healthcare. I am proud to support the Elder Pride Act because who you are and who you love should never increase your risk for isolation, poverty, and poor health outcomes as you age.”

The Elder Pride Act complements the Older American Act, which was updated under Bonamici’s leadership, by establishing a rural grant program designed to fund care and services for LGBTQI+ seniors. The grant would also support programs that:

• provide services such as cultural competency training for service providers;

• develop modes of connection between LGBTQI+ older adults and local service providers and community organizations;

• expand the use of nondiscrimination policies and community spaces for older adults who are members of the LGBTQI+ community or another protected class; and,

• disseminate resources on sexual health and aging for senior service providers.

A fact sheet on the legislation can be found here, and the full text can be found here.

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Federal Government

CDC issues warning on new “deadlier strain” of Mpox

As LGBTQ+ Pride month and events happen globally, there is more need for greater caution and people to take steps at prevention

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JYNNEOS Mpox vaccine. (Photo Credit: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-CDC)

ATLANTA, Ga. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a health advisory regarding a deadlier strain of the Mpox virus outbreak which is currently impacting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to the CDC, since January of 2023, DRC has reported more than 19,000 suspect mpox cases and more than 900 deaths. The CDC stated that the overall risk to the United States posed by the clade I mpox outbreak is low.

The risk to gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) who have more than one sexual partner and people who have sex with MSM, regardless of gender, is assessed as low to moderate the agency stated.

While no cases of that subtype have been identified outside sub-Saharan Africa so far, the World Health Organization said earlier this week that the escalating epidemic in Congo nevertheless poses a global threat, just as infections in Nigeria set off the 2022 outbreak according to a WHO spokesperson.

The spokesperson also noted that as LGBTQ+ Pride month and events happen globally, there is more need for greater caution and people to take steps at prevention including being vaccinated.

The CDC advises that while there are no changes to the overall risk assessment, people in the United States who have already had Mpox or are fully vaccinated should be protected against the type of Mpox spreading in DRC. Casual contact, such as might occur during travel, is not likely to cause the disease to spread. The best protection against Mpox is two doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine.

The CDC also noted the risk might change as more information becomes available, or if cases appear outside DRC or other African countries where clade I exists naturally.

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U.S. State Department

State Department travel advisory warns of potential anti-LGBTQ+ violence

FBI issued similar warning this week

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State Department (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

WASHINGTON — The State Department on Friday issued a worldwide travel advisory that warns of potential violence against LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+-specific events.

“Due to the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations, or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution,” reads the advisory. “The Department of State is aware of the increased potential for foreign terrorist organization-inspired violence against LGBTQI+ persons and events and advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution.”  

The advisory further urges U.S. citizens to:

  • Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists, including Pride celebrations and venues frequented by LGBTQI+ persons.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive information and alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency overseas.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Homeland Security Investigations earlier this week issued a similar advisory.

The advisory notes June 12 will mark eight years since the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

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