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National campaign launched to fund LGBT student center in Tennessee

Los Angeles alumni of University of Tennessee vows to raise millions

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Chad Goldman. (Photo courtesy Goldman)

As a gay alumni of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), Chad Goldman, 1993, was infuriated when he learned the LGBT Pride Center of his alma mater had been attacked by a homophobic state legislature and subsequently defunded.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which included the LGBT Pride Center, had long drawn the ire of Republican lawmakers, but where requests that instructors be sensitive to students’ preferred pronouns merely annoyed them, “Sex Week,” a series of educational programs aimed at spreading awareness around sexuality, sexual assault prevention and sexually transmitted diseases was the last straw. The program, including all LGBT initiatives, was shuttered, leaving the campus of nearly 30,000 without any affirming supportive services.

The funds were re-allocated to scholarships for minority students.

University of Tennessee, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.-5th District), UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport and Chad Goldman at a Nashville fundraiser in January. (Photo courtesy Goldman)

Goldman and his husband, Brian Pendleton sprang into action and recently raised over $300,000 at a Nashville fundraiser, but now he’s going national with campaign to raise $3 million dollars. Next stop, Washington, DC.

The University’s chancellor asked to meet with him. She asked that they begin to officially fundraise for the Pride Center, to raise private money for an endowment.

Chad Goldman (in Orange) and husband Brian Pendelton, recently hosted the University of Tennessee Knoxville Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Theresa Lee and about 100 Los Angeles area alumni at their home in the Hollywood Hills. (Photo by Troy Masters, ’86)

On April 18, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dean Theresa Lee, will speak at the fundraising event in Washington D.C.

“The leadership at the University is very much on board with having a diverse and inclusive environment,” Goldman says. “And even though I think the Pride Center should be funded with state money. I can either wait for them to change their minds, or we can stand up and do something and make sure there’s a place for these students to go for fellowship or advice,” Goldman said.

Almost every other school in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), has a statefunded LGBTQ Center of some kind.

Goldman admits that he’s come up against some potential donors who’ve said they wouldn’t give their money to prop up a state and institution they perceive as hostile to the LGBT community.

Goldman counters this by saying that his “perspective is we’re giving money to students because the state is hostile. These are the very people who need it the most. These are people who are isolated and this helps to give them a place that supports them.”

According to the DC Blade, State Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), a lead sponsor of the State Senate version of the bill, accused the diversity office of being “very political and polarizing” and giving a “horrible reputation” to the university and the state.

“If they clean up their act, then I’ll focus my attention on something else,” USA Today Network Tennessee quoted him as saying. “But if that office continues to become very radical and polarizing, then I will of course focus my attention back on that to take that money away and apply it to something very useful instead of something very divisive,” he said.

Goldman says he loves his alma mater.

“I’m on the advisory board of the College of Arts and Sciences, I was there for a meeting recently and when I walked past the Pride Center, I was so excited and encouraged,” Goldman told the Los Angeles Blade.
“It was a place that afforded me incredible opportunity and served as a launching pad for my life. But, when I was there, before it was diverse, there was nobody to talk to and nowhere to go. If you were in a place trying to figure out your sexuality or gender, you had a very alone feeling. It makes it hard because you’re going through it alone” he said.

“It would have helped me tremendously to have had that resource. It would have made life a lot less challenging. Without the guidance and fellowship of the Pride Center, a lot of these young people will be facing issues related to sexual health, isolation, drug use, depression, and without support, these could derail your education,” he adds

“And that was the struggle I went through. I didn’t come out until after I left the university. I wish I could have come out there, but I didn’t feel like I could. Had there been something there for me, like the Price Center, it would have been a lot less tormenting,” Goldman says.

“Vol Means All” campaign event will be held in Downtown Washington, DC on April 18, 2018 from 6 to 8 PM. Location will provided upon RSVP to [email protected],

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Palm Springs

Historic swearing on of Lisa Middleton as Palm Springs Mayor

Middleton will become the first out transgender mayor in California and just the third out transgender mayor in U.S. history

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Palm Springs City Councilmembers Lisa Middleton and Christy Holstege (Photo courtesy Equality California)

PALM SPRINGS –  City Councilwoman Lisa Middleton will be sworn-in as Palm Springs mayor on Thursday. Middleton will become the first out transgender mayor in California and just the third out transgender mayor in U.S. history. The mayor’s office in Palm Springs rotates among councilmembers who serve one-year terms.

Middleton – who became the the first out transgender person elected to a non-judicial position in California in 2017 with the support of Equality California and Victory Fund – is also running for the state senate in 2022 and is endorsed by both organizations. She will be the first out transgender state legislator in California history if she wins.

LGBTQ Victory Fund and Equality California jointly praised the news Wednesday.

“Lisa’s elevation to mayor is a milestone moment for California, but also for trans people across the nation who want to make positive change through public service,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “While hateful politicians attempt to vilify trans people for their own perceived political gain, Lisa is the model of a true public servant – one who lifts people up and focuses on issues that actually improve people’s lives. Lisa is a trailblazer who will be a fantastic mayor and we are excited for her to shatter another lavender ceiling with a state senate win in 2022.”

“Lisa Middleton has been a transformational trailblazer, and we’re proud to be by her side as she makes history again — this time as California’s first out transgender mayor,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “Just as important as the powerful representation she’s provided, Lisa has been a champion for bold solutions to the big challenges Palm Springs faces — housing affordability, access to affordable healthcare, support for our elders, the climate crisis and more. We know that Lisa will continue to be champion for the Coachella Valley and all Californians when she is elected to the California Senate next year.”

Currently there are just 42 out trans people serving in the entire country and only six are in California. There are no currently serving out trans mayors, however Stu Rasmussen previously served as mayor of Silverton, Oregon, and Jess Herbst as mayor of New Hope, Texas. Only one out trans person has ever been elected to a state senate in the U.S. – Sarah McBride of Delaware.

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Los Angeles County

Cases jeopardized by racist & homophobic comments by Torrance police

They joked about “gassing” Jewish people, assaulting members of the LGBTQ community, using violence against suspects and lying

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Photo Credit: City of Torrance, California, Police Department

TORRANCE, Ca. – Years of text messages that contained extremely offensive descriptions of Black and Jewish people or members of the LGBTQ+ community by more than a dozen Torrance police officers resulted in the dismissal of criminal cases The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

According to the Times, while no officers face criminal charges in direct relation to the text messages, the racist exchanges have led to the dismissal of at least 85 criminal cases involving the officers implicated in the scandal.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said his office will investigate the Torrance Police Department in the wake of a scandal that revealed more than a dozen police officers had exchanged racist text messages for years the Times reported.

Los Angeles Times Crimes & Court reporter James Queally wrote in a tweet; “For years, more than a dozen Torrance cops exchanged racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic texts and images. Today, I can identify most of the officers and reveal some of their hateful conversations.”

According to Queally’s reporting, in the span of one week in November, the Los Angeles County public defender’s office received approximately 300 letters from prosecutors disclosing potential misconduct by officers implicated in the scandal, according to a spokeswoman for the public defender’s office.

The broad scope of the racist text conversations, which prosecutors said went on for years, has created a crisis for the Torrance Police Department and could jeopardize hundreds of criminal cases in which the officers either testified or made arrests, the Times reported.

The officers’ comments spared no color or creed: They joked about “gassing” Jewish people, assaulting members of the LGBTQ community, using violence against suspects and lying during an investigation into a police shooting, according to district attorney’s office records reviewed by The Times.

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Los Angeles

License plate recognition cameras deployed in Melrose District

“If you commit a crime on Melrose we’re gonna stop you, we’re gonna catch you, and we’re gonna prosecute you”

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Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz being interviewed by KTLA (Screenshot via KTLA)

LOS ANGELES – After a series of recent violent ‘smash & grab’ crimes along with a rise in physical assaults and robberies, the City of Los Angeles is installing automated license plate recognition cameras in the Melrose business corridor and surrounding neighborhoods.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz announced that the city partnered with community organization Melrose Action and is implementing the installation of 12 cameras.

“It’s just another step to send a message that if you commit a crime on Melrose we’re gonna stop you, we’re gonna catch you, and we’re gonna prosecute you,” Koretz said and added the cameras being installed will “provide a next level of surveillance.”

Melrose Action raised more than $30,000 and Koretz contributed another $10,000 to get the program off the ground, according to a news release announcing the project.

Melrose Action co-founder Peter Nichols told the Los Angeles Times he has been disturbed by recent crimes in the area.

“We went through a homicide cycle. Then we then we went through an armed robbery cycle that lasted for several months,” Nichols told the Times. “Now the latest is the smash-and-grabs.”

License plate readers have come under fire over potential privacy issues as usage has grown among law enforcement agencies, the Times reported.

The Times also noted that the California state auditor said last year that the LAPD and three other law enforcement agencies had not provided sufficient privacy protections.

Koretz told KTLA that the images will be shared among local law enforcement agencies including the LAPD and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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