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Milo Yiannopoulos heckled out of NYC bar

patrons shouted ‘Nazis scum, get out’ at the former Breitbart editor

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Milo Yiannopoulos, gay news, Washington Blade

Milo Yiannopoulos at University of California, Berkeley. Photo via Facebook.)

Milo Yiannopoulos has remained under the radar lately but the former Breitbart editor found himself in the spotlight when he wandered into a Manhattan bar filled with Democratic Socialists of America members on Saturday.

In a video posted on Twitter, Yiannopoulos can be seen on his phone while a crowd chants, “Nazi scum get out.” Eventually, Yiannopoulos gathers his things and leaves.

Yiannopoulos, who got married last year, posted about the incident on Instagram saying that he was afraid he would be “hurt or killed.”

“It rattled me a little bit (just slightly!), perhaps because I have something to lose in life now. My first thought was John and not getting myself hurt or killed. I don’t know how I’d explain to my black husband that I got hurt for being a ‘white supremacist’. I didn’t have security with me so I had to just get out of there. I won’t name the place we were at because the staff were really understanding and cool about it. But jeez. It’s now impossible for me to safely go out for lunch in most major cities in America because I supported Trump at the last election and don’t like feminism,” Yiannopoulos writes.

I was just shoved and screamed at by a big group in a pub in Manhattan and forced out of the place. One of them was a reporter for Gizmodo. They were screaming at the top of their lungs about “Nazis” and “KKK”. Initially I was going to stay put obviously but they blocked me from my table and my bag and yelled at me to leave and it was about to escalate into something ugly. It rattled me a little bit (just slightly!), perhaps because I have something to lose in life now. My first thought was John and not getting myself hurt or killed. I don’t know how I’d explain to my black husband that I got hurt for being a “white supremacist”. I didn’t have security with me so I had to just get out of there. I won’t name the place we were at because the staff were really understanding and cool about it. But jeez. It’s now impossible for me to safely go out for lunch in most major cities in America because I supported Trump at the last election and don’t like feminism.

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Yiannopoulos resigned as editor for Breitbart last year after controversial comments about pedophilia surfaced from a podcast.

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Illinois

Chicago area LGBTQ+ friendly bakery closing after hate campaign

“Closing our doors is the direct result of the horrific attacks, endless harassment, and unrelenting negative misinformation”

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UpRising Bakery and Café in better times (UpRising Bakery and Café/Facebook)

LAKE IN THE HILLS, Il – The owner of UpRising Bakery and Café announced this week on social media that she is permanently closing the doors to her bakery after months of anti-LGBTQ+ stochastic terrorism that had already resulted in a hate crime last July after hosting drag show events and has continued unabated.

Corinna Sac, who opened the bakery in 2021, told media outlets that her shop has drawn criticism from local Proud Boys and other anti-LGBTQ+ groups, has been vandalized and her staff and customers have been harassed.

Sac noted that in recent months after the July incident the online hate-filled harassment and bullying campaign has dramatically increased. In a statement released by her on the shop’s social media accounts, Sac wrote: “Closing our doors is the direct result of the horrific attacks, endless harassment, and unrelenting negative misinformation about our establishment in the last eight months. From an award-winning bakery that donates to local organizations and supports diversity and inclusion, we have been rebranded by misinformation as ‘gay only’ and ‘pedophiles.’”

Days after 24-year-old Joseph I. Collins, a local member of the Proud Boys was charged with a hate crime on July 24 for allegedly smashing the establishment’s windows and spray-painting hateful messages on the building, the village of Lake in the Hills issued a letter prohibiting UpRising from hosting drag events in the future.

An Illinois police officer told The Los Angeles Blade he suspects conservative officials in Lake in the Hills, frustrated by the controversy over UpRising’s drag brunch, decided to enforce an ordinance that had not been enforced in the past. Should they choose to do so selectively, allowing some businesses to host events but not others, he said the scepter of a lawsuit becomes likelier. 

Sac noted that the dramatic decrease in sales as a result of the continued harassment which also included protestors and demonstrations at the store as well as the online harassment campaign.

In an interview with local journalist Amie Schaenzer, Sac says that she and her family have been doxxed to include her tax documents posted online and others have slammed her regarding her children, who are 8 and 10 years old, receiving free lunches at school through a state program, which is based on income.

“This has all become increasingly worrisome for us,” Sac said. “My kids are not OK with it, they are extremely anxious, they are very scared at home, and it’s very stressful for my whole family.”

That combined with struggling to keep her business afloat and pay thousand in state taxes led to her announcement this past week to close she told Schaenzer adding that she originally set a March 31 closing date.

UpRising Bakery and Café/Facebook

David Goldenberg, an attorney with the Anti-Defamation League, set-up a GoFundMe campaign to help keep the bakery open.

Goldberg wrote: “Sadly, UpRising Bakery is now at risk of closing at the end of March 2023 due to financial challenges brought on after weathering last year’s attacks from bigots. People will lose their jobs and those of us who believe in tolerance and love will lose a safe space. We cannot allow the haters to win.

Join me in supporting this incredible small business and team of employees – and ensure the UpRising Bakery stays open for years to come.” As of Saturday, March 25, the campaign has raised $43,056.

But Sac told Schaenzer she’s unsure if the funds will be enough for her to stay in business.

“We were very resolute in our decision to close,” said Sac, adding that she’s now in discussions with her team whether to try and stay open. “It means a lot to us that the community did stand up for us and for the fundraiser. Especially considering everything that’s been happening here, so, that has been amazing. But we just don’t know if we can make it work.”

She said she plans to decide in coming days if she will accept the GoFundMe funds in order to keep UpRising Bakery and Café open.

“We don’t know what we are going to do, yet we are discussing that as a team over the next two days together, and we will make a collective decision,” she said Thursday.

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New Mexico

New Mexico Human Rights Act; LGBTQ+ protections added

“Trans and nonbinary individuals deserve the support and care necessary to survive and thrive” – NM State Rep. Kristina Ortez

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New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signing HB7 legislation (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor of New Mexico)

SANTA FE – New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 207 into law on Friday that expands protections for LGBTQ+ New Mexicans under the state’s Human Rights Act. For trans residents, Grisham also signed House Bill 31, a measure that removes the requirement that name changes be published in a newspaper.

The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported that House Bill 31 also lets people 14 and older petition a district court for a name change and prohibits the court from requiring notice to the applicants’ parents if it finds notice would jeopardize the applicant’s safety.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signs HB 207 & 31
(Photo Credit: Equality New Mexico)

“While hundreds of bills have been introduced across the country to restrict the rights of queer and trans people, New Mexico is committed to making our state a safer place for everyone by closing a loophole to ensure our taxpayer dollars cannot be used to discriminate against our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors,” state Rep. Kristina Ortez, D-Taos, said in a statement.

Rep. Christine Chandler, D-Los Alamos, the sponsor of House Bill 31 noted that the measure will benefit transgender New Mexicans seeking to change their names as well as ensure safety for victims of domestic violence who may change their names to be more secure. “Removing this antiquated publishing requirement protects New Mexicans’ privacy and allows them to safely move on with their lives,” Chandler said.

These measures are the latest in legislation passed this session to protect LGBTQ+ New Mexicans as well as women’s rights. On March 16, Grisham signed into law House Bill 7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act, which prohibits public bodies, including local municipalities, from denying, restricting, or discriminating against an individual’s right to use or refuse reproductive health care or health care related to gender.

“New Mexicans in every corner of our state deserve protections for their bodily autonomy and right to health care,” said Gov. Grisham as she signed HB7. “I’m grateful for the hard work of the Legislature and community partners in getting this critical legislation across the finish line.”

“Trans and nonbinary individuals deserve the support and care necessary to survive and thrive,” said HB7 co-sponsor Rep. Kristina Ortez. “Protecting gender-affirming health care is a critical part of making sure trans and non-binary New Mexicans can succeed in school, establish healthy relationships with their friends and family, and live authentically as themselves.”

“In New Mexico we value the freedom and dignity of making your own personal decision about reproductive and gender-affirming health care,” said Ellie Rushforth, ACLU-NM managing reproductive rights and gender equity attorney. “Now more than ever it is critical that New Mexicans and our neighbors have access to the full spectrum of health care in every corner of our state. We thank the Governor for supporting and signing HB 7 into law. This is lifesaving legislation.”

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Kentucky

Kentucky Gov. vetoes sweeping anti-transgender youth bill

The Kentucky Legislature’s GOP supermajorities have enough power to override Beshear’s veto. The ACLU has said it will sue if that happens

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Governor Andy Beshear (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor/Facebook)

FRANKFORT – The Democratic governor of Kentucky vetoed a sweeping bill that would severely restrict the lives of trans youth in the state calling it, “too much government interference in personal healthcare issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children.”

Governor Andy Beshear also stressed that the bill conflicted with his faith and noted the bill’s repercussions would include an increase in LGBTQ+ youth suicides: “My faith teaches me that all children are children of God and Senate Bill 150 will endanger the children of Kentucky.”

The Kentucky Legislature’s GOP supermajorities have enough power to override Beshear’s veto. The ACLU of Kentucky has said it will sue in Federal court to try to block the measure from becoming law.

The bill would:

  • Ban gender-affirming medical care, including treatments that delay puberty, other forms of hormone therapy and surgery, for trans and nonbinary people under 18 years old. 
  • Require revoking the licenses of doctors who provide such services.
  • Tell public schools to block trans students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
  • Allow public school teachers to misgender trans students.
  • Prevent public schools from allowing educational presentations that study gender identity or sexual orientation.

Rebuking the Governor’s veto, state Republican Party spokesperson Sean Southard issued a statement saying: “Andy Beshear thinks it’s okay for children to have access to life-altering sex change surgery and drugs before they turn 18. Today, he revealed how radical he truly is.”

In an emailed statement Fairness Campaign Executive Director Chris Hartman wrote:

“We are so grateful Governor Andy Beshear chose to stand with Kentucky kids and their families today by vetoing Senate Bill 150. He has once again solidified his legacy as Kentucky’s most pro-equality governor. Labeled the “worst anti-trans bill in the nation,” SB150 allows the government to overrule parental rights at every turn. It denies parents the right to provide medically-supported healthcare for their kids. It allows teachers and school administrators to disrespect students by ignoring their names and pronouns, despite a parent’s wishes. It bans the discussion of LGBTQ topics in the classroom and forces transgender kids into unsafe restrooms at school. SB150 will only lead to disaster and despair for transgender Kentucky kids and their families. That’s why thousands of Kentuckians sent messages opposing SB150 and countless Kentucky doctors showed up in Frankfort to testify against it. We urge state lawmakers to read the governor’s veto message, listen to medical professionals, and sustain Governor Beshear’s veto.”

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Congress

House Republicans pass anti-LGBTQ Parents Bill of Rights Act

The White House issued a statement Monday: “[…] the bill does not actually help parents support their children at school”

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U.S. Capitol Building (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Republicans on Friday passed the Parents Bill of Rights Act (H.R. 5), a proposal that would require public schools to share educational materials with parents and also contains provisions that would trigger the outing of LGBTQ students without their consent.

Critics say the legislation’s professed purpose, to equip parents with the information necessary for them to better engage with their children’s educators, is a pretext for its ultimate goals: for schools to censor out content addressing race, or materials containing LGBTQI+ characters or themes, while also discouraging LGBTQ students from being out at school.

The U.S. House Equality Caucus noted the likelihood of that outcome in a statement Friday denouncing the bill, which the group’s chair, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), called “dangerous” — pointing to its requirement for “schools to forcibly out transgender students, even if it puts those youth in harm’s way.”

“All children deserve access to a safe and affirming school environment,” Takano said in the statement. “Transgender youth have enough challenges already due to harassment, bullying, and anti-transgender state laws,” he said, adding, “My colleagues who voted for this bill should be ashamed.”

House members voted 213-208 for passage of the Parents Bill of Rights Act, with Republican U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Ken Buck (Colo.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Mike Lawler (N.Y.), and Matt Rosendale (Mont.) voting against the legislation with every Democratic member. The bill was first introduced by GOP Rep. Julia Letlow (La.)

With Democrats’ control of the U.S. Senate, movement on the bill will almost certainly be stopped once it reaches the upper chamber, but it may nevertheless still have a harmful impact on the country’s LGBTQ youth.

For example, the National Institutes of Health published a peer reviewed study last year that found a link between anti-trans legislation and “suicide and depression-related Internet searches” using a dataset comprising 40 bills that were introduced and reached committee, of which three were passed and signed into law.

The Caucus’s statement noted H.R. 5 contains “two provisions that would require schools that take steps to respect a student’s gender identity to forcibly out those transgender youth to their parents” along with another that would allow parents to access their children’s answers to survey questions, answers that might include information about a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The risk that their parents will be able to see their answers will incentivize many students to lie about these and other questions, which the Caucus said will undermine the federal government’s ability to collect important demographic, statistical, and survey data on America’s LGBTQ youth.

Exacerbating that problem is another provision in the legislation, which requires parents to “opt-in” if their children would be asked to share their sexual orientation or gender identity.

America’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, the Human Rights Campaign, also issued a statement Friday condemning H.R. 5.

“The bill — which picks and chooses which families have rights and which don’t — has occupied the chamber’s time while extremist House leaders continue neglecting the very real and urgent problems facing our schools, such as gun violence, teacher shortages and educational inequality,” the group said in its statement.

HRC also noted the legislation’s potential to trigger forcible outing of LGBTQ youth “would endanger students instead of fulfilling school officials’ obligation to make judgments on a case-by-case basis in the best interests of the students under their supervision.”

The organization said it expects House Republicans to move “in coming weeks” on H.R. 734, “a bill to ban participation by transgender youth in school sports,” and drew parallels between the Parents Bill of Rights Act and the “curriculum censorship seen in harmful, unnecessary bills passed in state legislatures recently.”

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stanbury (D-N.M.), a member of the Equality Caucus, echoed that message in her statement Friday, writing that H.R. 5 was “Modeled after bills passed at the state level, which have censored the teaching of American history, allowed book bans, and violated the safety and privacy of transgender and LGBTQ+ students.”

The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy on Monday addressing the bill, writing “The Administration does not support H.R. 5 in its current form because the bill does not actually help parents support their children at school” and “Moreover, instead of making LGBTQI+ students feel included in their school community, it puts them at higher risk.”

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Georgia

Kemp signs Georgia’s trans youth healthcare ban

The law threatens to revoke the medical licenses of physicians who administer treatments for gender dysphoria in minor patients

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Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor/Facebook)

ATLANTA – Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday signed a ban on guideline-directed gender-affirming healthcare for transgender and nonbinary youth that was passed earlier this week by the GOP controlled state legislature.

The law threatens to revoke the medical licenses of physicians who administer treatments for gender dysphoria in minor patients that are overwhelmingly considered safe, effective, and medically necessary by every scientific and medical society with relevant clinical expertise.

A previous version of S.B. 140 applied exclusively to surgical interventions, but the version signed into law Thursday also prohibits hormone replacement therapies, although treatment with puberty blockers is still allowed.

The move by GOP legislators to expand the healthcare interventions covered by the legislation follows pressure from conservatives like far-right U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who represents Georgia’s 14th Congressional District in the House and urged the state’s lawmakers last week to make the bill more restrictive.

At the time, Greene also objected to the draft bill’s “limited exceptions” carved out for cases where patients are treated for conditions other than gender dysphoria, including those diagnosed with “a medically verifiable disorder of sex development,” provided the physician can attest they are medically necessary.

These provisions were kept intact in the bill’s final iteration, which contains additional exceptions for the treatment of partial androgen insensitivity syndrome and in circumstances where the minor patient was being treated with hormone replacement therapies prior to July 1 2023.

A chorus of objections to and condemnations of the legislation have come from LGBTQ groups, along with legal and civil rights advocacy organizations and medical societies, clinicians, and scientists, including the Georgia Psychological Association.

The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, issued a statement shortly after Kemp signed the bill Thursday, declaring that Georgia had become “the largest state to legislatively enact such a discriminatory ban.”

“Governor Kemp should be ashamed of himself — taking life-saving care away from vulnerable youth is a disgusting and indefensible act,” Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley said in the statement. “This law harms transgender youth and terrorizes their families, but helps no one.”

Despite the wave of legislation across the country barring access to or criminalizing gender affirming care, in most cases for minor patients, the group noted in Thursday’s release that “polling by Patinkin Research Strategies released this month shows that only 26 percent of likely November 2024 voters in Georgia supported the legislation, while 66 percent opposed it” including 63 percent of independent and 59 percent of likely Republican voters.

According to the findings of a Human Rights Campaign study that were announced Wednesday, “more than half (50.4%) of transgender youth (ages 13-17) have lost or are at risk of losing access to age appropriate, medically necessary gender-affirming care in their state” – care, the group stressed, that “can be lifesaving.”

Following the Georgia legislature’s passage of the S.B. 140 earlier this week, the ACLU warned it would “[interfere] with the rights of Georgia parents to get life-saving medical treatment for their children” and prevent “physicians from properly caring for their patients.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center released a statement by Beth Littrell, the organization’s senior supervising attorney for its LGBTQ and Special Litigation Practice Group, calling the bill a “cynical partisan attack on transgender youth, medical autonomy, and parental rights” and urging Kemp to “leave personal healthcare decisions in the capable hands of parents, children, and their doctors.”

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U.S. Federal Courts

Families with trans kids sue Florida over trans youth healthcare ban

“This policy came through a political process with a predetermined conclusion in direct contrast to evidence & science”

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Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis & Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph Ladapo (Screenshot/YouTube WTXL ABC 7 Tallahassee)

TALLAHASSEE – A lawsuit on behalf of four families with transgender children was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, challenging the state’s Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine’s ban on gender affirming healthcare for minors.

The legal groups representing the four families, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the Human Rights Campaign and the Southern Legal Counsel, Inc. (SLC) noted in the suit that the bans contradict guidelines established through years of clinical research and recommended by every major medical association including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The lawsuit also spells out that the policies unlawfully strips parents of the right to make informed decisions about their children’s medical treatment and violates the equal protection rights of transgender youth by denying them medically necessary, doctor-recommended healthcare to treat their gender dysphoria. 

The enactment of Florida’s transgender healthcare ban, which went into effect on March 16, 2023, has faced considerable scrutiny as a politically-motivated process instigated at the urging of the governor and ignoring established medical and scientific consensus on medical care for transgender youth. 

Statewide LGBTQ Equality rights advocacy group Equality Florida has decried the ban saying it was little more than a cultural war maneuver by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis who is widely expected to announce a run for the presidency in 2024.

In the summer of 2022, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and the Department of Health asked the state Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine to adopt a categorical ban on all treatment of gender dysphoria for people under eighteen years of age.

In February and March of 2023, respectively, the Boards adopted formal rules prohibiting all access to safe, effective medical treatments for transgender youth who have received a gender dysphoria diagnosis but who have not yet begun puberty delaying medication or hormone treatments. Surgeon General Ladapo and all members of the Florida Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine are defendants in the families’ suit challenging the ban.

“This policy came about through a political process with a predetermined conclusion, and it stands in direct contrast to the overwhelming weight of the evidence and science,” said Simone Chriss, Director of Transgender Rights Initiative, Southern Legal Counsel. “There is an unbelievable degree of hypocrisy when a state that holds itself out as being deeply concerned with protecting ‘parents’ rights’ strips parents of their right to ensure their children receive appropriate medical care. I have worked with families and their healthcare providers in Florida for many years. They work tirelessly every day to ensure the best health outcomes for their kids and patients, and they are worried sick about the devastating impacts that this ban will have.”

“The Florida Boards of Medicine chose to ignore the evidence and science in front of them and instead put families in the unthinkable position of not being able to provide essential healthcare for their kids,” said Jennifer Levi, Senior Director of Transgender and Queer Rights, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.

“Parents, not the government, should make healthcare decisions for their children,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “This policy crosses a dangerous line and should concern anyone who cares about family privacy or the ability of doctors to do their jobs without undue government interference.”    

“It’s alarming to see such a concerted, top-down effort to target a small and vulnerable population,” said Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director. “The Florida Surgeon General, Department of Health and Boards of Medicine should be focused on the real and serious public health issues Florida faces, not on putting transgender kids and their families in harm’s way.”

In a press statement by the legal teams representing them, the four families also weighed in:

“Like most parents, my husband and I want nothing more than for our daughter to be healthy, happy, and safe,” said Jane Doe speaking about her 11-year-old daughter, Susan. “Being able to consult with our team of doctors to understand what our daughter is experiencing and make the best, most informed decisions about her care has been critically important for our family. She is a happy, confident child, but this ban takes away our right to provide her with the next step in her recommended treatment when she reaches puberty. The military doctors we work with understand the importance of providing that evidence-based, individualized care. We’re proud to serve our country, but we are being treated differently than other military families because of a decision by politicians in the state where we are stationed. We have no choice but to fight this ban to protect our daughter’s physical and mental health.”

“This ban puts me and other Florida parents in the nightmare position of not being able to help our child when they need us most,” said Brenda Boe, who is challenging the ban on behalf of herself and her fourteen-year-old son, Bennett Boe. “My son has a right to receive appropriate, evidence-based medical care. He was finally getting to a place where he felt hopeful, where being prescribed testosterone was on the horizon and he could see a future for himself in his own body. That has been ripped away by this cruel and discriminatory rule.” 

“Working with our healthcare team to understand what my daughter is experiencing and learning there are established, effective treatments that are already helping her to thrive has been an incredible relief,” said Fiona Foe, who is challenging the ban on behalf of herself and her ten-year-old daughter, Freya Foe. “I know everyone may not understand what it means to have a transgender child, but taking away our opportunity to help our daughter live a healthy and happy life is cruel and unfair.”

“Our daughter has been saying she is a girl since she was three – it hasn’t gone away,” said Carla Coe, a plaintiff in the lawsuit along with her nine-year-old daughter, Christina Coe. “Since she started being able to live as a girl she has been so much happier and better adjusted. Having the resources and support to make the best decisions for her wellbeing has been so important for our family. I’m scared this ban will take away the essential medical care she may need when she gets older. We just want to do what’s right for our kid.”

Read the lawsuit filing:

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Congress

Takano to renew House Democrats’ push for the Equality Act

“With homophobic and transphobic legislation being proposed in state legislatures – it is far past time we act to outlaw discrimination”

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U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) (Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), a co-chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, issued a statement Thursday pledging to introduce the Equality Act during this Congress, legislation that would extend federal anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans.

The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in “employment, education, access to credit, jury service, federal funding housing, and public accommodations.”

Four previous versions were introduced in the House by by U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) in 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021. The Biden administration and Congressional Democrats have signaled that the legislation remains a major priority despite the Republicans now exercising their majority control of the lower chamber.

With Cicilline’s planned departure from Congress on June 1 to lead the nonprofit Rhode Island Foundation, Takano thanked and credited his colleague “for his leadership on behalf of our community and stewardship of the Equality Act.”

Cicilline, who drafted the legislation and chaired the Equality Caucus in the last Congress before Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) took over this year, noted the heightened importance of the Equality Act’s passage amid the proliferation of anti-LGBTQ and especially anti-trans legislation.

“With homophobic and transphobic legislation being proposed in state legislatures across the country and here in Congress,” he said, “it is far past time we act to finally outlaw discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community by passing the Equality Act.”

The legislation is also backed by major LGBTQ advocacy groups including the nation’s largest, the Human Rights Campaign. “There is overwhelming support for this bill among the American people and the business community, and we will continue fighting until this bill is signed into law,” said the organization’s President Kelley Robinson.

Robinson also thanked Cicilline for his leadership on the bill and said the Human Rights Campaign looks forward to working with Takano, “an incredible champion for our community” who “is the perfect leader for this effort” to “build on he work Congressman Cicilline started and get the Equality Act signed into law.”

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Florida

DeSantis escalates war on LGBTQ+ Floridians- expands law

Reacting to a question during the daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre decried the move by the Florida Governor

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Governor Ron DeSantis in the legislative chambers on March 7, 2023 (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

TALLAHASSE – Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is aiming to expand the state’s controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law to now include all public education from pre-K through to grade 12.

First reported by the Orlando Sentinel, the Florida State Board of Education, headed by Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr., a DeSantis appointee with a long anti-LGBTQ+ track record, has put forth a proposal expanding the “Parental Rights in Education,” aka Don’t Say Gay’ law to include essentially all levels of education that would ban classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.

When first signed by the governor last Spring, the initial law affected kindergarten through the third grade. This proposal would add from grades 4 to 12, unless required by existing state standards or as part of reproductive health instruction that students can choose not to take or parents have opted their children out of.

Reacting to a question from a journalist during the daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre decried the move by the Florida Governor.

She was asked: “Do you have any reaction on Florida Governor DeSantis expanding the rules that forbid classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity?”

The Press Secretary:   “Yeah.  It’s wrong.  It’s completely, utterly wrong.  And — and we’ve been very cry- — crystal clear about that, when it comes to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and other — other actions that this governor has taken in the state of Florida.

But make no mistake: This is a part of a disturbing and dangerous trend that we’re seeing across the country of legislations that are anti-LGBTQI+, anti-trans, anti the community in a way that we have not seen it in some time. And so — and it’s not just the LGBTQI+ community.  We’re talking about students.  We’re talking about educators.  We’re talking about, just, individuals.

The President has been very clear, this administration has been very clear: We will continue to fight for the dignity of — of Americans, for the dignity and respect of the community, of opportunity that should be given to students and families in Florida and across the country.

So, again, this is just plain wrong, and we’re going to continue to speak against — speak out against it.”

Brandon Wolf, Press Secretary for Equality Florida, the largest state-wide LGBTQ+ equality rights and advocacy organization, released the following statement:

After a year’s worth of gaslighting and assurances that the Don’t Say LGBTQ law was narrowly focused, the DeSantis Administration is now saying the quiet part out loud: they believe that it is never appropriate to acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ people, or our contributions to society, in schools. This time, the governor is placing the crosshairs squarely on individual educators, threatening their professional licenses for making mention of the LGBTQ community in any grade level.

The Board of Education’s proposed rule would see more books with LGBTQ characters ripped from school shelves, more discussion of diverse families muzzled, and further character assassination of hardworking teachers in Florida. Free states don’t ban books. Free states don’t censor communities out of classrooms. Free states don’t copy/paste their political agendas from the likes of Vladimir Putin.

This proposed rule is yet more government power being perverted to serve Ron DeSantis’ desperation to run for President. And its consequences will weigh most heavily on those who have already been forced to bear the brunt of his insatiable lust for power.

Equality Florida also noted that while the DeSantis Administration has rejected requests to clarify the law’s vague, unconstitutional language, its proposal would add legal liability for individual educators, threatening their professional licenses for violations. The proposed rule is scheduled for a vote by the State Board of Education at their meeting on April 19 in Tallahassee.

DeSantis is considering a run for the presidency and has made culture war issues the forefront of his administration’s policies.

Former openly gay Florida Democratic State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith tweeted: “It was never, ever, ever, ever about kindergarten thru 3rd grade. It was always about demonizing us and censoring LGBTQ people out of existence in our schools.”

Additional reporting by Brody Levesque

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The White House

White House condemns Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill

The 2023 anti-homosexuality bill sailed through Uganda’s parliament Tuesday with broad support from lawmakers

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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – White House Press Secretary Karie Jean-Pierre spoke out on Wednesday against Ugandan lawmakers’ passage of an anti-homosexuality bill on Tuesday that threatens to further criminalize consensual same-sex sexual conduct along with LGBTQ and intersex populations in the country.

If the bill “is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV AIDS, deter tourism and invest in Uganda, and damage Uganda’s international reputation,” Jean-Pierre told reporters during Wednesday’s press briefing.

“The bill is one of the most extreme anti LGBTQI+ laws in the world,” she said, adding “human rights are universal – no one should be attacked, imprisoned or killed simply because of who they are or who they love.”

Asked what concrete steps the U.S. might explore in response to the legislation in Uganda, John Kirby — who serves as National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House and joined Jean-Pierre at the podium Wednesday — said “there might be repercussions that we would have to take.”

“We’re certainly watching this real closely,” Kirby said, noting it remains unclear whether or when the bill might become law and take effect. Punitive economic measures against Uganda could be “devastating,” he said, as America provides substantial aid to the country, including through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The 2023 anti-homosexuality bill sailed through Uganda’s parliament Tuesday with broad support from lawmakers. It would impose a 10-year prison sentence for the “promotion, recruitment, or funding” of LGBTQ activities.

According to Human Rights Watch, anyone who “holds out as a lesbian, gay, transgender, a queer, or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female” could be prosecuted and sentenced up to 10 years.

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Colorado

United Airlines trans flight attendant dies in apparent suicide

Police said the final determination of cause of death will be made by the Medical Examiner’s office

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Kayleigh Scott (Screenshot/YouTube United Airlines)

DENVER – After posting farewell notes to her Instagram and Facebook pages, Kayleigh Scott, a popular United Airlines flight attendant was discovered deceased in her Denver area apartment by responding police units alerted by her followers alarmed by her posts.

A spokesperson for a Denver area police department said that an investigation is ongoing and that the final determination of cause of death will be made by the Medical Examiner’s office.

Scott, who had been prominently featured in a video diversity campaign on Trans Day of Visibility in 2020 by United, wrote in her posts:

As I take my final breaths and exit this living earth, I would like to apologize to everyone I let down. I am so sorry I could not be better. To those that I love, I am sorry I could not be stronger. To those that gave me their everything, I am sorry my effort was not reciprocated. Please understand that me leaving is not a reflection of you, but the result of my own inability to turn myself for the better. To Ashley, Cynthia, Regine & Sophia. I am so sorry. Please remember me for the good memories we have shared, and never for my downfall. I will see you all again on the other side. Brianna, I’m coming.”

In previous posts Scott acknowledged battling depression and this past December, she posted: “2022 has been a year packed with upset and difficulty. I saw too much death & loss in my life, I came to realize I work a meaningless job for a company that doesn’t value me as an employee, I had my heart destroyed, I lost my nice little home and had to downsize significantly and start over. I’m really struggling to find happiness and hope. I’m begging 2023 to be better to me. Please.”

In a Facebook post her mother, Arizona resident Andrea Sylvestro wrote:

Kayleigh Scott…I am so unbelievably proud to have you as my daughter, proud and amazed by everything that you have done in your life, your smile was absolutely beautiful, your laughter was unbelievably contagious, your heart was bigger than any of us could have ever understood.

“We are all prone to think that there is something wrong with the mental thought processes of those who disagree with us. It is up to us to rough hew them as you will” . “ I am who I am and I’ll always be who I am, someday the world will catch up to me “ .

I miss you so much already, everything that you have been through, every morning you woke up and looked in that mirror, I hope you saw what we all saw.. a beautiful, eloquent, compassionate, courageous beautiful soul!

I love you so so much!!!

Fly high my beautiful daughter, I will not let a day go by that I don’t honor your name and everything you stood for.

Go climb those mountains, live free and let the wind take you away…all my love my beautiful girl!

Love your Mumma ♥️

United — Kayleigh’s story:

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