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CDC denies LGBT questions removed from federal health survey

Williams Institute reported agency disclosed it would axe LGBT module

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LGBT Health, gay news, Washington Blade, health care, improving

The CDC denies it has eliminated LGBT questions on a federal health survey. (Public domain image)

Despite a report the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention had removed LGBT questions from a federal health survey, the agency insists no decision has been made to omit the module.

Bernadette Burden, a CDC spokesperson, said the agency is still working on the 2019 version of the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, or BRFSS, but still plans to include questions allowing respondents to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The 2019 BRFSS questionnaire has not been finalized,” Burden said. “The sexual orientation and gender identity optional module is an approved optional module for the BRFSS and there are plans to make it available in 2019. States may choose to use this optional module for their 2019 BRFSS questionnaires.”

The CDC provides the BRFSS to states to obtain data on risk behaviors and health conditions in the U.S. population. The LGBT module in the BRFSS — an optional module since 2014 — was used in more than 30 states and territories and provided the first representative snapshot of transgender health in the United States.

The availability of that information seemed in peril last week when the Williams Institute, an LGBT think-tank at the University of California, Los Angeles, issued a statement declaring a CDC official said during a Denver conference the LGBT module would no longer be included in the BRFSS starting in 2019.

The removal of LGBT questions from federal surveys has been a trend in the Trump administration. Last year, the Department of Health & Human Services disclosed plans to eliminate a question allowing elders to identity as LGBT on the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants. Although HHS restored the sexual orientation question after a backlash, the department maintained the decision to eliminate the gender identity question.

Rachel Dowd, a spokesperson the Williams Institute, insisted the think-tank heard the CDC official disclose the LGBT question would be removed from the BRFSS during the conference, but is pleased the agency will keep the module.

“A CDC official disclosed at the American Association for Public Opinion Research conference that the optional SOGI module was being dropped from the BRFSS,” Dowd said. “We are encouraged that the CDC is now stating that there are plans to make the SOGI module available in 2019. We look forward to receiving affirmative confirmation that the SOGI module will indeed be included in the BRFSS in 2019 and going forward.”

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Oklahoma

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signs anti-Trans ‘Bathroom Bill’ into law

“These violations put Oklahoma at risk of losing millions of dollars & harms trans youth, all to solve a problem that does not exist”

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Screenshot/YouTube

OKLAHOMA CITY – On Wednesday Oklahoma Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signed the anti-Trans measure Senate Bill 615 into law. The measure, which took effect immediately, requires all kindergarten through 12th grade students in public and charter schools to use restrooms and changing facilities associated with the sex listed on their birth certificates.

Provisions in the language of the law requires schools to adopt disciplinary procedures to punish students who do not comply and allows parents and guardians to take legal action against any school that does not comply with the new law.

The capital city’s leading paper, The Oklahoman noted that any schools or districts that violate the law would see a 5 percent penalty reduction in state funding. ‘That could subtract thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the school system,” the paper noted.

“Governor Stitt believes girls should use girl restrooms and boys should use boy restrooms,” Stitt’s spokesperson Carly Atchison told media in a statement.

Opponents of the law point out that it is likely a violation of federal civil rights. “By singling out transgender students for discrimination and excluding them from restrooms that match their gender identity, SB 615 discriminates based on transgender status and sex in violation of the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act,” Tamya Cox-Touré, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“These violations put Oklahoma at risk of losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding and harms transgender youth, all to solve a problem that plainly does not exist,” Cox-Touré added.

“This law is unconstitutional, a violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, and more than anything it is unnecessarily cruel for the sake of cruelty,” said Nicole McAfee, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma. “Over the last day we’ve heard people talk about school safety over and over again. But with a flick of his pen, Governor Stitt said that safety doesn’t extend to already vulnerable transgender and Two Spirit young people.”

“What states like Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina have done time after time is find new ways to attack these kids for their political gains among radical voters,” Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campain said in a press release. “Governor Stitt has repeatedly disregarded the real harms these bills will impose on Oklahoma’s youth.”

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The White House

LGBTQ+ leaders on reproductive justice & civil rights meet at White House

The importance of right to reproductive decision-making & privacy & the importance of reproductive health care for LGBTQI+ people highlighted

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White House Gender Policy Council Director Jennifer Klein (Official White House photo)

WASHINGTON – White House Gender Policy Council Director Jennifer Klein and White House Deputy Assistant to the President for Racial Justice and Equity Chiraag Bains convened a meeting with national LGBTQI+ leaders on protecting access to reproductive health care and protecting LGBTQI+ civil rights.

Advocates discussed the importance of protecting access to abortion for the LGBTQI+ community, and the need to protect critical and foundational LGBTQI+ civil rights, including marriage equality.

Participants also highlighted the importance of the right to reproductive decision-making and privacy, and the importance of reproductive health care for LGBTQI+ people as they start families, and cited fears about the challenges LGBTQI+ families are facing as states pass extreme laws restricting access to critical health care, including reproductive health care and gender-affirming care.
 
Senior Administration officials highlighted the President’s unwavering commitment to LGBTQI+ civil rights, reproductive rights, and safeguarding LGBTQI+ couples and families.

Participants included representatives from:

  • Equality Federation
  • Family Equality
  • Lambda Legal
  • Freedom for All Americans
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • National LGBTQ Task Force
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • National Center for Transgender Equality
  • National Women’s Law Center
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National

Pulse nightclub survivor ‘at a loss’ over Texas elementary school massacre

Brandon Wolf is Equality Florida’s press secretary

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Brandon Wolf was a Grand Marshal at the 2019 Capital Pride Parade on June 8, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Adam Hall)

ORLANDO, Fla. — A survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre on Wednesday said he is “at a loss” over the massacre at a Texas elementary school that left 21 people dead.

“Twenty-one people were murdered,” said Equality Florida Press Secretary Brandon Wolf in a statement he sent to the Washington Blade a day after a gunman killed 21 people inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. “Nineteen of them were children — babies. That means 19 families sent their elementary age kids off to school only to get the worst news: That their babies would be leaving class in body bags.”

Wolf was inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016, when a gunman opened fire and killed 49 people. His two close friends — Christopher “Drew” Leinonen and his fiancé, Juan Guerrero — were among those killed.

Wolf in his statement noted “right wing politicians have spent the past year insisting that the greatest threats our children face are the potential they’ll learn that this nation was built on the backs of enslaved Black people or that their teacher uses they/them pronouns.”

“They’ve banned books, censored curriculum and bastardized history lessons,” said Wolf. “All the while, they haven’t lifted a finger to protect kids from what is killing them.”

Equality Florida echoed Wolf’s sentiments.

“I am heartbroken for the shattered families,” added Wolf. “Grief-stricken for these stolen lives. And enraged at the power-hungry leaders who have chosen time and again to serve up this country’s most vulnerable as sacrifices in exchange for a boost up the ladder of their own ambitions.”

Axel Rodríguez’s friend, Xavier Serrano Rosado, died inside the Pulse nightclub.

Rodríguez told the Blade that Tuesday was “such a dad day for us here” in Orlando.

“It is like going through the same emotions we had when the attack at Pulse happened, but it’s even worse because we are talking about children,” he said. “When will our government stop thinking about money and stop this madness? Everyone now can obtain a gun anywhere. I just cannot comprehend that at all.”

The Pulse nightclub massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history until a gunman on Oct. 1, 2017, killed 60 people at a concert in Las Vegas.

A gunman on Feb. 14, 2018, killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Twenty children and six adults died in the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012.

The Robb Elementary School massacre took place less than three years after a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

“There are no words,” tweeted Pride Center San Antonio, which is roughly 90 minutes east of Robb Elementary School, on Wednesday.

“Our hearts are with the Uvalde community,” said Equality Texas on Tuesday. “Every child deserves to free safe at school.”

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