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New Bill Outlines Protections For Incarcerated Trans Californians

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An amended bill protecting transgender individuals, SB132 from out San Francisco Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener, was introduced Monday, March 18 and is scheduled for legislative action next month. The bill would protect transgender inmates incarcerated in California’s correctional system from the violence that frequently arises when they are housed according to their birth-assigned gender instead of their actual gender identity,

“This bill will save lives and will enable trans women serving sentences in California prisons to avoid some of the worst horrors they currently face on the inside,” said Shawn Meerkamper, Senior Staff Attorney, for the Oakland-based Transgender Law Center. “California is falling behind on this issue, and for our communities’ sake, it desperately needs to catch up.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CAL-CDCR) confirmed to the Los Angeles Blade that often the risk of violence, including sexual violence, leads to trans inmates being placed in isolation, also known as special custody units, “for their own protection.”

Removing them from the general population and placing them in limited housing access or solitary confinement curtails access to services like rehabilitative programming, educational programming, religious programming, and work opportunities, all of which has been proven to reduce recidivism and further rehabilitation efforts.

The legislation requires:

  • During the initial intake process, CDCR record the individual’s self-reported gender identity, preferred first name, preferred pronouns and honorifics, and preferred gender identity of any officer who may conduct a lawful body search on the individual.
  • House people according to their gender identity, unless a specifically articulated security concern counsels otherwise, or the individual believes it would be safer to be housed according to their birth gender.
  • All staff and contractors of CDCR to consistently use the gender pronoun, honorific, and preferred name the individual has specified in all verbal and written communications with and regarding that individual.

“Transgender people deserve basic dignity, respect, and safety while incarcerated, and we should respect the gender identity of all individuals regardless of their current situation,” Wiener said in a press release. “To house transgender individuals in facilities that do not correspond with their gender identity puts these individuals at great risk of physical assault and sexual victimization, and reduces their access to programming that creates a successful transition from prison back to their community.”

Currently, CAL-CDCR houses incarcerated trans individuals based on their assigned sex at birth, unless they have undergone gender-affirming surgery or have received a medical evaluation and been referred to a classification committee. This leaves many trans inmates stranded and at risk in correctional facilities. The bill says trans inmates who don’t undergo gender-affirming surgery should be housed according to their gender identity – period.

“Having Trans people having the autonomy to choose where they want to be housed when they have to do time in a state prison is in a way liberating,” said Bamby Salcedo, President of the LA-based TransLatin Coalition, a co-sponsor of the bill. “It gives people the autonomy to take agency to their own identification and where they can spend their time while incarcerated.”

 

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Kansas

Federal judge issues mixed ruling in Kansas Trans case

Fort Riley Middle School, located on the sprawling home to the U.S. Army’s First Division, has policies to protect LGBTQ+ students

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Geary County Unified School District 475 (Screenshot/WIBW News 13)

TOPEKA – In a ruling last week, a U. S. District Court allowed the Geary County Unified School District 475, (GCUSD 475) to continue its policy of requiring teachers and staff to respect trans students pronouns and additionally not out them to their parents.

However, Judge Holly Teeter sided with the teacher that brought the lawsuit prohibiting the GCUSD 475 from disciplining her for her refusal to follow policies based on her religious beliefs.

Fort Riley Middle School, located on the Ft. Riley post, the sprawling home to the U.S. Army’s First Division, has a long standing set of policies to protect LGBTQ+ students.

A math teacher Pamela Ricard, sued Geary County Schools over LGBTQ anti-discrimination those policies claiming that those policies conflicted with her Christian beliefs. Ricard was represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal advocacy group listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group for its anti-LGBTQ+ lying and deceptive propaganda.

Teeter, was nominated by former President Donald Trump and on August 1, 2018, the U.S. Senate confirmed her as United States District Court Judge for the District of Kansas.

Topeka Capital-Journal journalist Jason Tidd reported , Teeter issued a preliminary injunction on Monday blocking the school from disciplining Ricard if she reveals preferred names and pronouns of her transgender students when communicating with their parents.

“The Court relies on Plaintiff’s statements that she does not intend to communicate with a parent for the sole purpose of disclosing a student’s preferred name and pronouns,” Teeter wrote.

Ricard has two transgender students in her class, the judge wrote, neither of whom have authorized the district to disclose their preferred names and pronouns to their parents. While Ricard uses their preferred names in class and avoids pronouns, she has emailed parents using a student’s legal name and biological pronouns, the Topeka Capital-Journal noted.

“Plaintiff believes that addressing students one way at school and a different way when speaking to their parents is dishonest,” the opinion states. “Being dishonest violates her sincere religious beliefs.”

According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, Teeter, ordered the injunction to remain in place until May 18 or until Ricard’s contractual responsibilities to the district end, whichever comes last. Court records state that Ricard is not returning to work next year at Fort Riley Middle School, after teaching in the district since 2005.

Will Rapp, a statewide organizer for the Kansas chapter of GLSEN, told the Capital-Journal:

“Any effort to force teachers to out students to their guardians is a violation of young people’s privacy and can place vulnerable young people in harm’s way,” Rapp said. “When transgender and nonbinary youth feel unsafe at school, they experience negative impacts not only to their health, but to their academic achievement and likelihood of graduating or moving to higher education opportunities.

“Attempts to forcibly out students also jeopardize educators’ ability to foster trust and create the kind of safe school environment that allows young people to grow and learn without fear of harassment or discrimination.”

 

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The White House

WNBA players back petition for Biden to ‘prioritize’ Brittney Griner’s release

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Russian state TV has released a photo of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was arrested on drug charges in the country after Russian officials say cannabis oil was found in her luggage. (Screenshot)

WASHINGTON — The Women’s National Basketball Players Association has endorsed a petition that urges the Biden administration to “prioritize” WNBA star Brittney Griner’s release.

“It is imperative that the U.S. government immediately address this human rights issue and do whatever is necessary to return Brittney home quickly and safely,” reads the Change.org petition that Tamryn Spruill, a freelance journalist and author, created.

“The WNBPA and its members proudly join Tamryn Spruill, the creator of this petition, in demanding that lawmakers prioritize Griner’s return,” it continues. “White House and Biden adminsitration, we ask that you take action today—doing whatever is necessary—to bring Brittney Griner home swiftly and safely.”

More than 135,000 people have signed the petition.

Spruill on Saturday in a tweet said the WNBPA, a union that represents WNBA players, partnered with them and Change.org “in demanding that our elected officials work urgently to gain BG’s swift and safe release.”

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

The State Department earlier this month determined Russia “wrongfully detained” Griner. A Russian court on Friday extended her detention for another month.

“The Russian system wrongfully detained Ms. Griner,” then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday during her last White House briefing. “We take our responsibility to assist U.S. citizens seriously.  And we will continue to press for fair and transparent treatment for all U.S. citizens when they are subject to legal processes overseas.”
 
“Now, because the State Department recategorized her as wrongfully detained, it means that our Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs — it’s quite a title but a well-deserved one — is going to be overseeing this case and leading the effort,” added Psaki. “Because it’s a deliberative process and we know from experience of bringing other Americans home, we’re just not going to detail what those efforts look like at this point in time.”

Griner faces up to 10 years in prison.

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Politics

Disney donating all profits from pride merch to help LGBTQ+ community

“Disney has a long history of supporting LGBTQ+ organizations & charities- the Pride Collection is showing our support for the community”

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The Disney Pride Collection courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

BURBANK – The Walt Disney Company announced Monday that it is donating all of the profits of its pride merchandise to charities that help the LGBTQ community. The announcement comes over the company’s battles with Florida’s Republican political leadership over the passage of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ measure and more recent government actions that removed the self-governing law over Disney-held properties known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

In a post on the company’s blog, Disney Senior Vice President, Global Marketing Lisa Becket, who identifies a member of the LGBTQ+ community herself wrote:

“Disney has a long history of supporting LGBTQIA+ organizations and charities around the world, including GLSEN in the U.S. This year, we are further deepening our support. We will be donating all of our profits from the Disney Pride Collection sales now through June 30, 2022, to organizations that support LGBTQIA+ youth and families. This includes merchandise from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars.

In the U.S., profits from the collection will benefit GLSEN,  PFLAGThe Trevor ProjectZebra CoalitionLos Angeles LGBT CenterLGBT Center Orange CountySan Francisco LGBT Center and Ali Forney Center. Profits from other regions around the world will continue to support local charities in those countries. You can learn more about these organizations and their incredible, impactful work by visiting TWDCPrideCollection.com

I’m proud to share just a bit about what we are doing for the LGBTQIA+ community and to joyfully celebrate Pride not just for the month of June, but all year-round.”

The Disney Pride Collection courtesy of The Walt Disney Company
The Disney Pride Collection courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

The company also noted:

“The Disney Pride Collection is just one way Disney Parks, Experiences and Products is showing our support for the LGBTQIA+ community during the month of June. There’s plenty to celebrate at our theme parks and resorts, from entertainment and art displays to festive décor, Disney PhotoPass Service photo opportunities, and themed food and beverage offerings. We’ll also be highlighting inspirational and celebratory stories about our guests, cast and community on the Disney Parks Blog and across our social media channels.”

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