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Hong Kong turmoil raises questions about 2022 Gay Games

Organizers of LGBT sports event to discuss situation at October meeting

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Recent unrest in Hong Kong has some wondering about viability of the Gay Games there in 2022. (Photo by Studio Incendo via Flickr)

The escalating violent street clashes between Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement protesters and local authorities taking orders from China that have taken place each week since June have raised questions about whether Hong Kong can remain a viable host city for the 2022 Gay Games.
In 2017, the Federation of Gay Games, which organizes the quadrennial international LGBT sports event that attracts as many as 15,000 athletes and thousands more spectators, selected Hong Kong as the host city for the 2022 Gay Games.

The decision by the FGG to select Hong Kong over D.C. and Guadalajara, Mexico came after all three cities – which the FGG named as finalists in its competition to select a host city – presented detailed proposals on why they believed they were best suited to host the 2022 LGBT mega sports event.

In keeping with the Gay Games tradition, the three cities’ proposals included cultural events such as LGBT rights related gatherings to accompany the athletic events associated with the Games.
Although the Gay Games in Hong Kong are scheduled to take place in November 2022, more than three years from now, international observers of Hong Kong and China have said it is hard to predict how things may be in Hong Kong at that time.

Among other things, China has hinted that it will send in military forces to crush the pro-democracy street protests that have halted much of Hong Kong’s downtown business and transportation system during the weekend protests despite local police crackdowns. Hundreds of thousands have taken part in the protests.

A full China takeover of Hong Kong could raise questions about whether an LGBT event like the Gay Games would be welcome, some observers have said.

Sean Fitzgerald, co-president of the FGG, told the Washington Blade the FGG has asked Hong Kong organizers to address the situation in Hong Kong at the FGG’s annual General Assembly meeting scheduled to take place Oct.31-Nov. 2 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“Since successfully winning the host city bid, the Gay Games 11 Hong Kong team has been making good progress on our plan to organize a successful and inclusive sports and cultural event in November 2022,” Fitzgerald said in a statement to the Blade. “Mindful of the importance of safety and security, the team has been working closely with the Hong Kong Government Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong Tourism Board, security companies, and other key stakeholders to develop, amongst others, a full security plan to ensure that we deliver a safe and inclusive event for all participants and spectators,” he said.

“Although the current events in Hong Kong are unsettling, we note that all major trade fairs, events and exhibitions scheduled for the second half of this year, are reported to be going ahead,” Fitzgerald said. “We are closely monitoring the evolving situation, and remain vigilant to ensure that the security plans for our event will be operational and effective for everyone 3+ years from now.”

The Hong Kong Gay Games organizers will also make a presentation to the FGG Board of Directors during the time of the General Assembly meeting in Guadalajara, “which I am sure will be asking questions about the current situation,” Fitzgerald told the Blade.

China has been tolerant of LGBT-related organizations and events in recent years, observers have said, as long as those groups and events steer clear of politics and do not challenge the Communist Party government. The local, semi-autonomous government of Hong Kong has been generally supportive of the LGBT community, according to Hong Kong Gay Games organizers.

But experts have said China has taken an increasingly more assertive role in local Hong Kong affairs in recent years following the 1997 agreement with the United Kingdom in which the British turned over Hong Kong, a longtime British colony, to China. The agreement calls for China to allow Hong Kong to govern itself in a semi-autonomous way for 50 years after the 1997 agreement, but experts say there would be little that the U.K. or other countries, including the U.S., could do if China violates the agreement other than possibly imposing economic sanctions.

It couldn’t immediately be determined whether D.C. would make another bid to host the Gay Games if it is determined that Hong Kong is no longer a viable host city. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Gay Games Bid Committee Chair Brent Minor were part of a 32-member D.C. contingent that traveled to Paris in October 2017 to advocate for the D.C. bid before the FGG.

“I really have no specific comment on the situation in Hong Kong,” Minor told the Blade in an email message on Tuesday. “Team D.C. plans to send our representative to the Annual Meeting in October and have them report back on any updates,” he said. “Team D.C. remains a strong supporter of the Gay Games movement and will support the efforts for Gay Games XI.”

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Virginia

Virginia Senate subcommittee tables anti-Trans student athlete bill

SB 20, which would have exposed school districts to costly lawsuits for failing to protect trans students, was defeated in subcommittee

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Virginia State Senate (Photo Credit; Commonwealth of Virginia government)

RICHMOND – A Virginia Senate subcommittee on Thursday tabled a bill that would have banned transgender students from joining school sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

Senate Bill 766, which state Sen. Jennifer Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) introduced on earlier this month, would have required “each elementary or secondary school or a private school that competes in sponsored athletic events against such public schools to designate athletic teams, whether a school athletic team or an intramural team sponsored by such school, based on biological sex as follows: (i) ‘males,’ ‘men,’ or ‘boys’; (ii) ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’; or (iii) ‘coed’ or ‘mixed.’”

“SB 766 (trans sports ban) was passed by indefinitely (it died!) after a long line of speakers testified against it, affirming trans students’ rights to participate in sports just like their cisgender peers,” tweeted the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia after the vote. “Trans students belong in sports. Period.”

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin during his campaign said he does not support allowing trans children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

The General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began on Jan. 12 with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates. Democrats still control the Senate by a 21-19 margin.

A bill that would have eliminated the requirement that school districts implement the Virginia Department of Education’s trans and non-binary student guidelines died in a Senate subcommittee on Thursday. The Senate General Laws and Technology on Thursday also tabled a religious freedom measure that would have undermined Virginia’s LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law.

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Arizona

Arizona Republicans introduce ‘no promo homo’ bill in 2022 session

“I’m extremely disappointed with the Arizona Republicans who continue to perpetuate homophobia and transphobia”

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Arizona Democratic State Rep. Daniel Hernandez is defending LGBTQ+ rights (Photo Courtesy of Rep. Hernandez)

PHOENIX – State Representative Jake Hoffman, (R-12), during a state House Education Committee meeting this week told fellow lawmakers that certain materials he discovered in schools is a foundational reason the committee should pass House Bill 2495

“This one is a teenager masturbating. Here’s another teenager masturbating. Here’s two teenagers engaged in sex,” said Hoffman, presenting what he alleged are examples of what was available to students although he admitted that the materials weren’t in all schools. “There is nothing more sacred than the innocence of a child,” said Hoffman who co-sponsored the bill.

The bill defines ‘sexually explicit materials’ as “Textual, visual or audio materials or materials accessed via any other medium” that depict any of the following matters:

A. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER LAW, A PUBLIC SCHOOL IN THIS STATE MAY NOT REFER STUDENTS TO OR USE ANY SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIAL IN ANY MANNER.

B. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, “SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIALS” INCLUDES TEXTUAL, VISUAL OR AUDIO MATERIALS OR MATERIALS ACCESSED VIA ANY OTHER MEDIUM THAT DEPICT ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

1. SEXUAL CONDUCT. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS PARAGRAPH, “SEXUAL CONDUCT” MEANS ACTS OF MASTURBATION, HOMOSEXUALITY, SEXUAL INTERCOURSE OR PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH A PERSON’S CLOTHED OR UNCLOTHED GENITALS […]

2. SEXUAL EXCITEMENT.  […]

3. ULTIMATE SEXUAL ACTS. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS PARAGRAPH, “ULTIMATE SEXUAL ACTS” MEANS SEXUAL INTERCOURSE […]

The bill’s definition of homosexuality as ‘sexual conduct’ has drawn sharp criticism from LGBTQ+ advocates including members of the Arizona Legislative LGBTQ Caucus.

Democratic State Rep. Daniel Hernandez accused Hoffman and other Republicans pushing for the bill’s passage as engaging in a campaign to turn back LGBTQ+ progress in the state to an earlier era under a law colloquially referred to as the ‘no promo homo,’ which banned the state’s schools from acknowledging or ‘promoting’ a so-called ‘homosexual lifestyle.’

“What this bill does is once and again try and erase the LGBTQ community from Arizona public schools, under the guise of protecting children,” said Hernandez, during the meeting.

“It’s not the mere of status of being a homosexual, it is the act of homosexuality, so the act of sexual intercourse between two people of the same gender. That is a completely different thing than you represented it to be,” Hoffman retorted.

In an email to the Blade Hernandez noted, “Republicans in the legislature are pushing legislation to effectively ban sex education in Arizona schools and roll back the clock. Even mentioning the LGBTQ+ community will be against the law. As someone who knows what it’s like to grow up under an antiquated law that keeps the LGBTQ community from being seen in the classroom, I can tell you this makes our kids less safe.”

Hernandez, who is campaigning for a seat in the U.S. Congress to represent the Second Congressional District, wrote in an email to supporters; “I’m extremely disappointed with the Arizona Republicans who continue to perpetuate homophobia and transphobia. So, I’m speaking out against this shameful targeting of LGBTQ children and erasure of the LGBTQ community. Because as one of four gay members in our state’s legislature, I have a duty to stand up for the LGBTQ Arizonans who can’t be in our state’s Capitol to defend their own rights.”

In 2019, Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1346 which repealed the1991 law, which made it illegal for K-12 public schools to provide HIV prevention instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle,” “portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle” or “suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.”

The law had been the subject of a federal lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

New York blogger Joe Jervis reported that Hoffman has been in the national news this week as he is one of Arizona’s fake electors. In 2020 he was banned by Twitter for running a paid teenage pro-Trump troll farm with Charlie Kirk.

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Georgia

Georgia school official says gay art is same as Nazi flag

There are ongoing complaints that this current administration has been discriminatory against women, LGBTQ people & English language learners

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Courtesy of a Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary parent

ATHENS, Ga. – A display of student artwork at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School in Athens this past week created a controversy, when a poster that was hung in the collection by a faculty member for a student that had rainbow colors and the words; “Gay is OK,” was taken down by an school administrator who labeled it comparable to exhibition of a Nazi flag.

Atlanta’s NBC affiliate WXIA-TV 11 reported that some parents whose children attend Oglethorpe said they are concerned about how this situation and others have been handled.

“There are ongoing complaints about this current administration has been discriminatory against women, being discriminatory against LGBTQ people, being discriminatory against English language learners or emerging bilinguals, emerging multilingual and Spanish speakers. So we have seen a pattern of inequity at our school and we have been asking for support at this point for years,” said Jemelleh Coes, a parent and professor at the University of Georgia. 

WXIA-TV 11 heard from staff and faculty at the school expressed their disagreement with the characterization of Oglethorpe. A current teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, told the station: 

On behalf of a majority of the staff at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School, we are disheartened that these words and actions have happened in our school building during this time. This does not represent why we chose this profession, and it does not represent the feelings, beliefs, values, and attributes our amazing school family has within these four walls. We are disheartened that there has been no action taken by CCSD or our building administration to rectify the divide that has been caused. We will continue to seek resolution and promote a community of love, acceptance, and tolerance within our building and community. 

Parents want action.

The Clarke County School District released a statement this week:

January 25, 2022

Dear Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary Community, 

I write this letter to acknowledge a situation at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary that has caused a great deal of anger and frustration in our community.

It has been alleged that a piece of student artwork was compared to Nazi symbolism. We have investigated the situation and are working to address the issues with all parties involved. To be clear, we condemn this comparison and discrimination in all its forms. 

The Clarke County School District embraces diversity and inclusion for all students and staff. We stand with our LGBTQIA+ community and are dedicated to proving our commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

To that end, we will continue having sensitive and appropriate conversations with our school communities.

Sincerely,

Brannon Gaskins
Acting Superintendent

Athens Pride weighed in on their social media accounts raising awareness on the issue and then asking people to donate to help LGBTQ people in need. 

Athens Pride is appalled to hear of the actions that transpired at a local elementary school. Our organization is committed to providing resources and support to LGBTQ+ students, parents, and community members- especially now. We are in contact with all parties involved, who at this time request privacy. We will keep the community updated on further information as it becomes available. We are reminded today that our school, city, and people have a lot of work to do to create true safe spaces for our children. Homophobia, Anti-semitism, and all forms of hate have should have no home here in Athens – especially in our public schools.”

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