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Gay Asian Atlanta man found beaten, unconscious on railroad tracks

“Joshua received brain surgery and is currently fighting for his life. We have all been by his side as he attempts to recover”

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Joshua Dowd from Instagram

ATLANTA – A 28-year-old gay Asian male is currently in a coma fighting for his life at downtown Atlanta’s Grady Hospital Tuesday, as Atlanta Police Department investigators continue to probe into the case of what police are classifying as an aggravated assault.

Detectives have identified the victim as Joshua Dowd who was found bloody and beaten on the rail tracks early Sunday morning on July 11, 2021 near near Piedmont and Lakeshore Drive in the Brookwood Hills neighborhood. Atlanta detectives are currently reviewing surveillance video and phone records a spokesperson said.

According to a GoFundMe post to raise money to defray the cost of hospitalization, “Joshua received brain surgery and is currently fighting for his life. We have all been by his side as he attempts to recover. The doctors are not sure what the outcome will be, but we are all hopeful he will come out of this.”

Atlanta CBS News affiliate CBS46 reported that video from The Heretic, a popular gay nightclub in Buckhead in NE Atlanta shows Dowd enter the bar with a man on the night of Saturday, June 10. The two are seen exiting the bar with another man at 3 a.m.

Colin Kelly, Dowd’s partner of 3 years told CBS46 that APD detectives said that additional footage shows Dowd in the parking lot of the bar with a group of eight men.

“They go up the hill to the parking lot to another bar, but it’s closed,” Kelly explained. “What I don’t know is what happens there. I don’t know if he walked to the train tracks from there or if somehow [he was] forced towards the train tracks.”

Kelly said he doesn’t recognize any of the people Dowd was seen with in the video. He said they were not mutual friends of the couple.

“I’m a little nervous from some of the videos I saw that perhaps he was led into situations were [he was given more alcohol than] might be consumed and he didn’t need it,” Kelly said.

Kelly said Dowd, who remains in a coma, is slowing making progress but he believes it’s possible his partner will fully recover.

“With some of the moderation in how he’s moving and some of things he’s doing is proof he’s not brain dead and hearing those words from a medically trained professional made me so happy,” he added. “It’s gone from really challenging to see, to hope you can almost touch.”

APD Detectives encourage anyone with information to call 404-577-TIPS(8477) or e-mail the anonymous information using the online form at www.crimestoppersatlanta.org or submit anonymous tips online at https://atlantapolicefoundation.org/programs/crime-stoppers/

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Georgia

Lawmaker vows to protect girl until he learns she’s trans & bolts

Senator Carden Summers (R) knelt down and told a child he would protect her. When he learned she was trans, he backed away

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During a visit to lobby legislators on transgender issues, Senator Carden Summers (R) knelt down and told a child he would protect her. When he learned she was trans, he backed away. (Photo Courtesy of Lena Kotler,)

By Erin Reed | ATLANTA, Ga. – On Feb. 6, a group of families met to lobby senators on issues affecting the local transgender community in Georgia. One mother, Lena Kotler, decided to take her two children with her to give the topic a human face.

While waiting to meet with Democratic state Sen. Kim Jackson, who they had heard was a big supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, another senator passed by — Republican state Sen. Carden Summers, the primary sponsor of the state’s bathroom ban bill. Little did he know that one of the children he would be interacting with, Aleix, 8 years old, was a transgender child.

According to Kotler and other families who were present, the senator stopped to say hello. That’s when Kotler spoke to Senator Summers about how she was there with her kids to “talk to legislators about keeping her kids safe.”

Although she did not mention that one of her children was trans, they were present with LGBTQ+ signage – something the Senator apparently missed when he knelt down in front of Aleix and said, according to Kotler, “Well you know, we’re working on that and I’m going to protect kids like you.”

Kotler then replied, “Yeah – Aleix is trans, and she wants to be safe at school, she wants to go to the bathroom and be safe.”

That is when, according to multiple witnesses, Sen. Summers stood up and fumbled his words, repeating, “I mean, yeah, I’m going to make sure she’s safe by going to the right bathroom,” continuing to use the correct pronouns for Aleix. When asked if he would make her go to a boy’s bathroom, he then allegedly backed away, saying, “You’re attacking me,” turned around, and walked off quickly.

The exchange was a unique encapsulation of why anti-trans bills that ban transgender people from public spaces that match their gender identity have proven ineffectual in the past. In numerous hearings over bathroom bans, transgender people often point out that cisgender individuals cannot always tell who is and is not trans.

Enforcement of anti-trans policies like Sen. Summer’s bill, which would ban transgender youth from bathrooms of their gender identity, will inevitably catch cisgender people who are gender nonconforming in the same net. Worse, it would force transgender kids into the wrong bathroom — kids who even the senator who wrote the bill innately realized he needed to protect from bathroom harassment before learning the child was trans.

Sen. Summer’s bill, Senate Bill 438, is just one of several bills targeting transgender people this year in Georgia. Another bill, Senate Bill 88, which would enact policies to out transgender youth to their parents, was recently passed through committee while senators only allowed people who supported the bill to speak. Other bills include one that would ban draga book ban, and a bill that would end all legal recognition of transgender people in the state.

Kotler did eventually meet with Sen. Kim Jackson and Sen. Jason Esteves, whom she says are stalwart supporters of LGBTQ+ rights in the state. There, she said, she shook their hands and told stories of what her child was experiencing with her local school district. When asked why the conversation was important, she stated, “The senators are fighting an uphill battle, but my kids at least got to be told that they matter, and that they should be able to live their identities openly and safely.”

It is unknown if their presence made an impact on Sen. Summers or other senators they spoke to. However, Sen. Summers’ bill, SB 438, has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

As for Kotler, she says she’s not planning on going anywhere, and her kids agree. According to Aleix, who Kotler says comes from a long line of people willing to fight for what they believe in, “leaving lets them win.”

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Gays Against Groomers allowed speak as the opposition is silenced

What happened in the hearing was unusual: only those in favor of the bill were allowed to speak, leaving those against raising their hands

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Screenshot/YouTube Georgia Legislative TV

By Erin Reed | ATLANTA, Ga. – On Tuesday, the Georgia Senate Committee on Education and Youth met to consider Senate Bill 88, a bill that would promote the forced outing of transgender youth to their parents and restrict LGBTQ+ topics in schools.

The bill, which saw a surprise substitute with little time for review, would mandate that schools develop policies around outing transgender students to their parents and would require parents to opt into education on gender-related topics.

In a hearing in Georgia on Senate Bill 88, a bill that restricts LGBTQ+ curriculum in schools, Republicans only allowed people from Gays Against Groomers and Log Cabin Republicans to speak.

What happened in the hearing, however, was unusual: only those in favor of the bill were allowed to speak, leaving those against raising their hands.

Immediately after the bill’s sponsor spoke about the bill, he ceded the floor to Jeff Cleghorn, a gay anti-trans activist who calls transgender people “mentally ill sex fetishists” and regularly shares content from groups like Gays Against Groomers and Libs of TikTok. Following an incendiary speech in which he advocated for separating transgender individuals from the LGBTQ+ community, Republicans allowed four people to speak. These included a former president of the Young Republicans, a representative from Gays Against Groomers, and a representative from the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay Republican activists. They then abruptly ended the debate, preventing the dozens of attendees opposed to the bill from speaking.

Screenshot/YouTube Georgia Legislative TV

Noting the refusal to hear those who were there to speak against the bill, Senator Donzella James posed a general question to the crowd, asking how many had come to testify against the bill. Hands shot up across the room. Moreover, many of those who did not raise their hands were present because of bills being heard later in the same committee. You can watch the exchange here:

Republican senators seemed unconcerned with their testimony, however, and proceeded forward to vote. Prior to the vote, Senator Elana Parent raised the point again on a personal consideration, stating, “I just can’t help but point out for everyone that’s here that it does seem fundamentally unfair to… it’s one thing, though I disapprove of it, to allow no testimony. It’s another thing to allow testimony from only one side. That’s black eye on moving ahead on this when there are this many people here.”

The bill then passed 6-3 on a party line vote.

The text of the new bill was made available privately to this publication. The bill eliminates some provisions related to gay and lesbian topics but maintains restrictions on transgender issues; this might have influenced the decision to have prominent local anti-trans gay Republicans testify on the bill.

It continues to mandate that schools create policies to out transgender students to their parents and puts in place a process to develop a set of model policies statewide. Similarly, the model policies approach was employed in Virginia to implement anti-trans school policies statewide by Governor Glenn Youngkin.

The bill is likely headed to the full Senate floor in Georgia for consideration. As of the time of publication, the revised language has yet to appear on the Georgia legislative website. It is one of ten anti-trans bills proposed this year alone, targeting LGBTQ+ and trans individuals in the state.

Other proposed legislation includes bills that would end legal recognition of transgender people in Georgia, ban drag in public, ban many LGBTQ+ books, and bar transgender people from restrooms of their gender identity. For those in Georgia looking to speak out against these bills, they must hope that Republicans will allow their voices to be heard.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

******************************************************************************************

The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Georgia Republicans draft bill revising law to erase trans females

As proposed: “laws, rules, and regulations that distinguish between the sexes are subject to intermediate constitutional scrutiny”

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Georgia State Capitol Building Dome. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

ATLANTA, Ga. – Last week Republicans in the Georgia House introduced a bill, the “Georgia Women’s Bill of Rights,” defining sex as only biologically male or female in state law and altering the Georgia state criminal code so that attacks based on someone’s sexual identity or gender no longer qualify as a hate crime.

“An individual’s sex can be observed or clinically verified at or before birth and in no case is an individual’s sex determined by stipulation or self-identification,” the draft legislation reads.

House Bill 1128 was introduced Friday by five women Republican state representatives Jodi Lott, Leesa Hagan, Kimberly New, Penny Houston and Bethany Ballard and a male colleague.

The New Republic reported that this would define transgender people out of the law, stripping them of many rights and protections. The bill also stipulates that everyone must use utilities such as bathrooms, locker rooms, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and sports teams that correspond to their gender assigned at birth.

Under the bill, “laws, rules, and regulations that distinguish between the sexes are subject to intermediate constitutional scrutiny.” This could affect measures aimed at eliminating gender discrimination, such as ensuring equal pay or barring discriminatory hiring practices.

The measure also changes state criminal procedure so that attacks based on someone’s sexual identity or gender no longer qualify as a hate crime. Trans people are over four times more likely than cis people to be the victim of violent crimes. If H.B. 1128 becomes law, trans people could no longer seek legal recourse if they are attacked, The New Republic noted.

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Atlanta area gender-affirming care clinic target of arson hate crime

The office is “completely destroyed,” but that QMed is continuing to see patients remotely “We won’t be intimidated”

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The gender-affirming care clinic QMed/QueerMed, targeted by the arson attack is housed in the Blair Building at 215 Church Street in Decatur. (Photo by Dawn DeLucia)

DECATUR, Ga. –  A structure fire at a commercial office building located at 215 Church Street in downtown Decatur, which housed a gender-affirming care clinic, was the target of arson the Decatur Fire Department confirmed.

According to local media outlet Decaturish, a police report indicates QMed/QueerMed was the victim of the October 30, 2023 fire. In a statement released on Friday, Jan. 26, the Decatur Fire Department wrote:

“On the morning of October 30, 2023, the City of Decatur Fire Rescue Department responded to a structure fire at a commercial office building located at 215 Church Street in downtown Decatur. This historic building is commonly known as the Blair Building.

Fire crews extinguished the fire upon arrival. The fire was contained to one office and no injuries were reported.

After a full investigation, the fire incident has been determined to be incendiary in nature, indicating that the fire was intentionally set. However, the identity of the individual or parties responsible is unknown.”

“The city is collaborating with federal and state agencies to investigate this incident. The City will continue to work closely with these agencies to investigate and solve this crime,” the Fire Department added.

Decaturish reported:

A Decatur Police report indicates QMed was the victim of the Oct. 30 fire, which is being investigated as a first-degree arson, which is a felony. The report contains several images that have been redacted.

QMed owner Dr. Izzy Lowell said the FBI is investigating the fire as a hate crime. Georgia enacted a hate crimes law in 2020, and its protections extend to LGBTQ individuals. People convicted of a hate crime would face stronger penalties under the new law.

Lowell said, “We won’t be intimidated. We will not stop providing life-saving care to our patients.” She said the office is “completely destroyed,” but that QMed is continuing to see patients remotely.

The Decatur Fire Department has been tight-lipped about the investigation. Decaturish only learned about the fire after receiving an anonymous tip. A reporter visited the scene and saw the damage to the building on Nov. 1. The fire department did not initially confirm the Oct. 30 fire had occurred, and only confirmed it after Decaturish published a story about it this fall.

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Teacher fired for reading “considers gender beyond binary” book

A teacher in Cobb County, GA. was fired after a contentious 4-3 vote for reading a children’s book deemed to “consider gender beyond binary”

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Cobb County School Board votes to fire fifth-grade teacher over book. (Screenshot/YouTube 11Alive Atlanta)

By Erin Reed | ATLANTA, GA. – In suburban Atlanta on Thursday, the Cobb County School District voted 4-3 to dismiss Katie Rinderle, a fifth-grade teacher, for reading the Scholastic-approved book “My Shadow Is Purple.” 

This decision contrasts with a prior ruling by a district tribunal, which cleared Rinderle and recommended against her termination. Georgia and several other states have enacted laws this year restricting youth access to LGBTQ+ materials, including books, art, and other forms of expression.

In Rinderle’s case, her firing was attributed in part to the district’s finding that the book “considers gender beyond binary.”

The book is a Scholastic-approved book recommended for lower primary schools. The book is authored by Scott Stuart, who describes the book as “celebrating authentic identity, whether your true to yourself journey is about gender or just being brave enough to step out of other people’s expectations.” Because of new state laws and local district policies, however, teachers are restricted from teaching “divisive concepts,” which Rinderle has called “intentionally vague.”

Upon discovering Rinderle’s decision to read the book to her class, the school district convened a tribunal. Attorneys representing both the district and Rinderle examined the book closely, concluding that it “considers gender beyond binary,” due to the “use of they/them pronouns.” However, they did not advocate for her dismissal. The ultimate decision regarding her employment rested with the full board, which voted 4-3 along party lines to let Rinderle go.

See this page from the findings of the tribunal:

Teachers have increasingly been targeted over anti-LGBTQ+ laws and their jobs, threatened. Earlier this year, a Florida teacher was fired for indicating that she was LGBTQ+ to her students in response to an open discussion. Another Florida teacher was forced to resign after screening a Disney movie that has a gay character in it. A South Carolina teacher was fired over reading an article that discussed gay people.

This comes on the heels of many states passing laws that allow for the challenging of books in schools and libraries. Eleven states explicitly censor LGBTQ+ topics in the classroom. According to PEN America, a free speech advocacy orgnaization, 1,477 books have been challenged this year over “sensitive material,” often related to sexual orientation or gender identity. Though the majority of these bans happened in just five states (Florida, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah), school districts in at least 32 states have banned books.

Exposure of youth to LGBTQ+ themes is increasingly under siege. Earlier this year, lawmakers in West Virginia attempted to pass a law aimed at banning “transgender exposure” to youth, but it did not gain traction. In Montana, there was a push to amend a bill to ban “acts of transgenderism” online for youth, that likewise failed to pass. Florida’s controversial expansion of the “Don’t Say Gay” policy led to a memo that states teachers will be fired if they use pronouns or honorifics different from their birth-assigned sex. These moves collectively amount to an attempt to push LGBTQ+ people out of public life.

Rinderle’s battle appears far from concluded. She retains the option to appeal to the State Board of Education and is said to be “weighing her next steps.” Her dismissal, however, is poised to cast a shadow over educators throughout Georgia, likely discouraging the discussion of LGBTQ+ topics in classrooms. While the Georgia law hasn’t faced legal scrutiny yet, situations like Rinderle’s could certainly pave the way for such challenges. In the interim, teachers grapple with an ambiguous law and the looming possibility of job loss for addressing LGBTQ+ subjects in their lessons.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

******************************************************************************************

The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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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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Atlanta Police: Arrest in anti-LGBTQ+ vandalism of crosswalk

Suspect was arrested following a two-hour standoff with SWAT police at the ‘Solace on Peachtree’ apartment complex in Midtown

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Atlanta Dept. of Transportation crew removes anti-LGBTQ vandalism from crosswalk (Photo Credit: City of Atlanta)

ATLANTA – Atlanta Police announced last Friday that investigators had arrested a suspect in connection with the felony vandalism of the rainbow crosswalks at 10th Street and Piedmont Avenues on two separate occasions.

Surveillance video showed a male enter the crosswalk and spray paint a swastika on the crosswalk.  The crosswalks were originally installed ahead of the 2015 Pride festival and later a permanent feature in 2017 as a “remembrance of the 49 LGBTQ+ lives lost in the horrific 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting,” according to the website for the Mayor of Atlanta.

TaSheena Brown, spokeswoman for the Atlanta Police Department told local media outlets that warrants were issued for 30-year-old Jonah Sampson who was a suspect in the crosswalk vandalism as well as an act of vandalism at the Federal Reserve building.

Police arrived at the location where Sampson was located and he was arrested following a two-hour standoff with SWAT police at the ‘Solace on Peachtree’ apartment complex in Midtown.

During that standoff with APD eventually, Sampson notified police he was exiting the apartment and he was taken into custody without incident and is currently being held the Fulton County Jail. Sampson is charged with Criminal Trespass, Interference with Government Property, and Criminal Damage to Property.

Suspect in vandalism via Atlanta Police Department

CBS Atlanta reported that this past Wednesday, APD officers responded to a report of a male spray painting the rainbow crosswalk at 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue NE. Surveillance video showed a male enter the crosswalk and spray paint a swastika before walking away.

Then on Friday, officers responded to the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue NE for another incident of someone painting a swastika on the rainbow crosswalk. Surveillance video also captured images of a male.

In a press conference after the arrest, Interim Atlanta Chief Of Police Darin Schierbaum told reporters “[the crosswalk] is a location that means tolerance for our city, this is a community, this is inclusiveness. When someone with hate in their heart defaces it, it’s condemned by the Mayor. It’s condemned by the police department.”

Michael Smith, the Press Secretary for Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement:

“Atlanta Police immediately notified the Mayor’s Office of the matter, then ATLDOT scrambled a crew—in the rain—to remove the disgusting act of vandalism from our street.  We thank the women and men of ATLDOT and APD for erasing the hate that has no place in our city in a such a swift and efficient manner.”

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Georgia church camp tells trans girl volunteer to leave over her ‘life choice’

“Our team was advised that Elizabeth had made a life choice that unfortunately is causing some distraction at camp”

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Screenshot/NBC-ABC News dual affiliate WALB 10

CORDELE, Ga. – NBC/ABC News dual affiliate WALB 10 that covers Southwestern Georgia reported Thursday that a 14-year-old transgender girl was kicked out of a local church camp over her gender identity.

According to WALB, in a series of texts to her mother from a camp official, 14-year-old Elizabeth Clark who goes by Lizzie, was told to not to come back.

“I was surprised that people who were just preaching about love and accepting everybody to come out and tell me it was best that I not return,” Clark told WALB reporter Molly Godley in an interview.

One text read in part, “Our team was advised that Elizabeth had made a life choice that unfortunately is causing some distraction at camp. We have agreed it would be best that Elizabeth not return, allowing us the opportunity to meet our promise of a remarkable for the campers.”

One of the terms that stuck out to her was “Life Choice.”

“If it was a choice, I wouldn’t choose to be a part of the LGBTQ community or be trans because I wouldn’t want to put myself through the struggles that other people don’t have to go through,” said Clark.

When her mom LeeAnn Deeabas saw the text, she told Godley she was in disbelief. “It was hard…it was really hard. I just wanted to know why, why you singled out my child home why not address the bad behavior,” Deeabas told WALB.

Elizabeth Clark (Screenshot/NBC-ABC News dual affiliate WALB 10)

In a separate interview, a camp official Connie Bivens, told WALB the camp had the girl’s safety in mind when they made that decision. According to Bivens, she had ‘overheard girls talking about Lizzie in a negative way and at that point, she and other counselors decided they couldn’t ensure her safety ultimately sending her home from camp for the rest of the week.’

“Our choice, our decision was based on ‘can we keep her safe and can she have a wonderful time at camp.’ We felt we couldn’t do that, and it had nothing to do with Lizzie being transgender,” said Bivens.

Clark noted; “I was told I couldn’t run for homecoming court because I was transgender, they refused to put my pronouns on there and I didn’t get a chance to run. I know that we’re seen as outcasts and different. I hope that people will open their eyes and realize we’re just the same as everybody else. We bleed red and we’re all human We deserve the same treatment as anybody else.” 

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Georgia high school athletic association bans Trans youth playing sports

“Their actions, to move so hastily & without consideration of the harms this will do, will ultimately hurt Trans kids throughout Georgia”

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Screenshot/WCTV CBS 6 Thomasville, Georgia

ATLANTA – The Georgia High School Association’s (GHSA) executive committee voted Wednesday to implement a statewide ban on Trans youth from playing on sports teams that correspond with their gender identities.

GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines said that Wednesday’s vote will return the GHSA’s policies to prior to 2016 when the state association had allowed individual schools and school boards to decide which teams Trans youth athletes could play on.

In a last minute legislative maneuver last month, Georgia Republican lawmakers added language to House Bill 1084 that allowed the GHSA the ability to ban Transgender girls on K-12 public school sports teams from competing. Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed the measure into law on April 28.

Jeff Graham, executive director of the state LGBTQ advocacy group Georgia Equality, criticized GHSA for quickly passing the ban.

“Their actions, to move so hastily and without consideration of the harms that this will do, without actually researching the complexities and nuances of this issue, will ultimately hurt kids throughout Georgia,” Graham said.

He said that the The GHSA’s decision could also violate Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools, as well as previous federal court rulings and President Joe Biden’s executive order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.

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Georgia Governor signs laws; bans Trans youth athletes, ‘offensive’ books

A recent survey showed that 65.1% of LGBTQ+ people in Georgia had reported experiencing depression in the prior two weeks

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Governor Brian Kemp speaking at the Forsyth County Arts Learning Center (Screenshot/WXIA-TV NBC11)

ATLANTA – Republican Governor Brian Kemp in an event Thursday at the Forsyth County Arts Learning Center, in the suburban Northeastern Atlanta area, signed several bills into law including HB 1084, known as the “Protect Students First Act,”  HB 1178, known as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” and SB 226, which bans literature or books deemed to be offensive in nature from school libraries.

HB 1084 creates an athletic executive oversight committee that has the authority to establish a ban on Trans females participating on sports teams consistent with their gender at high schools in the state. The bill also addresses what is seen by conservatives as “divisive concepts” such as teaching students that “the United States of America is fundamentally racist; an individual, by virtue of his or her race, is inherently or consciously racist.”

HB 1178, mirrors Florida’s recently enacted ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law that alerts to parents and legal guardians regarding what their students are being taught and can be used to prevent classroom discussions of LGBTQ+ people in Georgia.

SB 226, bans literature or books deemed to be offensive in nature from school libraries. Critics charge that the law will be weaponized to exclude LGBTQ+ materials.

During today’s signing, Kemp stated; “We put students and parents first by putting woke politics out the classroom and off the ball field.”

A recent survey showed that 65.1% of LGBTQ+ people in Georgia had reported experiencing depression in the prior two weeks — more than three times the number of non-LGBTQ+ Georgians reporting the same.

“Brian Kemp had the opportunity to emulate his fellow Republican governors in Utah and Indiana, who saw through efforts in their states to limit the access of transgender young people to sporting activities and vetoed similar discriminatory bills,” said Dewayne Johnson, HRC’s Georgia State Director. 

“They knew, as Gov. Kemp surely knows, that there is no basis for this legislation. The bill’s attacks on gender and race are fundamentally arbitrary and not a legitimate legal basis for discrimination. The governor and legislative leaders are continually creating these false dilemmas that fail to connect with the real issues faced by everyday Georgians. Transgender kids are not creating problems by participating in school sports. Singling them out for discriminatory treatment – preventing them from playing with their friends and enjoying the benefits of athletic activity – serves no one except those who want to fearmonger and further divide Georgians. This law will make it much harder to be a transgender young person in Georgia, and Gov. Kemp is directly responsible. He should be ashamed.”

Jeff Graham (he/him), executive director of Georgia Equality, released the following statement in response to Gov. Kemp’s signing of HB 1084:

“Gov. Kemp continued efforts to rally his political base by signing into law a bill that is both harmful and ill conceived. HB 1084 aims to keep ‘divisive concepts’ out of Georgia classrooms by restricting discussions of race from kindergarten through 12th grade and creates additional state bureaucracy to oversee school sports.

“All students in Georgia, without exception, should have access to the highest quality education and extracurricular activities, and that should be the Governor’s priority. His actions today to insert himself in classrooms across the state and to stifle teaching will degrade the quality of a Georgia education for years to come. By limiting training on diversity and inclusion for school personnel, students who come from marginalized communities, including those from minority religious backgrounds, will face additional barriers to a quality education. The great diversity of those who call Georgia home should be seen as a strength to be embraced.  This new law stifles that concept and could set the state back depending upon how it is implemented.

“The legislation also reinforces the status quo that the Georgia High School Association has the authority to determine eligibility for participation in high school sports in our state and creates an athletics oversight committee that could consider eligibility for transgender athletes. Our own Speaker of the House, David Ralston, has said he hopes trans kids won’t be targeted or singled out, and we’re committed to working with the association and committee to ensure all Georgia students have the opportunity to participate in school sports. I don’t know what impact his actions today will have on his future political ambitions, but his work to garner votes will have harmful, lasting effects on all Georgia’s students.”

Gov. Kemp signs controversial education bills into law:

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