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Georgia GOP senator introduces ‘Don’t Say Gay’ & critical race theory bill

“Some teachers and other personnel in private and nonpublic schools and programs have inappropriately discussed gender identity with children”

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Georgia State Capitol (Blade file photo)

ATLANTA – Legislation titled the “Common Humanity in Private Education Act” filed in the Georgia State Assembly Tuesday by Republican state Sen. Carden Summers, would restrict the teaching of LGBTQ+ and “critical race theory” issues in schools in the state.

The language of the bill, SB 613, targets “a growing number of Georgia’s private and nonpublic schools [that] have embraced curricula and programs based in critical theory. In practice, these developments have caused private schools to segregate students, staff, and parents by ethnicity, color, race, and national origin; to compel students to adopt language and attitudes that promote racial division and discrimination; and to promote the concept that there is a hierarchy of oppressor and oppressed and that one’s race, gender, sexual orientation, color, or national origin irrevocably determines his or her place in that hierarchy;

Additionally, some teachers and other personnel in private and nonpublic schools and programs have inappropriately discussed gender identity with children who have not yet reached the age of discretion.”

The measure also states:

Such a focus on racial and gender identity and its resulting discrimination on the basis of color, race, ethnicity, and national origin is destructive to the fabric of American society.”

Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreis told The Advocate that language wraps up private and public schools, regardless of the name of the bill. He sees the language as part of a national effort by conservative Republicans to rile the base.

“Just as was the case with recent anti-trans actions in Texas, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a measure designed to rally the GOP’s base in the lead up to the primaries in a few weeks and again for the general election in November,” he said.

While the bill’s introduction in and of itself has alarmed LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, some were quick to point out that the legislation isn’t likely to advance because the state Senate’s Education and Youth Committee is not scheduled to meet on March 9, which is the last day for the bill to get out of committee.

Still, parts of the bill could be added to another piece of legislation via an amendment, legal experts have warned The Hill reported.

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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/

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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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Georgia lawmakers deflect- allow athletic association to ban Trans athletes

House Speaker Ralston compared the decision to how the NCAA regulates transgender participation in college sports

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 Georgia Capitol Building in Atlanta (Blade file photo)

ATLANTA – In a last minute legislative maneuver, Georgia Republican lawmakers added language to House Bill 1084 that allows the Georgia High School Association the ability to ban Transgender girls on K-12 public school sports teams from competing.

An earlier attempt to pass legislation that would ban Trans youth from participating on teams that matched their gender identity passed the state Senate but House Speaker David Ralston had blocked that measure.

WGXA News reported that House Bill 1084 passed the House 98-71 and then, after the clock crept past the customary midnight adjournment time, it passed the Senate 32-21.

Speaker Ralston compared the decision to how the NCAA regulates transgender participation in college sports.

“We’re going to let them make those determinations,” Ralston told reporters after lawmakers adjourned for the year. “And we have an oversight committee on that. But that’s really where these determinations need to be made.”

“This bill targets the most vulnerable Georgians, transgender youth,” said Rep. Matthew Wilson, an openly gay Democrat who is running for insurance commissioner. “It sets us up not only to be on the wrong side of history and morality, but on the wrong end of litigation.”

Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp had urged lawmakers to pass a transgender ban including hours before the compromise language was drafted to add to House Bill 1084.

House Bill 1084 which is also set to ban teaching of what it terms divisive concepts ie: the Critical Race Theory, does not explicitly give the association the power to ban from competition transgender girls who play for private schools. A number of private schools are also members of the association, WGXA noted.

Democrats warned that transgender children are already vulnerable to suicide and that excluding them could only lead more kids to harm themselves.

“Doing something like this, which takes extra feeling of belonging away from children who are at higher risk is something that at a minimum would deserve a floor debate,” said Rep. Rebecca Mitchell, a Democrat. She said she wanted transgender children to understand “some of us are out here fighting for them and valuing them and we want them alive and included more than anything.”

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GOP House candidate urges Trans military ban

“Gender dysphoria is no different and should be treated the same; that it is not conducive to enhancing military performance or unit morale”

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Mitchell Swan and his wife Leslie via Colonel Mitchell Swan for Congress

WATKINSVILLE, Ga. – A Republican Congressional candidate in Georgia is urging the U.S. military to no longer allow Transgender people to serve in the military, saying it weakens the armed forces amid Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine

“A strong military is essential to preventing escalating situations like Ukraine and Afghanistan,” Mitchell Swan, who is also a retired Marine colonel, told Fox News. “Allowing transgender individuals to serve sends a message to our adversaries that we are more focused on social experimentation than on the defense of our nation.”

Swan, who bills himself as an “unashamed conservative fighter,” is running for Rep. Jody Hice’s (R-Ga.) seat in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, which encompasses a large patch of urban and rural areas between Atlanta and Augusta. Swan is a part of a crowded GOP primary in the district, as Hice will give up the seat to challenge Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is also a Republican, over “election integrity.”

Swan went on to say that America’s “reputation was developed by more than two centuries of inherent American military culture, not American woke culture.” 

He also said that the U.S. military’s “vast mixture of ethnicity, religion, citizenship, education, and language in its ranks” makes it “truly unique.” But he added that “serving in the military is not a right,” so the military holds “strict ‘selective service’ standards.”

“In fact, many individuals with certain conditions, such as bedwetting and sleepwalking are disqualified from military service,” he said. “They are not disqualified because they are bad people, but because these symptoms are considered mental and emotional issues that are not conducive to combat environments. Gender dysphoria is no different and should be treated the same; that it is not conducive to enhancing military performance or unit morale.”

We are in a battle to restore the American spirit and the values that built and sustained this country. We need leaders to fight for us in Congress – because our identity as Americans is shifting under our feet thanks to politicians who no longer cherish the traditional ideals we love: individual liberty, justice, and self-governance.

If we are going to remain a Christian nation, a capitalist nation, and a secure nation with effective borders, we’ve got to stand and defend these principles.” ~ Mitchell Swan via Colonel Mitchell Swan for Congress

In 2017, then-President Donald Trump announced in a series of tweets that he would reverse an Obama-era rule and ban Trans individuals from serving in the military, saying that “our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming … victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” It went into effect in 2019.

LGBTQ+ organizations and Democrats denounced Trump’s Trans military ban at the time. 

“As a veteran who served on active duty, we focused on the mission. We didn’t care if you were transgender, bald, gay, or had freckles,” tweeted Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Ca.), vice-chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. “No evidence a trans sniper is less accurate or a trans pilot is less effective.”

President Joe Biden reversed Trump’s ban at the beginning of term last year. “Transgender servicemembers will no longer be subject to the possibility of discharge or separation on the basis of gender identity,” the White House said.

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Georgia anti-Trans youth sports bill passes Senate committee

“This attempt to ban Trans kids from playing sports will put all of our kids in boxes based on their gender, race & background”

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Georgia State Capitol Building (Blade file photo)

ATLANTA – Georgia Senate Bill 435, a bill to ban trans youth from participating in school sports that matches their gender identity, passed out of the Senate Education and Youth Committee Wednesday and is poised to be voted on by the full Senate.

The ‘Save Girls’ Sports Act language states that the bill “would prohibit biological boys from competing with biological girls, with biology defined as a student’s gender listed on their birth certificate.”

During the committee hearing prior to the vote, Sen. Marty Harbin, R-Tyrone, the measure’s chief sponsor, told members of the committee; “This bill is about fairness […] Boys have certain biological advantages when it comes to sports. … It’s simply not fair to force biological girls to compete against biological boys.”

“Kids all across Georgia want the same things: to play with their friends, get a good education and be happy and healthy. All our kids, including transgender kids, deserve the opportunity to participate in sports that help them stay active and learn about teamwork, discipline and sportsmanship. This attempt to ban transgender kids from playing sports just because of who they are will put all of our kids in boxes based on their genders, races and backgrounds and lead to bullying of kids who don’t conform to stereotypes,” Jeff Graham, the executive director of Georgia Equality said in a statement.

“Education experts, coaches and sports associations agree on the importance of including transgender children in sports, and these experts are working hard to refine the existing guidelines that ensure fair participation for all kids in each different sport. Why should our legislators waste time and taxpayer dollars trying to interfere in kids’ sports when experts are already making sure that all students are treated fairly? This bill isn’t just pointless, it’s also incredibly risky: politicians are jeopardizing our whole public school system by pushing a bill that legal experts tell us completely violates federal law and could therefore cost our state critical education funding. It’s time for lawmakers to quit meddling in kids’ lives and focus on the real issues facing Georgia families,” Graham added.

Capital Beat statehouse reporter Dave Williams noted: But Democrats on the committee said the bill would single out transgender students as different and further endanger a group that already suffers a disproportionate amount of verbal abuse and physical attacks.

“We see transgender students considering suicide at substantial rates higher than other students,” said Sen. Sonya Halpern, D-Atlanta.

Halpern and others argued the state shouldn’t wade into deciding who can compete on which high school sports teams and leave those decisions up to individual schools.

The committee approved Harbin’s bill Wednesday in a 6-4 vote along party lines. The legislation now moves to the Senate Rules Committee to schedule a floor vote.

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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 a 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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