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    In the News: 8.07.2017

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    Senate Passes LGBT Seniors Bill of Rights for Long-Term Care Facilities

    On May 31, the California Senate passed SB 219, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California. SB 219 is the LGBT Senior Long-Term Care Bill of Rights for seniors in long-term care facilities. The bill passed by a vote of 26–12, and will now move to the Assembly for consideration. SB 219 protects LGBT seniors from discrimination in long-term care facilities, such as a facility refusing to use a resident’s preferred name or pronoun, denying admission to a long-term care facility, transferring a resident within a facility or to another facility based on anti-LGBT attitudes of other residents, or evicting or involuntarily discharging a resident from a facility on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status. In addition, the bill requires that all long-term care facilities post a notice regarding this form of discrimination where its current non-discrimination policy is posted. “Our LGBT seniors paved the way for our community, and they went to hell and back to ensure our community’s survival and growth,” said Senator Wiener. “Ensuring these seniors can age with dignity and respect is the least we can do to support them, especially as they face discrimination, unique health challenges, and frequent lack of family support.”

    First Ever Gender-Inclusive Locker Room Planned for UC Berkeley

    UC Berkeley will become the first college in California to build a gender-neutral locker room inside its campus gym. Currently at the UC Berkeley Recreational Sports Facility, there is a men’s locker room and a women’s locker room. But a planned 4,500 square foot addition will also make a place for gender nonconforming individuals, as well as disabled students who have assistance from someone of a different gender. “It will be gender inclusive. The idea is that it’s open to all,” said Andy Davis, Communications Manager for the UC Berkeley Department of Recreational Sports. “(It is also for) anyone who has an interest in an additional level of privacy.” The planned $2.7 million locker room is funded by a $54 student fee. The locker room will include partitioned showers and private changing rooms. ​

    Bill to Modernize Discriminatory HIV Criminalization Laws Passes Senate

    The Senate passed a bill authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) that will modernize laws that criminalize and stigmatize people living with HIV. Senate Bill 239 would amend California’s HIV criminalization laws, enacted in the 1980s and ‘90s at a time of fear and ignorance about HIV and its transmission, to make them consistent with laws involving other serious communicable diseases. SB 239 updates California criminal law to approach transmission of HIV in the same way as transmission of other serious communicable diseases. It also brings California statutes up to date with the current understanding of HIV prevention, treatment and transmission. The bill now moves to the Assembly for consideration.

    TLC Applauds Senate Passage of SB 179, to Enable Accurate Identity Documents

    San Francisco based Transgender Law Center (TLC) is proud to have drafted and sponsored SB 179, legislation that will empower more transgender, intersex and nonbinary people to more easily obtain state-issued identity documents that accurately reflect their gender. The bill is being authored by Senators Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and is sponsored by TLCr and Equality California. SB 179 will establish a third, nonbinary gender marker on California birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, identity cards and gender-change court orders. It also streamlines the processes for Californians to apply to the state for a change in gender on these identifying documents by eliminating the requirement that individuals obtain a certification from a physician and easing the requirement that individuals attend a court hearing. “This is a huge step forward for transgender and nonbinary Californians,” said Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of TLC. “It will help eliminate many of the barriers to accurate ID that people experience that exposes them to discrimination and harassment in so many arenas where we must show ID.”

    HIV Long-Term Survivors Honored

    HIV Long-Term Survivors Day (HLTSD) was commemorated on June 5, the anniversary of the day in 1981 when the CDC reported the first cases among gay men of a mysterious illness that would later become known as AIDS. According to its website, HLTSD celebrates “those who have defied the odds by living with HIV for decades. June 5 is about coming together and realizing that we are not alone.” As of this year, nearly 60 percent of all people living with HIV in the U.S. are over 50 years old, and by 2020, this number is projected to increase to 70 percent. The theme of HLTSD 2017 was HIV-resilient. A statement from HLTSD explained, “Our focus is on ensuring that HIV long-term survivors are front and center in the current HIV dialogue.”

    Marching Out: District 10 Plans 1st Float for Pride Parade

    The Hunters Point Gantry crane—the largest in the world—was built in 1947 and used to lift heavy ships and shipboard equipment between 1941 and 1974, when the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard was most active. Now it will be a symbol of Pride in this year’s Parade. Although several decades have passed since the shipyard closed, the 450-feet-tall, 8,400-pound crane remains in the area and is the largest crane in the world. Many consider the crane to be a historical landmark in the Bayview community. “We chose the crane because it is an ever-present sight in the community,” said float designer Lawrence Cuevas. “[It’s] as visible as other iconic San Francisco sights … I believe it can also be re-imagined as a symbol of optimism for the [queer] community’s future.” The community group behind the district’s presence is being supported by the Merchants of Butchertown, which is comprised of residents and business owners who are craft food and wine makers. (Butchertown was an area in the neighborhood during the 1920s and ’30s. Now part of District 10, the area historically spanned Third Street from Oakdale Avenue to Cesar Chavez.)

    16th Annual S.F to L.A. AIDS/Lifecycle Underway

    Now in its 16th year, AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported, 545-mile bike ride that raises important awareness about the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic, in addition to funding services such as HIV testing and screenings for other sexually transmitted infections, HIV medical care, prevention services, and more. In the seven days it takes the riders to reach Los Angeles (June 4–10), more than 500 people in the United States will have become infected with HIV. One out of every eight people living with HIV nationwide is not aware of their status. Since 2002, when AIDS/LifeCycle first began, participants have raised more than $236 million and have completed more than 58,000 journeys on bikes from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

    Roadwork at Jane Warner Plaza

    Although San Francisco Public Works completed work on the Castro Street Improvement Project a while ago, S.F. Department of Public Works has begun some repairs and renovations at Jane Warner Plaza (Castro at 17th-Market Streets) that will continue through this week and possibly for a few more days. The work will include repairs to the asphalt and color-coating of the roadway at the Plaza. There will be no interruption of Muni’s F-Line Historic Streetcars or other transit service.

    Old Site of Metropolitan Community Church Under Consideration as Historic Place

    The existing building at 150 Eureka Street in the Castro most recently housed the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco, which consisted of an LGBTQ congregation from approximately 1970 to 2015. (The Church is now located at 1300 Polk Street.) The building, constructed in approximately 1922, is currently vacant. The building is considered to be individually eligible for listing on the California Register of Historic Places, due to its association with the City’s LGBTQ community. The proposed 150 Eureka Street Project, however, would result in the demolition of the existing two‐story, wood‐frame church building. Written comments will be accepted until 5 pm on June 23. The comments may be sent to Jenny Delumo, Environmental Planner, San Francisco Planning Department, 1650 Mission Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94103.

    Study Reveals a New Method to Address a Major Barrier to Eradicating HIV

    Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes discovered that an enzyme called SMYD2 could be a new therapeutic target for flushing out the HIV that hides in infected individuals. Overcoming this latent virus remains the most significant obstacle to a cure. While drug therapy allows people living with HIV to lead a relatively normal life, it also comes with adverse effects. Patients must also stay on the drugs for life to prevent the virus hiding in their body from reactivating. In the early stages of infection, HIV hides in viral reservoirs in a type of immune cells called T cells. This dormant, or latent, virus can then spontaneously reactivate and rekindle infection if drug therapy is stopped. To eliminate HIV latency, scientists are exploring a “shock and kill” strategy that would use a combination of drugs to wake up the dormant virus and then act with the body’s own immune system to eliminate the virus and kill infected cells. Previous research has had limited success in efficiently reactivating latent HIV, so scientists are working to find new, more effective drugs.

    Black AIDS Institute Launches ’30 Days of HIV’ Campaign

    Black AIDS Institute, the U.S.’s only national think tank focused on HIV impact in Black communities, has launched “30 Days of HIV,” a national, digital, community campaign to raise awareness, educate and mobilize around the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis in Black communities across America. “Even though it is not in the news as much as it was a few years ago, HIV/AIDS is an ongoing, and in among some sectors of the Black community, a tragically growing crisis,” said Phill Wilson, President and CEO of Black AIDS Institute. “Black gay and bisexual men in the United States have a 50 percent lifetime HIV infection rate. Black women still represent 61 percent of the new HIV infections among women.” Having been launched on May 27, it will continue through National HIV Testing Day (June 27). This campaign has three core elements: an Online Community Calendar to promote HIV and health-related events serving Black communities; an Instagram storytelling series titled “In The Life,” featuring community-sourced life experiences of Black, gay/bi/trans men; and lastly, Daily Actions—once a day calls to action to mobilize Black communities and those who serve them.

    Besty DeVos Says State-Funded Schools Can Reject LGBTQ Students

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said that schools receiving publicly-funded vouchers should be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ students without risking their funding. During a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the proposed federal school voucher program, DeVos told Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) in a tense exchange that “school choice” and state flexibility are more important than protecting vulnerable students’ right to an equal education. Clark presented the example of Lighthouse Christian Academy, a private Indiana school that currently receives $665,000 in voucher funds, but reserves the right to deny attendance to children from families “living in, condoning sexual immorality; practicing homosexual lifestyle or alternate gender identity; promoting such practices.”