Delta, CO – Colorado School Board Member Believes Transgender Students Should Be Castrated – 11.25
A school board member from Colorado made headlines after she said that transgender students should be castrated if they want to use the bathrooms that fit their gender identity, Colorado’s CBS-affiliated station KREX-TV reported. Delta County School Board member Katherine Svenson had remarked, “I would like to pass out something that shows people what is going on in the rest of the country.” She continued, “Massachusetts and California have passed laws relating to calling a student, irrespective of his biological gender, letting him perform as the gender he thinks he is, or she is. I just want to emphasize: not in this district. Not until the plumbing’s changed. There would have to be castration in order to pass something like that around here.”
Svenson cited the bill that California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed, which allows transgender youth to use the bathroom and play on sports teams that correspond to their gender identity.
When questioned if her comments were insensitive, Svenson said she still supports her statements: “I don’t have a problem if some boys think they are girls. I’m just saying as long as they can impregnate a woman, they’re not going to go in the girls’ locker-room.” She added she brought the matter up so other board members could be aware of the issues, and that it could impact their Colorado school district soon.
Other district officials say they respect Svenson’s views on the issue, but do not agree with her. Superintendent Kurt Clay was asked if castration is something the district would consider, and answered. “Absolutely not, I mean, that’s an opinion of hers. We truly believe in Delta County School District, that every student has different needs, and that we are here to address those individual needs.”
Maybe we should consider castration or similar radical treatment for transphobic folks!
NYC, NY – High School Cancels Talk by “Pray Away the Gay” Preacher – 11.19
A Catholic high school has postponed a talk by a controversial priest who encourages teens to “pray away the gay;” but the president of the Bronx school defied angry gay groups by saying the lecturer will be invited back.
Father Donald Timone was scheduled to speak at Cardinal Spellman High School about the Catholic group called Courage – which encourages teens “struggling with same-sex attraction” to lead chaste lives.
After outrage by queer alumni, and some staffers, school President Trevor Nicholls scrubbed the event. But this battle is not over. “The idea that this is the end of the matter is incorrect,” Father Nicholls said, and added that Timone would likely be invited back after the school’s board of trustees weighs in, which is a formality.
Opponents of Timone – who say he treats queers like addicts in a 12-step program – will continue their fight too.
“It’s hard enough being a teenager,” said Spellman grad Clinton Leupp. “I look back at all of the suffering I did. All of the bullying. And something like this just fosters that environment.” Leupp, better known by his drag persona Miss Coco Peru, used social media to draw attention to the Timone lecture, causing its cancelation, however temporary.
The cancellation did little to appease some staffers, who cited new Pope Francis’ attempt to get church leaders to move beyond divisive issues such as gay marriage, homosexuality and abortion.
“A lot of people are really pissed off (at the school for hosting Timone),” said an anonymous employee. “With the Pope urging people to back off on this issue, the whole thing seems a little out of place.”
“We desire to open a constructive dialogue with the school to talk about LGBTQ issues in ways that won’t cause harm,” Tym Moss, president of the Bronx LGBTQ Center, concluded.
We say, “Go, Coco, Go!”
Honolulu, HI – Naughty Lawmakers Who Opposed Same-Sex Marriage Get Lump of Coal – 11.22
Perhaps it was an early Christmas gift or a mean message, but all 19 Hawaii House lawmakers who voted no on same-sex marriage got an unusual delivery in the mail. The black box had green tissue paper and a red pouch with a hard black substance. At first it was thought to be a lava rock and the person was sending bad luck, as the superstition goes. But upon further review, it was a lump of coal.
The typed message on the card stated, “You left a piece of your heart at the State Building when you voted on SB-1. Your lifestyle choice of judging others and ignorance is very unfortunate. Good luck in the next election.”
“Yeah, I think the message is that I have not been a good boy this year; I have been naughty, not nice. Well, I’m afraid some people feel that way about me right now,” said Representative Marcus Oshiro (Democrat), who voted against same-sex marriage.
Some of the 19 lawmakers returned it to the House Sergeant at Arms for him to dispose of. “It’s not the right way to go, and unfortunately it happens more often than not,” said Kevin Kuroda, House Sergeant at Arms, referring to negative mail sent to lawmakers.
“I feel sad for this person. That’s what it tells me. This individual I hope gets some kind of help or assistance. There is something missing in their life,” said Representative Richard Fale. Yeah. What’s missing is equality.
Representative Oshiro answered sarcasm with sarcasm: “It is very unusual. It made its point, and for me it’s a keepsake that I will hold on to for a long time.”
The boxes were not sent to the four State Senators who voted no – or at least they haven’t arrived yet if they were. Well, they’re all Grinches to me!
Fargo, ND – Look Out, SFGMC! North Dakota Has New Gay Men’s Chorus! – 11.24
For a lot of people in Fargo, North Dakota, Sunday mornings mean church. But, for a group of about 15 area men, Sunday evenings mean going back to church – to First Congregational United Church of Christ in Fargo for weekly rehearsals of the new Fargo-Moorhead Gay Men’s Chorus.
“Gay men have been singing forever,” chuckled Jon Landre, the director of the chorus. “Consider this. If all gay men were immediately visible, if we pulled out of all the choral programs in the churches, do you know how dead those programs would be?”
The chorus started just a few months ago and hasn’t performed in public yet. So it’s in the same state as the first gay men’s chorus was when it got its start in 1978 in San Francisco. In the 35 years since, gay men’s choruses have burst into existence, and into song, across the country.
Gay choruses formed in some large cities quickly. The Twin Cities group, whose director is mentoring Landre, is in its 33rd year. But according to the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA), only a handful of smaller cities have gay men’s choruses. Among them are Las Cruces, New Mexico, which has a metro population of 214,700, and Iowa City, Iowa, with a metro population of 152,586.
Landre said one of the challenges for his chorus is its accompanist, who has arthritis, which tends to kick in after an hour of steady piano playing.
But one of the fledging group’s biggest hurdles is geography. Fargo and the surrounding region are far more conservative than cities like San Francisco or Minneapolis. One member from Valley City, for instance, isn’t out in his home community. “He’ll have to deal with that,” Landre said. “We all decide on our level of comfort.”
We’re just glad the guys made this decision.
Washington D.C. – Thousands of Activists Demand Boehner Bring ENDA to the Floor – 11.14
Following the Senate passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act by a vote of 64-32, CREDO Action launched a campaign urging Speaker John Boehner to put ENDA up for a vote in the House.
The campaign comes on the heels of Speaker Boehner claiming that there is “no need” for ENDA – even though it is legal in twenty states for employers to discriminate against and even fire LGBT Americans on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
In just a couple hours after CREDO launched the campaign, nearly 2,000 people had already signed the petition urging Speaker Boehner to, “Stop blocking an up-or-down vote, and let all members of the House go on the record about where they stand on equal rights in the workplace.”
“You shouldn’t be able to fire someone just because they’re gay,” said Becky Bond, CREDO’s political director. “The Senate just passed a landmark anti-discrimination bill. Now it’s time to find out if Speaker Boehner is going to allow his members to go on record for or against equality – or if he’ll take the coward’s way out and refuse to call a vote.”
Earlier, hundreds of CREDO activists called their Republican Senators urging them to pass ENDA, and more than 49,000 people signed CREDO’s petition urging Senate Republicans to pass the bill.
Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore, sponsored the bill and helped guide it to Senate passage. He called on queer activists to continue their efforts to get the House to vote. Merkley encouraged supporters to discuss the issue in terms of protecting the freedoms of LGBTQ employees. He emphasized, “You say it’s all about liberty. That’s the magical word. That is a word that is deeply embedded in our national DNA.”
DNA, by the way, are three of the letters in ENDA.
Local News Briefs
Beware the Latest Crime in the City Regarding License Plates
Castro Community on Patrol (CCOP), the queer volunteer watchdog group in the Castro district, has become aware of a vehicle crime that may go unnoticed until the situation worsens. This involves the theft of one or both license plates. Often, the criminal replaces the stolen plates with another set, so one might not notice anything is unusual until he or she is pulled over by the police. Why would you get pulled over?
In a “normal” traffic stop, the incorrect plate on your car might not match your paper registration or the VIN (vehicle identification number) in the computer files. Or if the plate placed on your car is from a stolen vehicle, you may find yourself at gunpoint as the officer has every reason to suspect that you are in possession of a stolen vehicle and may be armed.
Some crooks replace the plates twice, so the plates on your car might NOT be the “stolen vehicle” plate on record, but belong to yet another person; so it might take some time with the police on their radio to try to straighten things out.
You could also begin getting bills for various parking or driving infractions, because the plates stolen from your car are now on another vehicle being driven by someone who is already known as a criminal (after all, they did steal your license plate for some reason). The Department of Parking and Traffic does now enter the VIN on some parking tickets, but depending on the government computer systems to untangle a mess like this may not be reliable.
Check your license plate from time to time. If you notice that it is the incorrect plate number, immediately report it to the police as a stolen plate. Use the non-emergency number (415) 553-0123 unless you are witnessing a crime in progress.
CCOP Director Greggy Carey says, “Take care of yourself; take care of your friends; take care of your neighbors.”
Story by Dennis McMillan
Ellis Act Evictions Continue to Displace Disadvantaged Renters
A new city report finds that evictions, especially those related to taking units off the rental market, have skyrocketed in recent years. Under local law, landlords may evict tenants when they want to move into their units or move a family member in. But this is often a sham used to evict someone covered by rent control in order to jack up the rent. The report by the city’s budget and legislative analyst was requested by openly gay and openly outraged Supervisor David Campos showing that such Ellis Act evictions leaped by 170% from the year ending February 2010 to the year ending February 2013. During the same period, there was a 38% increase in all evictions.
The report finds that Ellis Act evictions were up 145% between September 2012 and September 2013, compared with the prior 12-month period.
Activists held a press conference in Harvey Milk Plaza on Nov. 25 regarding Ellis Act evictions.
“The pace of evictions has gone beyond what is acceptable, and it is time to do something to control it,” stated Assemblymember Tom Ammiano. “What we are seeing is a very diverse group of tenants being evicted or pressured to leave their homes – sometimes where they have lived for decades. This threatens the diversity that San Franciscans have always treasured.”
Ammiano said he has been working with Supervisor Campos, holding discussions about what can be done in Sacramento. “I support his efforts to get fair compensation for people who are dislodged from their homes at a time when they are unlikely to find new affordable options in the city,” Ammiano said. “However, the problem goes beyond that, because the hardest hit communities – the Mission, the Castro and the Haight – include specific populations that will not only lose their homes, but also lose reliable access to nearby resources that serve their specific linguistic, medical or housing needs. Ammiano said he is “eager to introduce a bill in January.”
Story by Dennis McMillan