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    In the News: 08.10.2017

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan

    Trans Teen Suicide Attempts May Have Spiked Because of Trump’s Tweets

    Donald Trump’s tweets calling for a ban on transgender people in the military led to more suicide attempts by trans teens, according to statistics compiled by The Trevor Project, which is an organization that runs an LGBTQ teen suicide hotline. Of the approximately 178 contacts per day (on average) received by The Trevor Project, 7.3 percent typically self-identify as transgender. Within 24 hours after President Trump’s tweets regarding transgender military service members, however, contacts from transgender individuals spiked to 17.5 percent of all contacts. Furthermore, in the week after the Texas legislature introduced the anti-trans “bathroom bill,” contacts from transgender young people doubled to 14.7 percent. This is not the first time statistics have pointed to a correlation between public animosity toward a minority and teen suicide. Earlier this year, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University examined survey data on teen suicide attempts from two decades and found that, prior to nationwide marriage equality, states that lifted their bans on same-sex couples marrying led to a drop in the suicide rate among LGB youth.

    An Unstable Commander in Chief: Trump’s Ban on Transgender Troops Was Result of Tantrum

    Politico reports that Donald Trump announced a ban on transgendered military members because he was frustrated with the government’s lawyers trying to explain the implications of such policies to him. President Donald Trump’s White House and Defense Department lawyers had warned him against the transgender military ban for days. They were concerned about the ramifications of the policy, how military officials would respond, and what legal backlash it could cause, two West Wing officials familiar with last month’s discussions said. The lawyers thought there would be plenty of time for more discussions and were analyzing arguments. Frustrated with being “slow-walked,” in the words of one White House official, the president took to Twitter—jarring many in the West Wing out of complacency and startling his lawyers, Defense Department officials and West Wing aides, who learned of the change in a series of tweets. It was these discussions themselves that set Trump off. Too impatient to tolerate substantive explanations of it with others, he instead lashed out with his new, most simplistic “policy” banning transgendered service members apparently as an attempt to stop his own staff from asking him further questions on it.

    Insurer Is Sorry It Used ‘Insensitive Language’ When Denying PrEP Coverage

    An HIV/AIDS activist recently posted a letter from July in which United Health Care (UHC) denied coverage for PrEP because the patient was going to engage in “high risk homosexual behavior.” That same day, UHC announced that it was ending its pre-authorization requirements for PrEP, making it easier for patients to access the medication. PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, refers to the use of medication like Truveda in order to prevent transmission of HIV. PrEP has been shown to be 99% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV if taken every day. As activist Mark King noted on LGBTQ Nation, “high risk homosexual behavior” is a sign that someone needs PrEP, not a reason to deny coverage. On July 1, UHC started a policy to restrict coverage of the drug, requiring doctors to get authorization for the prescription every three months and for patients to fill their prescription by mail instead of at any pharmacy. In a statement, UHC apologized for the “insensitive language” in the letter. “We have corrected our letters, removed the prior authorization requirement for Truvada and members can fill their prescription at the network pharmacy of their choice. This is effective immediately.”

    All-Gender Restrooms Coming to Every San Jose Unified School District Campus

    One of the largest school districts in California plans to put in all-gender bathrooms at each of its campuses. The movement began with San Jose Unified School District’s Lincoln High School more than a year ago. The district now said it is time for the rest of its schools to catch up. “I just hope that all school districts would be as open as San Jose Unified is in making sure they have gender neutral bathrooms for students to be able to use,” said Ken Yeager, a Santa Clara County supervisor. Yeager has been a champion of the LGBT community and he applauds the move. Students said there have been no issues since all-gender restrooms went up at Lincoln High School.

      amfAR’s Kenneth Cole Launches End AIDS Coalition at 9th International AIDS Conference on HIV Science

    At the International AIDS Conference on HIV Science, leaders in the global AIDS response and Kenneth Cole, American fashion designer, amfAR Chairman of the board and UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador, launched the End AIDS Coalition (EAC)—a collaboration of leading AIDS experts, scientists, clinicians, policy-makers, faith leaders, businesses, activists and humanitarians working together to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. “We are at a ‘tipping point’ in the fight against AIDS, with a quickly-closing window of opportunity,” said Cole. “If we do not act now, and act together, to gain control of this global epidemic, it may never be possible and the costs in both funding and human lives would be catastrophic.” The EAC and its partners are working to accelerate progress towards the UNAIDS 2016 Political Declaration to end AIDS by 2030 with increased collaboration, transparency and accountability. Looking at the global AIDS response holistically, the EAC is amplifying and aggregating plans, targets and data from partners across prevention, treatment, cure, and vaccine sectors.

    Castro Country Club Receives Legacy Status

    The Castro Country Club, a clean and sober gathering place for members of the queer recovering community on 18th Street, received legacy business status from the City’s Small Business Commission—something that was first brought up in December of 2016. The club opened in the spring of 1983 as a space to host meetings, hold unstructured peer counseling sessions and offer job-training and skill-building opportunities to those struggling with addiction. Over the years, the Castro Country Club and its volunteers have helped hundreds of community members gain their sobriety. The club is open 365 days a year and boasts a meeting space, a volunteer-operated café and a back patio. “The Small Business Commission is pleased with the inclusion of Castro Country Club on the Legacy Business Registry,” said Stephen Adams, vice president of the Small Business Commission. “The services and social support they provide to individuals in recovery are an invaluable asset to the Castro neighborhood and the LGBTQ community, and the organization contributes greatly to the uniqueness of San Francisco.”

    Castro Library Landscaping Moving Forward

    The Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Library is getting a landscaping makeover. This time last year, the City’s Fix-It team—a group of City employees tasked with trimming trees, installing lights and applying fresh paint to curbs and crosswalks, among other things—decided to focus on improving the library on 16th Street. Earlier this year, barricades were deployed to deter homeless encampments from butting against its perimeter, but they were later removed by the City after it was discovered that the fencing didn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Library officials and Public works initiated a landscaping redesign project to mitigate community concerns regarding homelessness, litter accumulation, safety and aesthetics around the Castro branch library. Phase 1 of the project is currently underway on the 16th and Prosper facing side of the library. Phase 1 will feature cobbled paving and boulders, instead of mulch, and drought-tolerant agave, rather than bushy shrubs. The initial phase of the library’s landscaping overhaul will be completed in September. Phase 2—which will include improvements to the parking lot, sidewalks and small plaza adjacent to Pond Street—will begin soon after Phase 1 is finished.

    Market Street to Restrict Private Vehicles, Install Protected Bike Lanes

    Changes are coming to Market Street. The thoroughfare will soon ban private vehicles, including ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber. Instead, the street could see protected bike and public transportation-only lanes. The initiative is part of the $604 million Better Market Street project. In the works for years, the project is set to bring pedestrian, bicycle, and public transportation improvements to 2.2 miles of one of the City’s busiest streets, between Octavia Boulevard and the Embarcadero. Once the project is completed, plans include restricting private vehicles from certain portions of the street. Market between 10th Street and the Embarcadero could only see commercial vehicles, buses and the historic F-Line streetcars. Private vehicles, including ride-share vehicles, are already restricted from turning onto Market from 3rd to 8th Streets. A study last year showed that the restrictions improved pedestrian safety and reduced speeding and other risky driving behaviors. The changes even had a positive impact on Mission Street, which also saw a reduction in risky driving behaviors. City officials want Market Street to become the premier cultural, civic and economic center of the City.

    Oakland A’s Outfielder Matt Joyce Suspended for Two Games After Calling Fan Anti-Gay Slur

    Oakland Athletics outfielder Matt Joyce used an anti-gay slur in an exchange with a fan during a game against the L.A. Angels. As Joyce returned to the dugout, he uttered several profanities at the fan, called him an anti-gay slur and challenged him to fight, according to AP photographer Mark J. Terrill, who overheard the exchange. Terrill said he did not hear the first part of the exchange. Joyce said after the game. “I was walking back to the dugout and just had a fan yell some vulgar and obscene words. For me, it just wasn’t the right time to say some stuff like that. I fired back, and obviously as soon as you fire back, you regret saying anything, because it’s just not worth it.” Joyce was suspended for two games because of the slur. In May, Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar was also suspended for two games after yelling an anti-gay slur at Braves pitcher Jason Motte. Following his suspension, Pillar apologized, saying he was “completely and utterly embarrassed” by his actions.



    Now Free, City College Enrolling Students for Fall 2017

    If you were a state resident on or before August 18, 2016, there is good news: You are eligible to enroll in free classes at San Francisco City College this coming semester. The Free City Program is the first of its kind in the country to offer universal, free higher education to City residents. Voters approved legislation last November that taxed luxury property sales to help pay for residents’ tuition. “What I’m really excited about is that we are the first city to offer a program like this for anyone regardless of age, income, and grade point average,” said District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim. Free City is for all San Franciscans; houseless residents and foster youth who meet the residency requirement also qualify. New and returning students will simply fill out registration materials as in semesters past with no added paperwork.

    Out & Equal Searches for New CEO

    As founder and CEO Selisse Berry steps out of her day-to-day role in the Out & Equal organization, they are looking for the next dynamic leader who will lead one of the world’s premier nonprofit organizations dedicated to achieving LGBTQ workplace equality. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the CEO will provide vision and strategic leadership for Out & Equal. The CEO will have senior managerial expertise, financial knowledge and experience, and will oversee the financial stability of Out & Equal.

    GGBA Wins Big in Las Vegas

    Earlier this month, nearly 50 Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA) members from the City, North, South and East Bay, including 11 Board Members and many Corporate Partners, attended the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) International Business & Leadership Conference in Las Vegas. “All of us were there to make the most of this tremendous opportunity to come together to build our businesses, make lifelong connections and to learn and grow as LGBTQ leaders and entrepreneurs,” said Dawn Ackerman, GGBA President. “The GGBA in partnership with our friends and colleagues at the NGLCC and the 57 other Affiliate Chambers across the country and around the world, continuously works to create new opportunities, forward thinking, educational programming and to facilitate and make the connections that our members want and need to be successful and to help their businesses thrive.”