Equity & Civil Rights Issues to Watch
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Human Trafficking Issues
Updated February 14, 2015
- Lawmakers Renew Push to Increase Protections for LGBT Students in Schools - A bill introduced by a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers would create a broad federal prohibition against discrimination in public schools "based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity" of students.
- Oregon's Incoming Governor, Kate Brown, Is Nation's First Bisexual State Executive - The first openly bisexual governor has long fought for equality. Kate Brown was first elected as a state legislator in 1991 and rose to become the Senate Majority leader before seeking statewide office. She was elected secretary of state in 2008 and reelected in 2012. Upon assuming office in 2009 she became the first openly bisexual statewide elected official in American history, according to the Victory Fund. There are about 525 openly LGBT public officials in office at all levels of government, according to the Gay & Lesbian National Victory Fund. Most are Democrats, but about 20 are Republicans.
- All five residents of a West Virginia town voted to ban LGBT discrimination - Following a unanimous vote by all five of its residents, Thurmond, W.Va., is now the smallest town in the nation with a ban on employment, housing and public accommodation discrimination against LGBT individuals.
- Black Girls Are Suspended from School Six Times More Often Than White Girls - A new report indicates that young women are being neglected in efforts to eradicate the "school-to-prison pipeline." According to research from the African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School's Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, the rates of disciplinary action taken against black female students are significant higher than for white female students, indicating that young women of color face massive challenges in school that their white counterparts do not.
- The Painful Truth About School Segregation - Diversity in schools is verging on the non-existent. That's a problem for our society as a whole. Modern-day segregation has many causes; housing chief among them. If all the children in this country attended their neighborhood public school, many schools would necessarily look as though Brown had never happened. Neighborhood stratification by socioeconomic status leads to de facto racial segregation, since wealth is still strongly correlated with race in the United States.
- Kerry to appoint gay diplomat for overseas LGBT advocacy - Secretary of State John Kerry this month will appoint a special diplomatic envoy to promote gay rights abroad, according to the State Department. The decision, first reported in a Boston Globe article last week, mirrors legislation that Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) introduced in their respective chambers of Congress within the past month. Markey sponsored a similar bill last year, but the measure died.
- US Labor Department proposes critical updates to sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors and subcontractors - The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a proposal to clarify federal contractors' requirements to prohibit sex discrimination. The recommended changes would revise the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' guidelines to align with laws, court decisions and societal changes since they were originally issued in 1970.
- ONLY 5 BLACK CEOS AT 500 BIGGEST COMPANIES - A mere five CEOs are black at the nation's 500 largest companies, according to a pro-diversity advocacy group. Ursula Burns of Xerox is the only black woman CEO.
- Take the Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Inequality? - 15 questions and answers.
- South Dakota Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down as Unconstitutional - South Dakota's ban on same-sex marriage violates the right to due process and equal protection guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge ruled.
- Barnard Considers Policy for Transgender Students - At an elite college for women, the question arises: What does it mean to be a woman? The president of Barnard College announced this week that the school was considering adopting a formal admissions policy for transgender students. "The time has come for us to examine how we, as a women's college, define 'women,' and how, consequently, we both admit and graduate students," the president, Debora L. Spar, wrote in a letter to the student body.
- Advocates Seek Civil Rights Bill for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans - As barriers to same-sex marriage fall across the country, gay rights advocates are planning their next battle on Capitol Hill: a push for sweeping legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination, similar to the landmark Civil Rights Act that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed in 1964.
- Transgender People Face Obstacles Accessing Reproductive Health Care, Survey Finds - Some transgender individuals face increased barriers to health care services, including those related to reproductive health care, according to a University of California-San Francisco study released earlier this month.
- 2013 Report on Intimate Partner Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities in the U.S. - The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) recently released its report Intimate Partner Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ), and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2013. For a second year in a row, the report shows highest homicide rate ever recorded.
- Human Rights Campaign says Barilla has turned around its policies on LGBT - The company's 100 rating in the Human Rights Campaign's annual Corporate Equality Index, which is based on internal company policies as well as corporate citizenship, is remarkable, said Deena Fidas, director of the workplace program for the Human Rights Campaign. Last year, Barilla did not even ask to be rated. Of the 781 companies that volunteered to be rated this year, fewer than half got a perfect score.
- Study: Teacher Support, Inclusive Curricula Important for LGBT Students - A recent study from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network concludes that a large majority of LGBT students experience harassment and discrimination in school. The study also presents steps that teachers can take to make the school environment more welcoming to such students, including creating more inclusive lessons. The GLSEN survey was conducted online over a period of five months in 2013 and includes responses from nearly 8,000 students between grades 6 and 12 from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Respondents came from 2,770 different school districts.
- Some fed-worker health plans to cover sex changes and transgender care next year - Federal workers will be eligible for sex-change operations next year through some of the government's employee health-insurance plans. Aetna, which participates in the Federal Employee Health Benefits program, announced last month that it will cover gender-reassignment surgeries for federal employee members in all 50 states.
- Canadian Law School Loses Recognition Over Anti-Gay Policy - The British Columbia Law Society, reversing an earlier decision, has revoked recognition of the new law school at Trinity Western University, The Globe and Mail reported. At issue is Trinity Western's ban on students and faculty members having sexual relationships outside of heterosexual marriage.
- Over Half Of LGBT Students Feel Unsafe At School, Report Shows - GLSEN has released its biennial study about the experience of LGBT students across the country. Though the overall climate improved slightly in 2013 compared to the 2011 results, LGBT students still largely feel unsafe, experiencing high rates of harassment and discrimination within the school system. As a result, their educational opportunities are measurably compromised.
- Holder: Federal benefits now available to gay couples in more states - Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday that the government will extend federal benefits to same-sex married couples in seven states where federal appeals courts have struck down bans on the unions.
- The tax implications of same-sex marriage - Now that a majority of gay Americans live in places where same-sex marriages are allowed, they have some practical concerns to deal with, like what such unions mean for filing taxes.
- Advocacy Organizations Must Not Ignore the Wage Gap for Transgender People - For women in the American workplace, equal pay is a pressing and urgent issue that both highlights the persistent sexism that women continue to endure and contributes to further social inequalities. On average, women make just 77 cents to every man's dollar. The statistics are even more grim for women of color: Black women earn 64 cents to a white man's dollar, while Latinas earn 53 cents. Meanwhile, trans women make 32 percent less than they did pre-transition; this, again, is an average that doesn't highlight the even wider wage gap for trans women of color.
- When Women Become Men at Wellesley - As women's colleges challenged the conventions of womanhood, they drew a disproportionate number of students who identified as lesbian or bisexual. Today a small but increasing number of students at those schools do not identify as women, raising the question of what it means to be a "women's college." Trans students are pushing their schools to play down the women-centric message.
- How LGBT Students Can Pay an 'Unfair Price' Over a Lifetime - An economy still plagued by stagnant wages, sluggish growth and a tight job market has left millions of Americans financially vulnerable and struggling to make ends meet. A new landmark report, however, asserts that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans are feeling this pain more acutely than others. The reason? A combination of discriminatory state laws and unwelcoming environments that have thrown up obstacles to economic opportunities, penalizing the LGBT population - including students - because of who they are.
- 90 Percent of Female Restaurant Employees Say They've Been Sexually Harassed at Work - A new report published today by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United pinpoints the tip-based system as an underlying factor of sexual harassment in the workplace. More charges are filed in the restaurant industry than in any other to begin with, and nine in ten women say they've experienced some form of "unwanted, scary sexual behavior in the workplace."
- Easing the Law for New Yorkers Shifting Gender - The proposals would lighten a burden for many New Yorkers wading through the bureaucratic labyrinths of employment applications and pension benefits, among others. New York City is poised to redefine what constitutes a transition from one sex to another, allowing a person's own identity, not anatomy, to be the determining factor.
- The Supreme Court Just Quietly Made Marriage Equality The Law Of The Land In Many States - The Supreme Court just cleared the way for gay marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
- Unlocking Opportunity for African American Girls: A Call to Action for Educational Equity - African American girls face significant barriers to educational attainment, including lack of access to quality educational opportunities; pervasive racial and gender stereotypes that affect the decision-making of school leaders and educators; discriminatory discipline practices that disproportionately push them out of school; high rates of exposure to sexual harassment and violence; juvenile justice system involvement; and lack of support for those who are pregnant or parenting while still in school. In almost all states, the high school graduation rate for African American girls is significantly below that of white girls and the national average for all girls, and African American girls are behind on a range of academic measures related to college readiness.
- Holder announces initiative to study racial bias, reduce police-community tensions - Amid the Justice Department's ongoing criminal investigation into last month's police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced a new federal initiative Thursday to study racial bias and build trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.
- 'Don't ask, don't tell' is over. But challenges remain for LGBT veterans and service members - Three years ago, the military ended the 18-year ban on gays serving openly in the military, a policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." But today, despite significant gains, a host of challenges remain for LGBT service members and their families. They range from the denial of full veterans benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs if a couple lives in non-marriage equality state to medical regulations that continue to prevent transgender service members from openly serving, said David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Right's Campaign which has released a list of remaining problems for the anniversary.
- Yang Named as Chair of EEOC - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that President Barack Obama had named Jenny R. Yang as Chair of the EEOC. Yang had served as vice chair since April 2014 and was confirmed to the EEOC in 2013. She will be the first Asian-American chair of the EEOC. The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination and investigates and punishes employers who break these laws.
- Better Off Dead: Black Women Speak to the United Nations CERD Committee - A historic delegation of black women from the United States went to face the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to speak of the atrocities and havoc wrought by racism on lives of women across sexualities and gender identities in this country.
- US Slammed for Failure to Fulfill Legal Obligation to Eliminate All Forms of Race Discrimination - A UN Committee has published a scathing denunciation of US failures to honor its treaty commitments to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
- 7 Teacher Resources That Address Gender Equality - Teaching women's issues doesn't have to be saved for Women's History Month. That is why we are thrilled when we see teachers who have implemented materials in their syllabi and reading lists that are mindful of gender issues throughout the year. In that spirit, we've pulled together some of our resources that can help educators engage students in important conversations about confronting gender stereotypes, recognizing women's leadership, and seeing education through a gender lens.
- Need a 'Bias Cleanse?' Here's How One Campaign Is Tackling Racial and Gender Stereotypes - The Southern Poverty Law Center and MTV have teamed up to help you "unlearn bias." The 'Look Different' campaign says their goal is to "help you erase the hidden racial, gender, and anti-LGBT bias all around us." The campaign's website also features other tools, such as quizzes, for helping people to recognize their biases. Once people begin to recognize these biases, they can do a seven-day "bias cleanse" that will help people begin to "de-bias" themselves. And for people who see biases, but are uncomfortable speaking up about them, the campaign also provides tips on how to start a conversation about stereotypes.
- TRANSGENDER WOMAN FEELS 'COMPLETE' THANKS TO OBAMACARE - Devin Payne had gone years without health insurance -- having little need and not much money to pay for it. Then Payne, who had a wife and four children, realized she could no longer live as a man.
- Lower Well-Being Among LGBT Community - Gallup has released results of a UCLA School of Law study which shows lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Americans have a lower overall sense of well-being than their non-LGBT counterparts. The survey included questions in five broad areas: purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being. The data show LGBT adults, particularly women, trail non-LGBT adults in all those areas.
- Gay couples still fighting for equality with three federal agencies - The agencies are required to follow state laws when determining whether same-sex couples qualify for benefits. Federal laws prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration and the obscure Railroad Retirement Board from providing full benefits to gay couples who reside in states that don't recognize their marriages.
- Cuomo: Outlaw gender identity discrimination - In a letter to the Empire State Pride Agenda, Cuomo notes that transgender people face significant discrimination and that the state should outlaw discrimination against them when it comes to things like housing, employment and public accommodations.
- EEOC Sues College for Age Bias Against Adjunct - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued Harold Washington College for age discrimination against a 66-year-old adjunct English instructor. The suit says that, when the woman applied for a full-time position, she was passed over in favor of candidates who were younger and lacked her qualifications.
- Gender equity revolution no longer stalled - For two and a half decades, from the 1970s to the mid-1990s, every year, a rapidly growing number of Americans began to think that women could bust out of their traditional homemaker roles, take on more public roles and work outside the home and their kids and family wouldn't suffer for it. More women joined the labor force every year. More got college and advanced degrees. The wage gap between men and women narrowed. And American support for egalitarian marriages rose.
- Gay rights groups dispute survey's population estimate - Report that puts the U.S. population at 3 percent gay, lesbian or bisexual is called a gross undercount.
- A Race and Gender Scorecard for College Sports - The report by the University of Central Florida institute gave the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its member colleges a slightly better grade on racial diversity in 2013-14 than they received the previous year, but scored them lower on gender equity. Among other statistics, all 11 leaders of the Football Bowl Subdivision conferences were white men, and men represented more than 90 percent of the athletics directors and almost 90 percent of the associate athletics directors in Division I.
- Marriage Equality - Alliance for Justice released a report examining the status of marriage equality litigation in the states following the Supreme Court's momentous decisions in United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry last year. Another report released this week detailed the progress of marriage equality. Fifty four percent of Americans now live in a state that legally recognizes same-sex relationships (such as civil unions), and 44 percent live in one of the 19 states that allows same-sex marriage. 2014 is the first year that Americans are more likely to live in a state that recognizes same-sex relationships than in a state that prohibits them.
- Gay Alliance Leader Applauds State Effort to Track LGBT Demographics - Governor Cuomo says New York State is the first state in the nation to launch a coordinated effort to collect demographic data for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people. Eight state agencies either currently collect or will begin to collect LGBT demographic information in an effort to address health disparities that affect that community.
- Gay College Presidents Organize - As their numbers increase, they are stepping up efforts to further break a glass ceiling for LGBTQ academics. There are now 48 members of the LGBTQ presidents group.
- New Politics of Partner Benefits - According to a list compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group, some 309 colleges offer same-sex domestic partner benefits. A 2013 benefits survey conducted by the College and University Professional Association-Human Resources found that 57 percent of responding institutions offered same-sex domestic partner benefits, up from just 40 percent in 2006. The same survey also found 42 percent of institutions offered health care benefits to opposite-sex partners (not spouses), up from 30 percent in 2006. But the survey doesn't differentiate between same-sex domestic partner benefits and same-sex spousal benefits, so it's unclear how many colleges and universities offer both.
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