Equity & Civil Rights Issues to Watch
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Human Trafficking Issues
Updated April 27, 2015
- America's transgender moment - Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity -- their internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman -- differs from what's typically associated with their sex at birth. Some transgender people alter their bodies through hormones and or surgery, although many don't. A 2011 study estimated that 700,000 American adults, or roughly 0.3% of the population, identified themselves as transgender.
- Brockport High School Accommodates Transgender Student - Another local school district says it is making accommodations for a transgender student who wants to use the restroom and locker room that align with her gender identity. On April 2, parents of Brockport High School students were notified that a transgender student had asked for access to the girls' locker room and restroom.
- Racism in schools is pushing more black families to homeschool their children - omeschooling, common among white Americans, is showing an increase among African-Americans kids, as well. African Americans now make up about 10 percent of all homeschooled children in this fastest-growing form of education. However, the reasons for black kids to be homeschooled may not be the same as for white kids. Research shows that black parents homeschool their children due to white racism.
- Apple's new diverse emojis are even more problematic than before - Racialized emojis insert race into texts and tweets where it never would have arisen before.
- Federal contracting bias against LGBT Americans is banned - President Obama's executive order banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans by federal contractors took effect Wednesday. Anne Rung, administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said the order, signed last year, "not only ensures that LGBT Americans have a more inclusive environment to work and flourish, but also better positions our contracting community to attract and retain the best talent."
- Potsdam gay pride parade brings faith and awareness in its second year - Itís the only parade of its kind in the north country and participants from SUNY Potsdam and community members said the openness they have discovered in the region, including St. Lawrence County, has been remarkable. However, they said thereís still a long road ahead to increase awareness and acceptance.
- Transgender in the military: A Pentagon in transition weighs its policy - An estimated 15,500 transgender people serve in the military, according to the Williams Institute, a legal think tank that studies sexual-orientation and gender-identity issues. Transgender rights advocates view their acceptance as the next step in creating a more inclusive military.
- Transgender Inmate's Hormone Treatment Lawsuit Gets Justice Dept. Backing - The Justice Department put the nation's prisons and jails on notice on Friday that it regarded blanket policies prohibiting new hormone treatment for transgender inmates to be unconstitutional.
- ND House kills bill outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation - For the third time in six years, North Dakota lawmakers have killed legislation that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, despite warnings from some Democrats and Republicans that it could tarnish the growing state's image and attract backlash similar to what Indiana and Arkansas have faced in recent days.
- Why North Carolina's "Religious Freedom" Bill Is Even Worse Than Indiana's - A new measure proposed by North Carolina lawmakers differs from federal law - and "religious freedom" laws in most other states - in at least one key respect: It makes it easier for individuals to claim a law or policy is a threat to their religious beliefs and to sue in order to opt out of complying.
- What happens when gray mixes with brown in America - The fact that the country is aging bodes poorly for public spending on today's youth. That's not just because government commitments to the old, such as Medicare and public pensions, threaten to crowd out funds for other programs. It's also because research suggests that older Americans generally do not support spending on the young.
- Civil rights complaints to U.S. Department of Education reach a record high - Straining under a record number of civil rights complaints, the U.S. Department of Education will hire 200 more investigators to expand its civil rights division by 30 percent Attorneys and investigators in the civil rights office have seen their workloads double since 2007, and the number of unresolved cases mushroom, as complaints have poured in from around the country about students from kindergarten through college facing discrimination on the basis of race, sex and disabilities.
- 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.
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