Equity & Civil Rights Issues to Watch
Equity & Civil Rights Issues to Watch
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Human Trafficking Issues
Updated March 8, 2014
- In the News: Beyond Bullying: How Hostile School Climate Perpetuates the School-to-Prison Pipeline for LGBT Youth - The Center for American Progress released a report last week detailing the disparate impact that harsh school discipline policies and poor school climate have on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. These youth are funneled into the "school-to-prison pipeline" at significantly higher rates than non-LGBT youth.
- In the News: TRANSGENDER ATHLETE SUES CROSSFIT FOR BANNING HER FROM COMPETING AS FEMALE - A transgender woman prohibited from competing in a strength competition as a female is suing the fitness company sponsoring the competition, seeking $2.5 million in damages.
- In the News: Judge strikes down Tex. same-sex marriage ban, paving way for shift in conservative state - A federal district judge struck down the Texas ban on same-sex marriage. The ban will remain in effect, however, pending a state appeal of the ruling.
- In the News: REPORT: U.S. HATE GROUPS DECREASING IN NUMBER - Far-right extremist groups had been on the rise, particularly in reaction to President Obama's election in 2008 and the financial crisis around the same time. But now, hate group prevalence is taking a downward turn, according to a report.
- In the News: The Courage of Transgender Soldiers - Why does the U.S. military still define gender nonconformity as a disorder? Nine percent of transgender people who have served in the American military report being discharged because of being transgender or gender nonconforming. Almost all of the rest stay quiet for fear of harassment or abuse.
- In the News: ARIZONA LAWMAKERS PASS CONTROVERSIAL ANTI-GAY BILL - Arizona's Legislature has passed a controversial bill that would allow business owners, as long as they assert their religious beliefs, to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.
- In the News: NFL a Case-Study in Why America Requires A Major Civil Rights Overhaul - Pro football is just a microcosm of larger societal ills that need to change.
- In the News: Justice Department to Fully Recognize Same-Sex Marriages - The Department of Justice said it will give equal recognition to same-sex marriages in every program it administers, including prison visits, spousal privilege in testimony, and compensation to spouses of deceased law enforcement officers. This announcement is part of the federal government’s efforts to provide equal rights to same-sex marriages following the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling striking down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act. In other news, federal judges this week struck down state bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky and Virginia as unconstitutional.
- In the News: Transgender students win rights under new California law - Student Success and Opportunity Act allows transgender students to participate in all school activities irrespective of the gender listed on records
- In the News: FEDS TO PROVIDE LEGAL BENEFITS, SERVICES TO ALL IN SAME-SEX MARRIAGES - The U.S. government will recognize same-sex marriages as equal to traditional marriages in all federal legal matters, including bankruptcies, prison visits and survivor benefits, Attorney General Eric Holder announced.
- In the News: New Study: Anti-Homophobic School Policy Reduces Suicide Risk - for All Students - The presence of gay-straight alliance (GSA) groups in schools reduces the risk of suicide among both LGBTQ and straight teens, according to a study published in the International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies and funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research.
- In the News: Maine High Court Backs Transgender Student on Restroom Choice - Maine's highest court has ruled that a school district discriminated against a transgender student by barring her from the girls' restroom in response to community pressure after school officials had earlier agreed it was in her best interest to allow her to use it.
- In the News: About Half of State AGs Favor Same-Sex Marriage - Attorneys general in at least 23 states now say they support the right of same-sex couples to get married.
- In the News: Gov. Cuomo seeks changes to ‘flawed’ Common Core implementation - New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), who just a few months ago was defending the state Board of Regents’ implementation of the Common Core State Standards, now says it has been “flawed” and that he is creating a panel of education experts and legislators to review the problems and take speedy “corrective action.” He also called for an end to standardized testing for students in kindergarten through second grade.
- In the News: Sexual Orientation Is No Basis for Jury Exclusion, a Federal Appeals Court RulesIn the News: U.S. to Expand Rules Limiting Use of Profiling by Federal Agents - A government official indicated that the Justice Department will expand its definition of racial profiling to cover sexual orientation, gender, national origin, and religion.
- In the News: Federal judge: Oklahoma ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional - A federal judge ruled Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional on Tuesday. The judge ruled that the ban violates equal protection guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.
- In the News: Governor McAuliffe Bans Discrimination against LGBT State Employees - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state employees. This act was one of McAuliffe’s campaign promises. The order adds gender identity to sexual orientation as a protected class.
- In the News: Transgender Student May Face Criminal Charges After Fighting Off Bullies - If convicted, Jewlyes Gutierrez faces a year in a juvenile detention center for boys. Now, a petition—“Drop charges against transgender teen defending herself!” — has become one of the fastest growing petitions on Change.org, collecting more than 168,000 signatures since January 7.
- In the News: Supreme Court halts same-sex marriages in Utah pending appeal - This week, the U.S. Supreme Court put on hold a ruling that allowed same-sex marriages in Utah, thus suspending same-sex marriages in that state. On Friday, the Department of Justice announced that same-sex marriages in Utah will be considered legal under federal law and are eligible for all federal benefits until further court action.
- In the News: Assemblywomen want the equality agenda to be a top priority for the 2014 session
- In the News: As Calif. Transgender Law Goes Into Effect, a Challenge Emerges - California's new transgender law went into effect this week, but the critics that attacked it as a bill haven't let up, gaining a court victory this week in a quest to undo the new policy.
- In the News: - A landmark decision, Bedford v. Canada, issued by the Canadian Supreme Court on Friday, struck down all three anti-prostitution laws in the Canadian federal criminal code and recognized sex workers' rights to occupational safety.
- In the News: Judge Rules Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal in Utah - A judge ordered Utah to immediately cease enforcement of its laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman.
- In the News: Education Dept. to recognize same-sex marriages for federal financial aid purposes - As part of the U.S. Department of Education’s ongoing efforts to implement inclusive policies that reflect the diversity of American families, and consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor, the Department announced today new guidance on the use of “marriage” and “spouse” in the federal student aid programs, including on the completion of the FAFSA, the federal student aid form.
- In the News: Trans Woman Can Proceed with Bias Claim Against NYC for Bureaucratic Hostility - A Manhattan State Supreme Court judge has ruled that a transgender Jane Doe plaintiff can proceed with her discrimination claim against New York City based on the treatment she received when requesting that the HIV/ AIDS Services Administration (HASA) issue her a new benefits ID card correctly identifying her name and gender.
- In the News: Stop Street Harassment Releases a Know Your Rights Toolkit - A State-by-State Guide Details How to Use Laws to Report Street Harassment - Stop Street Harassment (SSH) released a comprehensive Know Your Rights Toolkit< detailing the laws in each state that regulate unwanted sexual behaviors in public spaces, including, but not limited to, obscene comments, flashing, up-skirt photos, following, and groping. It also covers how to report these crimes to the police.
- In the News: A Semester of Racial Tensions - Racial tensions certainly are never absent from campuses. But this fall has seen a number of incidents -- most notably charges that white students harassed a black student at San Jose State University for months -- that shocked some.
- In the News: Pushed Out of a Job Early: Lawsuit Casts Scrutiny on Age Bias In the Workplace - A lawsuit by four longtime administrators at Rutgers University is the latest indication of a rise in age discrimination claims from baby boomers. Age discrimination claims are on the rise as members of the post-World War II baby boom enter their 60s. Last year, 22,857 people filed age-related complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, compared with 16,548 in 2006.
- In the News: How American Politics Constantly Neglects Black Women - A new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) entitled, “The State of African-American Women in the United States” highlights that the intersection of racial and gender disparities meets at the experience of black women. Despite this, in the last presidential election, they had the highest voter participation rate of any comparable group in the country.
- In the News: Comptroller to audit law enforcement agency's reporting of hate crimes - New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has announced his office will audit the Division of Criminal Justice Services' oversight, reporting and management of hate crimes occurring in the state. "Hate crime is a very serious issue and recent media reports indicate these heinous incidents are on the rise," DiNapoli said. "Hatred against people because of their race, religion or sexual orientation has no place in a civil society. We need to make sure police departments across the state are reporting these incidents correctly and that they are being trained to handle the crimes properly and effectively."
- In the News: Indiana U. Northwest Professor Says She Was Denied Tenure for Being Gay - An assistant professor of English at Indiana University Northwest has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights accusing the institution of denying her tenure because she is a woman and because she is a lesbian. Balay also has filed a similar complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- In the News: The Naked Truth: Hollywood Still Treats Its Women as Second Class Citizens - Research shows female stars are paid less, have fewer lines and spend more time with their clothes off than men. Examining the top 500 films from 2007 to 2012, the survey found one third of speaking parts are filled by women and only 10% of films are equally balanced in terms of roles. The average ratio of male to female actors is 2.25 to 1.
- In the News: Anti-Bullying as a Civil Right - Even as more Americans accept gay marriage and reject discrimination against people over sexual orientation, bullying remains a serious problem in the nation's schools, where teachers do not do enough to protect LGBT students.
- In the News: Unlikely Allies: Immigration, LGBT Groups Seek Equality - A controversial funding issue in Illinois involving the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and organizations affiliated with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights sheds light on the growing partnership of immigration and LGBT groups on the issue of equality.
- In the News: L.A. Public Schools to Teach Queer History - The new curriculum makes Los Angeles the first US city to implement such a program.
- In the News: Fourth Student Suspended at San Jose State - San Jose State University announced late Friday it has that it has suspended a fourth student in connection with the alleged racial harassment of a black freshman for months during the fall semester. On Saturday, the San Jose NAACP chapter called for prosecutors to change the charges against the students from misdemeanor hate crime and battery to felony hate crime and false imprisonment.
- In the News: Governor Slated To Sign Marriage Equality Bill Into Law Wednesday - On Wednesday, Illinois became the 16th state to recognize same-sex marriage.
- In the News: Listening Closely - Eastern Mennonite U. -- in a move that is highly unusual for members of a Christian college group -- will reconsider its ban on employing faculty members in same-sex relationships.
- Senate Passes ENDA in Bipartisan Vote - Seventeen years after the bill was first brought to the floor by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on Thursday. This bill would explicitly protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans from discrimination in the workplace. The bill was supported by all of the Democratic caucus as well as 10 Republicans.
- In the News: Sweden’s plan to bring gender equality to the movies - The initiative is called “A-märkt,” and its promoters are encouraging theaters to stamp its “A” logo on the movie posters and pre-roll screens of any film that (1) has at least two female characters who (2) talk to each other (3) about something other than men. The “A” stands for both “approved” and “Allison,” the name of the American cartoonist who came up with the test. A surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) high proportion of films fail this test.
- In the News: Gay couple, Liberty Ridge Farm go before state Human Rights panel - While much of the state’s political/pundit class is post-morteming the elections, another big story is starting to bubble up through the state’s Division of Human Rights on Wednesday. Melissa and Jennifer McCarthy had earlier filed a Human Rights complaint against Liberty Ridge Farms in Rensselaer County after its owners said they wouldn’t host their same-sex wedding.
- In the News: National Education Groups Issue FAQs to Help School Systems and Employees Understand DOMA - “School districts are collectively the largest employers in the U.S. and they need to be aware of how this pivotal ruling changes employee benefits and benefit administration,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “This is a major breakthrough in federal employment law, and this document will help clarify the many questions school systems and employees will have as the Court’s ruling is implemented.”
- In the News: Workplace discrimination against gays at turning point in the Senate - The Employment Non-Discrimination Act goes to the heart of a core value - that people who work hard and perform well on the job ought to be rewarded based on their work and nothing else. The legislation would extend employment discrimination protections that now cover race, religion, gender, national origin, age and disability to include sexual orientation and gender identity. It would prevent employers and labor unions, among others, from using sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for decisions such as hiring, firing, promotion or compensation.
- In the News: Fraternity Accused of Rejecting Gay Student - Morgan State University is investigating charges that Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity rejected a student for being gay, The Baltimore Sun reported. The student cited social media messages by fraternity members that used an anti-gay slur.
- In the News: Reid: Senate will take up bill to prevent LGBT discrimination - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Monday that the Senate will take up the Employee Non-Discrimination Act in the upcoming session. The legislation would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from employment discrimination. "This work period, the Senate will consider the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity," Reid announced on the Senate floor.
- In the News: NAACP Names Longtime Activist Interim President - The NAACP has appointed Lorraine C. Miller as interim president and CEO. Miller will begin serving in this role on November 1; current NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous has announced he will step down at the end of the year. Miller will be the first woman to serve in the president-executive secretary’s role since 1916.
- In the News: Family and Medical Leave Benefits Extended to Federal Workers With Same-Sex Spouses- The memo comes in response to the Supreme Court's June decision striking down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act. The decision meant that married same-sex couples in places where same-sex marriage is legal would become eligible for the spousal benefits they have been denied, including family and medical leave and tax-free, employer-provided health coverage.
- In the News: SAME-SEX MARRIAGES START IN NEW JERSEY, 14TH STATE TO RECOGNIZE SUCH UNIONS
- In the News: Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Members to Release Report on Workplace Discrimination - Community members to denounce employment discrimination and demand stronger policies and legal protections for all New Yorkers
- Unpaid Interns Can't Sue for Sex Harassment Judge - A New York Judge ruled unpaid interns cannot file sexual harassment lawsuits against their employers under the New York City Human Rights Law. Interns are also not protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, making them particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment. NYC Councilwoman Gale Brewer said she plans to introduce legislation to close the loophole in city law.
- Cuyahoga County Council approves $250,000 to study contracting for race or gender-based disparity - The move is a likely first step toward creating the county’s first program to encourage hiring more women- and minority-owned firms.
- In the News: With 744 domestic disputes in St. Lawrence County last year, troopers remind victims of available services
- In the News: NYS Bill that better protects rape victims signed into law, Legislation gives women victims more power in custody cases - A bill that would close loopholes allowing convicted rapists custody and visitation rights to children who were products of the sexual assault has been signed into law Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Previously, there was no law addressing the custody and visitation rights of those convicted of sexual assault resulting in the conception of a child. This bill, A.7188/S.5069, sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos, restricts the parental rights of sexual perpetrators when a child is born as a result of sexual offense. The law, signed into law September 28, will force the court to presume it is not in the best interest of the child to be placed in the custody of or visit with a person convicted of sexual assault.
- In the News: SAME-SEX MARRIAGES MUST BE ALLOWED IN NEW JERSEY, JUDGE RULES - Same-sex couples must be permitted to marry in New Jersey, a state judge ruled Friday, arguing that the parallel label "civil unions," which the state already allows gay couples, is illegally preventing them from getting federal benefits.
- In the News: Transgender in the Schoolyard: Across America, Uneven Access to Rights - As some states chalk up major wins for the LGBT community, others are doing their best to undermine the rights of a most vulnerable population: transgender students.
- In the News: Gay community seeks inclusion in college rape debate - Observers are exploring how the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community fits into a national conversation that focuses largely on protecting female students from male aggressors.
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