Equity & Civil Rights Issues to Watch
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Human Trafficking Issues
Updated Sept. 17, 2014
- 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.
- Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Are Quietly Becoming The New Thing At Colleges - "These are two gender-open bathrooms where students of any gender can go in, and use the restroom, and feel safe, regardless of gender expression or gender identity," Michelle Margulis, president of NU's Rainbow Alliance LGBT student group told CBS Chicago. The number of gender-neutral bathrooms has grown in just the past few years, in city-run facilities, workplaces and, most commonly, college campuses. There are more than 150 schools across the U.S. that have gender-neutral bathrooms, according to the University of Massachusetts Amherst's LGBTQ organization The Stonewall Center.
- Obama to Issue Order Barring Anti-Gay Bias by Contractors - President Obama plans to sign an executive order on Monday that protects gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination by companies that do federal government work, fulfilling a promise to a crucial Democratic constituency, White House officials said. But the directive will not exempt religious groups, as many of them had sought.
- Supreme Court delays benefits for Utah gay couples - More than 1,000 same-sex married couples in Utah will have to wait longer for state benefits after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that state officials don't have to recognize the marriages until their appeal is heard.
- Survey gives U.S. wide-ranging data on sexual orientation - Less than 3 percent of the population identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, the CDC reported.
- Appeals Court Backs Use of Race in U. of Texas Admissions - A federal appeals court today upheld the University of Texas at Austin's consideration of race in admissions. The ruling came in a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that public colleges could consider race in admissions, but only under strict conditions.
- Faith Groups Seek Exclusion From Bias Rule - President Obama is facing mounting pressure from religious groups demanding to be excluded from an executive order that would bar discrimination against gay people by companies that do government work.
- Children of same-sex couples are happier and healthier than peers, research shows - New research shows children of same-sex couples fare better when it comes to physical health and social well-being than children in the general population.
- Gay rights group withdrawing support of ENDA - The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force says the Hobby Lobby decision has unexpected implications for the bill.
- Pandora's Box Opens: Religious Groups Ask Obama for Exemptions To Discriminate Against LGBT Persons - Religious leaders say that a non-discrimination order violates their religious freedoms.
- How diverse America is, in 5 maps - More than half of the nation's 3,143 counties are more than 90 percent white, when including Hispanics.
- Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Revise the Definition of “Spouse” Under the FMLA - The Department of Labor announced a proposed regulation that would expand Family Medical Leave Act protections to same-sex couples. The proposed rule would cover all married same-sex couples, even if they do not live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages.
- FACEBOOK IS 69% MALE AND MOSTLY WHITE - Like many of its Silicon Valley peers, Facebook's workforce and management team is overwhelmingly white and male, according to the social media giant's first diversity report.
- Obama to Enhance Gay Rights In Federally Supported Workplaces - President Obama will sign an executive order prohibiting federal contracts from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the White House said on Monday. The move could affect employees at some colleges and universities that do business with the federal government. It is legal for employers in 29 states to fire someone or deny employment on the basis of sexual orientation, according to the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign.
- Transgender Women Face Highest Risk of Violence - For the third year in a row, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer-identified people have faced disproportionate rates of violence finds a report a published this week and named Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2013.
- The Deeply Disturbing Truth About Street Harassment in America - A new study sheds light on how public spaces are not safe spaces, especially for women. Turns out, public spaces are not safe spaces, especially for women. The number of women and men who reported having experienced street harassment is 65% and 25% respectively. A major finding of the SSH study, however, is just how much contact is being made. Fifty-seven percent of all the women surveyed reported verbal abuse, and 41% reported physical aggression and violence. 84% of women who reported street harassment said it happened to them multiple times.
- Don't Call them Mr. Mom: More Dads at home with kids because they want to be - The number of stay-at-home Dads has doubled in the last 25 years, reaching a peak of 2.2 million in 2010, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center. And although the Great Recession contributed to a sharp uptick, by far, the fastest growing segment of at-home Dads say they're home taking care of the kids because they want to be. And they don't want to be called Mr. Mom anymore. In fact, the growing At-Home Dad's Network has been leading a campaign to get the term banished from the English language.
- 1 in 10 still support discrimination against African-Americans on religious grounds - A survey released this week by the Public Religion Research Institute finds that strong majorities of Americans reject the idea that businesses should be legally allowed to refuse to serve either African-American, Jewish, gays and lesbians, or atheists, but a small portion of the country still believes you should be able to.
- Medicare could pay for sex-change surgeries under decision by federal board - The decision on whether Medicare pays for sex-change operations is now in the hands of regional administrators, thanks to a decision Friday by a federal board that overturned a national policy of not covering such surgeries.
- Google ends silence on workforce diversity, confirms that it is largely white and male - "We've always been reluctant to publish numbers about the diversity of our workforce at Google," the world's biggest search-advertising company said in a blog post. "We now realize we were wrong, and that it's time to be candid about the issues." The disclosure that Mountain View-based Google is 70 percent male and 61 percent white comes after the discussion about gender diversity in Silicon Valley technology hit a boil last year. Google said it felt it had to disclose its numbers to nurture solutions to the imbalances.
- OpEd: Leadership on Transgender Civil Rights - With less than a month remaining before the legislative session in Albany is scheduled to end, on June 19, it is time for state lawmakers to approve long-stalled legislation - the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act - to outlaw discrimination based on gender identity or expression. The measure would close a gap in civil rights protections. The New York statute that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, education, credit and public accommodations does not explicitly cover transgender people.
- FEDERAL JUDGE STRIKES DOWN OREGON'S SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BAN - A federal judge struck down Oregon's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage Monday.
- Rochester to cover gender reassignment for transgender city workers - Officials in Rochester, N.Y., say their city will extend transition-related health coverage to transgender and gender non-conforming municipal employees. Mayor Lovely Warren and City Councilmember-at-Large Matt Haag announced the decision Saturday in Rochester at the Empire State Pride Agenda's Spring Dinner.
- Hooray, the New York State Senate does not discriminate … between types of yogurt - Last week, Maryland became the 18th state to protect transgender individuals in employment and housing. When will NY join these 18 states and the District of Columbia in protecting transgender individuals against legal discrimination?
- Judge Strikes Down Idaho's Same-Sex Marriage Ban - Although the judge ordered that same-sex marriages be allowed to occur as soon as Friday, Governor Butch Otter was granted a stay by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals pending an appeal of the ruling. Meanwhile, Arkansas began issuing same-sex marriage licenses over the weekend after its ban was overturned by courts.
- O'Malley signs Md. trans rights bill - Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on Thursday signed into law a bill that bans discrimination against transgender Marylanders.
- Compromise on Gays Pleases No One, Boy Scouts Are Learning - After long, anxious debate, the Boy Scouts' national board voted a year ago to allow openly gay youths to participate in scouting, while continuing to exclude gay leaders age 18 and over. It was promoted as a compromise intended to offer the organization time to figure out how to proceed. It has brought the Scouts only more ire from all directions and produced a house divided.
- NINTENDO APOLOGIZES FOR GAMES' SAME-SEX SLIGHT - Nintendo on Friday apologized to gamers for leaving same-sex couples out of an upcoming "life simulation" game that lets players, flirt, date, marry and have children.
- Protests at Smith on Transgender Admissions Policy - Three dozen students picketed the admissions office at Smith College Thursday to demand a change in the institution's policy with regard to transgender students, The Republican reported. Smith does not discriminate against transgender students once they are enrolled, but the college only admits women. The protest called for Smith to admit those who may be listed as male on their high school transcripts but have been living as women. Here is how Smith explains its admissions policy with regard to transgender applicants: "An application from a transgender student is treated no differently from other applications: every application Smith receives is considered on a case-by-case basis. Like most women's colleges, Smith expects that, to be eligible for review, a student's application and supporting documentation (transcripts, recommendations, etc.) will reflect her status as a woman."
Education Department: Federal Law Protects Transgender Students From Discrimination - Sex discrimination under Title IX extends to claims based on gender identity and failure to conform to stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, the U.S. Department of Education formalized Tuesday in guidance relating to sexual violence in schools. "Our federal civil rights laws demand that all students - women and men; gay and straight; transgender or not; citizens and foreign students - be allowed to learn and participate in all parts of college life without sexual assault and harassment limiting their opportunities," said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, in a statement. "The Office for Civil Rights stands ready to enforce this core principle to ensure all students' safety in schools."
- In the News: High Court Upholds Michigan Affirmative Action Ban - The Supreme Court has ruled that a Michigan ballot initiative to ban racial preferences in college admissions is constitutional, overturning a lower court decision. In a 6-2 decision Tuesday, the justices said the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong to set aside the voter-approved ban as discriminatory.
- In the News: Right to Gender-Neutral Spaces - Graduate student workers in the U. California System say they've agreed on contract language establishing gender-neutral bathrooms and lactation stations as rights. Because graduate student workers can be found throughout the university system, the agreement would effectively provide access to such facilities for other students, faculty members and employees, not just graduate students.
- In the News: SUNY Oneonta: When Diversity Doesn't Come Easy - The institution, like many universities with relatively few professors of color, is attempting to diversify its faculty. But doing so can be a stiff challenge, says Nancy Kleniewski, the university's president.
- In the News: Debate at George Fox on Transgender Student Housing - George Fox University, a Christian institution, is being criticized for denying a transgender student's request to live in male student housing, which he says is consistent with his gender identity. The university has also indicated that it is considering a policy for students, which will require that all housing be based on 'biological birth sex.
- In the News: Attack after same-sex marriage shines light on Michigan hate crime law - Nine days after her same-sex wedding, a 28-year-old Michigan woman was set upon on her way home from work, knocked unconscious by three men who kicked and punched her while shouting anti-gay epithets. In many states, hate crime charges could be brought in such cases, but Michigan is one of 19 states that do not include sexual orientation in their hate crime laws, according to Sarah Warbelow, state legislative director for the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group.
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