Equity & Civil Rights Issues to Watch
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Human Trafficking Issues
Updated June 28, 2015
- Supreme Court rules gay couples nationwide have a right to marry - The SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage determined that the right to marry is a constitutional right in all 50 states. The SCOTUS opinion affirms that "the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person."
- Dignity for All? Discrimination Against Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students in New York State - A NYCLU report found transgender and gender nonconforming youth in public schools across New York are facing "serious and pervasive discrimination and harassment," and the state isn't doing enough to protect them.
- UCSF Launches Large-Scale LGBT Health Study - The University of California-San Francisco on Thursday launched a study to develop the largest database of mental, physical and social issues affecting LGBT individuals
- Feds Order Federal Employee Health Plans To Cover Transgender Health Services - LGBT advocates praised the long-awaited move to cover transition-related care - while noting that questions about implementation remain.
- How gay marriage became a major issue for a generation uninterested in marriage - On the eve of a Supreme Court decision that could decide same-sex marriage in America, nearly three-fourths of Millennials support it -- even as only 16 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 are actually married themselves. The latter is the lowest it's been in at least 10 years.
- State Fair to feature "Pride Day" - Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the 2015 New York State Fair will feature a "Pride Day" on August 28 to formalize an annual gathering of the LGBT community at the fair over the last several years. Pride Day is one of many special fair days, along with Governor's Day, Law Enforcement Day, SUNY Day, Dairy Day, Senior Citizens' Days, Fire & Rescue Day, Women's Day, Armed Forces Day, Six Nations Day, Student's Day, Grange Day and Labor Day.
- 'Exploding' numbers of transgender kids and their parents are seeking help - as the nation sees a growing acceptance of transgender people such as the former Olympian Jenner, therapists and physicians are seeing a surge in the number of families seeking advice - and sometimes medical intervention - to help kids whose perceived genders and bodies don't seem to match. "We have lifted the lid culturally," said developmental psychologist Diane Ehrensaft, whose Oakland, Calif., practice has seen a fourfold increase in the number of gender-questioning kids in recent years. "These kids have always existed, but they kept it underground."
- What You Should Know About EEOC and the Enforcement Protections for LGBT Workers -
Recent activities by EEOC, including the filing of lawsuits on behalf of transgender employees, the filing of amicus briefs related to coverage of sexual orientation and transgender status, and the issuance of federal sector decisions in these areas, have triggered increased interest about protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals under federal employment-discrimination laws.
- New Study Shuts Down Common Claim Against Same-Sex Parenting - A new study from the University of Colorado Denver finds that there has already been scientific consensus on same-sex parenting for decades. By assessing a compilation of all of the available studies that have examined same-sex parenting and studying the trends and shifts between them, the researchers were able to determine when the scientific community started to agree that there were no differences in children raised by same-sex couples and different-sex couples. Despite arguments made to the contrary just this year in Supreme Court amicus briefs, the consensus is not new.
- The Rise In Multiracial Babies Says a Lot About America - New findings from the Pew Research Center show that America is becoming a larger hub for multiracial individuals, many of whom love their backgrounds. According to the research, 60 percent of multiracial adults are proud of being mixed-race and roughly the same percentage of multiracial adults say their heritage has made them more open-minded about other cultures.
- Gay and lesbian troops will be protected by new Pentagon policy - Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that lesbians and gay men in the military would now be officially protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation. All complaints about discrimination based on race, religion, sex, color, national origin, and now sexual orientation, are investigated and handled by the Military Opportunity program.
- Transgender people should use bathroom of gender they identify as, U.S. urges - The federal government is strongly urging employers to give transgender employees access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, marking a new policy front in the fast-moving campaign for transgender equality.
- School Curriculum: LGBTQ Students Are Still MIA - For generations, sexual minorities have been fighting to achieve full legal equality, gain visibility in our public schools, and be recognized in the national sociopolitical discourse. Time and time again, suppressive culturally constructed "norms" around gender and sexuality that privilege gender-conforming, heterosexual individuals above all others--also known as heteronormativity--have proven themselves to be too intricately woven into the fabric of our social, political, legal, and educational systems to be successfully disentangled.
- Ending discrimination in workplace, other areas is next gay rights battle - Gay rights groups anticipating a Supreme Court victory on same-sex marriage later this month already are turning their attention to their next big priority: broad new legal protections against discrimination in the workplace and other parts of society. The new campaign is aimed at enacting protections at the federal level and in 28 states where civil rights statutes do not explicitly ban discrimination against gay and transgender people.
Note: The NYS employment non-discrimination law covers only sexual orientation, but federal law prohibits discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people. A 2012 ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission extended the definition of sex discrimination to encompass discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
- Once Again, Assembly Approves GENDA - The Democratic-led Assembly on Tuesday once again approved the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a bill whose fate remains uncertain in the Republican-controlled Senate. The measure was approved this afternoon, 88-45. The bill would ban discrimination based on one's gender identity or expression and also expand hate-crime laws that would explicitly outlaw crimes committed against people due to their identity or expression. This is the eighth year in a row lawmakers in the Assembly have backed the bill.
- New LGBT training on the way for elder service providers - A recent University of Miami study found three-fourths of elder service and other agencies surveyed reported having gay and lesbian clients. Yet less than a third had any specialized training in the needs concerning the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The study, released last month, has prompted a new initiative: the Protect Our Elders campaign, aimed at addressing the issues that advocates say may keep LGBT seniors from seeking services like home health care, bereavement support and retirement housing.
- Laramie, Wyoming Approves LGBT Anti-Discrimination Measure - The town where gay college student Matthew Shepard was fatally beaten in 1998 - passed an ordinance prohibiting the discrimination of the LGBT community in housing, employment and public businesses.
- Boy Scouts president warns that ban on gay leaders threatens organization - The president of the Boy Scouts of America urged the organization Thursday to reconsider its blanket ban on openly gay leaders, saying Scouting must keep up with the times on the issue or face "the end of us as a national movement."
- Transgender Americans Defy Stereotypes - After decades of being misunderstood, the community asserts control of its narrative.
- Timeline of the American Transgender Movement - Although a growing number of transgender Americans are coming out, it has been a long road. Here are a selection of events showing the evolution of the transgender movement.
- Transgender at the C.I.A. - A young officer's experience shows how far the agency has come in its acceptance of transgender workers.
- Report Details Racial Stereotyping at U of Illinois - More than half of students of color who responded to a survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said they have experienced stereotyping, according to a new report from the university's Racial Microaggressions Project.
- State Assembly Votes To Ban Conversion Therapy - Lawmakers in the New York state Assembly have voted again to prohibit a psychological treatment designed to change or alter the sexual orientation of a minor. Under the bill, any licensed mental health practitioner who performs conversion therapy could be cited for unprofessional conduct.
- Record Number Of Amicus Briefs Filed In Same-Sex-Marriage Cases - Writing and filing these briefs has become something of a game in modern times, even though they cost on average, an estimated $25,000 to $50,000. When there's a highly controversial issue, various interest groups seem to want to push up the numbers on their side as some sort of an indicator of public support for their position.
- 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.
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