LGBT Youth Allies’ Global News Roundup #2

Posted by MK on Jul 16, 2012 @ 10:44 am
Naya Rivera from GLEE

Naya Rivera plays Santana Lopez on Glee. Photo courtesy of Francis Orante.

Posted by MK on 7/16/12

Today the LGBT Youth Global News Roundup collects stories from California, Louisiana, Mississippi, England, Scotland, Spain, and Uruguay.

  • Nava Rivera, who plays the role of openly lesbian student Santana Lopez on the TV show Glee, expressed support for her young lesbian fans when speaking at Comic Con in San Diego, California, this past weekend. On Top Magazine provides a video link. Rivera says, “I get so many stories and tweets and letters . . . from girls that say that [the Glee characters] Brittany and Santana have helped them come out to their parents or their friends or just to be more comfortable with who they are.” She added: “It’s given me the best fan-base I could have ever asked for.
  • Gay Star News reports that California rapper Murs has released a new music video for his single Animal Style. The song and video tell the story of a relationship between two young closeted students. “I just felt it was crucial for some of us in the hip hop community to speak up on the issues of teen suicide, bullying and the overall anti-homosexual sentiment that exists within hip hop culture,” said Murs.
  • Controversy continues over a new minor in LGBT Studies offered by the Sociology Department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. According to Inside Higher Ed, the Louisiana Family Forum has complained that “Lafayette proudly offers ‘a degree in immorality’”; meanwhile, a Republican Congressman from Louisiana argues that the program “fails to provide an economic benefit to the participants or financial sense for the taxpayer.”  University officials have defended the program.
  • Twenty-year old Ceara Strugis, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), has threatened to sue the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, a public institution, unless it allows her to hold a commitment ceremony there with her partner, nineteen-year-old Emily Key. Sturgis has a history of standing up for herself: In 2010, she sued her school district after it left her out of the yearbook because she wore a tuxedo in her picture. (The ACLU, which represented her in the 2010 suit, describes that lawsuit and its favorable resolution here.) In the more recent Museum matter, a letter sent by attorneys for the SPLC argues, among other things, that the Museum’s refusal to allow the ceremony violates the First Amendment because it amounts to discrimination based on “viewpoint” in a what’s known in constitutional law as a “limited public forum.” (This argument rests on a 1995 Supreme Court case involving a Christian student group at the University of Virginia.) The SPLC letter notes that the Museum has previously rented space to “civic groups, social clubs, Bible study groups, businesses, professional associations, and families,” and “routinely rents its facilities, including the Masonic Hall, to heterosexual couples for weddings, wedding rehearsal dinners, and/or wedding receptions.” The letter also argues that the “Museum’s policy appears to be driven only by an animus towards same-sex couples,” which is not legitimate state interest under the Constitution; the letter cites former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s concurring opinion in the 2003 Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, where she wrote, “Moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate governmental interest under the Equal Protection Clause . . . .
  • World-famous British LGBT-rights activist Peter Thatchell will take part in a debate on marriage equality at a school in England. The event forms part of a debate series with a troubling title: the “Battle of Dangerous Ideas.” One commentator on the website that reports the story appears to share my objection to the title: “Since when [is] marriage between two consenting adults . . . a dangerous idea?,” she asks.
  • Claire Black reflects on growing up gay in Scotland in light of a new report released with sobering data on the harassment of students in Scottish school.
  • According to lainformacion.com, education officials in Spain are working to minimize costs related to recent curricular changes: The new right-of-center government has eliminated a controversial course called Education for Citizenship, a relatively short-lived part of the national curriculum that many on the right had viewed as left-wing propaganda. Opposition stemmed largely from the inclusion of lessons about tolerance and diversity with respect to sexual orientation.
  • According to news outlets in Uruguay, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Montevideo, Mercedes Rovira, has resigned after making controversial remarks about sex and sexuality. “We’re men and women; the differentiation between the sexes comes from nature,” she said. “There are anomalies,” she added, saying, “There are also four-leaf clovers.” Uruguay has some of the most progressive laws on LGBT issues in Latin America: Same-sex couples may form legally recognized civil unions and may jointly adopt children.
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