Students, Backed by ACLU, Head to Trial in Lake County (Florida) Gay-Straight Alliance Case

Florida drawn in chalk on green school chalkboard
Bill Mathias Official Photo
School Board Member Bill Mathias finds it “odd” that I write about Lake County, since he is “sure there is injustice in [my] part of the world.
The long-running dispute over the right of students to form a gay-straight alliance (GSA) at Carver Middle School in Lake County, Florida, is headed to trial in federal court this week before a Nixon-appointed judge, the Honorable William Terrell Hodges. For some background on the saga, check out the short local news video and the list of earlier Youth Allies posts (below).

It’s certainly frustrating that the school board, after all this time, is still fighting this club. (Some readers may recall that one Lake County School Board member told me in a ridiculous email almost two years ago that the board had “not blocked the GSA.” That statement, evidently, was false. Around the same time, another school board member inappropriately questioned a middle school student’s sexual orientation in an email to blogger Katy Bourne.)

Nevertheless, I am inspired by the tenacity and courage of the students, their families, their attorneys, and their many other allies. I wish them much luck (though they shouldn’t need it) as they continue their work to overcome the misunderstandings, misinformation, unfounded fears, hostility, and bias that have run rampant in Lake County over this issue. Click here or on ‘Read More’ to view the full post.

Struggling? Need Help? You’re Not Alone – Reach Out!

Cartoon images of person with phone headset and word 'Support'

After seeing the widespread news coverage of Leelah Alcorn’s tragic death, I updated this site’s resources page for suicide prevention.

The updated page, available here, has links to resources from the Trevor Project, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and other organizations; it also lists ways to seek support by phone. (La página incluye información en español también.)

For information on Leela Alcorn’s story, check out this post from the Human Rights Campaign, this story from CNN.com, and this blog post on Slate.

Videos: Edie Windsor & Other LGBT Advocates Rally for Homeless Youth (1st of 3 Posts)

Edie Windsor speaking at rally

This past Monday evening, I attended a fantastic rally in Washington Square Park (New York City) organized by the National Campaign for Youth Shelter (NCYS). NCYS, a collaborative project of the National Coalition for the Homeless and the Ali Forney Center, aims to bring greater national attention to youth homelessness.

A diverse and impressive group of speakers—including Edie Windsor, Carl Siciliano, the Reverend Melvin Miller, Wade Davis, Chris Bilal, Jennifer Louise Lopez, and David Mixner—spoke passionately about the challenges faced by homeless youth, including those who are LGBTQ, and about the need to protect and provide care for them. Junior Labeija, pictured above with Edie Windsor, emceed the event. Click here or on ‘Read More’ to view the rest of the post and to see the first four of the my thirteen videos from the rally.

Action Alert: Minnesota Anti-Bullying Legislation: Major Vote This Week [Update: Legislation Approved!]

Minneosta Flag on Green School Chalkboard
[Update: The legislation has been approved and signed by the governor.]

Take action to support safe schools in Minnesota!

The Human Rights Campaign reports that Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk will bring the Safe and Supportive Schools Act to a vote this Thursday. As HRC explains, “[t]he vote in the Senate has been seen as the key hurdle to this essential legislation being signed into law. In the last legislative session the bill was blocked in the senate in the final hours after passing the House.”

The legislation would significantly expand the state’s anti-bullying law, currently one of the weakest in the nation. Among many other things, the bill would specifically require schools to address bullying based on actual and perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

In its blog post, HRC provides a way for folks in Minnesota to contact their senators (click on the “quick and effective tool” link within HRC’s blog post).

OutFront Minnesota provides additional information about the bill, and about the organization’s safe schools work, at this link. Outfront also produced the video above. [Update for Safari and iOS users: I’ve just gotten reports that the video does not play on Safari, including Safari on some iOS devices. But it should work on Chrome and Firefox, as well as Chrome for iOS. You can also see it by visiting YouTube at this link.]

MK

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