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National roundup: Trans appointment, GLSEN honors, Whole Foods hoax
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-05-17

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The White House announced that the National LGBTQ Task Force's Barbara Satin has been appointed to serve on President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-based Neighborhood Partnership—becoming the first transgender woman to serve on this presidential body, according to a press release. In addition to working at the National LGBTQ Task Force, Satin has been heavily involved in the development of Spirit on Lake, a LGBTQ senior-housing project in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

National education organization GLSEN will honor Colorado teacher Amber Schweitzer with the Educator of the Year Award and New York City's Academy for Young Writers Gender Sexuality Alliance ( GSA ) with the GSA of the Year Award at GLSEN's Respect Awards-New Yor on May 23, a press release noted. Jussie Smollett, who portrays Jamal on Fox's Empire, will present the award to previously announced honoree Ilene Chaiken. Other honorees include married couple George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth, and Optimedia. For more info, visit GLSEN.org/article/2016-glsen-respect-awards-new-york.

A team led by scientists at the National Institutes of Health ( NIH ) has reported a research trifecta, according to Science Daily. They discovered a new vulnerable site on HIV for a vaccine to target, a broadly neutralizing antibody that binds to that target site and how the antibody stops the virus from infecting a cell. The new target is a part of HIV called the fusion peptide, a string of eight amino acids that helps the virus fuse with a cell to infect it.

Gay Austin, Texas, pastor Jordan Brown—who claimed Whole Foods wrote an anti-gay slur on his cake in frosting—has admitted the whole thing was a hoax, stating the company "did nothing wrong," according to LGBTQ Nation. Whole Foods completely denied Brown's initial claim and said that the employee who helped prepare the cake was also part of the LGBTQ community. In a statement, Brown apologized and said he was "wrong to pursue this matter and use the media to perpetuate this story."

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) hailed the Massachusetts state Senate's vote extending commonsense non-discrimination protections to the state's transgender residents and visitors, according to a press release. While Massachusetts state law already prohibits anti-transgender discrimination in housing and employment, the new legislation will extend the same crucial protections to public accommodations. "We look forward to continued equality momentum in Massachusetts with a positive vote in the House, and we urge Governor Baker to sign this vitally important measure into law when it reaches to his desk," HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof said.

Seattle Women's Pride has announced that Washington state Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu will be honored with the organization's inaugural Luminary Award, a press release stated. The award will be presented at the third annual Seattle Women's Pride on June 18 at Q Nightclub. Yu was named "Judge of the Year" in 2014 by the Washington State Association for Justice, Washington State Bar Association, King County Women Lawyers, Asian Bar Association of Washington,and the state chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

GLSEN's chief research & strategy officer, Dr. Joseph Kosciw, made a statement in recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia ( IDAHOT ), recognized May 17. In part, he said, "This year on IDAHOT, we specifically recognize the effects of this violence and discrimination on mental health and wellbeing, and we know that for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) youth in schools, anti-LGBT victimization and discrimination are associated with higher levels of depression and lower levels of self-esteem." Kosciw also said that he "and GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard [would] mark IDAHOT at UNESCO's International Ministerial Meeting on Education Sector Responses to Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression."

The White House also recognized the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia ( IDAHOT ). A statement read, in part, "On May 17, Americans and people around the world mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by reaffirming the dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love or their gender identity." The statement noted strides in equality but added, "At the same time, there is much work to be done to combat homophobia and transphobia, both at home and abroad. In too many places, LGBT individuals grow up forced to conceal or deny who they truly are for fear of persecution, discrimination, and violence."

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance ( NQAPIA ) announced a family-acceptance campaign designed to bridge the cultural divide that prevents Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander ( API ) children from coming out to their parents, a press release stated. NQAPIA's new Asian Family Acceptance Campaign includes a landmark series of television ads, entitled "Family Is Still Family," plus a series of in-person workshops around the country, presented by API parents of LGBT children. The ads will run for the first time on major international Asian television networks in the U.S. during June for LGBT Pride Month.

Lambda Legal and Transgender Law Center, with co-counsel WilmerHale, petitioned with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to change the rule that categorically excludes transition-related surgery for transgender veterans, a press release stated. The petition was filed on behalf of two individual veterans, Dee Fulcher and Gio Silva, and a group representing transgender veterans called the Transgender American Veterans Association.

Transgender Law Center also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights on behalf of a 16-year-old transgender boy who has been barred from using the boys' restroom by the Kenosha Unified School District in Wisconsin, a press release stated. Ashton Whitaker, a student at Tremper High School, had been using the boys' restrooms without incident since the beginning of the school year, until school administrators intervened and threatened him with disciplinary action if he continued to use the boys' restroom.

LGBT advocates want an Ohio minister to be elected as the first openly gay bishop of the United Methodist Church, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Demonstrators at the UMC's General Conference in Portland, Oregon, marched May 16 with musical instruments alongside the Rev. David Meredith of Cincinnati, who married his same-sex partner in Columbus on May 7 despite the denomination's rules banning openly gay clergy. Meredith told The Dispatch that he feels called to stand for election this summer in the church's North Central Jurisdiction, which includes Ohio.

The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals ( NOGLSTP ) is accepting applications for the 2016 NOGLSTP Out To Innovate Scholarships made possible by an Innovation Generation grant from Motorola Solutions Foundation, according to a press release. The scholarships, funded at a minimum of $5,000 each, will be awarded for the fall, 2016 academic year. Students currently enrolled at any U.S.-based college or university are eligible to apply. Online scholarship applications are available through the NOGLSTP website ( www.noglstp.org ).

The FBI is investigating if the brutal murder of a gay Idaho man was a hate crime, Towleroad noted. Four men are charged with murder and robbery in the April 29 death of 49-year-old Steven Nelson, who worked at Boise State University. Nelson was repeatedly kicked in the head and left naked and alone to die, after responding to an online ad for a male escort.

An Arkansas judge accused of trading sex with male defendants in exchange for reduced sentences is resigning after he was notified by a state commission that sexually explicit photos had been recovered from his computer, ArkansasMatters.com reported. Cross County District Judge Joe Boeckmann was actually charged by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission in November—accused of having sex with defendants and demanding they take sexually explicit photos, among other charges. According to public documents, the judge's resignation came after being notified by the commission that its investigators had identified defendants in more than a thousand photos depicting young men posing naked inside and outside the judge's home.

Dave Reynolds—the recently fired pastor of the Cornerstone Bible Fellowship in Sherwood, Arkansas—is facing 70 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing child pornography, Queerty reported. Reynolds, who has preached that marriage is between a man and a woman and that all homosexual activity is a sin, was arrested after police received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a social media account in Sherwood was storing many images of child porn. Reynolds appeared in Sherwood District Court May 11; bond was set at $250,000.

GLSEN announced its partnership with Burt's Bees for LGBT Pride Month in June, a press release stated. Burt's Bees released a new Limited Edition Rainbow Pride Lip Balm Pack and pledged a donation of $10,000 in support of GLSEN's work. Available now, the Limited Edition Pack features rainbow graphics on the exterior and includes a rainbow of six flavors of Burt's Bees lip balm: Pomegranate, Mango, Beeswax, Eucalyptus, Vanilla Bean and Acai Berry; the pack is available at a limited number of Target stores, Target.com and BurtsBees.com .

The ACLU says administrators at a Minnesota high school block emails sent to students if the words "gay" or "lesbian" appear in them, according to a New Civil Rights Movement item. The civil-rights organization stated this is a First Amendment violation of free speech and sent a letter to Greenway High School in Coleraine, Minnesota, notifying them of the violation.

In Connecticut, the West Hartford Town Council voted eight to one to bring a Chick-fil-A to New Park Avenue, the Hartford Courant noted. The development was notable because it involved council member Beth Kerrigan, who was a lead plaintiff in the 2008 state Supreme Court case Kerrigan & Mock et al v. Connecticut Department of Public Health, which legalized same-sex marriage in the state. Kerrigan voted for the plan, saying Chick-fil-A "has changed a lot, we have all changed a lot, and I appreciate everything you said today assuring my community that we are welcome."

A cancer patient has received the first penis transplant in the United States, WCVB.com noted. Massachusetts General Hospital has confirmed that Thomas Manning of Halifax, Massachusetts, received the transplanted penis in a 15-hour procedure. The organ was transplanted from a deceased donor. Dr. Curtis Cetrulo, who helped lead the surgical team, told The New York Times that normal urination should be possible for the 64-year-old Manning in a few weeks, with sexual function possible in weeks to months.

Equality California has teamed with veteran journalist Karen Ocamb, who will write a weekly column on LGBT news and politics, "EQCA POV," according to a press release. The column will appear each week on Equality California's website and will be distributed on the organization's social-media platforms.


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