GROUNDBREAKING: DEPARTMENT OF ED. GUIDANCE TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS ON TRANS STUDENTS: Today, schools across the country will receive guidance from the Department of Education helping ensure transgender students are treated with dignity in public and federally-funded schools, including having equal access to sex-segregated facilities, such as restrooms and locker rooms, that are consistent with their gender identity. The move comes after encouragement by HRC, major education and child welfare groups and other leading advocates to offer specific, affirming guidelines. Schools that fail to meet their legal obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 face potential lawsuits or loss of Title IX funding -- a risk still facing North Carolina, which of course is now being sued by the Department of Justice and receives $4.5 billion in public education funding each year. In a blog post accompanying today’s news, Catherine E. Lhamon, the assistant secretary of education for civil rights, and Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division wrote, “Schools want to do right by all of their students and have looked to us to provide clarity on steps they can take to ensure that every student is comfortable at their school, is in an environment free of discrimination, and has an opportunity to thrive.” More from The New York Times and HRC.
MORE GROUNDBREAKING NEWS: HHS IMPLEMENTS PROTECTIONS FOR LGBT PEOPLE IN HEALTHCARE AND INSURANCE: Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights issued final regulations that provide explicit protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping, including for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, in healthcare and insurance under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This new regulation makes clear that transgender people must be treated consistent with their gender identity and cannot be denied care provided to anybody else, even when it’s transition-related care. Prohibitions on discrimination resulting from sex-stereotyping will provide significant protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. In November, HRC called on the Administration to implement these essential protections, delivering 13,398 public comments from our members and supporters in response to the proposed rule change. More from HRC.
#MASSMOMENTUM! MASSACHUSETTS SENATE APPROVES TRANS EQUALITY BILL: The Massachusetts State Senate yesterday overwhelmingly approved commonsense legislation that would extend non-discrimination protections to the state’s transgender residents. The state already prohibits anti-transgender discrimination in housing and employment, and the new legislation would extend the same protections to public accommodations - like parks and retail shops. The bill is expected to pass the House, and, if signed by GOP Gov. Charlie Baker, would be a significant win for transgender equality at a pivotal time for the movement. We encourage the governor to join fair-minded Republican governors, including Georgia’s Nathan Deal and South Dakota’s Dennis Daugaard, who’ve recently stood up for fairness and equality. More from HRC.
HILLARY CLINTON MEETS WITH HIV ADVOCATES: As HIV and AIDS remains a priority for HRC and the LGBT community, the Clinton campaign has also continued to make it a priority. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton met with a group of HIV advocates -- including Noël Gordon Jr., HRC’s Senior Program Specialist for HIV Prevention and Health Equity -- to call for community leadership and research for this vital topic. Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said, “Secretary Clinton’s meeting today with advocates underscores her commitment to do everything she can to help people living with and affected by HIV, and to work with us to end the epidemic and the continued stigma around HIV.” More from The Washington Blade and watch on Reuters.
NC GOP THREATENING LOBBYISTS OVER HB2: Republicans in North Carolina’s General Assembly are allegedly threatening to cut ties with lobbyists representing businesses that have been calling for HB2’s repeal. More than 200 businesses have spoken out against the discriminatory law. More from Talking Points Memo.
TENNESSEE LOSES ANOTHER CONVENTION OVER ANTI-LGBT LAW: Another group has pulled its convention out of Nashville, citing Tennessee’s new anti-LGBT law allowing counselors in private practice to cite their religious beliefs as a reason to deny services to LGBT clients, or refer them to another professional. Centers for Spiritual Living joins the American Counseling Association in acting on principle, and saying no to Nashville. More from The Tennessean.
ADVOCATES BLAST ANTI-TRANS PROPOSAL IN KANSAS: A proposed regulation by its Department of Health and Environment would make Kansas one of only four states to bar transgender people from changing the listed sex on their birth certificate. The department wants to allow changes only if the person’s sex was incorrectly recorded at birth. Transgender advocates say the proposal will further marginalize the their community. The Wichita Eagle reports that everyone at the forum opposed the proposal.
FRIDAY MUST-WATCH: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon appears in a video supporting LGBT rights to mark the upcoming International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17. It’s part of the UN Human Rights Office “Free and Equal” campaign, and we recommend you have tissues ready when you watch it here.
DOMO ARIGATO MR. ROBOTO: Rock legends STYX and former Eagles member Don Felder announced yesterday that they will donate proceeds from their upcoming concert in North Carolina to local LGBT charities, joining a chorus of celebrities and entertainers, from Bruce Springsteen to Nick Jonas, taking a stand against HB2. More from WRAL.
The Los Angeles Times tells the story of the heart of Mormon country honoring Harvey Milk… Freep’s columnist Nancy Kaffer shows how easy it should be to create LGBT-inclusive policies… PBS Newshour tells the stories of trans soldiers… Vocativ uncovers the digital community for practicing LGBT Mormons... CNN shares the narrative of a trans woman’s path to living as her authentic self.
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