LGBT

Family, Classmates Call for Prosecution of Cyberbullying That Drove Coffee County Teen to Suicide

The suicide of a 16-year-old who was outed online is reigniting concerns over cyberbullying and has led a call for the prosecution of those involved in the incident, the New York Times reports. Channing Smith, a junior at Coffee County Central High School, took his own life after sexually explicit text messages shared with a male classmate were revealed on social media. Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott — who reportedly is under investigation by the Board of Professional Responsibility after previously saying he wouldn't prosecute domestic violence cases involving same-sex couples — said his office has encouraged, cooperated in and supported the investigation, and that “when all relevant facts are available, my office will advise the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department on what charges, if any, we believe are appropriate to help guide it in that decision.”

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New York City Council Considers Repeal of Conversion Therapy Ban

The New York City Council is considering a repeal of its 2017 law banning conversion therapy, the strongly-condemned practice of attempting to change a person's sexual orientation or gender, NPR reports. The move comes in response to a lawsuit brought against the city by Alliance Defending Freedom, a national group that regularly challenges abortion laws and LGBT protections on freedom of speech and religious grounds. LGBT advocacy groups and council members that support repealing the ban argue the change will not result in any erosion of protections for LGBT New Yorkers and will halt the lawsuit. Those supporting the reversal say that defending against the suit would be a waste of the city’s time and resources and could have national impacts if the courts side against the city. The proposal to repeal the ban was introduced by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is gay. Johnson said regarding the repeal: "I really struggled with it because I don't want to look like we're retreating in the face of an organization that brought this lawsuit that has been deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center … Ultimately, I think this is the responsible, strategic and right thing to do."

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Openly Gay Prosecutor Nominated as Judge for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

President Trump last week announced the nomination of an openly gay candidate to preside over the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Boston Globe reports. Patrick J. Bumatay is a federal prosecutor and Harvard Law alumnus who has reportedly served as Counselor to the Attorney General on various criminal issues, including the national opioid strategy and transnational organized crime. The Federalist has described Bumatay as “an originalist in the mold of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.” If confirmed, he would be the first Filipino-American federal judge and the second openly gay federal judge, the first on the Ninth Circuit. 

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U.S. Supreme Court to Consider National Workplace Protections Regarding Sexual Orientation

The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 8 will consider whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 guarantees federal protection from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, The New York Times reports. The case under consideration — Gerald Lynn Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia — centers around a man who was a county Child Welfare Services Coordinator and claims he was fired after he joined a gay recreational softball league, despite 10 years of employment and receiving positive performance evaluations and professional accolades. The defendant argues that his termination was due to “conduct unbecoming of a Clayton County employee;” however, Bostock maintains that several other employees had made critical comments regarding his sexual orientation and that the defendant conceded to him that he was fired because of sexual orientation. You can view the Petition for Writ of Certiorari using this link.

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Russian LGBT Activist Exposed Website Promoting Hunting, Torturing Gays 3 Days Before Her Murder

Following the grisly death of LGBT rights activist Yelena Grigorieva last week, details of a Russian website promoting a “game” to identify gay people and post their photos and personal information to a database so that they can be hunted and tortured has been brought to light, The Washington Post reports. Grigorieva, whose information was posted to the website, had just three days before her murder submitted a Facebook post calling out the web page — modeled after the Saw movie franchise — saying: “law enforcement agencies have still not done anything to find the creators of this ‘game’ and bring them to justice.” She was found dead at her home suffering from eight stab wounds and strangulation.

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East Tennessee Church Refuses Funeral if Gay Son Attends Service

An east Tennessee church has refused to hold a funeral service for a man if his gay son and the son’s partner attend the service, Newsweek reports. Lee's Chapel Baptist Church in Sweetwater has come under fire for refusing the dying man’s wish of having his son sing a hymn at a ceremony in the first church the passing parent attended. Lee’s Chapel Pastor Jay Scruggs has declined to comment until the father is buried. While the church identifies itself as Baptist, officials with the Southern Baptist Convention said they could not find any evidence showing the church was affiliated with the organization.

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LGBT Seniors Face Unique Aging Challenges

As cities across America celebrate diversity, AARP brings to attention unique problems faced by seniors of the “Stonewall generation.” In addition to practical problems such as lack of social and familial support and being three to four times less likely to have kids, these older adults may also face abuse, harassment and isolation in long-term care settings. There are an estimated three million LGBTQ Americans age 50 and older, with that number expected to reach seven million by 2030.

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Taylor Swift Urges Passage of the Equality Act

Noted LGBT advocate Taylor Swift on Friday urged the U.S. Senate to pass the Equality Act, a bill that prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and the jury system, the Tennessean reports. Passed in the U.S. House by a 236 – 173 margin, the legislation faces an uphill battle in the conservative Senate with President Trump reportedly also opposing the measure. In addition to her social media post, Swift also penned a letter to Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander asking him to support the Act. It is not known when the bill will be heard by the Senate.

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Several States Add a Nonbinary Designation on State Issued IDs

Several states now offer the option to have a nonbinary designation on driver’s licenses and state-issued IDs, The New York Times reports. Individuals in California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Washington D.C. can now specify their sex as “X” in addition to the traditional “M” and “F.” Colloquially known as Gender X, the recent movement has also unearthed a little-known Arkansas law that has allowed “X” as an option on driver’s licenses since 2010. Hawaii is also considering similar legislation that would omit the designation of sex completely in certain cases.

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Colorado Bans Conversion Therapy

The state of Colorado kicked off Pride Month by banning conversion therapy for minors, ABC News reports. The practice, which is intended to turn a gay person straight through cognitive conditioning, is opposed by The American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and has been banned in 18 states to date. The legislation was signed into law by Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who is the first openly gay politician ever elected governor in the United States, on Friday.

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