Stripping Protections for Gay-Straight Alliances Raises Concerns of Outing Students

Gay-straight alliances (GSAs), clubs where students offer support to their gay peers, have been a contentious topic since their inception in 1988, most recently sparking a debate in the Canadian province of Alberta over whether parents can be notified if their child joins such a club, BBC News reports. The issue arose during the recent provincial election, with conservative party leader and incoming provincial premier Jason Kenney expressing that he will undo legal protections regarding identifying students involved in the clubs, saying "parents know better than politicians what is best for their kids.” Critics of the move argue it could unwillingly out children to parents who might not be supportive of their sexuality or identity and could endanger relationships, or even the children’s lives. In the US, GSAs have prevailed in 17 federal lawsuits under protections of the Equal Access Act, Title VIII of Public Law 98-377.

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SCOTUS to Consider Cases Regarding Federal Protections for LGBT Persons

The U.S. Supreme Court last week announced that it will hear three key cases that will define federal workplace protections for LGBT persons, The Washington Post reports. The arguments revolve around Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and whether the law is written broadly enough to cover these identities. The three cases — Melissa Zarda et al. v. Altitude Express, Gerald Lynn Bostock v. Clayton County and the Sixth Circuit's own: R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — will be the first major gay rights cases heard by the court since Justice Anthony Kennedy retired.

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Major Music Labels Join Fight Against 'Slate of Hate'

Nashville-based record labels Warner Music Group and Curb Records are the latest additions to a growing opposition of the “Slate of Hate” legislation proffered by Tennessee lawmakers, Billboard reports. The labels signed onto a letter authored by a music industry leader, cautioning Tennessee's legislature of potential negative consequences that might arise if the laws are adopted. Almost 40 companies have voiced disproval of the legislation, along with another music industry powerhouse, Taylor Swift, who donated $113,000 to the cause.

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Juvenile Court Judge Speaks Out Against Bill Allowing Exemptions for Adoption Agencies

Nashville Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway recently spoke out against proposed adoption legislation in an opinion piece in the Tennessean. The bill would allow adoption agencies to deny placement to LGBT families based on religious grounds. She references one bill in particular — HB0836/SB1304, sponsored by Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, and Sen. Paul Rose, R-Shelby, Tipton counties — that has passed the House by a 67-22 vote. Calloway expresses concerns that this legislation could serve as a jumping point for discrimination and could have a ripple effect, affecting children who may not share common religious beliefs with agencies or those who themselves identify as LGBT. She further cites a case in Philadelphia where a federal judge upheld the city's non-discrimination policies for adoption agencies that sought denials for LGBT families and legal challenges for several states that have attempted to instill similar legislation. The Senate bill will be considered by its Judiciary Committee today.

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Study Finds Same-Sex Couples Encounter More Denials, Higher Interest Rates for Mortgages

A just-released study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that mortgage lenders are more likely to deny loans, or charge more on approved loans for same-sex couples, the Washington Post reports. National mortgage data from 1990 to 2015 shows that these couples were 73 percent more likely to be denied, and on average paid 0.2 percent more in interest and fees than heterosexual couples with comparable financial standing. Since mortgage applicants cannot be asked about sexual orientation, the study identified same-sex couples as co-applicants of the same gender in its model. The researchers involved cite the probe as evidence that sexual orientation should be added a protected class under federal lending laws.

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LGBT-Positive Content a Frequent Theme Among Most Banned Books of 2018

The American Library Association on Monday released its list of challenged and banned books for 2018, showing that over half of the books were censured because of LGBT-positive content, NBC News reports. Coinciding with National Library Week, the organization usually submits a list of ten banned or challenged books, however, this year there was a 10th place tie between two books — “This Day in June” and “Two Boys Kissing” —both of which were burned by a religious protesters in an Iowa last December. John Oliver’s Pence parody book "A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” highlighting the life of a fictional gay bunny and pet of the vice-president was number two on the list.

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LGBT Section Proposes Changes to TBA Bylaws

The TBA LGBT Law Section will introduce proposed changes to the Tennessee Bar Association bylaws, specifically to delete Paragraph 7 in its entirety and to insert a new paragraph to add “sex; sexual orientation; gender identity and expression” to the TBA non-discrimination policy. The section seeks to correct any ambiguity in the current bylaws, offering more specific protection for lawyers and to encourage diversity within the profession. These proposed changes were endorsed by the TBA Committee on Ethnic and Racial Diversity and will be introduced to the Board of Governors in its upcoming meeting this weekend, marking the first step in consideration of the proposal.

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Taylor Swift Donates $113,000 to Fight Anti-LGBT Legislation in Tennessee

Pop music icon Taylor Swift yesterday donated $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project to help in the fight against anti-LGBT legislation, the Tennessean reports. The donation included a handwritten letter to the organization’s executive director Chris Sanders saying: “Dear Chris, I'm writing you to say that I'm so inspired by the work you do, specifically in organizing the recent petition of Tennessee faith leaders standing up against the 'Slate of Hate' in our state legislature … Please convey my heartfelt thanks to them and accept this donation to support the work you and those leaders are doing.” Sanders said that Swift has long been an ally of the Tennessee LGBT community.

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Clergy Sign Proclamation Opposing Religious Exemption for Adoption Agencies

A number of religious leaders in Tennessee are taking a stand against legislation allowing exemptions for adoption agencies to refuse services to LGBT clients, The Tennessean reports. The Tennessee Equality Project, an LGBT advocacy group, assisted with the pronouncement that was signed by more than 100 clergy. Tennessee Equality Project Executive Director Chris Sanders regarding the move said:  "These six bills attack our marriages, ability to form families, exist in public spaces, and they even undermine our ability to advocate with our own city governments for protection against discrimination.” One of the bills in question — SB1304 — will be considered by the  Senate Judiciary Committee on March 26.

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Friday: LGBT Law Annual Forum 2019

Register now for the TBA LGBT Law Annual Forum to take place on Friday, June 21 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Timely topics for this year’s program will include laws concerning conversion therapy, an inside look at Vanderbilt’s Clinic for Transgender Health, ethical considerations regarding discrimination and employment law, ending the day with an LGBT community advocacy panel open to the public.
The forum will be held in conjunction with the 2019 Nashville Pride Festival, allowing attendees to take advantage of the fun and activities surrounding the celebration. Don’t miss what guarantees to be an insightful forum and one of the nation’s premier Pride festivals! Here’s the key info:
Attendees are also invited to Tennessee Equality Project’s Pink and Purple Pre-Pride Party following the program.
When: Friday, June 21, registration begins at 11 a.m., CDT
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave. N., Nashville
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