LGBT Students in Oregon Were Bullied, Forced to Read Bible, Report Says

In an Oregon high school, LGBT students were taunted with homophobic slurs, pelted with food and when punished, forced to read the Bible, The New York Times reports. Students spoke on those allegations in recent investigative reports into the state’s North Bend School District. In the reports, gay and lesbian high school students described years of harassment and bigotry from school employees and other students, with a deeply religious culture that silenced their complaints. The state found “substantial evidence” of discrimination against LGBT students and maintains that top officials fostered hostile conditions for LGBT students.

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Howe resigns from Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce

The Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce announced yesterday that its CEO, Lisa Howe, is resigning from her position, Out & About Nashville reports. Howe made headlines in 2010 when her employer, Belmont University, demanded her resignation after learning she and her partner were having a baby. Howe, who coached the Belmont women's soccer team at the time, was said to have violated the school’s "don’t ask, don’t tell' policy. She will leave her post at the Nashville Chamber in August.

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Understanding Workplace Experiences of Legal Professionals: Project Survey

The American Bar Association is launching a nationwide study, conducted by the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, to identify the biases encountered by LGBT and/or lawyers with disabilities and to help develop and implement strategies to ameliorate such biases. Taking this brief survey will assist the ABA in its goal to generate a positive impact on the legal profession and on the lives and careers of LGBT lawyers and/or lawyers with disabilities. Thanks for your help with this endeavor. 


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LGBT Section Welcomes New Middle Tennessee Delegate

Timothy Capria is the new Middle Tennessee delegate to the TBA's LGBT Section. He is an associate in the Nashville office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings. His practice focuses on acquiring intellectual property and providing trademark counsel for clients operating in diverse sectors. Tim is active with Lavender Law and was an officer in Duke University School of Law’s OutLaw student organization. He also chairs Bradley’s LGBT affinity group. Capria holds degrees from the Rochester Institute of Technology and Duke University School of Law.

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Volunteers Still Needed for LGBT Section Booth at Nashville Pride Festival

The TBA LGBT Section will host a booth at the Nashville Pride Festival on June 22–23 in Public Square Park. Volunteers are needed to assist with the booth and distribute legal and general resources of concern to the community. Please send resource topic suggestions or volunteer interest to Section Coordinator Jarod Word.

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Kansas Bill Allowing Groups to Refuse Adoption to LGBT Couples Will Become Law

A bill that ensures faith-based adoption agencies can turn away gay and lesbian couples based on religious beliefs will be signed into law by Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer, The Wichita Eagle reports. Lawmakers passed the legislation last Friday, with one lawmaker suggesting that the need for the legislation proves the existence of the “homosexual agenda.” Opponents call the Kansas legislation needless and discriminatory
The Kansas Department for Children and Families has supported the bill, saying it would provide an opportunity for some organizations that have had concerns in the past. A network of companies that includes Apple, Google, Amazon and other tech firms sent a letter to Republican leaders opposing the bill. The adoption bill is among several that states across the nation have passed or are considering. Oklahoma lawmakers approved similar legislation last Thursday.
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Prominent Gay Rights Lawyer Commits Suicide by Self-Immolation

David S. Buckel, a lawyer nationally known for being a champion of gay rights died earlier this month, after setting himself on fire, The New York Times reports. Buckel was the lead attorney in Brandon v. County of Richardson, in which a Nebraska county sheriff was found liable for failing to protect Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was murdered in Falls City, Nebraska. The murder of Teena was depicted in the film "Boys Don’t Cry."
A staunch advocate for LGBTQ persons, Buckel also served as marriage project director and senior counsel at Lambda Legal, a national organization that fights for the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. According to police, Buckel left a note in a shopping cart not far from his body that alluded to environmental protest as the reason for his suicide. The note was also emailed to several news media outlets. Buckel was 60 years old.
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LGBT Advocates See Nationwide Success

Despite more than 120 LGBT-unfriendly bills introduced across the country this year, advocates from the Human Rights Campaign say none have passed, reports The Washington Post. The failed legislation includes an adoption-refusal bill in Kansas and an attempt to add sexual reassignment therapy as a definition of child abuse in New Hampshire. Georgia, in particular, saw all legislation LGBT advocates opposed defeated.

Only one bill in the United States advanced beyond a legislative committee— the Tennessee “bathroom bill,’— but it died when the Senate’s companion bill did not get a second on a motion to be debated. Despite this progress, Oklahoma and Kansas still have proposed legislation that could allow religious adoption agencies to refuse to place children with gay people. Advocates remain hopeful that these bills will have the same outcome.

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Legislation Affecting the LGBT Community in Committees Today

The Tennessee Equality Project is urging supporters to contact state legislators in two House subcommittees as they debate the merits of two bills that affect the LGBT community, reports Out and About Nashville.
The first, SB2480/HB2620, an anti-trans bathroom bill, is on the agenda for the Civil Justice Subcommittee today (March 21). Last week, legislators in that subcommittee questioned the potentially far reach of the bill. While it would compel the state to represent any instance in which a school board is required to defend an anti-trans policy.
The second, HB0054/SB0127, popularly recognized at the Business License to Discriminate bill, is on the agenda for the State Government Subcommittee for today. That bill would prohibit government agencies from inspecting the internal business policies of organizations with which it contracts.
You can track the progress of both using these links: SB2480/HB2620; HB0054/SB0127
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Legislators Strike Back at California Ban on State-funded Travel

Tennessee's Senate and House speakers say no state funds will go toward funding lawmakers' attendance of the National Conference of State Legislatures that will take place this summer in Los Angeles, the Times Free Press reports. Officials cite California's ban on state-funded travel to Tennessee that came in response to the state's passage the ‘therapist bill’ in 2016 as the reason for this decision. 
Tennessee Senate Speaker Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, pointed out in their letter to National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) leaders that a Tennessee legislative resolution passed in 2016 urged Tennessee officials "to ban state-sponsored and state-funded travel within their respective jurisdictions to any state of the Union that has banned state-sponsored travel to Tennessee." "This is not an action we feel any pleasure taking," they wrote but later added, "it is California, not Tennessee, which set this chain of events in motion." 
Tennessee's ban, Senate Joint Resolution 111, was sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, who chairs the Government Operations Committee. Bell said "I had no clue" that McNally and Harwell were going to bar state-funded travel to the NCSL. But he quickly added he's all for it. "I'm glad they've done it," said Bell. "I've already made the personal decision I wasn't going and glad the speakers have decided to not allow at least any of our taxpayer money to go to someone who may want to go to this conference."
California’s travel ban also made headlines this past week when the San Diego State basketball team had to pay out-of-pocket for a trip to Kansas for its NCAA Tournament appearance. Besides Tennessee and Kansas, Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Dakota were affected by the ban as well.
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