Beyond the Carolinas
Study reveals LGBT percentages
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The percentage of adults in the U.S. who identify as LGBT ranges from 1.7 percent in North Dakota to 5.1 percent in Hawaii and 10 percent in the District of Columbia, according to findings from a new study released by Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar Gary J. Gates and Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport. The study is the largest population-based survey ever conducted that includes measurement of LGBT identification. Most states are within 2 percentage points of the nationwide average of 3.5 percent.
Gates said of the study, “These new first-of-their-kind estimates of the percentage of adults who self-identify as LGBT in all 50 states and the District of Columbia constitute a significant advancement in our understanding of the LGBT population.”
With the exception of South Dakota, each of the states with populations 4 percent and over has laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These states have also taken steps toward more LGBT equality by recognizing same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships. Iowa is the only state among those with the lowest LGBT populations to extend similar rights. In fact, six of the 10 states with the lowest LGBT populations are among the most conservative states in the country.
Prom night is for gays, too
BENTON, Mo. — Administrators at Scott County Central High School in Missouri backed down and changed an outdated school policy which will allow gay student Stacy Dawson to take his boyfriend to the senior prom. The Southern Poverty Law Center threatened legal action after Dawson was told by the school that the student handbook bars students from taking dates of the same sex to the prom. To avoid a legal battle the school modified the handbook.
According to media reports, Dawson said prom is “an important milestone in high school, and I would be devastated if I’m not allowed to attend prom with my boyfriend.” He added, “It isn’t fair that a school can randomly disregard students’ rights because it doesn’t agree with who you want to take to prom.”
The case of anti-LGBT discrimination followed another story in Indiana, where a small group of students and community members worked to ban gay and lesbian students from attending the Sullivan High School prom. In that case, school officials did the right thing, saying the prom is open to all students and nobody will be excluded.
Senators push prez for exec. order
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thirty-seven U.S. senators, led by Sen. Jeff Merkley, sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of a lack of federal protections, it remains legal to fire or refuse to hire someone based on his or her sexual orientation in 29 states and to base those same employment decisions on someone’s gender identity in 34 states.
Federal contractors employ more than 20 percent of the American workforce and earn around $500 billion from federal taxpayers every year. According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, prohibiting anti-LGBT employment discrimination by federal contractors would extend equal workplace rights to more than 16 million workers and would help ensure that they are not forced into the ranks of the unemployed based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“It’s outrageous that in the year 2013, it is still legal to fire someone based on who they love,” said Merkley. “The President can protect millions of workers from unfair discrimination with the stroke of a pen.”
L.A. urged to cut sister city ties
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The ACLU of Southern California and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center are urging Los Angeles city leaders to sever sister city ties with St. Petersburg, Russia, following passage there of increasingly repressive laws against the LGBT community. The organizations made the request Feb. 13 to Los Angeles city councilmembers in a letter which also asked them to re-evaluate relationships with other anti-LGBT cities, such as Lusaka, Zambia. In response, Councilmember Bill Rosendahl later introduced a resolution to suspend the relationship.
The city of St. Petersburg passed an ordinance in March, 2012 banning “public action aimed at propagandizing sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism among minors.” Police have arrested dozens of people under the law since its passage.
“The passage of this resolution will send a strong message that the City will not tolerate discrimination against our LGBT brothers and sisters in a sister city relationship,” said Rosendahl, the only openly gay elected official in city government. “We must stand together and continue to fight for our basic civil and human rights for all human beings on this earth.”
Intersex surgeries as torture
GENEVA, Switzerland — On Feb. 18, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) released a statement condemning the medical profession’s non-consensual treatment of intersexuality — which surfaces as “ambiguous” external genitalia, sexual organs and/or as sex chromosomes that deviate from normative expectations. While the condition rarely poses a health threat, the medical profession continues to perform irreversible surgeries on babies and young children to “normalize” genitalia under the guise that these procedures will prevent a lifetime of shame.
However, there is ample evidence that these surgeries harm more than they help individuals with intersex traits. This is also why these medical practices were challenged under the purview of the SRT, who is responsible for investigating and reporting to the UN on questions of human torture.
The SRT invited Advocates for Informed Choice, a leader in the fight for intersex rights, to testify on the medical treatment of intersex people. The hearings resulted in the SRT’s formal stance against such medical practices.