‘Ex-gay’ quackery outlawed

Gov. Jerry Brown

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A groundbreaking new state law will protect LGBT youth from psychological abuse by deceitful mental health professionals who falsely claim to be able to change their sexual orientation or gender expression.

California is the first state in the nation to protect LGBT young people from so-called “ex-gay” therapies, which include the use of shame, verbal abuse and aversion therapy, that place youth at high risk for depression and suicide.

The law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, prohibits state-licensed therapists from engaging in these harmful practices with minors. It goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013, but a legal challenge to the law is being mounted by anti-gay groups and churches who claim it violates free speech rights and the free exercise of religion.

NOM must reveal donors

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Oct. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court rebuffed the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in its attempt to circumvent the longstanding campaign reporting requirements by the State of Maine. By refusing to hear NOM’s appeal of an earlier federal court decision which held that the secretive anti-marriage equality group must make its donor list public, the Supreme Court has affirmed the critical importance of transparency in campaign disclosure laws. At press time, NOM had not complied with the federal court order or indicated its intention to do so.

Fund aids undocumented youth

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Young LGBT undocumented immigrants struggling to pay application fees for President Obama’s new “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program can now receive financial help. The LGBT Dreamers Fund — made possible by more than $75,000 in contributions from an array of LGBT organizations and some individuals — will cover the DACA application fees of nearly $470. The amount can be daunting for youth who are ineligible to work under current law. The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center rallied other LGBT organizations across the country to contribute to the LGBT Dreamers Fund. Assistance is available on a first-come, first-served basis for qualified candidates. Apply at LibertyHill.org/LGBTDreamersFund.

Site for trans college students

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Center for Transgender Equality has launched the Transgender On-campus Nondiscrimination Information (TONI) Project, the nation’s first online hub for current and prospective students in search of trans-affirmative colleges and universities. The site allows trans students to share trans-affirmative college policies and practices, as well as exchange ideas for organizing and action. Key features of the site include a searchable database of campus profiles documenting a range of school policies including housing, records and documentation, healthcare, safety and curricula. TONI Project users also have access to a community forum where they can share ideas for taking action. Learn more about the TONI Project and sign up for a webinar at transstudents.org/how-use-site.

Schools expand online access

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The ACLU says public schools across the country responded very positively to its “Don’t Filter Me” campaign to address discriminatory censorship of web content in public schools. The group found that most schools did not realize that, in addition to blocking all sexually explicit websites regardless of sexual orientation, their filtering software also contained a feature to block LGBT-related websites that are not sexually explicit, such as anti-bullying resources. On the other hand, the software allowed access to anti-gay websites. After being contacted, most schools reconfigured the software so students could access LGBT-related websites on a viewpoint-neutral basis. However, the ACLU was forced to sue one district in Camdenton, Mo., over the issue.

Deserving scout denied honor

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — After completing all of his requirements to become an Eagle Scout, Ryan Andresen was told that he will be refused the Boy Scout’s highest rank because he recently came out as gay to counter an incident of bullying within his troop. At press time, more than 75,000 had signed a petition at Change.org requesting that Andresen’s Troop leader reverse his shameful decision and bestow the honor. Andresen, who endured bullying as a teen from fellow Scouts in his troop, came out in a letter to his peers prompted by a bullying incident against another member of the troop. In his letter, Ryan talked about the effects that bullying had on him, including depression and self-harm.

David Stout

David Stout is the associate editor of QNotes. He can be reached at editor2@goqnotes.com.