Youth charity to honor Bea Arthur

Bea Arthur
Bea Arthur
NEW YORK, N.Y. — The Ali Forney Center (AFC), the nation’s largest agency dedicated to homeless LGBT youth, plans to name a residence in honor of Bea Arthur. A formal announcement will be made at a memorial service on Sept. 14 at the Majestic Theater in New York City. The Ali Forney Center is working with a group of Arthur’s close friends and colleagues to plan the memorial service.

“Bea Arthur was tremendously kind and generous to the Ali Forney Center,” said Carl Siciliano, AFC founder and executive director. “The caring and concern that Bea expressed for our kids meant the world to us, and we are thrilled to be able to give honor to her memory in this way.”

In an interview for Next Magazine, Bea explained her decision to offer her support.

“I’m very, very involved in charities involving youth and the plight of foster children. But these kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay or transgender. This organization really is saving lives.”

The Center currently offers eight rented residential sites in New York City to provide shelter and housing to homeless LGBT youth. It recently received financial support from the Oak Foundation to support a plan to purchase housing sites. AFC is committed to naming its first purchased site the Bea Arthur Residence for LGBT Youth.

Gay activist alleges donor fraud
AUGUSTA, Maine — Fred Karger, founder of LGBT advocacy group Californians Against Hate, has sent a letter to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices seeking an immediate investigation into alleged election law violations by Stand for Marriage Maine. A copy of the request was also sent to Maine Attorney General Janet Mills.

The nine-page complaint charges that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Knights of Columbus of Washington, D.C. and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family directed contributors to give money to their organizations which they in turn gave to Stand for Marriage Maine in order to hide donors’ identities.

“It’s money laundering plan and simple,” said Karger. “We feel that we made a very compelling case in our complaint, and are asking the Ethics Commission to consider our request at their next regularly scheduled meeting on September 8. This blatant disregard for Maine’s election law needs to be investigated. There is no way that only 0.001 percent ($400) of the $393,000 raised by Stand for Marriage Maine came from individuals.”

HRC Bible study aid posted online
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the past three years the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion & Faith program has published conversations on Bible passages from more than 100 scholars and pastors representing 11 denominations. Now, these 175 collected conversations are available online at www.hrc.org/Scripture under the title “Out In Scripture.” The material is organized according to the Revised Common Lectionary, used by numerous Christian denominations to guide worship and preaching.

“This unique collection showcases the extraordinary momentum we’re seeing by people of faith committed to LGBT equality,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Through this resource we are helping to assure that no one will again have to choose between who they are and what they believe.”

“Over the years my spiritual life and preaching has been transformed by ‘Out In Scripture,’” said Harry Knox, Director of the Religion and Faith Program. “This is one of our signature projects. As editor Sidney Fowler said, ‘The Bible is not about beating you up, but lifting us all up. It includes the seeds of liberation and justice.’ Be prepared to be transformed as well.”

Student gets $25k settlement
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — A local student recently received a $25,000 settlement from the Anoka-Hennepin School District after an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found that “jokes, comments and innuendos led to a hostile, abusive environment” at the student’s high school. Two of the student’s teachers are alleged to have fueled the problems through their homophobic remarks and actions.

“The reports of what this student endured from his teachers are horrific,” said Eliza Byard, head of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. “Teachers should be working to stop students from these types of hateful behaviors not encouraging them by modeling the behavior. That the school allegedly allowed harassment by students to continue even after it was made aware of the teachers’ behavior is unthinkable. We can only hope that the school district will do everything it can to ensure that no other student will ever have to go through the dehumanizing harassment this student suffered.”

The student transferred to another district. Both teachers kept teaching at the school.

Equality Riders sought for 2010
AUSTIN, Texas — Next March, young adults from around the country and the world will embark on the fourth annual Equality Ride, a two-month, youth bus tour visiting religious colleges and universities across the U.S. to challenge on-campus discrimination against LGBTQ students. Guided by the principles of nonviolence, Equality Riders will engage in critical dialogue, direct action and in some cases civil disobedience to press for much-needed changes for LGBTQ students.

“The Equality Ride is an opportunity for young adults to come together in the struggle for social justice,” says Asher Kolieboi, co-director of the Equality Ride. “It’s a way for both LGBTQ folks and straight allies to work together to address religious-based oppression and create safe spaces for queer youth on campuses across the country.”

The Equality Ride began in 2006 to address the over 200 U.S. colleges and universities with explicit policies that discriminate against LGBTQ students. Soulforce Q — the youth-driven arm of the national LGBTQ social justice organization Soulforce — is now accepting applications for the upcoming ride. For more information or to apply, visit www.equalityride.com.

David Stout

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