TSA body scans denounced by LGBT groups
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Center for Transgender Equality, Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project, denounced the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)’s decision to codify its use of full body scanners in a final rule. Ordered to review the program by a federal appeals court five years ago, TSA said that it will make no changes in airport security and denied there is any impact on travelers’ privacy.
The move comes months after the TSA’s head was ousted following an audit in which scanners and pat-downs failed to catch weapons or mock explosives in 95 percent of “secret shopper” tests. In recent months, TSA has admitted that the scanners routinely trigger alarms based solely on transgender people’s body parts, leading to widely-publicized incidents where travelers were forced to discuss their genitalia with TSA officers.
LGBT organizations have heard from hundreds of transgender travelers in the U.S. who were asked to lift or remove clothing to reveal undergarments or prosthetics, required to undergo multiple pat-downs and questions about their bodies, and even prevented from boarding flights because of a “groin alarm.”
“It is completely unacceptable to require Americans to discuss their genitals with uniformed government officials in order to travel by air,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling.
Introduced in 2008, a federal appeals court declared the TSA’s use of the machines unlawful in 2011 because the agency acted without formal rules or public comment on a matter affecting tens of millions of people. The court allowed the program to continue in part because TSA promised travelers could always opt for a thorough pat-down instead — a position the agency reversed in December. Despite numerous court petitions by organizations including NCTE, and comments from thousands of air travelers, TSA took five more years to adopt this court-ordered rule, which makes no changes in the current program.
LGBT and privacy organizations have consistently urged TSA to reconsider its approach to security, limiting use of body scanners and pat-downs and making more use of metal detectors and explosive trace detection. Advocates also urged TSA to codify its current promises regarding passenger rights into the rule, which the agency also refused to do. Still, TSA declined to make any changes in the current program.
EEOC files anti-gay discrimination suits
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has filed two lawsuits that allege anti-gay discrimination, the Equality Federation reported.
In an ABC network report, one suit is against Scott Medical Health Center, Philadelphia, Pa., and the other IFCO Systems NA, Baltimore, Md.
The Scott suit cites that a “gay employee quit after his manager used gay slurs.” The IFCO one relates to a lesbian employee’s firing post complaint against her supervisor’s comments “regarding her sexual orientation and appearance.”
A 2015 EEOC ruling relative to a federal employee’s complaint said that anti-gay discrimination “is a form of sex discrimination that violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act.” It has ruled previously in another case that “discrimination based on a person’s gender identity or expression is similarly prohibited.” That case was brought by the Transgender Law Center.
RuPaul headlines new gay game show
NEW YORK, N.Y. — It seems that RuPaul Charles is expanding his horizons as he is set to star in and executive produce Logo’s new “Gay for Play Game Show Starring RuPaul,” which airs on April 11 at 10 p.m.
The formula for the televised show that is shot in front of a live audience, tests contestants’ entertainment IQs with quizzes on hot pop culture moments, the network said. The humorous questions can be answered by the contestant outright or they can turn to the celebrity “Gay for Play” panel for assistance. Then as the competition heats up, contestants pair up with one celebrity panelist and have 69 seconds to answer as many trivia questions as possible for a chance to win big cash and prizes.
The panel of six celebrities features Michelle Visage, Todrick Hall, Carson Kressley and Ross Mathews as regular panelists, along with a rotating panel of former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestants, social influencers and celebrities. Guest panelists throughout the season include model Amber Rose, Brandi Glanville (“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”), Cheyenne Jackson (“American Horror Story”), Daniel Franzese (“Looking,” “Mean Girls”), Frankie Grande (“Big Brother”), comedian Heather McDonald, Jeannie Mai (“The Real”), Kristen Johnston (“The Exes”), Mindy Cohn (“Facts of Life”), plus social talent Austin & Aaron Rhodes (“Scream Queens”), GloZell Green, Joey Graceffa, Kingsley, Kyle Krieger and Connor Franta.
Special episodes also feature celebrity contestants squaring off. Rebecca Romijn will battle husband Jerry O’Connell to fight for “Gay for Play” bragging rights. Former “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” cast member Taylor Armstrong and “Real Housewives of O.C.” cast member Gretchen Rossi will challenge each other, as well as reunited “227” stars Marla Gibbs and Jackée Harry.
The show premiered on March 7 following “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which celebrated the series’ 100th episode.
Progress NC Action has filed a complaint with the North Carolina Board of Elections, showing that Gov. Pat McCrory’s television commercial for the bond issue amounts to a coordinated campaign advertisement funded in part by corporate contributions. McCrory and others are spearheading efforts to dismantle the non-discrimination ordinance approved recently by the Charlotte City Council. He is seeking re-election for governor this election season.
On May 7 in Washington, D.C., the American Military Partner Association will honor Supreme Court marriage equality cases plaintiffs Edie Windsor and Jim Obergefell.
A study by The Everest Project of some of the most senior-level female executives in U.S. corporate cultures, which details the influences in today’s global economy, has been released. Of the 392 interviews culled, 132 identify as black, Hispanic, LGBT, Pan Asian or White.
Viceland TV premiered its first episode of “Gaycation” on March 2. It stars Ellen Page and Ian Daniel who set off to explore LGBTQ cultures around the world.
The Center for American Progress has reported that the criminal justice system targets and harms LGBT prisoners disproportionately. Data shows how LGBT people — and particularly LGBT people of color — face higher rates of incarceration and unfair treatment and abuse in the criminal justice system.
The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund and the National Center for Transgender Equality praised Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota when he vetoed a bill that would have put restrictions on transgender and gender non-conforming students’ access to school restrooms and locker rooms.
info: taskforceactionfund.org. transequality.org.
The Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation is accepting submissions for its 2016 Playwriting Competition until May 31. Only full-length works are eligible for consideration and must concern LGBT or genderqueer life and must be based on, or directly inspired by, a historical person, culture, work of art, or event.
GLAAD has released its “Debunking the ‘Bathroom Bill’ Myth — Accurate Reporting on LGBT Nondiscrimination: A Guide for Journalists” in collaboration with a coalition of state and national LGBT advocacy organizations.
The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda released its quadrennial Hispanic Public Policy Agenda which outlines the policy concerns and priorities of the nation’s Latino community. Recommendations outlined include those of the LGBT community as they relate to presidential candidates and federal policymakers.
Demi Lovato will be honored with GLAAD’s Vanguard Award for making a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom, now awarded to 577 recipients since its inception in 1963, includes 17 that identified as LGBT individuals. They are: Alvin Ailey, dance; Rachel Carson, environmentalist; Aaron Copland, composer; Vladimir Horowitz, pianist; Jasper Johns, painter; Barbara Jordan, politics; Billie Jean King, sports; Lincoln Kirstein, ballet and writer; Margaret Mead, anthropologist; Harvey Milk, politics; Antonia Pantoja, activist; Sally Ride, scientist; Bayard Rustin, activist; Stephen Sondheim, composer; Harvey Van Cliburn, pianist; Thornton Wilder, writer; and Tennessee Williams, playwright.
The Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal consumer fraud complaint against People Can Change, an organization that preys on vulnerable LGBT people and families by using damaging and discredited claims that it can change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
info: hrc.org. nclrights.org. splcenter.org.
Kickstarter Diversity has been launched through Big Vision Empty Wallet and encourages film and TV projects with diverse teams including people of color, women and members of the LGBTQ community.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the legal organization that has fought for LGBT and HIV rights for nearly 40 years, has announced a new name: GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).
New data on the spread of HIV was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and shows that while risk levels have improved, the situation for gay and bisexual men has become crucial. At current diagnosis rates, half of black gay men and a quarter of Latino gay men will be diagnosed with HIV within their lifetime. The study provides the first-ever comprehensive national estimates on lifetime HIV risk in the U.S. for several key populations at risk and in every state.
New York City Gay Men’s Chorus has launched refreshed branding, reflecting today’s highly diverse and confident LGBT community.