Black Lives Matter and its founders, The Yates family and Ryland Whittington and his family are the recipients of National Center for Lesbian Rights awards.

Lez rights org honors founders, others

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has announced that it will honor the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, an activist parent and a transgender youth.

Alicia Garza, Patrisse Kahn-Cullors and Opal Tometi, Black Lives Matter and its national network co-founders will receive the Justice Award for their work in organizing efforts to fight against injustice, racism and prejudice against African-Americans. The organization began as an outcry following the acquittal of George Zimmerman who murdered 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Since then it has expanded its efforts, including bringing international attention and conversation about anti-Black racism, American democracy and experiences of Black people across the globe.

Tiara Yates and her family are the recipients of the Liberty Award. Tiara and Sheena Yates met and fell in love in high school. Later they had a civil union in 2011 and were married three years later. Their youngest child was conceived through at-home insemination using a known sperm donor. Both were listed on the birth certificate. At one, the child’s sperm donor sued for custody and visitation and the court held that he and the birth mother, Sheena, were the biological parents. He had had little contact with the child up till the point of filing the suit. Afterward, the sperm donor’s lawsuit was dismissed and his paternity order vacated when NCLR, along with the Yates and Lowenstein Sandler, LLP joined forces to fight against the original ruling.

An eight-year-old transgender boy, Ryland Whittington, won the hearts of viewers through an inspirational YouTube video that went viral that depicted his journey. His parents, Jeff and Hillary, shared the story which showed how their unconditional love was what it took to create a happy, healthy and well-adjusted boy. Ryland had been diagnosed with profound hearing loss at the age of one and had cochlear implants. As he grew, he began to talk and some of his first words were “I am a boy.” Their story has also been included in a book which the family hoped would help other transgender children and their families. For all of this, they will receive the Courage Award.

info: nclrights.org.

Policy efforts to help LGBT individuals with criminal record

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a new federal policy on April 4 that aims to eliminate housing discrimination against people with a criminal history, including LGBT people with a criminal record. The new policy clarifies that using criminal history to justify a negative housing decision, such as the refusal to rent to or renew a lease for someone, or the refusal to sell to or to give someone a mortgage on a new home, may violate the Fair Housing Act (1968).

The new guidance from HUD explains how current housing decisions may violate federal housing and civil rights laws. First, if a housing provider intentionally discriminates by treating people who have criminal records differently based on race or ethnicity, they are violating the Fair Housing Act. Second, restrictions based on criminal history may burden members of one race or ethnicity more than another, leading to liability under a discriminatory effects theory. The new federal guidance is not binding but it does put providers on notice that continuing to screen applicants for criminal history may subject them to legal liability.

Black and Latino people stand to benefit from the new policy as both groups are policed and incarcerated at greater rates than white people.

The National LGBTQ Task Force had been pushing HUD to eliminate barriers to housing for LGBT individuals.

info: thetaskforce.org.

International theme launched

MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada — Fondation Émergence announced the theme and visuals for the 2016 campaign against homophobia and transphobia, which highlights the realities of LGBT seniors.

The unveiling of the visuals marked the launch of the 2016 campaign and is linked with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which will be observed on May 17. The campaign’s theme “Homophobia and Transphobia Affect All Ages,” is depicted in the visuals through the faces of LGBT seniors, conveying serenity despite the homophobia and transphobia that they encounter in their living environments.

“LGBT seniors have experienced the criminalization, medical pathologization and religious condemnation of homosexuality and transgender identity, which are the roots of prejudice and stigma that still exist today, particularly among seniors,” commented Claude Leblond, president of Fondation Émergence.

“However, thanks to their struggles, today’s young people enjoy greater freedom. It’s the perfect time to tell young people about the history of LGBT rights and to remind them that nothing should be taken for granted,” he added.

info: fondationemergence.org.

QUICK HITS

A new video, Son of a Preacher Man, has been released. It tells the story of falling in love with a gay theme. The main purpose of the video is to help reduce the stigma of being LGBT and coming out in faith-based settings. It is endorsed by The Trevor Project.
info: bit.ly/1S4zu4D.

A new coalition, Transform California, was launched to support the transgender community in California.
info: transformcalifornia.org.

A study has shown that youth in same-sex female households have no difference in health outcomes, Science Daily reported.
info: sciencedaily.com.

The District of Columbia Council passed the Youth Suicide Prevention & School Climate Survey Act, the first law in the country to require a state education office to develop a policy on student suicide prevention.
info: bit.ly/1TCAspQ.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has issued a new policy that provides a significant win for individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits who are married to someone of the same sex but whose marriages were not recognized by SSA when they should have been.
info: bit.ly/1Te2d5K.

The Human Rights Campaign has named Jay Brown as its communications director and Liz Halloran as its deputy communications director.
info: hrc.org.

New Yes to Sex app launched to protect high school and college students from having non-consensual sex.
info: apple.co/1r8CDXc.

Columbia in South America has become the 20th country to approve same-sex marriage.
info: bit.ly/1Vcx3iM.

Anti-LGBT activists descended on Barbados in early April for a regional gathering hosted by the World Congress of Families.
info: bit.ly/1pagW7h.

A study published in Science found that door-to-door canvassers from the South Florida LGBTQ advocacy group SAVE, employing a novel approach directed and developed by the Los Angeles LGBT Center termed deep canvassing, measurably reduced voters prejudice against transgender people and increased support for laws that protect transgender people from discrimination.
info: bit.ly/1Sm40pm.

Through the support of the Verizon Foundation, The Point Foundation will bring 84 current student scholars and many of its alumni together for leadership training events in 2016.
info: pointfoundation.org.

In a historic first, a diverse group of transgender and allied individuals announced the launch of the Trans United Fund, the first-ever political advocacy organization committed to building the political power of transgender communities and allies to advocate for full equality for transgender people.
info: transunitedfund.org.

In a motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit filed by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) against Gilead Sciences Inc. seeking to invalidate patents on key AIDS drugs held by the Bay Area California drug maker, lawyers for Gilead wrote that the company, had no duty to develop a less harmful HIV/AIDS drug.
info: aidshealth.org.

A gay couple from rural West Tennessee who married last June were brought up on charges by the Masonic Grand Lodge of Tennessee for un-Masonic conduct.
info: n.pr/1XKTfya.

Gale , the library resource provider within Cengage Learning, launched a new digital LGBT history archive.
info: slate.me/1T5p99g.

Toronto school rolls out an LGBT poster campaign to shed light on #WhatMatters.
info: torontopflag.org.

The Williams Institute has reported that a new study shows that transgender people who are sexual minorities are more likely to be harassed.
info: williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu.

Florida attorney Steve Berzer has developed five things every person should know before filing a divorce: hire a good divorce attorney; get an idea of where you stand financially (determine what you own and owe); gather proof of income; make a post-divorce budget; and establish credit in your own name. He is the first in the state to take on a gay divorce case.
info: dtpublicrelations.com.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director. She can be reached at specialassignments@goqnotes.com and 704-531-9988,...