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NATIONAL Trans foster-child bill, Black queer artist, breast-feeding first
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2018-02-20

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In California, transgender foster children would be guaranteed access to healthcare specific to their unique needs under a bill announced by San Diego Assemblyman Todd Gloria, KUSI.com reported. The Democrat's bill would amend the list of foster youth rights to include "access to gender-affirming health care and gender-affirming behavioral health services," such as counseling to cope with gender-identity issues or gender-confirmation surgery. That list includes such freedoms as accessing the religious services of their choice and attending court hearings. Gloria is currently interim speaker pro tempore of the California State Assembly, LGBT Weekly noted.

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery announced that former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama had picked the Black artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, to paint their official portraits—and Wiley is openly queer, IntoMore.com noted. According to the column, "Obama's choice of Wiley is radical because of the spirit in which Wiley paints his [Black] figures. His early larger-than-life naturalistic images of ordinary gay and straight [Black] men he saw on the streets of New York have undone our expectations around masculinity, straightness, gayness and race."

A 30-year-old transgender woman has become the first officially recorded to breast-feed her baby. An experimental three-and-a-half-month treatment regimen, which included hormones, a nausea drug and breast stimulation, enabled the woman to produce 227 grams of milk a day, New Scientist reported. The transgender woman had been receiving feminizing hormonal treatments for several years before she started the lactation treatment. When her partner was five-and-a-half-months pregnant, the woman sought medical treatment from Tamar Reisman and Zil Goldstein at Mount Sinai's Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City.

A D.C. man charged with first-degree murder while armed for the Dec. 28 shooting death of lesbian Kerrice Lewis, 23—whose bullet-riddled body was found inside the trunk of her burning car—may not have been the person who shot her, The Washington Blade noted. D.C. police have said there is no evidence so far to indicate Lewis was targeted because of her sexual orientation. However, in an arrest affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court, police homicide detectives presented evidence that Lewis' murder is linked to two other murders of young men who she knew that took place on the same day as her murder.

The rash of new "religious exemption" laws passed by state legislatures around the United States represent a thinly-veiled assault against the rights of LGBT people, Human Rights Watch said in a report. The 41-page report, "'All We Want is Equality': Religious Exemptions and Discrimination against LGBT People in the United States," documents how recent laws carve out space to discriminate against LGBT people in adoption and foster care, health care, and access to some goods and services. The report is at https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/02/19/all-we-want-equality/religious-exemptions-and-discrimination-against-lgbt-people.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is calling for a "federal civil-rights remedy" to give victims of sexual assault the power to sue their perpetrators in federal court—25 years after he first proposed it, The Hill reported. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Biden ( who some have said is easing toward a 2020 presidential run ) wrote about the civil rights remedy that was originally a part of the Violence Against Women Act. Biden spearheaded the landmark legislation while a senator from Delaware, and then-President Clinton signed the act into law in 1994. Biden wote that the civil-rights remedy was originally a part of the legislation, but that the Supreme Court struck it down in 2000.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ), Transgender Law Center ( TLC ), Centro Legal De La Raza and El/La Para Translatinas filed an amicus brief this week in City and County of San Francisco v. Trump, the California case challenging Trump's executive order attacking sanctuary cities, a press release noted. California is home to one-quarter of the nation's 43.2 million immigrants. Immigrants make up 30 percent of the San Francisco Metropolitan Area population and 37 percent of the Santa Clara, San Jose and Sunnyvale metropolitan area—the second largest community of immigrants in the United States. The case is pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The chief executive officer of a Vermont energy company wants to become the first transgender governor in U.S. history, the U.S. News & World Report noted. Vermont Electric Cooperative CEO Christine Hallquist is formally entering the race for governor of her state. Vermonters are due to vote on a governor this year, with Republican Gov. Phil Scott as incumbent.

Alabama lawmakers are moving to strike anti-gay language from the state's sex-education law, CBS News reported. The current law says students are to be taught that homosexuality is a lifestyle that's not "acceptable to the general public." The Senate Education Policy Committee voted to delete that phrase, sending the bill to the full Senate.

Before competing, freeskier Gus Kenworthy posted a picture of his shattered thumb on Twitter, but assured Team USA fans that he would still compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics, People.com noted. He calmed any fears that he wouldn't be able to compete—and he took a jab at Mike Pence in the process by saying the injury would keep him from shaking the vice president's hand. Kenworthy came out as gay in 2015 and, along with figure skater Adam Rippon, is one of the only openly gay athletes to represent Team USA in this Winter Olympics.

Maryland gubernatorial candidate Alec Ross has chosen a lesbian business owner, Julie Verratti, as his running mate, The Washington Blade reported. Verratti co-founded Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring with her wife, Emily Bruno, and her brother-in-law. Also, she worked for the Boston-based MassEquality during 2005-07.

Lambda Legal received a response from east Alabama's Calhoun County School District that an Alexandria High School lesbian couple will be able to attend prom together, according to a press release. One of the Alexandria High School juniors had been disciplined for "promposing" to her girlfriend during a school talent show, which cast doubt as to whether the students would be permitted to attend prom together. Lambda Legal had sent a letter to Calhoun County School District Superintendent Joe Dyar and Alexandria High School Principal Mack Holley underscoring the school district's legal responsibility to respect the sexual orientation of all its students and not to discriminate against students on the basis of their sex.

State financial regulators in New York said they would investigate reports that gay men have been denied insurance policies covering life, disability or long-term care because they were taking medication to protect themselves against HIV, The New York Times reported. Such denials would amount to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the companies doing so could be penalized, said Maria T. Vullo, the state's superintendent of financial services. The Times reported that various insurers around the country had denied policies to gay men after learning they took Truvada, a cocktail of two anti-AIDS drugs; to get insurance, some men even stopped taking the protective drugs.

In New York state, Erie County legislators banned the controversial technique known as gay conversion therapy, WBFO.org reported. The program claims it can "cure" a gay child and turn them straight. Legislator Patrick Burke has spent years pushing for the ban, and saw it pass unanimously; legislator Barbara Miller-Williams said she had not heard of conversion therapy until Burke originally sponsored the bill.

In Massachusetts, eight boys as young as 6 have stepped forward to accuse their private hockey coach of molesting them—and prosecutors say they don't know where the fount of disturbing claims will end, The Boston Herald reported. Judge James L. LaMothe Jr. ordered Christopher Prew, 31, held without bail on the first case to be brought forward, charging him with raping the 9-year-old son of a widow Prew romanced. The accusers range in age from 6 to 11.

GLAAD announced the release of the amp—an online series featuring content and stories created by and for young changemakers to share experiences and amplify LGBTQ voices, according to a press release. The digital series will include op-eds, creative writing, photography, art, videos, and other original content from young creators such as GLAAD Campus Ambassadors, staff and interns, as well as advocates, activists and artists. See GLAAD.org/amp.

The first-ever Southern LGBTQ Health Symposium will take place will take place March 3 at Light Hall in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, a press release noted. Guests will attend interactive workshops, learn from experts, earn continuing education credits and explore best practices for working with LGBTQ patients. Admission ranges from free ( for students ) to $30 ( community members ) to $75 ( clinicians ) each; register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/southern-lgbtq-health-symposium-tickets-40927607576.

The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus ( SFGMC ) announced its lineup of honorees and VIP guests for the 40th Season Crescendo Gala on Feb. 24, per a press release. As it celebrates its 40th anniversary, this year SFGMC will honor two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Mary Lambert with the Inspiration Award for her achievements in advancing LGBTQ equality. The evening will also honor renowned Emmy-winning and Grammy and Tony Award-nominated composer Andrew Lippa with the Vanguard Award and President of AT&T Pacific Region Ken McNeely with the Corporate Leadership Award.

Fox News is facing a lawsuit after allegedly outing a man as gay, PinkNews noted. Silas Pierce is suing the network, claiming that Fox outed him as gay during a previous lawsuit. Fox News originally went to court during a legal dispute with the production company of a potential reality show. During the course of filming, the network cancelled production of the show due to concerns that Pierce had lied about his family.

Poet, rapper and ex-gay activist Jackie Hill Perry spoke at Harvard University recently, according to LGBTQ Nation. On her website, Hill Perry says that she was "saved from a lifestyle of homosexual sin" and is now "compelled to share the light of the gospel truth through poems." The student group Harvard College Faith and Action ( HCFA ) invited her to speak on campus, leading to some criticism; the group responded on Facebook, "We most certainly want to emphasize that this event is not intended in any way to promote homophobia, conversion therapy, or hatefulness in any form"—even though Hill Perry delivered that message on Feb. 16.

Former Breitbart tech editor and notorious internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos will take the stage at UCLA on Feb. 27 as a guest of the university's College Republicans to deliver a program titled "10 Things I hate About Mexico," SFGate reported. The move is already drawing controversy, even among conservatives on the campus of the Brentwood school. In addition, Yiannopoulos has announced a new college speaking tour.


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