💥 ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill passes in Florida, goes to governor [03.08.22 AP News]
💥 Georgia lawmakers introduce bill similar to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ [03.09.22 WJBF]
💥 Disney Pledges $5 Million to LGBTQ Rights Following “Don’t Say Gay” Bill Controversy [03.09.22 Yahoo]
💥 Global Methodist Church announces May launch, split from United Methodist Church over LGBTQ rights [03.03.22 USA Today]
💥 How Police Abuse Phone Data to Persecute LGBTQ People [03.07.22 Wired]
💥 Refusal to Accept LGBTQ Equality Is Still Causing Division in Churches [03.06.22 New York Magazine]
💥 LGBTQ youth suicide prevention group to expand to Mexico [03.09.22 NBC News]
💥 Conversion therapy is harmful and costs society as a whole [03.07.22 CNN]
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Welcome to this week’s LGBTQ+ News Roundup, where we share some of the biggest LGBTQ+ news headlines from the week that caught our attention!
🏳️🌈UCLA study spotlights gaps in health care access among California’s LGBT community [02.28.22 UCLA Newsroom]
🏳️🌈Biden renews call to pass LGBTQ Equality Act in State of the Union speech [03.01.22 Washington Blade]
🏳️🌈How Texas Came Up With Its New Anti-Trans Directive [03.01.22 Slate]
🏳️🌈Texas investigates parents of transgender teen, prompting the ACLU to sue [03.01.22 WFAA]
🏳️🌈Texas has 'initiated investigations' into trans kids' families, lawsuit says [03.01.22 NBC News]
🏳️🌈The Biggest Threat to Trans Kids in Texas is Child Protective Services [03.02.22 Slate]
🏳️🌈A judge has blocked a Texas investigation of one transgender teen's parents [03.02.22 NPR]
Texas continues to remove LGBTQ suicide prevention resources from state websites [03.02.22 NBC News]
💥 Texas governor [Greg Abbott] calls on citizens to report parents of transgender kids for abuse [02.23.22 NBC News]
💥 A Florida legislator withdrew his amendment to the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill that would require school districts to out students within 6 weeks [02.22.22 Business Insider]
💥 Sen. Rick Scott's GOP manifesto denies existence of transgender people [02.23.22 NBC News]
💥 Alabama lawmakers advance transgender students bathroom ban [02.23.22 NBC News]
💥 Supreme Court to Hear Case of Web Designer Who Objects to Same-Sex Marriage [02.22.22 The New York Times]
💥 Utah bill: Trans kids can play sports only if a commission okays request [02.14.22 Los Angeles Blade]
💥 ‘Still live in fear’: LGBTQ Americans hope push for Equality Act will finally end bias [02.23.22 USA Today]
💥White House: Texas stance on gender-affirming care for transgender youth is 'dangerous' [02.23.22 Dallas News]
Click through for tweets that caught our attention in the past week! Each photo links to the original Tweet.
Background of Raids at Stonewall Inn
Prior to the Stonewall Uprising (which is often refered to as the Stonewall Riots or simply “Stonewall” and - occasionally - the Stonewall Rebellion), police regularly raided gay bars, which were often owned by the Mafia, which also owned the Stonewall Inn. In the 1950s and 1960s, gay people were facing a hostile legal system and were discriminated against in public accomodations, including bars.
The Stonewall Uprising began in response to a police raid in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. This was not the first response to police brutality in spaces popular amongst gay people. Cooper Do-nuts was a 24 hour cafe between two gay bars in Los Angeles. Because of their location and friendly attitutde to gay customers, they were targeted by police. On a May 1959 evening, two police officers entered Cooper Do-nuts and asked for IDs, which was a common form of harassment and intimidation. The officers then attempted to arrest two drag queens, two male sex workers, and a gay man. When one of the arrestees began to protest, patrons began throwing drinks and pastries at the police cars. After the police drove away without making arrests, patrons took to the streets. Arrests were ultimately made, but not before the events of Cooper Do-nuts in Los Angeles made history as the first known gay uprising in the United States.
In 1966, police targeted Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco, patronized at the time by drag queens and trans women, to arrest people who were legally male and dressed traditionally as women. A transgender woman resisted arrest by throwing coffee at a police officer. Patrons poured into the streets and fought by throwing dishware and breaking the windows, which they broke again a few days later when the windows were replaced. This uprising was seen as a pivotal point for those at the intersections of race, class, and gender identity and expression as well as the starting point for the transgender rights movement in San Francisco.
June 28-29, 1969
(cw: sexual assault)
On the early morning of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street, setting off a series of demonstrations in which patrons fought back against police brutality. While the bouncers used intense scrutiny to determine who would be allowed entrance, on this night four undercover police officers entered the bar early to gather evidence. Unfortunately, the bar was not tipped off about a potential raid that evening, despite the norm. The Public Morals Squad waited for the signal and the raid began when the police called for backup. Over 200 people were locked inside the bar. Usually, the police would line up patrons and check identification; women police officers would escort those dressed in typically women’s clothes to the restroom to “verify their sex.” On June 28, the patrons refused to go to the restroom with the police officers. From there, police decided to round up everyone for arrest, while separating those suspected of “crossdressing.” Some patrons were released through the front door and stayed to watch. Meanwhile, patrons began reacting to police who touched lesbian patrions inappropriately while frisking them. Crowds grew to 150 and to, eventually, ten times that. They satirically saluted the police, threw pennies and then beer bottles, shouted “Gay Power!” and sang “We Shall Overcome.” Police continued beating patrons. A lesbian, believed by many to be Stormé DeLarverie, escaped arrest several times and fought four police officers. When an officer threw her into the back of a wagon, she shouted, “Why don’t you guys do something?” One witness recalls, “It was at that moment that the scene became explosive.” The uprising escalated but the streets were mostly clear by 4am. Folks returned the second night, but there are different views on which night was the most riotous.
On June 28, 1970 Christopher Street Liberation Day marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street. Los Angeles and Chicago hosted additional marches. These three marches are viewed as the first gay pride marches. In 1971, Gay Pride marches were held in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockhom.
This past Monday, May 17, we observed International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
This year, more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures, and while a small percentage of those became law, it is critical to understand that even the introduction of these bills, and the rhetoric around them, have tremendous impact on the communities they target. LGBTQ+ people, like other marginalized groups, experience discrimination in their daily lives and see their existences used as political fodder, red meat for political points.
1981, social worker Virginia Brooks coined “sexual minority stress theory,” in her book Minority Stress and Lesbian Women. However, the theory is usually attributed to Illan Meyer, who in 1995, published a study of minority stress in gay men, which is cited about 20 times more frequently than Brooks’ work, which is not unusual for a work completed by a lesbian scholar and centers women.
Two hypotheses about the health disparities experienced by historically marginalized people must be understood before understanding minority stress theory.
Two types of stress processes, distal and proximal, accrue over time and lead to high chronic stress levels and, then, poor health outcomes. Distal stress processes are external and include rejection, discrimination, and prejudice. Proximal stress processes are internal and are often the byproduct of external stressors. Proximal stress processes include hiding an identity (staying in “the closet”), vigilance, and internalized negative feelings about one’s identity group (such as internalized homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia).
LGBTQ+ individuals are known to suffer from widespread health disparities compared to their cisgender, heterosexual counterparts. LGB people are 2 times more likely, and transgender people are 4 times more likely, to experience a mental health condition associated with minority stressors, like depression, PTSD, suicide ideation, and substance abuse. Most research has relied on surveys to collect data on the extent of minority stress and its impact. However, it requires more attention from the public health sphere than what can be ascertained through surveys. Research on the larger LGBTQ+ community’s mental health is difficult, as recruitment for research and interventions is limited. It’s difficult to get a full picture of the extent of stressors and how to quantify them. It's important to remember that people face compounded minority stress if they are part of multiple marginalized communities. LGBTQ+ people of color, for instance, experience homopbhobia, biphobia, and/or transphobia along with racism at the interpersonal and systemic levels. Another example is lesbian and otherwise women-loving-women (WLW) who experience sexism and homophobia.
North Carolina also faced down three specifically anti-LGBTQ+ bills this session. In a session with LGBTQ+ and allied clergy members, several of them said they were seeing more trans people, especially trans young adults, coming to their churches, searching for a place they would be safe and welcomed. Many of these trans folks had not been in a church in some time, as many churches are very unsafe, discriminatory places for them to be. It says something that a church can not only be welcoming and affirming but is also somewhere people can go for refuge when their existences are being attacked and debated at every level.
Inclusive spaces like churches that do everything they can to be safe and affirming places for marginalized people can be tools to help ease minority stress and resist cultural violence through nonpartisan political action. Learn more about how we can journey with you to full inclusion.
In February, the United States House of Representatives passed The Equality Act, which would add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to existing civil rights law. They also passed it in 2020. Different from 2020, however, is that it is much more likely to get a floor vote in the Senate this year. Still, many are worried that it will not be able to withstand the filibuster, which would ultimately require 60 votes to overcome.
Several Republican Senators have said they would support The Equality Act if it had protections for religious freedom. To be clear, they are asking for the religious freedom to discriminate. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 was introduced by a Democrat and signed by President Clinton. The primary cause of this bill was to protect indigenous religious practices that were restricted by government expansion onto their land or religious practices that require the use of peyote.
On March 7, 2018, a federal appeals court ruled RFRA does not justify discrimination against LGBTQ employees. However, on October 2019, a federal judge ruled RFRA does justify denial of health insurance and medical treatment based on sex, gender identity, or termanation of pregnancy, even if those services are necessary, medically. This refusal of service also allows providers to deny services to trans people, even if their medical need is not related to the patient being transgender.
The Equality Act specifically provides LGBTQ+ people with protections against RFRA, which opponents claim is their biggest concern with the bill. For the record, religious institutions, like churches, would not have to hire LGBTQ+ people under the Equality Act, despite the misinformation campaign.
It is true the government can not infringe on the practice of religion. However, I would argue that discrimination does not fit the “practice of religion.” Discrimination is not a religious practice. It is not a sacred doctrine or ritual. Providing services to the public or employing the public means just that.
Religion must not be used in public spaces to refuse civil rights to groups of people. First, how can an investigator differentiate between a “sincerely held religious belief” and bigotry? If we allow medical providers, employers, vendors of public goods to deny access to LGBTQ+ people, should we also deny service based on “sincerely held religious belief” to people of various faith traditions, to mixed-race couples, to couples who live together before marriage? The list could go on until we have a society that even more is made for the right-wing evangelical Christian.
And that brings me to my next point. One reason I know discrimination is not a sacred practice or ritual of a religion, one way I know it is not the living out of faith, is that I am a person of faith, as are many LGBTQ+ people. Now, the number of Christians is decreasing nationally, and I would argue that the way the Church sometimes addresses issues like this is part of the reason. Nonetheless, we must reject the false binary between people of faith and LGBTQ+ people and our allies. The media loves to present the “Christian side” and the “LGBTQ+ side,” but often those overlap. Besides, Christianity is neither the only religion in the United States nor the official religion of the United States. That’s because, indeed, we have freedom from the establishment of religion.
Lastly, even Christians who may not fully support or affirm LGBTQ+ people support nondiscrimination protections. In a poll of 10,000 people, 76% of all people in the United States supported nondiscrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. That includes 85% of Democrats, 74% of independents, and 62% of Republicans. The religious group least supportive were white evangelical protestants, but they still endorsed the protections at 62%. White Catholics supported at 77% and Mormons supported at 78%.
The Equality Act, as written, is popular and well past-due. It’s time to stand up against misinformation campaigns about LGBTQ+ people and people of faith. That Venn Diagram is sometimes a circle.
I was a month from turning 14 in the summer of 2002 when my home church, then affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, baptized two gay men. I'll go much more in depth in later content, but when the church was threatened with expulsion from our various associations, including one we helped found, there was a meeting to decide next steps - would we baptize these men? The church made the decision to move forward with the baptism, but one thing stands out to me from that meeting where this decision was made. There was a woman I knew, I believe in her late 30s at the time, who was so upset by this decision that she cried and hugged me in the hallway. I, a closeted and suffering 13 year old, was comforting an adult woman who didn't want people like me in her church, the church my family had attended for generations.
Of course, I remember my pastor's emphasis on love and not judgment, I remember the amazing feeling of unity and family when our church was faced with protestors who interrupted our services and when we were removed from more associations. I remember the swell of pride and deep love I had for people who didn't know much about LGBTQ+ lives but who were standing in the gap of love. But I also remember how deeply, deeply some people didn't want me there.
This was one of a few extreme situations I seemed to find myself in the center of around LGBTQ+ people in faith spaces. And then ther's the others: the hush hush of 'we don't talk about that here,' 'come as you are,' 'love the sinner, hate the sin.' I fumbled in the dark until I decided to turn the light on myself and walk out of the church doors. I knew my Bible better than anyone I knew who hadn't attended seminary. I read Revelation when I was seven years old. And I said goodbye to the Church and I stopped praying to the God of people who didn't want me.
After I transferred from my hostile Baptist college where I studied religious studies, Christian education, and youth ministry, I earned my social work degrees and worked with LGBTQ+ youth, foster families, adults, and adults with HIV. I did advocacy and activism so that people, no matter who they were, would always have a space. I had been pushed out of so many spaces, and I was going to prevent that in any way I could - including fighting for nondiscrimination ordinances in employment, housing, and public accomodations.
The world still squeezed us out. I lost two trans youth to suicide when I was working with them. Today, laws across the country are being signed that attack trans children athletes and refuse them medical care. So much of this uses the church as justification. But now we know, fewer than half of adults belong to a religious congregation. We can do better, and I know a lot of churches don't know where to start.
Whether you are just considering opening your doors to LGBTQ+ people, or whether you are doing everything you know to do and just want to make sure you're on the right path, we will meet you where you are and offer deep, nonjudgmental relationship where we will study, grow, and do outreach with your congregation. This is a relationship that will feel nurturing, and it's deeper than nonprofits, even denominational ones, have the capacity to go with you.
I am ever drawn to the Mysterious love of God, and am in seminary, a decision I made when I first felt called at age 11. Over 20 years from that time, I am getting my MA in Religious Studies from Chicago Theological Seminary. I'm focusing on Christian Theology and LGBT Studies. I'm not seeking ordination; I believe my ministry is to the Church institutionally. If I had not been part of the LGBTQ+ community, I most likely would be serving a congregation today.
This is why Project Extravagant Welcome (PEW) exists. The church is often the place where people learn to hate or be ambivalent towards LGBTQ+ people, it's the place where so many of us have been harmed, and it's the place where all of that can change. Together, we can open those doors and grow your ministry at the same time.
If you're interested, compete this form, and we will get back to you!
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