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Friday, January 21, 2022
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This year a record breaking 21 states and Washington, D.C. were recognized in the SEI for prioritizing innovative measures to advance LGBTQ+ equality. These states have robust LGBTQ+ non-discrimination laws covering housing, healthcare and public accommodations. Although there has been incredible progress, by only March 2021, state legislatures across the country had filed more legislation that specifically targeted the transgender community than in modern history. In contrast, 2020 had previously held the record of the most anti-transgender legislation introduced, with 79 pieces of legislation—2021 had 147.
“The 2021 State Equality Index outlines and analyzes how over a dozen states across the country led an intentional, coordinated attack on the transgender community, particularly children, that has led to villainization, blatant discrimination, and ultimately, violence,” said JoDee Winterhof, Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs. “On the other hand, we have seen a record-breaking amount of states step-up for LGBTQ+ equality and fight to pass laws that champion inclusivity and equity in the face of sweeping discrimination. It is clear that considerable effort has been, and continues to be made, to prevent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation from becoming law, progress toward LGBTQ+ equality in the states truly cannot be stopped.”
In 2021, anti-transgender legislation took several forms: 81 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity, and 43 bills to prevent transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming healthcare. Additionally, two bathroom bills were passed in Tennessee and Arkansas passed the first-ever ban preventing transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming care. By the end of the 2021 legislative session, another record 13 bills attacking transgender youth passed into law.
The SEI’s assessment of statewide LGBTQ+-related legislation and policies in the areas of parenting laws and policies, religious refusal and relationship recognition laws, non-discrimination laws and policies, hate crime and criminal justice laws, youth-related laws and policies and health and safety laws and policies has placed each state in one of four distinct categories based on the type of advocacy that takes place there:
• Twenty-One states and the District of Columbia are in the highest-rated category, “Working Toward Innovative Equality”: California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; District of Columbia; Hawaii; Illinois; Iowa, Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Minnesota; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; Oregon; Rhode Island; Vermont; Virginia and Washington.
“This past year was one of the toughest in recent memory for our state partners and the LGBTQ+ community. Our opposition, after learning to refine their attacks by taking aim at particularly vulnerable communities like transgender youth, covered the country with anti-trans sports and medical care bans,” said Fran Hutchins, Executive Director of the Equality Federation Institute. “Thanks to the work of advocates in the states, only a small percentage of these harmful bills were enacted. Despite difficult legislative sessions in many states, I am so proud of the work being done to make the lives of LGBTQ+ people better and more accepting no matter the community they call home.”
Although the transgender community received the brunt of discriminatory legislation, anti-LGBTQ+ bills took other forms as well, and one of the most notable trends was a resurgence of laws that carve all-new religious exemptions into existing laws that allows people to refuse to serve LGBTQ+ individuals. Across the country, 44 religious refusal bills were filed including about a dozen so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) bills and a dozen more bills that would allow for religious refusals, including against LGBTQ+ patients, in medical care. South Dakota and Montana passed RFRA legislation and Ohio passed a medical care refusal bill.
While this historically bad year has been the backdrop of the 2021 legislative session, 44 new pro-equality laws were also passed. The equality bills range in topic from ensuring that utility companies allow consumers to change their names and pronouns; to streamlining adoption requirements for stepparents; to ensuring that places of public accommodation have gender-neutral bathrooms; to make it easier to update birth and death certificates with correct names and gender markers. All ensure that LGBTQ+ people are able to take one step closer to full legal and lived equality.
HRC Foundation’s full State Equality Index report, including detailed scorecards for every state, and a preview of the 2022 state legislative session is available online at www.hrc.org/sei.
EPA Region 8 hosting public listening session March 1 on the Draft Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures and Disparities in U.S. Communities
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a series of upcoming public listening sessions on the Draft Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures and Disparities in U.S. Communities (Lead Strategy), so communities and stakeholders can provide their comments on the Agency’s plan. Ongoing exposures to lead in the environment present a health risk to too many people nationwide. Very low levels of lead in children’s blood have been linked to adverse effects on intellect, concentration and academic achievement. The draft Lead Strategy lays out approaches to strengthen public health protections, address legacy lead contamination for communities with the greatest exposures and promote environmental justice.
“Communities of color and low-income communities are often disproportionately exposed to lead, which can cause life-long negative effects,” said Carlton Waterhouse, EPA deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “Today, we are inviting all communities exposed to lead and other stakeholders to share their perspectives so that EPA can ensure that our Draft Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures and Disparities in U.S. Communities is as comprehensive as possible.”
“Public input is an essential element of the important work we do at EPA to make sure communities have lead-free environments,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “We encourage people to attend on March 1 and provide public comment so that together we can work to reduce lead exposure in our communities.”
Virtual public listening sessions will be held in all 10 of EPA’s geographic offices. EPA Region 8, which serves Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and 28 Tribal Nations, will hold a listening session on March 1 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. mountain standard time. Registration will be required to attend the event. Registration links to each regional listening session can be found on EPA’s website at: https://www.epa.gov/lead/
During this event, registered members of the public will have an opportunity to share their comments on EPA’s draft Lead Strategy with EPA senior officials and managers. Those interested in speaking may sign up for a 3-minute speaking slot at the time of registration.
Listen to Squid Game (Let’s Play) EP HERE via Casablanca Records.
TOKiMONSTA comments on “The Flower Blooms” and Squid Game. “Like so many, I watched Squid Games and loved it. As a Korean American, seeing this type of representation paired with boundary breaking acceptance is important for Asian minorities living in Western societies. That being said, after watching it I felt inspired to write something unique and tied to my Korean roots. In Korean, the “Red Light, Green Light” moment is based on a Korean game I grew up with—the words actually saying “The hibiscus flower is blooming/blossoming.” I created a fun song, using my own voice to sing the lyric in Korean.”
The history making South Korean Netflix series, Squid Game, follows Gi-hun. Laid off and divorced with high-interest loans and a gambling debt, Gi-hun is at his wit’s end when a strange man presents him a business card featuring a circle, triangle and square. The man invites Gi-hun to a survival game. The prize money? 45.6 billion won. Grasping at straws, Gi-hun accepts the offer and lands himself in a mysterious place with a total of 456 participants; among them is Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s former neighbor who initially seemed to be living the high life, Il-nam the terminally ill elder, Sae-byeok the North Korean defector, Deok-su the gangster, Mi-nyeo the con artist and Ali the migrant worker. The rule is simple: Everyone has to participate in a well-known, classic childhood game. The stakes? Their lives. Winner takes all. Trust no one, not even yourself. Here, winning is the only thing that matters.
In The Love That Dares, queer love speaks its name through the words of lovers from years gone by. Alongside the more famous names coexist beautifully written letters by lesser-known lovers, giving us an insight into queer love outside of the spotlight of fame or fortune. These letters offer a glimpse into the passion and courage it took to continue a gay relationship in times when it was at best improper, and at worst illegal.
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Acta Non Verba - Youth Urban Farm Project - Oakland, CA
Founded and led primarily by women of color, Acta Non Verba (ANV) seeks to challenge the oppressive stigmas and dynamics in urban farming. They foster a safe space for children and families in the Oakland area to build their understanding of food production, nutrition and community ties. They serve lower income African American and Latino families in neighborhoods suffering from high crime rates and pollution. Their camps are designed to give these kids access and experience in farming and harvesting organically grown produce. They also do fun, traditional camp activities like overnights, campfire stories, hiking and stargazing! The best part - youth plant and harvest the organic produce which they then sell at ANV’s farmstand - all profits are then deposited into participating kids’ educational savings accounts! They’re currently open for in-person camp with social distance measures, as well as hosting online sessions.
Pretty Lake Camps - Pretty Lake, MI
Serving over 60,000 youth in the Kalamazoo area since 1916, Pretty Lake Camps provides an entirely free wholesome camp experience while also covering all amenities, from clothing and hygiene to transportation and bedding. While financial obstacles prevent a large number of children from participating in amazing summer camps that every kid deserves - Pretty Lake camps seek to tear down these barriers. Funded by private revenue and volunteers who believe in their mission, they seek to give kids life-changing experiences and life skills through their one-of-a-kind program. From boating and environmental education to archery, Pretty Lake gives every kid a summer they’ll never forget. With a prepared-ness plan in cooperation with CDC guidelines, Pretty Lake Camps are currently open.
Sherwood Forest Summer Camp - St. Louis, MO
With firm belief that education and opportunity are fundamental rights to all children, Sherwood Forest Summer Camp is dedicated to providing kids in need with transformational life experiences through their camp programs. Serving low income families from St. Louis, who live at or below the federal poverty line, Sherwood Forest is more than just a camp. While they have traditional camp experiences like backpacking and river excursions, they’re balanced by book club and performative arts programs designed to reduce summer learning loss and increase enthusiasm for learning. They strive to sustain lasting relationships with their campers and families, building off of their learning experiences from the year prior, helping kids cultivate their talents and interests while fostering powerful passions for education year round. While they aren’t physically open at their Lesterville location, they’re offering a free virtual alternative - Stay Camp 2020
Camp Brave Trails - Los Angeles, CA
Exercising elements of your typical, fun-filled summer camps, Camp Brave Trails gives a platform for LGBTQ+ youth to thrive and embrace their bravery and leadership. Through workshops, peer connection, positive role-modeling, service projects and artistic programming, campers gain crucial life skills to effect social change in their communities. In a world of inequality, Camp Brave Trails meets the demand to empower future generations of LGBTQ+ youth and give them the necessary skills to be leaders for change. They’re currently open with safe social distance practices in effect!
Camp Tawonga - San Francisco, CA
Camp Tawonga has served as one of the leading Jewish summer camps for the past 90 years, and helps kids celebrate their Jewish identities through community building and immersion in nature. Their loving, inclusive community allows their kids to explore their self confidence, compassion and spirituality and in turn foster a profound sense of acceptance and human connection. They have summer as well as year-round programs as well as ones that include the whole family! Unfortunately amidst COVID-19, they are not offering their yearly summer camp but are eagerly awaiting the storm to pass to resume their year round programs.
Dining and Nightlife
Such a special place is destined to draw special people. That list includes some of the country’s most celebrated chefs, many who now call Telluride home. Truth is, you sort of work up an appetite here, and whether you’re looking for a fresh pizza, foie gras, or free-range steak, Telluride's got a collection of restaurants that get our mouths watering just talking about them.
Condé Nast readers ranked Telluride in their Top 20 List of Best American Cities for Foodies. And Fodor’s ranked Telluride in the Top 10. Imagine how far up the list they’d be if you took the actual “cities” off that list. Telluride is also a town known for playing hard, and that doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. In fact, USA Today ranked us Top 5 Ski Resorts for Nightlife. Wander Main Street for some saloon hopping, catch some live music, or tuck into a wine bar and enjoy our friendly, festive atmosphere for yourself. You are encouraged to visit the online version of the Telluride Dining Guide to explore all of the excellent options that Telluride and Mountain Village have to offer.
Ready for a break from playing in all those powder stashes? Check out Telluride's assortment of “shopping stashes.”
Telluride and Mountain Village offer a unique collection of independent retail shops and galleries. Wander historic downtown or the pedestrian-friendly plazas of Mountain Village in search of the perfect gift, fashion accessory, or latest sporting equipment. Whether admiring window displays or indulging in the latest styles in apparel, home décor, jewelry and more. Shopping is a perfect way to spend a day off the slopes, or to while away the late afternoon hours before heading to dinner. Visit Telluride Tourism Board’s Shopping Guide before you arrive to plan the perfect boutique day!
Kali and Sabrina first met in 2016, performing in a Britney Spears tribute show in Melbourne. When they learned of their shared interest in music production, they decided to join forces as a DJ duo. They bought a mixer and six months later they were in business.
“The biggest hurdle was deciding who stands where in the booth,” Kali explains. “Sabrina is left-handed and I’m right. We had to fight over who uses the left and right DJ decks. Swapping throws off our groove!”
Their Jawbreakers name harkens back to the iconic candy from their childhoods and the 1998 teen film that starred Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart and Julie Benz as the “it” girl clique who reign supreme in their high school.
The duo has already headlined several international festivals including Sydney Mardi Gras and Milkshake Festival in Netherlands. Their next big gig will be Summer Camp Festival where they will perform alongside Years and Years, Big Freedia and The Veronicas. They are also slated to perform the next Goodlife U18 event, as well as Adelaide Festival, St Kilda Festival and Melbourne Pride.
“We have been keeping an eye on Jawbreakers for several years,” says Damien Platt of Extrovert Music, a division of Vicious Recordings, the label that discovered Avicii when he was a teenager, and released his first ten records. “When Kali and Sabrina presented us with demos of the EP, we were instantly fans of the music. It's fun, its camp and its quality music.”
Jawbreakers is not Extrovert Music’s first foray into gay dancefloor music. Label co-founder Andy Van, of the band Madison Avenue, had a #1 dance anthem with “Don’t Call Me Baby”. More recently, Sgt Slick’s recut of “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” went gold and has become a major queer anthem. “Extrovert Music is focusing on dance pop/disco/commercial/cross over releases,” Platt continues. “A majority of our new signings and existing roster who identify as LGBTQIA+ are producing this sound.”
While Jawbreakers’ unique look has helped attract attention to their work, Sabrina admits that performing as hyper feminine drag artists has made it harder for fans and the music industry to take the duo seriously. “We’ve had straight DJs hit on us and others wonder who the random chicks were in the booth,” she explains. “But way more people have shown their support and their desire to see us succeed.”
“We’re lucky to live in an era when queer culture is proving that we can be a force in any and every industry,” Kali adds. “Never underestimate what a queen can achieve. It only makes us work harder.”
Coming to Comedy Works January 27-29, Matteo Lane is a gay, New York-based comedian whose stand-up special can be seen on Netflix’s The Comedy Lineup. He’s appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyers, HBO’s Crashing, and Will & Grace. Matteo was also a cast member on MTV’s GirlCode, as well as MTV2’s GuyCode and Joking Off.
Matteo is currently developing an animated series Kickass Drag Queen, together with Bob the Drag Queen, Gary Sanchez and Unicorn Island Productions. He also co-hosts the podcast Inside the Closet together with Emma Willmann.
Not limited to just stand-up, he also performs a live cabaret, Streisand at the Bon Soir, to great critical acclaim. Fluent in five languages and with a singing range of six octaves, Matteo lived in Italy as an oil painter and opera singer before starting his comedy career.
Human Rights Campaign, Athlete Ally and Other Advocacy Groups Urge NCAA To Include Non-Discrimination Language In New Constitution
Organizations that have signed onto this letter to the NCAA include: Human Rights Campaign, Athlete Ally, American School Health Association, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Athlete Ally, Equality Federation, GLAAD, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, GLSEN, Lambda Legal, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Education Association (NEA), National Women's Law Center, SAGE, School Social Work Association of America, The Trevor Project.
"If the NCAA is committed to ensuring an environment of competition that is safe, healthy, and free from discrimination, they cannot dodge the question of how to ensure transgender athletes can participate safely,” said Human Rights Campaign Vice President for Policy & Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof in reaction to the NCAA’s new policy on transgender inclusion released late yesterday. “That is precisely why we and a number of organizations across a wide spectrum of advocates are urging them to readopt and strengthen non-discrimination language in their constitution to ensure the Association is committed to enforcing the level playing field and inclusive policies they say their values require. Any policy language is only as effective as it is enforceable, and with states passing anti-transgender sports bans, any inclusive policy is under immediate threat. We are still reviewing the NCAA's new policy on transgender inclusion and how it will impact each and every transgender athlete."
"We are deeply committed to ensuring the health, safety and success of all college athletes, and this includes transgender and nonbinary athletes,” said Athlete Ally Director of Policy & Programs Anne Lieberman. “Including comprehensive nondiscrimination language in the Constitution is a core piece of this work; as we learn more about how the NCAA's new guidelines for transgender participation will be implemented, we will keep pushing the NCAA to center the lived experiences of college athletes."
Key Excerpts From Today’s Letter:
“...While decentralizing the NCAA and giving power to conferences and schools has its benefits, we are concerned that leaving the enforcement of non-discrimination protections to schools will create a patchwork of protections rather than a comprehensive policy that would protect all athletes, no matter where they play. This would be similar to the patchwork of non-discrimination policies in states, where marginalized groups in some states or cities are protected while others are left behind by localities that opt not to enact inclusive policies. The health, safety, and well-being of every athlete is paramount, and a particular challenge for transgender athletes who have to contend with discriminatory laws that are being enacted in states across the country.”
“The political climate that we have seen develop in certain state legislatures gives us little hope that non-discrimination and fair treatment are principles that will be consistently upheld by state laws, or that state policies are even trending in the right direction. This past year, legislatures across the country have passed legislation that undermines the rights and protections of marginalized groups, from anti-abortion laws that undermine the rights of people who can become pregnant, to voting disenfranchisement laws that target and disproportionately impact communities of color, to anti-critical race theory legislation, to anti-transgender laws that ban trans participation in youth sports outright. Repeated attempts by organizations and individuals to fight against inclusive interpretations of Title IX make clear that the NCAA must be an active partner in the fight for equality.”
Our request is simple and straightforward. The NCAA should put non-discrimination language with enumerated categories in its new constitution as it did with its previous version with the clear disaggregation of gender identity…”
“…In previous fights, the NCAA has forcefully spoken up against anti-transgender legislation, committing to holding championships only in states that are “safe, healthy, and free from discrimination” in response to the 2017 passage of HB 2, the discriminatory bill in North Carolina. Transgender young people of all ages are harmed by discriminatory anti-transgender laws, and it’s important to remember that denying transgender children and youth from playing sports today is tantamount to denying the transgender NCAA athletes of tomorrow…”
In 2021, during the worst anti-transgender state legislative session on record, the Human Rights Campaign, Athlete Ally, and others called on the NCAA to step up their leadership, as the organization has done in previous anti-equality state legislative fights. The NCAA responded by publicly expressing opposition to anti-transgender laws and reaffirmed its commitment to their principle of awarding championship host sites to locations that were “safe, healthy, and free from discrimination.” Yet, after their statement, the NCAA violated its own principle by announcing softball tournaments at schools in Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee, all states that passed anti-transgender legislation last year. Ten states have enacted anti-transgender sports bans, including legislation in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Executive Orders in South Dakota.
In 2015 the NCAA spoke out forcefully against the ratification of an anti-LGBTQ religious refusal bill in Indiana, threatening to reconsider future events and the maintenance of their corporate headquarters within the state. In 2017, the NCAA refused to award any championship host sites in North Carolina in response to the legislature’s hateful and discriminatory “bathroom bill,” lifting its prohibition upon the legislature’s repeal of the law.
The full text of the letter to the NCAA can be read here.
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Please participate in this special CMI survey on the impacts of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ community.
The research is a partnership of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Community Marketing & Insights.