Tag Archives: human rights campaign

Survey shows post-election spike in bullying of young people

A post-election survey of youths found 70 percent witnessed bullying, hate messages or harassment, with racial bias the most common motive cited.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, released the online survey of 50,000 young people on Jan. 18.

More than a quarter of LGBTQ youth said they have been personally bullied or harassed since Election Day — compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ youth — with transgender young people most frequently targeted.

Additionally, Hispanic and Latinx respondents were 20 percent more likely than other youth to report having been personally bullied, with harassment targeting both immigrant and nonimmigrant communities.

“Whether the threats come in their schools or from those holding the country’s highest offices, no young person should be bullied or made to feel unsafe,” HRC president Chad Griffin said in a news release. “The alarming results of this groundbreaking survey underscore our fears about the damaging effect the recent election is having on our nation’s youth, and serve as a call to action to all of us committed to helping our young people thrive in an inclusive and supportive society.”

Young people reported feeling nervous and hopeless after the election, with almost half of LGBTQ youth saying they have taken steps to hide who they are by delaying coming out, dressing differently or questioning their plans for the future.

Hispanic and African American young people also reported changing their appearances and routines out of fear of harassment and Muslim, Jewish and Hindu youth all described concealing symbols of their faith to avoid being targeted.

In responses to open-ended questions on the survey, many young people shared stories of how  campaign rhetoric encouraged harassment and bullying.

Wrote one Hispanic 18-year-old from Illinois: “My family and I go shopping and wash clothes at 2 a.m. to avoid seeing and hearing people’s comments.

Findings include:

● 70 percent of respondents reported witnessing bullying, hate messages or harassment during or since the 2016 election.

Of those, 79 percent said such behaviors have been occurring more frequently since the onset of the presidential campaign.

● Among young people who reported seeing bullying and harassment, 70 percent witnessed incidents motivated by race or ethnicity, 63 percent saw incidents motivated by sexual orientation, 59 percent saw incidents motivated by immigration status and 55 percent witnessed incidents motivated by gender.

● Over the past 30 days, about half of transgender youth reported feeling hopeless and worthless most or all of the time and 70 percent said these and similar feelings have increased in the past 30 days.

About 36 percent were personally bullied or harassed and 56 percent changed their self-expression or future plans because of the election.

● Before Election Day 2016, more than half of survey respondents reported thinking about  the election every day and a third thought about it several times each week.

Respondents were solicited through HRC’s social media channels and other organizations, including Mental Health America, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Southern Poverty Law Center, True Colors Fund and The Trevor Project.

Trump/Pence considering anti-LGBT extremists for transition team

Leaked documents indicate Donald Trump is considering for his transition team candidates with histories of anti-LGBTQ animus, including Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council, a hate group.

“Ken Blackwell is a man who has spent his entire career going after LGBTQ Americans. Blackwell’s leadership role in President-elect Trump’s transition team should be a major wake up call for anybody who ever had any doubt that LGBTQ people are at risk,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs  at the Human Rights Campaign. HRC is the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group.

Winterhof continued, “Ed Meese and Kay Cole James, who are also reported to have key roles, have been vocal opponents of equality and other issues we care deeply about. The people President-elect Trump picks to serve in his administration will have a huge impact on the policies he pursues. We should all be alarmed at who he’s appointing to key posts on his transition team.”

Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, which was named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He also serves on the board of directors of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

In addition to supporting measures to ban marriage equality, Blackwell believes being LGBTQ is a choice, saying, “The reality is, again…that I think we make choices all the time. And I think you make good choices and bad choices in terms of lifestyle. Our expectation is that one’s genetic makeup might make one more inclined to be an arsonist or might make one more inclined to be a kleptomaniac. Do I think that they can be changed? Yes.”

Meese, a former attorney general, is a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, an organization that asserts that laws protecting LGBTQ people are not “necessary” and “weaken the marriage culture and the freedom of citizens and their associations to affirm their religious or moral convictions…”

According to NBC, the conservative Heritage Foundation is helping vet candidates for Trump’s cabinet.

Meese supported Indiana’s religious refusal law enacted under Vice President-elect Mike Pence, saying it “has nothing to do with refusing to serve gay people.” Meese has also said that marriage equality “shows how the culture has deteriorated over two centuries.”

Kay Cole James, president and founder of the Gloucester Institute, is a former senior vice president of the Family Research Council and a former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

She worked in the administrations of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.

The Advocate reported that in her book Transforming America from the Inside Out, James compared LGBTQ people to drug addicts, alcoholics, adulterers or “anything else sinful.”

Russ Feingold for U.S. Senate

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Anti-gay Justice Roy Moore suspended for remainder of term in Alabama

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended anti-LGBT Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore for the remainder of his term due to his unethical actions against marriage equality.

The nine-member Court of the Judiciary found Moore unanimously guilty of all six charges brought against him.

Moore will remain on the bench, but will not receive a salary and he will be unable to make any legal decisions.

His term is up in 2018. At that point, he will not be able to run for the justice again in Alabama because he will be past the office’s age restriction.

“Roy Moore has flagrantly and willfully attempted to block marriage equality at every turn in Alabama, using his position of power to push a personal, radically anti-LGBTQ agenda,” said Eva Kendrick, state manager for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group. “We are thrilled that justice has been done today and he will no longer be able to use the bench to discriminate against people he had taken an oath to protect.

Kendrick continued, “Roy Moore’s bigoted rhetoric and unethical actions harmed LGBTQ Alabamians and emboldened those who would seek to hurt us further. We hope this is a turning point for our state. We must focus on electing politicians and judges who will move us forward, not backward.”

HRC Alabama initiated the #NoMoore campaign to remove Moore from the Alabama Supreme Court for “his blatant legal and ethical failings.”

HRC Alabama also called out Moore’s discriminatory behavior with a billboard in downtown Montgomery, and held rallies and press conferences outside each of Moore’s ethics hearings — including the final hearing on Sept. 28.

Last year, HRC and other civil rights organizations joined the Southern Poverty Law Center’s ethics complaint filed with the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama and seeking Moore’s removal for violating the obligations of his office.

The complaint described how Moore urged Gov. Robert Bentley and members of the Alabama  Probate Judges Association to ignore federal court rulings striking down the state’s ban on marriage equality.

The court has now ruled that Moore violated the canons of judicial ethics by ordering the probate judges to defy the federal court injunction requiring them to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on a non-discriminatory basis.

This is the second time in 13 years that Moore has been sanctioned as a result of ethics complaints filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

SPLC president Richard Cohen, in a news release, said, “The Court of the Judiciary has done the citizens of Alabama a great service by suspending Roy Moore from the bench.  He disgraced his office and undermined the integrity of the judiciary by putting his personal religious beliefs above his sworn duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

“Moore was elected to be a judge, not a preacher. It’s something that he never seemed to understand. The people of Alabama who cherish the rule of law are not going to miss the Ayatollah of Alabama.”

Largest LGBT-rights group urges steps to curb gun violence

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. LGBT-rights organization, on Friday called for several measures to curb gun violence in the aftermath of the attack that killed 49 patrons and staff at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

HRC endorsed steps to limit access to assault-style rifles, expand background checks, and limit access to firearms for suspected terrorists and people with a history of domestic abuse.

But despite the worldwide outrage over the June 12 attack in Orlando by a gunman armed with an assault rifle, there is no indication as yet that tougher federal gun-control measures are forthcoming to address the nation’s epidemic of gun violence.

In the Senate, a filibuster by Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut did little to break GOP obstruction in Congress over gun restrictions. Republicans are standing firm against any new legislation unless the National Rifle Association, which represents the financial interests of weapons and ammunition makers, first approves it.

President Barack Obama, who visited the victims’ families in Orlando, called on lawmakers to act.

“Those who defend the easy accessibility of assault weapons should meet these families and explain why that makes sense,” Obama said.

Historic resolution

HRC’s board of directors approve the resolution on the gun measures Thursday evening at a special meeting. The organization said it was the first time in its 36-year history that it had called such a meeting to address a policy matter that extended far beyond the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The HRC’s president, Chad Griffin, blamed the massacre on “a toxic combination of two things: a deranged, unstable individual who had been conditioned to hate (LGBT) people, and easy access to military-style guns.”

The safety of LGBT people “depends on our ability to end both the hatred toward our community and the epidemic of gun violence that has spiraled out of control,” Griffin said.

The HRC noted that according to the latest FBI statistics, more than 20 percent of hate crimes reported nationally in 2014 targeted people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

It also repeated its call for Congress to pass an LGBT-inclusive federal nondiscrimination law, and for legislatures to do likewise at the state level. At present, only 18 states have comprehensive statewide laws banning discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.

Equality California, a major LGBT-rights group in California, also called for new gun-safety measures on Friday, urging action at both the federal and state level. It endorsed a package of bills in the California legislature, including measures that would require federal licensing of ammunition vendors, ban possession of large-capacity magazines, fund a center for research into firearm-related violence, and require anyone whose firearm is lost or stolen to notify law enforcement within five days of the loss.

See also: 20-plus years of the NRA’s anti-gay hate

Transgender ‘milestones’ took decades, more lawsuits to come

Legal experts and advocates for the approximately 700,000 transgender people estimated to be living in the United States say recent headline-grabbing developments reflect a slowly evolving change in the law.

“The trend is clearly toward recognizing that sex discrimination law protects against gender identity discrimination,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University’s law school.

Over the next few years there will likely be more court cases on that question, advocates on both sides agreed. Courts must decide whether decades-old federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex also prohibit discrimination based on a person’s gender identity.

The federal government says yes, but two important federal laws barring discrimination are not explicit: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination by employers, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities.

Adam P. Romero, a legal scholar at UCLA’s Williams Institute, which does research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, predicted more rulings favoring the transgender community.

The U.S. Supreme Court could ultimately take a case on the protections transgender people have under federal law, he said, but probably not soon because the law is “rapidly evolving” and the court generally doesn’t like to take up an issue until it has had time to mature. The court might also feel it doesn’t need to intervene at all if lower courts are moving in the same direction.

But Matt Sharp, legal counsel for the Arizona-based conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, predicted the issue would reach the high court within a few years.

He said lawmakers who wrote Title VII and Title IX never intended for them to cover gender identity, calling that a “fundamental redefinition of the law.” If Congress wants to make a change it should pass legislation, he said.

Before the late 1980s, transgender people didn’t have much luck claiming civil rights protections under federal law.

In 1977, one court of appeals ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act didn’t cover a woman fired for transitioning from Robert to Ramona. And in 1984, another appeals court used the same reasoning to rule against an Eastern Airlines pilot fired after transitioning from Kenneth to Karen.

But a 1989 Supreme Court case pointing in the opposite direction has proved to be a landmark, scholars said. In that case, Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, a woman wasn’t promoted in part because some partners felt she didn’t act feminine enough. The court ruled that the Civil Rights Act barred not just discrimination based on a person’s sex but also discrimination based on gender stereotypes.

Courts have subsequently found in favor of transgender plaintiffs alleging they were fired or not hired as a result of being transgender.

Vandy Beth Glenn was fired from her job with the Georgia General Assembly after announcing she intended to transition. When she sued in 2008, her lawyers called her case a longshot, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which covers Alabama, Florida and Georgia, ultimately ruled in her favor in 2011.

“I feel like we’ve come so much further even since then. It’s been pretty amazing,” she said in a telephone interview.

In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which covers Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, ruled in favor of a transgender Virginia teen who had been barred from using the boys’ restroom at school.

Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign — the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group — defined the series of developments as “milestones”  in May.

The attorney general’s speech announcing the federal government would sue North Carolina was a “huge public moment” and “one of those moments you know you’ve seen history in the making,” she said.

Transgender rights activist Mara Keisling, executive director of the Washington-based National Center for Transgender Equality, agreed the moment was “really, really remarkable” but said the administration wouldn’t have taken those actions if it weren’t on solid legal ground.

Still, Keisling said, it was emotional.

“Trans people were crying all over the country,” Keisling said. “To have the attorney general of the United States say: ‘I have your back, DOJ has your back and the president of the United States has your back’ — it was so important. It was so necessary. People are still crying, crying with relief and amazement.”

Alabama city criminalizes use of bathrooms in anti-transgender ordinance

The city council in Oxford, Alabama, has unanimously approved an ordinance preventing transgender people from using public bathrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity.

The ordinance goes beyond other regulations and imposes a $500 fine or six months in jail on violators.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group, says the ordinance is unprecedented in its establishment of criminal penalties for violations and raises a myriad of privacy and legal concerns, including questions about how the law will be enforced.

The ordinance lacks clarity on whether all people in Oxford will be expected to produce birth certificates when using public facilities or, if not, how law enforcement officials will obtain evidence.

“This ordinance is a shameful and vile attack on the rights and privacy of transgender people,” said HRC Alabama state manager Eva Walton Kendrick. “Transgender people are our neighbors, our coworkers and our fellow churchgoers, and every Alabamian has the right to live their lives without fear of discrimination and prejudice. Throughout the country elected officials from both sides of the aisle, along with hundreds of business leaders and advocates throughout the country have resoundingly rejected these kinds of proposals, which only seek to demean and marginalize the transgender community.”

Anti-LGBT activists who back such measures say they are needed as a safeguard. These advocates for the policies most often offer up arguments about adult men posing as transgender women to prey upon girls in women’s restrooms.

However, states with laws protecting transgender people’s access to the appropriate bathroom have seen no increase in public safety incidents.

Additionally, a coalition of more than 250 sexual assault prevention organizations released a statement last week decrying policies like the one adopted in Oxford this week.

Oxford is now the first city in the nation to enact such a law.

With the passage of HB2 earlier this spring, North Carolina became the first state to enact an anti-transgender bathroom bill.

Oxford’s ordinance, however, is unprecedented in that it enumerates criminal penalties, including the potential for jail time, for violations. It also applies to bathrooms and locker rooms citywide, including in private businesses, which goes further than the provision in North Carolina’s law, which applies to government buildings, according to HRC.

Education Department to publish database of schools seeking permission to discriminate against LGBT students

The U.S. Department of Education will publish a searchable database identifying educational institutions that have sought or received an exemption from federal civil rights law in order to discriminate against LGBT students.

The Human Rights Campaign had called on the the department to publish a database.

“We have been alarmed by the growing trend of schools quietly seeking the right to discriminate against LGBT students, and not disclosing that information publicly,” said Chad Griffin, president of HRC, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group. “We are encouraged that the Department of Education is answering our call for greater transparency to help ensure no student unknowingly enrolls in a school that intends to discriminate against them. We believe that religious liberty is a bedrock principle of our nation, however, faith should never be used as a guise for discrimination.”

HRC called for action after releasing a comprehensive report, Hidden Discrimination: Title IX Religious Exemptions Putting LGBT Students at Risk.

In the report, HRC spotlighted 56 colleges and universities in 26 states across every region of the country — which collectively have nearly 120,000 students — that have requested religious exemptions under Title IX since 2013. The report referred to one school in Wisconsin — Maranath Baptist Bible College.

The institutions have utilized a little-known provision in the law that allows educational institutions controlled by a religious organization to request an exemption from full compliance with the law if “application of the law would conflict with specific tenets of the religion.”

Specifically, HRC called on:

• The Department of Education to require schools to publish comprehensive information about the scope of the exemption they received and the way in which Title IX still protects students.

• The Department of Education to regularly report which educational institutions have been granted Title IX religious exemptions, the scope of those exemptions, and ensure the information is provided on the individual schools’ landing page as part of College Navigator.

• Congress to amend the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights governing statute to require OCR to annually report the number of Title IX exemptions that were requested, granted, and denied. LGBT students face discrimination and harassment at an alarming rate.

While the Education Department has little discretion to deny the requests for exemptions, religiously controlled educational institutions should not be exempt from full transparency, Griffin said.

According to a 2010 study, lesbian, gay, and bisexual college students are nearly twice as likely to experience harassment when compared with their non-LGB peers and are seven times more likely to indicate the harassment was based on their sexual orientation.

In the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, one-fifth of transgender students reported that they were denied gender-appropriate housing and 5 percent reported outright denial of campus housing.

LGBT college students also suffer from higher rates of sexual assault and misconduct on America’s campuses; transgender and gender nonconforming students report one of the highest rates of sexual assault and misconduct.