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“Bathroom Bill” Targeting Trans Students Fails in South Dakota

HB 1008 brought national media attention to lawmakers in South Dakota recently. The bill, which mandated that K-12 students use restrooms and locker rooms that matched their “anatomy at birth” or their “chromosomes,” was passed into law, making South Dakota the first state in the nation to write laws specifically targeting transgender youth, and putting the state’s schools at odds with Title IX rulings.

Governor Daugaard was on record as saying he thought the law made good sense and that he had never met a transgender person. He did agree to meet with one student and his mother, as well as one other transgender adult. Once it was sent to his office, Daugaard had five days to veto the bill or do nothing to allow it to become law.

On the fifth day, in a surprising move, Daugaard vetoed the bill. He did not mention discrimination in his official statement, instead relying on fiscal reasoning to discard the bill.

Preserving local control is particularly important because this bill would place every school district in the difficult position of following state law while knowing it openly invites federal litigation.  Although there have been promises by an outside entity to provide legal defense to a school district, this provision is not memorialized in the bill.  Nor would such defense eliminate the need for school or state legal counsel, nor avoid expenses relating to expert witnesses, depositions and travel, or other defense costs.  Nor does the commitment extend to coverage over settlement or damage expenses.  This law will create a certain liability for school districts and the state in an area where no such liability exists today.

The House tried to revise the bill with a vote to overturn the veto two days later. But the override vote failed to meet the two-thirds majority required.

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Flash Mob Proposal Goes Viral

This is one of those videos that will make you say “awwwwww!”

Jared and Adam fell in love at a cycling studio. The proposal during a spin class is not to be missed.

Watch now!

 

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MSU Adds Gender Identity and Expression to Their Nondiscrimination Policy

The Missouri State University Board of Governors voted in favor, 6-1, of amending the university’s nondiscrimination policy for both students and employees to include gender identity and gender expression. Other categories that they voted in favor to add include marital status, family status, pregnancy and genetic information. The policy already protects students and employees based on sexual orientation. The updated policy applies to students, faculty, and staff of all Missouri State University campuses.

In June 2014, the University of Missouri Board of Curators voted in favor of adding gender identity and gender expression to their nondiscrimination policy. This decision impacted University of Missouri, Missouri University of Science and Technology, University of Missouri-Kansas City and University of Missouri-St. Louis.

“We are thrilled that Missouri State University, my alma mater, has taken this intentional step to ensure the safety and support of all of their students, faculty, and staff, including those who are transgender.” said Steph Perkins, a Springfield resident and Executive Director of PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization. “Following the repeal of Springfield’s nondiscrimination ordinance in April, we have seen a surge of businesses and organizations take public steps to affirm the local LGBT community. We are proud that MSU is one of those entities.”

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MONA Passes Out of Senate Committee!

The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) is making strides in the Missouri Legislature. MONA would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Missouri’s Human Rights Statute, which currently prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations for other protected categories, including race, sex, and national origin.

The Progress & Development Committee, led by Senator Joseph Keaveny, voted to pass MONA, SB 653, out of the committee February 3rd. This is a step in the long process of completely passing MONA. Previously in 2013, the Senate has voted once in favor of passing the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act out of the full Senate Chamber.

We are thrilled that the Progress & Development Committee have helped MONA move forward in the Senate. Without MONA, thousands of Missourians are at risk of losing their jobs and not being able to provide for their families simply because they are gay or transgender. We thank the committee members for their vote and their support.

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Kansas Bill Would Send Teachers to Prison for Mentioning Sex

The door is opening in Kansas for the wholesale elimination of art, literature, and discussion containing any hint of sexual material. These things will not be banned, they will be discarded through coercion and threats.

Under a Republican bill approved by the Kansas Senate in 2015, and now under consideration by a Kansas House committee, teachers would be stripped of protections currently in place, facing fines or up to six months in prison for using materials that implicitly or explicitly mention sex acts.

A Democratic congressman asked the bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook,

whether a teacher could be prosecuted for showing an image of Michelangelo’s sculpture David, which depicts male genitalia. He quoted sexual puns in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and asked whether teaching the play could be a criminal offense.

Pilcher-Cook said that would have to be decided by individual prosecutors and juries, an ignorant statement expressing how vague and poorly-defined such a law would inevitably be (“What counts as a criminal offense? You’ll find out after you’re arrested”). It reminds one of what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said of “hardcore pornography” in 1964:

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…

Proponents of the measure insist children must be protected from “harmful material,” defined as that with “any description, exhibition, presentation or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse.”

 

Continue reading about the bill here…

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