Fundraising for a Transgender House in Topeka

I was recently approached by the founder of Planting Peace, the non-profit organization that created the Equality House across the street from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.

Although the Equality House is painted as the transgender flag one week each year, many in the trans community have asked for something more permanent. Now the house next door is for sale. Sounds like the universe is talking, don’t you think?

I told Aaron about our visit last year and what it meant to my daughter. I told her about the possibility of having a Transgender House. Both of their minds started churning and they came up with the same idea: have Avery tell her story about visiting the house in the campaign to raise the funds to buy it.

The Equality House has become a beacon of hope across from a symbol of hate. It has also become a bit of an LGBTQ resource and community center as it opens its doors to visitors and has been the site of several LGBT fundraisers. With the trans community under attack from legislators around the country now more than ever, a visible representation of the community and a place for gathering together in a positive space for other fundraising events would be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

If you would like to be part of this effort, the fundraising page can be found here:

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Anti-Trans Bathrooms Bills in Kansas

There are two new bills pending in the Kansas legislature.

Both will ban trans students in Kansas public schools from using the bathrooms that align with their gender. Trans girls will be forced to use the boys’ bathroom. Trans boys will be forced into the girls’.

As written, these bills will provide special “accommodations” through allowing trans kids to use “alternative” facilities. The backers of this bill call this “privacy,” but the actual consequences will be to “out” and isolate trans kids who are just trying to do what we all do: Go to the bathroom. Instead, they will be subject to additional isolation, harassment, bullying, and potential injury. These bills will also apply to adult college students, no matter their age, no matter their surgical status.

You can see the bills, House Bill 2737 and Senate Bill 513 and their full history on the Kansas Legislature’s website.

SB 513 has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. Since we are getting close to the end of the regular legislative session, the Senate Education Committee can no longer meet and hold hearings.  Unless the bill is pulled from committee and assigned to a committee exempt from regular deadlines (unlikely), SB513 is dead for the year.

The House version of the bill, HB2737, is still very much alive. It was referred to the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, which is one of a handful of legislative committees that can hold hearings any time the committee chair pleases. That committee is always chaired by a radical-right, anti-LGBT conservative, and this year, that chair is none other than Representative Jan Pauls, the most vocally anti-LGBT legislator in Kansas’ history.


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A Great Story About a PFLAG Mom

On a snowy night a few winters ago, Anita Gorrell’s youngest child dropped a letter in front of her and zipped out of the room.

The family had just moved to Indianapolis, and her youngest — a socially anxious teenager who had to be home-schooled — was doing better than ever, after a surprising request weeks earlier.

“You want to go to a social group?” Gorrell asked, stunned. This was a child who had cried hysterically enough to provoke a fever when they had tried public schools.

“Yeah. Will you take me?”

After a couple of weeks, Gorrell was floored when she noticed her teen was making friends.

Wow, she thought.

Suspicious and nosy, she dug around on the place, Indiana Youth Group — and became incensed when she learned it was a group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.


There’s much more to the story! Continue reading here…

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Community Reading of Children’s Book “I Am Jazz”


Creating welcoming spaces for transgender and gender-expansive children and youth can start with something as simple as a conversation — between colleagues or neighbors, among educators in the teacher’s lounge, in classrooms and hallways, or in more formal settings like a community forum or schoolwide assembly. We know there’s a hesitancy sometimes to address transgender themes in schools, but it’s important to note that the U.S. Department of Education supports the rights of transgender children and youth across the country.

What is important is making sure that these conversations happen in safe and productive ways. Please join us for a public reading of the book “I Am Jazz,” the true story of transgender teen ambassador Jazz Jennings. This reading is open to everyone in the Kansas City metro area and will be followed by a time for respectful questions and answers.

Readings are being organized across the country, inspired by the Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, community who came together for a public reading of the book after an anti-LGBT group threatened to sue the local school for its plan to share the book in support of a young transgender student.

We invite you to come with an open mind to hear Jazz’s story and to ask questions you have about transgender youth and how they are being supported in and around Kansas City.


Event Details:

Thursday, January 14th, 7-8pm

Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ

205 W 65th St, Kansas City, Missouri 64113


RSVP for the event on the Facebook page!

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Missouri bill would restrict locker room use by transgender students

Because the war on marriage equality is over (for the most part…there are still a few holdout judges in Southern states trying to be difficult), anti-LGBT groups are now focused on peeing. Yes, peeing. Because that’s what people do in restrooms.

Missouri is now on the list of states with new legislation being introduced to ban transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender identity and/or legislation specifically targeting trans students because of locker rooms.

During the 2016 legislative session, Missouri lawmakers are likely to debate a bill that would bar transgender students from public school restrooms and other facilities designed for the gender with which they identify. If passed and implemented, the measure could potentially violate federal law under Title IX.

The issue caught the spotlight this year after students in Hillsboro staged a walkout when a transgender student named Lila Perry used the girls’ locker room and bathrooms. The ensuing debate led some schools to revisit their policies, said Brent Ghan, the chief of staff for the Missouri School Boards’ Association.

“The law remains very unsettled on this issue,” Ghan wrote in an e-mail. “It is up to local boards of education to adopt the policy that best fits the needs of their district and community.”

Under the proposed measure, the students would be required to use locker rooms and bathrooms for their biological sex, or they could use alternative accommodations like unisex or faculty restrooms. Use of an alternative restroom, however, would require the written consent of the student’s legal guardian.

“You know there was a time not too many years ago, when, if a young man claimed he thought he was a young lady, or vice versa if a young lady thought he was a young man, we would get them counseling,” said Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill.

[Editorial note:  Newsflash Senator…trans kids as you describe DO get counseling. And that counseling supports transition as the healthiest form of treatment.]

Emery said he proposed the measure because concerned parents had contacted him. He rejects the idea that the policy is discriminatory, comparing it to height requirements on roller coasters and age requirements in kindergartens.

“If you had a daughter, you might not feel that she was completely safe if young men were allowed into her shower room, and vice versa,” Emery said. “I don’t think you can protect one in preference over another.”

Morgan Keenan, who directs Missouri’s network of Gay-Straight Alliances for students, said the proposal creates a system where transgender men and women are unsafe.

“It says that we don’t value these women, and that we don’t think they’re worth having around, and we think that we can legislate and control where they go to the bathroom,” Keenan said.

Keenan said he will help organize opposition against this bill and other anti-LGBT measures in the statehouse this spring.

“There are trans students going to locker rooms and bathrooms across the state, and they’ve been doing it for a long time and there hasn’t been any safety concerns. What we’re afraid of is the things we don’t know,” Keenan said.

According to an opinion released by the U.S. Department of Justice, transgender students have a right to use restrooms and locker rooms that are associated with their gender identity. However, the Missouri School Boards’ Association released two proposed policy guides to local boards of education — one permits transgender students to use group restrooms as they wish, and another that forbids it.

“Realistically, the district is more likely to be investigated by the OCR and the DOJ for failing to accommodate a transgender student than to be successfully sued for providing the accommodation,” the policies read.

“Further, research shows that transgender students are in particular need of support since they are less likely to graduate, more likely to be bullied, and have high rates of depression and suicide.”

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