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Arizona Students Walk Out of Class to Protest Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws

At Hamilton High School in Arizona last week, more than a hundred students joined others at several schools across the state to skip class.Students there staged a walkout at several schools to protest two laws that took effect in the state, which critics say target LGBTQ+ young people.The GOP-controlled state legislature passed a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills this year, prompting hundreds of Arizona high schoolers to walk out of their schools, Phoenix New Times reports.Armed with bullhorns and their own feet, students marched out of classes on Thursday to show their solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community."These bills are killing us," 16-year-old Chandler, Ariz., student Dawn Shim said, according to the Phoenix New Times. "We aren't out here missing our school day and interrupting our education because we want to.
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Celebrity Auction Will Get LGBTQ-Inclusive Books Into Schools
The auction will feature many items from celebrities, including (from left) Billy Porter, Shangela, and Billie Jean King.Now through Sunday, nonprofit organization Pride and Less Prejudice is holding its second annual #BannedTogether virtual auction to raise $10,000 to send 800 LGBTQ-inclusive books to elementary schools across the U.S. and Canada.The auction features items and experiences donated by a star-studded group ,including actor Leslie Jordan, actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, actor Billy Porter, actor Chris Colfer, drag queen Shangela, actress Lea DeLaria, drag queen Brooke Lynn Hytes, actress Elvira, author ALOK, drag queen Latrice Royale, comedian Hannah Hart, actress Emily Hampshire, actress Jennifer Beals, comedian Hannah Gadsby, musical duo Tegan & Sara, actress Nicole Maines, comedian Cameron Esposito, actress Kat Barrell, actor Carson Kressley, actress Natasha Negovanlis, tennis legend Billie Jean King, singer Melissa Etheridge, singer Rufus Wainwright, singer Mary Lambert, author Desmond Is Amazing, and musical duo A Great Big World. Founded in November 2019, Pride and Less Prejudice sends free LGBTQ-inclusive books to pre-K through third grade classrooms in order to foster LGBTQ+ acceptance.
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At Least 50 Groups in the U.S. Advocated Banning Books This Year
(CNN) -- At least 50 groups have recently played a role in the evolving movement to have books removed from schools, a new PEN America analysis shows.PEN America, a literary and free expression advocacy organization, released Monday its latest analysis of bans on school library books and class curricula that have occurred in the 2021-2022 school year.Jonathan Friedman, the director of PEN America's free expression and education programs and author of the report,said that in the past decade "there was never organization at this scale or with this kind of momentum" but it's important to understand that these censorship efforts, more often than not, are led by people who are not parents and who only learned about the books online without reading them but demand officials to remove them from shelves.The organization identified 50 groups operating at the national, state, or local level that advocate for bans in K-12 schools and said it appears that the majority of those groups formed in the last year. They range from local Facebook or online groups to more established conservative organizations."While we think of book bans as the work of individual concerned citizens, our report demonstrates that today's wave of bans represents a coordinated campaign to banish books being waged by sophisticated, ideological and well-resourced advocacy organizations," said Suzanne Nossel, chief executive officer of PEN America.One of those groups is Moms for Liberty, a conservative group that came together last year to fight for parental rights in Florida and has since spread across the country.
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SCOTUS Declines to Block Order Forcing University to Allow LGBTQ+ Club
(CNN) -- The Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote declined on Wednesday a request from Yeshiva University to block a lower court order that requires the New York university to recognize a "Pride Alliance" LGBTQ student club.In an unsigned order, the Supreme Court noted that the New York state courts had yet to issue a final order in the case, and that Yeshiva could return to the Supreme Court after the New York courts have acted."The application is denied because it appears that applicants have at least two further avenues for expedited or interim state court relief," the court said.Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett, dissented from the court's order, noting that the lower courts could take "months to rule.""I see no reason why we should not grant a stay at this time," he said.Noting that the school objected to recognizing a group that would have implications that are not consistent with the Torah, Alito said, "The First Amendment guarantees the right to the free exercise of religion, and if that provision means anything, it prohibits a State from enforcing its own preferred interpretation of the Holy Scripture.""The upshot is that Yeshiva is almost certain to be compelled for at least some period of time (and perhaps for a lengthy spell) to instruct its students in accordance with what it regards as an incorrect interpretation of Torah and Jewish law," Alito continued.He said that a state's imposition of its "own mandatory interpretation of scripture is a shocking development that calls out for review," and added that "it is our duty to stand up for the Constitution even when doing so is controversial."Justice Sonia Sotomayor -- who has jurisdiction over the lower court
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Yeshiva University Can Refuse to Recognize LGBTQ+ Club: Sotomayor
(CNN) — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor agreed Friday night to temporarily block a lower court order that required Yeshiva University to recognize a "Pride Alliance" LGBTQ student club.The order from Sotomayor -- who has jurisdiction over the lower court in the case -- suggested that the full Supreme Court is still considering the issue and will issue a more permanent order at a later time.For now, the university is temporarily shielded from having to recognize the group.The case is complicated by threshold issues -- such as the fact that New York State appeals courts have yet to rule on the merits of the dispute -- which could be slowing down the court's considerations.Former and current students of the university brought the original challenge arguing that the school's position violated a New York public accommodation law that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.The case is the latest religious liberty controversy to come before the Supreme Court.Last term, the court's conservative majority ruled in favor of religious conservatives in two separate disputes and in 2021, the court sided with a Catholic foster care agency that refused to consider same-sex couples as potential foster parents.Justice Samuel Alito has repeatedly called for greater protections for the free exercise of religion including during a July speech in Rome. "Religious liberty is under attack in many places," Alito said.Yeshiva lost at the lower court level when a trial judge focused on whether the University qualified as a religious corporation within the meaning of the New York City Human Rights Law, a public accommodation regulation that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.
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Miami-Dade School Board Rejects Naming October LGBTQ+ History Month
The Miami-Dade School Board decided against declaring October LGBTQ+ History Month.Parents, teachers, and students debated the issue for three hours on Wednesday, during which one group emphasized indoctrination while the other cited the pink triangle used by Nazis to isolate gays and lesbians. The board voted 8-1 against the measure.“A year ago, the board supported an inclusive LGBTQ+ month measure in a 7 to 1 vote, and the only thing that has changed is that Ron DeSantis is making Florida more hateful,” says Cuban-American social activist Mike Rivero.Rivero is with the group Cubanos Palante, which sets out to represent the Cuban-American community in progressive spaces and to demonstrate that the Cuban community is not a monolith.Rivero says he’s experienced an incredible amount of bullying and abuse after right-wing trolls targeted one of his tweets.“Although I am straight, I recognize that I probably went through a fraction of what LGBTQ+ people facing bigotry go through, but I can say I understand.” He says that since tweeting about the school board meeting Tuesday, he’s been inundated by right-wing trolls who have targeted his account and him personally for attacks, including death threats.“I do believe that this is a result of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric ad culture wars coming out of the legislature and the governor’s office," board member Lucia Baez-Geller, who was the lone vote to recognize the month, told NBC News.One group that targeted Miami-Dade Public Schools is Gays Against Groomers.
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Monkeypox: Colleges & Universities Take Precautions For Fall Semester
Universities across the country are preparing for students to return to dorms and classrooms, and this year , as schools are faced with protecting student populations from spreading monkeypox, a number of institutions are taking various approaches.A student health clinic at the University of Tennessee Southern in Pulaski is educating and encouraging those who are vaccinated to seek medical attention.There is now a monkeypox resource page on the student health center’s website at the University of Memphis.According to Oak Ridger, Austin Peay State University is monitoring cases in the region and is ready to conduct emergency operations. In addition, in the health centers at Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, MPV tests are available if necessary.The University of Maryland, George Washington University, American University, and University of District of Columbia have all reported a few cases leading up to the start of a new school year, reports ABC affiliate WUSA.WUSA 9 cited information from GW, AU, Howard University, and the University of Maryland on their recommendations for students to prevent the spread.It is recommended that students who catch the virus wear masks when leaving their rooms, cover any lesions with clothing, and contact the university health center for further information.There are varying policies among some D.C.
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Texas School District Adopts Antigay, Anti-Trans Policies
A school district in northern Texas has adopted a policy restricting the discussion of sexual orientation, gender identity, and race in classrooms.Only 72 hours before the Monday board vote, the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District — located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area — released a 36-page document of proposed policies to be implemented for the upcoming school year, the Texas Observer reports. The policies prohibit teachers from discussing “gender fluidity” with students and restrict other topics, such as banning talk of sexual orientation and gender identity until after fifth grade.They also allow teachers to refuse to use students' preferred pronouns, even if their parents approve, and bar trans students from using the multi-occupancy restrooms and changing rooms consistent with their gender identity, alhough schools could make other accommodations, according to The Dallas Morning News.Among the proposed policies are restrictions on which books to allow in classrooms and libraries, banning anything that contains “inappropriate material.” What the board deems “inappropriate material” is vague, with the document defining it as “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for minors.”The section on gender fluidity reads, “For purposes of this policy, ‘Gender Fluidity’ means any theory or ideology that (1) espouses the view that biological sex is merely a social construct, (2) espouses the view that it is possible for a person to be any gender or none (i.e.
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Wisc. School Board Affirms Ban on Pride Displays & Preferred Pronouns
Despite the vocal opposition to a new school policy by a large crowd of community members, a Wisconsin school board approved a measure prohibiting teachers and staff from displaying LGBTQ+ Pride flags or symbols and other items deemed "political." The policy also forbids the use of preferred pronouns.Employees are prohibited from displaying political or religious messages, such as pride flags, Black Lives Matter signs, or We Back the Badge signs, or specifying their pronouns in emails per the district's code of conduct.Kettle Moraine High School library was packed with people wanting their voices heard on Tuesday, and Milwaukee's ABC affiliate WISN reports the public comment period had to be extended from 30 to 60 minutes to accommodate many, but not all, of the speakers. The school superintendent told board members in July he's clarifying the employee code of conduct to remove pride flags from classrooms and pronouns from email signatures.The move is based on the school district's policy that prohibits "partisan politics, sectarian religious views, or selfish propaganda," CNN reports.According to superintendent Stephen Plum, expressing identity is political, uncomfortable, and thus prohibited at Kettle Moraine School District."The expectation is that teachers and administration will not have political flags or religious messaging in their classroom or on their person. This expectation includes Pride flags," Plum said at a school board meeting last month, WISN reported.
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Gay Black Student's Killing Terrifies Ole Miss Community
A college town community in Mississippi is worried about continued violence against LGBTQ+ people in the wake of the disappearance and murder of a University of Mississippi student. Mississippi police said that Jimmie "Jay" Lee, a well-known LGBTQ+ community member and Black student at the University of Mississippi, was killed in an isolated incident not indicative of broader threats against the local community. A Lafayette County judge found that police have probable cause to arrest Sheldon Timothy Herrington Jr., 22, for Lee's murder and ordered him to be held without bond. Authorities allege Herrington killed Lee over fears of being outed. "Based on the information collected to date, our investigators believe this crime represents an isolated incident stemming from the relationship between Jay Lee and Tim Herrington," police said in a statement, Mississippi Today reports.It's been three weeks since Herrington was arrested in Oxford, and the area's LGBTQ+ community has been asking police to release more information on the investigation for safety reasons. The incident has shaken students in the college town of Oxford, who told the publication that until recently, they felt safe in the more accepting LGBTQ+ community environment around the university than in much of the state. One community member fears leaving their home, Jaime Harker, director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies at UM, told Mississippi Today.Lee had been a regular performer at Code Pink, Oxford's local drag night, and was well known among the LGBTQ+ community. He performed under the name Jay Divaa. Authorities believe that Lee's missing body is somewhere in Lafayette or Grenada County.
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