LGBTQ | Michigan Radio
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LGBTQ

Michigan Dept. of Corrections

It started with a taping of a 90s daytime talk show. In March of 1995, The Jenny Jones Show did an episode about “secret same-sex crushes.” Scott Amedure, a Michigan resident, nervously gushed to the studio audience about his feelings for an acquaintance, Jonathan Schmitz. Schmitz was then brought out in front of the cameras, where Jones, the host, revealed that Amedure was his secret admirer.

“Did you have any idea that he liked you this much?” Jones asked.

Transgender people, the military and us

Jul 27, 2017
Jack Lessenbery
Michigan Radio

Forty years ago, I was in a special, high-pressure graduate program at the University of Michigan designed to make trained journalists out of otherwise hapless intellectuals like myself in a year and a half. It was an amazingly successful program.

Many of my classmates went on to jobs in senior management in places like both the New York and Los Angeles Times and the former International Herald Tribune.

President Donald Trump
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

President Donald Trump announced via Twitter Wednesday morning that the government “will not accept or allow” transgender individuals to serve in United States military.

A string of rainbow flags against a blue sky
Chomiji / flickr

LGBT activists say the state’s civil rights law is too vague when it comes to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

Now they’re calling on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to clarify the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act lists attributes people can’t discriminate for – like race, religion and sex.

 

Pixabay / Creative Commons

The Michigan Department of Corrections has revised its policy on transition-related care for transgender inmates. Before the change, inmates were only allowed to receive hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgery if this care was already scheduled before the person was incarcerated. Now, trans inmates can start this care in prison.

Rainbow flag, often associated with the LGBT movement
User Marlith / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

An effort to investigate and prosecute crimes against LGBTQ people in Wayne County is expanding.

The Fair Michigan Justice Project was founded a little less than a year ago. It’s a partnership between Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s office and the LGBTQ advocacy group Fair Michigan.

LGBT Pride Flag
Tyrone Warner / flickr

Democrats in Lansing are taking another run at expanding the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Democratic State Rep. Jon Hoadley of Kalamazoo and Senator Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor have introduced bills to expand civil rights protection to people who are LGBT.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of East Lansing is being sued by a farmer who claims his religious views are being discriminated against.

Rainbow flag, often associated with the LGBT movement
User Marlith / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The largest national survey on transgender people in America shows a need for policy change in Michigan. That’s what a few transgender rights groups say.

Nearly 900 people in Michigan responded to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey and 22% said they faced mistreatment in the workplace due to their gender identity or expression, while 17% said they had been fired before due to being transgender. 

Over a third of the respondents have been homeless at some point in their life, while only 14% of the country's population was homeless at the time of the survey. 

flickr user visionsofgrace / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

In some schools in Michigan, being a lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, or questioning high school student is welcomed and embraced. In other schools, LGBTQ kids have to stay in the closet or endure a backlash from homophobic students, or even teachers and administrators. 

Jackson City Council member Dan Greer says he will attempt to bring city clerk Randy Wrozek's job performance up for discussion at the next council meeting Apr. 25
Joe Gratz / flickr

Jackson city council member Dan Greer is criticizing the city clerk for mishandling petition signatures that caused a petition challenging the city of Jackson’s non-discrimination ordinance to be invalidated.

Last week, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson ordered Jackson city clerk Randy Wrozek to invalidate petitions that had been blocking the city’s civil rights ordinance.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the Jackson city council takes up a challenge to an ordinance barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The council approved the ordinance in February, but opponents quickly collected enough signatures to force it back to the council. 

Opponents say the ordinance gives special rights to the LGBT community.

“Granted, you want to treat everyone with dignity, respect,” says Rev. Tim Nelson, “but I think the laws we have as they are do that.”

Ordinance opponents drew a sharp rebuke from an anonymous source.

chairs stacked on a desk in a classroom
Flickr user janine / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Republican-backed bill to rollback Michigan's income tax died on the floor of the state House early Thursday morning. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about fallout from the bill's failure, including a leadership change in Lansing.

We're also talking about the Trump administration's withdrawal of Obama-era guidance on transgender students' rights in schools, the state's delay on announcing which low-performing schools will be closed in the fall, and a new "fake news" course at the University of Michigan.

Rainbow flag, often associated with the LGBT movement
User Marlith / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Jackson City Council has voted 5-2 to expand its non-discrimination ordinance to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

The new ordinance bars discrimination against LGBT people in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

"There was consensus and agreement that no one should have to live in fear of losing their jobs,  being evicted from their house, or refused service at a restaurant or a store because they happen to be a member of the LBGT community," said Derek Dobies, Jackson's vice-mayor and a city council member. Dobies supports the new ordinance.

Betsy DeVos testified at a hearing earlier this month.
Screenshot / C-SPAN

About a week ago, as attorneys and staffers helped Betsy DeVos prepare and file paperwork required as part of her confirmation process to become the next U.S. education secretary, somebody asked her about her ties to her mother’s foundation.

“She said, ‘Well wait a minute. I’ve never been on that board or never been involved with that foundation.’ Nor did she ever give consent for her name to be used,” DeVos family spokesman John Truscott said. “Best we can figure it was an error on behalf of the foundation staff and was never run by her.”

Flickr user rgmcfadden / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Donald Trump’s victory sent people to their favorite social media platform to express their thoughts, fears and hopes as our divided nation tries to figure out what’s next.

A Facebook post from Michigan filmmaker Amy Weber asked each side to open up to the other.

“We will brush off our bruised hearts and open our arms to LOVE for ALL people and join together, because we MUST. Let’s use our powerful voices to educate and break down the walls that divide us.”

Weber is a lesbian mother and she said when Donald Trump was elected, she felt afraid.

Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The State Board of Education voted today to adopt voluntary guidelines to help schools with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students.

The guidance is intended to help schools create a safe and supportive learning environment for LGBTQ students.

The guidance was voted on after more than three hours of public comment where approximately 60 people were given three minutes to speak on the issue. Those who spoke included school principals, state legislators, students, and medical professionals.

Several parents of LGBTQ students spoke in favor of the guidance, including Joe Adcock. Adcock has a transgender son and said while his son’s school is very supportive, not all schools are.

“We’ve found a lot of schools don’t have this in place,” he said. “And they don’t allow the children to be themselves and it puts them at a great risk for drug abuse and suicide and just not being able to be who they really are.”

But others were not convinced that the guidance was necessary. Some say LGBQ students don't need additional protections. Others, like Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, say adopting this guidance will harm non-LGBTQ kids.

“This isn’t going to reduce bullying,” Colbeck said. “This is going to increase bullying. In particular against people of faith that stand up for what they believe. I think there is going to be a significant increase in bullying against them.”

The guidance, which passed with six votes in favor and two against, addresses issues like bathrooms and locker rooms, student privacy, and parental involvement.  

Rainbow flag, often associated with the LGBT movement
User Marlith / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Transgender students in Michigan should be able to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that fit their gender identity.

That's what the state school board will advise in its finalized guidelines later this month, says board President John Austin.

These guidelines are totally optional for schools – but even so, they’ve been controversial, with a draft version drawing some 13,000 public comments online.

Protestor holding up a sign that says "Safe Water" at a Flint Water Crisis protest
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Marc Lamont Hill says we're in the midst of a war in America -- a war being waged on the vulnerable, the destitute, the struggling. Hill is a journalist and a political contributor to CNN.

Most often, he says, those vulnerable people are black, immigrant, LGBT and poor. Easily overlooked. Nobody. 

Marc Lamont Hill explores what life is like in 21st century America if you're nobody. 

Simon Kittok has said that rights for trans people are 30 years behind the rest of the gay community.
flickr user torbakhopper / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports attacks against transgender individuals jumped 13 percent in 2014, and nearly half of transgender individuals, 41 percent, attempt suicide.

When compared to the general population, trans people are nearly four times more likely to have an annual income of under $10,000.

A new West Michigan nonprofit is hoping to help trans youth get beyond these challenges. 

Leaders of Detroit's Black LGBT community at the Hotter than July kickoff.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It’s time for Hotter than July, Detroit’s annual week of celebration and remembrance for the black LGBT community.

This year’s events kicked off Tuesday evening at Detroit’s Palmer Park, with a vigil for community members who faced violence, diseases like HIV-AIDS, discrimination and oppression.

Organizers say the week of events often feels like “a big family reunion.”

But it also has its somber moments, like when attendees honored those who have passed away near a spruce tree dedicated in their honor.

Outside the RNC in Cleveland.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Week in Review, Rebecca Kruth and Jack Lessenberry wrap up the Republican National Convention and look toward Philadelphia where the Democratic National Convention is set for next week. Kruth and Lessenberry also discuss a federal ruling that blocks Michigan’s ban on straight ticket voting and the loss of one of the state’s most prominent LGBT rights advocates.


Jeff Montgomery at the The NAMES Project's AIDS Quilt Memorial Display Candlelight Vigil in October, 1992
flickr user Elvert Barnes / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Jeff Montgomery was one of Michigan's first leading gay-rights activists. 

A personal tragedy drove him to become a fierce advocate for LGBT rights in Michigan and found the Triangle Foundation, which later became a part of Equality Michigan

Montgomery died this week in Detroit.

Kym Worthy (file photo).
waynecounty.com

Michigan’s largest county has formed a special unit focused on solving and prosecuting crimes against LGBT people.

 

The unit in Wayne County will focus first on prosecuting a dozen current cases – including six murders -- and re-opening three unsolved “cold cases” in Detroit.

 

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy says crimes against LGBT people often go unreported, and can be more difficult than other cases to solve. 

 

Once upon a time there was a Republican politician who took office at a time when the nation was bitterly divided over social issues.

He knew this was not the way things should be.

“We are not enemies, but friends,” he pleaded with his people. He told them he was optimistic that America would do better, and that our hearts would be touched by “the better angels of our nature.”

Man in rainbow hat
Guillaume Paumier / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan's civil rights law offers protections based on race, religion, color, and national origin.

It doesn't currently protect lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people from being fired, denied housing or other forms of discrimination.

However, a growing list of Michigan cities have adopted measures to protect LGBT people.

ANTIOCHLA.EDU / ANTIOCH UNIVERSITY

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit-area federal officials say they have met with LGBT community leaders in response to last weekend's mass shooting at a Florida nightclub.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade and FBI Special Agent in Charge David Gelios hosted Thursday's gathering. Attendees included representatives of Equality Michigan, the Ruth Ellis Center, Affirmations and LGBT Detroit.

Gelios said in a statement Friday it's "essential to reassure" Michigan residents of "the FBI's commitment to protecting the civil rights of all persons."

flickr user Charlie Nguyen / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When society marginalizes who you are, there’s an impulse to gather with people who are more accepting.

That’s why LGBTQ people gathered at the night club Pulse in Orlando, Florida. It was also Latin night. Members of two marginalized groups went there to have fun, be safe.

That night, 49 people were killed and more than 50 others wounded in a hateful attack.

flickr user krytofr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

By now, you've probably heard about Sunday's mass shooting in Orlando at a gay nightclub called Pulse. 

It's the largest mass shooting in United States history.

Ella Marx cries at a candelight vigil in Ann Arbor for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shootings. She says her LGBT sister lives in Florida. “It’s really close to home for me,” she says.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Members of Metro Detroit’s LGBT community and allies are mourning the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

A group held a vigil for them at Ferndale City Hall tonight.

Julia Music is the chair of Ferndale Pride.

She called the attack an act of “hate, terrorism, and ignorance.”

But Music urged the group to keep welcoming Muslims, who she says have just started to join Detroit’s LGBT community “in visible numbers.”

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