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LGBTQ

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.”

Attorney General Bill Schuette
(Courtesy of the Michigan Attorney General's office)

Attorney General Bill Schuette sent a letter to the Obama administration this week, blasting it for the recent school guidance over transgender students.

So far, 12 states have sued the Obama administration after the Department of Education sent out a letter earlier this month, telling schools their transgender students should be allowed to use the bathrooms that fit their gender identity.  

And a few Michigan Republicans say they want Schuette to sue, as well.

TomCasperson.com

LANSING – A Michigan senator has introduced legislation that could stop transgender students from using bathrooms that don't match their "biological sex."

Sen. Tom Casperson, a Republican, unveiled a bill Wednesday that would offer accommodations to transgender students with parental consent. But the accommodation can't include a bathroom, locker room or shower used by students "of the opposite biological sex."

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof says the legislation is not a priority for the Senate. It's been assigned to a committee.

flickr user Ted Eytan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

"What bathrooms can transgendered people use?" has become a hot-button question not only in Michigan, but across the United States.

Public comments pour in as the Michigan Board of Education continues to draft its voluntary guidelines to assist schools in addressing the needs of their LGBTQ students.

Amboo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Gender identity has become a big issue in the public discourse over the last few years. There has been a heated debate over legislation involving so-called "bathroom bills" and others involving the fight for legal protections for members of the LGBTQ community.

Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom are saying that Britain has a long way to go before transgender people achieve equality. Some MPs are seeking to follow the Republic of Ireland's lead and pass laws that would allow people to declare which gender they are, regardless of what doctors or anyone else says.

From top left clockwise: Evan Murphy, Donaver Cricket, Riley O'Brien, Devyn Farries
Michigan Radio

The issues facing transgender people have received a lot of attention lately. This is due, in large part, to the "bathroom bills" that have been proposed in state and local governments.

Michigan is one of those states with a transgender bathroom bill in the works that would require transgender individuals to only use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their birth sex, unless they have written consent from a parent or guardian.

Kylie Clifton (right) and her mom, Ginger, talk about Kylie's transition and life as a transgender girl.
Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

Kylie Clifton has long, thick waves of blonde hair, the same sandy shade as her mom's.

And the day Kylie's mom took her to the salon to get those hair extensions – that was a big day. And not just because, for the first time, Kylie felt really pretty.

"Today is the first day of the rest of my life," 11-year-old Kylie posted on Instragram that evening.  "So happy I don't know what to do with myself."

Just a few months before, Kylie was still living as Kyle – an earnest, thoughtful boy who struggled with anxiety.  

Last month, the State Board of Education did something that was right and courageous -- and which I felt certain at the time was bound to be misconstrued. 

Board President John Austin announced they were considering a new set of voluntary polices to help make gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students feel safe in school.

white house
David King / Flickr Creative Commons bit.ly/1iowB8m

White House and federal officials met with LGBT advocates in Metro Detroit on Thursday, as part of a summit focused on creating safe schools and improving health for transgender youth.

The Department of Education has said for more than a year now that under Title IX, schools are legally required to treat transgender kids "consistent with their gender identity in all aspects" – including letting students use the bathroom that fits their gender identity.

lee/flickr creative commons

It was a tense, emotional afternoon at the Michigan Board of Education.

In the two months since the board put out a draft proposal for how schools could choose to support LGBT kids, it’s become a major controversy.

Quinn Dombrowski/ Flickr

In the two months since the Michigan Board of Education put together its draft guidelines for how schools can support LGBT youth, the purely-optional policy suggestions have become a statewide battleground.

On one side, you’ve got advocates who feel the proposals would give schools a much-needed model for basic human decency towards students, especially transgender youth.

lee/flickr creative commons

  At Bedford Public Schools in Monroe County, transgender students are only allowed to use the gender-neutral bathrooms.

That's even if they've asked to use the bathrooms matching their gender identity.

Amy Hunter is the Transgender Advocacy Project Coordinator for the ACLU of Michigan.
Cynthia Hunter

“I knew at a very young age that I was actually a woman.”

Those are the words of Amy Hunter. She is the Transgender Advocacy Project coordinator for the ACLU of Michigan ,and her story is one of the many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community that she represents.

Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba)
SenatorTomCasperson.com

The State Board of Education this month released a set of guidelines and recommendations it says will help provide a safer, more welcoming environment for students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ).

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about Republican pushback on the State Board of Education's new LGBT guidelines, an alleged bribery and kickback scheme now plaguing Detroit's struggling school district, and State Sen. Virgil Smith's jail sentence.  


Tony Webster

  State Senator Tom Casperson, a Republican from the UP, says he’ll introduce a bill requiring Michigan students to “only use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their birth” sex, unless they have “written consent from a parent or guardian.”

Even then, transgender student would be barred from locker rooms or bathrooms “of the opposite sex … if those facilities are in use or could be in use,” according to a release from Casperson’s office Tuesday.

LGBT flag
antiochla.edu / Antioch University

By Friday afternoon, more than 3,000 people had submitted online comments about the State Board of Education’s new recommendations for how schools should support LGBT kids.

These are just draft recommendations, and they’re purely optional.

Here’s a sampling of what the board is suggesting schools do to create a safer space for transgender students:

https://www.iconlife.org/welcome/
The Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities, University of Michigan

The Next Idea

Rob Stephenson, professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, admits that he is "obsessed with HIV."

State Board of Ed meets on LGBTQ policies

Mar 8, 2016
Bryan McDonald / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan school districts need to provide a welcoming environment for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students) and protect them from harassment, violence and discrimination. 

That's the goal of a set of practices and policies that the State Board of Education discussed today and is expected to vote on in May, after a period of public comment.

"It's about no child being left behind in terms of their life chances and education," said Board President John Austin. "And we want that to be true of LGBT youth all across Michigan."

Courtesy of Gidget Groendyk

A woman from a small town outside of Grand Rapids hopes to bring improved protections for the LGBTQ community to her hometown.

Gidget Groendyk is running for township supervisor of Sparta, north of Grand Rapids. Focusing mostly on discrimination issues against LGBTQ people, she is currently the only candidate listed as running. 

Groendyk is the first openly transgender person to run for office in Sparta, according to the township. She said she hopes both her candidacy and revised local laws will encourage others to feel safe living freely in her area. 

The ballot campaign to add LGBT and women’s rights to the state constitution is kaput, at least for this year.

Suspending the campaign

The Fair Michigan campaign succumbed to the reality this past week that it was not going to get the establishment support and financial backing it needed to put the question of adding gender equality and LGBT rights to the state constitution’s equal protection clause.

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