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LGBTQ

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.

Supreme Court won't take appeal from fired state lawyer

Dec 19, 2015
screen grab from CNN report

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court won't get involved in the case of a state lawyer who was fired after hounding a gay student leader at the University of Michigan.

 

In a brief order, the court says it won't hear an appeal from Andrew Shirvell over unemployment benefits and other issues.

Shirvell was an assistant attorney general when he was fired in 2010. He had criticized Christopher Armstrong on an anti-gay blog, in Facebook posts and during visits to the University of Michigan.

LGBT flag
antiochla.edu / Antioch University

There’s a fierce debate happening right now in Michigan’s LGBT community.

Some activists are launching a big campaign to put civil rights for lesbian, gay and transgender people on the ballot. 

But others say voters just aren’t ready. 

LGBT discrimination is legal in Michigan. But making it illegal? That's tough. 

Here’s the reality of being LGBT in Michigan right now:

 There’s been lots of debate over the past few days about the political wisdom of going ahead in Michigan with a couple of ballot campaigns after similar efforts suffered big defeats last week in Houston and Ohio.

OH to MI? Apples to oranges

It’s the upstarts versus the Establishment. Again.

And, this time, we don’t mean the Tea Party versus the Republicans. Rather, we’re talking about the gay rights movement in Michigan.

american flag and lgbt flag
Flickr user Praveen / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A bipartisan group is forming a ballot committee to put gay and transgender rights into the Michigan Constitution.

“Fair Michigan” wants to add protections based on gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The campaign filed as a ballot committee Friday with the Michigan Bureau of Elections.

ladyaceboogie.com

Linda Tellis is known as Lady Ace Boogie in west Michigan’s hip hop scene. She is a community activist and is trying to change what she calls the “broken” world of hip hop.

Tellis turned her life around five years ago. She used to be involved in gangs.

“I didn’t have anybody to look up to. All I had was what was in front of me and unfortunately that was the streets and that’s it," Tellis said.

That’s all behind her now. In her latest album, Feel Good Music, she takes a stab at the hip hop industry and how rappers and artists are focused on fame and material things.


american flag and lgbt flag
Flickr user Praveen / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

U.S. Senator Gary Peters wants service members who were forced out of the military for their sexual orientation to have their statuses upgraded.

Peters is co-sponsoring the Restore Honor to Service Members Act to help simplfy the process of getting a less-than-honorable discharge for being gay changed to honorable.

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

Some Michigan activists are lobbying members of Congress to pass civil rights protections for LGBT people.

The Equality Act of 2015 would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

It looks like we won’t be seeing an LGBT rights question on the statewide 2016 ballot.

Yet, it was not that long ago that it seemed a near-certainty that LGBT rights groups were ready to go to the ballot next year to amend Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act if the GOP-led Legislature refused to act.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down rulings on a number of cases regarding same-sex marriage this week.
user Ted Eytan / flickr

State Rep. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, is attempting to head same-sex marriage off at the pass with a new package of bills that would take secular elected officials out of the marriage business altogether.

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