aroundtheregion

North Dakota
*Some Fargo school board members are mulling gender-inclusive school facilities including gender neutral restrooms, the Fargo Forum reports:

Fargo School Board member John Strand says it’s time for the school district to design its schools to accommodate transgender students.
Strand asked at a recent school board meeting if Ed Clapp Elementary, which opens this fall, will have a gender neutral bathroom available for students or teachers who are transgender.
“The times are a changing,” Strand said Wednesday. ”I think it’s a topic worth researching.”
Strand said watching a televised interview with Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner, who is transitioning to being a woman, made the issue more real.
“People know about LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender). But the T is the one we don’t have much of a handle on,” Strand said. “Every student needs to feel as safe as possible and comfortable as possible. As public schools, if we can do that, I just don’t see any harm in it at all.”

Wisconsin
*A transgender teenager from Racine took her own life last week after what parents say was an epidemic of bullying, the Racine Journal Times reports:

Cameron Langrell was a teenage boy who felt trapped in the wrong body.
The 15-year-old freshman at Horlick High School recently announced on Facebook that he was transgender. He wrote that he was dating another boy and changed his profile gender to “female.”
A few days after his announcement, he was dead. Family members feel it was because of bullying.
Last Thursday his mother, Jamie Olender, and stepfather, Eric Olender, came home shocked to find that Cameron had taken his own life in the basement sometime that day.
“There were absolutely zero warning signs,” Jamie Olender said. “He busted out all the lights and his intent was clear.”

*After Go Fund Me dropped Sweet Cakes by Melissa, an Oregon-based baker fined for discriminating against same-sex couples, the Wisconsin-based crowdfunding platform Continue to Give has taken their case, the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune reports:

A local crowdfunding company has been drawn into the national debate over gay marriage by hosting a fundraising effort for a cake shop that refused to take the order of a gay couple in the state of Oregon.
Schofield-based Continue to Give — an online donation platform that caters specifically to churches, nonprofits, missionaries and others in the faith community — is serving as a collection point for for Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which faces a $135,000 fine for violating Oregon antidiscrimination law by refusing to serve a gay couple.
The national GoFundMe website shut down a fundraising page set up for Sweet Cakes by Melissa more than a week ago. In a statement, the crowdfunding giant said it was updating its terms so that it would no longer allow campaigns “that benefit individuals or groups facing formal charges or claims of serious violations of the law.” It also said that it would not allow campaigns “in defense of formal charges or claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory acts.”

*Politifact, the award-winning fact-checking organization conducted an analysis of Wisconsin’s laws last week and found they do not protect transgender people:

In an interview on April 21, 2015, Wisconsin Eye host Steve Walters asked Rae, who is gay, if it is a victory for the Democratic Party that “Wisconsin and the nation have made so much progress” on same-sex issues.
“I don’t think it’s a problem — I think it’s a real step forward — but there’s a lot of work yet to be done when you look at LGBT issues,” said Rae, referring to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
“You know, we were one of the first states that actually had a non-discrimination ordinance statewide, but it only protected members of the gay and lesbian community; it doesn’t protect members of the ‘trans’ community.”
We wondered: Under Wisconsin law, gay, lesbian and bisexual people are protected from discrimination, but not people who are transgender?

Iowa
*The University of Iowa has a new LGBT sorority, the Press Citizen reports:

The members of the University of Iowa’s lone LGBT sorority received the news they had been waiting years for late last month: They had become an official chapter of Gamma Rho Lambda.
When the 21 sorority members were officially initiated into the national sorority April 25, the group let loose emotions of relief and joy after spending almost three years trying to bring a sorority open to anyone who self-identifies as a woman to UI.
“We were freaking out, crying, just lots of strong emotions,” Crystal Terman, president of the UI chapter of Gamma Rho Lambda (GRL) said. “It was a very emotionally driven night. I like to think I’ll remember it forever.”

*Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bruce Jenner has prompted several Iowa news outlets to reach out to the transgender community. KTVO3 reached out to Ottumwa’s Lisa McDonald:

Just a few weeks ago, Bruce Jenner made national headlines when he announced he will be transitioning to a woman.
One Heartland woman has already done what Jenner hopes to do.
Lisa McDonald lives in Ottumwa. She was born male and identifies as female. She says she is classified as transsexual, and has been called a ‘transsexual separtist’ for her unique beliefs about the LGBT community.
She reached out to KTVO News with a concern. She says people like her are being lumped into the LGBT community. That’s regardless of whether or not they support all the LGBT political agendas.
McDonald said she just wants to be identified as a normal woman, not part of the LGBT community.
“The whole point of what I went through is to become Lisa McDonald, just another woman, with the same rights as any other woman,” McDonald said. “I’ve never identified as gay, ever. And there needs to be room for parents to have alternatives to the LGBT. And I support same sex marriage. I support helping these kids. But I don’t support sheep herding them into a one size fits all group.”

The Des Moines Register published a piece by Deirdre McCloskey who came out in 1995:

Bruce Jenner came out to Diane Sawyer on ABC several days ago. Seventeen million people tuned in. Surprisingly in our celebrity culture, the show was calm and dignified and sympathetic. The calm — relative at least to the average “Meet the Kardashians” — reminded me of how Iowa reacted in 1995 when I came out.
“U of I Professor Becomes Woman.” After the fourth story about it on the front page of the Register, someone wrote in and complained about the breathless coverage. You know, we’re not rubes, she wrote. Enough.
Terry Branstad, governor then as now, was asked what he thought about Donald becoming Deirdre. He said in effect, “Can she still teach? Does she still have the same academic standing? Well, then, what’s the problem?” Iowa calm.
I couldn’t at age 53 “become” a woman in genes or life history, no more than Jenner can at age 65. Yet I could and did present as a woman, and Iowans were mostly calm about it. I’m calm, too, now a church lady (Episcopalian, the Frozen Chosen), younger sister and daughter, at 72 still working, if you call the work I love “working.” Gender change is a distinctly minority desire — maybe one in 200 or 300 born girls or boys. Being calm about it is not going to destroy society or cause “human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together,” as Bill Murray said in “Ghost Busters.”

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