aroundtheregion

Wisconsin
*A transgender teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools took her own life after what family says was bullying at the hands of school staff, CBS 58 reports:

It’s not easy for Jill Greinke to be in the room decorated by her late 37-year-old daughter Karis Anne Ross.
“I’m still not over her death by any means, so it hurts,” she said. “She was my hero. She was extremely authentic.”
But Greinke said workplace bullying was too much for her transgender daughter to handle. Karis committed suicide in November 2014 and left a suicide note, saying the bullying had happened for 10 years, while teaching at German Immersion School.
“There were people named,” Greinke said. “Before her transition she was being bullied. After her transition she was being bullied.”
Family and friends said Karis voiced her concerns to the school’s principal, but they went ignored.
Despite that, Greinke said, “I don’t blame MPS for my daughter’s death. I believe the sad thing it that important things were missed.”

Ross’ colleague, Madeline Dietrich, has been sounding the alarm and calling out the district for creating a hostile work environment, Raw Story reports:

“I wrote the following letter to call attention to the tragic suicide of one of Milwaukee’s brightest teachers. The incident went unnoticed by the public, occurring over the Thanksgiving holiday,” Dietrich begins, pointing out that people often choose to look the other way when confronted by the bullying endured by transgender men and women.

Addressing the letter to Dr. Darienne Driver, Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, Dietrich wrote that Ross — who taught at Milwaukee German Immersion School — was subjected to harassment for 10 years before taking her life.

“Ms. Ross was the schools’ lead Special Education teacher, a stressful job by any account, but made unnecessarily more stressful by a hostile work environment fraught with tension, disrespect and bullying, not from her students, but from the teacher’s aides assigned to assist her,” she wrote.

*The Wisconsin Gazette profiles the LGBT programming of Milwaukee’s theater community:

As political climates have shifted decade by decade, the LGBT community has gone from a discriminated-against minority to a favored one to embrace, in some circles. In Milwaukee, one of those circles is the performing arts community, already seen as a stereotypical hub for queer artists and audiences.
Many of Milwaukee’s theaters are making their implicit ties explicit, with a variety of events and groups springing up that target LGBT audience members and allies. At Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, the Milwaukee Rep and the Florentine Opera, artistic administrators are reaching out through special LGBT pre-show receptions, community engagements and the themes of the productions themselves.

*News of Caitlyn Jenner’s transition prompted the Gazette to write about some experiences of Milwaukee transgender community:

“In 1967, when I was 12, I told my parents that I thought I was a girl. Well, they sent me to a shrink who said it was ‘just a phase,’” says Briana Fleury.
The shrink was wrong. Fleury went on to become the first employee to transition from male to female at MillerCoors. Now 60 years old, she lives in Milwaukee.
But finally embracing her womanhood was the culmination of a long personal journey.
“As I grew into an adult, I was acting my life rather than living it,” Briana recalls. “I found myself competing against other men to be more masculine. I was an indoor paintball champ, worked on cars and I would shoot guns. I still do actually.”
For years Briana figured she was a crossdresser. Then, acting on the recommendations of friends, she consulted with Mark L. Zukowski, an Illinois plastic surgeon, and “discovered I’m actually a woman.”

Iowa
*Capitol City Pride was held over the weekend in Des Moines. The Register caught up with its columnist, Rekha Basu, who was named grand marshal:

Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu spends most of her time behind a desk, talking on a phone and tapping away at a keyboard.
But on Sunday, her work takes on a more visible role as the grand marshal of the annual Capital City Pride parade, which rolls through the East Village at 1 p.m.
“We chose Rekha because of her advocacy for the LGBT community and for women’s groups and the rights of minorities — and everything else she’s done over the years,” Capital City Pride board member Mike Ferry said. “We just wanted to honor her for that.”
She’ll offer a few remarks at an 11 a.m. brunch on the festival grounds on East Fifth Street. But since she can’t say much during the parade itself — what with all that waving and candy-tossing — we figured she should have her say here, in a little Q&A.
What was your reaction when they asked you to be the grand marshal?
I was thrilled and honored and also quite amazed. I thought it was such a generous gesture to give that kind of prominence to someone who isn’t technically a member of the LGBT community.

*Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has a campaign stop in Iowa, and at first, only one voter showed up — then was joined by several more, Raw Story reports:

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum showed up at a campaign stop in Iowa to find only one voter waiting for him, but he called the event a success anyway.
The Des Moines Register reported that Santorum decided to order lunch when he saw that Audubon County Republican Party Chair Peggy Toft was his entire audience at a restaurant in Hamlin.
At a small table in the restaurant, Santorum explained to Pastor Glen Meyers and the other listeners that same-sex marriage was threat to the family and religious liberty.
“This is where the left is saying, ‘Here is what your belief system should be, and anyone who does not toe the line, you’re a hater, you’re a bigot, you’re intolerant and you will not be tolerated,’” he insisted.

*Another anti-LGBT presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, took heat for transphobic remarks last week but defended them to an Iowa radio host, Gay Star News reports:

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee does not regret saying he wished he could have pretended he was trans in order to shower with girls in high school.
Huckabee, who recently announced he is vying for the Republican party’s presidential nomination, made the remarks in a speech earlier this year in Nashville, Tennessee at the 2015 National Religious Broadcasters Convention.
‘…I take nothing back from that speech,’ Huckabee told Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace. ‘I’m kind of glad it’s [online] because people, if they watch the whole clip, what they’re going to see is that I’m giving a commonsense answer to the insanity that’s going on out there.’

South Dakota
*A South Dakotan named Baba Andrews Brandt really doesn’t want marriage equality to come to South Dakota. In the Argus Leader, Brandt writes:

What is this world coming to? Certain church denominations allowing gay marriages in church or being ordained, where are all the teachings of Christ? How can they teach the word of God? How can the members respect the ministers of God, when we all know what’s right or wrong. “Woe unto those who call evil good and good evil,” Isaiah 5:20.
We have to think they don’t know the Bible. What is it they teach their members? God clearly tells us, you shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination: Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:18-29, 1 Corinthians 6.
Gays are not born that way, it’s a corrupt state of mind. Up to a few years ago, they were in hiding — just as a criminal hides from his wrong doings because “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their works were evil,” John 3:19.
Now they want rights.
May the good Lord look down on us in mercy. God hates the sin, but loves the sinner.
I hope and pray our leaders of South Dakota will never allow gay marriages in this state.

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