aroundtheregion

Iowa
At a campaign event at Drake University, Rand Paul created a firestorm of criticism when he said he opposed employment protections for LGBT workers:

“I think society is rapidly changing and that if you are gay, there are plenty of places that will hire you,” Paul said in response to a question about whether employers should be able to fire someone based on his or her sexual identity.
He added: “I think, really, the things you do in your house, just leave those in your house and they wouldn’t have to be a part of the workplace, to tell you the truth.”
Paul said that designating the LGBT community as a protected class, like race, gender and ethnicity, would create a new group “who can now sue.”
“So what happens is it sets up a whole industry of people who want to sue,” Paul said. “So if you happen to be gay, you get fired—now you have a reason you can fire them. But it’s almost impossible sometimes—you know, people don’t put up a sign, ‘I’m firing you because you’re gay.’ It’s something that’s very much disputed. And so I don’t know that we need to keep adding to different classifications to say the government needs to be involved in the hiring and firing.”

KCCI notes: “Immediately after he made those comments, some Drake students took off their ‘Rand Paul for President’ stickers.”

The Iowa Democratic Party blasted Paul’s statements:

“First Rand Paul says he doesn’t believe in rights based on behavior, and now he says anti-discrimination measures protecting LGBT Americans in the workplace aren’t necessary, simply because they can potentially find other places to work. Once again, this “new type of Republican” endorses the failed and discriminatory views of yesterday. Both Paul’s backward views on LGBT rights and his presidential campaign belong in the past.”—IDP Communications Director Sam Lau

Fellow Republican presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, also generated controversy when he criticized allowing LGB people to serve their country in the Armed Forces, and attempts for transgender inclusion in the military, Think Progress reports:

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz told Iowa voters on Tuesday that he wants to reassess whether gays, lesbians, and transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military, saying the armed forces should not be treated “like a cauldron for social change” with the government “trying to pursue sexual identity politics.”
A 27-year veteran from Mt. Pleasant asked Cruz during a campaign stop Tuesday what he thinks about gay people serving in the military. Cruz responded, saying the Obama Administration’s “latest thing” is to expand the military to transgender people as well.
“How about we have the military focus on what its function is, which is hunting down and killing the bad guys before they hurt us?” he said before transitioning to talking about how servicemembers are having their “religious liberty” violated.

The editorial board of the Iowa State Daily called for stronger hate crimes laws in the state:

The Iowa Legislature needs to improve our hate crime law so it can be more inclusive and protective of all of Iowa’s citizens.
Put simply, a hate crime in Iowa includes any assault, trespassing or criminal mischief incident committed against a person or person’s property because of the person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability or because of association with a person of any of those categories. While this law may seem inclusive to most people, it falls short in three major areas: harassment, gender identity and perception.

Democratic presidential Martin O’Malley is scheduled to speak at the Iowa Spirit Awards on Oct. 30, according to an announcement in the Des Moines Register.

The Iowa Pride Network Leadership Summit had record attendance, according to a release by One Iowa:

One Iowa, the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization, has broken its previous registration record for its annual Iowa Pride Network Leadership Summit. Over 100 students and gay-straight alliance (GSA) advisors from Iowa middle schools, high schools and colleges registered for the event before registration closed on Friday, Oct. 9. The summit is the largest Iowa Pride Network (One Iowa’s program developing LGBTQ youth advocate leaders and supporting GSAs) event of the year. It will be filled with workshops that offer students and advisors the resources and tools they need to create thriving GSAs across the state.
“Our youth are the future of our movement for LGBTQ equality in Iowa and around the world,” One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing said. “One Iowa, through the Iowa Pride Network project, invests in that future by investing in our students and our schools. The summit is designed to engage our young people on their campuses and in their communities with the resources they need to be leaders.”

North Dakota
The University of North Dakota has cleared a fraternity of wrongdoing over an alleged anti-gay hate crime, the Grand Forks Herald reports:

University of North Dakota fraternity whose members were falsely accused of assaulting a man because of his sexuality did not violate Title IX or the school’s Code of Student Life, according to a news release from the university.

UND conducted a review of investigative records provided by the Grand Forks Police Department, the University Police Department and the Grand Forks County State’s Attorney’s Office. UND announced Friday it found Lambda Chi Alpha members did not engage in behaviors that violated the federal law or school code.

Wisconsin

In an opinion piece in the Capital Times, the Wisconsin Transgender Health Coalition wrote about the importance of racial equity to the fight for transgender equity:

In our community, the Wisconsin Transgender Health Coalition recognizes the many factors that impact a person’s ability to access health, and is working on multiple levels to create an environment and conditions in Wisconsin that provide equitable access to health care for transgender and gender non-conforming*** people. The coalition understands the need for, and is working to ensure that, transgender people have access to resources that help navigate systems of care, protection via local and statewide nondiscrimination policies that explicitly state gender identity is a protected category, and care from providers who have received training and education on how to treat transgender people with respect and quality service. The coalition also sees racial justice as a necessary piece of accessing full health for transgender people.

A bill to ban transgender inclusion has been proposed by Republican lawmakers, and it’s generating a lot of pushback. In the Isthmus, columnist Dave Cieslewicz took aim at the bill:

Two Republican state legislators are planning to introduce a bill instructing local public schools about how to govern the use of their bathrooms. I am not making this up.
The legislators want to require schools to make sure that transgender kids use the facility that comports with their anatomical gender as opposed to the gender with which they identify.
There’s no question that the issue of transgender rights has taken society by storm and in a hurry, and it will take some time to sort out how to deal with all the issues that come up. But is this really a necessary topic for state legislation? I especially ask that question in light of the fact that it is being proposed by Republican legislators who are supposed to belong to the party of local control and staying out of people’s personal business.

The bill, Think Progress reports, would allow people to sue school district’s that are transgender inclusive:

Two Wisconsin state lawmakers, Rep. Jesse Kremer (R) and Sen. Stephen Nass (R), have introduced legislation that would prohibit schools from accommodating transgender students who wish to use restroom and changing room facilities that match their gender. It would also empower anyone who notices a school respecting a transgender student as such to file a complaint and win damages against that school.
In a memo to fellow lawmakers distributed last week, Kremer and Nass insisted that “in response to recent incidents around the state” that they do not identify, “no student of any gender should be made to feel uncomfortable or threatened in the most private places in our schools.”

Some Democratic lawmakers are fighting back against the anti-transgender proposal by introducing a bill that would require all school districts to implement transgender-inclusive policies, the Capital Times reports:

Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Cross Plains, and Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd, D-Milwaukee, sent legislators a memo Tuesday seeking cosponsors for their own proposal, which would require the state Department of Public Instruction to develop a model policy regarding transgender students. The bill would also require each school board in the state to adopt its own policy.
The Democratic bill would also legally define “gender identity” and “transgender pupil” in accordance with definitions given by the National Center for Transgender Equality.
“Recent actions in our state and nationwide indicate that many individuals do not have a clear understanding of the unique issues faced by transgender youth,” Pope and Harris Dodd wrote in their memo. “Adopting a school board-wide policy is necessary to ensure a safe, equal learning environment for transgender students.”

In Oshkosh, one transgender student is raising this issue in his school district, the Northwestern reports:

A transgender student at Oshkosh West High School is raising awareness about a lack of policies in the Oshkosh Area School District after he said he received a detention for using the bathroom of the sex he identifies with.

Cody Zitek is a senior at the school who was assigned female at birth. He came out as transgender in 2011 and has since begun transitioning. The staff at West has always been very accommodating in using his preferred pronouns and name, he said, and he hadn’t had any issues at school previously.

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Andy Birkey
Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

1 COMMENT

  1. Rand Paul FYI WE Can Sue now over some of the things your worried about and WIN. Please get someone on your staff to really Research LGBTQI as to what rights we have and are asking for. The Civil Rights Act of 1972 Title 7 and 9, are working fine for us. Please consider the following as you are not a part of the solution.

    Transgender people don’t commit suicide because they’re transgender; they commit suicide because the rest of society doesn’t treat them like people! –

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