Madison and Dane County have banned nonessential travel to North Carolina, Wisconsin Public Radio reports:
Madison city employees and Dane County employees have been prohibited from travelling to North Carolina for work in response to the state’s new law requiring transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said that while county employees rarely make trips to North Carolina, banning travel is a form of protest. “At the end of the day, this is a moral issue, but also an economic development issue,” Parisi said.
Parisi frames it as an economic development issue because some businesses and organizations have also taken issue with the new law: Paypal, for example, has said it will not be adding roughly 400 jobs in North Carolina in response to the legislation. Parisi said Wisconsin should be trying to attract businesses like PayPal.
“But what we’re lacking is a governor who will step forward and say, I will not sign any legislation like this,” he said. “Because if he would step forward and say that, we could aggressively reach out to these folks, and then when the inevitable question is asked — do we have to worry about legislation like this being signed in Wisconsin? — we can say no.”
Backlash from North Carolina’s new “bathroom law” is reaching Wisconsin with travel bans issued by local government leaders. Monday afternoon Madison Mayor Paul Soglin announced the city has prohibited travel for city sanctioned business.
“Clearly the situation in North Carolina is one that does not meet our standards,” Soglin explains. “Until further notice all travel to North Carolina is suspended.”
Soglin says the only situations that will be exempt from the travel ban include contractual obligations and previously made travel plans. Soglin says he doesn’t know of any current travel plans that will be affected by the ban, but says future travel plans are certainly possible.
“Myself, I went to North Carolina for city business about three years ago,” Soglin says. “Our staff travels a lot for city business.”
Soglin’s announcement comes after Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced a ban on travel to North Carolina for Dane County business last week. He says many U.S. businesses have come forward to denounce the new law and Wisconsin should roll out the welcome mat.
“This is a great opportunity for us to say we’re not going to discriminate, we don’t discriminate, come do business here,” Parisi says.
Critics say the new law that was signed in March discriminates against transgender people. It requires anyone who uses a public bathroom to go into the room that corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth.
TMJ4 took a look at the state of anti-LGBTQ legislation in the state and what locals have to say about the national debate over North Carolina’s law:
North Carolina has become the first state to require transgender people to use restrooms in schools and public buildings that correspond with their birth gender, instead of the gender they identify with.
During the past legislative session, a bill was introduced here in Wisconsin that would set gender restrictions on school bathrooms and locker rooms. It never made it to the floor, but it shows local lawmakers are thinking about the issue.
“These laws are saying to trans people that your gender identity can never be validated, that you’re always wrong, that you’re perpetually confused,” says Cary Gabriel Costello, who was assigned “female” at birth, but now, is a transgender man. Costello leads the LGBT Studies Program at UW-Milwaukee.
“If I were to walk into a women’s bathroom, I would immediately say excuse me and back out, because that is not the bathroom in which I would feel comfortable, or that other people would expect me to be in,” Costello says.
The UW System and some Milwaukee businesses are sensitive to that. For example, the Riverwest Public House does not label its bathrooms for “Men” or “Women.” Rather it’s “Sit,” or “Sit-Stand.”
“A lot of people do point it out because they don’t see that anywhere else,” says Lisa Knapp, the manager of Riverwest Public House. “Anyone can use either. It doesn’t matter. Whatever you’re comfortable with. We want to be totally open and inclusive to everybody.”
A Wisconsin school district is facing scrutiny over its anti-transgender policies. The Transgender Law Center issued a press release last week after a Kenosha school district denied a transgender student access to accommodations:
Transgender Law Center sent a letter to the Kenosha Unified School District yesterday demanding that transgender students be allowed to use facilities that match their gender identity or face legal consequences for violating federal law. Ashton Whitaker, a 16-year-old transgender boy and a student at Tremper High School, had been using the boys’ restrooms without incident since the beginning of the school year, until school administrators intervened and threatened him with disciplinary action if he continued to use the boys’ restroom.
“School is no longer the safe and welcoming place that it used to be. Being banned from the boys’ bathroom is a daily reminder that school administrators see me as someone who is so different from the other students that I’m not even allowed to share a bathroom with them,” said Ash. “I’ve basically stopped using the bathroom at school altogether, which makes it painful and difficult to get through the school day.”
Students at Tremper High School have rallied in support of Ashton and are urging the school district to adopt a policy allowing transgender students to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. An online petition has generated thousands of signatures in support of Ashton’s right to be treated as a boy in all aspects of his life at school.
The state’s only gay Republican spoke in Door County, the Green Bay Press Gazette reports:
The Door County Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) group heard from Wisconsin’s only openly gay Republican state representative during its regular meeting Sunday at Hope Church in Sturgeon Bay.
State Rep. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, attended the meeting with state Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay. Novak is also a retired newspaper editor and has served as the mayor of Dodgeville since 2012. PFLAG Door County meets the third Sunday of each month.
Novak told those gathered about coming to terms with his sexuality and how it affected his life.
“I knew from a young age. As far as I can remember,” he paused – “I was different.”
He dated women and at one point even became engaged.
Madison is contending to host the Gay Games in 2022:
The Federation of Gay Games announced Tuesday the results of the first phase of bidding for the games. The 17 cities include Anaheim, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Cape Town, South Africa; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Des Moines, Iowa; Guadalajara, Mexico; Hong Kong, China; Los Angeles, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Antonio, Texas; San Francisco, California; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Washington, D.C.
“The FGG has never received so many expressions of interest, and these requests for information go well beyond a simple expression of intent,” Officer of Site Selection David Killian said.
The site will be selected in late 2017 in Paris.
The next step in the process is the release of the request for proposal document, which is due in May.
The lead sponsor of anti-transgender legislation in South Dakota announced he is retiring. Rep. Fred Deutsch won’t seek reelection, KELO reports:
It’s controversial legislation that’s been discussed nationwide, including right here in KELOLAND.
A Tennessee lawmaker shot down her own proposed legislation to have K-12 students use bathrooms that match their gender at birth.
Today Fred Deutsch, the lawmaker who sponsored controversial House Bill 1008, announced he won’t run for reelection. Reports say he made the decision for personal and business reasons, and it had nothing to do with the negative attention with the bill. We talked with one of the co-sponsors of the bill to see what his thoughts are on the national discussion.
It was a debate in Pierre that was surrounded with controversy. Now we’re seeing what could have happened if the debate led to a new law here in South Dakota.
The Argus Leader’s Stu Whitney sat down for an in-depth interview with Deutsch to talk about his retirement and the anti-transgender legislation he is known for:
Fred Deutsch is a monster.
That was a common sentiment among LGBT supporters after the Republican state legislator proposed a bill to prevent South Dakota transgender students in public schools from using restrooms according to their gender identity.
The bill, which received more than 75 percent combined support in the House and Senatebefore being vetoed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard, brought national scrutiny to South Dakota as a symbol of intolerance on an emerging social issue.
Deutsch and his supporters held firm, pointing to the “threat” that students would face if forced to share a restroom or locker room with someone of the opposite birth sex.
That approach is deemed discriminatory under federal Title IX guidelines, bolstered by an appeals court ruling Tuesday in Virginia, where a transgender student who was born female petitioned to use the male restroom and was granted a landmark victory.
Deutsch, rated the most conservative member of the South Dakota House by the American Conservative Union, was combative at times during the debate, as were his opponents. He became the face of a movement derided as reactionary or worse by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Sioux Falls-based Center for Equality and other advocacy groups.
When I wrote columns or posted opinions critical of his stance, Deutsch sometimes fired back at me, leading to heated rhetoric on social media. He says he received email threats from others who opposed his views.
The advisor of the GSA at South Dakota State University is retiring, the SDSU Collegian reports:
The sun was peeking through the window of Ruth Harper’s southeast corner office in Wenona Hall on a recent Friday, which seemed fitting since for the past two decades Harper has been shining light on diversity issues at South Dakota State University.
But there was something different about Harper’s office on this day: Empty moving boxes sat on the floor.
After working at SDSU for the past 22 years, co-advising the Gay Straight Alliance and coordinating the college counseling and student affairs administration specialties in the counseling and human development master’s program, Harper is set to retire in August.
“I have loved just about everything I have been allowed to do at SDSU,” Harper said. “Working with GSA is a privilege and a great opportunity to see our university through the eyes of students who have not always felt welcome and supported here. It is thrilling to have a sense of progress at SDSU with regard to LGBT students and staff.”
Harper has seen first-hand the challenges LGBT members encounter in a conservative state. The latest challenge came this year during the legislative session when House Bill 1008 was proposed for transgender students in the state’s public schools to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender at birth.
The University of Iowa hosted the first ever Trans Week, the Daily Iowan reports:
The first-ever Trans Alliance Week of Action kicks off this week.
The week is dedicated to raising awareness about trans issues and educating students on how to take action and become allies to the trans community said Sean Finn, the president of the University of Iowa Trans Alliance.
“The week of action is to educate people on what they can do to improve the rights and culture for the trans community,” he said.
Finn said it’s important to have a week dedicated to raising awareness about trans issues because most people will meet a transgender person in their lifetime and having the education and tools to respectfully treat a transgender person is an important conversation to be having on campus.
Jeremy Vogel, the webmaster and future head of Spectrum UI, said it works closely with Trans Alliance on LGBTQ issues on campus and that it’s especially important to have a week of action with the current political climate regarding transgender issues.