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Around the Region: IA law enforcement lags in hate crimes reporting

Around the Region: IA law enforcement lags in hate crimes reporting


Iowa law enforcement agencies are lax in reporting hate crimes, the Associated Press and Sioux City Journal report:

Two out of five Iowa law enforcement agencies did not file any hate crime reports to the FBI over a six-year span, the seventh-highest rate in the nation, according to an Associated Press review of federal records.
The list of Iowa law enforcement agencies that did not file any hate crime reports from 2009 to 2014 is made up almost exclusively of small towns.
One state law enforcement official said that may be because hate crimes are rare in small Iowa communities.
But victim advocates and advocacy groups do not think that is the case.
“That’s not true,” said Nate Monson, executive director of Safe Iowa Schools, a nonprofit organization that advocates for gay, lesbian and transgender youth. “I have received calls from students who have been accosted walking home from school because they’re gay. And it’s not a bullying incident. It’s not from a peer. It’s from an adult in the community.
“And they’ve reported to law enforcement, and nothing has been done, and that’s frustrating.”

Rep. David Young, a Republican from Iowa, pushed back on claims that he was strong-armed by fellow Republicans into changing his vote on a pro-LGBTQ amendment, KCCI reports:

The vote was over an amendment that would have barred federal contracts to companies that discriminate against LGBT employees. The measure was close to passing when the vote was held open. Seven Republican lawmakers changed their minds including Young.
“I corrected my vote when I found the amendment did not protect religious liberties of Iowans and faith-based institutions. I always treat people with dignity, respect and fairness but we also have First Amendment rights. We have to protect faith-based institutions. I don’t support discrimination. That amendment was offered at the last second. There was not a lot of discussion or debate. We were told there were religious protections in it when I found out there wasn’t I changed my vote,” said Young.
He said nobody twists my arm and I answer to the people of the Third District.
“I love people. I serve these people. I see dignity and respect in everybody but I also believe in faith,” said Young.

The Beloit Daily News took a look at how President Obama’s guidance to schools on transgender inclusion is playing out in local school districts:

The School District of Beloit does not have a policy that addresses bathrooms or locker rooms. But groups supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) students are having conversations about what policies need to be developed moving forward in consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, according to Executive Director of Special Education/Pupil Services Emily Pelz.
When transgender students at the School District of Beloit have requested to use the bathroom/locker room of the gender they identify with, Pelz said a team consisting of the building’s administration and student services works with the family and the student to come up with a plan to meet the student’s individual needs.
While access to bathrooms and locker rooms has been discussed, the district hasn’t had any transgender students access the bathroom/locker of the gender they identify with yet. Instead, the district has been able to accommodate the student’s needs by providing an alternative location such as a faculty or nurse’s bathroom, or a separate office space or classroom instead of a locker room for changing. Beloit’s schools do not currently have family bathrooms or unisex bathrooms.
“It comes down to having individual conversations to find out the best way to meet their needs within parameters that make them comfortable. A policy will be coming in the coming months,” Pelz said.
The Beloit Turner School District has limited experiences in working with transgender students.
“In those circumstances, we work directly with our student and their family in order to meet their needs. In those cases, students have requested an alternate locker room facility and bathroom. We have these options available for any student who may not feel comfortable changing or using our available facilities,” said Superintendent Dennis McCarthy.
At this point the Turner School District has no specific policy in place, but it will likely be working on a policy in the coming months.
Parkview has not done anything regarding the issue at this time.
“It’s on our radar for summer,” said Superintendent Steve Lutzke.

The Wisconsin Gazette reports on efforts by Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin who is gay, on correcting the records of LGB service members who were dishonorably discharged:

Pocan and U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., want the House Committee on Armed Services to examine the challenges faced by gays and lesbians discharged from the military.
Recently, however, the committee refused to hold a hearing on the bill.

A year ago this summer, the congressmen introduced the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, which would help former service members discharged solely due to their sexual orientation correct their military records to reflect their honorable service and to restore benefits they earned.
The bill, according to Pocan’s office, has 113 co-sponsors in the House, including four Republicans. A companion measure in the Senate has 38 co-sponsors.
In a letter this spring to Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, who is the chair of the Armed Services Committee, Pocan and Rangel wrote, “Since World War II, more than 100,000 individuals are estimated to have been discharged from the military due to their sexual orientation. Today, thousands of gay, lesbian and bisexual veterans are tarnished with discharge statuses other than honorable. This status affects both their access to benefits they have earned from their service and their opportunities in civilian life, potentially hindering employment opportunities and the right to vote.”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on efforts to reduce HIV incidence in black gay men:

As his first anniversary on the job nears, Gerry Coon’s goals as president and CEO of Diverse & Resilient are the same as his predecessor: reduce HIV and STI rates among young, black gay men in southeastern Wisconsin and improve health outcomes for those living with HIV.
I wouldn’t expect anything different.
HIV rates among young, black gay men in Milwaukee and in urban areas across the country are higher than for any other group. In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that about half of all gay and bisexual black men in the United States will be diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS during their lifetime if something doesn’t change.
Something does need to change. The alarms should be ringing. This needs to be a high priority on health care agendas across the country.

The Wisconsin Gazette takes a look at the changes coming to Milwaukee Pridefest:

After the glitter, paper cups, confetti and other debris of PrideFest 2016 are hauled away, Heinritz will turn his attention to building Milwaukee Pride Inc. into a full-fledged organization that will stage fundraising events year round to benefit various community groups. He wants his group to fill gaps in services for Milwaukee’s LGBT community. “What I want to do is find out where those gaps are, what needs are not currently being met by existing organizations,” he says. “What we don’t want to do is take on what other organizations are doing.

“We would like to be a portal where people could come and use us as a resource — where we could leverage our existing partnerships and work together to solve issues.”

PrideFest already does cross promotions with Pabst Theater Group. For instance, the Avett Brothers are performing on a different part of the Summerfest grounds on opening night, and anyone who attends that concert will receive a ticket for PrideFest. On Saturday night, people who attend RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battle of the Seasons at the Pabst Theater will receive both a ticket for PrideFest and a shuttle ride to the Summerfest grounds.

PrideFest will also have a float in this year’s Milwaukee Pride Parade, and shuttles will take people back and forth between the parade and the festival.

These examples are just the beginning, Heinritz says, of what he hopes will become a win-win relationship between the new organization and existing community groups.

South Dakota
A transgender man from Rapid City penned a column in the Argus Leader pushing back against anti-transgender sentiment:

Those who launch such attacks are wrong. I do not have a disorder. I am not confused. I’m just trying to go about my life in peace like everyone else. One of the things I love most about South Dakota is the sense of community here and the fact that we take pride in being a place known for its kindness. Now is the time to live up to that reputation. We need to band together as South Dakotans to be respectful of each other. We don’t have to be friends, we don’t have to agree – but we do have to be decent.
Terri Bruce is a transgender man and transgender rights advocate who was born in Flandreau and raised in Sioux Falls. He is the great-great grandson of State Rep. Frank Peacock and the great grandson of State Rep. James Minahan. He currently lives in Rapid City.

Winnipeg held LGBTQ Pride events last week, including the annual Dyke March, CBC reports:

Dozens of LGBT people and their allies took part in the seventh annual Winnipeg Dyke March Saturday.
The event is held every year in the leadup to the annual Winnipeg Pride Parade, which takes place Sunday.
Organizers Sara Barsky and Joey Lowen said the inclusive event celebrates every letter of every iteration of the LGBT acronym and more, but it also highlights members of the community they believe often receive less attention.
“The Winnipeg Dyke March is a women-inclusive march…. It’s queer and trans-inclusive, it’s about being accessible and community-based and taking up space in a week that doesn’t always recognize people from the more marginalized area of the queer community,” Barsky said.

Winnipeg Pride also included an art event featuring indigenous artists, CBC reports:

Winnipeggers gathered at Thunderbird House Wednesday night to celebrate art from the two-spirited community.
Two-Spirited People of Manitoba held a lecture and art opening as part of Pride week, with work from Kent Monkman and Rosalie Favell.
“During Pride we want to have a presence for Indigenous people who may be LGBTQ or two-spirit,” said Two-Spirited People of Manitoba co-director Albert McLeod. “I think that it is important that people understand Canadian history and some aspects that were left out because of homophobia or transphobia.”

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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.


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