aroundtheregion

North Dakota
Western North Dakota now has a LGBTQ advocacy organization, the Grand Forks Herald reports:

Prairie Pride is a new LGBT organization that is trying to raise support for people within the LGBT community in western North Dakota.
Pierce said they made a post about the organization on Dickinson Classifieds, a Facebook group open to area residents to buy and sell items, only to see if there was any interest to have an organization like Prairie Pride. The post quickly filled with comments from people showing support for the organization.
Kostelecky said there was some fear that people would not want an organization like Prairie Pride to exist within the community.
“It kind of came as a firestorm,” he said. “We were planning more but we needed to see if there was even a reason to do this. We could set this up and it’s just people could say they don’t want it, they’re not interested or we don’t have the support but after our classified ad we were in shock.”

Wisconsin
A Republican lawmaker in Wisconsin is threatening higher eduction funding because an instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison included a essay on gay male sexuality in the curriculum for his course, the Associated Press reports:

A Republican legislator warned Thursday that a University of Wisconsin-Madison instructor’s decision to assign an “offensive” essay on gay men’s sexual preferences could have budget ramifications for the entire UW-System next year.

Steve Nass, vice chairman of the Senate’s higher education committee and a frequent UW critic, said in a letter to UW leaders and regents that lecturer Jason Nolen assigned the essay to his sociology class this week. The 2011 article argues that gay men should be less discriminatory when selecting their sexual partners and contains profanity and vulgar references to oral sex.

Nass demanded UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, UW President Ray Cross and all the regents read the essay and give him their thoughts on it, warning that their answers will play a role in evaluating the system’s 2017-2019 budget.

“Since students at UW-Madison are required to read this offensive material it is only appropriate that as leaders of the system you also read this offensive essay and respond with your thoughts on its educational value,” Nass wrote. “Does it represent the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea? Is this what the people of Wisconsin should expect when paying taxes and tuition to support the UW System?”

Nolen didn’t immediately respond to an email message. UW System spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis referred questions to UW-Madison spokesman John Lucas. He shared a letter that UW-Madison Sociology Department Chairwoman Pamela Oliver sent to Nass on Thursday afternoon defending Nolen as an award-winning instructor and pointing out the class, titled “Problems of American Racial and Ethnic Minorities,” highlights sexual racism and the class syllabus warns students that course discussions could make them uncomfortable.

Iowa
The University of Iowa will now allow preferred names and pronouns for students and staff, the Press Citizen reports:

New and returning students at the University of Iowa will have the opportunity this fall to include their preferred names and gender pronouns as part of their student record.
Three years ago, UI became one of the first institutions in the nation to allow students to identify as transgender on their admissions application. A handful of other schools have since allowed students to include their preferred names and gender pronouns alongside their legal name and gender assigned at birth.
“These changes give students the agency to tell us what name and pronoun to use in our communication and interaction with them,” Jodi Lindley, assistant professor in the UI College of Education, said in a video released this week to announce the change.
The video includes UI students, faculty and staff members explaining which gender pronouns they preferred used to describe themselves. The majority use either he/him/his or she/her/hers, but others do not fit squarely into a male-female binary and prefer to use other options, such as they/their/theirs or ze/zem/zir.

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission has updated a contentious brochure about transgender access to restrooms in places of faith, the Des Moines Register reports:

An Iowa Civil Rights Commission brochure that some churches interpreted to mean they must abide by transgender bathroom rules and muzzle ministers who may want to preach against transgender or gay individuals has been changed, the commission said Friday.
The brochure, which was last updated in 2008, led a Des Moines church to file a lawsuit Monday and a Sioux City church to threaten one if the commission didn’t change its policy that the churches alleged censored them unconstitutionally.
The commission said Friday it revised the “Revised Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Public Accommodations Brochure” to make it clear places of worship are generally exempt from Iowa’s antidiscrimination law except when they’re open for voting, providing a day care facility or other non-religious activities. It also said it regretted any confusion the brochure may have caused.

South Dakota
South Dakota has joined two-dozen other states in opposing the Obama administration’s guidance to public schools on transgender inclusion, the Argus Leader reports:

South Dakota joined nine other states Friday in filing suit against the Obama administration for overstepping its executive authority in bringing a blanket transgender bathroom policy.
The complaint filed in a federal district court in Nebraska contends that the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice went too far in creating a policy that requires schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms, locker rooms and shower rooms based on their gender identity.
In their “Dear colleague” letter in May, the departments said schools that don’t comply with the policy would be at risk of losing federal funding granted under Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex.
But gender identity shouldn’t be classified as sex, the attorneys general from Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming wrote in their complaint. The attorneys asked that the court revoke the guidance as it is “arbitrary and capricious.”
“Plaintiffs stand united behind the constitutional principle that it is the duty of congress to legislate, while it is the duty of the executive branch, including its various federal agencies, to administer and enforce the laws that congress enacts,” they wrote in their complaint.

Protesters want the City of Sioux Falls to vote on a nondiscrimination ordinance that was tabled by the city council last month, the Argus Leader reports:

Protesters in downtown Sioux Falls this weekend hope to convince the City Attorney’s Office to bring back legislation to add gender identity to the list of protected classes in Sioux Falls.
Sierra Broussard, a transgender woman and Sioux Falls resident, organized a demonstration Friday in front of City Hall and the City Attorney’s Office at 9th Street and Dakota Avenue in an effort to pressure city officials into revisiting anti-discrimination legislation pulled off the table last month.
“If this doesn’t help then the next thing I’m going to do is climb the flag pole at Carnegie Town Hall with an LGBT flag,” said Broussard, frustrated with inaction from City Hall to bolster its anti-discrimination rules to include transgender people.

Black Hills Pride was celebrated last week, Black Hills Fox reports:

A local group is celebrating their differences – just days after police were targeted in Dallas – and weeks after the LGBT community was struck in Orlando.

The PRIDE Festival took over Wilson park – with one of its largest events ever.
James Cook, a volunteer for the Black Hills Center for Equality, said “Everybody should be proud of themselves no matter who they are or what they are. That’s the whole purpose of this event .”
The LGBT community is rallying, Saturday – with a year of landmark wins to celebrate – including defeating the bathroom bill – and legalizing gay marriage.
Larence Novotny, the chair of Equality South Dakota, said “The trends are changing. The people here are a lot more willing to step forward and come out.”
About 15 more vendor booths came to this year’s event compared to 2015.
And organizers say they had a jump in attendance.
Nancy Rosenbrahn, the president of the Black Hills Center for Equality, said “The LGBT community – we get courage and get strength. We feel brave when we are together in numbers.”

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