aroundtheregion

Iowa
One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, is using Pokemon Go to raise awareness about anti-transgender hate crimes, the Des Moines Register reports:

One Iowa, an LGBT equality organization, is hoping to capitalize on the popularity of the app keeping people outside to inform players about the group’s petition to have transgender protections under the state’s legislation on hate crimes.
One Iowa is planning a Pokemon meetup from 6 to 7 p.m. next Wednesday in the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, a well-known Pokespot.
“Right now, people are protected by law based on their sexual orientation but not on their gender identity, so transgender people are currently vulnerable,” Erica Barz, communication specialist with One Iowa said. “So we’re trying to let people know that one, that is the case, and to have them sign our petition in support of that protection.”
The app is the perfect way to combine something people love — Pokemon — and giving One Iowa an arena to speak about transgender issues, Barz said.

The churches behind a lawsuit against the Iowa Civil Rights Commission over LGBTQ anti-discrimination policies have spoken about the case, religious right outlet Charisma News reports:

Less than 24 hours after two Iowa pastors, taking different approaches, announced they were going to fight the state’s Civil Rights Commission over a brochure that said churches must allow transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice, the state blinked.
In a press release Friday evening, the ICRC issued the following statement, attributed to director Kristin H. Johnson:
The Iowa Civil Rights Commission has never considered a complaint against a church or other place of worship on this issue. This statute was amended to add these protected classes (sexual orientation and gender identity) in 2007 and has been in effect since then. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission has not done anything to suggest it would be enforcing these laws against ministers in the pulpit, and there has been no new publication or statement from the ICRC raising the issue. The Commission regrets the confusion caused by the previous publication.
The revised brochure may be viewed by clicking here.

Chelsey Youman, Chief of Staff for First Liberty Institute, which is representing one of the pastors—the Rev. Cary Gordon, senior pastor of Cornerstone World Outreach in Sioux City—said they were “taking the state at its word.” For now.
“However, if it does in the future, we stand ready to use the full force of the law to protect the church’s free exercise of religion and free speech under the Constitution,” she added.
“I accept the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s public apology, with clear reservations,” Gordon said. “We will continue to monitor their activities and stand ready to defend all churches at any time.”

The University of Iowa has laid off an athletic director who sued the school over gender and sexual orientation discrimination, ESPN reports:

The University of Iowa is planning to lay off a former top athletic administrator who is suing the school for gender discrimination and retaliation, the school confirmed Wednesday.
Iowa has informed former senior associate athletic director Jane Meyer that her position as a project manager will be eliminated Sept. 9, saying it is no longer necessary.
Meyer’s attorney, Jill Zwagerman, went to court Wednesday seeking an injunction to block the termination from taking effect. Zwagerman argued that the layoff was further retaliation for Meyer’s complaints about unequal pay and treatment of women and lesbians in the athletics department and went back on previous promises that she’d remain employed.
The university said it would resist the injunction and denied discrimination and retaliation.
The dispute is the latest in a messy personnel situation that has contributed to two lawsuits and an ongoing federal civil rights investigation of Iowa’s athletics department.

Wisconsin

A new book traces the history of Milwaukee’s LGBTQ community, Windy City Times reports:

Milwaukee Pride, Inc. announces the upcoming publication of LGBT Milwaukee, written by local author Michail Takach with a foreword by Don Schwamb of the Wisconsin LGBT History Project.
LGBT Milwaukee, published by Arcadia Publishing & the History Press as part of the Images of Modern America series, will be released August 22, 2016. Preorders are now available at Amazon.com and other retailers.
The book, believed to be the first comprehensive social history of LGBTQ Milwaukee ever published, traces the rise and fall of six dozen landmark bars, gathering places and pride festivals.
With contributions from many local elders and icons, LGBT Milwaukeecelebrates the resilience, determination and unity required to bring a community out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
“We have always been here,” said author Michail Takach. “By the time of the 1969 Stonewall riots, an astonishing 35 gay bars had already opened in Milwaukee – a number matched only by New York or San Francisco.”
“LGBT Milwaukee is dedicated to those who dared to live authentic, adventurous, outrageous lives against all odds. Without these courageous pioneers, many of whom are featured in the book, we would live in a very different Milwaukee today.”
The book complements the efforts of the Wisconsin LGBT History Project and the History Of Gay Milwaukee Facebook group to initiate, cultivate and celebrate ongoing conversations about local LGBTQ history.
“As social spaces become more mixed and mainstream, the need to explore and preserve hidden history becomes more critical,” said Wes Shaver, president elect of Milwaukee Pride, Inc. “Yesterday’s LGBTQ spaces are becoming today’s hot spots. Without knowing what came before, the stories behind these spaces are at tremendous risk of disappearing.”

Kenosha schools are crafting policies to be more gender inclusive, Kenosha News reports:

The Kenosha Unified School District is creating and updating policies to include transgender or gender non-conforming youth.
The Personnel/Policy Committee approved such policies Tuesday, with their recommendations going to the School Board for consideration July 26.
Policies for transgender students took center stage this spring after a transgender male student at Tremper High School talked publicly about his problems using the boys restrooms at the school.
At that time there was no policy in place.
School Board President Tamarra Coleman made it clear that the new policy and other updates were inclusive.
“We want all of our students to feel safe and comfortable, not just our transgender students. We want a safe, comfortable learning environment for all of our students,” Coleman said. “Our goal is to make (the policies) more clear about what our students can do if they don’t feel comfortable.”
“This is something that school districts are starting to implement in updating their policies to make sure they align with any kind of changes in the law,” Unified Communications Director Tanya Ruder said. “We did work closely with our legal counsel on this to make sure they did fall in line with state and federal law.”

North Dakota
A study about crisis centers found that many LGBTQ people don’t feel safe when seeking help, the Fargo Forum reports:

An online survey found that nearly 30 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who sought help at a rape and domestic violence crisis center in North Dakota weren’t satisfied with the support they received.

The survey was done by an advisory committee made up of LGBT advocates from around the state, a group brought together by the North Dakota Women’s Network and the state Department of Health.

Zach Packineau, chair of the advisory committee, said the plan is to use the survey results, which were released this month, to guide centers and other agencies in becoming more inclusive of the LGBT community.

“There’s a need for more training and kind of education for service providers, for law enforcement, for people who work in the courts systems,” he said.

Liz Anderson, director of the Abuse Resource Network in Lisbon, said advocates at her center could benefit from more training on how to assist LGBT victims. “Everybody needs to know how to respond, and they can’t have any preconceived notions,” she said.

Manitoba
The Pride celebration in the small Manitoba community of Steinbach has made the news due to larger than expected turnout, the CBC reports:

People across the country had their eyes on Steinbach, Man., on Saturday as the community hosted its first Pride parade.
Organizers initially expected about 200 people would visit the southern Manitoba city to celebrate the LGBT community. On Saturday, police estimated between 2,500 and 5,000 people travelled to the community of about 13,500 for the parade.
“It was overwhelming and it just proved our point, right, that most of the world, the country, the province really wants to see equality in every community,” said Pride spokeswoman Michelle McHale.
“So it meant the world to see that many people show up and just show the LGBTQ in Steinbach somebody is looking out for you.”
Thousands take part in the 1st Pride parade in Steinbach, Man.
Organizers faced many struggles leading up to the parade. A number of residents cited their Christian beliefs as a reason for refusing to back the event, although some Christians have expressed support.
Conservative MP Ted Falk refused to attend and released a statement saying, “I’ve been clear on this issue many times and have made my position public on my values of faith, family, and community.”

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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.

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