aroundtheregion

Iowa
Student government at ISU is opposing the inclusion of Brigham Young University in the Big 12 due to its opposition to LGBTQ people, the Ames Tribune reports:

The Iowa State student government has added its voice to the opposition of the possibility of BYU joining the Big 12 conference.
The Student Senate passed a resolution Wednesday night stating it, “believes that BYU’s discriminatory policies and practices are inconsistent with the values of the Big 12 Conference,” and it “does not support BYU’s membership bid to the Big 12 conference at this time.”
At issue is the honor code of the school, which is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The code prohibits “homosexual behavior,” and has been roundly criticized by the LGBT community. Last month, 25 LGBT groups wrote to the Big 12 asking them to eliminate BYU as a candidate for expansion, which the league has been exploring in earnest this summer.

An Iowa teacher is receiving an award for pushing for LGBTQ inclusivity in schools. It was the Westboro Baptist Church that helped spur her to action, the Des Moines Register reports:

All kinds of students walk the halls at Lincoln High School. Many feel safer and more welcome thanks to the work of teacher Stephanie Brennan.
Safe Schools Iowa recently named Brennan its 2016 educator of the year for her work with lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-questioning (LGBTQ) issues at the school.
“It validates the efforts and energy she’s put forth the last couple of years at Lincoln to support our LGBTQ students. She’s dedicated to not just supporting the, but also raising awareness, which allows our students to feel safe and to be aware, respectful and supportive of different life choices,” Lincoln’s Principal Paul Williamson said.
Brennan has taught in the Des Moines school district for nine years, including stints at North and East high schools. She is a Lincoln High graduate.
Brennan spoke with The Des Moines Register about the award.

Iowa State Daily takes a look at the Pride Summit at the ISU:

The Pride Summit meets once every three weeks to discuss current events and issues within the LGBTQA+ community. It’s composed of CVM Spectrum, Delta Lambda Phi Social Fraternity, Gamma Rho Lambda National Sorority, ISU LGBTA Alliance, LGBT Student Services Center, LGBTQA+ Faculty and Staff Association and Queer* Graduate Student Association.
The group is open to any students who are passionate about LGBTQA+ issues and wish to spark change in the community. Hochstein said the Pride Summit can be whatever it needs to be at the time. If there is a big issue on campus, Pride Summit can come together and talk about a response.
“This year, we really want to focus on getting students connected to leadership opportunities on campus,” Hochstein said. “If we can help students develop those leadership skills, they can take an active role in change in the community.”

Wisconsin
The Shepherd Express takes a look at how Wisconsin’s hate crimes laws are and aren’t working:

Wisconsin has a hate crimes law on the books that is supposed to protect those who intentionally are targeted for a crime based on their race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry.
But those speaking for victims of hate crimes say that the law isn’t effective because victims aren’t willing to report their crimes, law enforcement officers don’t take their complaints seriously and the bias apparently underlying the hate crime is often difficult if not impossible to prove in court.
The advocates spoke at last week’s public session in West Allis of the Wisconsin Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which focused on civil rights and hate crimes in Wisconsin.
According to the FBI database on hate crimes, in 2014 Wisconsin had a mere 51 reported hate crimes, 28 of which were race based, nine targeted an individual’s sexual orientation, six were religion-based, five were due to an individual’s ethnicity and three were motivated by an individual’s disability.
Eleven of those hate-based incidents occurred in Milwaukee.

South Dakota
An Equality Summit was held in Sioux Falls, KDLT reports:

The second annual Dakotas’ Equality Summit is taking place in downtown Sioux Falls this weekend. It’s a chance for local LGBT individuals and their families and friends to come together for some fellowship, learning, and growth.

Adam Jorgensen from NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota says the summit is a multi-state organization that aims to teach about the LGBT community and the issues the community faces. He says last year it was held in Rapid City and they were happy to see about 100 people from across the states show up in the dead of winter! Jorgensen says there will be different speakers, including some celebrities, to talk about their experience, whether someone is sharing their story of coming out, parents sharing about their children, or people sharing about how they’ve overcome some obstacle. He added that there are also resources available to HR departments in businesses to understand how to better handle situations that may come up in the workplace. There will also be HIV testing between each seminar for people to take advantage of for free.

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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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