aroundtheregion

Wisconsin

Planting Peace, a nonprofit in Milwaukee, sent a pride flag to space and launched it from that city, according to a press release:

On August 17, Planting Peace sent the first pride flag into space, and in doing so, declared space LGBTQ friendly. The primary purpose of this declaration is to support the ongoing fight for the fundamental human rights of our LGBTQ family, moving us closer to a universal understanding that all people deserve to live freely and love freely without fear and discrimination.
To achieve this, we used a high altitude balloon with a GoPro attached, and launched just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The pride flag was airborne for just over three hours before making its way back to earth. At its peak altitude, the flag soared 21.1 miles above the earth’s surface.
Our hope was to create the largest safe SPACE possible for our LGBTQ community. It also offered us a chance to reinforce, in a peaceful, beautiful way, our ongoing message to our LGBTQ family:
You are loved, valued and beautiful.
There is nothing wrong with you.
You are not alone, and we will stand with you.

Wausua’s school district continues its discussion of transgender inclusion, the Wausau Daily Herald reports:

Wausau School Board President Lance Trollop Googles the word “transgender” every day and tracks several court cases across the country involving transgender students and their school districts.
Trollop never imagined he’d be searching regularly for updates on transgender issues, he told his fellow School Board members and dozens from the community at a meeting Monday night.
“This is an issue that is impacting our students right now,” he said.
The district is wrestling with new administrative rules that say transgender students can use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender, rather than their sex assigned at birth. One point of debate is whether students can request that special consideration without involving their parents.
School Board members voted Monday to revisit and likely edit the rules in detail at a special meeting next week. Three members — Jane Rusch, Beth Martin and Mary Thao — voted to keep the new rules as is for now. Those guidelines encourage transgender students to approach school officials who will develop a student support plan, which includes discussing the child’s preferred pronouns and bathroom and locker room use.
Those rules allow transgender students to take these steps without their parents’ involvement, as recommended by the federal Education and Justice departments in a May 2016 letter to schools. District staff then brought those rules to the School Board to review last month, expecting that they would stir controversy. And they have.

On Milwaukee profiled the Cream City Foundation, a charity that works to improve conditions for LGBTQ people in Southeast Wisconsin:

The Cream City Foundation was established in 1982 by a small group of individuals working to help serve and support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Since its origin, the foundation has not only helped support the LGBT community, but also has worked with the area to improve and help the entire southeastern Wisconsin area. It is the Foundation’s goal to help the LGBT community work, play and stay in the state of Wisconsin.
The foundation has been very active in identifying the needs of the LGBT community, but also working to end discrimination against it.
Foundation president Peter Holbrook is committed to advocate, educate and build positive relationships with the area to foster a world of access and opportunity, and I sat down with him to hear his story.
It’s a fascinating one: the foundation has also worked to raise thousands of dollars in scholarship money for LGBT individuals. In less than one year the scholarship program raised more than $71,000 and awarded $45,000 to 31 deserving students.
In the years since the founding of Cream City Foundation in 1982, it’s led the way among LGBTQ+ grant makers in Southeastern Wisconsin proving close to 400 grants of over $1.3 million.
Holbrook attributes the foundation’s granting success in part to the generous support of its donors and sponsors.

Iowa
Iowa advocacy groups are encouraging poll workers to use best practices when transgender and gender nonconforming voters head to the polls in November, KIMT reports:

Several state advocacy groups have released a tip sheet for poll workers outlining best practices for interacting with transgender and gender non-conforming voters.
One Iowa, American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and League of Women Voters of Iowa distributed the tips to county auditors on Wednesday ahead of the start of Iowa’s early voting on Thursday.
“Iowa county auditors are training poll workers across the state as we head into the early voting period,” said Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa interim program director and legal director. “As transgender Iowans make strides in advancing and protecting their civil rights and become more visible in our society, it’s important that poll workers are given the information they need to serve all Iowa voters in a respectful way. Both elections officials and voters should know that transgender Iowans are expressly protected from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity by the Iowa Civil Rights Act, including in voting.”
The one-page document includes definitions of “transgender” and “gender non-conforming,” 10 best practices and contact information for representatives of One Iowa and ACLU of Iowa for questions.
“Voting is a key component of civic engagement,” One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing said. “It is how our voices are heard around key issues and elections. We expect poll workers to be educated and trained so that transgender persons are not disenfranchised because of administrative or other barriers at polling places.”
“I think it’s important that all poll workers be clear that trans and gender non-conforming Iowans will come to the polls knowing their rights as citizens and voters,” said Renee Thomas, a transgender architect who reviewed the tip sheet. “A good interaction and a good experience are ensured when the ‘ground rules’ are clearly communicated and understood by all stakeholders.”

Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence spoke at an anti-LGBTQ rally in Iowa. He spoke at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group under the umbrella of religious right icon Ralph Reed. Radio Iowa has audio from the gathering.

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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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