The Associated Press reports that a religious right group in South Dakota will be pushing anti-transgender legislation in January:
The leader of a conservative advocacy group in South Dakota says he plans to push for another bill to bar transgender students from using bathrooms or locker rooms that don’t match their biological gender at birth.
Family Heritage Alliance executive director Dale Bartscher tells the Argus Leader the group approved a draft of the bill last week. It calls for schools to provide accommodations for “students with unique privacy needs, including transgender students.”
The Legislature previously approved a similar bill, but Gov. Dennis Daugaard vetoed it.
Bartscher says it’s important for the Legislature to debate the issue in 2017. The legislation’s details, including which legislator would sponsor it, weren’t firm Wednesday.
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, the Center for Equality and Human Rights Watch have launched fundraising campaigns to raise awareness about transgender students’ challenges.
A conservative Republican lawmaker in Wisconsin said he would introduce anti-transgender legislation in 2017, WRN reports:
Wisconsin could once again enter the debate over which restrooms transgender students should use in schools.
Despite comments from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) this week that he thinks the measure is not needed, state Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) still has concerns about the lack of a state policy on the issue and believes it’s something lawmakers should address. The Kewaskum Republican said he will consider bringing back a bill next year that requires students to use bathrooms and changing areas that match their biological sex, not the gender the identify with. He proposed a similar measure last session, which failed to advance out of committee.
While Vos expressed confidence that the federal government could back off from a policy that’s resulted in schools facing lawsuits over transgender bathroom policies, Kremer said the issue actually existed before President Barack Obama’s administration got involved. “This is something…we had seen going on around the country, because it’s actually the agencies themselves that are causing the problems,” Kremer said.
Kremer said he’s currently watching the outcome of a lawsuit in Virginia, before deciding his next move. The case involves a challenge to a decision to allow a biologically female student – who identifies as male – to use the boy’s bathroom. The U.S. Supreme Court case put that ruling on hold earlier this year, while it considers the case. “I’d like to see where the courts do go with this…I’ve been cautiously optimistic there to see what happens,” he said.
However, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the legislation is unnecessary, WSAU reports:
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) believes the legislation is unnecessary now, since a federal Title IX policy that prompted it is likely to go away under President-elect Donald Trump, a Republican. That policy directed schools to allow students to use the bathroom that matches the gender they identify with, even if it’s not the same as their biological sex.
With that “executive overreach” gone, Vos thinks school districts will once again be able to set their own policies. “If Madison wants to do it one way, and McFarland wants to do it another, I think they should have each the right to decide for themselves and their students,” Vos said.
North Carolina lawmakers this week indicated they plan to repeal a wider ban on the use of bathrooms by transgender individuals in public places, following a strong public backlash and economic losses suffered by the state. Vos indicated he doesn’t see a need for a similar measure in Wisconsin. “I think human beings are smart enough themselves, without government telling them how to do it, to figure out which restroom they should use and a proper way to make sure that we protect our kids.”
A North Dakota company is facing a federal lawsuit due to alleged harassment against a gay employee. A press release by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission details the case against Rocky Mountain Casing Company which includes allegations of homophobic epithets in the workplace:
In its suit, EEOC contends that Rocky Mountain Casing Company, which maintains a workforce in Williston, N.D., subjected a male employee to harassment because of his sex, male, and his sexual orientation. The agency said that coworkers called the employee by offensive and homophobic slurs; defaced company vehicles with sex-based remarks about him; and left him pornographic magazines with titles like “Chicks With Dicks.” His manager made offensive jokes about gays to or around the employee; made him the butt of derogatory sex-based comments; gave him children’s toys and board games; and gave him a hat with a Spanish slang word for “homosexual” on it. The employee complained, EEOC said, but no prompt corrective action was taken.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination because of sex. As the federal law enforcement agency charged with interpreting and enforcing Title VII, EEOC has concluded that harassment and other discrimination because of sexual orientation is a form of prohibited sex discrimination. In this case, EEOC contends that Rocky Mountain Casing Company harassed the employee because he did not conform to stereotypes regarding masculinity and because of the sex of the persons with whom he formed relationships. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Rocky Mountain Casing Co., 1:16-cv-00428-DLH-CSM) in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota after first attempting to reach pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
“Employers must realize that harassing someone because of his or her perceived sexual orientation violates the law just as does other types of harassment based on sex, or harassment based on race, or harassment based on religion,” said Julianne Bowman, director for EEOC’s Chicago District Office, which investigated the discrimination charge. “This kind of abuse is unacceptable and illegal.”
WOWT reports that a gay couple may have been victims of a bias crime:
A gay couple in Council Bluffs believes vandals targeted them. The damage to their property has them afraid and disgusted.
“I heard what I thought was two rocks hit the windows,” said Troy Fienhold-Haasis.
On Tuesday night, Troy ran outside only to spot people running away up the street.
“Our vehicles had 7 windows shot out and our front window of the house that I was standing behind was shot twice,” said Troy.
In the daylight, that destruction was clear. Investigators think pellet guns rounds were shot through the glass. The bigger holes were punched in.
“If they can catch the individuals it’s an act of terrorism they said,” Troy said. “With the weather the way it is it’s something you have to get fixed right away.”
The couple has had to file three different insurance claims already.
“It’s a great neighborhood. We have some great neighbors,” said Jason Fienhold-Haasis.
“We’ve been here 6 years and have had no problems,” said Troy. “It makes you fearful.”
Their stick figure stickers on their vehicles proudly show their happy family. Now they’re feeling uneasy that someone might be targeting them.