Wisconsin
The ACLU is suing the state’s university system because it won’t provide transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage, according to a statement:

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Wisconsin, and volunteer attorneys from the law firm Hawks Quindel sued Wisconsin’s state university system and insurance board today over their refusal to provide gender-affirming health insurance coverage to state employees who are transgender.
The federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of Alina Boyden, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Shannon Andrews, a cancer researcher at the University of Wisconsin Medical School.
“The state continues to deny our clients coverage for medically necessary treatment simply because they are transgender, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” said John Knight, an attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project. “All that transgender people like Alina and Shannon are asking for is to be treated like everyone else, and that includes respect and coverage for the health care they need.”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has more including a statement from Gov. Scott Walker:

Two transgender University of Wisconsin employees sued state entities Friday in federal court over their refusal to pay for their gender transition surgeries.
The two employees sued the UW System, the Board of Regents, insurers and others with the assistance of the national and Wisconsin arms of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“As a result of (state policies), plaintiffs’ health insurance plans single out transgender employees for unequal treatment by categorically depriving them of all medical care for gender dysphoria, a serious medical condition codified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and International Classification of Diseases,” attorneys wrote in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Madison.
A spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker stood by how the state has handled the issue.
“We believe the policy adopted by the (state) is a reasonable measure that protects taxpayers from funding sex changes for state employees and complies with both state and federal law,” Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said by email.

Iowa
Iowa State University’s Pride Week is kicking off this week, the Iowa State Daily reports:

Iowa State’s Pride Summit is kicking Pride Week off with a call for unity and inclusion.
Various clubs and campus organizations will host events Monday through Friday to inform and express what Pride Week is all about.
“It gives us an opportunity to create intentional spaces and gather in community with each other,” said Joel Hochstein, hearing officer for the Office of Student Conduct.
Hochstein said Pride Week is about forming a local community and connecting with other local communities to join together on a national scale.
All students, faculty and staff are welcome to participate in the 10 official panels, activities and political call-to-action events outlined in the LGBTSS Pride Week events webpage.
The Pride Alliance, College of Business, Pride Summit, LGBT Student Services (LGBTSS), Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Gamma Rho Lambda, the Queer Graduate Association and Iowa State oSTEM will host these various events this week.

South Dakota
Sioux City has a new LGBTQ police liaison, the Associated Press reports:

The Sioux City Police Department has named its first liaison to the LGBTQ community.
The department announced on Wednesday that Officer Brooke Davies has taken the position to promote communication and cooperation between the police and individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, the Sioux City Journal reported (http://bit.ly/2o2t6k9 ).
Davies joined the department in August 2012 and is currently assigned to the special traffic enforcement program.
Chief Doug Young said the position is an extension of the department’s community policing approach, which attempts to build relationships with local neighborhoods and minorities. He said it’s a move other police departments around the country have made.
“Through our community policing efforts, we’re reaching out to all different segments of our community, and this is a segment that we’ve never reached out to before,” he said. “We live in a diverse community, and we’re here to serve everybody.”

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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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