Iowa
A new LGBTQ health survey is underway in Iowa, Little Village Magazine reports:

A first of its kind health survey of Iowa’s LGBTQ community is now underway. The Iowa Cancer Consortium, in partnership with One Iowa, the University of Iowa College of Public Health and Des Moines University, is sponsoring the survey.
“Basically we saw the need for more data,” Levi Lappin of the Iowa Cancer Consortium explained. “There’s not much health data for the LGBTQ community at the state-level.” But that’s not an issue unique to Iowa, he said.
“Iowa’s about on-par with most states. The Iowa Department of Public Health’s surveys are targeted at the general population,” Lappin said. “But our neighbor Minnesota is really good at doing these sorts of surveys, specifically for the LGBTQ community.”
Much of the health data collected on LGBTQ people is done at the nation-level.

Iowa companies are doing better on the Corporate Equality Index, KCRG reports:

A new report shows some Iowa companies have received high marks for policies and practices that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning or LGBTQ employees.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released its Corporate Equality Index report Thursday. It rates major companies and law firms on things like non-discrimination policies, employment benefits, and public commitment to LGBTQ equality.
Among the Iowa companies it ranked, Rockwell Collins and Transamerica in Cedar Rapids received perfect, 100 percent scores.
That’s an improvement for Transamerica, which scored 90 percent last year, because it didn’t offer transgender- inclusive health insurance coverage then. Rockwell got a 100 percent last year.

Iowa City schools are implementing new policies aimed at supporting LGBTQ students, the Press Citizen reports:

The Public Policy Center at the University of Iowa issued a report in July on LGBTQ student experiences at ICCSD schools in July 2017. The principal investigator of the center’s research-practice partnership with ICCSD is Social and Educational Policy Director Sarah K. Bruch, PhD. Her research focuses on social inequality with emphasis on educational, racial and citizenship inequalities.
Research coordinator Tessa Heeren is interested in community-based research and health policies to inform educational strategies.
ICCSD Superintendent Steve Murley says the center’s researchers “have been invaluable in helping the district better understand student experiences and the school climate impact on them. The university team did an outstanding job gathering the data and sharing it out with our school board, our district administrative body and our staff. Through their analysis of the data, we are better able to hear the voices of our students.”
The collaboration between the PPC and the district has expanded beyond the original survey and will continue through the partnership to involve future projects, Murley says.
The partnership developed a multipronged strategy for addressing disparities in student experiences of school climate.The five-stage process includes preparation, evaluation, forming action plans, implementation and progress evaluation. The strategy “has helped the district dive into the work needed to move forward in a more inclusive and measurable way,” said Kinsley Botchway, the ICCSD’s director of equity and engagement.
“Throughout the last three years, the role of the PPC team has extended beyond the recommendation from the report, and they have provided evaluative structures and regular feedback to ensure we are engaged in research-based practices with fidelity,” he says.

A gay man’s suit against a former Iowa governor for political retaliation will go to trial next year, the Des Moines Register reports:

A former state official who alleges he was pressured by then-Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to resign because of his sexual orientation plans to take his discrimination lawsuit to trial next year in a case closely watched by government agencies that fear it could open the door to more litigation.
Chris Godfrey’s case is among the first to seek money damages from the state on allegations that a government official infringed on the rights of an individual. The case overcame a hurdle in June, when the Iowa Supreme Court allowed Godfrey to seek damages for alleged political retaliation. The ruling made it easier for Iowa residents to sue government officials who violate their rights.
Godfrey was appointed to a six-year term as the Iowa worker’s compensation commissioner in 2009 by Branstad’s predecessor, Democrat Gov. Chet Culver. The job entailed settling disputes between Iowa employers and workers seeking compensation for on-the-job injuries. Godfrey alleges Branstad, a Republican, began pushing him to resign shortly after being elected governor in 2010.

A transgender eduction summit was held in Iowa for the first time this month, KCCI reports:

More than 300 educators, mental health professionals and parents turned out Friday for a first-of-its-kind Iowa Safe Schools’ Transgender Education Summit.

The organization focuses on LGBTQ education and outreach, and Nate Monson, executive director of Iowa Safe Schools, said this is the first transgender conference in the state.

Attendees gathered at the Embassy Suites in downtown Des Moines to hear from speakers and participate in workshops in an attempt to improve the culture and climate for transgender students.

“Some of the biggest challenges are going to be things like mental health, ensuring that people have access to mental health care or students having their rights recognized at schools,” Monson said.

A transgender member of the College Republicans claims sexual assault allegations against her are politically motivated, Iowa State Daily reports:

The Iowa State College Republicans impeached one of its members, Heather Dunn, on the grounds of sexual assault and harassment during its meeting Wednesday night.
Dunn, however, feels that these sexual harassment and assault allegations are false and instead a guise by the student organization to remove her from College Republicans because she is a transgender woman.

Manitoba
A controversy is brewing at the Pride Winnipeg Festival over date changes for the annual event, the CBC reports:

Organizers of the Pride Winnipeg Festival are reviewing the decision to move the date of next year’s festival after getting backlash from members of the city’s LGBT community about the change and how the decision was made.
Pride Winnipeg announced late last month that next year’s festival would run from July 20 to 29, with the festival at The Forks on July 28 and 29 and the Pride Winnipeg Parade on July 29.
The festival has previously run from late May to early June, but organizers said the change in dates was needed to expand the two-day party at The Forks that caps off the 10-day festival.
But the announcement didn’t go over well with everyone, and after a debate erupted on Pride Winnipeg’s Facebook page, organizers held a public meeting this week to hear the concerns.
Bradley West, a past president of both Pride Winnipeg and Fierté Canada Pride who has worked closely with young people involved in gay-straight alliances, was surprised by the announcement and worries students who attend the festival through school programs might not get the chance if the festival happens during summer vacation.

Wisconsin
A transgender woman is running against Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, the Winona Daily News reports:

A La Crosse woman who describes herself as a “huge advocate” of the LGBTQ community plans a primary election challenge to U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, for his seat representing the 3rd Congressional District.
Juliet Germanotta, a 36-year-old native of Texas who has lived in La Crosse since 2012, said she would infuse new blood and fresh ideas to Washington, while insisting that Kind’s representation has become stale since he was elected to the House in 1996 and has been re-elected ever since.
Among her main issues are advocating rights for LGBTQ individuals and health care for people with pre-existing conditions such as HIV/AIDS, said Germanotta, who is transgender and says she is HIV-positive.
“Ron Kind is a Democrat — I give him that — and he is a good man, from what I’ve heard,” Germanotta said. “But people should reinvent themselves” periodically, and he has not done so.”
“Some have called me a Democratic socialist,” she said. “I believe in social justice and equality for all.”

The Rainbow Rave was a big hit at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the UW Exponent reports:

Kings and queens invaded the University of Wisconsin-Platteville this past weekend as the Alliance hosted their annual Rainbow Rave conference and drag show. The conference held several workshops dealing with the topics of gender and sexual identity, sex education, HIV in Wisconsin and a question and answer panel with the Alliance members. The goal of the conference every year is to educate attendees about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and plus community. The Rainbow Rave has been a tradition at UW-Platteville since the early 2000’s.
“Planning Rainbow Rave takes all year. We have to budget and reserve Velzy a year in advance. Next year’s Rainbow Rave will be November 10th and we are already talking about speakers and themes,” junior psychology major and alliance member Alexzander Dietterich said.

South Dakota
A transgender inmate is suing a warden after being denied health care, the Argus Leader reports:

A South Dakota inmate who had a previous sexual encounter with a prison captain is suing the warden of the Mike Durfee State Prison, alleging the warden is withholding hormone therapy for gender dysphoria.
Cody Caskey accuses Warden Bob Dooley of retaliating against Caskey for filing a complaint about the 2013 sexual encounter with a captain of the guard at the prison. The encounter occurred when Caskey was on parole.
In a hand-written complaint to the U.S. District Court in South Dakota, the inmate alleges that denial of estrogen and testosterone blockers is a civil rights violation, and at least partially a retaliation for exposing the sexual encounter.
Caskey, 32, is serving a sentence for ingesting a controlled substance. He has prior convictions for identity theft and forgery. He maintains that the 2013 encounter was sexual assault; the captain’s lawyer called it a consensual tryst. The case settled out of court in 2016, long after the captain quit his job.

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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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