Wisconsin
A campaign to change the way LGBTQ youth view themselves launches in Milwaukee, Madison 365 reports:

To that end, Milwaukee-based artist Lex Allen helped Diverse and Resilient create a campaign to help youth realize they are beautiful.
Lex Allen wrote a song called “Colors in Bloom” and a music video to coincide with it to help youth know that the complexities of their identity are perfect the way they are. The goal is that LGBTQ youth would see it and see people who are like them and look like them surviving.
Colors in Bloom is also a statewide awareness campaign. Lex Allen Productions has utilized a graphic artist to make billboards that will be going up around Wisconsin later this Spring imploring LGBTQ youth to recognize that they are loved and beautiful.
Flores said at least one of these billboards will be placed adjacent to a Conversion Therapy school so the youth there can see it.
“We have billboards going up in the Fox Valley and Milwaukee and one to go up by a Conversion Therapy school,” she said. “We are trying to bring up some funds to put up billboards in all these Conversion Therapy places. We want youth to see this and see hope and be able to hold on because it will get better, but it will only get better if we can work with youth and people supporting youth. In Milwaukee, the City Council is trying to ban these conversion therapy practices. We’re losing lives because of this damaging therapy. Some of the people who have survived these places have been able to find loving places and churches. But the fact that so many youth are exposed to this is so heartbreaking and dangerous.”
One of the billboards goes up in two weeks. The others will most likely go up around the end of May and into June during Pridefest. One of the locations will be along Highway 151.
“This has been a good campaign to work on,” Flores said. “It has given me hope. Just reminding people that they’re beautiful, worthy and acceptable the way they are.”

A measure to ban conversion therapy in Milwaukee passed a key committee, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

A Milwaukee council committee approved a measure Thursday to ban a controversial therapy practice that tries to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, sending it on to the full Common Council.
Ald. Cavalier Johnson introduced the ordinance to ban the practice, commonly known as “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy,” for anyone under 18.
He called it a “proactive piece of legislation” to address the practice that is commonly tied to religious values.
Last year, state lawmakers proposed a bill to penalize mental health providers or counselors who performed conversion therapy, but it did not get a hearing or committee vote. Several other states and cities have passed similar bans.
RELATED: Legislator seeks LGBT conversion therapy ban
Major medical and mental health organizations have condemned conversion therapy, said Tony Snell, a member of the city’s Equal Rights Commission.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is making it easier for folks to get transition-related care, WPR reports:

If a transgender student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison wanted to start hormone therapy, they’d have to do more than talk with their doctor. They’re also required to get written consent from a therapist or mental health counselor.
But now, the university is working to change that.
University Health Services is switching to an informed consent model for transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary students. That means students won’t have to get written consent or go through the campus’ Gender Identity Consultation to receive hormones. Instead, they’ll be able to work directly with their doctor.

Wisconsin has its first group home for LGBTQ youth, TMJ-4 reports:

“We started Courage in December of 2015 so in two years the community has supported us enough to allow us to pay cash for this house,” Schlaikowski said.
The property on South 6th Street in Walkers Point and the home behind it cost a total $50,000. One of the three bedroom homes will be used to house eight teens. The other will be used for counseling or just a hangout spot for the teens.
Both houses serve as a safe haven for young people ages 10 to 17, who have been living on the street. This group home is first of its kind in the state.
“The fact that we have this house already and that in less than a year we can open the doors and put eight children in it and get them off of the streets is phenomenal.” Schlaikowski said.
He says when renovations wrap up, the properties will be called “The Courage House.” So why Walkers Point? Schlaikowski said he wanted to have a group home here because there aren’t many shelters on the south side.

Iowa
A “religious liberty” bill did not make a committee deadline in Iowa and appears dead. The bill would allow campus student groups to deny membership to LGBTQ students, the Des Moines Register reports:

A contentious bill appears dead in the Iowa Legislature amid strong opposition from Iowa’s business community and civil liberties groups who believe it could allow businesses to refuse services based on religious beliefs.

Senate File 2338, which was described by supporters as Iowa’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” was referred Thursday from the Senate debate calendar back to a Senate committee by Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny. The move effectively kills the bill for the 2018 session because Friday is a key legislative deadline for policy bills to advance or be declared dead this year.

The bill’s proponents said the legislation would have protected their ability to exercise their religious beliefs. Critics contended it could have resulted in discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, disabilities, and race and ethnicity.

The measure’s apparent death in Iowa means, at least for now, the Iowa Legislature will retreat from a national battle already fought in Indiana, North Carolina, Mississippi and other states. Similar “religious freedom” measures have led to boycotts and demonstrations elsewhere.

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