Home News Around the Region: Milwaukee bans conversion therapy

Around the Region: Milwaukee bans conversion therapy

Around the Region: Milwaukee bans conversion therapy


Milwaukee has become the first city in Wisconsin to ban conversion therapy, Wisconsin Public Radio reports:

Milwaukee officials sent the mayor a proposal to prohibit therapists and counselors from trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation.
The vote Tuesday came amid a charged environment in city hall as supporters of the ban applauded and waved a rainbow-colored flag while opponents yelled “evil” at Common Council members. Two of the 15 council members voted no.
Mayor Tom Barrett has until April 7 to sign the ordinance and he plans to do so.

A new drop-in center for Milwaukee’s LGBTQ youth has opened, NBC reports:

Courage House, which is expected to open its doors in November, will be Wisconsin’s first group home and drop-in center specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth.
“I would love to say that it makes me feel amazing, but it makes me sad I have to do it at the same time,” Brad Schlaikowski, co-founder of Courage House, told NBC News.
Together with his husband and co-founder, Nick, Brad has spent the last two years raising money to open the eight-bedroom home in Milwaukee. It will be the one place these teens can go without fear of rejection, he said, noting that LGBTQ foster and homeless youth are rejected more often than their straight peers.

LGBTQ students in Wisconsin report feeling less safe at school than their peers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Students of color, students with disabilities, and students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender feel less safe and supported at school than their peers, according to a new state analysis of student survey data.
Students from marginalized groups also are more likely to feel anxious and suicidal.
It’s the first of many reports state officials are releasing in the deepest look they’ve ever taken at disparities and mental health based on data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
The 2017 survey collected data from over 2,000 high school students in 43 schools around the state. It is conducted every two years in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An Iowa Republican is pushing back against Trump’s ban of transgender troops, The Hill reports:

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) on Sunday broke with President Trump over his new ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.
In an interview on “Face the Nation,” Ernst told CBS News’s Margaret Brennan that she supports allowing transgender people to serve in the military as long as they fit the physical and mental standards required.
“I have asked transgenders myself, if you are willing to lay down your life beside mine, I would welcome you into our military,” she said.
“We do want to make sure that they meet physical requirements,” Ernst said. “We can’t waive that. That is true across any demographic within our military, making sure that they are physically fit and they meet the mental standard.”
Trump issued a memo late Friday effectively banning most transgender people from serving in the military, “except under limited circumstances.”

The American Legion is taking criticism for denying a transgender boy from participating in its youth program, the Des Moines Register reports:

A transgender Iowa boy has been denied acceptance to an American Legion’s high school program despite support from his local chapter, his family says.
Emmet Cummings, a transgender high school student from Center Point, said he was denied by the organization’s state board of directors Monday after he was nominated by his local post in November to attend the weeklong governmental educational program.
In interviews with the Register, Emmet and his mother, Halane Cummings, expressed frustration that he could not participate. The Center Point-Urbana High School junior, a 17-year-old twin, was born a female and has been transitioning to male for three years.
“It’s kind of heartbreaking,” Emmet said, “especially knowing there could be more transgendered people who are interested in government because (the board) does not want transgendered people.”
Daniel McClure, one of six members of the legion’s Hawkeye Boys State board of directors, said the board was reinforcing its decades-old rules when it emphasized: You must be a biological male to attend Boys State.
“You must be male if you’re going to participate,” McClure, who also serves as a state chaplain for the legion, told the Register. “You must be a boy.”

LGBTQ groups are warning that a school voucher plan could exacerbate anti-LGBTQ discrimination, the Des Moines Register reports:

Iowa tax dollars could go to schools that deny admission to gay and lesbian students if lawmakers move forward with legislation allowing education savings accounts for K-12 students, according to LGBTQ advocates.
Iowa lawmakers are considering Senate Study Bill 3206, which would allow students enrolling in private schools to be eligible for about $4,000 a year in state money.
Proponents of the school choice legislation say it would likely help families who don’t qualify for financial assistance, but who can’t afford private school tuition.
The Iowa Catholic Conference, the Iowa Association of Christian Schools and the Family Leader, a conservative Christian advocacy group, are among those backing the measure.
But One Iowa Action, a group that works to advance the rights of LGBTQ Iowans, says tax dollars should not support schools that discriminate against students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Some private school policies say they will refuse admission based on a homosexuality, the group says.
“This cannot be allowed to stand,” said Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, One Iowa’s executive director.

Orange City has changed its policies on LGBTQ books after outcry from conservative Christian parents, the Sioux City Journal reports:

Amid a call from some community members to segregate library materials containing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning — or LBGTQ — themes, the Orange City Public Library’s Board of Trustees plans to experiment with a new way of classifying books.
The new method, which is used in some other Iowa libraries, would group books by subjects and subcategories rather than solely in alphabetical order by author’s name.
Also, in response to any concern from the community over individual librarians pushing an agenda, the library may have more staff members review the acquisition of new materials.
The proposed changes, discussed Tuesday during the board’s monthly meeting, come a month after community members presented a petition with more than 340 signatures to specially label and separate books with LGBTQ themes from the library’s main collection and to halt any new acquisitions of such materials without public input.
The board also on Tuesday voted unanimously to keep a pair of challenged children’s books — one accused by a community member of trying to “indoctrinate” youth into “transgender normalization” — in the library’s collection despite statements of concern brought forward by community members.

The University of Iowa has more LGBTQ groups than ever, the Press Citizen reports:

With hate graffiti sprouting up on its unity walls, and a near-brush with proposed legislation many say would have legalized LGBT discrimination, the University of Iowa’s heritage of diversity and openness might seem a little fragile right now.

But behind the scenes — especially at the LGBTQ Resource Center, a quaint building just off the infamous “roundabout” at the end of Grand Avenue — the UI’s long tradition of LGBT-friendliness is thriving stronger than ever.

A total of nine LGBTQ+ groups now exist to provide moral and networking support to students. That’s more than ever before in the university’s history.

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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.