Home News Around the Region: WI attorney general attended anti-LGBTQ conference on state dime

Around the Region: WI attorney general attended anti-LGBTQ conference on state dime

Around the Region: WI attorney general attended anti-LGBTQ conference on state dime

Wisconsin’s Attorney General is taking heat for using state funds to attend an anti-LGBTQ conference, WPR reports:

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel came under fire from Democrats on Tuesday for reports he was paid to speak at an anti-LGBT group’s conference last year.
According to state records first reported on by the Associated Press, Schimel spoke at an Alliance Defending Freedom conference in 2017.
Alliance Defending Freedom is known for its opposition to homosexuality and has pushed for legislation that would allow businesses to refuse service to gay customers.
According to the AP report, Schimel was paid more than $4,000 for travel and a daily honorarium for the appearance.
Wisconsin Democrats quickly moved to criticize Schimel’s association with the group.
“Our attorney general should not be associating in any way with hate groups,” said Josh Kaul, who is running against Schimel for the attorney general’s office this fall.

In a statement, One Wisconsin, the state’s LGBTQ advocacy group, demanded transparency about his attendance at the conference:

“Brad Schimel needs to come clean on why, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the state of Wisconsin, he took over $4,100 for first class travel and accommodations to appear before a hate group,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “He needs to immediately turn over the records related to his appearance, for which he was paid, and what remarks he delivered at this gathering of rabid homophobes.”

Schimel tried to keep the trip secret, the Post Crescent reports:

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel planned to keep secret a $4,100 trip last year that was funded by a Christian legal organization accused of being a hate group, according to newly released records.
The five-day trip to a southern California resort in July 2017 surfaced this month after Schimel alluded to a conference paid for by the Alliance Defending Freedom in annual financial disclosures.
The Republican attorney general has since faced criticism from Democrats and a national civil rights group. ADF has been previously called an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Schimel appeared on conservative talk radio programs last week to refute the criticisms, saying in one interview that there is “nothing anti-gay” about ADF and he attended the conference to speak on a panel about states’ rights.
“I’ve never gone to a conference where there was frankly so much love,” Schimel said during another interview.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says ADF has supported criminalizing homosexuality, defended state-sanctioned sterilization of transgender people and developed legislation that would deny lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people goods and services on the basis of religion. ADF says it works to preserve freedoms for all Americans.

A gay conservative Republican wants to replace Rep. Paul Ryan, US News reports:

A Republican who describes himself as a “gay Christian conservative” is joining the race to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Brad Boivin announced Thursday that he is running in the 1st Congressional District race in southeast Wisconsin.
Boivin grew up in Janesville and his father worked for the now-closed General Motors plant there. Boivin says he is a Christian, conservative and gay man who has learned to “fiercely” defend his beliefs because of that.

A gay man has been appointed as alderman in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

From a field of nine candidates who were interviewed for an appointment as interim second district alderman, Eric Euteneier was chosen by the common council Tuesday, May 15.
Euteneier, who already serves on the West Allis Board of Appeals and the beautification committee and is a Neighborhood Watch captain, will serve until April 2019. Then he can run for the year remaining on the four-year term of Cathleen Probst, who resigned after moving to Appleton. Several of those who also had applied for the appointment said they would run for the office next April.
In reacting to the council’s appointment, Euteneier said he was “extremely honored” and that his appointment holds a special meaning for him.
“I hope to be a role model to not only the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community of which I am a part, but to all minority groups,” Euteneier said. “Our voices are important and very much have a place within the community, as well as in public service.”

Iowa City is looking to increase LGBTQ inclusivity in the school district but some religious community members are pushing back, the Press Citizen reports:

Reading from the Bible and quoting the definition of gender dysphoria, a handful of community members voiced their opposition to the idea of to introducing more LGBTQ topics into curriculum at Iowa City area schools at Tuesday’s board meeting.
The idea to gradually integrate LGBTQ topics into existing curriculum across all subjects and grade levels in some form or fashion was first presented to the board by a task force this school year. Made up of parents, community members, school district staff and University of Iowa researchers, the task force formed after the 2017 school climate survey showed that a high rate of LGBTQ-identifying students felt unsafe in Iowa City schools. The 2018 survey results presented Tuesday showed similar results.
Their recommendations include bolstering support for LGBTQ student groups and ensuring that LGBTQ students feel comfortable reporting harassment to an adult at their school — preferably to teachers and administrators who have had training on how to respond to such reporting.
The recommendation to infuse LGBTQ curriculum particularly caught Ian Corbin’s attention, because it applied to all grade levels, including some form of curriculum infusion for elementary school students.
The longtime Iowan has children who will attend Iowa City schools when they are older, like he did. He kicked off the backlash during public comment by reading a Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 6:9-12, which says “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God,” including “men who practice homosexuality.”

LGBTQ students in the district feel unsafe which has prompted the move, KCRG reports:

A 2017 climate survey found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-sexual students feel unsafe when it comes to bullying and harassment in the Iowa City School District. A task recommended including more LGBTQ-centered curriculum but not everyone agrees that’s the answer.

At the most recent Iowa City School board meeting, the issue of adding LGBTQ content to classrooms drew complaints, mostly from parents on religious grounds. The district said the discussion is about more than just curriculum; it’s culture.
“I feel like comments that focus on just one part of what we’re trying to do is not understanding the bigger picture in that we’re trying to shift a system,” said Iowa City Community School District Equity Director Kingsley Botchway.
That shift is one reason Iowa City Pride was at the same board meeting. They donated LGBTQ-friendly books to elementary school students.
“The book are meant to help them understand some things that their parents might not understand even,” said Chris Hawe of Iowa City Pride.

North Dakota
The Red River Rainbow Seniors got a profile in North Dakota newspapers last week:

Lee Clarens walked into the room with a big smile on her face and an even bigger exclamation.
“I brought popcorn!” she said as she placed the big blue bag of cheddar and caramel popcorn on the table.
While Clarens and her friends in the Red River Rainbow Seniors weren’t here for a party, it still kind of felt like it as they sat on the old white couches surrounded by books, rainbow flags and plenty of laughter. A group of LGBTQ people over the age of 50 living Fargo-Moorhead, the Red River Rainbow Seniors offer a place for socializing, education and advocacy.
On this recent night, they gathered for a business meeting at the Pride Collective and Community Center, 1105 1st Ave. S., North Dakota’s only brick-and-mortar gathering space for the LGBTQ community. Other nights, the group meets at restaurants or bars for happy hours or goes to a member’s house to watch movies.
“As people age, they tend to isolate themselves and that can be especially true for us,” said Ella Huwe. “We wanted to create a community so they don’t have to do that.”

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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.