Update on Transgender Bathroom Laws

Update on Transgender Bathroom Laws

Progress has been made in overturning North Carolina’s House Bill 2 or commonly known as the transgender “bathroom law”. House Bill 2 states that people must use the bathroom that coincides with the gender listed on their birth certificate. CNN reported on February 11 that a judge ruled that 2 students and 1 faculty member at the University of North Carolina be allowed to used the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. Until these three plaintiffs go to trial it is a temporary and limited block of this law but is being considered as the first step in the law being repealed.

However while that is good news out of North Carolina, on a federal level the news is not celebratory. The Obama Administration had the the Justice Department and Education Department advised public schools that they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, as opposed to their birth gender, or face the loss of federal funds. Thirteen states are suing the federal government over this directive. The states are: Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arizona, Maine, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia, Mississippi and Kentucky.

A hearing was set for February 14 but the Justice Department and the states filed a joint notice saying both sides moved to cancel the hearing. “The parties are currently considering how to best proceed in this appeal,” the motion said. Prior to this hearing these states had won a national injunction, which still stands, preventing that guidance about bathrooms from being disseminated to students. Besides the bathroom access issue, the guidance also covered making sure transgender students’ privacy is protected.

Activists of the LGBT community said the Justice Department move to cancel the hearing is not a good sign and believes it signals a shift in policy. “It is sending a signal they don’t intend to enforce the guidance in any state,” Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, told CNN. “They are fine with their hands being tied.”

This week, sadly, the cancellation of the hearings made sense as the Trump Administration withdrew all protections for transgender students. At the CPAC conference Betsy DeVos responded by saying, “This issue was a very huge example of the Obama administration’s overreach, a one-size-fits-all, top-down approach. These matters should be handled at a “personal and local level.”

Warbelow said she was “extraordinarily disappointed. The DOJ should be a champion for all students’ civil rights and by signaling a willingness to be bound by the injunction nationwide they are certainly signaling they aren’t intending to pursue civil rights for transgender people.”

Warbelow noted transgender students are not prohibited from filing a lawsuit if they experience discrimination.

The Justice Department declined comment on the filing.


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Trump is Not Fooling the LGBTQ Community

Trump is Not Fooling the LGBTQ Community

Donald Trump opened a rally in Colorado while holding a LGBTQ rainbow flag. “LGBTs for Trump” was written in black marker on the flag. Did he speak on LGBTQ issues during the event? Trump’s speech covered his usual talking points: repealing Obamacare, a corrupt election, and bashing Hillary Clinton.

LGBTQ advocates don’t believe Trump’s gesture and 72% of LGBTQ voters will vote for Clinton in the election. Trump’s choice of running mate, did not help him gain any points with the LGBTQ community. Mike Pence has a history of supporting anti-LGBTQ laws, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and trying to overturn marriage equality.

Here are some quotes from the Trump / Pence ticket about LGBTQ rights and issues.

Transgender Bathroom Access
Trump: After previously stating that North Carolina should “leave it the way it is,” and permit transgender individuals to use the restroom they feel most comfortable using, Donald Trump told ABC News on May 13, 2016, “I believe it should be states’ rights and the state should make the decision. They’re more capable of making the decision.” Trump made this comment after the Obama administration issued guidance directing public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms matching their gender identity.

Pence: In response to the directive issued by the Obama administration on May 13, 2016, stating that transgender public school students must be afforded the right to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identities, Pence said, “The federal government has no business getting involved in issues of this nature.”

Marriage Equality
Trump: During a November 2013 interview on MSNBC, Trump said “I think I’m evolving, and I think I’m a very fair person, but I have been for traditional marriage. I am for traditional marriage, I am for a marriage between a man and a woman.”

Pence: In 2006, Pence supported a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Pence said in a speech that cited a Harvard researcher, “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.” Pence also said that being gay is a choice and that preventing gay couples from marrying was not discrimination, but a means of enforcing “God’s idea.”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Pence: He supported Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the policy that prohibited soldiers from openly identifying as gay until it was ended in 2011. Pence told CNN in 2010 that without the policy, the military could become “a backdrop for social experimentation.”

Don’t forget that Election Day is Tuesday November 8th. Go out and vote!

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Just for Girls?

Just for Girls?

The window decal at the tween store, Justice, reads “Just for Girls.”  Justice and their parent company Ascena Retail Group may be reconsidering that slogan after the amazing experience a Mom had with her gender non-conforming son at the Justice store in Raleigh, North Carolina (at Poyner Place behind Triangle Town Centre).  Yes, you read that right. This amazing experience happened in the land of the HB2 law, North Carolina.

We’ll let Mom’s perfect letter explain what happened:

Dear Justice,

This weekend you made a little boy’s dreams come true.

My 10-year-old gender non-conforming son has been wanting to shop at Justice since he was 4, when he would tag along with his big sister shopping for clothes. After about age 11, she outgrew Justice and we hadn’t gone in the store for years. He ended up always begrudgingly trying on clothes from the boys departments along with his older brother. But he hated it. He avoided trying on clothes at all costs. Back-to-school shopping was a chore he dreaded to the extreme.

Every time we made a trip to your neighbor store, Target, my son would longingly look in the windows of Justice and say, “I wish I could shop there.” But we never went in. There was just something off-putting about those words on your window, reading, “Just for girls,” that kept us away time and time again. My son doesn’t identify as a girl, at least he hasn’t for as long as he has been able to communicate, although he has always acted like a stereotypical girl, played exclusively with stereotypical girls toys, and has almost exclusively female friends.

We’ve all been on a journey to understand his gender non-conformity, but finally my husband, myself, and my 2 older cisgender children are all on the same page, and we’re just looking for ways to support our gender creative, in transition, born-male child. He may one day be LGBTQ+. He may not. We’re open to whatever, as long as he’s happy, true to himself, and not hurting anyone.

Well, this year I was planning a trip with my son to Justice over Spring Break for some much wanted “sparkly” clothes. All excuses aside, I was going to take the plunge. I was literally planning on going the day after HB2 became NC law, March 23rd.

This new law would ban transgender people from using public restrooms, showers, locker rooms, and changing rooms that aligned with their gender identity. For example, a trans man who has a full beard, the build of a man, the voice of a man due to hormone blockers and testosterone injections, dresses like a stereotypical male, and for all intents and purposes appears very masculine would now be legally required to use the women’s restroom, if he has not had “bottom surgery,” or wasn’t assigned male at birth. And vice versa – trans women who haven’t had bottom surgery are legally required to use men’s facilities.

Instead of going to Justice that day, I ended up glued to my laptop, trying to understand what to make of this new, horrific anti-trans, excruciatingly discriminatory law based on hyped up fears over a “potential” crime that has never actually happened. I wondered what this meant for my son’s future, especially if he ends up transitioning to female.

The summer came and went. My son settled on “boys” back to school clothes, and 2 pairs of “girls” Twinkle Toe sneakers, along with a hot pink, peach, and purple backpack, and pink lunchbox shaped like a purse.

I mentioned my son’s Justice wish to a support group I lead for parents of gender non-conforming and trans children. I wondered out loud whether a clothing store that touts itself as “just for girls” would be open to a boy trying on their clothes. I wondered whether they’d have a legal right to deny my son entry to a female dressing room.

Thanks to a hero mom, Lisa, all the vetting out was done. She physically went to your store, spoke to Stephnie, the store manager on duty, and asked questions from, “Would you let a boy try on clothes here?” to “What would you do if another customer made rude comments to a little boy looking at or trying on clothes here?” And much more.
Lisa reported all good news back to our group. The store manager assured her that “everyone is welcome at Justice,” and any rudeness or discrimination from fellow customers would not be tolerated. She spoke of how Justice’s parent company, Ascena, helped donate without question after the Orlando massacre at Pulse Nightclub. We definitely had an advocate at this store.

Then, another hero friend, Hannah, sent my son a Justice e-Gift card that I could use right from my phone. It was then a done deal. We were going shopping.

My son wanted to go immediately, but we had to get to school and it was 7:15 a.m. on a Tuesday. I told him, “maybe Friday.” So Friday afternoon at 4:45, I was leaving work and I decided to call the store to make sure our advocate, Stephnie, was working. She was, however, she stated her shift was over at 5:15, but that the girl taking over after her was just as welcoming.

We rushed to get there, and just around 5:10 arrived. There were no other customers in the store. My son’s eyes were huge and overwhelmed with possibilities. Stephnie came right over to greet us didn’t bat an eyelash, and basically took on the role of my son’s personal shopper for the evening.

After getting a feel for what colors, textures, and patterns he liked, Stephnie showed us several possibilities, from sequined mini skirts to slim jeggings. My son LOVED them all. We went to the changing room, and my son couldn’t get those clothes on fast enough. Once that first outfit was on, he posed and admired himself in the mirror, spun around in circles to see the skirt poof out, and studied himself from all angles in every possible combination of outfits. It was pure joy. My son dropped his frequent doom and gloom look and suddenly sprang to life in these clothes. There was no denying he became a different, more confident, and happier child when wearing pretty things.

I was blown away by the fact that Stephnie stayed well-past her shift’s end, just to continue working with us. She made my son feel beautiful and totally free of judgment. I want to thank her for that precious, precious gift. I rarely get to see my son being his full potential, his absolute true self in public. She encouraged that and even helped bring it out. I felt so much hope for the future.

We left the store 2 hours later with 2 full bags, and I snapped a picture of my son standing by the store window that reads, “just for girls.” He was clutching his 2 bags of new clothes, standing beside those words, and challenging the notion of “just for girls.”

I will leave you with a few pictures I took of some of his new outfits. Please look at his smile. It is as genuine as it gets. I think his cheeks hurt from smiling so much when we left.

I want to say an extra special thank you to Ascena Retail Group, and to the Raleigh branch of Justice, at Poyner Place behind Triangle Town Center. I want to say a super-duper thanks to store manager, Stephnie, who went waaaaay above & beyond, and gave my son a safe place for 2 hours of his life that will no doubt impact his future in a big way.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Martie Sirois, parent of a gender non-conforming 10-year-old boy transitioning to become someone even more beautiful than he already is.

Mom Tells NC Store How Much Recent Visit To Try On ‘Skirts’ Meant To Her Gender Non-Conforming Son

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Recurring Theme: Cancelled in North Carolina

It’s become a recurring theme. Concerts – cancelled, sporting events – cancelled, and now the latest to refuse to come to the North Carolina – The University of Vermont Women’s Basketball Team. The team just announced they are cancelling their December 28 away game versus the University of North Carolina due to the HB2 law in North Carolina. Players, coaches and school officials come to this decision together and feel good about their decision.

Vermont’s Athletic Director Jeff Schulman told ESPN.com:

“The decision to cancel our December 28 women’s basketball game at North Carolina was made as a result of concerns over the HB2 law, which prevents transgender people from using government-run bathrooms based on their gender identity.

We strive very hard to create an inclusive climate for our students and staff in which they all can feel safe, respected and valued. It would be hard to fulfill these obligations while competing in a state with this law, which is contrary to our values as an athletic department and university.”

The Vermont / UNC game is not the first event or sporting event to be cancelled because of the law. Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in North Carolina. The NBA moved the 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans and the University of Albany cancelled a men’s basketball game against Duke scheduled in November. So, whose next?

Vermont Cancels Women's Basketball Game vs. UNC over State's Transgender Law

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NOLA Will Host NBA All Star Game

You may remember the announcement in July that the NBA decided to move the 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina because of the passing of North Carolina House Bill 2 (Read the HL blog here). The bill, now law, eliminates anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community and prohibits transgender individuals from using bathrooms in public buildings that do not match their birth gender.

The decision to move the All Star Game started with Rick Welts, President of the Golden State Warriors, who is a member of the LGBT community.  At the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting in early July, he told league owners that he would not feel comfortable attending the All Star Game in Charlotte because of the passage of House Bill 2.  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also announced that week that the North Carolina law was “in conflict with our core values…” and because of that, the league questioned the location of the All Star game.

On July 21, it was officially announced that the NBA was moving the All Star Game. Other NBA cities now had the chance to submit bids to host the game.  What’s normally an eight month process, New Orleans competed in twenty-nine days. On August 19, Commissioner Silver advised New Orleans that their bid was accepted and called the city “a world class destination for sports and entertainment.”

The move to New Orleans also stands out for another reason.  While North Carolina removed anti-discrimination protections with House Bill 2, Louisiana added protections for the LGBTQ community.  In April, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed an executive order into law that prohibits discrimination against public employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Louisiana is the only state in the south which has NBA teams (Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina) to have this protection.

Hayden’s List would like to thank New Orleans for being so welcoming to the LGBTQ community. Do you agree that NOLA is LGBT friendly? Check out New Orleans reviews here or submit one and let us know in the comments.

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All Star Heros for LGBT

“The state of North Carolina grossly overreached by passing the worst anti-L.G.B.T. bill in the nation, and they have cost us the N.B.A. All-Star Game. The blame for $100 million in economic loss and the impact that it has on the city of Charlotte and the entire state is squarely at the feet of the McCrory machine.”

This is the statement from Chris Sgro, the Executive Director of Equality North Carolina. By “McCrory machine,” he is, of course, referring to the state’s governor.   The bill, now state law, passed in March eliminating anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community and prohibiting transgender individuals from using bathrooms in public buildings that do not match their birth gender.

It’s because of this law that the NBA has decided to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.  The NBA aren’t alone in their sentiments.  Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Itzhak Perlman, canceled concerts in North Carolina.  A number of businesses have also canceled plans to create new jobs in the state.

The United States Justice Department has challenged the law as a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Next month a federal judge in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will hear arguments about whether to block the law while the litigation is pending.

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HL Happenings: King and King

Two kings and one inspiring teacher


Once upon a time in a far away place called The Netherlands, two artist friends, Stern Nijland and Linda de Haan, decided to work together once a week illustrating a project.  Because they both loved fairy tales, they established the parameters of their project: it begin with “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after.” Working side by side at the same table, at the same time, on the same paper, they focused on their drawings.  Their illustrations soon bore a story about a prince who doesn’t fall in love with the most beautiful princess in the world, but instead with her brother.  The artwork was their main focus.  The story they ended up with they say, was “sort of a nice side effect.”

When their book was published in 2002, De Haan and Nijland were thrilled.  Little did these artists from this faraway land know that their whimsical illustration project would become a much talked-about book across the Atlantic for more than a decade to come. Since 2000, attempts to ban the book have ended up in court across the nation.

In Oklahoma in 2005, senators wanted to relegate the book to the adult section of the library.  Because of its “controversial content” it was decided it would be placed out of reach of children and must not be placed on bookshelves lower than sixty inches or five feet from the ground.  (Side note: to ride most roller coasters you must be at least forty-two inches tall).

The book’s most recent controversy was stirred up last week in a North Carolina elementary school.  As it happens all over the world, children were being children in Mr. Omar Currie’s class.  When the bullying began, Mr. Currie did what came naturally — he seized the moment, recognizing it as teaching opportunity.  He decided to read his third grade class “King & King” by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland.

“When the student first approached me about the bullying I considered reporting it to the office, said Currie.  “I quickly decided against this because I knew that would end with the student only encountering more bullying in retaliation. Many mistakenly see punishment and consequences as the way to solve behavior issues in our classrooms and schools.  While consequences can have a short term benefit, it is unlikely that the punishment will change the student’s behavior. However, if I read a book about acceptance that reflected the very difference they were bullying the student over, it might begin a dialogue and then a lasting change.”

And begin a dialogue it certainly did.  When we reached out to the authors of “King & King” about their book being in headlines across the U.S. as a result of Mr. Currie’s actions, they had this to say: “First of all, it was very surprising to us that the book stirred up so much commotion. This is still the case, after all those years, since we made the book not as a special theme book but more as another, special fairy tale about love. The picture does not really show a kiss.  It’s more like when you watch a cartoon and zoom out at the end: living happily ever after. In our opinion it is not a shocking image in any way.  Did we have a preconceived idea that this was the first same sex kiss? No, we did not even think about that,” says Nijland.Kingkiss

“We heard about the teacher and have seen a few reports about it,” says de Haan.  “Bizarre. We think the teacher (and the children and school) don’t deserve all this commotion. We hope he stays at the school, parents should be proud wt h a brave teacher, and we think he might make the difference over there.”

When he made the decision to read the book, the thought his school would be supportive of his decision.  “Oh how wrong I was,” Currie said.   In an article written by Billy Ball in Indyweek.com says that since his decision to read the book, “…school officials—prompted by parents’ complaints—held a public hearing in the school’s gym and reviewed the book twice to determine if it should be banned. Both times the school’s Media Review Committee sided with keeping the book, but the school’s principal, Kiley Brown, mandated a policy forcing teachers to notify parents of every book read in the classroom—a policy Currie adamantly opposes.”

“I truly believe love, compassion, and understanding are the three things that could fix the root of bullying,” Curry says.  “As their teacher, my students trust I will keep them safe. I cannot do this when I fail to give certain groups equal representation in my classroom and within my instructional decisions. When we are silent we “otherize” groups, and we create the social structures that lead to bullying.

Silence is the true danger.  Currie recognizes this as do entire cultures, like the Dutch, which have a history of being a more open and accepting society than the U.S. About those who’ve wanted to ban the book over the years, Nijland says, “For me this is simply unbelievable. Because it is an innocent children’s book. When you tell small children this is a forbidden book, it probably only makes them want to read it even more. Parents can make the decision not to take the book home, or not to by it. There is nothing explicit or sexual about the book. It is a happy colorful love story about two princes. I believe some parents are afraid of the contents of the book and how it might affect their children. Maybe some people believe same sex love is a disease, even contagious. Maybe they are afraid it will plant some seeds in their children’s minds, which I believe is not possible in a bad way.  Maybe if people read the book it will change their mind and maybe that will see it has no shocking content.”

De Haan and Nijland believe it’s important for children to learn about different kinds of families.  “…when you tell them in a nice, friendly way about this, especially at a young age, children take for granted that this is just a part of life,” says Nijland. “Small children don’t feel it’s strange or bad about it.  There are all kinds of families and relationships in life, why not in books? A fairy tale picture book seems like a nice way to do that. For older children, who struggle with their identity or sexuality, it is important that there a stories and book that they can relate to!  And for all children that grow up in ‘different’ families, it is important that these books are available, to show them: look, your family is normal too, for them to feel accepted by for instance classmates.

Nijland and Stern have not let the controversy stop them from forging ahead.  In 2004, the artists wrote a sequel to “King & King” called “King & King & Family,” about how the kings visit a jungle while on their honeymoon and see that all kinds of creatures from different walks of life have families.  They feel something is missing in their life but they aren’t quite sure what.  When they return home, a little girl pops out of their suitcase and they decide to name her Daisy, adopt her and raise her as a princess.  (The book, however, we were disappointed to hear, is unfortunately out of print.)

As the Dutch artists had hoped, Mr. Currie has indeed made the difference.  A teacher who embraces lifelong learning, he works tirelessly and passionately to enable discovery for his students.  “I purposefully chose the theme of ‘explorers’ for my classroom so my children will be ready to face the challenges of a twenty-first century global society. It is my goal to push both my children and myself to be innovative thinkers and strive for a compassionate understanding of the world we live in.”

Do you know of an inspiring teacher


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