MN GOPers tout anti-transgender bills in emails to constituents

In emails to constituents, Republicans are seeking to drum up support for a bill that would bar school from adopting transgender inclusive policies and would repeal a policy by the Minnesota State High School League that allows transgender students to participate in high school sports based on gender.Many of the Republican lawmakers are touting a mysterious poll conducted by Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, and paid for by an anti-LGBT group, the Minnesota Child Protection League. The Column has repeatedly sought information about the poll including methodology and specific language that was asked of those participating in the poll. The Minnesota Child Protection League has refused to respond to multiple inquiries.Below are excerpts from emails sent to constituents that were obtained by The Column. We will continue to update the list as more are identified.Sen. Paul Gazelka (PDF version):Reinforcing our children’s safety and privacy at school On Monday, Senate Republicans introduced the “Student Safety and Physical Privacy Act” to address serious concerns regarding a controversial new policy from the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL).Last December, the MSHSL issued a new ruling allowing transgender students to play on a sports team other than the team of the student’s biological sex. In effect, it allows male students who identify as female to play on female sports teams. The ruling was met with resistance from parents and families who were worried about what effect it would have on locker room and shower situations, and how the ruling would impact private and nonpublic schools. Continue Reading

Writing toward hope: How New Yorker Sherrie Fernandez-Williams found her voice in Minnesota

Sherrie Fernandez-Williams was a child of few words. That’s surprising since words are now her stock-in-trade. “I was slow to speak,” says the author of the new memoir, “Soft.” “I used to create an imaginary world in my room, and I actually came to story before I came to words.” Her mother, a single parent raising eight children in a housing project in the Brooklyn section of New York City, was pretty happy that her youngest child was content to play in silence. But Fernandez-Williams is no longer silent. She discovered the joy of words as a third-grader when she was assigned to write a short composition. Continue Reading

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: Why images and words matter

Hannah Davis is an athlete – a tennis champion and a volleyball player. But that’s not why she is on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine’s March issue. It’s the annual swimsuit edition, and she’s the model. For years, women and some men have complained about the skimpy bikinis on the cover of the March Sports Illustrated. This year, many people are in an uproar about the scarcity of the bikini – there’s not much there. But it’s also about the pose. Continue Reading

House considers uniform sexual assault policy for state’s colleges and universities

 Courtney Blake said the first time she was sexually assaulted, it took her more than a week and a half before she could muster the courage to report the incident to University of Minnesota authorities.“I was afraid of confirming what happened to me,” the university student told the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee on Tuesday. She supports HF742, which would require public and private universities and colleges across the state to enact uniform sexual assault prevention, reporting and victim support policies.Rep. Marion O’NeillSponsored by Rep. Marion O’Neill (R-Maple Lake), the bill would also mandate that such policies on sexual harassment and sexual violence apply to incidents occurring at activities, programs, organizations or events sponsored by post-secondary institutions.Approved by the committee, the bill was sent to the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee. Its companion, SF1300, sponsored by Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), awaits action by the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.The bill would require postsecondary institutions to create an online reporting system through which students may report incidents — including anonymously — of sexual harassment and sexual violence. Blake said such a reporting tool would go a long way toward helping victims of sexual assault to take the important step of telling someone.Schools could not sanction students who make good faith reports of sexual harassment or violence for violating the institution’s student conduct policy on drugs and alcohol.A provision that would require new students to take a course on sexual assault prevention within 10 days of beginning class is included in the proposal.The bill strikes an important balance in ensuring accountability on behalf of colleges and its students without being overly burdensome to college campuses across the state that vary in size and resources, said Joelle Stangler, president of the University of Minnesota Student Association.“This really does support victims by making sure postsecondary institutions are doing all they can to work with law enforcement agencies to address this topic and provide resources,” Stangler said.Other provisions would require the following from all public and private postsecondary institutions recognized by the Office of Higher Education:comprehensive training on preventing and responding to sexual violence to campus security officers, campus administrators, and individuals responsible for receiving reports of sexual assault;a memorandum of understanding must be entered into with local law enforcement that details procedures for responding to allegations of sexual assault;collection and reporting a number of different pieces of data about sexual assault on campus.restricted access to the data collected through the online reporting system;a requirement that students complete an online training on sexual assault prior to registering for class;development and implementation of a policy that requires student health providers to screen students for incidents of sexual assault; anddesignation of an existing student health worker as a confidential advocate  Continue Reading

Barb Anderson: Gay-Straight Alliances are used by LGBTs to recruit heterosexuals

[See original article here: http://thecolu.mn/15904/barb-anderson-gay-straight-alliances-are-used-by-lgbts-to-recruit-heterosexuals]At a meeting of the Anoka-Hennepin School Board on Monday evening, Barb Anderson, a leader in Minnesota’s anti-LGBT movement, told the board that Gay-Straight Alliances are recruiting centers for the homosexual lifestyle, that they are dangerous to students, and that the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, which assist with GSAs, encouraged statutory rape.Anderson said, “GSAs typically begin with a focus on safety and bullying prevention but their scope soon expands, GSA students often become political lobbyists who advocate specific pro-gay legislation and policy changes in our in our schools. Student activists from GSAs are taught how to recruit other students.”The board was hearing a recommendation from the district’s anti-bullying task force that urges the district to include positive portrayals of LGBT people in history, support Gay-Straight Alliance, and celebrate LGBT history month in an effort to make the district more inclusive for LGBT students.She continued, “The American College of Pediatricians has warned schools about the danger of premature labeling of students as gay because it can lead some kids into homosexual behaviors, behaviors which data on the CDC website shows to be exceptionally dangerous. GSAs will draw more confused and questioning youth into gay experimentation. A homosexual club is not a position of neutrality but is a danger to the health and the future of kids in District 11.”The American College of Pediatricians is a small group of conservative Christian pediatricians that split from the American Academy of Pediatricians over abortion and LGBT issues. The group poses as a large professional organization but is composed of just a few hundred members who espouse an anti-LGBT agenda, compared to the mainstream American Academy of Pediatricians which boasts 60,000 members.Anderson also claimed, without citing evidence, that the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, which supports GSAs, advocates statutory rape. Continue Reading

Demands by Whose Diversity? aren’t new

[See original post here: http://www.mndaily.com/opinion/letters-editor/2015/02/23/demands-whose-diversity-aren%E2%80%99t-new]It’s clear. Many in this administration are out of touch with the weight of the equity and diversity issues they extol. In a speech to the North Hennepin Area Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 13, 2014, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler stated, “I want to speak about serious matters — from student debt to how we seek to tackle some of the state’s and world’s grand challenges — from widespread hunger to the inexcusable achievement gap in our schools. But I do need to put first things first … Continue Reading

Minneapolis vigil planned to shed light on anti-transgender violence

Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis will be the setting for a vigil on Thursday evening to bring attention to an epidemic of violence against transgender women in the United States.As many as eight transgender women have been murdered in the United States since the start of 2015, a rate of more than one a week. Most of those victims have been women of color.On Tuesday, the community in Miami was shocked by the death of artist of Kristina Grant Infiniti. On Thursday, the community held a candlelight vigil to remember Infiniti who police believe was murdered in her home.Though many cases are still under investigation, news reports suggest that the following transgender women have been murdered so far this year: Bri Golec of Akron Ohio; Penny Proud of New Orleans; Lamia Beard of Norfolk, Virginia; Taja Gabrielle DeJesus of San Francisco; Ty Underwood of North Tyler, Texas; Yazmin Vash Payne of Los Angeles;The Human Rights Campaign notes: “In addition to these murders, Lamar Edwards – whom LGBT friends have confirmed to The Advocate uses the name Lamar and identified as a gay man who sometimes dressed in drag – was fatally shot on January 9; police have not released information about whether Edwards was presenting as female at the time of death.”This epidemic of violence has prompted a vigil in Minneapolis to draw attention to that violence and to remember those who have been killed. “Join those of us from the Black Liberation Project as we honor and uplift the sisters we have lost to racist and transmisogynistic hate violence,” event organizers wrote. “This vigil serves as an act of remembrance and an act of defiance to a system that wants to keep these deaths invisible.”Details:Title: #StopTransMurders VigilDate: Thursday, February 26 at 5:30pm – 6:30pmLocation: Loring Park, 1382 Willow St, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403For more information, visit Facebook. Continue Reading