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Florida Trans Youth Medical Ban Lawsuit

Four Florida families have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Florida Boards of Medicine & Osteopathic Medicine’s new rules banning the medically necessary healthcare for their transgender children's needs. Last summer Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo & the Department of Health asked the state Boards of Medicine & Osteopathic Medicine to adopt a categorical ban on all treatment of gender dysphoria for people under eighteen years of age. In February & March of 2023 the Boards adopted formal rules prohibiting all access to safe, effective medical treatments for transgender youth who have received a gender dysphoria diagnosis but who have not yet begun puberty-delaying medication or hormone treatments. Surgeon General Ladapo & all members of the Florida Boards of Medicine & Osteopathic Medicine are defendants in the families’ suit challenging the ban. The bans contradict guidelines established through years of clinical research & recommended by every major medical association including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association & the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director stated, “It’s alarming to see such a concerted, top-down effort to target a small & vulnerable population. The Florida Surgeon General, Department of Health & Boards of Medicine should be focused on the real & serious public health issues Florida faces, not on putting transgender kids & their families in harm’s way.” Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights concluded, “Parents, not the government, should make healthcare decisions for their children. This policy crosses a dangerous line & should concern anyone who cares about family privacy or the ability of doctors to do their jobs without undue government interference.” 

Uganda Passes Anti LGBTQ Citizens Bill

The Uganda’s parliament has passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill & it's now up to President Yoweri Museveni to sign the bill into law. Matuba Mahlatjie, Outright International Communications & Media Manager stated, "This bill is an undisguised assault on the fundamental human rights of LGBTQ people, their friends, family members & other allies. It even criminalizes journalists, publishers & human rights defenders who recognize LGBTQ people’s rights, landlords who rent premises to them & development partners & donors who support their advocacy in pursuit of full equality. If signed into law, members of the LGBTIQ community will face losing their jobs, being evicted from their homes & losing access to affirming healthcare services. People convicted under this legislation will be placed on record as sex offenders which they’d have to disclose. Under this law, the death penalty has been reserved for so-called “aggravated” homosexuality, including for “serial offenders” who are convicted repeatedly for consensual same-sex acts. The passage of the bill follows the government’s closure of the human rights organization Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) in August 2022 & the refusal to register several other organizations that work to advance LGBTQ people’s human rights. The Ugandan government also threatened in February 2023 to close the UN Human Rights office in the country, seeking to silence the voices of allies. The build-up to the passing of this bill was infused with homophobic rhetoric which further makes LGBTIQ people vulnerable to violence, exclusion & isolation, as our partners on the ground report. Outright calls on President Museveni to immediately veto the bill. We pledge our support to Ugandan activists who sacrifice their safety to defend human rights & we call on more support to ensure these activists’ safety in their quest to prevent this odious bill from becoming law.” 

Diversity Honors 7th Annual Gala Event

The Diversity Honors celebration returns for its seventh year benefiting the Harvey Milk Foundation & The Pride Center at Equality Park on Saturday, April 1st at 7P hosted by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The event recognizing those who are transforming lives by living authentically & advancing inclusiveness & this year the foundation will honor Commissioner Nicole M. Ramirez with the prestigious Harvey Milk Medal, Carol Moran with The Pride Center at Equality Park Alan Schubert Award & Stoli Group’s Global CEO Damian McKinney with the 2023 Global Business Leadership Award. Additional honorees for this year’s event include Florida State Senator Shevrin “Shev” Jones, Drag TV Star & Entrepreneur Latrice Royale, South Florida Symphony Orchestra’s (SFSO) President & CEO Jacqueline Lorber & Music Director Sebrina María Alfonso & the Bears of South Florida. Miriam Richter, Harvey Milk Foundation Director stated, “Once again, we are honored to be back with our wonderful event partners at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, supporting two world-class organizations & celebrating extraordinary LGBTQ+ leaders & allies who have lifted our spirits, strengthened our communities & pushed us towards progress. In addition to our outstanding local honorees, we are privileged to be recognizing one of the trailblazing leaders of the LGBTQ+ movement, Nicole Murray Ramirez, as well as a trailblazer of the global business community, Damian McKinney.” Under McKinney’s leadership the Stoli Group’s global CEO the spirits brand has flourished & is unwavering in its support of worldwide LGBTQ initiatives & innovative activations. Tickets to this fabulous event are $250 per person for the cocktail chic event which includes an open bar, poolside dining & live entertainment. 

InterPride 40th Anniversary Global Gala

InterPride the org that presents WorldPride announced it will be hosting its inaugural InterPride Global Gala to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the org’s work in our LGBTQ community. Headlined by Grammy-nominated singer Deborah Cox & emceed by Emmy winner Jai Rodriguez it will be a night of music, dance & stories in honor of the organization’s efforts to advance the global Pride movement & bringing social & cultural equity to communities across the globe. The event will take place on Saturday April 29th at the Avalon Hollywood Theater & Bardot Lounge in Los Angeles, CA. Hadi Damien & Natalie Thompson InterPride Co-Presidents stated, “InterPride works to bring visibility to parts of the world where LGBTQIA+ communities are under-represented & we’re pleased to partner with the much-celebrated long-standing ally Deborah Cox, whose activism is recognized globally & whose presence & partnership will help us raise vital funds to continue our work. The Gala will commemorate InterPride’s 40 years of bringing together Pride organizers internationally to network, share knowledge & maximize impact & we’re thrilled to commemorate the achievement with a night to remember.” In addition to Cox, actor & Emmy Award-winning host Jai Rodriguez there will be a special appearance from CoCo Montrese. In addition to RuPaul’s Drag Race, Montrese has graced the stages in Las Vegas taking on impersonations of Janet Jackson & Tina Turner among others. Renowned British DJ Nica Ricci will also be performing in the evening providing a soundtrack to impress. InterPride brings together Pride organizations from around the world as well as regional, national & local Pride networks. InterPride has over 375 member organizations in over 70 countries. Its work impacts millions worldwide through their members. 

Velvet Ibiza Epic Lesbian Event (AUDIO)

This week I talked with Carine de Mesmaeker, the creator & founder of Velvet Ibiza the all-inclusive fabulous five-day party for LGBTQ women that takes place May 2nd to May 7th at Cala Martina in Ibiza, Spain. De Mesmaeker rents out the entire resort so there’s no need to venture anywhere, the party is literally on your doorsteps. The all inclusive 5-day & 5-night party event includes transportation from the airport, a bungalow, meals, activities, all parties & drinks until around 10:30P. Celebrating its 7th year Velvet Ibiza attracts a vast international crowd with LGBTQ women traveling from all over the globe for one big giant celebration for our community. From the pool parties, sports tournaments, yoga classes, club nights & now the infamous duck race to the top queer female DJs from Europe & America dropping the sickest beats, Velvet Ibiza has it all. This year Velvet Ibiza is focusing on single women adding speed dating to the mix. All the dance parties & special events take place at the host hotel Cala Martina that’s located in the historical Hippie Market one of the few places in Ibiza where you can still find the unique retro hippie essence. It was founded in 1973 & for that reason it is currently the largest & oldest market on the island. A second hotel Paraiso Beach right next to Hotel Cala Martina has also been retained as well so there’s no reason to go anywhere unless of course you want to go shopping, head to the beach or explore the island. I talked to Carine about her inspiration for creating Velvet Ibiza & her spin on our LGBTQ issues. LISTEN  

Outfest Fusion LGBTQ Film Festival

Outfest Fusion takes place March 24th to April 2nd In Los Angeles & globally online. Catch their features program that’s now live. This year their LGBTQ & QTBIPOC festival will host Sundance favorites “Little Richard: I Am Everything” & award-winner “The Stroll” a West Coast premiere. They’ll also be showcasing the US premiere of “Soft” Joseph Amenta’s tender coming-of-age feature debut as well as the North American premiere of “Kenyatta: Do Not Wait Your Turn” which follows Philadelphia politician Malcolm Kenyatta’s unprecedented bid for US Senate with the director Tim Harris, producer Lee Daniels, Al Roker & Kenyatta himself in attendance. Also showing at this year’s festival are “Finding Her Beat”, “Follow The Protocol”, “Soy Niño”, “Summer With Hope” & “The Harvest”. This year they will be awarding the 2023 Outfest Fusion Achievement Award to Outfest alum Elegance Bratton recognizing his many accomplishments including his award-winning feature “The Inspection” & his efforts to elevate queer Black stories in Hollywood & beyond. The award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to LGBTQ visibility in stories, arts & media & was previously given to Stephanie Beatriz, Michaela Coel & Cheryl Dunye to name just a few. Outfest helps LGBTQIA+ storytellers overcome barriers to entry into the entertainment industry by providing critical skills, access & support to both emerging & established filmmakers. Outfest's new All Access Passes for the festival are now on sale. The pass provides fans the ultimate festival experience with access to all galas, screenings, workshops, parties & special events in-person & online. 

Black LGBTQ Org Congressional Appeal

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) a leading Black LGBTQ+ civil rights org has unveiled its Federal Policy Agenda for the 118th Congressional Term offering its recommendations for urgently needed action to address pressing public policy issues facing our Black LGBTQ community to ensuring their freedoms & equal protection under the law. NBJC is prioritizing three policy pillars this legislative session: Awareness, Access & Accountability. Those policy recommendations also include passing the Equal Rights Amendment, the Improvement of Section 230, Protecting ACA & Expanding Health Care, the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, Every Child Deserves a Family Act & Ending the HIV/AIDS Crisis. Dr. David J. Johns, Ph.D. NBJC Executive Director stated, “We’re releasing our updated policy agenda at a time when hate-fueled right-wing forces seek to use us to divide the Black community & mobilize conservatives to join their ranks. The 118th House of Representatives is being held hostage by a loud minority who care more about dangerous & divisive elite capture rather than defending democracy or unifying our nation. Our hope is that our policy approach contributes to changing narratives about the beautiful diversity that has always existed within our & all communities & increasing meaningful participation in the public policy-making process.” The policies NBJC will continue to fight & campaign for include: The Equality Act, The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, The Student Loan Debt Relief Act, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2019 & several Biden-Harris Administration executive actions. The National Black Justice Coalition is America’s leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of LGBTQ people including people living with HIV. 

LGBTQ Pride Event At Florida's Capitol

In Tallahassee, Florida hundreds of LGBTQ Floridians & allies traveled for Pride at the Capitol to denounce the over 20 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation that have been filed this session & the broader anti-LGBTQ agenda of Governor DeSantis. Advocates filled committee hearing rooms, shared powerful testimony, attended dozens of meetings with lawmakers & hosted a press conference outside the Senate chambers. The Pride at the Capitol event marks the beginning of 8 weeks of mobilization to Tallahassee to resist the slate of hate bills that includes assaults on academic & medical freedom, expanded book banning & classroom censorship & attacks on the right of parents to have their children’s pronouns respected in school. Brandon Wolf, Equality Florida Press Secretary stated, “The LGBTQ community & our allies are showing up in force with a clear message: real freedom is worth fighting for in Florida. Free states don’t ban books or censor history. Free states don’t criminalize health care or rip away the rights of parents to see their children respected in schools. This bigoted slate of hate legislation is designed to fuel the governor’s presidential ambitions on the backs of LGBTQ Floridians. He is torching Florida’s reputation nationally & dismantling public education & democracy. It’s time to free Florida from the grip of Ron DeSantis’ fascist agenda.” Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s LGBTQ community. Through education, grassroots organizing, coalition building & lobbying they are changing Florida so that no one suffers harassment or discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

California Proposes Anti-LGBTQ Bill

With over 350 proposed anti LGBTQ bills sweeping our nation it appears that few states are safe from this rash of hateful legislation. In California AB 1314 would require that any teacher, counselor or employee of a school notifies the parents of any student that identifies at school as a gender that does not align with the child’s assigned gender & uses sex-segregated school programs & activities including athletic teams & competitions or uses facilities that do not align with the child’s assigned gender. The California Legislative LGBTQ+ Caucus stated, “The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus is united in ensuring that our children are protected & safe. But legislation that aims to ‘out’ transgender & non-binary students against their will does not protect them — it puts them in potentially life-threatening danger, subjecting them to trauma & violence. Additionally, the Trevor Project cites family conflict around youths’ LGBTQ identities as a driving factor contributing to LGBTQ youth homelessness. Teachers should not be forced into the inappropriate position of revealing a student’s personal information about their gender identity with anyone. Data indicates that 82% of transgender individuals have considered killing themselves & 40% have attempted suicide, with suicidality highest among transgender youth. Anyone putting forward a bill that would only increase those numbers is not seeking to protect children. Period.” Tony Hoang, Executive Director Equality California concluded, “We want LGBTQ+ students to feel safe talking to their parents about their gender & sexuality, but AB 1314 ignores the reality that not all trans youth have that option…For many trans kids, school is the only place they feel safe to be their true, authentic selves. Forced ‘outing’ bills like AB 1314 seek to strip that sense of safety & dignity away.” 

Reese Joins Tyler Clementi Foundation

The Tyler Clementi Foundation announced that Adam R. Reese has been appointed as the organization’s new national Director of Development. Jane Clementi, Tyler Clementi Foundation Founder & CEO stated, “I welcome Adam to our team & look forward to Adam helping the foundation continue to expand so we can reach every person in every school, workplace & faith community with our Upstander Movement! Adam will be instrumental in helping us build a cultural norm where everyone is treated, online & offline, with the respect & dignity we all deserve, not despite our differences but rather because our differences make us all uniquely special & precious & those differences must be celebrated!” Adam R. Reese is a native of Texas & grew up in a family full of entrepreneurs & philanthropic leaders in Southwest Oklahoma. Adam has worked with countless number of nonprofit organizations as a consultant, auctioneer, emcee, event planner & fundraiser. Adam is excited to join Tyler Clementi Foundation & looks forward to increasing awareness across the nation as well as driving corporate & individual giving to new heights especially in these challenging times including their #Upstanders campaign. The Tyler Clementi Foundation was founded by the Clementi family to prevent bullying through inclusion & the assertion of dignity & acceptance as a way to honor the memory of Tyler a son, a brother & a friend. Tyler Clementi was a student at Rutgers University who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River on September 22, 2010 at the age of 18 after being relentlessly bullied for being gay. 

Rhode Island Protecting LGBTQ Families

With the threats to our LGBTQ community escalating across the country Rhode Island legislators are considering a bill to provide vital protections for our families. House Judiciary Committee members heard testimony last week on H 5226 that would provide a crucial next step in protecting LGBTQ families in Rhode Island something that is crucially needed in light of fallout from last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs ruling that hinted at overturning Obergefell & escalated anti-LGBTQ threats & legislation across the country. Rhode Island H 5226 will make it more accessible for LGBTQ parents to ensure security for their families through a confirmatory adoption. Lead Sponsor Representative Rebecca Kislak stated, “I’m so proud of the work we did in 2020 to pass the Rhode Island Uniform Parentage Act which created paths for LGBTQ+ parents to secure their legal ties to their children under Rhode Island law. I’m hearing from terrified Rhode Island parents who are looking at what is happening around the country with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation targeting young people & court rulings ripping children away from parents who planned for, raised & love them. Now we need to take this next step to make sure every parent & child can have the security of adoption so they can feel secure if they happen to move or even just visit family in states like Florida or Oklahoma that don’t have the protections we have here.” H 5226 eliminates unnecessary requirements that aren’t appropriate for people who are already parents to their children & will provide a streamlined path for such parents to petition a court for an adoption decree.

HRC To Honor Michaela Jaé Rodriguez

The Human Rights Campaign announced that actress, singer & activist Michaela Jaé Rodriguez will be honored with the HRC Visibility Award at their 2023 HRC Los Angeles Dinner on Saturday, March 25th at the JW Marriott Los Angeles. Kelley Robinson, HRC President stated, "Through her extraordinary talent, courage & determination, Michaela Jaé has not only made history as a transgender woman of color, but she has also inspired millions of people around the world. Her contributions as an artist & as an activist have created a more inclusive & humane world for the LGBTQ+ community. For all that & more, we are excited to honor Michaela Jaé Rodriguez with the HRC Visibility Award at the Los Angeles Dinner.” Michaela Jaé Rodriguez concluded, “I am overjoyed & truly honored to receive the HRC Visibility Award. I try my best to be an example when it comes to LGBTQAI rights & human rights across the board. So, to be recognized by an incredible organization that tirelessly works day in & day out for the queer community, is truly meaningful & humbling." Rodriguez is a Golden Globe®-winner & Emmy®-nominated actress, singer & activist. She is the first transgender woman to receive a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for her role as 'Blanca' on Pose which won her the Golden Globe for Best Actress in 2022. Michaela Jaé is currently shooting the second season of Apple’s hit comedy "Loot" opposite Maya Rudolph. The 2023 HRC Los Angeles Dinner brings together HRC’s most active members & supporters in the greater Los Angeles area to raise crucial funds in the fight for LGBTQ equality. 

New College Agenda To Abolish Diversity

At New College of Florida in Sarasota, Governor DeSantis appointed 6 new Board of Trustees who voted to remove college president Dr. Patricia Okker a former dean & professor of English as part of what Okker called a “hostile takeover.” This prompted Campus Pride to remove New College of Florida from its Campus Pride Index (CPI) which rates colleges & universities on a range of LGBTQ friendly policies, programs & practices. Shane Mendez Windmeyer, Campus Pride Founder, CEO & Executive Director stated, “The Campus Pride Index is the most reliable resource for LGBTQ+ inclusion within higher education. We cannot allow information that is no longer accurate, or highly credible based on these controversial changes to the campus administration, to be part of our trusted resource. This ‘hostile takeover,’ as it has been characterized, brings into question the current 3 star rating. In addition, these egregious actions by Governor Ron DeSantis concerning Florida’s colleges & universities & particularly New College of Florida represent attempts to stifle free thought & reverse years of progress to recognize the rights, history & contributions of LGBTQ+ people. These actions raise grave concerns about the safety & well-being of LGBTQ+ students at New College.” Richard Corcoran, a former state education commissioner & Republican speaker of the Florida House of Representatives was selected as interim president. The new board also set an agenda to consider proposals to abolish DEI (diversity, equity & inclusion) offices & end mandatory diversity training, mandatory diversity statements & identity-based preferences. DeSantis is also backing Florida HB 999 which would ban college spending on DEI, give control over curriculum to appointed boards of trustees & eliminate majors in Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies or Intersectionality. 

International Women's Day After Roe

International Women's Day (IWD) celebrated on March 8th was originally called International Working Women's Day. The earliest Women’s Day observance in the USA was held on February 28th 1909 in New York in remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Every year there’s a theme & this year it’s Embrace Equity. The aim of the International Women's Day 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme is to get the world talking about why equal opportunities aren't enough. Let's start with a basic definition of each word. Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities & equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances & allocates the exact resources & opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. People start from different places so true inclusion & belonging require equitable action. With this country currently upside down with the government stripping the rights of women like the reversal of Roe v Wade we’re facing a very difficult moment historically for women. Yes women have it much more challenging in other countries but there’s no rhyme or reason that the Equality Act first introduced by U.S. Representatives Bella Abzug (D-NY) in 1974 & still 49 years later has not become the law of land nationally where protections against discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation & marital status in federally assisted programs, housing sales, rentals, financing & brokerage services remains. In the meantime for American women equal pay is not yet equal. A woman makes 77 cents on a dollar & women of color make 67 cents. So for starters let’s take the challenge & pass the Equally Act.

Outfest Welcomes New Board Directors

Outfest has announced the addition of seven new members to their Board of Directors. The new members include Angelica Ross, AJ Lee, B. Pagels-Minor, Garrett Morgan, Lucas Bailey, Sonia Mehta & Yemi Adegbonmire. From the boardroom to Broadway, Hollywood to Capitol Hill, the fabulous Angelica Ross is a leading figure of success & strength in the movement for human rights advocacy focused on Transgender & racial equality. A fan favorite on FX’s award-winning hit POSE plus both the ninth & tenth seasons of Ryan Murphy’s FX hit American Horror Story. Last June Angelica released her debut music video & single ONLY YOU & we can’t wait for her forthcoming untitled book as she continues to blaze new trails, kick open doors & build her own table with ample open seats. Other new Board Directors include, SVP of Growth Strategy at HyreCar AJ Lee, product strategist, startup advisor & investor as well as executive coach B. Pagels-Minor, Head of Global Strategy at Beyond Meat Garrett Morgan, Marketing Attorney at Netflix Lucas Bailey, Senior Manager of Business Analytics at Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution Sonia Mehta & lawyer & filmmaker Yemi Adegbonmire. Also it’s time to submit your film or episodic to the largest LGBTQ film festival in the world as Outfest Los Angeles is seeking both feature length & short films that tell queer & trans stories from all over the world. Deadline is March 17th for submissions to The Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival. Since 1982 Outfest produces two LGBTQ film festivals, operates a movie streaming platform & runs educational services for filmmakers in Los Angeles. 

Tennessee Biased LGBTQ Laws (AUDIO)

This week I talked with Emma Chinn, Special Projects Coordinator at Campaign for Southern Equality & a proud LGBTQ Tennessean. Recently Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed into law 2 LGBTQ discriminatory bills that go into effect on July 1, 2023. First is HB/SB 9 that bans drag performances from taking place on any public property in the state as well as in any location where people under 18 could be present. This law unfairly places male or female impersonators in the same adult cabaret performance category as topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers & strippers. The second Bill signed into law was HB/SB 1 that bans lifesaving medical care for transgender youth under the age of 18. Although legal groups including the ACLU of Tennessee have announced intentions to challenge the law in court young people who have begun accessing gender-affirming hormone therapy or puberty blockers prior to July 1st will be able to access care until March 31, 2024 at which time this care will no longer be available in Tennessee. In January Chinn co-authored a report entitled “Coming of Age as an LGBTQ Southerner: Family, Faith, Education & Health” detailing the life & health experiences of LGBTQ Tennesseans. The research found that approximately 84% of transgender respondents from Tennessee reported that when they were under the age of 18 having access to gender-affirming care was important to their overall well-being. Yet among respondents who reported currently using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) only 18% reported using HRT prior to the age of 18 & only 5% reported using hormone blockers prior to the age of 18. I talked to Emma about Tennessee’s aggressive attack on our transgender community & her spin on our LGBTQ issues. LISTEN  

Florida Expanding “Don’t Say LGBTQ”

Florida Representative Adam Anderson (R-Tarpon Springs) has proposed to expand HB 1223 better know as the “Don’t Say LGBTQ” bill. The new bill doubles down on the vague & discriminatory law whose negative consequences have already been felt in schools across Florida. Jon Harris Maurer Equality Florida Public Policy Director stated, “Don’t Say LGBTQ policies have already resulted in sweeping censorship, book banning, rainbow Safe Space stickers being peeled from classroom windows, districts refusing to recognize LGBTQ History Month & LGBTQ families preparing to leave the state altogether. This legislation is about a fake moral panic, cooked up by Governor DeSantis to demonize LGBTQ people for his own political career. Governor DeSantis & the lawmakers following him are hellbent on policing language, curriculum & culture. Free states don’t ban books or people.” Tony Hoang, Executive Director, Equality California concluded, “There seems to be no limit to the cruelty & bigotry that Florida lawmakers, including Governor Ron DeSantis, wish to inflict upon LGBTQ+ students & their families. The mental health consequences that ‘Don’t Say Gay’ causes for LGBTQ+ students & their families are myriad & distressing. Numbers don’t lie —Students without access to supportive & affirming classroom environments are much more likely to engage in self-harming behaviors & have greatly increased levels of suicidal ideation. Make no mistake —Ron DeSantis & his ilk intend to put these children directly in harm’s way in order to score political points. Equality California will continue to work with our partners at Equality Florida as they face these unprecedented challenges. In addition, we will keep working with elected officials in California to uplift and protect LGBTQ+ students.” 

LGBTQ Oscar Nominated Short Film

As we approach the 95th Academy Awards check out NIGHT RIDE nominated for Best Short Film (Live Action) & the only LGBTQ short to be nominated this year. NIGHT RIDE was awarded the audience award at the Norwegian Short Film Festival & has since won 5 awards at festivals globally. This fabulous short film takes place on a cold night in December as Ebba waiting for the tram to go home after a party takes an unexpected turn. This phenomenal short also explores gender identity. Director & writer Eirik Tveiten stated, “Our film tells a story about the challenges of being different. Individuals all over the world fall victim to prejudices & harassment & sometimes it seems easier to mind our business & look the other way. I hope our film can inspire people to find the courage to speak up & act. This production was ambitious & demanding, big credit to my producers Heidi & Gaute & the whole crew for their wonderful work." NIGHT RIDE was produced by Gaute Lid Larssen & Heidi Arnesen. Larssen has worked professionally in film production for 25 years with a background from NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) as a radio presenter & casting director. He is currently managing director & chairman at Cylinder Productions. Heidi Arnesen graduated with a bachelor's in fine arts from CCA & she is currently working for Cylinder Production as a producer. NIGHT RIDE cinematography was created by Vegard Landsverk. The 95th Oscars takes place on Sunday March 12th at 8PEDT hosted by Jimmy Kimmel on ABC. WATCH TRAILER

U.S. Must Update Family Paid Leave

The United States lack of any permanent national paid leave policy makes it the sole outlier among industrialized countries & puts workers’ jobs, economic security & health at risk as well as the growth of the nation’s economy overall. This policy gap deeply affects our LGBTQ community who often have less access to care from traditional family structures in particular ways. The Center for American Progress has released an article entitled “Paid Leave Policies Must Include Chosen Family” that states that policymakers at the state & federal levels should act to pass paid family & medical leave & paid sick time laws that ensure the ability to care for all those whom Americans consider family—including chosen family—while working to expand existing laws to meet the same needs. Caroline Medina, Center for American Progress Director of LGBTQI+ Policy stated, “Policymakers must adopt paid leave policies that are inclusive of chosen family & reflect the diverse caregiving needs of people across the country. Doing so is essential to better support the economic well-being and health of LGBTQI+ workers, families & millions of others who rely on these relationships for caregiving support.” Molly Weston Williamson, Senior Fellow for the Women’s Initiative at Center for American Progress Director concluded, “Without paid leave, far too many people are forced to choose between being there for the people they love & the job that pays their bills. We need paid leave for all, including paid leave for all families, however they are built.” The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research & educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just & free America that ensures opportunity for all. 

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Florida Trans Youth Medical Ban Lawsuit

Four Florida families have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Florida Boards of Medicine & Osteopathic Medicine’s new rule...

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