Aurora, Illinois School Policy Protecting Transgender Students “Could Change the Country”

The East Aurora, IL School District is committed to implementing a policy to protect transgender and gender nonconforming students and to stop bullying and harassment of all types against its students.

“We want to take enough time to make sure we get in the right policy to protect this group of students as well as all students,” said Anita Lewis , chair of the committee, explaining that the committee should establish a policy, and a mechanism for training district staff like teachers, administrators as well as establishing means of support of transgender students.

“We have to do a better job,” she said. “The better we do at this, the better it will be for our whole country.”

Read:   East Aurora schools committee: Our transgender policy could change the country

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Transgender Parents: A Toolkit from Lambda Legal

If you are a transgender parent, you should take advantage of the free toolkit authored by Lambda Legal.  You can download it to your computer or order a hard copy version.

The toolkit provides a wealth of useful resources and Q & A’s.  In its toolkit, Lambda Legal states that:

“Good parenting is good parenting, regardless of gender identity. A common misconception (often exploited in custody disputes) is that transitioning—living and presenting oneself consistent with one’s
gender identity in everyday life—is a selfish act rather than a difficult journey that is not embarked upon casually. Transitioning is more accurately understood as a step toward the alignment of a person’s
mind and body, and as such can benefit everyone affected, including children. And that’s not to mention the value to children of learning about human diversity and tolerance.”

Get Transgender Rights Toolkit: A Legal Guide for Trans People and Their Allies

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

LGBT News: Fast Friday 3/30/12

Fast Friday has arrived!  Enjoy the sampling of news items I’ve collected.

Secret NOM Documents Reveal Race-Baiting Strategy    [Huffington Post]

EXCLUSIVE: Elizabeth Warren pledges to lead on LGBT rights   [Washington Blade]

Wisconsin Anti-Transgender Law Struck Down   [Lambda Legal]

NOM vows to punish N.H. lawmakers who refused to repeal marriage equality    [San Diego Gay & Lesbian News]

And the winner is Pat Robinson … Homosexuality related to demonic possession.  Hmmm.  That explains it.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski

Lambda Legal Asks Court to Uphold Ruling in Favor of Transgender Woman Who Was Fired

Lamba Legal is doing what it does best: fighting for the rights of LGBT citizens who have been wrongly discriminated against in this country. The team is now in court urging the Eleventh Circuit to uphold a ruling in favor of a transgender woman who was fired by the Georgia Legislature.

I don’t know about you, folks, but to have a government entity commit such blatant discrimination is shocking. (It’s a lot like DOMA and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, isn’t it?)

The case went to court in 2008. Lambda Legal argued that being fired for gender identity violated the State Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. In 2010, the court ruled in favor of the woman, Vandy Beth Glenn, saying that being fired for not confirming to a gender stereotype was unconstitutional. However, it rejected the equal protection issue. The ruling was appealed.

Read the press release here.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

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Google Increases Health Benefits for Transgender Employees

I came across a post on the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) website announcing that effective immediately, Google will increase health care benefits for its transgender employees.  Google has always been supportive of its LGBT employees and this latest move is to be commended.

Read the entire post here.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

Cyndi Lauper & Friends Show to Benefit LGBT Youth

I received the following e-mail from the Give A Damn campaign, an organization that is dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.  Please note that 100% of the net proceeds from the following event will benefit LGBT youth.

A CONCERT TO BENEFIT HOMELESS LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL & TRANSGENDER YOUTH

DECEMBER 4th, 2011 at NEW YORK CITY’S BEACON THEATRE

Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, the organization behind the Give a Damn Campaign, today announced a star-studded benefit concert on December 4th at New York City’s historic Beacon Theatre to help raise awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth homelessness. “Home For the Holidays,” presented by Deutsche Bank, will feature a night of music from Cyndi as well as special appearances by Norah Jones, Amy Lee, Lou Reed, Cassandra Wilson, Rosie O’Donnell, Wanda Sykes, Carson Kressley, Jon Secada, Chely Wright, Skylar Grey, Vanessa Carlton, Angelique Kidjo, Harvey Fierstein, Deluka, Debbie Harry, Alan Cumming and Clay Aiken.

Cyndi Lauper and the True Colors Fund are excited to extend a special pre-sale to Give a Damn Campaign members before tickets go on sale to the general public. The pre-sale runs from 10 am EST tomorrow, Thursday, October 27th until tomorrow night at 10 pm EST. The password you will need to make your purchase is DAMN.

GET YOUR TICKETS! >>

“When I first learned that up to 40 percent of all homeless youth in this country identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender I was shocked and saddened,” says Cyndi Lauper, co-founder of the True Colors Fund and Give a Damn Campaign. “For far too long homeless youth have not received the attention, resources and funding necessary to bring an end to this epidemic. My hope is that through this inspiring evening of music and comedy we can raise awareness and much needed funds to help these young people.”

Cyndi was inspired to help after meeting an extraordinary group of young homeless gay and transgender people several years ago. Already a longtime advocate for the LGBT community and equality, she co-founded the True Colors Fund in 2008 as a major step in this effort. Then, created the Give a Damn Campaign to raise awareness, especially among straight people, about the many issues, particularly youth homelessness, impacting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

100% of the net proceeds from “Home for the Holidays” will benefit the True Colors Fund so that Cyndi, the True Colors Fund and the Give a Damn Campaign can continue to further its work to help homeless LGBT youth.

In addition to Platinum Sponsor Deutsche Bank, other sponsors of “Home for the Holidays” include American Airlines, Creative Group and Van Gogh Vodka. Additional support is provided by the Human Rights Campaign.

GET YOUR TICKETS! >>

LEARN MORE ABOUT “HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS” >>

SUPPORT THE GIVE A DAMN CAMPAIGN

Unable to attend “Home for the Holidays”? Please support the work of the True Colors Fund and the Give a Damn Campaign by making a gift of $10, $25, $50 or more today. Make a Donation .

FOLLOW THE GIVE A DAMN CAMPAIGN

You have already taken the first step to follow the Give a Damn Campaign by joining us on wegiveadamn.org. Now, take it one step further and stay informed and involved by following us on FACEBOOK, TWITTER and YOUTUBE!

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

Federal Bureau of Prisons Makes Major Change in Transgender Medical Policy

I received the following press release concerning the change in the transgender medical policy by the Federal Bureau of Prisons:

A settlement was announced today in the case of Vanessa Adams, a Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) inmate at FMC Butner in North Carolina who has gender identity disorder (GID). Ms. Adams sued BOP in order to receive appropriate treatment for her GID.

Ms. Adam’s challenge to BOP’s treatment of transgender prisoners has resulted in BOP ending its so-called “freeze frame” policy in which treatment for any person with GID is kept frozen at the level provided at the time he or she entered the federal prison system. In Ms. Adams’ case, this meant that because she had not received treatment for GID before being incarcerated, BOP refused to provide her with medically necessary care even though its own doctors diagnosed her with GID, told her about treatments available for GID, and knew about the seriousness of her medical condition.

“BOP’s freeze frame policy trapped transgender prisoners in despair, leading often to depression, suicide attempts, and in many cases, serious self-harm, as was the case with Vanessa,” said Jennifer L. Levi, Transgender Rights Project Director for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

The change in policy was promulgated via two memoranda, dated May 31, 2011 and June 15, 2010, from BOP’s Medical Director to all BOP’s chief executive officers. The May 2011 memorandum ends:

In summary, inmates in the custody of the Bureau with a possible diagnosis of GID will receive a current individualized assessment and evaluation. Treatment options will not be precluded solely due to level of services received, or lack of services, prior to incarceration.

The memo also states that “current, accepted standards of care will be used as a reference for developing the treatment plan.”

The memos have been distributed to all individuals in the prison system who have been diagnosed with GID, as well as to the medical staff treating these prisoners.

When the suit was filed on February 24, 2009, Ms. Adams was at a federal prison in Florida. There she was being denied medically necessary hormone therapy and prevented from otherwise expressing a female gender identity because she had not received this treatment prior to her incarceration. In a June 7, 2010 ruling, Federal District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro rejected BOP’s argument that Ms. Adams’ claim was moot because BOP had finally started Ms. Adams on hormone therapy.

Citing BOP’s consistently callous conduct toward Ms. Adams, the fact that BOP could stop her treatment at any time, and that BOP did not disavow its policy, Judge Tauro sent the case to mediation. With today’s settlement, the parties jointly agreed to end the case.

Cassandra Capobianco of Florida Institutional Legal Services said, “It is critical not only for Vanessa’s health and safety but for the good of other prisoners that BOP’s policy has been changed.”

“We applaud the BOP for getting rid of an unfair policy that has denied medically necessary care to many people. We hope that other state and county prison systems will follow BOP’s lead and eliminate discriminatory policies that are based on bias rather than medical need,” said Jody Marksamer, a staff attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

In addition to GLAD, Ms Adams was represented by Florida Institutional Legal Services (FILS), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Bingham McCutchen LLP, and Allyson Kurker.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England’s leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression. www.GLAD.org

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org

Florida Institutional Legal Services is a non-profit organization that advocates for institutionalized people and other vulnerable people and groups.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

Maine Senate Kills Bill to Repeal Protections for Transgender Citizens

In a sweeping 23-11 vote, the Maine legislature voted against the passage of LD1046, An Act To Amend the Application of the Maine Human Rights Act Regarding Public Accommodations.  The bill was aimed at taking away protections for transgendered persons in public restroom and shower facilities.

The bill’s summary reads as follows:

“This bill provides that it is not unlawful public accommodations discrimination, in violation of the Maine Human Rights Act, for a public or private entity to restrict rest room or shower facilities that are part of public accommodations to restrict the use of singlesex facilities to members of a biological sex regardless of sexual orientation. Unless otherwise indicated, a rest room or shower facility designated for one biological sex is presumed to be restricted to that biological sex.”

Kudos to the State of Maine for not legislating more discriminatory laws.

Source: GLAD via Facebook

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

1st Circuit Finds Transgender Inmate Entitled to Hormone Therapy

On May 20th, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit affirmed a federal district court ruling ordering Massachusetts officials to provide hormone therapy and gender-appropriate clothing for a transgender detainee at the state’s Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons.

The Plaintiff in the action, born David Megarry, is now named Sandy Battista. After serving most of a 20-year sentence for the rape of a child, robbery and kidnapping, Battista was involuntarily committed to the Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons. The length of that commitment is undetermined and release hinges upon Battista being able to prove she is safe to rejoin the civilian population.

Battista sought treatment from prison officials for her gender identity disorder as early as 1996 but her requests were met with skepticism and resistance. Other psychiatric professionals did validate her disorder and recommended hormone therapy, which was not provided to her due to safety concerns. Battista is housed at an all-male facility and is sexually active.

Battista filed several lawsuits and ultimately attempted to castrate herself with a razor blade. It has been determined by the court that withholding medically necessary hormone therapy and gender-appropriate clothing is a constitutional violation.

Read the entire court opinion for Battista v. Clark here.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

Senate Passes HB 6599

Just after midnight on Friday, the Connecticut Senate passed HB 6599 in a 20-16 vote without the discriminatory amendments proposed earlier.  The House previously passed the bill on May 19th in a 77-62 vote.   Governor Malloy is expected to sign the bill into law.  This is a huge step forward for the LGBTI community.  Congratulations to all who worked so hard to support this bill — and to the House and Senate members who voted in favor of it.

Read the full text of HB 6599 here.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski