Thursday, April 25, 2013

Around The Nation

District Of Columbia
ENDA Reintroduced In Congress
WASHINGTON -- The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, (ENDA) was reintroduced Thursday in both chambers of Congress but without changes in the legislation that were previously under consideration.
The House version was reintroduced in the House by Colorado Democrat Jared Polis, who took the lead on the legislation after the retirement of former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank last year. In the Senate, the legislation was reintroduced by Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley.
The measure would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees.
In a release Thursday morning, four leading equal rights advocacy groups noted;
"Despite the remarkable progress - cultural, political, and legal - that LGBT people have made in recent years, there are currently 34 states that lack workplace non-discrimination laws that are fully inclusive of LGBT people. This patchwork of protection continues to leave LGBT people vulnerable to workplace discrimination. 
We hear the stories every day from our clients and the tens of thousands of LGBT people who contact LGBT legal organizations like ours every year. In a country that values fairness and equal treatment under the law, we believe the current situation is unacceptable."
The release from ACLU National, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Transgender Law Center also went on to note that an improvement to ENDA included removing language that would have reaffirmed the portions referencing the Defense of Marriage Act, which is currently under consideration by the Supreme Court to rule on DOMA's constitutional status.
Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, said his organization will push for a committee vote and movement on the Senate floor for ENDA “as soon as possible.” He also said that GOP interest in the Senate version seemed minimal at best noting to a local Washington D.C. newspaper;
“ENDA had a recent committee hearing where not a single Republican senator bothered to show up to express any opposition or even ask questions about the drafting of the bill, so I think Chairman Harkin should schedule the committee vote on ENDA as soon as possible in May or June,” Almeida said. “It would be great to have ENDA teed up to go to the Senate floor in July.”
High School Student Denied Chance To Run In Prom Court Race Under Own Gender
Courtesy of Issak Wolfe
YORK, PA -- Prom court voting is over now and with prom set for Saturday, there's one senior at Red Lion Area Senior High School who is unhappy at an arbitrary decision by the school's principal, that left him excluded from the prom court election.
18 year old Issak Wolfe, who is openly transgender told a local paper decided he wanted to run for prom king, complete with making flyers and posters. He said he double-checked with the prom committee and the prom's faculty adviser, who all assured him that he would be listed on the ballot for prom king. 
However, last Wednesday as Wolfe and his friends gathered in the school's cafeteria to vote, they found that not only was he not listed, but his given female birth name was instead and under the heading for "Prom Queen."
"For a transgendered person, it is degrading to have that, and I wasn't even warned," 18-year-old Wolfe said. 
Wolfe spoke with a guidance counselor and other staff members who informed him that Red Lion principal Mark Shue had decided to switch him to his legal birth name and list him as such on the prom queen side.
Wolfe told the York Dispatch that he's had a generally positive experience being a transgender student in a rural high school and although  he hasn't undergone surgery yet to complete the transformation, he plans on doing so soon.
When Wolfe and his father William Stambaugh finally were able to talk to Shue, the principal justified his decision telling them it was based on tradition and he wasn't comfortable putting Wolfe on the boys' side of the ballot.
"He [Shue] said the king was always a male and the queen was always a female. And he feels that's the way it should be," William Stambaugh said. 
Stambaugh said the district has generally been supportive of his son, and the family's frustration is about this specific incident. He added that while he understands Shue is trying to do his job as a principal, he said that; "I wish he made a more progressive decision."
Wolfe's story went viral over the weekend with a Facebook page post regarding the principal's action coupled with a petition and a Reddit entry.
Responding to press inquiries Tuesday, Red Lion Superintendent Scott Deisley, via a written statement declined to comment, stating it would be best for the safety and well-being of Red Lion students to "respect our privacy in this matter."
Wolfe says at this point the damage is done and still wants an apology for the embarrassment and for missing out on the possibility of getting on prom court on his own terms. He also told reporters that he has reached out to the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, (ACLU) to help prevent his situation from happening to another transgendered student at another school.
"I would like an apology, at a minimum," Wolfe said. "I wasn't given a fair opportunity. I mean, if I don't win, I don't win ... but I'm not a queen."