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May 2010

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Transgender Rabbinical Students Finding Equality in the Jewish World
by Jessica Pauline Ogilvie, Contributing Writer

As a child, Reuben Zellman found life anything but cut-and-dry. “I’ve always had a complicated gender identity,” he said. “As a kid, I liked both boys’ and girls’ clothes, and both boys’ and girls’ toys.”

At 20, Reuben — who grew up as Claire — made the decision to begin living life as a man. “That’s what was right for me,” he said simply, declining to elaborate on his personal history.

Several years later, he said, he found his calling: to become a rabbi. In 2003, Zellman became the first transgender rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and, for that matter, in the entire Jewish community.


Transgender youth "vulnerable" to sex industry

13th May 2010 - 12:46 pm

A researcher has found transgender youth are particularly vulnerable to being drawn into the sex industry.

A team led by Gillian Abel from University of Otago, Christchurch, interviewed 772 sex workers for the book Taking the crime out of sex work - New Zealand sex workers' fight for decriminalisation.

Abel says they found decriminalisation of New Zealand's sex industry has resulted in safer, healthier sex workers.

"The book provides compelling evidence decriminalisation has achieved the aim of addressing sex workers' human rights and has had a positive effect on their health and safety."

It found sex workers have knowledge of their employment rights and are more likely to assert them. They also have a better relationship with police and are more likely to report violence, but there is still stigma associated with the job.


All I really want to do is be myself

Trans teen in small East Texas town has few options in her efforts to convince school officials to let her dress as a girl

By John Wright | Online Editor

May 13, 2010 - 7:25:57 PM

WHITEHOUSE, Smith County -- Sixteen-year-old Alexis Lusk says she’s been cross-dressing more subtly for about three years.

But one day a few weeks ago Alexis, a transgender female, took it a step further — donning a bra, a women’s blouse and ballet flats to accompany her flare jeans.

Alexis was called into the assistant principal’s office and told she was creating a disruption, even though there had been no incident. Not wanting to jeopardize her academic future, she agreed to remove the objectionable clothing and has been dressing like a boy ever since.

“All I really want to do is be myself,” said Alexis, a junior at Whitehouse High School in East Texas. “I understand that in today’s world that’s complicated, but there’s a point where it’s not that complicated.”


DART committee OKs trans protections
Change approved with little debate; full board votes on proposal in June

By John Wright | Online Editor

May 13, 2010 - 7:32:46 PM

Less than three months after Dallas Area Rapid Transit was publicly accused of discriminating against a transgender bus driver, a committee of the board of directors voted Tuesday, May 11, to add gender identity to the agency’s employment nondiscrimination policy.

DART’s Economic Opportunity and Diversity Committee unanimously approved the proposal, which now proceeds to the full board for a final vote in June.

“I think there’s little need to debate this,” said committee member John Danish of Irving, who serves as vice president of the board. “This is just something that makes a lot of common sense. … We don’t discriminate against anyone for any reason.”

Michael Robinson, who was among a handful of LGBT activists who attended Tuesday’s committee meeting, said he was “shocked” that there wasn’t more opposition to the proposal.

A member of the direct action group GetEQUAL, Robinson said he’s been preparing to organize protests if DART doesn’t approve the new policy.


ACLU exploring ban of gay book at N.J. school: ‘Revolutionary Voices’

Thursday, 13 May 2010 21:46

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey sent an Open Public Records Act request last Friday to the Rancocas Valley School District for documents that will shed light on the district's decision to remove the book Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology from the Rancocas Valley High School library. The book, which shares gay students' coming-out stories and reflections on identity, won the School Library Journal's Adult Books for High School Students Award in 2001.

"The ultimate decision of whether a book can be removed does not rest simply on whether a few individuals or students may be offended," said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Deborah Jacobs. "Decisions to censor literature should only be based on a standard set of neutral criteria unrelated to the political or social themes in the book."

The school district made its decision after a political group specifically singled out books with lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender themes. The ACLU-NJ filed its request in order to learn whether the school district's policies were applied fairly, without discrimination.


Trans teen's killer gets 99 years

Filed by: Alex Blaze
May 13, 2010 1:30 PM

The man who pled guilty to killing Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado got sentenced to 99 years in prison:

   A man accused of decapitating a gay teenager and burning his body pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Wednesday and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

   The case had gained national attention because activists demanded that U.S. authorities prosecute it as a hate crime, with supporters holding vigils in a dozen cities including New York and Los Angeles.

   Police said Juan Martinez Matos, 26, told them he hated homosexuals but that he had offered the victim cocaine in exchange for sex.


Franken introduces bill to protect LGBT students from bullying

By Andy Birkey
5/20/10 1:48 PM

Sen. Al Franken introduced legislation on Thursday that would protect LGBT students from bullying in America’s public schools. The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) is in response to a series of incidents where students have been bullied to death — either murdered at the hands of their attackers or having committed suicide as a result of bullying.

“It’s time that we extend the protections of our nation’s civil right laws to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students across the country,” Franken said in a statement. “No student should be subjected to the ridicule and physical violence that LGBT students so often experience in school. It’s time we demanded equal treatment for all of our children under the law.”


Franken bill would protect gay students

The legislation is aimed at stopping bullying and harassment in schools.

By KEVIN DIAZ, Star Tribune
Last update: May 20, 2010 - 9:36 PM

WASHINGTON - As a ninth-grader in Mound, Andy Berlin says, he never meant to be openly gay.

"I didn't need to be," he said. "It was so ... obvious."

When he complained to school administrators about the daily taunts and threats, he remembers the response was, "Well, it's not right, but it's high school. It's to be expected."

So on Thursday, Berlin, now a 19-year-old college student in San Francisco, welcomed legislation introduced by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., protecting gays and lesbians -- and those perceived to be gays and lesbians -- from school bullies.

Long awaited by gay activists, the Student Non-Discrimination Act also would add bisexual and transgender students to the groups federally protected against school violence and harassment.


Jessica's Journey: Transgender SDSU Student

Reported by: Jeff Powers
Email: jeff.powers@sandiego6.com

Last Update: 12:12 am

SDSU -  Graduation season is here.  One SDSU student's academic career has been filled with change.  Included in that change: Jessica's gender.

Jessica Compton is graduating with honors.  Compton told San Diego 6, "It's definitely amazing to receive so much attention."

She's proving there's more to life than titles and awards.  When she was young Jessica realized she didn't feel right as a boy.

"My body didn't have a real shape to it -- didn't have a real gender to it," Jessica explained.  "It's pretty much like trying to find a way to put on a new body, a new skin."

Jessica had surgery to change her gender when she was 18.  "My sex was classified from the day I was born but that wasn't what was on my mind...I was focused on trying to find my own identity."

And she has, becoming State's first transgender student to receive the outstanding student award for the computer science department.


Sen. Al Franken Introduces LGBT Student Protection Bill

by Kilian Melloy

Friday May 21, 2010

Minnesota Democratic senator Al Franken has introduced a bill that would make anti-gay bullying in schools a federal offense--an important step for GLBT youth, given that the overwhelming majority of gay and lesbian middle and high schoolers are subjected to anti-gay taunts, harassment, and even physical abuse, sometimes by their own teachers.

Even when teachers, administrators, and other school employees are not actively involved in such harassment, all too often they do nothing to intervene when a student who is gay--or perceived as gay--is targeted for abuse by his peers, as happened to a gay freshman named Andy Berlin, according to a May 20 article in the Minneapolis-St. Paul newspaper the Star-Tribune


Federal Bill Requires Schools to Grant LGBT Protections

Sen. Al Franken. D-Minn., introduced the Student Nondiscrimination Act
of 2010 Thursday. The bill would grant special protections to gay,
lesbian and transgender characteristics in every public school in

A similar bill has already been introduced in the House.

Neal McClusky, associate director of the Center for Educational
Freedom at the Cato Institute, said every student deserves protection
­ not just those in a political subgroup.

Read More


In My View: Bill would help protect gay students


Posted May 22, 2010 @ 12:03 AM

On April 23, members of the Illinois House and the Senate passed an
anti-bullying bill that includes language addressing sexual
orientation and gender identity. Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign
the bill soon. I encourage the governor to sign this bill because
there is an abundance of discrimination toward lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender and queer people in schools.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, carried out
the 2007 National School Climate Survey, which revealed that nine out
of 10 gay students in middle school and high school have experienced
harassment because of their sexual orientation. Three out of five
students also felt unsafe going to school because of their sexual

Read More


Miami Herald, FL, USA

Posted on Sat, May. 22, 2010

Prom queen in a dress? Not this guy this night

Flanagan High School senior Omar Bonilla went from prom queen hopeful
to not being able to go to prom at all. The school says he brought
that punishment on himself.


Read More


Holyoke Community College graduates largest class ever - 1,101 students

By Lori Stabile, The Republican

May 22, 2010, 2:06PM

Pangborn talked about being a transgender man, and his goal of
becoming a nurse practitioner to provide healthcare to the lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“My story may be unique, but so are the stories of every graduate here
today . . . Every single person here has walked their own path and
struggled in some way to get to this point. Each story is important
and should be celebrated,” Pangborn said.

Read entire item


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