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HIV org moves into ‘Real World’ house & more



HIV org moves into ‘Real World’ house

One of the nation’s largest HIV non-profit organizations is taking over the Dupont Circle home used for filming MTV’s “Real World D.C.”

HealthHIV is leasing the property at 2000 S St., N.W. and will use it to house its 20-person staff, which works to advance effective prevention, care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS or who are at risk of contracting the disease.

“It is a highly recognizable location that allows us to raise public awareness of HIV in Washington and nationwide,” Brian Hujdich, HealthHIV’s executive director, said in a statement.

“As a non-profit, our move made sense since we have a favorable lease which allows us to repurpose materials from the ‘Real World D.C.’ and use the space as not only an office, but as a community center and a modest studio for taping web-based trainings.”

An estimated 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. That number includes 15,120 people in D.C. — a total that represents 3 percent of the city’s population.


Arrest made in trans bias assaults

The D.C. police department’s Gay & Lesbian and Latino liaison units joined forces last week to assist in the arrest of a male suspect who reportedly used a metal pipe to assault two Latino transgender people, according to Sgt. Carlos Mejia, who heads both units.

“The investigation further revealed that the suspect attacked the complainants because of their gender identity,” Mejia said in a statement. “One of the [victims] sustained injuries from the attack and received medical treatment.”

He said the suspect, who was not identified in the statement, was arrested on the scene and charged with bias-related assault with a dangerous weapon, an offense considered a hate crime under city law. The alleged incident occurred March 13 near 14th and Shepherd streets, N.W.

Mejia did not disclose in his statement whether the transgender victims were male or female.


Equality Maryland names trans field organizer

Equality Maryland announced March 15 the appointment of Owen Smith as its new field organizer for transgender equality issues.

A resident of Baltimore, Smith comes to Equality Maryland with experience in both teaching and advocating on behalf of the transgender community. He will work with the Equality Maryland staff to develop programming and policy efforts to meet the needs of Maryland’s transgender community.

“Owen has been involved in transgender activism and gender justice work in Maryland for many years,” said Morgan Meneses-Sheets, Equality Maryland’s executive director. “We are confident that Owen will be a valuable asset in our work to ensure that all Marylanders are treated equally under the law.”

Among the tasks Smith is slated to help with are coordinating grassroots efforts in Annapolis, developing a speaker’s bureau and continuing coalition work within the areas of homelessness and poverty work.

“I am passionate about celebrating and sustaining gender justice and equality,” Smith said. “I am also interested in examining the intersection of gender, race and sexual orientation to make connections within all social justice communities.”

Smith comes to Equality Maryland with advocacy experience. He has testified in the Maryland House of Delegates and Maryland Senate regarding discrimination based on gender identity, and was part of efforts that halted a planned change regarding gender markers on state driver’s licenses.


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Va. bill would restrict transgender students access to school bathrooms

State Del. John Avioli (R-Stanton) introduced House Bill 1126



The Virginia Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would restrict the ability of transgender students and school board employees to use bathrooms and other facilities in public schools that are consistent with their gender identity.

House Bill 1126, which state Del. John Avoli (R-Stanton) introduced, would require “each school board to adopt policies to require each student and school board employee to have access to restrooms, locker rooms and other changing facilities in public school buildings that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; lodging accommodations during school-sponsored trips that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; and a single-user restroom, locker room, or other changing facility in a public school building, upon request, if the school can reasonably accommodate such a request.”

Avoli introduced HB 1126 on Jan. 12 on the same day the Virginia General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office on Jan. 15.

State Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell County) last month introduced Senate Bill 20, which would eliminate the requirement that school districts must implement the Department of Education’s trans and non-binary student guidelines. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who in 2018 became the first openly trans person seated in any state legislature in the U.S., told the Washington Blade last week that she expects SB 20 “would be dead on arrival” in committee.

Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBTQ rights group, on its website notes HB 1126 is among the bills that it opposes.

Democrats still have a 21-19 majority in the state Senate, and they have signaled they will oppose any effort to curtail LGBTQ rights in Virginia. Outgoing Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck last week said their organization “will work with the Senate’s pro-equality majority to act as a crucial back stop against harmful legislation and efforts to roll back our hard-earned wins passed during the last two years.”

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Equality Virginia announces new executive director

Narissa Rahaman will succeed Vee Lamneck



Narissa Rahaman (Photo courtesy of Equality Virginia)

Equality Virginia on Saturday announced Narissa Rahaman will be the organization’s new executive director.

Rahaman, who was previously the Human Rights Campaign’s Associate Regional Campaign Director, will succeed outgoing Executive Director Vee Lamneck on Feb. 2. Rahaman was born in Barbados and raised in Florida.

“Narissa also has 10+ years of experience in long-term strategic planning, multi-state organizing efforts, coalition management, and staff development, which make her an exceptional individual for the role of executive director,” said Equality Virginia in its announcement. “We are confident that under her leadership, the organization’s success and impact will continue to flourish as will our commitment to racial justice.”

Equality Virginia announced Rahaman will succeed Lamneck on the same day that Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office amid concerns he will seek to curtail LGBTQ rights in Virginia.

Equality Virginia’s annual lobby day will take place virtually on Jan. 25. The organization’s annual Commonwealth Dinner is scheduled to take place in Richmond on March 26.

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Glenn Youngkin sworn in as Va. governor

Republican backed teacher who opposed trans student guidelines



Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin at his swearing in in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 15, 2022 (YouTube screenshot)

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office on Saturday amid concerns that he will seek to curtail LGBTQ rights in the state.

“Today we gather not as individuals, not as Republicans and Democrats,” said Youngkin after his swearing in. “Today we gather as Virginians.”

Former Gov. Ralph Northam and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) are among those who attended the ceremony that took place at the State Capitol. Terry McAuliffe, who Youngkin defeated in the general election, did not attend because of a COVID-19 scare.

Youngkin during his campaign against McAuliffe expressed support for Tanner Cross, a gym teacher at a Leesburg elementary school who was suspended from his job after he spoke out against Virginia Department of Education guidelines that are designed to protect transgender and non-binary students. Youngkin has also said he does not support allowing trans children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

Youngkin on Thursday named Elizabeth Schultz, an anti-LGBTQ former member of the Fairfax County School Board, to his administration.

“We will remove politics from the classroom and focus on the essentials,” said Youngkin in his inaugural speech, without specifically mentioning LGBTQ students.

He added “parents should have a say in what is taught in schools.”

Youngkin has also expressed his opposition to marriage equality, but stressed it is “legally acceptable” in Virginia and would “support that” as governor.

Lieutenant Gov. Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares also took office on Saturday.

Winsome, a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, is the first woman and first female of color elected lieutenant governor. Miyares, a former House member whose mother was born in Cuba, is Virginia’s first Latino attorney general.

Youngkin in his inaugural speech noted “the people of Virginia just elected the most diverse leadership” in the state’s history. Youngkin’s first executive order ends “the use of” so-called “critical race theory” (which is not taught in Virginia schools) and other “divisive concepts” in Virginia’s public schools.

The General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began on Wednesday.

Republicans control the House by a 52-48 margin. Democrats have a 21-19 edge in the Virginia Senate.

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