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Lesbian named president of Montgomery College & more

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DeRionne Pollard is the new president of Montgomery College in Maryland. (Photo courtesy of Montgomery College)

Lesbian named president of Montgomery College

DeRionne Pollard, a lesbian who has served as California Community College’s president since 2008, has been named president of Montgomery College, a community college in Montgomery County, Md.

The college’s board of trustees announced her appointment May 18, saying Pollard, 39, was chosen following a nationwide search and a review of more than 50 applicants. She holds a doctorate degree in educational leadership and policy studies.

“Throughout the search process, Dr. Pollard impressed both the board and the search advisory committee by her passion and devotion to the advancement of the community college mission and the students we serve,” the board said in a statement.

In its announcement of her appointment, the board noted that Pollard and her domestic partner of more than 20 years, Robyn Jones, “are the proud parents of a 3-year-old son, Myles Julian Pollard-Jones.”

Pollard is the first known black lesbian to be named president of a U.S. college. Earlier this year, Grinnell College of Iowa named National Institutes of Health deputy director and physician Raynard Kington as its president, making him the nation’s first known black openly gay college president.

“I am thankful and truly honored that the board of trustees selected me as the next president of Montgomery College,” Pollard said. “I am impressed with the caliber of the faculty, staff, administrators and students at Montgomery College.”

The Washington Post reported that Pollard’s predecessor, Brian Johnson, was removed as president following allegations of overspending and “lapses in management.” The Post said faculty and staff at the college were looking forward to Pollard’s leadership after a tumultuous nine months of tension leading up to Johnson’s forced resignation.

Faculty and staff rose to their feet and greeted her with prolonged applause when she was introduced to them at an auditorium last week at the college’s Rockville, Md., campus.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Realtors approve LGBT non-discrimination policy

The Professional Standards Committee of the National Association of Realtors voted unanimously May 13 in Washington, D.C., to approve a policy prohibiting the denial of real estate-related services to someone based on his or her sexual orientation.

The action was proposed last year by the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, which works closely with NAR, according to a statement by the gay group.

It calls for amending NAR’s code of ethics to add the term sexual orientation to a litany of other protected classes.

The amended policy, if ratified as expected by the NAR’s delegate body in November, would say, “Realtors shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation.”

The proposal would also change the code of ethics to say, “Realtors shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation.” It additionally says that Realtors or real estate firms shall not engage in discrimination based on the same litany of categories in employment practices for their offices.

If the delegate body gives final approval to the policy change, the change would take effect Jan. 1.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Stein Club endorses challenger in ‘shadow’ House race

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club on Monday passed over the incumbent D.C. “shadow” member of the U.S. House of Representatives, whom it backed in the last two elections, and instead endorsed a little-known challenger for the ceremonial post.

In receiving 60.8 percent of the vote, challenger Nate Bennett-Fleming barely surpassed the required 60 percent threshold for obtaining the club’s endorsement, becoming the first non-incumbent to win the Stein backing this year. He beat incumbent Mike Pannetta, who the club endorsed in his 2006 and 2008 bids for the shadow seat.

“Tonight’s vote reflects a shift that I believe is happening within the District of Columbia, where we have younger voices standing up to take leadership,” said Jeffrey Richardson, the Stein Club’s president. “Nate Bennett-Fleming clearly has the support of his peers and a strong bloc of LGBT activists from across the city.”

D.C. voters approved the creation of one “shadow” U.S. House seat and two “shadow” U.S. Senate seats in a ballot initiative in the 1980s as part of their support for a D.C. statehood constitution. The positions have no powers or authority in Congress and don’t come with a salary.

Backers of D.C. statehood said they modeled the positions after other U.S. territories that created shadow congressional positions when they applied for statehood in the 1800s. People in the positions generally lobby Congress to approve D.C. as the nation’s 51st state and give the city budgetary autonomy and full voting rights in Congress.

Bennet-Fleming and Pannetta each expressed support for LGBT rights, including support for the city’s same-sex marriage law.

In a separate development, the club voted Monday to endorse the re-election bids of D.C. City Council members Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). The two are running unopposed in the September primary.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

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Comings & Goings

Umana named associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

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Wolfgang Umana (Photo courtesy of Umana)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

Congratulations to Wolfgang Umana on being named an associate with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN). He has been with them for more than five years and is currently its D.C. studio’s office manager. 

“I am honored to become GGN’s newest Associate,” Umana said.I have the glorious privilege of supporting GGN’s continuing dedication to progress, inclusion, social justice, sustainability, and beautification of the world we live in.”

Umana also works with NBR Computer Consulting as an LLC Computer Technician consultant. He has experience in social media, communications, outreach, and technical services, and provides a dynamic approach to the fast-changing world of technology. NBR Computer Consulting, LLC is a gay-owned business. 

Umana has also served as D.C. Army National Guard Director of Environmental Affairs and with EMS Consultation Services. 

He has his bachelor’s in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Human and Ecosystem Response to Climate Change, from George Mason University. 

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Capital Pride bids for D.C. to host World Pride 2025

International event draws thousands of visitors

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Confetti rained down in New York’s Times Square at Stonewall 50 WorldPride New York’s closing ceremony two years ago. D.C. organizers hope to host the event in 2025. (Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

The Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, announced on Sept. 21 that it has submitted a bid to host 2025 World Pride, the international Pride event that draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city.

The announcement by Capital Pride says its bid to host the event in D.C. notes that the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

World Pride is licensed and administered by the international LGBTQ organization InterPride. The World Pride events themselves, which usually take place every other year, are organized by InterPride’s member organizations such as Capital Pride Alliance.

The Capital Pride announcement notes that World Pride “promotes visibility and awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) issues on a global level.” The announcement adds, “World Pride events include parades, marches, festivals and other cultural activities often enjoyed at Pride celebrations, along with other components such as a human rights conference and large-scale opening and closing ceremonies.”

The InterPride website says the deadline for submitting a bid for the 2025 World Pride has passed. It says D.C.’s Capital Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, located in the large Taiwan port city of Kaohsiung, are the only two remaining cities in competition for hosting the 2025 World Pride.

Ryan Bos, Capital Pride’s executive director, said InterPride was expected to make its decision on which of the two cities to select sometime in November of this year.

“A recent study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed that the annual Capital Pride Celebrations, during normal years, result in approximately $371 million in positive economic impacts to the region, a number that may be doubled if the organization is awarded the prestigious event,” the Capital Pride statement says.

The 2021 World Pride took place earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 2019 World Pride was held in New York City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, which many activists consider the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

InterPride says the 2023 World Pride will take place in Sydney, Australia.

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Va. county supervisors back resolution against ‘required’ pronoun questions

Unanimous vote in Stafford County allows school defunding

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What's Your Pronoun? review, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy of Liveright Publishing)

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that gives it the authority to deny funds to schools that require students to give their pronouns and teach the 1619 Project and critical race theory.

The resolution denounces “the teaching of the 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT) and related principles in Stafford County Public Schools,” and states the board does not support Stafford County Public School students “being required to identify their chosen pronouns.”

The approved document had been updated to change “requested” to give pronouns to “required.”

Republican Supervisor Gary Snellings told the board he brought the resolution forward, which passed by a 6-0 vote margin, in response to communication from parents. One supervisor was not present.

Snellings called critical race theory “racism.” He also called the New York Times’ 1619 Project published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony a “theory.”

Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia public schools, but a state law passed in 2020 requires local school boards to adopt policies that are more inclusive for transgender and non-binary students that follow, or exceed, guidelines from the state’s Department of Education.

Snellings said the problem with preferred pronouns was in requiring students to give them. He said that was not in the governing Virginia law.

“This (resolution) does not eliminate anything. It just follows state law,” Snellings said.

A Virginia court in July dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the Department of Education’s guidelines for trans and non-binary students. Equality Virginia and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia were parties to the amicus brief in support of the protections.

“We are deeply disappointed that these adults made such a hateful decision for kids in the community,” tweeted the ACLU of Virginia in response to the board’s vote.

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