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Jack Keegel, 68



John Jack Keegel, a longtime D.C. resident and professor of mathematics at the University of the District of Columbia for nearly 35 years, died of cancer May 11 at his home in Boynton Beach, Fla. He was 68.

With a specialty in statistics and statistical analysis, Keegel played a lead role for more than 20 years in designing and directing an annual, federally mandated study of seatbelt usage by drivers in the District of Columbia.

The D.C. Department of Transportation retained Keegel to organize the study with the help of student interns at UDC and others, who methodically observed whether drivers traveling along various D.C. streets wore their seatbelts. Although he retired as a professor in 2004, he continued to conduct the seatbelt study through 2009, when his findings showed a 93 percent seatbelt usage by D.C. drivers, according to UDC Professor Eugene Shiro, who assisted Keegel in the study.

Keegel’s friends said they and his UDC colleagues became inspired and moved in 1995 over Keegel’s devotion to his domestic partner of 24 years, Edward Levine, who was hospitalized in critical condition while awaiting a heart transplant. They said Keegel juggled his teaching schedule to make time each day to drive from the District to Fairfax Hospital, where he spent part of the day with Levine for nearly two months before Levine died while waiting for a replacement heart that never arrived.

During Levine’s hospital stay, he and Keegel agreed to become the subject of a feature story in the Washington Blade, becoming the first known same-sex couple to publicly share their experiences in grappling with the uncertainty of a hoped for heart transplant.

Keegel was born in Jersey City, N.J. and was raised in Rahway, N.J. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1963 from Rutgers University and his master’s degree in 1966 from the University of Delaware, both in mathematics. He received a doctorate degree in statistics in 1975 from George Washington University.

Keegel served as a statistician with the National Institutes of Health from 1966 to 1969 and worked as a statistical consultant to a contracting company providing services to the U.S. Postal Service from 1968 to 1969. He began his tenure as a mathematics professor at UDC in 1969.

While at UDC, he worked as a statistical consultant during the summer months for a number of outside consulting firms. In the summer of 1979 he served as a lecturer at the NATO Advanced Statistics Institute in Urbino, Italy. Keegel also is the author or co-author of at least nine books or book chapters on statistics and statistical analysis.

Upon his retirement, he retained his home in D.C. while spending winters in Boynton Beach, Fla.

Keegel was preceeded in death by Levine, his domestic partner of 24 years. Survivors include a former domestic partner, Brian Lee; his father, John Keegel; a stepmother, Margo Keegel; several cousins; and many longtime friends in Florida and D.C.

Plans to celebrate Keegel’s life in Florida and D.C. are pending.

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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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Va. school board names new chair who called for burning books

Kirk Twigg backed torching of materials with “sexually explicit” content



(Screenshot via WUSA)

The Spotsylvania County School Board voted Monday to name Kirk Twigg, who advocated for burning books he deemed “sexually explicit” in November, as its new chair. 

His win gives conservatives the majority on the board as Republicans across the country continue an effort to ban books dealing with LGBTQ issues and racism from schools. 

Spotsylvania County has been involved in the controversy from the beginning, voting last year to remove books containing “sexually explicit” materials — only to rescind the order a week later.  

Monday’s board meeting, Twigg’s first as chair, would prove to be disorganized and, at times, unruly. 

Twigg’s first order of business was to call an unscheduled, closed-door session, which may have violated Virginia’s open meeting requirements. According to Virginia Code, a closed meeting cannot be called without a public body approving a motion that states the subject matter and the purpose of the meeting, as well as an applicable exemption from open meeting requirements.    

After the board returned from the closed-door session, Twigg said well-regarded Superintendent Dr. Scott Baker would be fired without cause. Baker had already announced he would be resigning at the end of the school year in December. 

After Baker decided to resign, a longtime Spotsylvania resident penned a letter in the Free Lance-Star, calling him “the finest superintendent, by far.”

“Dr. Baker is trusted and respected by parents, students and employees of Spotsylvania Schools; and he never lost sight of his mission for good reason,” it read. “He did so despite the noise and disruption from those few board members dedicated to bringing political disruption and dissidence into our public educational system. Shame on the few.”

As Twigg made the announcement, another member of the board interrupted him, saying: “Um, Mr. Twigg, no he is not. You need to make a motion — there needs to be a motion and a vote.”

Board members continued to speak over each other as conservative members attempted a vote. But Board Member Nicole Cole told the chairman she had comments. 

“I believe that the board members who have lodged this termination owe our citizens and our students of Spotsylvania County a justification for firing Dr. Baker,” said Cole. “You have not stated any justification or ability to fill the position. How is this good for the students, the children of Spotsylvania? How does this make sense?”

In a rebuke of the chaotic meeting, she added that Twigg “couldn’t even properly chair a meeting.”

After approximately 7 minutes of heated discussion where members from both sides got noticeably frustrated, the board voted 4-3 to fire Baker. 

Twigg, Lisa Phelps, April Gillespie and Rabih Abuismail, who also advocated for burning books, voted in favor. 

The Free Lance-Star reported that Baker was escorted from the building before the board returned from the second closed-door meeting. 

An emergency meeting has been scheduled for Friday to name an interim superintendent.

“It’s just very sad to hear that a superintendent who has been fully engaged in this community for 10 years is just let go with no rhyme or reason,” said Board Member Dawn Shelley, while noting Baker’s accomplishments. 

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Melissa Etheridge to host Heather Mizeur fundraiser

Virtual event to take place on Tuesday



Heather Mizeur, left, with Melissa Etheridge. (Photo courtesy of Heather Mizeur)

Singer Melissa Etheridge next week will hold a virtual fundraiser for Heather Mizeur’s congressional campaign.

The fundraiser will take place on Tuesday at 8 p.m. with tickets starting at $50. Supporters who donate at least $250 will be able to speak with Etheridge and Mizeur in a private Zoom room.

Mizeur, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates who lives on the Eastern Shore with her wife, is running against anti-LGBTQ Republican Congressman Andy Harris in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District. Mizeur ran for Maryland governor in 2014.

Mizeur on Thursday noted to the Washington Blade that her congressional campaign has raised more than $1 million.

“It’s going really, really great,” said Mizeur.

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