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We cannot wait on Congress to protect our LGBT youth

While our elected representatives work out the politics, we can help lead our nation’s schools to be more inclusive

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Last week, a coalition of LGBT organizations and allies sent a letter to the Senate HELP Committee expressing “great concern” and “a lack of support” for the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act, due to its lack of LGBT inclusion. These organizations and allies are to be commended for holding members of Congress accountable and pushing for the passage of the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) and the Sage Schools Improvement Act (SSIA). But it is becoming very clear that SNDA and SSIA face a long uphill political battle that will hopefully result in their passage sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, outside of advocating for their passage, we should push for the creation of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) in schools all across this country, especially in schools with a predominantly black population. The creation of GSAs will help promote a more inclusive and safer educational environment for LGBT youth across this country until federal legislation is passed. In fact, according to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), schools that have GSAs positively impact LGBT youth because these schools have fewer homophobic remarks, less victimization, less absenteeism, and greater sense of belonging. Considering that in 2009, 84 percent of LGBT students have been verbally harassed, 40 percent have been physically harassed, and 18 percent have been physically assaulted, it is imperative to tackle LGBT bullying and harassment. Establishing GSAs is an effective way to do that.

Combating LGBT bullying and harassment is especially important in schools with a predominantly black student body because black LGBT students face some of the most hostile treatment in our nation’s schools. Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress released an article that explored the plight of black LGBT youth in America’s schools. This article presented research that showed that black LGBT youth fare better academically and socially in schools with GSAs. Unfortunately, many predominantly black schools do not have GSAs because of the commonly accepted notion that being LGBT is a “white issue” and because the issue is rarely discussed in many black communities.

Yes, it will be a challenge to establish GSAs in schools where LGBT students are seen but rarely talked about in a positive manner. But that is the exact reason we should advocate hard to have them. Regardless if you are a parent, educator, or community member, your support is needed to make these GSAs a reality. LGBT students cannot do the work alone; providing them with assistance and support can be the difference between having a GSA or not and providing a safe environment for education. More importantly, GSAs benefit both LGBT students and non-LGBT students by creating an environment where it is okay for all students to express who they are.

The creation of GSAs will not completely solve the problem of bullying and harassment for LGBT youth; only federal legislation can lay the groundwork for that to be accomplished. Nevertheless, their creation can place schools on the road to not only being more inclusive but to providing a safe educational environment that will help all students. We owe that much to our LGBT youth, to ensure that school does not become a place of dread because of consistent fear of violence and rejection.

So while our elected representatives work out the politics, we can help lead our nation’s schools to being more inclusive to our LGBT youth through the creation of GSAs. Together we create a very powerful voice, one that cannot be ignored and will not go away until equality is given to LGBT youth.

Jerome Hunt is a Ph.D. candidate at Howard University and a research associate with the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The views expressed in this article are his own. Reach him at [email protected]

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Why you should celebrate pride with a musical about GenderCannibalism?

Rose: You Are What You Eat, through June 23 at Woolly Mammoth.

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Photo courtesy of Woolly Mammoth.

Because when I came out as trans my aunt told me it was because I ate my twin in the womb…and that’s what the show is about

Because…remember that time when you decided to dress like exactly like your older sister; or you stole your mothers’ makeup or your brother’s tie; or you decided to dress up like Katherine Hepburn for halloween when you were (i dunno) 10; or you started to look eerily like your lover…..that’s all gender cannibalism

Because because because because because….” because if you know that song this was made for you…and if you don’t…it’s okay, we’ll work on it

Because you can probably find a cute date at the show irl instead of just swiping in your phone…think of theater as an in person dating app without as much drunkenness as the bar

Because maybe that cute date is me

Because you can sing along to music written by a bunch of queers from Philly and D.C. 

Because we are all so hungry and so so thirsty 

Because I guarantee you will leave feeling fed

Because cannibalism puns are tasty

Because it’s a comedy

Because there are pay-what-you-can tickets

Because it plays all of June

Because we are consuming gender all the time but rarely watching what and how we eat it 

Because it’s an anti-assimilationist endeavor: the corporations can’t co-opt “gender cannibalism” for pride month (but there is merchandise available at the show…)

Because it’s only 75 minutes

Because I dance around in tighty whities with socks on my hands

Because there is a free clothing swap and treats in the gallery next to the show

Because why not?

Because you will be cast as my Mother, and that’s the role of a lifetime (or at least my lifetime)

Because you won’t know what will happen; you can’t pause or rewind the show; you will be taking a risk; you will find it’s more than just entertainment; you will feel me talking right to you

Because I’ve been writing this show for 34 years and am finally ready to share it with you

Because I’ll be in the lobby afterwards to say hi, and receive hugs, stories, and phone numbers 

Because I made this piece for you, my dear deviants, trans folx, genderful ones and for the people that care for us. It is a good laugh and a good cry and meant as a gift, a way to end your day feeling loved, nourished and worthy

Because don’t you want to be nourished and reminded that you are loved and worthy? 

And frankly because art needs you to survive and you need art to thrive

Because I took the time to write this letter to you and you took the time to read it, and neither you nor I want to waste that investment

Because you won’t want to miss it

Get tickets to Rose: You Are What You Eat, playing through June 23rd.

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Elon Musk is a danger to society

X has become a warped platform that spews anti-trans hate

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Elon Musk (Photo by shganti777/Bigstock)

Elon Musk is officially a danger to society. As of mid May of 2024, X.com, the platform formerly known as Twitter, has started banning accounts that use the word “cisgender” or “cis,” deriding it as a slur. For those who don’t know, “cisgender” refers to any person whose gender aligns with the genitalia they were assigned at birth. Erasing the word “cisgender” from tweets, or X.com remarks, ensures that gender nonconforming people can’t articulate the bigotry they feel in this world. 

Musk has been notorious for his transphobia. It didn’t just start in mid-May of this year. In June of 2023, during Pride month, Musk liked a bunch of transphobic tweets. For instance, he promoted the Matt Walsh documentary, “What is a Woman?”, which was a film in transmisogyny. 

Moreover, in July of 2022, Musk’s transgender teenage daughter sought separation from her father because he was hateful toward her and bullied her because of her gender identity. In December 2022, Musk tweeted “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” mocking the words that transgender people need to enunciate who we are. This wasn’t the first time that Musk mocked pronouns. 

Musk is becoming increasingly dangerous toward trans people, especially as X.com takes on a new dimension — turning into a warped platform that spews conspiracy views, including right-wing thoughts that trans people shouldn’t exist, and other ultraconservative opinions. 

What adds heavy weight to the danger that Musk poses is the relative success of his companies and the wealth, measured in dollars, that he carries on his shoulders. SpaceX is valued at around $180 billion, and Tesla is worth approximately $571 billion. The more wealth Musk accumulates, the more power is attached to his transphobia. Already, he is consciously allowing employees within his companies to mock transgender people. Having a CEO who openly teases a marginalized population is a recipe for that company to tease said population as well. 

As a former small business owner, I’m actually a huge fan of Musk’s work. The billionaire is brilliant beyond belief, and, after being bullied in school in South Africa, earned degrees in physics and economics from the University of Pennsylvania. At one point, he was working so hard on one of his first startups that he often slept in the office and showered at a local YMCA. In interviews, it is clear that Musk borders, if not embodies, genius. His intellectual prowess is second to none. 

Additionally, the mogul has been open about his diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and bipolar disorder. It’s impressive, to say the least, that Musk has racked up all of these accomplishments despite having these diseases of the mind and body. He has vocalized his use of ketamine therapy, for instance, in treating his bipolar, which is a ballsy move to make as CEO. 

Unfortunately, though, Musk just won’t stop with his transphobia. He is making X.com a non-democratic place for sponsored conspiratorial speech, and banning words is the farthest thing from freedom, which is a virtue he claims to embody. 

Many scholars of Elon have noted that he lives in a distorted reality, and I have to agree with that sentiment. Banning “cisgender” from X.com is certainly a distorted thing to do, and should be looked upon as a danger to society. 

Isaac Amend is a writer based in the D.C. area. With two poetry books out, he writes for the Blade and the Yale Daily News. He is a transgender man and was featured in National Geographic’s “Gender Revolution” documentary. He serves on the board of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia. Contact him at [email protected] or on Instagram at: @literatipapi

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Mayor of Salisbury, Md. is the Grinch who stole Pride

Randolph Taylor masks his homophobia with cowardly ‘neutrality’ claim

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Randolph ‘The Grinch’ Taylor, mayor of Salisbury, Md.

Salisbury is a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, probably best known for its university of about 7,000 undergraduate students. It’s also home to a robust and growing Pride celebration.

But this will mark the first time in five years that a Pride flag will not fly at city hall for Pride month, as the Blade reported last week.

“The administration’s position on the PFLAG kick-off is very simple,” Mayor Randolph Taylor said to the Blade. “That is, to be neutral. Neutrality is not to be interpreted as anything else but simply that — being neutral.“ (PFLAG has served as an organizer of Salisbury Pride events.)

Nicole Hollywood, an official with PFLAG Salisbury, told the Blade the group received an email from the city informing them of the change.

“We simply got an email saying that ‘we’re evaluating the use of city assets for cultural events,’ and ‘we don’t feel it’s appropriate moving forward to hang flags that represent special interest groups.’”

So Salisbury’s LGBTQ residents now constitute a “special interest group” rather than a minority community facing growing backlash, hatred, and discrimination in a rural part of the state? This lame, ham-handed excuse barely disguises the cowardice, homophobia, and transphobia at play here. No elected public official should be “neutral” when it comes to the rights, dignity, and equality of their constituents.

We are painfully aware of the growing influence of MAGA-inspired hate groups like the ironically named Moms for Liberty, that are working overtime to bully public officials into banning LGBTQ-themed books, pulling support for Pride events, and otherwise rendering our community invisible again. They want us back in the closet where we can’t disrupt their plans to establish a Christian theocracy. 

Mayor Taylor is merely the latest rube in a pathetic and long line of cowardly public officials to kowtow to this madness, inspired by their Dear Leader Donald Trump, a convicted felon who has validated the worst impulses and bigotry of Americans from coast to coast. What happened to leaders who lead? What happened to the Ronald Reagan Republicans who wanted the government out of our lives, embraced immigrants, and fought Russian aggression? Reagan couldn’t get elected dog catcher in the modern GOP.

But back to Taylor — the Grinch who stole Pride. He is the mayor of a small town and he has the cojones to match. Let’s hope the business community, including the influential local university, speaks out to denounce this hateful attack on Pride — because that’s precisely what it is. By shrinking the public spaces where LGBTQ people feel comfortable and safe, officials like Taylor are playing into the hands and the sick agenda of the MAGA crowd. When LGBTQ people are attacked and “othered,” our queer youth suffer and die. Shame on Mayor Taylor for caving to such hatred and betraying his LGBTQ constituents during the most important month of the year for our visibility. The good people and the LGBTQ residents of Salisbury deserve better.

Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at [email protected].

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