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‘Worldwide’ LGBT marches planned in April

Facebook organizers not connected to established LGBT organizations

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A Facebook group of LGBT rights advocates that claims to have 20,000 members is organizing a series of simultaneous LGBT civil rights marches in the U.S. and abroad that are scheduled to take place April 21.

Oklahoma City gay activist Joe Knudson, who initiated what he hopes will be the world’s largest peaceful protest on behalf of LGBT equality, says organizers have so far lined up marches in 10 U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C; New York City; Chicago; Atlanta; and Hampton, Va.

He said the only location outside the U.S. confirmed for one of the marches so far is an as yet to be selected city in Pakistan. A number of participating cities in Europe are expected to be announced soon, he said.

“The Worldwide LGBT Civil Rights March in 2012 is already gathering sponsors and supporters by the thousands, as well as initial lead organizers from around the world,” organizers said in an October posting on Facebook.

“The march will be held worldwide at various locations at the same time, as well as an online news media event that will keep everyone posted on the events at all locations,” the Facebook posting says.

It adds, “This event has been created by the fastest growing LGBT Equality group, with members from around the world – Let’s Reach 1 Million People Campaign…It’s a start! LGBT Equality.”

Knudson, 56, said he started that group in the late spring or early summer of 2011 with the aim of building a grassroots LGBT advocacy campaign with an international reach. He said he and others involved with the group came up with the idea of the worldwide LGBT marches.

In his Facebook biography, Knudson says he began his career in the banking industry and came out as gay later in life, after being married to a woman and raising children. He has since founded a publishing company in Oklahoma City that he created to publish his recent book, “Living the Difference: An Enlightening Story Revealed for People of All Ages, Straight or Gay.”

Knudson said the book describes his struggles in reconciling himself as a gay man who has embraced his sexual orientation and now yearns to help others do the same and promote the cause of LGBT equality.

A Washington Blade spot survey this week of several of the nation’s largest LGBT national and state advocacy organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, found that all but one were unaware of the global marches.

Heather Cronk, a spokesperson for the national direct action group GetEqual, said GetEqual would play some role in the marches but she did not get back by press time with details about GetEqual’s involvement in the events.

Spokespersons for the other groups said no one had contacted them so far about the planned worldwide marches and they had not heard anything about the events until contacted this week by the Blade.

Among the groups unaware of the marches were HRC, Task Force, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Empire State Pride Agenda of New York, the New York City LGBT Community Center, and the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, D.C.’s largest LGBT political group. The National Black Justice Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based LGBT group, did not respond by press time to an inquiry about whether it was aware of the marches.

Knudson said the New York City march was being coordinated by Christianne Bharath, a 16-year-old high school student on Long Island who says she serves as president of her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance group.

“It’s still in the early stages, Bharath told the Blade on Tuesday. “We’re getting the LGBT Center in with us and also the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth Center,” of which she said she’s also involved.

Cyndi Creager, a spokesperson for the New York City LGBT Center, said no one from the march group had contacted the center as of this week. Creager said the center would consider whether to provide support for the New York march after learning more about it.

Veteran New York lesbian activist Roberta Sklar, who serves as communications director for the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said her group also had not been contacted by organizers of the marches.

IGLHRC has contacts with LGBT organizations and activists throughout the world, especially in Latin American countries.

Task Force spokesperson Inga Sorenson said no one from the Worldwide March organization has registered to participate in the Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference scheduled for later this month in Baltimore. The Creating Change conference is considered the preeminent annual gathering of the nation’s LGBT activist and movement leaders.

The designated organizer of the D.C. march, Curtis Sledge, said he lives in Richmond and doesn’t often come to D.C. He said he has changed his work hours as a manager of a McDonald’s restaurant in Richmond to enable him to come to D.C. to make arrangements for the march, including the filing of an application for parade permits with D.C. police and the National Park Service.

Sledge said organizers haven’t decided yet on the exact route of the D.C. march, but they are leaning toward having the march travel past the Lincoln Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial located next to the National Mall.

He said organizers are planning for a rally with speakers to take place at the end of the march but haven’t decided yet where that would be held. Lesbian comedian Wanda Sykes is among those invited to speak and perform at the event, Sledge said.

“I’m just getting started,” he said. “I will be talking to people at HRC and I will contact D.C.-area universities to get them involved.”

March organizers said they have so far confirmed marches on April 21 in these cities: D.C.; New York City; Albany, N.Y.; Atlanta; Chicago; Oklahoma City; Hampton, Va.; Dayton, Ohio; Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky region; and Portland, Ore., with Pakistan set as the only country outside the U.S. so far.

Knudson and others involved in organizing the marches acknowledge that they don’t have longstanding ties with existing LGBT organizations but hope to build those ties during the final planning stages for the marches.

D.C. gay activist Phil Attey, who has used Facebook to organize LGBT-related endeavors, said Knudson contacted him last year to seek his help with the worldwide march project. Attey said he supports the project and thinks the decision by organizers to hold marches in many cities rather than just Washington was an “excellent idea.” Attey called on march organizers to focus their attention in the U.S. on electing LGBT supportive members of Congress in the November election.

“I will be putting my energy into re-electing the president and electing members of Congress who support our civil rights,” he said. “I think that’s what they should be doing.”

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U.S. Federal Courts

Title IX protections blocked in six more states

Ruling applies to Va.

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(Bigstock photo)

BY McKENNA HORSLEY | A federal judge has blocked new Title IX rules, including those aimed at protecting LGBTQ students from discrimination in K-12 schools, and sided with Republican attorneys general in several states — including Kentucky. 

Chief Judge Danny Reeves of the U.S. District Court in Eastern Kentucky on Monday issued a ruling siding with Republican Attorney General Russell Coleman and his counterparts in five other states. The ruling prevents the U.S. Department of Education from “implementing, enacting, enforcing, or taking any action to enforce the Final Rule, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance,” which was set to begin Aug. 1. 

Kentucky Attorney General Russell Coleman (Kentucky Lantern photo by Mathew Mueller)

Coleman and the GOP attorneys general filed the lawsuit in April. At the time, they argued the Department of Education “used rulemaking power to convert a law designed to equalize opportunities for both sexes into a far broader regime of its own making” with the new Title IX regulations. 

Reeves limited the injunction to the plaintiff states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Biden administration introduced the rules to “build on the legacy of Title IX by clarifying that all our nation’s students can access schools that are safe, welcoming, and respect their rights,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. The rules also would have rolled back Trump administration changes that narrowly defined sexual harassment and directed schools to conduct live hearings, allowing those who were accused of sexual harassment or assault to cross-examine their accusers.

President Joe Biden with U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

In their complaint, the state attorneys general said that under the Biden rule, “Men who identify as women will, among other things, have the right to compete within programs and activities that Congress made available to women so they can fairly and fully pursue academic and athletic excellence — turning Title IX’s protections on their head … And anyone who expresses disagreement with this new status quo risks Title IX discipline for prohibited harassment.” 

Established in 1972, Title IX was created to prevent “discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance,” according to the Department of Education.

Reeves wrote in his opinion that “the Department of Education seeks to derail deeply rooted law” created by the implementation of Title IX. 

“At bottom, the department would turn Title IX on its head by redefining ‘sex’ to include ‘gender identity.’ But ‘sex’ and ‘gender identity’ do not mean the same thing,” he wrote. “The department’s interpretation conflicts with the plain language of Title IX and therefore exceeds its authority to promulgate regulations under that statute.” 

In a press release, Coleman’s office said Monday that schools that would fail to comply with the new rules would risk losing federal funding. Citing the Department of Education, the office said Kentucky’s public and private schools received a total of $1.1 billion in federal funding last year.

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“As a parent and as attorney general, I joined this effort to protect our women and girls from harm. Today’s ruling recognized the 50-plus years of educational opportunities Title IX has created for students and athletes,” Coleman said in the press release. “We’re grateful for the court’s ruling, and we will continue to fight the Biden administration’s attempts to rip away protections to advance its political agenda.”

A spokesperson for the department said it was reviewing the ruling.

“Title IX guarantees that no person experience sex discrimination in a federally-funded educational environment,” the spokesperson added. “The department crafted the final Title IX regulations following a rigorous process to realize the Title IX statutory guarantee. The department stands by the final Title IX regulations released in April 2024, and we will continue to fight for every student.”

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McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, W.Va., and Frankfort, Ky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.

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The preceding story was previously published by the Kentucky Lantern and is republished with permission.

The Kentucky Lantern is an independent, nonpartisan, free news service based in Frankfort a short walk from the Capitol, but all of Kentucky is our beat.

We focus on how decisions made in the marble halls of power ripple through the lives of Kentuckians. We bring attention to injustices and hold institutions and officials accountable. We tell the stories of Kentuckians who are making a difference and shine a light on what’s working. Our journalism is aimed at building a fairer, healthier Kentucky for all. 

Kentucky Lantern is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.

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The White House

Press secretary reaffirms the administration’s commitment to advancing LGBTQ rights

Karine Jean-Pierre also highlighted mental health efforts

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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (Washington Blade photo by Christopher Kane)

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre began her briefing with reporters on Monday by honoring Pride Month as a time to “reflect on the progress we have made in pursuit of equality, justice, inclusion” and “recommit ourselves to do more to support LGBTQI+ rights at home and around the world.”

She said that while the Biden-Harris administration has taken “historic action” to expand freedoms and protections for the community “since day one,” state legislatures last year filed more than 600 anti-LGBTQ bills, which disproportionately target transgender youth.

Not only are conservative state lawmakers potentially on track to surpass that number in 2024, but Republican members of Congress along with the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, have pledged their support for at least a dozen anti-LGBTQ policies at the federal level.

Jean-Pierre said this administration “is going to continue to speak out and stand up against these attacks,” adding, “as President Biden says, these young [transgender and queer] people are some of the bravest people he knows, but no one should have to be brave just to be themselves.”

The press secretary concluded her opener by discussing the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which provides a “line dedicated to serving LGBTQI+ young people that can be reached by dialing nine eight and pressing three.”

Afterwards, when fielding questions from reporters, Jean-Pierre noted how many of the challenges facing LGBTQ youth have dovetailed with the ongoing mental health crisis in America.

She also addressed a ruling on Monday that blocked the administration’s newly passed LGBTQ-inclusive Title IX rules, which clarify that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is covered by the statute’s language barring sex discrimination in education programs and activities that receive federal assistance.

A Trump-appointed judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana had issued an injunction against the regulations on Thursday, with a handful of Republican state attorneys general promising more legal challenges.

Declining to address specific legal questions that she noted are best directed to the Justice Department, Jean-Pierre stressed the need for students to feel safe and to be treated equally.

“That is why the protections are all about making sure students have equal rights restored,” she said.

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National

63% of LGBTQ people have faced employment discrimination: report

Finding shows majority ‘don’t feel included and welcomed at work’

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A majority of LGBTQ+ workers have experienced discrimination, according to a new study.

A newly released report on the findings of a survey of 2,000 people in the U.S. who identify as LGBTQ says 63 percent of respondents have faced workplace discrimination in their career, 45 percent reported being “passed over” for a promotion due to their LGBTQ status, and 30 percent avoid “coming out” at work due to fear of discrimination.

The report, called “Unequal Opportunities: LGBTQ+ Discrimination In The Workplace,” was conducted by EduBirdie, a company that provides s professional essay writing service for students.

“The research shows basic acceptance remains elusive,” a statement released by the company says. “Thirty percent of LGBTQ+ people are  concerned they will face discrimination if they come out at work, while 1 in 4 fear for their safety,” the statement says. “Alarmingly, 2 in 5 have had their orientation or identity disclosed without consent.”

Avery Morgan, an EduBirdie official, says in the statement, “Despite progress in LGBTQ+ human rights, society stigma persists. Our findings show 70% of LGBTQ+ people feel lonely, misunderstood, marginalized, or excluded at work, and 59% believe their sexual orientation or gender identity has hindered their careers.”

According to Morgan, “One of the biggest challenges businesses should be aware of is avoiding tokenism and appearing inauthentic in their actions. Employers must be genuine with their decisions to bring a more diverse workforce into the organization.”

The report includes these additional findings:

• 44% of LGBTQ people responding to the survey said they have quit a job due to lack of acceptance.

• 15% reported facing discrimination “going unaddressed” by their employer.

• 21% “choose not to report incidents that occur at work.”

• 44% of LGBTQ+ workers feel their company is bad at raising awareness about their struggles.

• Half of LGBTQ+ people change their appearance, voice, or mannerisms to fit in at work.

• 56% of LGBTQ+ people would be more comfortable coming out at work if they had a more senior role.

At least 32 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The EduBirdie report does not show which states participants of the survey are from. EduBirdie spokesperson Anna Maglysh told the Washington Blade the survey was conducted anonymously to protect the privacy of participants.

The full report can be accessed here.

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