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Stein Club president ousted as new group takes control

‘They come to one meeting and they take over the club?’

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Lateefah Williams, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, Washington Blade, gay news, Human Rights Campaign

A Gertrude Stein Democratic Club endorsements meeting from October of this year. After last night, many of the club’s leaders are out, such as Lateefah Williams — shown here — who was defeated last night. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Three young activists who became members of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club for the first time within the past week won election Monday night to three of the club’s five officer positions, gaining control of the city’s largest LGBT political group.

In a development that stunned many of the club’s longtime members, gay political consultant Martin Garcia beat incumbent Stein Club President Lateefah Williams, an attorney, by a vote of 47 to 45.

Angela Peoples, former legislative director of the United States Student Association, and Vincent Villano, communications director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, beat club backed candidates Jon Mandel and Hassan Naveed for the offices of Vice President for Legislative and Political Affairs and Vice President for Administration respectively.

The vote came after close to 50 young LGBT activists, some of whom had never attended a Stein Club meeting before, filed into a meeting room at the John A. Wilson city hall building to cast their votes for the insurgent candidates.

“Getting this many folks in the room to have this debate – I think that’s the democratic process in action,” Garcia told the Blade after the winners were announced.

“I think we need to build upon what Gertrude Stein has done and bring folks into the fold and into this organization,” he said. “I think the energy around our candidacies did this.”

Garcia and his fellow insurgents chose not to run candidates against the club’s incumbent treasurer, Barrie Daneker, and secretary, Jimmie Luthuli, who ran for re-election unopposed.

It became clear during the brief speeches by the candidates on both sides that the new group shares the Stein Club’s loyalty to the Democratic Party and the club’s commitment to LGBT equality.

Garcia, Peoples, and Villano, however, told club members in opening remarks and in response to questions that their aim is to expand the diversity of the club’s membership and boost its organizational and fundraising capabilities.

Among the new members who joined to support the slate were Latino and Asian-American members of the LGBT community, including Gregory Cedana, who became the first out gay Asian-Pacific Islander community member to win election as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention earlier this year,

Gay Democratic and Ward 8 community activist Phil Pannell, a longtime Stein Club member, surprised some fellow members by placing Garcia’s name in nomination, indicating his support for the new slate.

Pannell said the club’s fundraising efforts haven’t been as aggressive as they could be and its support for his own candidacy for the Ward 8 school board seat in the November election was limited to an endorsement, with no effort to campaign for him.

Stein Club member and transgender activist Jeri Hughes expressed strong disappointment over the outcome of the club election, saying the new members should have worked with the current officers and members before running for office.

“Who are these people?” she said. “They come to one meeting and they take over the club?”

Veteran club member Barbara Helmick said she is hopeful that the new officers will do a good job in advancing the club’s objectives of advocating for LGBT rights.

“There was a brilliant organizing campaign to bring in some new people,” she told the Blade. “And they’ve got some good ideas. I think Lateefah has and the whole Stein board served honorably and well and had a fabulous year,” she said. “And now is the time to come together and build Stein and move into the future.”

Williams said she and the other club officers, after organizing numerous club endorsement forums and other club activities during the past year, responded to the challenge by the insurgent group by waging their own effort to win re-election.

Peoples beat Mandell for the vice president for legislative and political affairs post by a vote of 47 to 44. Villano beat Naveed for the post of vice president for administration by a vote of 48 to 41.

“We both organized,” Williams said. “You can see the race was incredibly close. It was almost equally split in terms of the support we both had.”

Garcia said he plans to work closely with the longtime members.

“I’m going to work my butt off to earn the respect and build relationships with the folks who have been here in the past,” he said. “And hopefully they won’t turn their back on the organization because I’m going to work diligently to make sure that Gertrude Stein is built and moves forward and it can be the best organization that I can make it.”

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. John Marble

    December 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I've been an active Stein club member for over a decade. However, I had let my membership lapse due to lapsed communication from the club. Martin Garcia asked if I would consider coming to the endorsement meeting, and shared for me his vision for the club.

    I accepted his offer, renewed my membership online, and came to the meeting. I did not come to support Garcia, but to support Stein by renewing my membership. I came undecided in whom I would support. After all, most Stein Club endorsement meetings and election meetings are used (smartly, and correctly) to bring in new members. New members have always been encouraged at these events.

    However, bitter and vicious attacks from some in the audience on the "new members" quickly shifted my support to Garcia (that, and the vision he shared). After more than a decade with Stein I was made to feel unwanted after I renewed my membership. It reminded me of Romney operatives after the presidential election complaining about not having the right kind of people vote. If the choice is to be inclusive or exclusive, I will choose inclusive.

    Lateefa Williams should be loudly applauded for her work (and retiring Stein Vice President Julius Agers celebrated). Stein has grown so much, and their work has been a part of it. Unlike some audience members, Williams and her slate were more than gracious. I'm looking forward to all of us realizing we're on the same team and growing Stein in the new year.

  2. Aaditi Dubale

    December 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    The Blade's reference to Martin, Angela, and Vincent as "Garcia and his fellow insurgents" is neither professional nor journalism. It is racially-tinged language, too, might I add.

    • Dane Tidwell

      December 4, 2012 at 3:31 pm

      How is it racially-tinged?

    • Aaditi Dubale

      December 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      At the least, one can run a Google image search of the word "insurgents" and view the results. "Insurgents" is a word that has been particularly used in our media for events in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places of war, to the point that reading or hearing the word brings to mind an image similar to those found through search engines. It is not an appropriate word choice to refer to Martin, Angela, and Vincent who ran for office of a Democratic organization and encouraged new members to join. It's Gertrude Stein Club, not war.

    • Peter Rosenstein

      December 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      I am surprised that someone would take umbridge at the use of the term insurgent as if it were in any way demeaning to those in office currently or those that won the offices.

      I guess it is my oldtime New York political background which makes me not flinch at the term at all but rather see it as a new group of individuals who have come in and taken over. It doesn’t demean the work of Lateefa and Julius who have worked hard for the Stein Club and deserve all our thanks. But it also doesn’t negate the work of Martin and his slate who worked to bring in new people and got themselves elected. Stein has seen many officers over the years and the club continues to serve the LGBT Democrats in the District of Columbia. I have been a long-time member though not an active one but still see a role for the Club in City politics and as a Chapter of National Stonewall Dems. I hope that Martin and the new officers will carry on the hard work of our past officers and take the Club to new heights.

    • Jacob Guy Littler

      December 4, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      2: one who acts contrary to the policies and decisions of one's own political party (not always in reference to war)

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/insurgent

      Calm down.

    • Stephen P. Gorman

      December 4, 2012 at 10:07 pm

      Just heard on NPR that the Syrian Govt called its opposition "terrorists" and then the reporter went on to say the the government used the word to describe "a terrorist was anyone opposed to the government". As a former officer of the club, I can live easily with "insurgents". I was one myself.

  3. Barrie Daneker

    December 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

    For the record some stats of interest for our full membership should be aware of: from 11/28 to 12/3 there were 46 memberships contributions made. Of those contributions 4 were partnership memberships allowing 2 votes. That meant there were 50 new potential voters added to the rolls in the 6 days prior to the election. Of those 50 votes, 6 votes were from members who have appeared on our rolls in past years. Resulting in 46 new members who are first time members of GSDC who under the bylaws were eligible to vote in the officers election.

  4. Barrie Daneker

    December 4, 2012 at 10:31 am

    @ John Marble for the record John is correct his membership was last valid for the year 2006.

  5. Barrie Daneker

    December 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    For the record some stats of interest for our full membership should be aware of: from 11/28 to 12/3 there were 46 memberships contributions made. Of those contributions 4 were partnership memberships allowing 2 votes. That meant there were 50 new potential voters added to the rolls in the 6 days prior to the election. Of those 50 votes, 6 votes were from members who have appeared on our rolls in past years. Resulting in 46 new members who are first time members of GSDC who under the bylaws were eligible to vote in the officers election.

    • Jimmie Ahimsa Luthuli

      December 4, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      Thanks for providing us with this important information, Barrie.

    • Peter Rosenstein

      December 4, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      Hey- I have long said someone has to review the bylaws of the Stein Club. Now people know why. I hope the new people will work hard to rebuild the club and once again make it a viable organization in the community.

    • Stephen P. Gorman

      December 5, 2012 at 11:05 am

      The club has been debating voting rights for over 15 years. One year Frank Kameny proposed up to a year probation after payment of dues while Phil Pannell counter proposed that voting rights be granted upon payment – even on the day of a vote. If the club members adopted new voting rights in accordance with a process clearly stated in the bylaws and Roberts Rules of Order in the presence of a recorded quorum, there is no conflict. That said, there are two Stein axioms. 1) That which was changed will be changed yet again. 2) Members (current or former) who find issue with the club's behavior are those who don't get their preferred outcome.

    • Jeri Hughes

      December 5, 2012 at 8:41 pm

      A preferred outcome would be an election held by participating members. I have no objection to the individuals. I don't know them. They never participated. I object to the method which allowed for their election. It lacked integrity and ethics – both requirements for any individual who would receive my vote.

  6. Steve Strauss

    December 5, 2012 at 4:20 am

    Democratic Clubs in NYC all have anti-stacking rules that prevent this type of action. At my old Club you had to be a member for a couple of months and attend several meetings before you became eligible to vote in Club elections.

  7. Jeri Hughes

    December 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    The Gertrude Stein Club election for Officers on December 3rd was a farce.

    It became a farce when a group of new members – most whom have never attended a Stein Club meeting, or participated in the local issues affecting the District – attended tonight’s election process with the sole intention of usurping the Stein Club leadership.

    Martin Garcia, Angela Peoples, and Vincent Villano – the individuals who won the election – state that they are active and involved in issues that are related to the LGBT community. That may very well be. The reality is I don’t know. My associates at the Stein Club don’t know. They are strangers. By their own admission, none had been Stein club members for more than a week. None are representative of the population that has steadfastly and painstakingly participated in the process or progress that the Stein Club has endorsed and initiated within the District of Columbia. Had they desired to enhance the Club’s efforts, or make the Club more effective, they would have been welcomed to participate. They would have been welcomed as friends and as members. I must assume that they were just too busy or pre-occupied to be a part of that effort. They did not have time to work with the Club, or the members, this year, or the years before. They did, however, have the time and energy to recruit forty or so of their associates to pay dues and stack votes immediately prior to this election of Club officers. This might be a neat trick to win an election, but it does not inspire my faith in their integrity or in the process of Democracy. Quite the opposite.

    To maintain electoral integrity, there is a thirty day mandatory Club membership prior to a vote on the endorsement of political candidates. This is to ensure that only real and actual stein Club members participate in the electoral process. Unscrupulous candidates could potentially stack the vote with their supporters to gain advantage. Unfortunately, that same waiting period does not apply to the election of Club officers – which in hindsight, of course, is an extremely poor policy. This vulnerability facilitated the election of Garcia, Peoples, and Villano. In future elections, it could potentially facilitate adversarial organizations like the National Organization for Marriage or the Family Research Council to stack new members and essentially destroy the Club’s mission. Admittedly, the maneuver was effective and legal. Some might even call it clever. I witnessed the ballot count. It was an accurate victory supported by a margin of two to five votes. No matter how clever or effective the strategy, it was not ethical. It does nothing to enhance the credibility or integrity of the Gertrude Stein Club, or the fair application of our officer elections. Personally, I believe that their strategy exhibits contempt for the actual participating Stein Club membership, and the Stein Club in general.

    The election process on Monday December 3rd is an irrevocable scar on the exemplary history of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club. Even though the newly elected officers may harbor the best of intentions, and provide youth, enthusiasm, and talent to the organization, their introduction to the Club outweighs any benefit that they might contribute. Ethics isn’t a mere word. It is a way of life. It is a measure of how the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club has maintained credibility and support from our neighbors and our allies. We cannot afford to compromise that reputation.

    Jeri Hughes

  8. Jeri Hughes

    December 6, 2012 at 7:38 am

    The Gertrude Stein Club election for Officers on December 3rd was a farce.

    It became a farce when a group of new members – most whom have never attended a Stein Club meeting, or participated in the local issues affecting the District – attended tonight's election process with the sole intention of usurping the Stein Club leadership.

    Martin Garcia, Angela Peoples, and Vincent Villano – the individuals who won the election – state that they are active and involved in issues that are related to the LGBT community. That may very well be. The reality is I don’t know. My associates at the Stein Club don’t know. They are strangers. By their own admission, none had been Stein club members for more than a week. None are representative of the population that has steadfastly and painstakingly participated in the process or progress that the Stein Club has endorsed and initiated within the District of Columbia. Had they desired to enhance the Club’s efforts, or make the Club more effective, they would have been welcomed to participate. They would have been welcomed as friends and as members. I must assume that they were just too busy or pre-occupied to be a part of that effort. They did not have time to work with the Club, or the members, this year, or the years before. They did, however, have the time and energy to recruit forty or so of their associates to pay dues and stack votes immediately prior to this election of Club officers. This might be a neat trick to win an election, but it does not inspire my faith in their integrity or in the process of Democracy. Quite the opposite.

    To maintain electoral integrity, there is a thirty day mandatory Club membership prior to a vote on the endorsement of political candidates. This is to ensure that only real and actual stein Club members participate in the electoral process. Unscrupulous candidates could potentially stack the vote with their supporters to gain advantage. Unfortunately, that same waiting period does not apply to the election of Club officers – which in hindsight, of course, is an extremely poor policy. This vulnerability facilitated the election of Garcia, Peoples, and Villano. In future elections, it could potentially facilitate adversarial organizations like the National Organization for Marriage or the Family Research Council to stack new members and essentially destroy the Club’s mission. Admittedly, the maneuver was effective and legal. Some might even call it clever. I witnessed the ballot count. It was an accurate victory supported by a margin of two to five votes. No matter how clever or effective, the strategy was not ethical. It does nothing to enhance the credibility or integrity of the Gertrude Stein Club, or the fair application of our officer elections. Personally, I believe that their strategy exhibits contempt for the actual participating Stein Club membership, and the Stein Club in general.

    The election process on Monday December 3rd is an irrevocable scar on the exemplary history of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club. Even though the newly elected officers may harbor the best of intentions, and provide youth, enthusiasm, and talent to the organization, their introduction to the Club outweighs any benefit that they might contribute. Ethics isn’t a mere word. It is a way of life. It is a measure of how the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club has maintained credibility and support from our neighbors and our allies. We cannot afford to compromise that reputation.

  9. Shelley Stevens

    December 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Please don't use the word "insurgent", it has such a negative and violent connotation. No one got shot and there was no IED.

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In plea deal, D.C. trans woman’s killers could be free in 3 years

Two in 2016 killing of Dee Dee Dodds guilty of voluntary manslaughter

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Deeniquia Dodds, gay news, Washington Blade
Deeniquia ‘Dee Dee’ Dodds was killed on July 4, 2016. (Photo via Facebook)

A D.C. LGBTQ anti-violence group will be submitting a community impact statement for a D.C. Superior Court judge scheduled to sentence two men on Dec. 10 for the July 4, 2016, shooting death of transgender woman Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds in a case D.C. police listed as a hate crime.

Stephania Mahdi, chair of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community’s Anti-Violence Project, told the Washington Blade the project has been in contact with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C., which is prosecuting the case against the two defendants set to be sentenced this week, to arrange for the submission of a statement on the impact the murder of Dodds has had on the community.

The impact statement would also apply to the sentencing of two other men charged in the Dodds murder case who are scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 20.

The Dec. 10 sentencing for Jolonta Little, 30, and Monte T. Johnson, 25, was set to take place a little over two months after Little and Johnson pleaded guilty on Sept. 30 to a single count of voluntary manslaughter as part of a plea bargain deal offered by prosecutors.

In exchange for the guilty plea for voluntary manslaughter, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the charge of first-degree murder while armed originally brought against the two men. The plea agreement also called for dropping additional charges against them in connection with the Dodds murder, including robbery while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

In addition, the plea agreement includes a promise by prosecutors to ask D.C. Superior Court Judge Milton C. Lee, who is presiding over the case, to issue a sentence of eight years in prison for both men. Under the D.C. criminal code, a conviction on a voluntary manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Johnson has been held without bond for five years and three months since his arrest in the Dodds case in September 2016. Little has been held without bond since his arrest for the Dodds murder in February 2017. Courthouse observers say that judges almost always give defendants credit for time served prior to their sentencing, a development that would likely result in the two men being released in about three years.

The plea deal for the two men came two and a half years after a D.C. Superior Court jury became deadlocked and could not reach a verdict on the first-degree murder charges against Johnson and Little following a month-long trial, prompting Judge Lee to declare a mistrial on March 6, 2019.

The two other men charged in Dodds’ murder, Shareem Hall, 27, and his brother, Cyheme Hall, 25, accepted a separate plea bargain offer by prosecutors shortly before the start of the 2019 trial in which they pled guilty to second-degree murder. Both testified at Johnson and Little’s the trial as government witnesses.

In dramatic testimony, Cyheme Hall told the jury that it was Johnson who fatally shot Dodds in the neck at point blank range after he said she grabbed the barrel of Johnson’s handgun as Johnson and Hall attempted to rob her on Division Ave., N.E., near where she lived. Hall testified that the plan among the four men to rob Dodds did not include the intent to kill her.

In his testimony, Hall said that on the day of Dodd’s murder, he and the other three men made plans to commit armed robberies for cash in areas of D.C. where trans women, some of whom were sex workers, congregated. He testified that the four men got into a car driven by Little and searched the streets for victims they didn’t expect to offer resistance.

D.C. police and the U.S. Attorney’s office initially designated the murder charge against Little and Johnson as an anti-trans hate crime offense based on findings by homicide detectives that the men were targeting trans women for armed robberies. But during Johnson and Little’s trial, Judge Lee dismissed the hate crime designation at the request of defense attorneys on grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support a hate crime designation.

At the request of prosecutors, Judge Lee scheduled a second trial for Johnson and Little on the murder charge for Feb. 25, 2020. But court records show the trial date was postponed to June 22, 2020, and postponed several more times – to Jan 11, 2021, and later to Feb. 17, 2022, due to COVID-related restrictions before the plea bargain offer was agreed to in September of this year.  The public court records do not show why the trial was postponed the first few times prior to the start of COVID restrictions on court proceedings.

Legal observers have said long delays in trials, especially murder trials, often make it more difficult for prosecutors to obtain a conviction because memories of key witnesses sometimes become faulty several years after a crime was committed.

“The D.C. Anti-Violence Project is disappointed to hear about the unfortunate proceedings in the case to bring justice for Dee Dee Dodds,” Mahdi, the Anti-Violence Project’s chair, told the Blade in a statement.

“A plea bargain from first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter as well as a reduction of years in sentencing from 30 to 8 communicates not only a miscarriage of justice, but a message of penalization for victims who attempt to protect themselves during a violent assault,” Mahdi said. “The continual impact of reducing the culpability of perpetrators who target members of specifically identified communities sends a malicious message to criminals that certain groups of people are easier targets with lenient consequences,” she said.

“As a result of this pattern, the D.C. community has failed to defend the life and civil rights of Dee Dee Dodds and leaves criminally targeted LGBTQ+ community and other cultural identity communities critically undervalued by stewards of justice in the nation’s capital,” Mahdi concluded.  

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has declined to disclose the reason why prosecutors decided to offer Johnson and Little the plea bargain deal rather than petition the court for a second trial for the two men on the first-degree murder charge.

Attorneys familiar with cases like this, where a jury becomes deadlocked, have said prosecutors sometimes decide to offer a plea deal rather than go to trial again out of concern that another jury could find a defendant not guilty on all charges.

During the trial, defense attorneys told the jury that the Hall brothers were habitual liars and there were inconsistencies in their testimony. They argued that the Halls’ motives were aimed strictly at saying what prosecutors wanted them to say so they could get off with a lighter sentence.

The two prosecutors participating in the trial disputed those claims, arguing that government witnesses provided strong evidence that Johnson and Little should be found guilty of first-degree murder and other related charges.

Before the jury announced it was irreconcilably deadlocked on the murder charges, the jury announced it found Little not guilty of seven separate counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence and found Johnson not guilty of five counts of possession of a firearm during a crime of violence.

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Howard County activists and allies hit back at censorship, hate

More than 100 people attended ‘We ARE the People’ rally

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(Photo by Bob Ford)

A diverse crowd of 100 to 200 folks gathered at the Columbia Lakefront on Saturday to attend a rally to push back against censorship in the county’s public schools as well as homophobia and transphobia emanating from a group of conservative parents.

The rally called “We ARE the People” was organized in response to the comments and actions by members of a Maryland-based conservative group “We the People 2” that among other things are anti-masks, anti-vaccinations and are opposed to teaching racial history in the schools. They also oppose two books that are in Howard County Public Schools library shelves: “Gender Queer” and “Lawn Boy.”

Speakers at a We the People 2 rally last month at an Elkridge warehouse condemned the books, which contain LGBTQ characters, as sexually explicit. The group later filed police reports against the Board of Education alleging the books constitute pornography with “graphic sexual content and materials being used and disseminated in public schools,” according to the group’s press release.  A flier announcing this action used the loaded terminology, “We must not allow our children to be abused and victimized.”

Among the speakers at the Elkridge rally was Republican Gordana Schifanelli who is running for lieutenant governor on the ticket with Daniel Cox. Another speaker, George Johnson, a teacher from Baltimore City, was heard on a video of the event saying, “We’re doing God’s work because Marxism, homosexuality and transgenderism is the devil.”

In response, the pro-LGBTQ rally in Columbia announced the following:

We are taking a stance against hate in the community as we raise our voices in support of equity in our schools. Attacks on teachers and school staff have prompted us to stand united and drown out the noise.

In addition, We ARE the People states:

We stand for LGBTQ+ students and educational professionals

Teaching accurate history to our students

Supporting equitable practices in our schools

Providing students with relevant LGBTQ+ media through their school libraries

The two-hour rally, which was attended by several county council members, featured speakers representing a wide swath of community, educational, religious and political organizations. They included: Community Allies of Rainbow Youth (CARY), Black Lives Activists of Columbia (BLAC), Absolutely Dragulous, Howard County Schools, PFLAG-Columbia/Howard County, IndivisibleHoCoMd, Columbia Democratic Club, Howard Progressive Project, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia (UUCC), HoCo Pride, Progressive Democrats of Howard County, and the Columbia United Christian Church.

Many of the speakers denounced the censorship of materials that are needed by many LGBTQ students. Genderqueer and non-binary students, they point out, are most vulnerable and need affirming literature to help with their development and self-acceptance. The speakers also decried hate speech, which has surfaced again, as well as the opposition to teaching history as it relates to race.

Others argued that the community must not sit back and take it from extremist groups.

“You are all defenders,” said Cynthia Fikes, president of the Columbia Democratic Club, in a fiery speech. “But to succeed a strong defense also needs a strong offense.”

The two books in question were recently the center of controversy in the Fairfax County (Va.) school system. The books were removed in September from the shelves of the high schools pending a comprehensive review following opposition from a parent at a school board meeting. It should be noted that both books were previous winners of the American Library Association’s Alex Awards, which each year recognize “10 books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.”  

The board established two committees consisting of parents, staff and students to assess the content of the books and make recommendations to the assistant superintendent of instructional services who would make the final determination.

One committee found that “Lawn Boy” includes themes that “are affirming for students” with marginalized identities. “There is no pedophilia in the book,” the committee added. The other committee found that “Gender Queer” depicts “difficulties non-binary and asexual individuals may face.” The committee concluded that “the book neither depicts nor describes pedophilia.” The books were restored to the shelves.

“As this backlash against LGTBQ+ literature demonstrates, we must be ready to stand up and defend the progress we have made,” said Jennifer Mallo, member of the Howard County Board of Education, expressing her own point of view. “We must ensure our elected officials understand and share our values and will fight for our marginalized students.”

The enthusiastic crowd was clearly pleased with the event.

“Today’s rally was meant to inspire our community to take action,” said Chris Hefty, who was the lead organizer of the rally and the emcee. “Action that protects our youth. Action that protects our educators and admins. This action comes in the form of advocacy, communication with elected officials so they know your voice, and through well informed voting to ensure those who represent us are those we know will support us. We shared a message of love, acceptance, and warmth.”

Hefty adds, “The unity we facilitated through this rally was a sight to behold. As the lead organizer I couldn’t have been more pleased! In the future we will be sure to better meet the needs of all our community members. We thank all those in our community for their support and feedback and look forward to accomplishing great things together moving forward.”

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Comings & Goings

Nathanson takes role at Outright Action

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Rikki Nathanson

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] 

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. 

Congratulations to Rikki Nathanson on her new position as Senior Advisor – Global Trans Program with OutRight Action International in New York. Nathanson will be based in D.C.  

 “I am absolutely thrilled to be taking on this new role as Senior Advisor in OutRight’s Global Trans Program,” said Nathanson. “I have finally found the perfect fit for me: as a trans woman who has been fighting for equality not only for myself, but for others globally, this position is not only a job, it’s intrinsically part of who I am. So, what better way to live, nurture and grow myself.” 

Nathanson will be working closely with all program staff to ensure a cohesive and intentional approach to gender issues throughout OutRight’s programs, including its approach to gender ideology movements. She will lead new initiatives on gender advocacy and policy change, focused but not limited to legal gender recognition and anti-discrimination legislation and policies.

Prior to this Nathanson was director of housing programs at Casa Ruby in D.C. She has also held a number of other positions including: founder/executive director of Trans Research, Education, Advocacy & Training (TREAT), Zimbabwe; chairperson Southern Africa Trans Forum, SATF, Cape Town, South Africa; executive director, Ricochet Modeling Agency, Zimbabwe; and company secretary for Dunlop Zimbabwe Limited, Zimbabwe. 

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