Thousands of people marched through the streets of lower Manhattan on Monday in response to the murder of a gay Brooklyn, N.Y., man that police have categorized as a hate crime.
Elliott Morales allegedly shot Mark Carson to death on West 8th Street in Greenwich Village shortly after midnight on May 18. New York Police Department officials told the New York Times and other media outlets that Morales shouted anti-gay slurs at Carson as he and a friend were walking on nearby Sixth Avenue.
The NYPD also said Morales, whom prosecutors have charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon, stalked Carson before he allegedly shot him.
“I am horrified that a gay man was murdered in Greenwich Village after being assailed by homophobic slurs,” New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. “I stand with all New Yorkers in condemning this attack.”
Carson’s family members and Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act on which the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in March, took part in the march that began at the LGBT Community Center and ended at the spot where Morales allegedly shot the Brooklyn man to death. Gay New York City Council members Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer and former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson, who is among those along with Quinn who are running for mayor, also participated.
“We mourn Mark’s tragic and senseless death, and send a message that this violence must come to an end,” said LGBT Community Center Executive Director Glennda Testone.
Both the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council also issued statements on Tuesday that condemned Carson’s death.
“We denounce any and all acts of unprovoked violence,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “No American should be the target of violence — period.”
Anti-gay attacks rattle New Yorkers
Carson’s murder comes against the backdrop of a string of attacks against LGBT New Yorkers in recent weeks that have sparked concern and outrage among local advocates and politicians. The most recent of these took place in lower Manhattan hours after the Greenwich Village march.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters on Tuesday that Gornell Roman allegedly shouted anti-gay slurs at former Philadelphia party promoter Dan Contarino before he struck him several times in the head and the face around 10:45 p.m. on Monday after they visited two East Village bars and a pizza restaurant. Roman turned himself in at a Bronx police precinct late Tuesday.
Fabian Ortiz of Manhattan and Pedro Jimenez of Brooklyn allegedly shouted what Kelly described as “anti-gay derogatory statements” in Spanish and English at two men who were walking on Prince Street in Soho early Tuesday morning.
The Anti-Violence Project in a press release on Tuesday said it also continues to investigate reports of an assault against a transgender woman in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens on Monday night.
“These types of crimes are outrageous and we are going to do everything in our power to see to it that they certainly don’t occur,” Kelly said. “But if they do occur, we’re going to very aggressively investigate them and bring people to justice.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg described Carson’s murder during the press conference with Kelly as “a cold-blooded hate crime that cut short a life full of promise.” He reiterated his message that the city will do everything it can to combat bias-motivated crimes in the five boroughs.
“New York City has zero tolerance for intolerance,” Bloomberg said.
Kelly noted the number of hate crimes in the city is down almost 30 percent so far this year from the same period in 2012, but those motivated by anti-gay bias are up more than 70 percent over the same time. He also noted hate crimes often go underreported.
While Kelly noted these attacks are not related, Anti-Violence Project Executive Director Sharon Stapel told the Washington Blade on Tuesday “this kind of violence happens every day to LGBT people in New York City.” She said her organization tends to see a handful of high-profile incidents in the weeks leading up to gay Pride month each year that generate a significant amount of media attention.
“The difference between years past and this year is both the severity of the violence — including a fatality — and that there is such a great number of incidents in such a short period of time being reported by the media,” Stapel said.
The Anti-Violence Project on Friday will hold the first of its Community Safety Nights during which volunteers will canvass neighborhoods in which anti-LGBT violence has recently taken place and distribute information and other resources. This campaign will take place each Friday through June.
Quinn on Wednesday will also join Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan Schaefer and other advocates and elected officials at a press conference on the steps of New York City Hall to urge the New York Senate to pass a bill — the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act — that would ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression before the current legislative session ends at the end of next month.
The New York Assembly earlier this month once again approved the bill.
“GENDA is part of a bigger conversation, which is the context in which this violence is happening is one in which LGBT people are not equal citizens in this country,” Stapel said.
Advocates seek ‘an end to this violence’
Yetta Kurland, who hopes to succeed Quinn on the New York City Council, told the Blade on Tuesday those who took part in the march in response to Carson’s murder were “sad and also while mourning really wanted to put an end to this violence.”
Karlo, a Manhattan make-up artist who also took part in the march, echoed Kurland.
“It doesn’t matter where oppression, homophobia, discrimination and hate crimes happen, it affects all of us,” he told the Blade. “That is why I had to be there.”
Bloomberg added all New Yorkers “can do our part to end hate crimes and spread tolerance.”
“No person regardless of what they look like or who they love should ever walk down the street in fear,” he said.
Florida House committee passes “Don’t Say Gay” bill
“LGBTQ people are your neighbors, family members, and friends. We are a normal, healthy part of society and we will not be erased”
TALLAHASSEE – A Republican majority Florida House Education & Employment Committee passed HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill, colloquially referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill advancing the measure to the full House.
HB 1557 and its companion Senate bill SB 1834, would ban classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, erasing LGBTQ identity, history, and culture — as well as LGBTQ students themselves.
The bill also has provisions that appear to undermine LGBTQ support in schools and include vague parental notification requirements which could effectively “out” LGBTQ-identifying students to their parents without their consent.
“The Trevor Project’s research has found that LGBTQ youth who learned about LGBTQ issues or people in classes at school had 23% lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past year. This bill will erase young LGBTQ students across Florida, forcing many back into the closet by policing their identity and silencing important discussions about the issues they face,” said Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. “LGBTQ students deserve their history and experiences to be reflected in their education, just like their peers.”
In an email to the Blade, Brandon J. Wolf, the Press Secretary for Equality Florida noted; “Governor DeSantis’ march toward his own personal surveillance state continues. Today, the Don’t Say Gay bill, a piece of legislation to erase discussion of LGBTQ people from schools in Florida, passed its first committee and became another component of an agenda designed to police us in our classrooms, doctor’s offices, and workplaces. Make no mistake — LGBTQ people are your neighbors, family members, and friends. We are a normal, healthy part of society and we will not be erased.”
This will kill kids, @RonDeSantisFL. You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive in. In a national survey (@TrevorProject), 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year. Now they can’t talk to their teachers? https://t.co/VtfFLPlsn3— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) January 20, 2022
The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
According to a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project, 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth — and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66%) — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.
When asked about proposed legislation that would require schools to tell a student’s parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun or if they identify as LGBTQ at school, 56% of transgender and nonbinary youth said it made them feel angry, 47% felt nervous and/or scared, 45% felt stressed, and more than 1 in 3 felt sad.
If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678.
California mom claims school manipulated child into changing gender identity
Jessica Konen gave the school permission to use the boy’s name for attendance and tried to be supportive but noted it was difficult for her
A Northern California mother is claiming teachers in a small school district in the state manipulated her daughter into changing her gender identity and name in a legal claim.
The claim, filed by the ultra-conservative Center for American Liberty on behalf of the mother, alleged “extreme and outrageous conduct” by the Spreckels Union School District, leading Jessica Konen’s 11-year-old daughter to change her gender identity and drive a wedge between them.
Specifically, the claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, names two teachers – Lori Caldera and Kelly Baraki – at Buena Vista Middle who, in addition to teaching, ran the school’s Equality Club, later known as UBU (You Be You). Buena Vista is a part of the district.
It comes after Abigail Shrier, the author of a book widely criticized as anti-trans, quoted what the two educators said last year at the California Teachers Association’s annual LGBTQ+ Issues Conference in a piece headlined “How Activist Teachers Recruit Kids.” Caldera and Baraki spoke about the difficulty of running a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in a socially conservative community.
After the article was published, the teachers were put on administrative leave, and the district hired a law firm to investigate, which is ongoing. The UBU club was suspended.
Spreckels is a town of about 400 people in the agricultural Salinas Valley, approximately 90 miles south of San Francisco.
According to the complaint, Konen’s daughter began attending Equality Club meetings after being invited by a friend when she started sixth grade at Buena Vista. After attending one session, she decided it wasn’t for her until Caldiera convinced her to come back. At the gatherings, Caldera and Baraki held LGBTQ-centered discussions and introduced students to different gender identities and sexualities.
During her time in the club, Konen’s daughter began exploring her own gender identity and sexuality, choosing to wear more masuline clothes. At some point, she decided to change her name and pronouns, which she has since changed back to her original name and pronouns.
Konen said she was aware her daughter was bisexual but did not know she began using a male name and gender pronouns until she was called into the school when her daughter was in seventh grade. The meeting caught both Konen and her daughter by surprise – Konen’s daughter had said she wanted to notify her mother, but she did not know the meeting was that day.
Konen gave the school permission to use the boy’s name for attendance and tried to be supportive but noted it was difficult for her.
However, when Shrier’s article was published and circulated around the small town, everything changed. At this time, Konen’s daughter was again using a female name and pronouns.
In the leaked recording from the LGBTQ conference, Caldera and Baraki were discussing how they kept meetings private, among other things.
“When we were doing our virtual learning — we totally stalked what they were doing on Google, when they weren’t doing school work,” Baraki said. “One of them was googling ‘Trans Day of Visibility.’ And we’re like, ‘Check.’ We’re going to invite that kid when we get back on campus.”
However, Caldera told the San Francisco Chronicle that the quotes were either taken out of context or misrepresented. According to Caldera, the stalking comment was a joke. She also defended their work, saying students lead the conversation and they provide honest and fair answers to their questions.
In addition, a spokesperson for the California Teachers Association criticized the group bringing the lawsuit forward, according to the Associated Press: “We are concerned about a political climate right now in which outside political forces fuel chaos and misinformation and seek to divide parents, educators and school communities for their own political gain, which is evident in this complaint. The Center for American Liberty is concerned with pushing its own political agenda through litigation and has filed multiple lawsuits against various school districts and communities.”
GOP majority city council to repeal LGBTQ+ law in Pennsylvania
“I don’t know of any reasons for repealing it other than a political move […] This issue should not be politicized”
The council of this central Pennsylvania borough (town) will meet on Monday, January 24 for a likely vote to repeal an ordinance passed this last October that safeguards residents against discrimination based on their sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender identity.
Opposition to the ordinance is led by newly installed borough council president Allen Coffman, a Republican. In an interview with media outlet Penn Live Saturday, Coffman said, “All of us that ran in this election to be on council we think we got a mandate from the people,” he said. “People we talked to when we were campaigning did not like this ordinance at all. I don’t know what the vote will be, but I have a pretty good idea.”
The political makeup of the council changed with the November municipal election, which ushered in a 7-3 Republican majority.
The ordinance, which extends protections against discrimination to gay, transgender or genderqueer people in employment, housing and public accommodations, was passed in October by the then-Democratic majority council, Penn Live reported.
“I don’t know of any reasons for repealing it other than a political move,” said Alice Elia, a Democrat and the former Chambersburg borough council president. “This issue should not be politicized. It’s an issue of justice and having equal protection for everybody in our community. It shouldn’t be a political or a Democratic or Republican issue. This should be something we are all concerned about.”
Coffman told Penn Live that the ordinance serves no purpose and is redundant. He points out that Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Commission handles discrimination complaints from residents across the state.
“There are no penalties, no fines,” he said. “There’s nothing that the ordinance can make someone do. The most they can hope for is that the committee request the two parties to sit down with a counselor or mediator and talk about it. Quite frankly there is nothing that compels them to. There’s no teeth in this.”
Penn Live’s Ivey DeJesus noted if Chambersburg succeeds in repealing the ordinance, it would mark the first time an LGBTQ inclusive law is revoked in Pennsylvania. To date, 70 municipalities have ratified such ordinances.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is one of the 27 states in the nation that have no explicit statewide laws protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Central Pa. borough poised to become first to repeal LGBTQ protections https://t.co/ZFpDOfRivw— PennLive.com (@PennLive) January 22, 2022
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