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Gray, Mendelson receive top GLAA ratings for April primary

Graham outscores opponent in Ward 1 Council race



Vincent Gray, gay news, Washington Blade

Vincent Gray, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is running for re-election. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) and City Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) on Thursday received a +10 rating from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, the highest possible rating score on a scale of -10 to +10, in their respective races for re-election in the city’s April 1 Democratic primary.

Gray and Mendelson, who are longtime supporters of the LGBT community, were the only two candidates to receive a +10 among a total of 43 candidates rated in contests for mayor and seats on the City Council.

Council members Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who are running for mayor, came in close behind Gray with ratings of +9.5 and +8 respectively. Both have also been longtime supporters of the LGBT community.

GLAA is a non-partisan LGBT advocacy group founded in 1971. It says it rates candidates on the basis of their past records on LGBT, AIDS and other issues deemed important to the LGBT community and on their responses to a detailed questionnaire that asks about those issues.

The group has said it gives higher ratings to candidates that go beyond just expressing support on LGBT issues when they show through their questionnaire responses an understanding of the issues and how best to address them.

GLAA President Rick Rosendall called the LGBT related records of Wells and Evans “excellent” and noted that the group said in its statement that Evans has the longest record of support due to his 20-year tenure as a Council member. He said Gray and Mendelson received a +10 score because both had undertaken a large number of pro-LGBT initiatives in the last few years that, along with their strong past records, gave them an edge over the other candidates.

“Mr. Gray’s accessibility, responsiveness, and follow-through have made him highly effective on LGBT issues,” GLAA said in its statement. “He has been a champion for transgender people, including with Project Empowerment job training.”

Among the other mayoral candidates running in the April primary, Busboys and Poets restaurant owner and progressive political activist Andy Shallal received a +6; Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) received a +5.5; attorney and former State Department official Reta Jo Lewis received a +4.5, Council member Vincent Orange (D-At-Large) received a +3; and businessman and civic activist Carlos Allen received a “0” rating.

In its statement accompanying the ratings, GLAA said Allen received an automatic score of “0” under the group’s policy for candidates who don’t return the questionnaire and have no known record on LGBT issues.

All of the Democratic mayoral candidates that returned the questionnaire expressed strong support for LGBT rights in general.

Among the non-Democratic mayoral candidates, GLAA gave Statehood-Green Party candidate Faith a +3.5 and gay Libertarian Party candidate Bruce Majors a +2.

Majors, a longtime LGBT rights advocate, received a +2 rating because “his party’s ideological distrust of government is at odds with policies and reforms favored by GLAA,” the group said in its statement. “Consequently, many of his responses were interpreted as non-responsive or negative,” the statement says.

Gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) received a +7.5 compared to his sole opponent in the Democratic primary, public relations executive and community activist Brianne Nadeau, who received a +5.

Political observers say Graham is facing his toughest re-election race this year for a fifth term on the Council

GLAA said it gave Graham higher points for his long record of support on LGBT and AIDS related issues, citing his work recently on pushing through a bill to provide better services to homeless LGBT youth. The group gave him a slight edge over Nadeau in the substance of his questionnaire responses.

But the group gave Nadeau a slight edge over Graham over the two candidates’ positions on an issue GLAA has long considered important – whether tiny, ad hoc neighborhood citizens groups should be given legal standing to protest liquor licenses of restaurants and bars.

GLAA favors giving exclusive authority to challenge liquor licenses to the city’s elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissions rather than un-elected ad hoc groups, which nightlife advocates say unnecessarily block or delay the approval of licenses for nightlife establishments, both gay and straight. Nadeau, a former ANC commissioner, said she supports giving ANCs the sole legal standing to contest liquor licenses.

GLAA said Graham didn’t take a position on the issue in his questionnaire response, saying he described instead how he helped facilitate a committee of citizens and businesses representatives to consider the issue.

In the Council Chair race, GLAA said Mendelson’s +10 rating reflects his record as an ally who has shepherded through the Council a long list of LGBT supportive bills, including the marriage equality bill.

The group said it gave Mendelson’s opponent, Democrat Calvin Gurley, a “0” rating because Gurley didn’t return the questionnaire and also has no known record on LGBT issues.

Among the five Democrats running in the At-Large Council race, challenger Nate Bennett-Fleming, who currently serves as the city’s non-paid “shadow” U.S. Representatives, received a +7, one point higher than the +6 rating GLAA gave to incumbent Council member Anita Bonds, who won the seat in a special election last year.

Both are strong supporters of LGBT rights. But the slightly higher rating for Bennett-Fleming, a recent law school graduate relatively new to the local political scene compared to Bonds, who has been active in politics and government since the 1970s, is likely to raise eyebrows among some local activists.

GLAA President Rick Rosendall said Bennett-Fleming’s questionnaire responses included a few more substantive insights than Bonds’ but called both candidates’ responses “very good,” saying GLAA considers a rating of +5 and above to be a good showing for a candidate.

The ratings for the other At-Large Democratic candidates were: Pedro Rubio, +3; John Settles II, +2.5; and Kevin Valentine Jr., 0. Valentine is among the candidates who didn’t return the questionnaire and have no known LGBT record, GLAA said.

Among the non-Democratic At-Large candidates running in their respective party primaries, Statehood-Green Party candidate Eugene Puryear received a 4.5; Statehood-Green Party candidate G. Lee Aikin received a +3; and Libertarian Party candidate Frederick Stein, who didn’t return the questionnaire, received a “0.”

Gay Republican candidate Marc Morgan, who’s running unopposed for the GOP nomination for the At-Large Council seat, received a +2. GLAA said he didn’t return the questionnaire.

In its statement accompanying the ratings, GLAA said Morgan’s record of involvement in LGBT rights activities in Ohio and Arizona and his involvement with the National Minority AIDS Council in D.C. were counted in his favor and viewed as “very admirable.”

The statement says Morgan lost points for “his support for anti-gay politicians John Boehner, Robert Ehrlich, and Laura Knapereck,” which “detract from his record.” Boehner, a Republican and Speaker of the U.S. House, among other things, has blocked the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, an LGBT rights bill, from coming up for a vote in the House. Ehrlich is a former Maryland governor and Knapereck has served in the Arizona legislature.

In the remaining Council races, GLAA issued these ratings:

Ward 3: Council member Mary Cheh (D), +8.5; Ryan Sabot (Libertarian), “0” [Questionnaire wasn’t returned].

Ward 5: Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D), +4.5; Kathy Henderson (D), “0” [Questionnaire was returned but GLAA disagreed with most responses]; Carolyn Steptoe (D), -2.

GLAA said Steptoe didn’t return the questionnaire and is viewed as having a negative record for testifying in support of placing D.C.’s same-sex marriage law on the ballot in a voter referendum in 2010.

Ward 6: Charles Allen (D), +8.5; Darrel Thompson (D), +2; Pranav Badhwar (Libertarian), +2.

Allen, the former chief of staff for Wells, received the highest rating for a non-incumbent running in the primary. In its statement, GLAA said Allen has a long record of support for LGBT issues both as a former Council staffer and former president of the Ward 6 Democrats.

GLAA’s detailed analysis of its ratings, including links to the candidates’ questionnaire responses, can be found here:

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  1. brian

    February 14, 2014 at 10:24 am

    A “Perfect 10” rating by GLAA is simply not credible for a mayor (1) whose administration remains under an ethical cloud for its last criminally-tainted election campaign, (2) whose MPD chiefs just downgraded GLLU police services again and (3) who won’t come clean on the number of anti-LGBT hate crimes his police department *closed with an arrest* in the three years beginning with Gray’s inauguration.

    The fault lies largely with GLAA not asking competent, tough questions regarding MPD management, MPD transparency, strengthening GLLU, strengthening OPC with LGBT consultants/ investigators, etc.

    I didn’t see a single question regarding strengthening MPD’s core GLLU unit at a safe, accessible location for citywide use. So why should Gray, Lanier and Groomes NOT quietly disband MPD’s GLLU and continue their fiction of GLLU auxiliary officers– as they are now doing. Lanier has been wanting to do that for years.

    It’s doubtful DC’s LGBTs can fully trust MPD chiefs’ iron-fisted control of GLLU at this point. So what does GLAA know of Philip Eure’s award-winning work at OPC– an office which is INDEPENDENT of MPD? Why is MPD dragging their heels in cooperating with OPC which also handles complaints of police bias? Why isn’t GLAA insisting on MPD IAD case reporting to OPC? Funding OPC independent statistical compilation of all police complaints and putting an LGBT investigator/ consultant on OPC’s staff.

    Without informed, tough, and relevant questions, of course an incumbent mayor can achieve a “perfect 10” score. But it is not very credible.

    Going forward, GLAA should factor in much greater scrutiny of mayoral candidates’ understanding of all the city’s law enforcement performance issues, along with effective and independent police oversight by Council, OPC and others.

  2. Bruce P. Majors

    February 14, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    In some ways I think the GLAA rating is hilarious and what GLAA has really done is rate itself into irrelevancy and give itself a failing grade.

    I actually belonged to GLAA briefly in the early 90s and participated in one candidate rating (where no Libertarian candidate was involved) and was upset to see that they automatically gave incumbents extra points over challengers, as long as the incumbent had done even a slight bit for gay gay rights. An incumbent for example who had slowly evolved to supporting civil unions would get more points than a challenger who campaigned for gay marriage.

    I think it's clear the surviving GLAA members (who are not very numerous – this is a rating put out by a few people – if you dig through their website you find only a few names, Rick Rosendall and Bob Summersgill, their third active member, Barrett Brick, passed away this year) are statists. (One GLAA officer actually tweeted two years ago when I ran for Congress as a Libertarian in 2012 that no one need pay any attention to me, the day I picked up petitions, since I was running as a Libertarian – and I then got a high enough vote, 16,700 votes, to get the Libertarian Party permanent ballot status in DC). They actually say in their press release on the scoring that they "interpreted" my (lengthy) answers as "negative or non responsive" because they don't like libertarians, because it is an "unusual" ideology that "distrusts" government. Which this year of all years means the GLAA has shown themselves to be completely antiquated and out of touch with public sentiment.

    But beyond this there is a brown nosing/rent seeking element to GLAA's ratings. They actually rate the Green Party members almost as low as they do the Libertarians, and give their high rankings to, as the headline of their press release crows, incumbent Democrats. One suspects the Greens would fund all the programs GLAA likes to put gays on the dole and give them a government housed, state controlled gay community center at a much bigger budget than the Democrats. But since the Democrats are much more likely to be elected, GLAA members want to curry favor with them.

    I suppose I should send a Valentine's bouquet to the GLAA for their statism and bigotry. If they'd just ranked me slightly below the incumbents with whom they are currying favor, I'd not be able to say much. As it is, the irony means the non-gay political blogosphere is already covering their farcical ratings, and giving my campaign and DC Libertarians much more favorable exposure among sympathetic voters than we would have gotten this weekend without them.

  3. Rick Rosendall

    February 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    I will not get into it with Brian or Bruce here, though I assert that GLAA’s thorough and meticulous process will withstand scrutiny. Our policy brief: – Our ratings: (and if the URLs I just typed in get deleted, look up GLAA’s website). We do not claim that our policy views are universally agreed to by all LGBT people, as if our community were monolithic. But a great deal of meticulous work, including consulting a wide array of coalition partners, went into our policy brief (which has 75 footnotes) and questionnaires. And we show our work, posting on our website the full responses by candidates and the points breakdown for each candidate. We have a four-decade record of accomplishment that speaks for itself. It is easy to say that we are about policy and not party, but we have a long record to prove it. Nonpartisanship cannot mean applauding everyone equally, since that would defeat the purpose of our advocacy. But given our policies and questions, which again emerged from consultation with coalition partners, our evaluations are demonstrably fair. And it can hardly be a surprise that Bruce’s anti-government views clash with GLAA’s approach.

    • PeteinDC

      February 23, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      Could GLAA release the questionnaire and all of the candidates answers? I know of at least one candidate who agreed with all of GLAA’s positions, but still received a low rating. A comment about his ideology being at odds with GLAA was made, but that’s strange since his answers were pretty much “perfect” in the questionnaire that is supposedly the basis of your rating system. What other ideologies are being considered by GLAA that are not being covered in the questionnaire, or even in their well drafted position paper?

  4. brian

    February 14, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    We love GLAA’s past performance, Rick, but any activist group is only as good as its last performance. When it comes to avoiding the horrendous violence and bashings we’ve seen in DC, IMHO GLAA needs to widen its reliable sources, GLAA partners or not.

    What LGBT victims of violent hate crimes (and potential victims) want to know (for starters) is…
    — Are my attackers still out there attacking other LGBT victims?
    — Will I and my friends be assaulted again?
    — How many of DC’s anti-LGBT hate crimes committed in the last four years have been *CLOSED with an ARREST*?
    — How come NYPD can routinely and promptly apprehend hate crimes perpetrators, but Vincent Gray’s MPD can’t?

    And BTW, Gray is taking credit for reporting data on police incident reports that were there EIGHT YEARS AGO. Some at MPD have been prevaricating so long, they don’t realize how badly they’re doing it. Is Gray is being fooled or more likely following MPD’s lead?

  5. David Hearne

    February 15, 2014 at 12:32 am

    There are other important issues to consider in any candidate. Gray is on record with his contempt for the Constitution. If he has no respect for the first and second amendments, then why would we think he truly respects our rights?

  6. Richard J. Rosendall

    February 14, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Brian, GLAA met with GLOV to inform the public safety section of our policy brief. We are well aware of those frustrations. Our policy brief and questionnaire covered a lot of ground on a range of issues, and involved a great deal of effort. Spinning everything around just one issue and adopting an intemperate and insulting tone toward hard-working volunteer activists is not helpful. If we thought we were done, we would not have spent so much effort on our elections project. There is plenty for all of us still to do, as our brief shows. Publishing information on two dozen candidates’ positions and records on a spectrum of LGBT issues in D.C., as we did on Thursday, is part of it. I am not going to get into an extended back-and-forth here. Comment boards are a poor choice for constructive discussions.

  7. brian

    February 15, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Hey, Rick. GLOV is a terrific organization with an indispensable mission. But GLOV (and The Center) is not and can not be wholly *INDEPENDENT* of MPD/Lanier/Gray (+their donors/ allied interests, etc.).

    You’ll recall last year, Jason Terry blew the lid off the fiction of a ADL-led MPD ‘unbiased’ study of hate crimes. (MPD wasted yours/GLAA’s time with that nonsense too, I recall.)

    However, Terry’s expose’ invited some of us to drill down even more. Connecting the financial/ donor dots from MPD/Gray/Lanier to ADL to The Center to GLOV doesn’t take a lot of effort either. Now I’m not ‘shocked, shocked’ at all that fairly common urban gov “incest” in Gray’s EOM.

    Still as CM Wells alluded to more generally in a recent J-PS Committee hearing, the principle that LGBT and all victims of hate crimes ought to be protected by some checks and balances *independent* of MPD (and EOM) is one that an ethical, honorable DC government should exalt– and upon which mayoral and Council’s candidates should be judged.

    The Office of Police Complaints (OPC) does seem like a ready-made office to help accomplish that for independent investigation of LGBT police complaints, BTW. OPC *IS* independent and they’re already handling police bias cases. LGBTs and GLAA should find out more about that office.

    However, OPC’s director advises that MPD is not cooperating with OPC as it should. Gray should be docked points for that.

    Also, Gray’s/ Lanier’s ‘death by a thousand cuts’ destruction of GLLU is an alarm which should be sounded now by GLAA, GLOV and everyone right now– before any election, please. In the meantime, Gray’s points ought to be docked for that, too.

    Lastly, just as an organizational “tone/ appearance” matter, I guess, I’d suggest dropping the screaming opening report headline which appears to be a GLAA endorsement. Whatever, your good intentions for it, it does cast doubt among some, I’m sure, upon the assertion that GLAA is unbiased with its survey.

  8. Richard J. Rosendall

    February 16, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Brian, GLAA is well aware of OPC, since its creation resulted in significant part from efforts by a coalition of groups including NAACP, ACLU, National Black Police Association, and GLAA. We cite OPC in our policy brief, and have defended its funding over the years.

  9. brian

    February 18, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Thanks for your confirmation regarding GLAA’s prior support of OPC, Rick. I thought I read that somewhere in GLAA’s archives, but wasn’t sure.

    LGBTs and OPC need GLAA’s help again, however. INDEPENDENT oversight makes *ALL* the difference. Something like MPD’s Special Liaison Division (parent of DHHLU, GLLU, LLU, ALU) should be set up at OPC.

    We need an independent office to turn to– headed by thoughtful lawyers whose craft and training honors human rights, due process, accurate statistical reporting and checks and balances. Enabling language needs to be updated by Council now for OPC so as to prevent more MPD coverups. (See Director Eure’s testimony before Council’s J-PS last month).

    Gray’s (and Lanier’s) titular support for some of DC’s worst opponents of Marriage Equality– especially in Ward 5 and MPD’s Fifth District police– is outrageous…

    Gray and Lanier SAY one thing to LGBT voters, but in reality they REWARD our city’s worst anti-LGBT bigots and politicos.

    But kudos to both Wells and Evans for understanding that independent checks on our city’s PD is needed– and that maintaining GLLU’s core unit and office is essential for victims of stalking and intimate partner violence.

  10. Chris

    February 20, 2014 at 2:06 am

    All this hate on Gray too bad he will win come Nov

  11. Pete Perry

    February 24, 2014 at 4:03 am

    How does this rating system work? It appears to strongly favor incumbents and Democrats. Why was DC Statehood-Green Eugene Puryear given only a +4.5?

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Judge rules trans teacher’s lawsuit against P.G. County can go to trial

Gay man files separate case charging discrimination



Jennifer Eller, gay news, Washington Blade
Jennifer Eller alleges the P.G. County school system subjected her to discrimination and harassment. (Photo courtesy of Lambda Legal)

A federal judge in Maryland issued a ruling on Tuesday, Jan. 18, clearing the way for a lawsuit filed by transgender former English teacher Jennifer Eller in 2018 charging the Prince George’s County, Md., Public Schools with discrimination and harassment based on her gender identity to proceed to a trial.

In the ruling, Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland denied key parts of several motions filed by attorneys representing the P.G. County Public Schools that in effect called for the dismissal of the lawsuit. The motions, among other things, claimed the lawsuit failed to provide sufficient evidence that Eller was subjected to discrimination and harassment, which forced her to resign due to a hostile work environment.

Chuang also ruled against a separate motion introduced by Eller’s attorneys calling for him to issue a summary judgement decision affirming all the lawsuit’s allegations that would have ended the litigation in Eller’s favor without the need to go to trial.

Eller’s lawsuit charges that school officials acted illegally by failing to intervene when she was subjected to a hostile work environment for five years that included abuse and harassment by students, parents, fellow teachers, and supervisors and retaliation by school administrators.

The lawsuit alleges that the school system and its administrators in its actions against Eller violated Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act of 1972, the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act, and the nondiscrimination provision of the Prince George’s County Code.

“We think the judge did as best he could,” said Omar Gonzales-Pagan, an attorney with the LGBTQ litigation group Lambda Legal, which, along with the D.C. law firm Arnold & Porter, are representing Eller in her lawsuit.

“The takeaway is that the case is now in a posture to proceed to trial,” Gonzales-Pagan told the Washington Blade. “The court found that the alleged facts and the information as discovered throughout the case in the discovery process is sufficient to allow a jury to find whether Jennifer Eller was subjected to a hostile work environment and constructive discharge and retaliation unlawfully by the defendants,” he said.

By the term constructive discharge, Gonzales-Pagan was referring to the lawsuit’s charge that Eller was forced to resign from her teaching job in 2017 after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to the alleged abuse she faced on the job.

P.G. County Public Schools officials have declined to comment on the lawsuit on grounds that the school system has a longstanding policy of not discussing pending litigation. However, in its response to the lawsuit in court filings, school system officials have denied Eller’s allegations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

“For years, I was aggressively misgendered, attacked and harassed in the hallways and even in my own classroom by students, peers and supervisors,” Eller said in a statement released by her attorneys.

“My pleas for help and for sensitivity training on LGBTQ issues for students and staff, were ignored,” Eller said in her statement. “The relentless harassment stripped me of the joy of teaching and forced me to resign,” she said. “It is time for Prince George’s County Public Schools to be held accountable.”

The lawsuit says the harassment and discriminatory action against her began in 2011 when she began presenting as female during the school year. It says school officials initially responded to her complaints about the harassment by demanding that she stop dressing as a woman and return to wearing men’s clothes, which she refused to do.

In a separate action, gay former Spanish teacher Jared Hester filed on his own without an attorney a lawsuit in the Maryland federal court charging the P.G. County Public Schools with failing to take action to prevent him from being subjected to discrimination and harassment similar to some of the allegations made in Eller’s lawsuit.

Hester told the Blade that he was subjected to harassment by students who repeatedly called him “faggot,” but school officials, including the principal of the middle school where he taught, refused to take action to stop the harassment.

He provided the Blade with copies of earlier complaints he filed against school system officials with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, and the P.G County Public Schools’ internal Office of Equity Assurance. Each of the three agencies issued rulings against Hester’s complaints, with two of them saying sufficient evidence could not be found to support his allegations.

The EEOC, in a Nov. 3, 2021 “dismissal” notice, told Hester the EEOC “will not proceed further with its investigation, and makes no determination about whether further investigation would establish violations of the statute.” The notice added, “This does not mean the claims have no merit” or that the respondent, meaning the P.G. County Public Schools, “is in compliance with the statutes.”

The notice did not give a reason for why it chose to end its investigation into Hester’s complaint, but it said his filing with the EEOC cleared the way for him to file a lawsuit to further his case against the school system. 

Hester told the Blade he reached out to Lambda Legal to represent him in his lawsuit, but the LGBTQ litigation group declined to take on his case without giving a reason. Gonzalez-Pagan, the Lambda attorney working on the Eller case, said he was unfamiliar with Hester’s request for representation. Another Lambda official couldn’t immediately be reached to determine the reason for its decision not to represent Hester.

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FreeState Justice outlines 2022 legislative priorities

Bills introduced to repeal ‘unnatural or perverted sexual practice’ law



conversion therapy, gay news, Washington Blade

FreeState Justice has outlined its legislative priorities for the Maryland General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session that began on Jan. 12.

State Sen. Clarence Lam (D-Baltimore and Harford Counties) has introduced Senate Bill 22, which would repeal a provision of Maryland law that bans “unnatural or perverted sexual practice.” State Dels. David Moon (D-Montgomery County), Lorig Charkoudian (D-Montgomery County) and Julie Palakovich Carr (D-Montgomery County) have introduced an identical bill in the House of Delegates.

A bill that repealed Maryland’s sodomy law took effect in 2020 without Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature, but the “unnatural or perverted sexual practice” provision that criminalizes oral sex and bestiality remains in place.

FreeState Justice Policy Director C.P. Hoffman on Jan. 12 noted during a virtual briefing that prosecutors rarely bring charges under the law. Hoffman nevertheless pointed out four men who were arrested at a video store in Harford County in May 2021 were indicted under it.

“Its really just offensive that this is being used against queer people in 2021,” said Hoffman. “So we want to see it repealed.”

Hoffman and their FreeState Justice colleagues also noted the ability for transgender Marylanders to more easily obtain official documents that correspond with their gender identity is another legislative priority.

Maryland since 2019 has allowed trans and non-binary people to receive a driver’s license with an “X” gender marker.

Hoffman said FreeState Justice will support bills that would allow Marylanders to change their name on their marriage certificate without a court order or getting divorced and remarry. FreeState Justice will also back a measure that would allow trans parents to amend their child’s birth certificate to accurately reflect their gender identity.

“We’re trying to clean that up to make one consistent policy that allows for trans folks to do this,” said Hoffman.

FreeState Justice Executive Director Jeremy LaMaster during the briefing noted another legislative priority is the Inclusive Schools Act, which would require Maryland public schools to implement a uniform non-discrimination policy through the state’s Department of Education. FreeState Justice Policy Coordinator Jamie Grace Alexander highlighted the organization will also urge lawmakers to expand access to PrEP and PEP in Maryland and to support legislation that would, among other things, prohibit housing incarcerated trans women with men.

“The conditions for transgender people — especially transgender women — while they’re incarcerated are extremely grim and dark,” said Alexander.

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Mother says teen boy charged with assault in girl’s bathroom at Va. school is straight

Earlier reports that Loudoun County student was gender fluid triggered backlash



Two sexual assaults by the same teen in Loudoun County schools attracted widespread media attention. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In a little-noticed interview last November with the British online newspaper,, the mother of a 15-year-old boy charged with sexually assaulting a girl last May in the girl’s bathroom at a Loudoun County, Va., high school that the two students attended said her son identifies as heterosexual.

The May 28, 2021, sexual assault first surfaced in the news media in October at the same time law enforcement authorities disclosed that the boy allegedly sexually assaulted a girl on Oct. 6 in a vacant classroom at another high school to which he was transferred.

The disclosure of the two assaults triggered a furious backlash by some parents and conservative political activists against a Virginia school policy allowing transgender and gender fluid students to use the bathroom that conforms to their gender identity.

“First of all, he is not transgender,” the boy’s mother told in a Nov. 2 interview. “And I think this is all doing an extreme disservice to those students who actually identify as transgender,” the newspaper quoted her as saying.

The mother, who agreed to the interview on grounds that she was not identified to protect the identity of her son, said her son identifies as heterosexual and absolutely does not identify as female.

LGBTQ activists have said the backlash against both the Virginia state and Loudoun County transgender non-discrimination policies — which spread to school districts across the country that have similar policies — was fueled by what they have said all along was unsubstantiated claims that the boy was transgender or gender fluid.

Conservative activists who strongly oppose the school systems’ trans supportive bathroom policies have said it was those policies that enabled the 15-year-old boy, who police say was wearing a skirt at the time of the May 28 sexual assault incident, to enter the girl’s bathroom to target the girl.

Since that time, testimony in a Loudoun County Juvenile Court where the boy was being prosecuted revealed that the 14-year-old girl who brought the charges against him said she and the boy had two consenting sexual encounters in a girl’s bathroom at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Va., prior to the incident in which the boy allegedly assaulted her. 

According to the Washington Post, whose reporter attended one of the juvenile court hearings, the girl testified that she agreed to meet the boy in the girl’s bathroom after he requested a third sexual encounter there, but she told him she did not want to have sex at that time.

“The girl previously testified in court that the defendant threw her to the ground in the bathroom and forced her to perform two sexual acts on him after she told him that she was not interested in sex on that occasion,” the Post reported in a story last week about the final outcome of the case.

At a Jan. 12 sentencing hearing, Loudoun County Juvenile Court Chief Judge Pamela Brooks placed the boy on the Virginia sex offender registry for life, the Post reported. After ruling in an earlier hearing in November that the evidence confirmed that the boy was responsible for sexually assaulting the two girls, Brooks sentenced the boy to a residential treatment facility rather than a juvenile detention facility and required that he remain on probation until he turns 18, the Post reported.

“He’s a 15-year-old boy that wanted to have sex in the bathroom, with somebody that was willing,” the boy’s mother told “And they’re twisting this just enough to make it a political hot button issue,” she said.

In her interview with the newspaper, the mother said her son wasn’t gender fluid despite the reports, which she confirms, that he wore a skirt at the time of the first of the two sexual assaults.

“He would wear a skirt one day and then the next day, he would wear jeans and a T-shirt, a Polo or hoodie,” she told the newspaper. “He was trying to find himself and that involved all kinds of styles. I believe he was doing it because it gave him attention he desperately needed and sought,” she said.

The mother acknowledged in the interview that her son was deeply troubled, saying he had a long history of misbehavior, including sending nude photos of himself to a girl when he was in the fifth grade.

On Jan. 12, the same day as the boy’s sentencing hearing, Virginia House of Delegates member John Avoli (R-Stanton) introduced a bill calling for restricting the ability of transgender students from using bathrooms and other facilities in public schools that are consistent with their gender identity.

A separate bill introduced last month by Virginia State Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell County) calls for eliminating the requirement that Virginia school districts adopt the state Department of Education’s nondiscrimination policies for trans and non-binary students.

Although Virginia’s newly inaugurated Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the GOP-controlled House of Delegates could move to advance the two bills, LGBTQ activists note that the state Senate remains in Democratic control and would block the two bills from being approved by the General Assembly.

Cris Candice Tuck, president of the LGBTQ group Equality Loudoun, told the Blade she expects opponents of LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies in the Loudoun County Public Schools and other school systems in Virginia to continue to use the sexual assault case of the Loudoun boy as a pretext to repeal LGBTQ and trans supportive policies. 

“We firmly believe it should have absolutely no bearing as the perpetrator was not transgender, non-binary, or gender fluid, and so that doesn’t apply to this policy at all,” Tuck said. “A single conviction of an individual who is not even part of the group in question is no reason to invalidate the rights and expose to potential violence the hundreds of students who identify as transgender or non-binary,” Tuck said in an email message.

“Currently, the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, and hundreds of cisgender teachers, clergy, and coaches are embroiled in legal battles nationwide involving sexual molestation, rape, and abuse of children across the country that has been ongoing for decades,” Tuck said. “Yet no one is proposing restroom restrictions for any of those groups. A double standard cannot exist for the LGBTQ+ based on fear mongering, misinformation, and discrimination.”

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