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Teen protests transgender students using same locker room

Sigourney Coyle protested White House guideline to school board

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(Sigourney and Aryn Coyle. Screenshot via YouTube)

(Sigourney and Aryn Coyle. Screenshot via YouTube)

A Pennsylvania student says she won’t pass her high school’s gym class if transgender students are allowed to use the same locker room she does, BuzzFeed reports.

Sigourney Coyle, an incoming freshman at Emmaus High School in Emmaus, Pa., spoke to the East Penn School Board to say she did not agree with the Obama administration’s guideline that requires schools to let transgender students use restrooms and changing rooms that match their gender identity.

In a video posted to Facebook and recorded by her mother Aryn Coyle, Sigourney explained she had been sitting out her middle school’s gym classes following the introduction of the guideline because she was uncomfortable using a locker room that transgender students could also use.

The guideline detailed that schools must comply with the guidelines or could risk losing funding.

“I am a woman, and I identify as a woman, and you can’t make me change in front of someone who I don’t identify with, who is physically male,” Sigourney said at the meeting.

“Gym requires us to participate to pass high school and if I don’t change I am not allowed to participate to pass high school and if I don’t change I am not allowed to participate,” Sigourney continued. “So my options are to let myself be discriminated against or fail gym for not participating and not pass through high school, which would jeopardize my future.”

Speaking with BuzzFeed, Aryn says she doesn’t mind her daughter using the same restroom as a transgender student, because of the privacy of stalls. Aryn continued that because of their Christian faith Aryn does not want Sigourney to appear naked before a man before marriage.

In an interview with Morning Call, Aryn elaborated that she believes transgender students “deserve some sort of special accommodation,” but that accommodation shouldn’t be to allow transgender students access to changing rooms they identify with because it “violates the privacy of everybody else.”

BuzzFeed reports Emmaus High School officials have offered to allow Sigourney to take gym class over the summer, but would still be complying with the White House’s guidelines.

 

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. TallChica62

    September 2, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Why is one person’s anxiety a reason for a news story? It is also ridiculous. I have no doubt that the school would accommodate Sigourney’s anxiety by permitting her to change in a private location, or in a bathroom stall where she feels safer, or maybe waive the requirement that she change. She also does not need to get completely naked. I think she should work harder with administrators to resolve the issue rather than think herself the victim.

    • PattyJM

      September 3, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      1. There are apparently no transgender students in her school. There may be some in the future but she is worrying about something that MAY happen someday.

      2. In addition to the options you’ve mentioned, TallChica, the school has offered her the choice to attend phys ed during the summer term. She refused.

      3. This is a choice this young woman is making of her own volition. How she can believe that she is being persecuted is beyond me. But screaming “PERSECUTION!” every time she doesn’t get what she wants is the religious right’s SOP.

      4. Because of HER choice another student could be denied the same freedom she demands for herself.

      5. Teen cis girls, and teen trans girls are very modest. Especially those who have body issues and most girls and young women have those concerns. Double that again for the trans girl who has an additional concern. No trans girl is going to let anyone see anything.

      • Steve Karper

        September 4, 2016 at 10:09 pm

        wnat to see a real trans story of love between two teen agers

        go to youtube and search for trans boy trans girl in love

        a concept almost most impossible to imagine for some brainwashed extremist xtians

      • Emoticon Johnson

        September 5, 2016 at 11:47 pm

        Really, the best way to handle this is to recriminalize H0m05exuality and its variant lifestyles and prosecute those 5ex 0ffender5.

        • PattyJM

          September 6, 2016 at 12:15 am

          You could not possibly be anymore wrong.

          • Emoticon Johnson

            September 6, 2016 at 6:17 am

            Of course I could; I could be a h0m0.

  2. Lauravan

    September 5, 2016 at 4:56 am

    Another believer in the privilege of Christianity.

    She’s worried because someone else is in the locker room minding THEIR own business changing her clothes? Mom is behind her dauthers bigotry and attempt to isolate another trans-woman from the mainstream. Mom and dad are probably obnoxious evangelists.

    • Emoticon Johnson

      September 5, 2016 at 11:48 pm

      H0m0sexual 0ffenders shouldn’t be in school. They should be incarcerated. If they’re lucky.

      • PattyJM

        September 6, 2016 at 12:20 am

        You sir are an idiot. And a bigot as well.

        Or maybe just another troll. Whatever your reason is you have nothing to add to a discussion on a gay newspaper’s site.

        I suggest that you take a long walk on a short pier.

        • Emoticon Johnson

          September 6, 2016 at 6:16 am

          Kinda like Tyler Clementi? No thanks.

  3. Emoticon Johnson

    September 5, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Punish the gay h0m0s

  4. Tim Warner

    September 7, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Why should the rights of one infringe upon the rights of another?

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National

Jim Obergefell announces bid for seat in Ohio state legislature

Marriage plaintiff moves on to new endeavor

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First Amendment Defense Act, gay news, Washington Blade
Jim Obergefell has announced he'd seek a seat in the Ohio state legislature.

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the litigation that ensured same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide, announced on Tuesday he’d pursue a new endeavor and run for a seat in the state legislature in his home state of Ohio.

“You deserve a representative who does the right thing, no matter what. You deserve a representative who fights to make things better for everyone,” Obergefell said. “I’ve been part of a national civil rights case that made life better for millions of Americans. Simply put, I fight for what’s right and just.”

Obergefell, who claims residency in Sandusky, Ohio, is seeking a seat to represent 89th Ohio District, which comprises Erie and Ottawa Counties. A key portion of his announcement was devoted to vowing to protect the Great Lakes adjacent to Ohio.

“We need to invest in our Great Lake, protect our Great Lake, and make the nation envious that Ohio has smartly invested in one of the greatest freshwater assets in the world,” Obergefell said.

Obergefell was the named plaintiff in the consolidated litigation of plaintiffs seeking marriage rights that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in 2015 for same-sex marriage nationwide. Obergefell was widower to John Arthur, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and was seeking the right to be recognized as his spouse on his death certificate. The ruling in the consolidated cases ensured same-sex couples would enjoy the full benefits and responsibilities of marriage.

“We should all be able to participate fully in society and the economy, living in strong communities with great public schools, access to quality healthcare, and with well-paying jobs that allow us to stay in the community we love, with the family we care about,” Obergefell said in a statement on his candidacy.

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National

FDA-funded blood donation study recruiting gay, bi men

D.C.’s Whitman-Walker, L.A. LGBT Center working on study to ease restrictions

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gay blood ban, gay news, Washington Blade
A new study could make it easier for gay and bi men to donate blood.

D.C.’s Whitman-Walker Institute and the Los Angeles LGBT Center are among LGBTQ supportive organizations in eight U.S. cities working with the nation’s three largest blood donation centers on a study to find a way to significantly ease blood donation eligibility for men who have sex with men or MSM.

The study, which is funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, calls for recruiting a total of 2,000 gay and bisexual men in eight U.S. cities selected for the study to test the reliability of a detailed donor history questionnaire aimed at assessing the individual risk of a gay or bisexual man transmitting HIV if they donate blood.

A statement released by the study organizers says the questionnaire, which could be given to a gay or bisexual person showing up at a blood donation site, could be a replacement for the FDA’s current policy of banning men who have had sex with another man within the previous three months from donating blood.

In the early years of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, the FDA put in place a permanent ban on blood donations by men who have sex with men. In 2015, with advanced HIV testing and screening techniques readily available, the FDA lifted its permanent ban on MSM blood donations and replaced it with a 12-month restriction for sexual activity between MSM.

The FDA further reduced the time of sexual abstinence for MSM to three months in 2020.

LGBTQ rights organizations and others advocating for a change in the current FDA restriction point out that at a time when the nation is facing a severe shortage of blood donations due to the COVID pandemic, the three-month donation deferral requirement for MSM is preventing a large number of blood donations from men whose risk of HIV infection is low to nonexistent.

Under the FDA-funded and initiated study, the American Red Cross, Vitalant, and OneBlood — the nation’s three largest blood donation centers — have been conducting the questionnaire testing since the study was launched in March 2021.

“To gather the necessary data, the blood centers will partner with LGBTQ+ Centers in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Orlando, New Orleans/Baton Rouge, Miami, Memphis, Los Angeles, and Atlanta,” the study organizers say in a statement on a website launched to help recruit volunteers for the study.

“The study will enroll a total of 2,000 gay and bisexual men (250 – 300 from each area) who meet the study eligibility criteria,” the statement says.

Among the criteria for being eligible, the statement says, is the person must be between 18 and 39 years old, have expressed an interest in donating blood, must have had sex with at least one other man in the three months before joining the study, and must agree to an HIV test. A negative test result is also required for acceptance into the study.

The study is officially named ADVANCE, which stands for Assessing Donor Variability And New Concepts in Eligibility.

“The ADVANCE study is a first step in providing data that will help the FDA determine if a donor history questionnaire based on individual risk would be as effective as time-based deferral, in reducing the risk of HIV in the blood supply,” the study organizers statement says.

“If the scientific evidence supports the use of the different questions, it could mean men who have sex with men who present to donate would be assessed based upon their own individual risk for HIV infection and not according to when their last sexual contact with another man occurred,” the statement continues. “The ADVANCE study is groundbreaking because it’s the first time a study is being conducted that could result in individual risk assessment for men who have sex with men to donate blood,” the statement says.

The Whitman-Walker Institute, which is among the community-based organizations involved in helping organize and conduct the study, is an arm of Whitman-Walker Health, the LGBTQ supportive D.C. health center.

Christopher Cannon, director of Research Operations for Whitman-Walker Institute, said that since the D.C.-based part of the study was launched early last year prior to the official announcement of the study on March 20, D.C. has surpassed the original city goal of recruiting 250 participants for the study.

“We are currently at 276 as of last Friday’s report,” Cannon told the Blade in a Jan. 13 interview. “And the current goal is now 300,” he said. “So, we’re hoping to push this over that goal line in the coming days and weeks.

Cannon said that like the community organizations involved in the study in other cities, Whitman-Walker Institute’s role has been focused on recruiting gay and bisexual men to participate in the study and to send them to the American Red Cross headquarters building at 430 17th St., N.W. near the White House. That site, which serves as a blood donation center, is also serving as the site where study participants are screened, interviewed, and presented with a detailed questionnaire.

“We promote the study within Whitman-Walker,” Cannon said. “We promote it to our networks. We did social media promotions across the city.’

Although Whitman-Walker doesn’t have the final draft of the questionnaire being presented to study participants, Cannon said he has seen “bits and pieces” of it.  

“They ask very direct questions about the person’s sex life, sexual partners, sex acts, numbers of partners,” Cannon said. “There are questions about condom use, PrEP use, drug use. How recently have you had sex? Lots of related questions,” he said.

“It’s really about trying to figure out effectively which are the best questions,” according to Cannon. “The hope is by analyzing the questions and identifying maybe the best 10 to 12 questions that can be universally used…to get the best answers that identify the individuals that may have the highest risk,” he said. Doing that, he points, out can help determine which men who have sex with men should be eligible to safely donate blood.

A statement released by Whitman-Walker last March calls the study a “monumental research effort” that has the potential to lift the stigma imposed on gay and bisexual men whose ability to donate blood is currently based on their sexual orientation.

“The ADVANCE study is designed to understand if, by asking carefully crafted and research-informed research questions, blood collectors can screen potential blood donors for their individual HIV risk factors rather than applying a ban against sexually active gay and bisexual men,” the statement says.

“The goal is to move away from overly broad questions that exclude potential donors and spread stigmatizing messages about MSM and their HIV risks,” it says.

Cannon said that as of last week, study organizers had recruited a total of 879 study participants nationwide out of the goal of 2,000 participants needed to complete the study. He said issues related to the COVID pandemic created delays in the recruitment efforts, but study organizers were hopeful the study could be completed by this summer.

Information about participating in the study or learning more about it can be obtained at advancestudy.org.

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Federal Government

Veterans can now identify as transgender, nonbinary on their VA medical records

About 80 percent of trans veterans have encountered a hurtful or rejecting experience in the military because of their gender identity

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Graphic via U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced Wednesday that his department added the options of transgender male, transgender female, nonbinary and other, when veterans select their gender, in medical records and healthcare documentation.

“All veterans, all people, have a basic right to be identified as they define themselves,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement. “This is essential for their general well-being and overall health. Knowing the gender identity of transgender and gender-diverse veterans helps us better serve them.”

The statement also noted that the change allows health-care providers to better understand and meet the medical needs of their patients. The information also could help providers identify any stigma or discrimination that a veteran has faced that might be affecting their health.

McDonough speaking at a Pride Month event last June at the Orlando VA Healthcare System, emphasized his support for Trans and LGBQ+ vets.

McDonough said that he pledged to overcome a “dark history” of discrimination and take steps to expand access to care for transgender veterans.

With this commitment McDonough said he seeks to allow “transgender vets to go through the full gender confirmation process with VA by their side,” McDonough said. “We’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do, but because they can save lives,” he added.

In a survey of transgender veterans and transgender active-duty service members, transgender veterans reported several mental health diagnoses, including depression (65%), anxiety (41%), PTSD (31%), and substance abuse (16%).  In a study examining VHA patient records from 2000 to 2011 (before the 2011 VHA directive), the rate of suicide-related events among veterans with a gender identity disorder (GID) diagnoses was found to be 20 times higher than that of the general VHA patient population.

McDonough acknowledged the VA research pointing out that in addition to psychological distress, trans veterans also may experience prejudice and stigma. About 80 percent of trans veterans have encountered a hurtful or rejecting experience in the military because of their gender identity.

“LGBTQ+ veterans experience mental illness and suicidal thoughts at far higher rates than those outside their community,” McDonough said. “But they are significantly less likely to seek routine care, largely because they fear discrimination.

“At VA, we’re doing everything in our power to show veterans of all sexual orientations and gender identities that they can talk openly, honestly and comfortably with their health care providers about any issues they may be experiencing,” he added.

All VA facilities have had a local LGBTQ Veteran Care Coordinator responsible for helping those veterans connect to available services since 2016.

“We’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do but because they can save lives,” McDonough said. He added that the VA would also change the name of the Veterans Health Administration’s LGBT health program to the LGBTQ+ Health Program to reflect greater inclusiveness.

Much of the push for better access to healthcare and for recognition of the trans community is a result of the polices of President Joe Biden, who reversed the ban on Trans military enacted under former President Trump, expanding protections for transgender students and revived anti-bias safeguards in health care for transgender Americans.

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