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Va. trans candidate wins primary, now faces anti-LGBT lawmaker

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Danica Roem, gay news, Washington Blade

Danica Roem is a transgender journalist who is challenging Virginia state Del. Bob Marshall. (R-Prince William County) (Photo courtesy of Danica Roem)

A transgender former journalist pulled off a surprise victory in a Virginia primary on Tuesday, winning the Democratic nomination to face off against anti-LGBT Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) in the general election.

Danica Roem, who was seeking the Democratic nomination to run for the 13th District seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates, beat out Steve Jansen, Andrew Adams and Mansimran Kahlon to win her party’s backing, the Associated Press reported at 8:30.

Roem’s opponent in the general election, Marshall, has a long anti-LGBT history over the course of his 13 terms in the Virginia General Assembly. Marshall was responsible for the Marshall-Newman Amendment, which made a ban on same-sex marriage part of the state constitution in Virginia until a federal judge overturned the measure.

More recently, Marshall pushed legislation that would bar transgender people from using the restroom in any government-owned building consistent with their gender identity.

At the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund brunch last month, Roem acknowledged her victory over Marshall would have particular significance, referencing his remarks calling transgender people “gender confused.”

“Let me make this really clear for you: When the people of the 13th District elect a transgender woman to replace the most anti-LGBT legislator in the South, it will be an act of certainty, and it will be a defining moment that will resonate across the country,” Roem said.

If Roem succeeds in besting Marshall, she could become the first openly transgender person to be elected and seated as a state legislator. The general election will be held Nov. 7.

Former Massachusetts State Rep. Althea Garrison, who served in the legislature from 1993 to 1995, but was outed as transgender in 1992 by then U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney’s adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, who after her election produced a birth certificate identifying her as male. However, Garrison never acknowledged she was transgender and subsequently lost each of her bids for re-election.

In 2012, Stacie Laughton won election in New Hampshire to represent Nashua in the statehouse. However, media outlets she had been convicted of a felony and served in prison for credit card fraud and falsifying physical evidence. Under New Hampshire law, she wasn’t able to be seated in the state legislature.

Roem isn’t the first openly transgender person to win a state legislative primary. In 2014, Lauren Scott won the Republican primary in her bid to represent District 30 in the Nevada State Assembly. Scott was unsuccessful in the general election in that race and her subsequent bid two years later.

It may be true Roem is the first openly transgender person to win a state legislative primary within the Democratic Party. In 2012, Laughton was running for the Democratic nomination in a three-seat district and there were three Democrats, according to the New Hampshire Democratic Party. While technically Laughton was unopposed in the primary, there was still a primary ballot, which allows for write-ins.

Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, CEO of Victory Fund, hailed Roem’s victory in a statement as evidence of the growing power of the transgender movement.

“Danica Roem is a leader in a national movement of trans candidates who are determined to become a voice for their community in the halls of power,” Moodie-Mills said. “This historic primary win sets up a general election battle where voters will choose between ‘Bigot Bob’ Marshall – the most anti-LGBTQ member of the Virginia state legislature – or Danica, a proud trans woman who is committed to representing all people in her district. I am confident voters will choose leadership over divisiveness and make Danica the first out trans candidate to win and serve in a state legislature.”

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83 Comments

83 Comments

  1. djcoastermark

    June 14, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Good luck and best wishes to Danica.

    • Thisoldspouse

      June 14, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      And lots of unnatural hormones.

      • djcoastermark

        June 14, 2017 at 9:05 pm

        No honey, they are all natural hormones.

  2. Mary Fran Cherry

    June 14, 2017 at 9:06 am

    There is no such beast as “transgender”. There are men and there are women. Those are the only choices.

    • Goforitidiots

      June 14, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Actually trans women like this lady do get annual mammograms at 50 because they are at the same risk as “natural” women for breast cancer.

      Might want to not open your mouth about things you don’t know about.

      • Mark Hatchett

        June 14, 2017 at 10:38 am

        Let’s hope he doesn’t show up at Planned Parenthood expecting to get a mammogram!

        • Tessa Fisher

          June 14, 2017 at 12:04 pm

          Why? PP’s extremely trans inclusive, and if a trans woman has been on HRT long enough, her breasts aren’t significantly different from that of a cis woman’s (including the risk of breast cancer). There’s no reason they *wouldn’t* give her a mammogram.

          • Mark Hatchett

            June 14, 2017 at 12:10 pm

            The reason is it’s a liberal myth that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms.

          • Tessa Fisher

            June 14, 2017 at 12:18 pm

            Huh, I’ll be damned, you’re right- they provide breast exams, but not mammograms.

          • Robin518

            June 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm

            They do referrals to low cost or patient’s insured clinics. mammogram machines cost upwards of $100K.

          • Thisoldspouse

            June 14, 2017 at 5:33 pm

            What about unborn “trannies.” I don’t think they include those.

          • Ed Zavada

            June 15, 2017 at 8:52 am

            Old spouse, does your doctor perform in-womb breast exams? You might want to check the medical ethics board about that… and find another doctor!

          • jenna rogers

            June 18, 2017 at 9:50 pm

            except they don’t own an effing mammogram machine!!!!

        • Goforitidiots

          June 14, 2017 at 7:27 pm

          Stop your stupid transphobic hate.

          • Mark Hatchett

            June 14, 2017 at 8:26 pm

            No hate just truth! Sorry you choose to pretend otherwise.

          • Goforitidiots

            June 15, 2017 at 9:22 am

            It’s hate, and you’re not clever by trying to weasel out of it.

          • Mark Hatchett

            June 15, 2017 at 9:28 am

            We are under no obligation whatsoever to enable, accommodate, be made uncomfortable or have our privacy invaded by those men who pretend to be women and those women who pretend to be men. No obligation whatsoever.

          • Goforitidiots

            June 15, 2017 at 9:33 am

            It’s not pretending jackhole. It’s a well documented medical condition.

          • Mark Hatchett

            June 15, 2017 at 9:47 am

            You mean like a mental illness?

          • Goforitidiots

            June 15, 2017 at 9:07 pm

            No, more like a physical illness. No sane person wants to look like a man (they’re all puke ugly).

          • bs_bs_my_line

            June 15, 2017 at 9:47 am

            We are all around you. You don’t even know it. Haha. And btw the 14th amendment will sort out your transphobic ways. Uncomfortable? I think I heard that one before. How did that work out for you? Love conquers hate!

          • Mark Hatchett

            June 15, 2017 at 9:51 am

            You are seriously deluded if you think a wig, heels and lipstick or a flannel shirt, jeans and boots will get you a pass in the real world!

          • bs_bs_my_line

            June 15, 2017 at 10:02 am

            Passing is overrated. I don’t wear a wig or heels, lipstick on occasion. Got a few flannel shirts and sheets. Jeans and boots are good when I need to use the chainsaw. Thanks for your concern, madam!

          • Yvonne Morales

            June 17, 2017 at 2:56 am

            Just wait… Give time some time.

          • Robin518

            June 15, 2017 at 12:59 pm

            Why, we make accommodations to bigots, racist, homophobes & idiots when they come into our stores, our rentals, our businesses.

          • Yvonne Morales

            June 17, 2017 at 2:52 am

            Haha…Good answer, Robin518.

          • Robin518

            June 18, 2017 at 11:45 am

            You may or may not have an obligation past the ones that you do have according to our laws, but I don’t think you are bright enough or aware enough of others to know you are standing next to a tran. People have been passing in dress to their identity for centuries.
            So unless you are peeking under a door or over a wall to check everyone’s genitals, you wouldn’t even know.

          • Mark Hatchett

            June 18, 2017 at 1:22 pm

            Sweetheart you must think we are all stupid! Here’s a clue…we are not!

      • Sandra

        June 14, 2017 at 5:28 pm

        When your transphobic ignorance leads you to think that trans people magically don’t get breast cancer. Goforitidiots didn’t even drop the mic so much as chuck it into the ocean.

        • Charles Abernathy

          July 24, 2017 at 10:43 am

          Awwww sandra, quit resorting to the “Phobias” as your default defense.
          Being disgusted by some Transvestites with an inside out penis, trotting around denying science, is not the same as being Phobic

      • Jen

        June 15, 2017 at 9:57 pm

        anyone, of any sex/gender/age, can get breast cancer. be sure to do a self-exam of your body, folks – and maybe your assumptions, too.

        • Goforitidiots

          June 17, 2017 at 8:34 am

          Of course men can get breast cancer too, but it’s quite rare. Trans women suffer a similar rate of breast cancer as cis women was more my point, and it’s recommended they get mammograms.

          • Charles Abernathy

            July 24, 2017 at 10:46 am

            There is no such thing as a Trans woman. Only Transvestites with inside out penises.
            Taking some massive amounts Estrogen doesn’t make a man a woman.

    • Jon Hood

      June 14, 2017 at 9:48 am

      Wait…let me guess… you are one of those who is gonna use DNA to define someone’s sex yet refute DNA as proof of evolution…right?

      • Mark Hatchett

        June 14, 2017 at 10:35 am

        No matter what has been added or removed or how many hormones ingested one’s DNA cannot be changed.

    • Debbie Lawrence

      June 14, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Do you have her DNA and CT scans?
      We all start out as girls during the first two week. If the baby gets enough testosterone, and the body knows how to deal with the testosterone, you get a boy.
      If there is no testosterone, too much estrogen, or the body can’t respond to testosterone, the fetus gets a female brain and skeleton. The penis is often smaller and testicles may not appear until late puberty. When they do come down, they may be irregularly shaped, almost like ovaries.
      Millions of babies are “corrected at birth”.

      I’ve written six books on the subject.
      If you do not have those detailed medical records, then you have no clue.

      • Rachel Jones

        June 14, 2017 at 11:06 am

        Thanks Debbie. You are right on.

      • Mark Hatchett

        June 14, 2017 at 12:12 pm

        Do you have those detailed medical records? Are your books available on Amazon?

      • BruceMajors4DC

        June 18, 2017 at 9:18 pm

        Millions?

    • TransSJW

      June 14, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      Sorry Mary, but trangender does, by definition exist. Perhaps her DNA is XY. Might be XX, XXY, or any of the myriad of possible combinations; same as you. Have you been karyotyped? If not, dont be so quick to assume you are XX. If you’ve borne a male child, you likely have some cells with XY.

      Genetics notwithstanding, she still will require an annual pelvic (if she’s had SRS) and a mammogram. The only female issue she’ll avoid is cellulite. I’m sure it looks good on you though.

      • Thisoldspouse

        June 14, 2017 at 5:34 pm

        There is NO physiological requirement for getting the “trans” “diagnosis.” None at all. Are you that far behind the “science?”

        All that’s required is a talk or two with a colluding shrink. That’s it.

        • TransSJW

          June 14, 2017 at 8:44 pm

          You are apparently ill advised on how transition works. It takes far more than that.

          • Charles Abernathy

            July 24, 2017 at 2:58 pm

            No it doesn’t. You freaks have a daily switching depending on what Gender you feel like that day. Get a grip on reality.
            There are two and only TWO sexes/genders.

          • TransSJW

            July 26, 2017 at 4:36 am

            I believe you are referring to cross dressers, who do switch back and forth. As Thomas Jefferson once said, they neither pick your pocket nor break your leg, so why do you worry about them? Cross dressers are quite different from transsexuals, who also neither pick your pocket nor break your leg. Why are you so worked up over someone else’s business?

          • Charles Abernathy

            July 26, 2017 at 8:45 am

            No Wannabe, Thomas Jefferson never said a damn thing about Trasvestites, either with or without an inside out penis.
            And the military is looking at spending 3.7 billion to give Transvestites surgery and hormones thanks to barak hussein obama and his democraps.
            So it’s my business cause I have to pay for it

          • FemnstSponti

            July 26, 2017 at 12:18 pm

            Apparently, you can’t read Thomas Jefferson and apply his concepts. I guess it’s not simple enough for your liking.

          • Charles Abernathy

            July 26, 2017 at 1:58 pm

            All theFfounding Fathers were deeply religious. The very thought of GLBSFSEPEDS and their ilk would sicken them. Learn your history “Fem”.

          • FemnstSponti

            July 26, 2017 at 12:25 pm

            President Obama didn’t order any such thing. I suspect though that he was in favor of it, just like coverage is for any recognised medical condition. Coverage has been granted voluntarily by many industries because its the right thing to do.

      • jenna rogers

        June 18, 2017 at 9:48 pm

        there is no definition of anything other than a male or female

        • TransSJW

          June 19, 2017 at 9:40 pm

          Well.. to begin with, there’s the whole world of intersexed that’s been defined, not to mention transgender and gender queer.. You need to get out more.

          • Charles Abernathy

            July 24, 2017 at 10:34 am

            Oh, so “The science is settled”??
            Like with Global warning?
            You Libturds make up Science was you go. It’s disgusting.

          • TransSJW

            July 24, 2017 at 12:13 pm

            When you are reduced to hurling insults, its clear you’ve run out of useful arguments and are losing.

          • Charles Abernathy

            July 24, 2017 at 12:46 pm

            OK you Science Denier.

          • TransSJW

            July 26, 2017 at 4:29 am

            I accept science dear Charles. I’m not the one denying climate change and the existence of transsexualism. Both are quite well documented.

          • Charles Abernathy

            July 26, 2017 at 8:47 am

            As I said, you are a Science Denier.
            Both your causes are based upon BS research that can’t produce the results repeatedly.
            But hey, nice world you live in.

      • Charles Abernathy

        July 24, 2017 at 10:30 am

        Nope. The scientific “evidence” you refer to can not be duplicated in double blind controlled studies.
        Random deviation of data and data points does not prove anything
        We all learned that in the 5th grade, along with the BIOLOGICAL differences between the sexes.

        • TransSJW

          July 24, 2017 at 12:10 pm

          I didn’t cite any scientific evidence. I could, but I didn’t. As for scientific methodology, there are a number of health issues that double blind methodology is neither possible nor ethical. For these instances, there are other scientifically valid approaches that can be used. Ironically, global warming is one of them. We after all have only one planet to work with. From your statement though, I gather, you’re a climate denier. That means, you are part of a small, and shrinking minority. Good Luck with that.

          • Charles Abernathy

            July 24, 2017 at 12:57 pm

            Well, you social justice wannabe, on the Globull Warming lie, we are glad President Trump pulled us out of the illegally signed Paris Deal.
            And on this issue of Transvestites with an inside out penis, being a woman?!
            If you’ve ever had a D I C K
            You can never be a Chick.
            See, simple

          • TransSJW

            July 26, 2017 at 4:26 am

            Apparently you aren’t a fan of scientific inquiry Charles, and I’m just not interested in trying to educate you. If you only see simple solutions to problems, you don’t understand the broader scope of the issues. I don’t know whether or not you aren’t very bright, but you are talking as if you aren’t.

          • Charles Abernathy

            July 26, 2017 at 8:50 am

            Simple solutions?
            2 + 2 will always equal 4.
            It’s not my fault you can’t understand what those of us in the real world learned in the 5th grade.
            You “warrior” you.
            LMAO

          • TransSJW

            July 26, 2017 at 12:38 pm

            2+2=4? Not always. Depends on not just the absolute value, but direction of the vector. For example, 2 at a vector angle of 0 degrees, plus 2 at a vector angle of 90 degrees (for simplicity) is around 2.8284 at a vector angle of 45 degrees. See? Even simple math can be complex if you consider all the angles.

          • Charles Abernathy

            July 26, 2017 at 1:56 pm

            As I was saying..
            You introduce irrelevant data point and extrapolate a pile of crap.
            Enjoy your contrived relevance from your contrived battles. You “warrior” you.
            LMAO

          • TransSJW

            August 7, 2017 at 7:05 am

            The point is Charlie, the answers to problems are most often far more complex than people realize. If you think the answer to a problem is easy, you probably aren’t aware of the entire scope of the issue. Trump found this when, in the campaign, declared the healthcare issue to be easy to fix and that HE had a solution that would result in better, cheaper healthcare that would cover everyone. When he actually got into office, his tune changed to “who knew healthcare could be so complicated?” Ironically, the answer to THAT question IS easy: “Hillary.”

          • Charles Abernathy

            August 7, 2017 at 2:14 pm

            No, you Social Justice Wannabe, it’s not complex.
            Boys, Girls.
            Now, go find some other cause to spend your time on.

          • TransSJW

            August 7, 2017 at 4:09 pm

            Ooops! I guess things once again are more complex than you realize! You forgotten about intersex people who are decidedly somewhere in between. They are neither male nor female in some cases. See? Things are always more complex than you think.

    • Rebecca Gardner

      June 14, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      You’re a horrible human being who knows absolutely nothing of which she speaks.

    • Sandra

      June 14, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      Cool. I also don’t believe you exist. There is no such beast as Mary.

      We don’t concern ourselves with the opinions of trashcans like Mary.

    • Thisoldspouse

      June 14, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      Was he born with a prostate? Only men have prostates. That is a pretty surefire litmus test.

      • TransSJW

        June 14, 2017 at 8:46 pm

        Without your genitals, do you cease to be a woman?

    • RogerLong

      June 15, 2017 at 12:07 am

      Oh Mary Fran Cherry you sad old hater… You God loves you for believing in him against all rationality. Don’t be afraid. All your hate is converted to love in the presence of your lord in the afterlife! You don’t have to hate on his behalf anymore. And you can be certain your deep devotion to your fantasy will assuage all your fears on your deathbed. Coming soon.

    • Robin518

      June 15, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Men get breast cancer of a rate 1/1000. Don’t they count?

    • Robert Roser

      June 18, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      No. Just because the Bible says that does not make it true. There are many people intersexed; there are many combinations of sexual marker chromosomes. There have been studies that the brains of deceased MTF women do have differences from normal men. The rest of your arguments are superficial. All these arguments remind me very much of the dumb comments made by conservatives during the civil rights campaigns, which unfortunately no longer seem to be over in the world of Trump. You need to do some more independent research.

  3. Thisoldspouse

    June 14, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Did he RUN as a “transgender” candidate, or just as a “woman” under the radar?

    • Ed Zavada

      June 15, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Why would Bob Marshal run as transgender or a women when he’s anti-transgender? That’s the only “he” candidate discussed in the race.

    • bs_bs_my_line

      June 15, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Oh honeybunny, you sound stressed my dear. Did you not get any from the old spouse in a while? I’m so sorry honey. Feel better babe.

    • JDS

      June 16, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Why do you care?

  4. Yvonne Morales

    June 17, 2017 at 2:55 am

    You might want to tell them to adjust. That Trans are not interested in their bodies. Years from now, when you and I are dead, our children and grandchildren will be laughing when remembering the narrow minded thinking of today.

  5. BruceMajors4DC

    June 18, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    simplistic nonsense

    • Robert Roser

      June 18, 2017 at 10:28 pm

      I would say the same. You guys never look at a complicated subject without simplistic comments that would fit on a bumper sticker. And I lived through the civil rights battles, most of the time as a conservative Republican until I realized that that was not a Christian approach and rather heartless. Conservatives fought tooth and nail against civil rights. I know; I was there.

  6. jenna rogers

    June 18, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    good lord the crazies will be running the asylum. the bizarre twilight zone is truly a reality

  7. Charles Abernathy

    July 24, 2017 at 10:20 am

    If you’ve ever had a D I C K
    You can never be a Chick.
    Soooooo the only qualification HE has is that HE has an inside out penis? Wow, well, HE is a democrap.

  8. Charles Abernathy

    July 24, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    We’ll just call them Transvestites with an inside out penis.
    How’s THAT?

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Comings & Goings

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Troy Cline, gay news, Washington Blade
The 'Comings & Goings' column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

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. 

Shin Inouye, gay news, Washington Blade
Steven McCarty

Congratulations to Steven McCarty on being named president of the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. He said, “I’m honored to be installed as the president of the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. and to be able to shepherd our programs and volunteers to impact youth where they are needed most. Our club’s new partnership with SMYAL has already turned a portion of their Youth Center in Southeast D.C. into the first Clinical Services Department in the District that offers free and affirming mental healthcare to LGBTQ Youth. As an openly gay man, I’m proud to further our club’s mission with radical empathy and inclusion.” McCarty has also recently been awarded Kiwanis’ highest honor, the George Hixson award.

McCarty is a Technical Program Specialist at stac labs in D.C. He is also founder and campaign manager at Abolish Racism 2020. He worked as a Senior Customer Success Manager,  Crowdskout. He was a workplace equality intern at Human Rights Campaign and a summer fellow at Michigan State AFL-CIO, in Lansing, Mich. 

McCarty earned his bachelor’s in Political Science and Communications Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Congratulations also to Shin Inouye on his appointment as Executive Vice President of Communications, The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Human Rights, The Leadership Conference Education Fund. 

Wade Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference and The Education Fund said, “We are thrilled Shin Inouye will be taking on even greater responsibilities on our senior leadership team. His incredible talent and commitment to this organization and our work are truly outstanding, and his strategic leadership will no doubt continue moving us forward in the fight to protect and advance civil and human rights.”

Inouye has held a number of positions with the organization including Managing Director of Communications. Inouye also held a number of high-level positions in the Obama administration, including Press Secretary and Acting Senior Adviser for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Adviser for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Executive Office of the President; White House Office of Communications: Director of Specialty Media; and served as an authorized spokesperson for the Obama Inaugural Committee, with a focus on specialty media outlets, including LGBTQ, AAPI, Native American, Youth/College, Faith, and Jewish press. Prior to that Inouye was Communications Director in the Office of Congressman Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and has also worked for the ACLU and as a summer intern with the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. 

Inouye received a number of honors including being named One of 25 “LGBTI next generation leaders to watch” by Out in National Security and the Atlantic Council; and One of “40 Asian American Pacific Islander National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders” by New America and the Diversity in National Security Network.

Shin Inouye
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Youngkin reiterates opposition to marriage equality

Va. gubernatorial candidate says issue ‘legally acceptable’ in state

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(Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Glenn Youngkin in an interview with the Associated Press has reiterated his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Youngkin—a Republican who is running against Democrat Terry McAuliffe to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam—said in an interview published on Friday that he feels “called to love everyone.” Youngkin then reiterated his opposition to marriage equality before he added it is “legally acceptable” in the state.

“I, as governor, will support that,” Youngkin told the AP.

McAuliffe was Virginia’s governor from 2014-2018.

Same-sex couples began to legally marry in Virginia a few months after McAuliffe took office.

McAuliffe in 2014 became the first governor of a Southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding. The lesbian couple who McAuliffe married recently appeared in one of his campaign ads.

McAuliffe on Friday criticized Youngkin. “As governor, I worked my heart out to keep Virginia open and welcoming to all,” said McAuliffe in a tweet. “This type of bigotry and intolerance has no place in our commonwealth.”

The anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has categorized as an extremist group, earlier this month endorsed Youngkin, but Log Cabin Republicans are among the groups that have backed his campaign. The Human Rights Campaign in 2019 named Youngkin’s former company, the Carlyle Group, as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index.

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D.C. school board calls for LGBTQ-inclusive teaching standards

Sweeping resolution proposing content in curricula approved unanimously

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Gay State Board of Education member Allister Chang.

The D.C. State Board of Education voted unanimously on Oct. 20 to approve a resolution calling for LGBTQ+ Inclusive Education Standards for the city’s public schools that “reflect on the political, economic, social, cultural, and scientific contributions and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

The two-page resolution, which was introduced by gay State Board of Education member Allister Chang, who represents Ward 2, cites national research showing that students who have access to LGBTQ+ curricula in their schools “are more likely to report lower frequency of bullying, lower levels of depression, more accepting peers, and greater feelings of safety in school.”

The resolution states that research also shows that multicultural education, including the teaching of LGBTQ topics, “helps prevent the formation of bias and prejudice and creates more democratic communities.”

LGBTQ rights advocates have long considered the local D.C. government through its mayor and City Council to be highly supportive of the LGBTQ community. But Chang and other supporters of the resolution approved by the board Wednesday night say their research shows that D.C. public schools, while supportive of LGBTQ students, are far behind the school systems in several other states in the inclusion of LGBTQ topics in school curricula.

As an example, supporters of the resolution point out that curriculum standards for social studies classes in the D.C. school system include only one mention of LGBTQ people in a teaching section related to victims of the Holocaust.   

Unlike most other cities and states, under current D.C. law, the school system is controlled by the mayor through the D.C. Department of Education, which is headed by a Deputy Mayor for Education and who, in turn and in consultation with the mayor, appoints a State Superintendent of Education who oversees the day-to-day operations of the schools.

Under a change in the education statute approved by the D.C. Council and signed by then-Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2007, the school board, which was renamed the State Board of Education, became a mostly advisory body on education matters with some statutory authority to approve education standards on which school curricula are based.

Thus, the resolution approved by the board on Wednesday “advises” and “recommends” that the State Superintendent of Education develop school curricula, guidance for teachers, and school-based leaders and staff “in providing LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons and practices in their classrooms.”

The resolution concludes by recommending that the State Superintendent of Education conduct a survey of students within two years after the Oct. 20 adoption of the resolution “to establish baseline data and to gain an understanding of the current experiences of LGBTQ+ students across the district and what all students know and understand about the contributions and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the relevant subject areas.”

Chang and other members of the State Board of Education noted at the Oct. 20 meeting, which was virtual, that Will Beckerman, who graduated this year from D.C.’s School Without Walls High School, played an important role in conducting the research used to prepare the LGBTQ standards resolution and helped in the drafting of the resolution.

Chang noted that much of the background information used to draft the resolution came from Beckerman’s senior year school research paper and advocacy project that focuses on the topic of LGBTQ-inclusive education.

In comments supporting the resolution, Chang also spoke about how the very limited LGBTQ content he encountered during his high school days helped him accept himself as a gay youth.

“As a student myself, I don’t remember a single mention of any LGBTQ people in any of my classwork until I read Thomas Mann in my senior year in high school,” Chang said. “And in Death in Venice, this Nobel Prize winner touches upon his struggles with homosexuality but never actually names it explicitly,” Chang told fellow board members.

“And I remember holding on to this novella despite the self-hatred that’s woven throughout this story because it was the first time that I saw this aspect of my identity reflected in my class work,” he said. “My hope – and I think this hope comes true with this resolution tonight – is that future generations of LGBTQ students have more opportunities to see themselves reflected in their class work and to feel less isolated by their class work than I did growing up.”

It couldn’t immediately be determined whether D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will endorse the school system changes proposed by the resolution approved by the State Board of Education.

The full text of the resolution follows:

State Board of Education Resolution

On LGBTQ+ Inclusive Education Standards

SR21-7

WHEREAS, the 2019 District of Columbia Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual students make up 15.9 percent of high school students in the District and transgender students make up1.9 percent of District high school students;

WHEREAS, in the District, these students, in comparison to their heterosexual peers, experience double the rate of bullying on school property, report higher rates of being removed from class for disciplinary reasons, and are more than twice as likely to experience suicidal ideation;

WHEREAS, national data shows that lesbian, gay, and bisexual students are significantly more likely to receive grades of D or F than their heterosexual peers and were more likely to be truant;

WHEREAS, consistent research suggests that students with LGBTQ+ inclusive curricula in their schools are more likely to report lower frequency of bullying, lower levels of depression, more accepting peers, and greater feelings of safety in school—and this safety leads students to report higher attendance, higher GPAs, a greater sense of belonging in the school community, and higher educational aspirations;

WHEREAS, research shows that multicultural education helps prevent the formation of bias and prejudice and creates more democratic communities ; 

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education recognizes the need to have revised social studies standards that create “windows and mirrors” so students see themselves and people like them reflected in the content of standards and curriculum, as well as having the opportunity to learn about diverse people, cultures, places, and experiences unlike themselves—explicitly noting that the current standards emphasize the lives of presidents and other figures who held/hold power and under-represent or lack representation of people and groups like those identifying as LGBTQ+, and their respective histories;

WHEREAS, in the State Board of Education’s review and revision of the social studies standards, the State Board called upon the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to “seek standards writers who reflect the demographics and experiences of District students and of the communities they are writing about” sharing a list of examples that included writers identifying as LGBTQ+;

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education is committed to ensuring students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be engaged global citizens in a diverse democratic society; and,

WHEREAS, the State Board of Education has a commitment to promote equity, introduce policies to reduce disparities between students, and create safe school environments for all students.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT, upon the next revision of any District of Columbia state education standards, the State Board of Education should adapt standards, when appropriate, that reflect on the political, economic, social, cultural, and scientific contributions and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education advises the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to provide guidance to teachers and school-based leaders and staff on creating inclusive lessons in science and English language arts (ELA) classes that align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core ELA standards, respectively;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education recommends that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) implement professional development for teachers and school-based leaders and staff to aid them in providing LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons and practices in their classrooms, such that that the professional development includes: workshops for local education agencies (LEAs) and teachers to draft curriculum related to LGBTQ+ topics in their subject areas, lessons on use of inclusive language in the classroom, lessons on ensuring LGBTQ+ students’ safety and confidentiality while maintaining respect for their name and pronouns, and mandatory diversity training related to the LGBTQ+ community; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED THAT, the State Board of Education recommends that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) survey students within two (2) years of adoption of this resolution to establish baseline date and to gain an understanding of the current experiences of LGBTQ+ students across the district and what all students know and understand about the contributions and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the relevant subject areas.

https://osse.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/osse/publication/attachments/2019%20DC%20YRBS%20Report.pdf

Brikett, Michelle et al. “Sexual-orientation disparities in school: the meditational role of indicators of victimization in achievement and truancy because of feeling unsafe.” American Journal of Public Health vol. 104, 6 (2014): 1124-8. doi: 10.2105/AJHP.2013.301785

Kosciw, Joseph G., et al. “The 2019 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth in Our Nation’s Schools.” GLSEN, GLSEN, 2020, glsen.org.

Camicia, Steven P. Critical Democratic Education and LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum: Opportunities and Constraints. Routledge Focus, 2016.

Camicia, Steven P. “Prejudice Reduction through Multicultural Education: Connecting Multiple Literatures.” Social Studies Research and Practice, vol. 2, no. 2, 2007, pp. 219–227.

socstrpr.org/files/Vol%25202/Issue%25202%2520-%2520Summer%25202007/Action%2520Research/2.2.6.pdf

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