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Sarah McBride re-elected in Del.

Democrat is first openly trans woman elected to a state senate

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Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride on Tuesday won re-election.

McBride, who represents District 2 in the Delaware Senate, in 2020 became the first openly transgender woman elected to a state senate.

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Delaware

Delaware ACLU creates guide for LGBTQ students

‘Youth are coming out younger and younger and they need support’

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The ACLU held a panel discussion in Lewes, Del., to review the new LGBTQ student rights guide. (Photo courtesy of ACLU)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware released an updated guide to First Amendment rights for LGBTQ students in public schools Nov. 1. 

The “Know Your Rights!: A Guide to the First Amendment for LGBTQ+ Youth in Delaware” outlines federal and state laws with the goal of helping students and their families advocate for themselves, Delaware ACLU executive director Mike Brickner told the Washington Blade.

“We really want to make sure that the young person is informed about their rights, that their families are informed as well,” Brickner said. “But also, that educators are informed and that’s for those educators who want to be allies and advocates, but also for educators who may just not know the rules and not know what they’re required to do.”

The ACLU national office released a similar guide in 2021, though Brickner said the new guide localizes the information by including Delaware laws and resources. The guide is available as a hard copy and online as an interactive learning experience. 

The organization held a kickoff event for the guide Nov. 1 at the Lewes Public Library. A panel of local LGBTQ community advocates and historians spoke to a crowd of more than 100 people virtually and in-person, according to Brickner.

“We can give a lot of information about what legal rights are, but we also want to provide the basic tools for people to become their own best advocate, and to really win over some of the hearts and minds in their local community,” Brickner said. 

Amber Lee, health and wellness coordinator for LGBTQ youth resource center CAMP Rehoboth, spoke on the panel at the event.

“I was very pleased to be a part of it. It was a great thing,” Lee said. “The whole world needs to bring more recognition to youth, and that youth are coming out younger and younger and they need support, and we need to give them that support.”

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Delaware

Sarah McBride seeks reelection to Delaware Senate

Incumbent renews commitment to reforming healthcare, education

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Sarah McBride is the first openly transgender state senator in the nation’s history. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Sarah McBride, who currently represents Delaware’s 1st State Senate District, is seeking reelection this fall as her first term comes to a close. McBride made headlines in 2020 when she became the first openly transgender state senator in the nation’s history, and for the past two years has worked to reform social services and on healthcare legislation in the Delaware Senate.

When seeking election for the first time in 2020, McBride campaigned on a platform of paid family and medical leave for working Delawareans. Two years later, McBride told the Blade that developing these policies – and, more specifically, passing the Healthy Delaware Families Act earlier this year – has been the highlight of her time in the General Assembly.

As a sponsor of the bill, McBride wanted to “help lead the effort to pass paid family and medical leave” in Delaware, and spearheaded the creation of a statewide program that enabled employees to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave for various personal, medical, and family events.

“A lot of observers laughed at the possibility of Delaware passing paid leave,” McBride recalled, “but we were able to work together to build a coalition … [and pass] the largest expansion of the social safety net in modern Delaware history.”

McBride also pointed to the General Assembly’s passage of a $15 minimum wage, protection over statewide reproductive healthcare, and creation of “the most significant gun safety package in state history” as successes of her first term. “There’s still so much more that we need to do,” she emphasized.

More recently, The Digital Citizenship Education Act – a youth media literacy campaign McBride sponsored – was signed into law by Gov. John Carney on Aug. 29. McBride noted that her work on the bill was linked to her experiences being sworn into the Delaware Senate on the heels of the Jan. 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.

“In the days and weeks after the insurrection, some of my colleagues and I began having conversations about what more Delaware needed to do to heal our nation,” McBride said. “One of the ideas that my colleagues and I had was to introduce The Digital Citizenship Act to provide young people with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction, hard reporting from opinion, and news from advertisements online.”

The bill will require the Department of Education to uphold standards of evidence-based media literacy in public and charter school classrooms across the state.

“We think of young people as digital natives who are able to seamlessly navigate the internet with an effortlessness that eludes many adults, but the reality is that young people, like all people, struggle with this increasingly complicated world and identifying what is true,” she added.

McBride is seated in a firmly blue district, but this year’s election still comes with intrigue: the state has recently redrawn its legislative districts, meaning this year McBride will be campaigning to roughly a third of her voters for the very first time.

“I’m talking and reaching those new-to-the-first-Senate-district voters to make sure that they understand that this change is occurring, and that to ensure that they have information,” she noted. “Making sure that we’re reaching those newer voters in this district is going to be critical over the next few months.”

On Aug. 23, LGBTQ Victory Fund, an organization that advocates for the election of LGBTQ leaders in public offices across the country, endorsed McBride for the 2022 election. The District 1 general election is slated to be held Nov. 8, and McBride currently does not face opposition from a Republican nominee.

Reflecting on her time serving Delaware and her plans yet to come, McBride emphasized her responsibility to work against efforts from “far right-wing politicians and judges to roll back the clock on our progress and rescind critical rights for many, many people in this country.”

Further, McBride noted that, through reelection, she hopes to continue developing and expanding protections that promote the wellbeing of residents throughout the First State.

“I think more than anything else, seeing what people deem to be impossible not just become possible, but a reality here in Delaware has only motivated me to seek reelection and fight even harder for the remaining issues that Delaware needs to address,” McBride said. “I am ending my first term even more hopeful than when I began it.

Voter registration for the general election is open now through Election Day. To find out how to register, visit the state’s Department of Elections website.

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Delaware

Rehoboth’s SunFestival returns

Comedian Judy Gold to headline; dance party slated for Sunday

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SunDance is back after COVID-related cancellations. (Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

Comedian Judy Gold is slated to headline CAMP Rehoboth’s annual Labor Day celebration, SunFestival, on Sept. 3, kicking off a weekend of festivities and fun. Gold’s comedy portfolio boasts two Emmy awards and several stand-up specials on platforms including HBO and Comedy Central.

Each year, proceeds from SunFestival — CAMP Rehoboth’s largest annual fundraiser — help support the organization’s programming and advocacy for the local LGBTQ community. And, this year, CAMP Rehoboth has announced the long-awaited return of SUNDANCE, a Sunday night party that has brought the weekend to a close since 1988.

Here are all the festivities you can expect during the long weekend.

Saturday, Sept. 3

SunFestival starts with a bang, greeting guests with two auctions and a show on Saturday evening in the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center, located at 229 Rehoboth Ave. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the festivities formally begin at 7:30 p.m.

Judy Gold will headline the evening with a comedy performance, and attendees are also invited to participate in a two-part auction that will include both silent and live components prior to her performance. Gold, a lesbian, has often discussed topics of gender and sexuality in her work, and made two previous appearances in Rehoboth in 2009 and 2014.

CAMP Rehoboth has unveiled a variety of exciting items up for sale, including an eight-night cruise for two through the Caribbean, two tickets to see Lizzo at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., complete with a paid hotel stay, and two tickets to see the critically acclaimed musical “Funny Girl” on Broadway.

The silent auction, held virtually on the SunFestival website, opened on Aug. 27 and will close for bidding on Sept. 3. Bids can be placed online at SunFestival2022.ggo.bid.

The live auction will begin on Saturday evening, spearheaded by renowned auctioneer Lorne Crawford. Those interested in donating items for the auction can reach out to [email protected] for more information.

Sunday, Sept. 4

SUNDANCE might have been put on pause for two years, but this staple of the summer is making its return to Rehoboth Beach this year, and attendees can expect an endless night of dancing and fun at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. Doors open for the event at 7 p.m.

From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., DJ Robbie Leslie — and his musical projects Studio 54 and Palladium — will provide a musical experience called “Sundance Disco Twilight Tea,” and patrons can enjoy the songs of the weekend beneath the light of a disco ball.

Then, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., DJ James Anthony, a renowned remixer and producer, comes straight from New York to close off the evening and Labor Day weekend with his token “big room” sound, according to an event description posted to the CAMP Rehoboth website.

Leslie said in a July 29 CAMP Rehoboth news release that the convention center is the perfect venue for this year’s celebration. “It’s big enough to have a shared energy and at the same time it’s very focused, (but) it’s not so big that it gets fragmented,” he said. “So that to me is the ideal venue.”

In the same news release, Anthony explained that his preparation for the evening’s musical programming was largely influenced by the mood of the event, rounding out the summer season in Rehoboth Beach.

“People know that it’s the end of summer and, for many people, this may be their last time in Rehoboth until next summer,” he said. “You want to send them off on a good note and make that one last summer of ‘22 memory.”

 “After COVID, I’m just thrilled to death to be coming back,” Robbie added in the news release. “Rehoboth Beach has very much been an integral part of my professional career  … [so I am] really excited about coming back.”

This year, CAMP Rehoboth’s action-packed celebration comes with one more development that sets it apart from years past: the adoption of a new mascot, Sunny the Mannequin, for SunFestival 2022.

Sunny made his formal debut on July 29 in an announcement included in the organization’s newsletter — Letters from CAMP Rehoboth — but was also seen around town throughout the Fourth of July weekend at “Poodle Beach, pool parties, and standing tall inside a Jeep on Route 1.”

Guests can stop by the CAMP Rehoboth office located at 37 Baltimore Ave. before the event to take their picture with Rehoboth’s latest star, and can share their photos on social media using the hashtag “#SunFestivalRB.” Those interested can also scan the QR code located on Sunny’s shoulders to purchase a ticket to the event.

For those who prefer the traditional route, tickets for the weekend’s events can be purchased at Eventbrite, and additional information can be found at camprehoboth.com/SunFestival2022.

Those who plan on attending the weekend’s festivities and have accessibility needs can contact [email protected] for more information.

Labor Day in D.C.

Staying in D.C. for the long weekend? No worries as there are plenty of events happening closer to home. 

• Safe Space: A Queer Dance Party at JR.’s. Saturday, Sept. 3 at 10 p.m.

• Flashy Labor Day Weekend at Flash. Sunday, Sept. 4 at 10 p.m.

• Four different “Hard Labor” events hosted by Xavier Entertainment starting Friday and running through Monday at these venues: Club Elevate, AQUA, Nellie’s, and Ivy City Smokehouse. Details at Xavier’s Facebook page.

• Labor Gay: The Annual Day Party for Working Gurls at Trade. Monday, Sept. 5, 2-6 p.m. 

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