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Supreme Court Puts Off Ruling On Rights Of Transgender Students

IMAGE: Portrait of Supreme Court Plaintiff and LGBT rights advocate Gavin Grimm, who was protesting in front of The White House. Title IX Protest 2/22/17. Geoff Livingston / Flickr

Danziger: The Littlest Bully

Jeff Danziger’s award-winning drawings are published by more than 600 newspapers and websites. He has been a cartoonist for the Rutland Herald, the New York Daily News and the Christian Science Monitor; his work has appeared in newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to Le Monde and Izvestia. Represented by the Washington Post Writers Group, he is a recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army as a linguist and intelligence officer in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. Danziger has published ten books of cartoons and a novel about the Vietnam War. He was born in New York City, and now lives in Manhattan and Vermont. A video of the artist at work can be viewed here.

Boy Scouts To Begin Accepting Transgender Boys

(Reuters) – The Boy Scouts of America said on Monday the group would begin accepting transgender boys, bucking its more than a century-old practice of using the gender stated on a birth certificate to determine eligibility.

“Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application,” Boy Scouts of America communications director Effie Delimarkos said in an emailed statement.

Delimarkos cited shifting definitions of gender under state laws, which can “vary widely from state to state,” in explaining the change.

She said that while the organization offers programs for all youths, its Cub and Boy Scout programs are specifically for boys. The change will allow children to apply even if male is not listed on their birth certificate.

Advocacy group Scouts for Equality applauded the move: “This is another historic day for the Boy Scouts of America. The decision to allow transgender boys to participate in the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts is an important step forward for this American institution.”

In 2013, the Boy Scouts voted to lift a ban on openly gay scouts that had been in place throughout the organization’s history after gay rights advocates gathered petitions with more than 1.8 million signatures in support of ending the ban.

Support also came from some of the biggest American churches, including the Mormons and the Methodists, two of the largest scouting sponsors in the United States.

Two years later, the organization lifted its blanket ban on gay adult leaders after its president, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, called the ban “unsustainable” in the face of numerous lawsuits challenging the policy on grounds of discrimination.

The Boy Scouts of America, whose stated mission is to prepare youth for life and leadership, has nearly 2.3 million members between the ages of 7 and 21 and roughly 960,000 volunteers in local councils throughout the country, according to its website.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Bill Rigby)

IMAGE: A Boy Scouts of America uniform is pictured in San Diego. REUTERS/Staff

Federal Judge Grants Injunction To Halt Transgender Bathroom Policy

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – A U.S. judge blocked Obama administration guidance that transgender public school students must be allowed to use bathrooms of their choice, granting a nationwide injunction sought by a group of 13 states led by Texas.

Reed O’Connor, a judge for the Northern District of Texas, said in a decision late on Sunday that the Obama administration did not follow proper procedures for notice and comment in issuing the guidelines. He said the guidelines contradict with existing legislative and regulatory texts.

O’Connor, an appointee of Republican President George W. Bush, said the guidelines from the defendants, which included the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, were legislative and substantive.

“Although Defendants have characterized the Guidelines as interpretive, post-guidance events and their actual legal effect prove that they are ‘compulsory in nature,'” he wrote.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican who frequently sues the Democratic Obama administration, said he was pleased with a decision against “illegal federal overreach.”

At a hearing on the injunction in Fort Worth on Aug. 12, lawyers for Texas said the guidelines usurp the authority of school districts nationwide. They said they were at risk of losing billions of dollars in federal funding for education if they did not comply.

U.S. Department of Justice lawyers sought to dismiss the injunction, saying the federal guidelines issued in May were non-binding with no legal consequences.

The guidance issued by the Justice Department and Education Department said public schools must allow transgender students to use bathrooms, locker rooms and other intimate facilities that correspond with their gender identity, as opposed to their birth gender, or face the loss of federal funds.

Under the injunction, the Obama administration is prohibited from enforcing the guidelines on “against plaintiffs and their respective schools, school boards, and other public, educationally based institutions,” O’Connor wrote.

Following milestone achievements in gay rights including same-sex marriage becoming legal nationwide in 2015, transgender rights have become an increasingly contentious issue in the United States. The use of public bathrooms has been a key element in the controversy.

The administration’s directive enraged conservatives who say federal civil rights protections encompass biological sex, not gender identity.

The other states in the Texas-led suit are Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arizona, Maine, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia, Mississippi and Kentucky. Ten other states have also separately sued over the guidelines.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Trott)

Photo: A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access is seen in the bathroom stalls at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina May 3, 2016.   REUTERS/Jonathan Drake/File Photo