According to an article on 365gay.com, students at a high school in St. Augustine, Florida, are fighting to form a gay-straight alliance, or GSA, at their high school. The school, which has already been threated with a lawsuit, now has ten days to allow it.

According to the article:

Pedro Menendez High School senior Marissa Burrier and other students at the school sought permission from principal Robert Allten to form a GSA last month.

Allten refused to allow the GSA but said he would approve an unofficial “tolerance group” which would not be considered an official school club and would not have the privileges other clubs receive.

“We just wanted to start a club where all students could feel safe, regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Burrier. “We need a place on campus where all kids, gay and straight, can come together in a safe place to talk about how they feel.”

Burrier and her fellow students sought the help of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality Florida. The NCLR told Allten on Tuesday by letter that if he did not act with ten days to approve the GSA he would be hauled into federal court.

“The principal’s denial of the students’ request to start a GSA and his attempt to force the students to change the club’s name and deny it official club status is clearly illegal,” said NCLR Regional Counsel Karen Doering.

“Under the federal Equal Access Act, schools that permit students to form other non-curriculum based clubs must allow students to form GSA’s, and must give these GSA’s the same status and privileges as other club.”

Now, hopefully, the principal of this high school will take very, very careful steps for the next few days. Ultimately, he will need to decide to do the legal and ethical thing: allow the GSA to form.

Back when I founded the GSA at Reynolds High (the second such group in my system), I don’t think I had near as many problems as this high school. I never had to threaten a lawsuit and the principal of my high school was pretty much willing to work with me and I believe he did as much as he could, given the political atmosphere around Winston at the time, to protect LGBT students.

The students who founded the first GSA in my school system though didn’t have it so easy. Those students enlisted the help and aid of the local GLSEN chapter (which is no longer in existence, see www.glsen.org for more info). I don’t know all of the details, and someone correct me if I’m wrong… the situation with our school board got so bad that it almost came really close to bringing a lawsut against the system.

I do not understand at all the reasoning that must go through these people’s heads. Principals and school boards must do a whole hell of a lot of rationalizing to get around the fact that not allowing this GSA is breaking a federal law.

Some may say its because these people are standing for moraity and do not want homosexuality in the schools. Well guess what? Tough shit. The public school system is run by the government, hence, NO ONE can let their own personal, private religious or moral views dictate policy, laws, or rules for anyone else. That is America. I’m sorry if you don’t like it. If you want to live in a theocracy… try an Islamic Arab country… America isn’t a theocracy, it never was and it never will be. Get over and if you don’t like it move somewhere which will allow you to tell everyone else how to live, based not upon the “law of the land” but rather your own fundamentalist brand of religion which is seeking to grasp control of and kill America’s precious democracy and all of our freedoms.

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The Vatican & Gays: Quotes of Note

For me, to make someone suffer penalties because of their sexual orientation is on the same level as making people be penalized for their gender, or race.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Anglican Church of South Africa (1)

I have no doubt that God does call homosexuals to the priesthood, and they are among the most dedicated and impressive priests I have met.
Father Timothy Radcliffe, former master of the Dominican order (1)

Such persons [homosexuals] must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided
From the Vatican “instruction” banning gays from the priesthood (1)

We’re speaking to Catholics in the pews and urging them to consider what Jesus would do if he saw his neighbor treated this way.
The Human Rights Campaign (U.S.) (1)

Once you enter the priesthood, you give up sexual activity, whether you’re straight or gay. We’re taught to love and forgive and be open. To single out people is to go against what we’re being taught. Some people, they make it seem like if a priest is gay, they are less than a priest. I don’t believe that.
Bernadette Ruiz, a stay-at-home mother of three boys, Austin, TX (2)

I’m disappointed in the Vatican. I know priests who are gay, and I fear it will make them uncomfortable – maybe even marginalized. I resent the missed opportunity to welcome young men who are gay, but are put off. We may never know the good priests we have lost from this.
Patsy Heuchling, 80, a retiree from Winchester, Mass. (2)

Original source 1
Original source 2

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Poland Gay Rights Update: Gays march in Warsaw

From the beatroot blog:

Over 1000 gather peacfully at Plac Konstitucji, in the centre of the Polish capital, surrounded by several hundred police.

Under gloomy skies and in light rain the demonstrators listened to speeches and music booming out of sound systems, as the rest of Warsaw did their Sunday shopping. The action came in response to violence from police and rightwing thugs in Poznan last weekend, when several protestors from the Campaign Against Homophobia were beaten and arrested.

Left wing members of parliament from the SLD, SdLP, Greens and the Democratic Party gave suppport to the protest.

An expected counter-demonstration from far-right politicians and hooligans did not happen – except for a small press conference from the League of Polish Families in the square. A handful of skinheads hung around the four corners of Plac Konstitucji, making calls on their mobiles (I was suprised that they seemed to know how to work them!) trying to get more of their little buddies to come along.

The demonstration is part of a nationwide action this weekend involving six Polish cities, including Gdansk, where the local chapter of the Solidarity trade union gave its support.

Original source

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What Polish gays are now going through can be compared to what American gays went through back in 1969 during the Stonewall riots. Polish LGBT folk have been crying out for support from LGBT folk across Europe. LGBT Americans should stand up to support their LGBT brothers and sisters in Poland NOW.

A great article about the protests appears on the website of the Washington Blade. According to the article:

Poland — a conservative and Roman Catholic country that joined the EU last year — has been grappling with the issue of how far to go in accepting homosexuality, as gay rights groups grow more vocal.

Unlike last Sunday’s banned rally, local officials have authorized all of this weekend’s planned demonstrations.

The socially conservative Law and Justice party won recent parliamentary and presidential elections. The new government, led by Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, favors traditional Roman Catholic values and opposes the legalization of gay marriage.

President-elect Lech Kaczynski twice banned gay pride marches in Warsaw during his time as the capital’s mayor.

The demonstrations within Warsaw were a reaction to the demonstration in the city of Poznan where gay rights activist, who were doing nothing more than participating in the right to peacefully assemble (a right Americans take for granted), were drug on the ground, beaten and arrested by police. You can view one of my earlier posts about that by clicking here.

It surprises me that the media is ignoring what is happening in Poland, a formerly communist country which was also once controlled by the Nazis. How can you let human rights abuses in a formerly communist and Nazi country go unnoticed? It seems ludicrous to me.

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The Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

I don’t really know how many people are aware that currently there is legilstion sitting in a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee which would repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” gay ban in all branches of the U.S. Military.

For myself, I had heard something or another about it, but not much. I don’t think there was ever much attention given to it by anybody, including the government and the media. I found a great article in Q-Notes about it though.

According to the article:

One hundred Members of Congress now support the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1059), a Congressional bill that would repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel. The bill, introduced in March by Representative Marty Meehan (D-MA), is co-sponsored by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, including nine members of the House Armed Services Committee. Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) recently became the 100th co-sponsor.

I took the liberty of going to the House website and looking up H.R. 1059 myself. H.R. 1059, which being called the Military Readiness Enhanement Act of 2005, now has 104 co-sponsors in the U.S. House. It has been stuck within the House Committee on Armed Forces’ subcommittee on military personnel. And I’ll give you one good guess as to why this particular piece of legislation is being bottled up.

The current leadership within the House, the Senate and the Administration just do not want to see this legislation proceed any further. If it passes then all hope of “saving America” from the “evils” of homosexuality will be lost forever. The scope of this piece of legislation and the effect it will have on America is a great one.

The Act (H.R. 1059)not only repeals the ban on letting gays serve openly it also creates a policy of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation:

SEC. 4. ESTABLISHMENT OF POLICY OF NONDISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION IN THE ARMED FORCES.

    (a) Establishment of Policy- (1) Chapter 37 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

`Sec. 656. Policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation

    `(a) Policy- The Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the Navy, may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation against any member of the armed forces or against any person seeking to become a member of the armed forces.
    `(b) Discrimination on Basis of Sexual Orientation- For purposes of this section, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is–
      `(1) in the case of a member of the armed forces, the taking of any personnel or administrative action (including any action relating to promotion, demotion, evaluation, selection for an award, selection for a duty assignment, transfer, or separation) in whole or in part on the basis of sexual orientation; and
      `(2) in the case of a person seeking to become a member of the armed forces, denial of accession into the armed forces in whole or in part on the basis of sexual orientation.
    `(c) Personnel and Administrative Policies and Action- The Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the Navy, may not establish, implement, or apply any personnel or administrative policy, or take any personnel or administrative action (including any policy or action relating to promotions, demotions, evaluations, selections for awards, selections for duty assignments, transfers, or separations) in whole or in part on the basis of sexual orientation.
    `(d) Rules and Policies Regarding Conduct- Nothing in this section prohibits the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the Navy, from prescribing or enforcing regulations governing the conduct of members of the armed forces if the regulations are designed and applied without regard to sexual orientation.
    `(e) Re-Accession of Otherwise Qualified Persons Permitted- Any person separated from the armed forces for homosexuality, bisexuality, or homosexual conduct in accordance with laws and regulations in effect before the date of the enactment of this section, if otherwise qualified for re-accession into the armed forces, shall not be prohibited from re-accession into the armed forces on the sole basis of such separation.
    `(f) Sexual Orientation- In this section, the term `sexual orientation’ means heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality, whether the orientation is real or perceived, and includes statements and consensual sexual conduct manifesting heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.’.

The reason why the anti-gay bigots of America don’t want this legislation to pass is very simple: If the military can’t discriminate against the “fags and the queers” then neither can the total entirety of the American government, which means… sexual orientation (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual) would become a federally protected class just like race, religion, sex, etc.

I hope that more co-sponsors will come on board to help push H.R. 1059 out of committee. I hope that it passes. I hope that America can one day reach the ideals which were laid down for her more than 200 years ago: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness and that all men (and women, too) are created equal.

The text of H.R. 1059 can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:H.R.1059:

From the Student-Customer Rights Campaign @ UNCG
Original Source

—–Original Message—–
From: LPNC@yahoogroups.com [mailto:LPNC@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Allison Jaynes
Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2005 11:56 AM
To: LPNC@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [LPNC] UPDATE: free speech zone issue

So, here’s the latest:

Rob and I each got an emailed summons to appear at a “pre-hearing conference” (similar to an arraignment) tomorrow at 10am. This is where we will plead guilty or not guilty and set up a date for a hearing which may include a “jury” (basically a board of appointed employees, NOT a jury of our peers). According to the Student Code of Conduct, our penalties can range from a warning to probation with restrictions. They have done all kinds of crazy stuff along with this such as:

  • Gave us 4 business HOURS of notice before the pre-hearing conference since they emailed us at 2pm Tuesday, when the university closes for the whole week Tues at
    5pm.
  • Never responded to the email I sent asking for a town hall type meeting during which we could confront the administration about the rules.
  • Again asked for a list of names of those who were present. I refused once more, of course. They are just dying to punish us all. The only reason Rob and I are the ones singled out is because they already knew our names.

I’ve talked to 3 different FIRE lawyers over the past week and they are behind us 100%. They are in the process of sending a formal letter to several heads at UNCG explaining that their policies are unconstitutional and demanding that they eliminate them and drop any punishment towards us, or else litigation will be pursued. They informed me that the entire UNC system is one of the worst in the country and they will lie at every turn. FIRE said they will blow this thing wide open and said I shouldn’t be surprised if reporters start calling me.

I am absolutely confident that we will bring UNCG down on this issue. And help the plight of freedom-minded students at other schools in the UNC system. And I just want to re-emphasize that it couldn’t have been done without the full support of the wonderful libertarians on this list who took off an entire workday to drive all the way over here and help us out.

-Allison Jaynes
UNCG College Libertarians

“I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” -Ayn Rand

I don’t know about the other people who read this blog or other students who are generally supportive of students’ rights, but this seems so off-base and illegal that it almost sounds as though the story is made up, but, of course, I know it isn’t.

Just a message to those UNCG students trying to get these unconstitutional rules regarding “free speech zones” off the books… please keep me informed of any other protests you might be having. I feel so strongly that these “rules” need to go and feel outright enraged that the University is trying to punish students who did nothing but use their First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly and protest. What the University is doing is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!

~MATT HILL

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The Student-Customer Rights campaign @ UNCG is another blog which I run. I originally posted this message there, but thought I would post it here to get out the word about UNCG’s unconstitutional treatment of students who were protesting against the unconstitutional rules which are now being used to punish them.

UNCG! Wake up before you get sued!!!

Evidentally, there are some folk around the Greensboro blogoshpere who think I’m a “Gay Republican” and while that isn’t a bad thing… it is just not true.

I laughed when I read this post on the Greensboring.com web forums.

Although I’m not far from being a Republican (the ultra-liberal lefty Democrats at UNCG are starting to get on my nerves) I’m not quite there. I’m not saying I will change my party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, but no one really knows what the future will bring right?

For now, though, I’m a Democrat; a very proud, more conservative-minded, Southern Democrat who just happens to be gay and support equality for all (Gay and Civil Rights is about the only thing I’m liberal on… except the whole dislike of Bush thing). I guess you could just call me a North Carolina Democrat… like the rest of our state party, I’m wierd and off from the national norm.

Talk to everyone later! 🙂

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Court about to grapple with gay marriage
CATHY SORBO

The Washington Supreme Court will be deciding, anytime now, if gay Washingtonians really are equal to non-gay Washingtonians with regard to the age-old ritual of marriage.

I can’t help but be baffled by anyone who opposes the legal recognition of a gay union. I’ve read the forums of gay marriage opponents. They think that homosexuality “just ain’t right.” Well, it’s not right for everyone, that’s for sure. They feel that homosexuality “is not natural.” Pairing up with the one you love seems completely natural to me. Breast implants, birth control and Lycra are not natural, but that doesn’t mean it should be illegal to have breast implants, an IUD or bike shorts. Well, maybe the bike shorts.

With legal recognition of same-sex unions comes the acknowledgment that gays actually exist on all levels of society, something that homophobics would rather not have to do. They might just have to have the conversation with their children as to why so-and-so has two moms or two dads. It means they are going to have to confront their aversions and fears regarding gay people, and that is going to be uncomfortable for some.

To read the full op-ed click here

From the Oxford Student (U.K.):

LGBSoc call for new gay gown
By Jack Shenker, Nov. 27, 2005

It has defined Oxford for 600 years and been copied the world over, but sub fusc, the archetypal image of Oxford academia, could be due for a remarkable facelift. If the university’s Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Society has its way, formal hall, finals exams and graduation ceremonies could soon become a lot more colourful.

The Society has launched a campaign to persuade Lord Patten, Oxford’s Chancellor, to allow the Society’s President to where a rainbowcoloured gown and a feather bow in place of a more traditional black cap and gown. According to the current President, the makeover is long overdue. “The LGB President is no ordinary student,” Amy Garner, who holds the post, told this newspaper. “She is a figurehead for the LGB community and it is important that she is instantly recognisable.

Sub fusc is an intrinsic part of Oxford University life and we feel that a special gown should be worn by the President to reflect her special scholarly status.” Despite no word from Lord Patten’s office as to whether formal permission for the gown will be granted, High Street retailers are already preparing to meet the anticipated demand for the new gowns.

“As with all requests from Oxford University we do our utmost to serve and provide (however odd the request may be ),” said Adrian Plafreyman of Walters and Co. on Turl Street. “We could and would make an Academic gown in a rainbow colour scheme. It think it would take about two weeks to make and cost around £190,” he added.

Original source

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Now, besides the fact that a fully-colored rainbow gown might just be a little outlandish (if not just plain wierd looking), I’m really happy that the LGBT Oxford students are trying to create change.

I just doubt the effectiveness of having a rainbow gown. Why not go with somehting a little less outlandish, something that all of the LGBSoc’s members could wear… maybe a sash or a pin.

Who knows if the Administration of Oxford University will allow this? I know for sure that if I tried to wear a rainbow gown to graduation at UNCG I would be told to leave and not participate in the event.

From 365gay.com:
Polish Gays March For Civil Rights
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: November 27, 2005 12:01 am ET

(Warsaw) Dozens of gay rights activists braved near freezing temperatures and heavy rain to march through the streets of Krakow Saturday – part of a weekend blitz of Polish cities – to demand the government abide by European civil rights laws.

Carrying signs saying “Reanimation of democracy” and “We are all different, we are all humans” the marchers denounced last weekend’s mass arrests of gays in the city of Poznan, (story) where riot police detailed 65 gays and lesbians who refused to disband when they attempted to hold a gay pride march.

The arrests are seen as a part of a major crackdown on gays by the far right Law and Justice party.

During September’s election campaign Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, the new Prime Minister said that if gays try to “infect others with their homosexuality, then the state must intervene in this violation of freedom.”

Warsaw mayor Lech Kaczynski elected this fall as Poland’s President under the Law and Justice banner also has a long history of homophobia.

In June, he refused to grant permission for a gay pride parade in the capital. Nevertheless, more than 2,500 people ignored the order and marched anyway. Opponents threw eggs and stones at the marchers, and police detained 29 people.

An LGBT rights march is planned in Warsaw today. Kaczynski is still the mayor until December 22.

To read the full article click here

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Piedmont Triad LGBT Holiday Guide

I thought this would be a good idea: List holiday events related and not related to LGBT folk and groups.

Winston-Salem:

Greensboro: