At last, a generation of schoolchildren will grow up knowing it’s OK to be LGBT

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Students across England are heading back to school this week, and while this might not seem momentous, for Stonewall, this school year marks the beginning of the end of a decades-long campaign to get an inclusive education system in England.

In September 2020, new regulations for teaching relationships and sex education (RSE) in English schools come into force. It will be a landmark moment – a whole generation will attend schools that not only accept LGBT people and same-sex relationships, but also celebrate and offer support on the issues that young LGBT people face.

The guidance means that primary schools will teach about different families, which of course includes LGBT families. Contrary to what’s been said by some online and in the media, this is just about showing kids that families can have two mums or two dads. Or to put another way: different families, same love.

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Murray Hall: The politician who broke 19th Century gender rules

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He was a hard-drinking, twice-married businessman and politician in 19th Century New York – but Murray Hall had a secret which was only revealed after his death.

Murray Hall had a reputation for hard living – drinking, smoking, playing poker and even brawling with a policeman. He also had an active political career and a business as a bail bondsman.

So far, so ordinary for a man at the time. But one aspect of his life remained a secret until he died from cancer in 1901. That was when it first emerged that Hall had been assigned female at birth.

It was later reported that he had been born in Govan as Mary Anderson. According to a source quoted by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, he began dressing as a male in his teens, then fled to America when his first wife disclosed his gender to the police. It was there that he took the name Murray H Hall, before marrying for a second time and beginning his business and political career.

Writer and archivist Mel Reeve said there had been a “huge backlash” in the media after his death. “People were very angry and felt like they’d been betrayed, but obviously he was just living his life how he wanted to – which was as a man,” she said.

Newspapers reported breathlessly on the events in articles which reflected some of the attitudes of the times. The New York Times, for instance, accused him of “masquerading” in male attire. It said Hall had a reputation as “a ‘man about town’, a bon vivant, and all-around ‘good fellow’.”

One senator described how Hall used to “hobnob with the big guns of the County Democracy” and said that he “cut quite some figure as a politician”. He added: “He dressed like a man and talked like a very sensible one.”

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U.S. court says teen sexting with friends is a child pornographer

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A teen who texted her friends a video of herself engaging in a consensual sex act is considered a child pornographer under Maryland’s law, the state’s highest court ruled Wednesday. For the first time, the Maryland Court of Appeals said it had to grapple with applying the state’s child pornography law to minors who consensually engage in sexting.

The court decided that the state’s child pornography statute does apply to a 16-year-old girl who texted a one-minute video of herself to her teenage best friends. In the video, she is seen performing a consensual sex act on a male.

In his opinion, Judge Joseph M. Getty said that the court had to contend with this question: “Can a minor legally engaged in consensual sexual activity be his or her own pornographer through the act of sexting?”

In a 6–1 ruling, the judges decided that the answer was yes, despite considering the “complexities of the sociocultural phenomenon of sexting by minors.” The Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision by a lower court, which ruled that self-produced child pornography or consensual sex acts by a minor were not exempted from the state’s criminal statute.

However, the Court of Appeals urged Maryland’s legislators to update the state’s child pornography statute to reflect how teens today use cellphones, especially when it comes to sexting. Maryland is one of 22 states that has not passed legislation to amend its child pornography statue “since the advent of sexting,” the court noted.

The 16-year-old girl, identified as S.K. by the court, had a group text chat with two of her best friends. S.K. and her friends, a 16-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy, shared “silly photos and videos” to “one-up” each other, the court said. The three friends, who attended the Maurice J. McDonough High School in 2016–2017, trusted each other to keep their group messages private.

As part of their “one-up” competition, S.K. texted both of them a one-minute video of herself performing fellatio on a male in October 2016. At the end of the year, the three friends had a falling-out and S.K.’s video was distributed to other students at the school. Both her former friends also reported the video to the school’s resource officer.

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What does it mean to be non-binary?

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Aris Sizer sat down to try and  explain just what it means to be non-binary using simple words and easily digestible doodles. Sizer currently attends York St John University where he is studying creative writing. Just to be clear, he has a penis, identifies as gay, and goes by the pronoun “he,” but when it comes to identifying with a specific gender, he’s non-committal.

Growing up, Sizer says, “I knew I wasn’t comfortable addressing myself as a guy, but I also very much knew that I had no desire nor intention to be a woman. I have never felt attached to my assigned gender in any way whatsoever.”

You can read his short introduction to what it means to be non-binary here.

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How children became the target in a rightwing culture war over gender

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Medical treatment for transgender children is cautious and evidence-based, but the conservative reaction has become increasingly hysterical.

Evie is like many 14-year-old girls. After school she likes to hang out with her friends, or go home and watch Netflix. She says she would like to focus on her studies, but almost every day she has to fill out bullying reports.

At the age of nine she transitioned, saying she always knew she was a girl but was assigned male at birth. Almost one year ago she criticised the prime minister, Scott Morrison, on TV for a tweet complaining about “gender whisperers” in schools.

In August, Evie returned to high school in Melbourne after six weeks filming a new TV show, First Day, in which she plays a transgender teen in high school. Finishing work on the show and moving back to school has been challenging for Evie. The recent media coverage of trans issues hasn’t helped, she says.

Evie has had students using her pre-transition name (known as deadnaming) and asking why she is wearing girl’s clothes, or doesn’t use the boy’s bathroom. “Most [kids at school] go home and ask their parents about all this stuff and they come back with a negative reaction,” she says.

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America’s gay-rights moment is over and left a legal mess behind

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Half a decade after the Supreme Court’s same-sex-marriage decision, the justices and Congress are still trying to figure out what federal law should say about LGBTQ rights.

Roughly half of Americans think federal law bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Despite four years of nationwide same-sex marriage, despite rapidly growing cultural acceptance for LGBTQ people, despite extensive annual Pride celebrations—these Americans are wrong.

Now that all of this summer’s glitter floats have been dismantled and the rainbow confetti has been cleared, lawyers, legislators, and judges have turned back to the ongoing fight over whether federal law does, and should, specifically protect LGBTQ people from being fired, denied a rental lease, or refused service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

This year will mark several important milestones in the battle over LGBTQ discrimination. In the spring, the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, a sweeping bill that would prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination in all aspects of public and commercial life, without any religious exemptions.

While the bill has basically no chance of gaining traction in this Senate, if Democrats sweep Congress in 2020, it will likely be high on the party’s priority list. In the fall, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case R. G. & G. R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC & Aimee Stephens, about a former funeral director who was fired after coming out to her employer as transgender. The justices will consider whether existing workplace protections in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 already cover discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

And yet, the legal status of LGBTQ rights remains murky. As the movement has gained cultural momentum, activists have largely moved away from a posture of compromise—they believe they can win full protections for LGBTQ people in any context, without exceptions. A small but significant group of conservative religious leaders has been working the middle ground, trying to build support for a bill that would protect LGBTQ people but leave space for institutions, such as Christian colleges and Catholic hospitals, to operate according to their religious teachings.

But they’ve faced resistance from their right, with prominent pastors and conservative legal groups opposed to any kind of bill that would mark sexual orientation and gender identity as special legal categories.

As America has largely moved on from its gay-rights moment, with many Americans believing everything got taken care of with same-sex marriage, legal advocates on both sides have been left with bitter disagreements about where the country should go next—and the possibility that the status quo will perpetually remain in place.

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Tumblr was sold, porn ban stays

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Rumours about Tumblr being sold were making the rounds for a few months now and many people hoped that a new owner might get rid of the site’s dumb porn ban that effectively killed the platform.

Alas it wasn’t supposed to be. PornHub, who promised to undo the porn ban if they manage to buy tumblr, let us down. After driving Tumblr into the ground, Verizon just sold the site for peanuts to Automattic, the parent company of WordPress. And they’re keeping the porn ban in place so Tumblr’s days of being a haven for the queer community, nsfw content creators and fandoms are definitely over.

Mr. Mullenweg said his company intends to maintain the existing policy that bans adult content. He said he has long been a Tumblr user and sees the site as complementary to WordPress.com. “It’s just fun,” he said of Tumblr. “We’re not going to change any of that.” — Wall Street Journal

In a statement made up of words that definitely mean something, Verizon characterised its sale of Tumblr as “the culmination of a thoughtful, thorough and strategic process” and called Automattic “the perfect partner” which “will unlock new and exciting possibilities for Tumblr and its users.”

LOL.

Update: Reportedly Verizon/Yahoo sold Tumblr for less than $3 million. We could have bought it with a GoFundMe. For comparison, Yahoo acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Amazing how easy it is to burn a slick billion and destroy one of the biggest websites in the world just by banning porn.