In states with anti-LGBTQ laws, school hate crimes quadrupled

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According to a new report, anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in K-12 schools have quadrupled in U.S. states that have laws restricting the rights of queer students.

Washington Post analysis of FBI data on anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes taking place in K-12 schools and on college campuses, published on March 12 found that anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes “serious enough to be reported to local police” more than doubled across the country in recent years. The Post found that while an average of 108 anti-LGBTQ+ school hate crimes were reported between 2015 and 2019, that average rose to 232 between 2021 and 2022. According to FBI data, the most common hate crimes reported at schools were intimidation, simple assault (assault where no weapon was used), and vandalism.

However, this rise in school hate crimes was more pronounced in the 28 states that have enacted policies restricting LGBTQ+ students’ self-expression and/or limiting how teachers can talk about gender and sexuality in school. In these states, reported anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes on K-12 and college campuses more than tripled from an average of 28 per year between 2015 and 2019 to an average of 90 between 2021 and 2022.

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US Supreme Court allows anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination

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The Supreme Court on Friday allowed certain businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, creating a large loophole in federal and state civil rights laws that have protected Americans for decades. Justice Neil Gorsuch authored the opinion for the court’s conservative justices, who made up the 6 vote majority. The court’s three Democratic-appointed justices dissented.

The case, 303 Creative v. Elenis, was brought by a web designer who wants to create wedding websites for opposite-sex couples but not for same-sex couples—a form of economic discrimination that harkens back to the era before the civil rights movement. But under Colorado’s public accommodations law, services offered to some people must be offered to all. Today, the Republican-appointed justices rolled back the clock and once again opened the marketplace to discrimination.

The court ruled that the web designer’s work is a form of artistic expression and that forcing her to create a website for a same-sex wedding is compelling speech in violation of her First Amendment rights. The ruling thus draws a huge loophole in civil rights law for businesses who claim that their product is a form of speech.

It creates a new reality for LGBTQ+ people, who can now face discrimination from businesses that refuse to serve them because of who they are. In some areas of the country, this might make it difficult to procure certain goods and services. But throughout the nation, it creates the impression that LGBTQ+ people are second-class citizens who do not have the same freedoms as everyone else.

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The religious group behind US effort to roll back queer rights

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With the US besieged by a rightwing culture war campaign that aims to strip away rights from LGBTQ+ people and others, blame tends to be focused on Republican politicians and conservative media figures.

But lurking behind efforts to roll back abortion rights, to demonize trans people, and to peel back the protections afforded to gay and queer Americans is a shadowy, well-funded rightwing legal organization, experts say.

Since it was formed in 1994, Alliance Defending Freedom has been at the center of a nationwide effort to limit the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people, all in the name of Christianity. The Southern Poverty Law Center has termed it an “anti-LGBTQ hate group” that has extended its tentacles into nearly every area of the culture wars.

In the process, it has won the ear of some of the most influential people in the US, and become “a danger to every American who values their freedoms”, according to Glaad, the LGBTQ+ advocacy organization.

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Gay soccer fan stands up to Qatar’s ambassador ahead of World Cup

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The World Cup is set to take place in Qatar, but two months ahead of the competition, a representative for fans of the sport is calling on the Middle Eastern nation to change its draconian laws against homosexuality.

At a human rights conference in Frankfurt, Germany, hosted by the German Football Association on Monday, Darion Minden spoke directly to Qatar’s ambassador.

“I’m a man and I love men. I do — please don’t be shocked — have sex with other men. This is normal,” Minden told Abdulla bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani. “So, please get used to it, or stay out of football. Because the most important rule in football is, football is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re lesbian, if you’re gay. It’s for everyone. For the boys. For the girls. And for everyone in between.”

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Inside the lives of queer people in heterosexual marriages

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Sarah and Bilal casually recline on a plum-colored loveseat with dusty  photo albums on their laps. They look through their wedding pictures and chuckle at a photo that shows Bilal dressed in white, riding a horse to their wedding with his face covered in a veil of flowers.

“He was an actual prince charming that night,” Sarah told VICE World News. To their families, Sarah and Bilal check all the boxes of a perfect married couple. The husband and wife are wealthy, successful doctors living in an upscale suburb in Pakistan.

What their loved ones don’t know is that theirs is a “lavender marriage,” a marriage of convenience. Sarah and Bilal are gay but share a straight-passing commitment to spend the rest of their lives together as husband and wife.

The couple’s names, along with others interviewed for this article, have been changed upon request for their safety and privacy. In Pakistan, where homosexuality is criminalized under discriminatory colonial-era laws, the LGBTQ community faces a constant risk of violence and prejudice.

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US passed more anti-queer laws than in any other year ever

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Amid a horrific wave of legislative attacks on trans youth, 2021 crossed an inauspicious milestone on Friday. More anti-LGBTQ+ laws have been enacted than any other year in history, even with over 7 months left to go.

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 16 discriminatory bills have already been signed into law in 2021, breaking the previous record set 6 years ago. These include six laws banning transgender youth from playing school sports in alignment with their gender identity, four permitting people of faith to refuse services to LGBTQ+ people in the name of religion, and two allowing parents to refuse to allow their children to be taught LGBTQ+ education in schools.

The most recent bill to be signed fell into the latter category. Similar to a law enacted in Tennessee last month, Montana’s Senate Bill 99 requires that parents opt in before students are taught about “human sexuality” in the classroom. The vaguely worded legislation does not define what topics might fall under that umbrella, and HRC claims the law “could be used to target any curriculum regarding LGBTQ people.”

Montana’s Republican governor, Greg Gianforte, signed SB 99 into law on Friday, making it the second anti-LGBTQ+ bill to be enacted in the state this year.

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Teen wins fight to make his school’s dress code gender-neutral

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In December, 17-year-old Trevor Wilkinson made headlines after speaking out over being suspended for wearing nail polish. He penned a petition detailing that he was sentenced to in-school suspension for his nail paint.

He called for the school to change its rules “because girls are allowed to paint and get their nails done.” The petition racked up over 400,000 signatures. Trevor also did work offline, heading to a school board meeting and speaking out in person.

“This isn’t about me anymore,” he told the board while wearing painted nails. “It’s about a discriminatory, sexist policy that needs to be changed.” And now it has. Monday his high school board voted to change the wording in its student handbook, no longer separating guidelines by gender.

“I’m at a loss of words for the joy I am feeling on this special day. I am so blessed by the support, love, and help I have received through this experience.” Trevor said after the decision was made that gender won’t play any role in the school’s dress code anymore.

People with ‘gay-sounding’ voices face more discrimination

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Gay men who believe that they sound gay are more likely to be worried about discrimination, a study found, and gay men were more likely to be worried about this than lesbian women.

“Sounding gay reflects common stereotypes associated with gay men that are still seen as ‘negative,’” said Fabio Fasoli of the University of Surrey, the lead author behind the study. “For a man, sounding gay implies not conforming to the norm of sounding masculine and heterosexual.”

The study, published last month in the British Journal of Social Psychology, surveyed straight and gay people and asked them about what they thought about the differences between the way straight and gay people talked and asked the straight people about their aversion to being around gay people. They found that straight people who believed that they can tell who is gay or straight based on their voices were more likely to have discriminatory attitudes towards gay people, especially towards gay men.

Surprisingly, straight people who thought that “gay voice” is immutable – that is, that it’s a deep difference between gay and straight people that can’t be changed – were more likely to have discriminatory attitudes towards gay people.

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The internet got the back of teen boy suspended for painting his nails

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The internet is rallying around a teenager after he was suspended from his school in Texas for wearing nail polish. Following the Thanksgiving break, 17-year-old Trevor, a senior at his High School in, wore painted nails to school and was reprimanded by his teachers because they “prohibited him from learning,” even receiving an in-school-suspension. Trevor shared what happened on social media and it quickly went viral.

“I was told that I will continue to get ISS until I take them off,” he said, pointing out the “double standard because girls are allowed to paint and get their nails done.” Since his suspension, he launched a Change.org petition, Allow males to wear nail polish, that currently has over 300,000 signatures

“Freedom of expression is validation enough that the dress code and policy is not okay,” wrote Trevor. “I am a gay male and I’m beyond proud. This is unjust and not okay. Help me show that it is okay to express yourself and that the identity that society wants to normalize is not okay. I am a human. I am valid. I should not get in trouble for having my nails done. Sign and share this so people like me don’t have to ever deal with this again. It’s time for a change and that time is now.”

For Trevor and many others, wearing nail polish is about the freedom to express himself. He told USA Today, “I have been doing this to express who I am. I’ve been trapped in closed-minded people’s minds…I love my nails. I think they’re so cool. I’m definitely using it to express myself and feel everyone should have freedom of expression.”