Diversity, Equity & Civil Rights Issues to Watch
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Updated February 17, 2018
- #HANDSOFFMYADA - The House voted 225 to 192 to pass the ADA Education and Reform Act. Misleadingly titled, this act guts the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that was first enacted in 1990 to ensure protections for the 55 million Americans living with disabilities. Supporters of the bill argued that it protected businesses from unnecessary lawsuits—but in reality, it shifts the burden of compliance with the law from business owners to people with disabilities whose civil rights are being violated.
- Walgreens ensures trans people will always be welcome in their stores - Walgreens has instituted a new policy that protects its employees and customers from discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression/presentation. The new policy specifically states, “All individuals have a right to use restroom facilities that correspond to the individual’s gender identity, regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth.” It likewise makes clear that “employees have a right to work in an environment free of verbal or physical harassment on account of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Harassment of any type on the part of managers, supervisors or team members will not be tolerated.”
- Cuomo Wants To Ban ‘Gay Panic’ And ‘Trans Panic’ Defenses - Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to ban defenses in New York that are used to justify hate crimes against gay and transgender people, inserting the provisions into 30-day amendments due to be released on Thursday.
- Education Dept. says it won't act on transgender bathroom complaints - The Education Department has confirmed that it will not investigate or act on complaints from transgender students who allege that they were prevented from using a bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Spokesperson Liz Hill told the news outlet in a statement on Thursday that the department does not consider bathroom complaints from transgender students to be covered by Title IX anti-discrimination laws. Asked to clarify, Hill later said that “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.”
- Push to increase employment for people with disabilities - The unemployment rate for people with disabilities in New York is nearly 70 percent, according to Our Ability, an organization that tries to bring together businesses and disabled people looking for jobs. Back in 2014, Governor Cuomo signed an executive order encouraging employers to adopt a formal policy for hiring people with disabilities. And while some workplaces are becoming more inclusive, advocates say more could be done with more funding from the state. John Robinson, the CEO of Our Ability, and Senator Robert Ortt join us to explain.
- More U.S. teens identify as transgender - Nearly 2,200 identified as transgender or gender nonconforming. The study found that these kids reported worse mental and physical health than other kids, echoing results seen in previous research. Bullying and discrimination are among possible reasons for the differences, Rider said, although the survey didn't ask. The new study was published Monday in Pediatrics. The study is based on a statewide survey of Minnesota teens in ninth and 11th grades; Rider said the results can be used to estimate numbers of trans and gender nonconforming teens in those grades across the United States.
- Cuomo signs order banning state contracts with companies that ‘promote or tolerate discrimination’ - "New York will fight every action this federal administration takes that attempts to undo progress we have made," Cuomo said. “With this executive order, New York reaffirms our commitment to protecting the rights of everyone.” The order does not define exactly what constitutes promoting or tolerating discrimination, but requires the Office of General Services and Division of Human Rights to put out detailed rules by May 1 to help agencies identify companies that they can no longer do business with. It says discrimination should be defined broadly, regardless of any narrowed federal rules.
- Doctors Refuse to Treat Trans Patients More Often Than You Think - New federal regulations are intended to help doctors refuse service based on religious or moral grounds. For trans patients, they may make a bad situation much worse. "There's a difference between [not] being willing to provide a service and [not] being willing to provide a service to a certain person," said Mark Wicclair, bioethicist and author of the 2011 book Conscientious Objection in Health Care: An Ethical Analysis. But the recently proposed HHS regulations don’t distinguish between the two, opening the door to provider discrimination against patients on the basis of a variety of classes not protected by federal law, including gender identity and sexual orientation. And because the regulations allow for federal law to trump state laws, the resolution of conflicts between federal and state laws would fall to the courts, potentially threatening state laws that protect sexual minorities from discrimination.
- Serving LGBTQ Immigrants and Building Welcoming Communities - The Center for American Progress conducted interviews with over 30 organizations and 3 mayor’s offices in 6 major cities across the country to learn how to better serve LGBTQ immigrants. In order to ensure they are meeting the needs of LGBTQ immigrants, service providers and cities need to include LGBTQ service providers and LGBTQ immigrants in immigrant integration efforts; review services and outreach strategies to see how to be more inclusive of LGBTQ immigrants; improve language access; and increase outreach and visibility of existing services to LGBTQ immigrant communities. This report examines what social and legal services are available to LGBT immigrants and offers recommendations to aid organizations and communities in their efforts to integrate LGBTQ immigrants in ways that meet their needs and allow them to thrive.
- The Department of Education Isn't Handling Trans Student Discrimination Complaints, Report Says - Transgender students aren't succeeding in getting the department's OCR to address their complaints. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights continues to say they are not required to handle cases relating to discrimination against transgender students, according to a HuffPost report.
- Hate Doesn’t Pay: Anti-LGBTQ Policies Cost States Billions Every Year - The Daily Beast, citing research from The William Institute, shows that refusing to grant rights to the LGBT community costs states a lot of money. For instance, states lose money over boycotts, like the one in North Carolina over the “ bathroom bill,” in which the state attempted to pass a law that would force transgender people to use the bathroom of their gender at birth, instead of the gender they actually identify as. The boycotts resulted in the canceling of events and people losing their jobs. But even beyond boycotts, states are also missing opportunities to raise billions of dollars by refusing to pass bills and laws that protect LGBT people.
- Justice Department Scraps ADA Guidance - Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he’s rescinding more than two dozen guidance documents including several clarifying the implications of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Among the 25 revoked documents are a number of ADA-related items dating as far back as 1995 offering guidance on everything from service animals to accessible building practices as well as a 2016 letter on employment of people with disabilities.
- What We Discovered During a Year of Documenting Hate - There is a vast discrepancy between the hate crimes numbers gathered by the FBI from police jurisdictions around the country and the estimate of hate crime victims in annual surveys by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The FBI counts 6,121 hate crimes in 2016, and the BJS estimates 250,000 hate crimes a year. We were told early on that while the law required the Department of Justice to report hate crime statistics, local and state police departments aren’t bound to report their numbers to the FBI — and many don't. Complicating matters further is that hate crime laws vary by state, with some including sexual orientation as a protected class of victims and some not. Five states have no hate crime statute at all.
- U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Releases Report: Working for Inclusion: Time for Congress to Enact Federal Legislation to Address Workplace Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Americans - The report, based on testimony and written materials submitted to the Commission, along with extensive social science research and surveys, reflects the reality that many LGBT Americans experience prejudice and discrimination in the workplace.
- New Generation Of Transgender Americans Wants To Change Laws, Not Just Minds - More than half of LGBTQ Americans older than 50 say the larger problem is discrimination from individuals. Younger generations say biased laws share the blame. Today, advocates say they fight for, as they describe it, both lived and legal equality.
- Public schools in Maine, Maryland, NJ have transgender students’ backs vs parents - Officials in public schools in Maine, Maryland and New Jersey are rallying behind transgender students.
- Understanding the expanding definitions of gender - California will become the first state in the country to offer a nonbinary option on driver’s licenses and birth certificates. This comes as a growing list of colleges is allowing students to indicate which pronouns they use on registration forms. LGBTQ activists say these are big steps forward, but challenges remain. We talk about what policymakers can do to make institutions more inclusive.
- This is the hidden financial cost of being an LGBTQ American in 2017 - Whether or not you’re married, navigating the already-tricky obstacle course of a career often comes with additional hurdles if you are gay, transgender or gender nonconforming: 28 states still lack protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, and research suggests nearly 1 in 10 workers have left jobs because of unwelcoming cultures. There are quantifiable gaps in employment rates and pay based on sexuality. And for LGBTQ women or people of color, income and employment challenges may widen already large wage gaps driven by gender or race.
- How Does Your State Rank In Trans Equality? - Read the New York State report.
- Poll: 1 In 3 Latinos Report Discrimination Based On Ethnicity - About a third of Latinos in America say they've been personally discriminated against when it comes to applying for jobs, being paid equally or considered for promotions — and when trying to rent a room or apartment or buy a house. Slightly more (37 percent) say they've personally experienced racial or ethnic slurs because of their race or ethnicity.
- Rutgers launches new social justice prep program for future educators - Evidence also indicates there is a lack of diversity in the K-12 teaching field in comparison to the student population; a recent analysis by the Task Force on Diversifying Virginia's Educator Pipeline found that only 21% of the state’s teachers are non-white, while 49% of the state’s students ae non-white. These trends are only likely to continue nationwide, with the GSE noting the number of students from “underserved groups” exceeded the number of white students in the country three years ago. A 2016 report from the U.S. Department of Education found educators in elementary and secondary schools in the country “are relatively homogeneous racially,” with 82% of the educators in public schools being white, with only 20% of principals in the U.S. being non-white in the 2011-2012 school year.
- 11% of White People Say They Were Bias Victims in College - Eleven percent of white Americans believe that they personally were victims of discrimination in applying to college or while in college, according to a new poll by NPR. A larger percentage of white people (55 percent) believe that discrimination against white people exists in the United States today.
- 76 Companies Urge Supreme Court to Support LGBT Workplace Protections - Major U.S. companies and organizations, including tech giants, financial institutions and sports teams, are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to create uniform federal protections for gay, lesbian and transgender employees.
- Transgender students prevail with school policy in Maryland - In Frederick County, Maryland, the system’s 67 schools have a new policy that is regarded as one of the most progressive in the state. The policy spells out that bathrooms and locker rooms should be used according to gender identity and provides alternatives for students uncomfortable for any reason. It also covers privacy, preferred names, dress codes for major events and participation in sports teams.
- Across The Country, Diverging Policies For LGBTQ Youth In Child Welfare System - The ways in which states and their respective child welfare agencies support LGBTQ youth varies greatly, according to a state-by-state analysis and map of child welfare systems’ policies from Lambda Legal.
- In Shift, Justice Dept. Says Law Doesn’t Bar Transgender Discrimination - Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday ordered the Justice Department to take the position in court cases that transgender people are not protected by a civil rights law that bars workplace discrimination based on sex. The move was the Trump administration’s latest contraction of the Obama-era approach to civil rights enforcement. The dispute centers on how to interpret employment protections based on “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In December 2014, the attorney general at the time, Eric H. Holder Jr., ordered the Justice Department to view “sex” as encompassing gender identity, extending protections to transgender people.
- Trans students kicked off school bus in Glens Falls - A school district in South Glens Falls says there will be more training for staff after two students who identify as transgender were ordered off a school bus last week. The incident was captured by a student on video, which went viral over the weekend. According to the district, more gender sensitivity training will be scheduled for all staff. They point out that all staff members in South Glens Falls finished an inclusion training session aimed earlier this month.
- The Quiet Attack on the ADA Making Its Way Through Congress - In the current political climate, the assault on Americans with disabilities is no longer limited to attempts to strip them of health care, take away the services millions need to live independently and to work, or make deep cuts to programs that help many make ends meet. Now a bill making its way through Congress threatens to roll back the civil rights of people with disabilities by exactly 27 years. The bill, misleadingly titled the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, would deal a major blow to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the landmark civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and mandates that people with disabilities have “equal opportunity” to participate in American life.
- Trump signs congressional resolution condemning white supremacist - President Donald Trump signed a resolution Thursday condemning white supremacists and hate groups, hours after reviving his assertion that there were “bad dudes” among those opposing a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month. “You know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also,” the president told reporters aboard Air Force once, sparking another round of criticism that the president has failed to adequately condemn hate speech. He took a different tone hours later, calling for Americans to move forward “as one people”.
- Emerging School Restroom Trends Help Ensure Transgender Student Safety - There are an estimated 150,000 transgender students across the nation, according to a report published in February by the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law. Yonkers, N.Y.-based ASI Group, a 50-year-old manufacturer of washroom accessories, partitions and lockers has seen an uptick in school orders for what it terms “ultimate privacy partitions.” These are partitions that are lower to the floor and higher to the ceiling than conventional restroom partitions. A European-style partition, essentially a small room that encloses the facilities, has also proven popular.
- Trump’s administration is rewriting a rule that made transgender health care accessible. Patients are scared - The Trump administration is working to revise a section of the law that says federally funded health programs cannot discriminate on the basis of sex. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has told a federal court that he’s reworking the rule and won’t enforce it in the meantime. Already, some states have defied the Obama directive and specifically excluded transgender care from their Medicaid coverage. And Wisconsin, Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, and Nebraska are teaming up with Christian health care providers to challenge the anti-discrimination rule in federal court. (It’s in response to this case that Price filed the motion in May indicating that he is revising the regulation.)
- Federal government has long ignored white supremacist threats, critics say - As President Trump continues to suffer political backlash for his response to the deadly Charlottesville protests led by white supremacists, analysts who follow far-right groups say generations of neglect by multiple administrations has allowed them to proliferate and strengthen. “The federal government has taken their eye off the ball, and it has allowed the far right to fester and grow for decades,” said Heidi Beirich, who leads the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project and runs its Hatewatch blog. “They are a real threat that has been underestimated.”
- KKK Leader Claims Hate Group Has Grown at Record Pace Since Trump Became President - The Ku Klux Klan has grown faster since Donald Trump’s inauguration than any time in recent memory, a Klan leader has claimed. “I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I haven’t seen the Klan grow at the pace it’s growing now,” Chris Barker, an Imperial Wizard of the KKK, told The Independent. “I mean, it’s even hard to keep track of the numbers you’ve got ’cause there’s so many coming in.” Mr Barker said that after the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville he received 50 applications to join his group in one day. The next day, he received 80.
- United Nations rights panel warns US over racist rhetoric - United Nations human rights experts have called upon the US government and political leaders to "unequivocally and unconditionally" reject and condemn racist hate speech and crimes. The panel said it was "alarmed" by recent displays of racist violence and, without mentioning US President Donald Trump by name, condemned the "failure at the highest political level" to "unequivocally reject and condemn" such activity.
- LGBT Rights Group Sues Trump Admin. for Records on Transgender Policy Shift - The original guidance—issued by the Obama administration—asserted that Title IX, the federal gender non-discrimination law, guarantees the rights of transgender students to have access the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, even if it differs from their sex at birth. The guidance also directed schools to respect transgender students' pronoun choices, to protect their confidentiality, and to respond to bullying based on gender identity. The Trump administration rescinded that guidance in February, leaving it to schools to interpret federal law. Advocates for transgender students say ending the Obama-era guidance removed a layer of uniformity and certainty for transgender students around the country. Those groups maintain that Title IX applies to transgender students, regardless of federal guidance, and they have committed to making their case in court.
- AAUW Stands against Bias and Bigotry - For more than 135 years, AAUW has stood against intolerance and injustice. And we have no plans of sitting down now. As our country faces some of our greatest tests, it is important to look at AAUW’s history to show that the squall of discrimination cannot be met by silence.
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