Gender identity also considered, but not included this year
by Doreen Cudnik
Cincinnati--The Cincinnati School Board voted August 26 to revise the district�s code of conduct policy to ban harassment for sexual orientation.
The six-to-one vote was met with enthusiasm by nearly 100 people at the August 27 school board meeting at Mayerson Academy. After the roll call vote was taken, many people wearing yellow "I Support Safe Schools For Everyone" pins rose to their feet and applauded the board�s decision.
The new discipline policy now makes harassing or intimidating another student based on sexual orientation an offense that can be punished by suspension or even expulsion from school.
The revised code of conduct affects students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
The policy says: "Students must not use words, statements (written or verbal) or actions that intimidate or express inflicting harm or loss towards students, district staff, visitors, district vehicles or property. This includes any negative comments or statements about a person�s race, nationality, religion or sexual orientation."
Opponents of the changes had earlier said that they would infringe on the rights of people who disagree with homosexuality on the basis of religion. A vote on the changes set for August 13 was postponed until the August 27 school board meeting so these concerns could be addressed.
Attorney Jennifer Branch worked with the school board to make sure the language would "pass constitutional muster."
"Because there was opposition we went back and did some research and were able to find other policies and court decisions that did meet the First Amendment test," Branch said. "We were able to give those suggestions to the school board attorney John Concannon, he incorporated those suggestions, and they came up with a much better policy."
Branch added, however, that the changes could still be challenged.
"You can�t stop people from filing lawsuits," she said, "but [the new policy] should be upheld by the courts."
For a moment during the meeting, it looked as if gender identity might also be included in the revised policy.
Psychotherapist Kate Ramsdell addressed the board about the difference between "sexual orientation" and "gender identity," and urged the board to consider adding the language.
The Cincinnati chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network backed adding the "gender identity" language as well, and had provided material on the subject to board members.
"Because gender identity issues are less understood and less visible than sexual orientation, the discrimination and harassment children feel based on gender identity is something our school system has only begun to consider," GLSEN said in a release. "Therefore, if a student were to raise the issue, the student becomes the problem, not the harassment. By including gender identity in the code of student conduct, CPS [the school system] is prepared to address the harassment."
School board member Sally Warner said that the issue of gender identity was discussed in committee, and it would be considered for next year�s changes. Warner also said that she believed harassment on the basis of gender identity was adequately addressed under the current code. She added that discussion of the issue could be included "as part of our education packet for students, teachers--everyone in the schools."
"At this point [gender identity] is not in the revised policy, but that does not mean we will allow children to be harassed under any circumstance," Warner commented.
School board member Harriet Russell proposed a "friendly amendment" that would have added the gender identity language to the revised policy.
"I�d like to see [gender identity] added so we can completely address the issue this evening," Russell said.
Russell�s proposal was followed by the most heated debate of the evening. The lone "no" vote, Lynn Marmer, said that the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity in the school�s code of conduct was about "carrying on agendas that don�t have anything to do with keeping kids safe in schools."
Marmer�s comments were met with some boos and hisses from the mostly pro-revision crowd, prompting Board President Rick Williams to call for order and ask the crowd to "calm down."
Marmer also added that she did not feel harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity "rise[s] to the level of a suspendable offense."
"While I don�t think it is appropriate to be harassing and intimidating," Marmer said, "I do not see that as being a category to suspend."
Responding to Marmer�s comments, Russell said, "I believe the whole purpose here is that we do not want our students to be harassed and we do want our staff to feel that they have a policy that supports their addressing the issues of harassment and intimidation. I believe very strongly that we do not wish to have schools where victims are created."
The question now becomes how the new policy will be implemented. Rosa Blackwell, deputy superintendent of schools, has been charged with writing and developing procedures and making sure they are implemented fairly and throughout the district.
Cincinnati Public Schools attorney John Concannon reported that principals and vice-principals were trained about the policy during several in-service sessions held two weeks ago.
GLSEN has begun to gather organizations that have agreed to provide assistance to the school board as they design the program to train and educate students, staff, and administrators about the revised policy.
The groups include the Cincinnati chapter of the American Association of University Women, the National Conference for Community and Justice, Jewish Family Services, the Inclusion Network, the Center for Peace Education, and Rev. Steve Van Kuiken of Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church.
Former GLSEN co-chair Jeff Bixby said he is working "very closely with the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers and we�re ready to help implement this policy." Bixby added that he is working on a resolution to bring up at the next CFT meeting, recommending that CFT take a role in the training of staff and teachers with regards to the new school board policy.
Current GLSEN co-chair Andy Ruffner said the evening was full of "high courtroom drama."
He added that he was "encouraged" looking at the facial expressions of school board members during the discussion about adding gender identity.
"I think that they were pretty open to it," Ruffner said. "Working with the schools over the course of this year, we�re going to win this one and we�re going to get gender identity included for 2002. This has been a very proud night."
by Andy Scahill
Columbus�A Short North gay night spot was the target of an armed robbery just before closing time last Thursday night.
At 2:15 am August 24, a robber described by witnesses as a tall black male in a Halloween mask entered the Union Station with a revolver and demanded cash from the register.
Adam Jones, a bar employee, was forced at gunpoint to empty the cash register at the bar and then crawl on the floor to empty the bar's safe.
According to the police report, the robber was in and out of the bar in less than five minutes.
"In my experience, it�s pretty unusual for someone to walk into a bar and try to rob it during business hours," said Union Station co-owner Ray Brown, who was not at the club during the robbery.
Brown was an officer for 17 years in the Worthington Police Department, and has a close relationship with Columbus police.
"We always take precautions," says Brown, "but some of these things are impossible to predict."
Detective Karen Hurles of the Columbus police said that they have no leads at this time, but that they are investigating various possibilities. It is not yet known if the bar�s security cameras recorded a useful image.
This incident follows another robbery that occurred August 22 at a Bank One branch two blocks from Union Station. Officials say they have not determined if the crimes are linked.
by Anthony Glassman
Cleveland�Thunderstorms and a new date hurt attendance at the 23rd annual Northern Ohio Coalition, Inc. "We Are Family" picnic August 26, but did not dampen the spirits of those that did come.
It was the second year in a row that attendance had dropped for the oldest LGBT event in Cleveland, but organizers are not discouraged by the slumping figures.
"I think the people that did attend had a great time," NOCI president Edd Martin said. "There were plenty of people singing in the rain."
The event, which had been held for two decades at the Wildwood Lake Water Park in Columbia Township, was moved last year about seven miles east to the German-American Cultural Center in suburban Parma, causing an immediate drop in attendance. The move to an earlier weekend this year, along with the inclement weather, also lost some picnickers.
"The numbers were not really a surprise," Martin commented, noting that the board expected it to take five years before the figures approached their previous levels.
In 1997, the picnic drew 2,500 people to Wildwood, dipping to between 1,500 and 1,800 the next year, then back up to 2,000 people in 1999. Last year�s move caused a drop to 750 people attending the picnic. A preliminary count put this year�s attendance at 250.
Despite the lower numbers, NOCI is still optimistic about the move. Last year, Martin noted that the German-American Cultural Center cost half as much to rent as Wildwood had, one of the major reasons for the move. The new venue and date, though, were by popular demand.
"The changes we made were requested by the community," Martin said. "We are showing our flexibility in serving the community by making these changes."
Last year�s date, the Sunday after Labor Day, put the picnic on the same day as both the Dr. John T. Carey Memorial AIDS Walk and the annual Cleveland Browns-Pittsburgh Steelers football game. (The Cleveland AIDS Walk is Sept. 23 this year.)
The day was not occupied by thoughts of attendance and thunderstorms, however. The outdoor entertainment tent was filled the entire day, and there were three other buildings where picnickers could hide from the weather and enjoy the party.
In addition, the Ozzie Award, named for NOCI founder Oscar Hagopian, was given this year to Linda Malicki, executive director of the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, for her service to the community.
The "We Are Family" picnic is NOCI�s largest fundraiser of the year, and has enabled the group to offer startup funds and grants to diverse lesbian-gay community organizations.
NOCI funding enabled the AIDS Housing Council to purchase Kamana House; a NOCI startup grant helped found the Health Issues Taskforce in 1983, now known as the AIDS Taskforce of Cleveland; and another was instrumental in getting the Lesbian-Gay Center�s PRYSM youth group off the ground.
Martin is hopeful that next year sees more people coming to the Parma picnic.
"I think everyone had a lot of fun," he concluded.
by Kaizaad Kotwal
Columbus--The Ohio Splash Gay Games Fund hosted one of its biggest events yet, a drag show titled "Splash Down Under" on August 5 at the Axis nightclub.
The Ohio Splash has been a masters swim team since 1997. The group started with six members and now has a roster of over 100 swimmers. The team, especially some of its top members, has its eyes set on the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney, Australia.
In past competitions, Splash swimmers have brought home medals and ribbons from games in Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington D.C., the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics Championships in Toronto last July, and the 1998 Gay Games in Amsterdam.
In order to help its athletes make it to Australia in 2002, the Splash team is focusing on fund raising events over the next year to raise $30,000 towards that goal, according to Julie Applegate, one of the Splash�s most decorated swimmers.
Columbus female impersonator Mary Ann Brandt hosted "Splash Down Under." From her opening video montage in which Brandt horsed around with the Splash swimmers, jumping into the pool, wig and all, to the closing number where Brandt imitated flight attendant safety demonstrations, she helped the Splash raise $3,600 in one evening.
Both the male and female members of the Splash team entertained the audience. Some of the highlights of the evening were given by "Rita Pamphlet," "K. Hole" and the "Girls of the Moulin Rouge."
On the drag king front the audience was regaled by "Elton John" and the "Bee Gees."
The grand finale by the Splash dragsters and other teammates was a Full Monty-style group number where the swimmers stripped down to their towels.
Mary Ann Brandt then interrupted them with the warning that, "I want you guys to make it to Australia, and not spend your time in the slammer!"
The Splash Gay Games Fund can be contacted at 614-265-7363, extension 4.
by John Gantt
Dayton�The Dayton Pride Partnership kicked off its 2002 season with a "Good Bye to Summer Blow Out " at Club Diva on August 25.
Members of the community gathered to support the partnership at this first event of the Dayton Pride 2002 season, unveiling the coming year�s theme, "Building Pride From Inside Out."
A number of activities were held throughout the night. Pride partners for the event donated raffle prizes. A cookout fed the diverse crowd of local LGBT people and friends. A frozen T-shirt contest got the crowd worked up until the shirts were flying everywhere.
The highlights of the evening were performances by some of Dayton�s premier entertainers. The high energy of Bonni Blake and Amanda Kane impressed everyone, and Tykuhn, a male illusionist, mingled with the crowd. Local chanteuse Felicia Dalton soothed the crowd with her mellifluous voice. Multi talented Rob Austin kept everything going in the role of emcee.
Events in the next nine months leading up to Dayton Pride 2002 will highlight and help support local organizations and groups, who in turn help the Dayton GLBT community with services and support for events.
The party was co-sponsored by the Community Coalition, which serves to support local legislation ensuring the rights of all in the Dayton community. Eighteen individuals will represent the Community Coalition and Dayton in Chicago September 7-9 at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force�s Midwest Summit.
For more information about Dayton Pride, call 937-275-3059 or e-mail DaytonPride2001@aol.com.
John Gantt is the president of the Dayton Pride Partnership.
by Anthony Glassman
Ypsilanti, Mich.�A petition delivered August 2 to the city to force a referendum on its gay-inclusive civil rights ordinance is being challenged by gay rights advocates as illegal.
The petition contains 1,162 signatures, and at least 695 must be verified to cause a referendum to repeal the city�s 1998 antidiscrimination ordinance. The measure was enacted after a referendum vote in the city went in favor of the ordinance.
Doug Shapiro, an attorney working with the Ypsilanti Campaign for Equality, a group opposing the drive to repeal the ordinance, sent the Ypsilanti city clerk a request on August 14 that the petitions be disqualified.
According to Shapiro, there are a number of irregularities that should invalidate the petitions. He said that the people circulating the petitions misrepresented the purpose of the proposal, a common allegation in anti-gay petition drives.
Petition circulators told signers that the petitions would give voters a chance to support gay civil rights at the ballot box, Shapiro said.
Shapiro said that the petitions do not state the sponsors of the organization circulating them, and that the proposal is not confined to one topic, a legal requirement for petitions in Michigan. He also said that the proposed language would nullify the entire human rights ordinance.
City Clerk Robert Slone said August 22 that his office would review the allegations, and that he had given copies of the letter from Shapiro to both the city attorney�s office and to police chief George Basar, who forwarded it to the Washtenaw County prosecutor�s office for investigation of possible criminal activities.
The measure, if approved, would amend the city charter to prohibit extending protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The only other city to pass such a charter amendment is Cincinnati.
"This was clearly voted on and sealed," Jay Sennet, a spokesman for the Ypsilanti Campaign for Equality told the Ann Arbor News.
"There is no need to go through that again," he said, referring to the campaign leading to the 1998 referendum, when voters defeated another measure to strip sexual orientation from rights ordinances in the city by 56%.
Three other towns face votes
Other Michigan cities are facing more immediate referenda. Kalamazoo, in southwest Michigan, and Traverse City, in the northern half of the Lower Peninsula, both have issues before the voters similar to the one in Ypsilanti, banning the cities from ever passing civil rights protections based on sexual orientation.
In Huntington Woods, a suburb of Detroit, voters will decide on an gay equal rights ordinance approved by the city council.
Gay foe runs afoul of tax laws
Shapiro said the architect of Ypsilanti�s referendum is the American Family Association of Michigan, led by Gary Glenn. Glenn�s hand is also seen in the anti-gay efforts in the other cities.
Glenn, however, may be on the defensive after an August 16 exposé by Between the Lines, Michigan�s weekly LGBT newspaper.
The paper unearthed information showing that Glenn has consistently failed to file tax information for his organization, leading it to lose its charitable license. The AFA of Michigan has also lost its IRS non-profit status, and Glenn is being assessed daily fines until he brings his organization in compliance with tax laws.
Glenn also heads For the Children Co., which registered as a charitable organization on August 10, 2000, ten months after Glenn began collecting funds for it. He also has only filed tax information for the period of October-December 2000.
Glenn also violated Michigan law by releasing letters on organizational letterhead attacking state lawmaker Judith Scranton. State law forbids non-profits from endorsing or speaking against specific candidates. Glenn twice issued letters to people in his database attacking Scranton for her support of University of Michigan classes that examine the societal context of homosexuality.
Nationally, Glenn is a founder and leader of the Council for Responsible Government, a "soft money" organization that buys "issue ads" for campaigns, which do not specifically endorse a candidate but rather indicate a position on an issue. A loophole in the laws regarding issue ads allowed such organizations to not disclose their donors.
The loophole, however, was closed when President Clinton signed a bill requiring soft money organizations to register with the IRS and file donor and expenditure statements. Glenn�s organization announced that it would not comply with the law�s requirements that it disclose its donors.
The first issue ads the group ran were aimed at Idaho gubernatorial candidate Butch Otter, who Glenn publicly feuded with during Glenn�s two terms as an Ada County, Idaho, commissioner.
Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman,
Bush names a second gay official
Washington, D.C.--President Bush has appointed a gay man to the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts. The commission has seven members that serve as volunteers and advise the government on landscape and architectural matters that affect the appearance of Washington, D.C. and approves the designs of memorials and monuments throughout the country.
The appointment of New York real estate developer and gay Republican activist Donald A. Capoccia was made August 22. He is Bush's second openly gay appointment.
Capoccia was one of 12 gay Republicans that met with candidate Bush in April 2000 following Bush's refusal to meet with the Log Cabin Republicans. Following the election, Capoccia served the transition team overseeing the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A resident of Manhattan, Capoccia also serves as vice chair of the Republican Unity Coalition, which formed in January to build gay support for GOP candidates.
Bush�s first gay appointment was in April, when he named Scott Evertz as director of the White House AIDS Policy Office.
The White House press release announcing Capoccia's appointment did not mention his gay community activities.
Schools drop club ban
San Juan Capistrano, Calif.�School officials have scrapped an 11-year policy that had banned religious and gay student clubs on high school campuses.
Capistrano Unified School District Superintendent James Fleming said August 27 that officials feared possible lawsuits and they didn�t want to deprive students of opportunities that could help them get into college.
The Los Angeles suburban district has 45,000 students.
The move comes as other districts are taking measures to keep religious and gay clubs off campus. Neighboring Saddleback Valley Unified School District recently voted to ban a Christian club.
Capistrano�s policy will now enable gay and religious clubs to advertise activities and hold meetings on campus. Groups that discriminate or espouse hatred aren�t included under the new policy, Fleming said.
Capistrano had banned special-interest clubs since a 1990 Supreme Court ruling that schools must allow religious clubs if they allow other groups that don�t have any academic benefit.
Student admits faking hate mail
Ewing, N.J.�An openly gay student at the College of New Jersey who said he had received death threats and hate mail has admitted fabricating the messages.
Edward Drago, 25, of Toms River, N.J., a psychology major who would be a junior this fall, was charged with filing a false police report and harassment. He also was suspended from school pending a disciplinary hearing.
School officials said August 28 that Drago told campus police that he sent the hate mail to himself earlier this year and also was responsible for a recent flurry of e-mails to the campus gay union, of which he is treasurer.
Drago could not be reached for comment.
"This is a very unfortunate situation," college President R. Barbara Gitenstein said. "I regret the emotional toll on the college community, particularly on our gay members."
Sub exhibit has gay sailor�s poem
Washington, D.C.�A Smithsonian Institution exhibit on submarines includes a poem by a sailor who was kicked out of the Navy for being gay.
"It�s kind of like a validation of my service," said Tim Beauchamp, a native of Tulsa, Okla., who lives in Washington. "I was considering the Navy as a career."
Beauchamp, a yeoman who served in the Navy for over four years, wrote "Sub Sailor�s Views on �Glasnost� " in December 1987 on board the USS Henry Clay, a nuclear submarine patrolling the North Atlantic.
The poem is part of the exhibit "Fast Attacks and Boomers: Submarines in the Cold War" at the National Museum of American History. A copy of it is displayed on a sailor�s bunk in a part of the exhibit dealing with daily life on a submarine.
Eight months after writing the poem, Beauchamp, now 36, received an honorable discharge from the Navy after his superiors discovered he was gay.
Before his discharge, Beauchamp had been awarded a Good Conduct Medal, a Sea Service Ribbon and a letter of commendation.
Beauchamp, who has worked since his discharge as a computer systems analyst and a writer, said he�d forgotten about the poem until he came across it in an old notebook from his days as a submariner. It was included in the exhibit after Beauchamp�s partner brought it to the attention of the curator.
Oral Majority founder seeks office
Miami Beach, Fla.�A Miami Beach activist declared his candidacy for governor on August 27, joining a crowded field of Democrats who want to take on Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.
But Bob Kunst said his campaign stands out because he is the only one focused on the Florida presidential election, which he accuses Bush of helping to steal for his brother.
"I believe this is the one issue that defeats Jeb Bush," Kunst said.
Kunst, 59, is president of the Oral Majority, a group he formed 26 years ago as a gay civil rights activist in response to the Rev. Jerry Falwell�s now-defunct Moral Majority.
Prominent Democrats running for governor include U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa, former Ambassador to Vietnam Pete Peterson of Marianna, Tampa attorney Bill McBride, House Minority Leader Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach and state Sen. Daryl Jones of Miami.
Former U.S. attorney general Janet Reno is continuing her statewide effort to drum up support for a possible run but hasn�t officially filed to run.
Over mayor�s veto, city honors Pride
Duluth, Minn.�City council members went against their mayor and officially welcomed a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender festival.
Council members voted 7-2 August 27 to override a veto of the resolution supporting the Duluth Superior Twin Ports GLBT Pride Festival.
Mayor Gary Doty vetoed the proposal the previous week and the council needed a 6-3 vote to override his decision.
This is the first time the city has recognized the festival since it began in the late 1980s. Doty� s refusal to issue a proclamation acknowledging the festival prompted the local gay community and supporters to flood the council chambers August 27.
Several councilors criticized Doty for vetoing the resolution.
Doty did not attend the meeting, but said earlier: "While I believe most Duluthians recognize the legal right of the group to hold an event such as this, they do not want a proclamation from the city endorsing it."
Several thousand people are expected to attend the Labor Day weekend festival, which will include a parade through downtown Duluth.
European Scouts won�t discriminate
Prague, Czech Republic�European scouting organizations will not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, according to a vote at the July 7-12 European Conference of Scouts and Guides.
Turkey, Greece, Malta Romania Portugal and Cyprus voted against the Belgian-led proposal to ban discrimination by sexual orientation, which passed by a large margin.
The proposal began with a set of children�s rights resolutions adopted by the European Union in 2000. It stressed that LGBT people should be fully accepted into European society and Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.
Boy Scouts and Girl Guides organizations are active in 41 European nations, with 3.5 million members.
According to reports, a Boy Scouts of America observer at the conference was unhappy with the vote. The U.S. organization won a Supreme Court case last year allowing them to ban gays from membership or leadership positions.
Adopt-a-Highway sign is smaller
Sioux Falls, S.D.�The Sioux Empire Gay and Lesbian Coalition said August 23 that their Adopt-a-Highway sign is smaller than the norm, the latest volley in a battle with the state�s governor and Department of Transportation.
According to DOT officials, however, the smaller signs, on one post instead of two, have been standard for new groups since 1999.
The LGBT organization had applied last year to be part of the program, but its application was denied on the grounds that the program is not open to advocacy groups. SEGLC countered that county Republican organizations and the American Association of Retired People are both advocacy groups that have been allowed in the program.
Gov. Bill Janklow threatened to shut down the program altogether following the filing of a suit by the group, but later settled on a compromise. The group can participate and will have a sign naming the group, but at the end of the year all signs will be replaced with generic signs without groups� names, which will be listed on the Department of Transportation�s web site.
Hit song says �burn gays�
Kingston, Jamaica�One of the top songs on the island, number one for thirteen weeks, calls for people to burn gays.
"Chi Chi Man" by Touch of Klass, Jamaica�s top-selling band, contains the lines "From dem a par inna chi chi man car/Blaze de fire mek we bun dem (bun dem)." Chi chi is island slang which originally referred to vermin, then corrupt people; with man it is a slur term for gays.
According to Ian McKnight, a Jamaican gay civil rights activist, at least two people have been killed in response to the song, which took the extremely Christian and homophobic island by storm.
Gay sex is punishable in Jamaica by ten years in prison at hard labor, and at least 38 people have been murdered for being gay in the last decade.
�Homosexual panic� defense revived
Oklahoma City�A state psychiatrist recanted his testimony in court papers filed August 22, saying new information shows Mexican citizen Gerardo Valdez suffered from brain damage, paranoia and "homosexual panic" when he killed another man in 1989.
Cecil F. Mynatt�s affidavit accompanied an appeal that seeks a new trial for Valdez, whose earlier bid for clemency drew the support of Mexican President Vincente Fox.
Gov. Frank Keating has granted two stays, while rejecting Fox�s request and a parole board recommendation of clemency for Valdez, 41.
The International Court of Justice held this summer that two German brothers were denied their rights under international law to access their consul after their arrest. They were executed in Arizona.
Valdez�s attorney said his client also had his rights violated and should get a new trial.
Keating has apologized for a violation of the article of the Vienna Convention that guarantees foreign nationals, upon arrest, the right to contact their country�s consul. Keating said that did not change Valdez�s guilt for the 1989 shooting and beating death of Juan Barron in Oklahoma.
Mynatt said he changed his mind in assessing Valdez�s mental condition after reviewing information provided by the condemned man�s attorney, including opinions of two neuropsychologists and a medical report.
The psychiatrist said it is now his conclusion that at the time Valdez killed Barron he was unable to control his own behavior or was "temporarily insane."
Barron�s body was found in a barbecue pit. Investigators said the 26-year-old man had been shot twice in the head, beaten and had his throat slashed.
Court records show Valdez met Barron at a bar and took him to his home, forced him to strip, then preached to him that the Bible condemned homosexuality.
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