Change, Acceptance, and Progress


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From North Carolina’s controversial HB2 to the showdowns in the Supreme Court; Donald Trump and Kim Davis to Miley Cyrus and President Obama- no matter how you slice it, 2016 was a big year for the LGBTQ/SAGA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Sexuality and Gender Acceptance) community. It is a debate that has nearly all of America involved in some way; on the national scale, it’s evident in the news every few weeks with a new article or story on it. Most prominently is North Carolina’s HB2 (House Bill 2), promotes religious freedom, such as refusing to provide service to a gay customer. “It is the public policy of this State to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to seek, obtain and hold employment without discrimination or abridgment on account of race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap by employers which regularly employ 15 or more employees.” The bill intentionally omits sexual orientation, which nearly every state includes in their nondiscrimination laws now. Also, the bill defines “biological sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate,” a direct attack on transgender and gender non-conforming people. HB2 also not only repeals employment discrimination policies, but even prohibits employment protection policies from being legislated and overturned ordinances in Charlotte and Raleigh protecting gay and transgender people. Following this bill was a string of boycotts that lost the state $400 million in revenue over the following months. Yet, in spite of this, other states such as Mississippi and Tennessee have already passed similar laws that follow the path HB2 has blazed. Yet, there is always a flip side to every coin. The HRC (Human Rights Campaign) is leading campaigns across the country to repeal and prevent these bills in our congressional offices. They are lobbying in the federal Congress to pass laws protecting the SAGA community, some planned bills even going so far as to deny immigration to anyone found guilty of hate crimes or discrimination in their home country. Of course, they were heavily involved in the 2015 ruling on marriage equality, passed by the Supreme Court during Obama’s presidency. Another notable piece of legislation they have already passed in our legal systems is the hate crimes law passed by President Barack Obama in 2013, which includes gender, gender identity and sexual orientation in the definition of a hate crime. Today lobbying continues in Congress at the federal level to fight for equality. However, a Trump presidency with a Republican-controlled Congress, poised to appoint at least one Justice to the Supreme Court, could prove to be a major roadblock for equality. Either way, it’s going to be one heck of a ride for America. How does this affect people here at home? All of the action is going on exclusively in the federal courts; as a matter of fact, even the state of Michigan and cities within the state have their own mandates and ordinances regarding SAGA. Teachers at an Oakland University conference are planning a seminar to decide how to properly address transgender students and other schools and colleges in the state are doing the same thing. Notably, a transgender student from our rival school, Farmington High School (FHS), has started a case for the state school boards to require employees to be trained on how to properly address transgender students. The transgender student from FHS has received support for a proposal to the state school boards requiring teachers and staff to be taught how to respectfully treat gender nonconforming students and will be voted on by the state legislators. The proposal would also allow gender nonconforming students to use the bathroom of their choice. Farmington Public Schools itself is becoming more trans-friendly as a whole, with teachers using correct pronouns for students as requested and a generally accepting community for LGBTQ students.

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