Daily Fix: New South Wales Education Minister Nixes High School Showing of “Gayby Baby” and More News

Here’s some news for you!

+ Keyshia Blige, a black transgender woman, has become the 19th DMAB trans person murdered in the US this year. She was killed in March, shot while in a moving car, but the details of her true gender were reported only recently. She is joined in this terrible respect by Jasmine Collins, the 18th, killed in a motel parking lot, in Kansas City; Collins was killed in June, but again her gender was only recently reported accurately. It’s hard to find anything to say that will truly honor the deep grief that these deaths deserve from the living and also really communicate the degree of extreme violence against TWOC that these murders represent. We can, however, take action to support and protect TWOC while they’re still alive.

+ At a press conference, Donald Trump refused to answer a question about his immigration plan (“immigration plan”) from Jorge Ramos, a longtime anchor of Noticiero Univision.

When Ramos tried to ask a question about the feasibility of Trump’s ludicrous and harmful proposed policies around immigration, which include ending birthright citizenship, Trump told him he couldn’t speak because he wasn’t called on, and had him escorted out of the the press conference — a press conference, an event which is designed specifically around the phenomenon of journalists asking questions. Ramos was eventually invited back, “where he sparred with Trump over the Republican candidate’s immigration proposals” according to the LA Times.

Jorge Ramos has anchored Noticiero Univision for almost thirty years, which more than 2 million people watch nightly according to Nielsen ratings. In 2012, Ramos wrote an open letter to the GOP, which told them “Unless your party changes its unreasonable anti-immigrant stance, your party will likely be shut out of the White House for generations… We will never forget that the GOP supported the passage of terrible anti-immigrant laws in Arizona, Alabama and Georgia, nor that you backed the actions of Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., who is now being sued by the Justice Department for allegedly engaging in policing practices that singled out Hispanics.”

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, who is great, has a piece about Ramos and why his objectivity and commitment to ethical journalism should be respected, and why dismissing his coverage of Trump, any other candidate, or immigration reform because he’s an immigrant from Mexico is racist and flawed. I would recommend reading it.

+ A study from the University of Notre Dame finds that women are more likely to shift their sexual orientation over time, and also more likely to self-identify as bisexual.

+ Rentboy.com, a website upon which male full-service sex workers (often providing services to other men) advertised, has been shut down by the Department of Homeland Security; the charge seems to be “conspiring to promote prostitution.” Many have noted that while criminal prosecution of activities related to sex work is often justified by concerns about sex trafficking, no one seems to have brought up that concern here (even though it’s certainly not inconceivable for men to be trafficked for sex), which may suggest that concerns about sex trafficking aren’t universally sincere and are more often invoked as a reason to control female sex workers.

+ Lauren Brown, a highly-regarded employee at St. Mary’s prep school in Portland OR, appears to have been fired for being gay. Brown was thought highly of when she was offered a job as a guidance counselor at St. Mary’s, but when she asked a school official what would happen if she were to marry her girlfriend, the job offer was withdrawn and she was asked to sign paperwork stating that “her “intent to enter into a same-sex marriage” was why she lost her job.”

St. Mary’s sent her a contract in July. On July 22, Brown received an email from an administrator, asking her to complete a biography. “Tell us about your spouse,” says the email Brown showed WW. “Tell us about your children. Talk to us about YOU! It’s your choice as to what you would like to share!” The next day, Brown says, Clark called to encourage Brown to consider applying for an even more prominent job, director of admissions.

Brown says she asked Clark in that phone call what she should say in her biography, since she has a girlfriend. Brown also asked: Would she be allowed to bring her girlfriend to school events? What if she got married? She says Clark told her that was uncharted territory, but that Clark would support her.

Brown says Clark called back July 30 with a different message: “It may not work out.” Brown met with Clark and Friedhoff at St. Mary’s on Aug. 4. She says the meeting lasted more than three hours, with both women pressuring her to sign a separation agreement that offered her six months’ salary in return for a promise not to sue the school or talk about why she lost the job.

Late last night, the school rescinded the policy it quoted to Brown and has added sexual orientation to its equal employment opportunity policy.

“This evening the board of St. Mary’s Academy voted unanimously to support the administration’s recommendation to amend and broaden St. Mary’s policy on equal employment, bringing our employment policies in line with our mission and beliefs. Effective immediately, St. Mary’s has added sexual orientation to its equal employment opportunity policy. St. Mary’s is a diverse community that welcomes and includes gay and lesbian students, faculty, alumnae, parents and friends, including those that are married. We are proud of our work preparing the next generation of women leaders for service and leadership. We are still deeply committed to our Catholic identity.”

+ A street near Prairie View A&M University, where Sandra Bland had recently accepted a job, will be named after her.

+ Feministing has a piece on Cecilia Pineda and her infographic #FloodTheSystem, which illustrates the links between climate change and the prison system.

+ In Saudi Arabia, two women were registered to vote for the first time; a royal decree in 2011 allowed that women could vote and run in municipal elections starting in 2015. (Saudi Arabia is a monarchy, so no one can vote on national leaders or issues, but local/municipal ones.) Women there still cannot drive, nor can they travel, work outside the home or access other privileges without explicit male permission.

+ Walmart will no longer be selling assault weapons, the high-powered firearms often used in mass shootings in the US, when it restocks its fall merchandise. Walmart says this decision has nothing to do with mass shootings, but is a strictly business-related one.

+ In the ongoing saga of Kim Davis, an appeals court has upheld the original Kentucky court decision and required the Kentucky county clerk to issue marriage licenses, even to same-sex couples. Kim Davis had previously stopped issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage for religious reasons.

+ Mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro, previously featured in this column for his effort to ban children’s books featuring same-sex families, says there will never be a gay pride parade in Venice.

“Venice is not his city. At the moment he is governing it, but he won’t last long given the fool he is making of himself,” said [Italy’s rights group] Arcigay’s president, Flavio Romani. “He is becoming obsessive about this. Venice does not deserve it.”

+ Two gay men from Syria and Iraq respectively, Subhi Nahas and “Adnan,” who used a pseudonym for his own safety, testified in front of the UN this week on the danger that LGBT people face in ISIS-held areas.

Nahas described how attacks on gay people in Syria ramped up in 2011 as rebel militias and armed groups, as well as Syrian government troops, arrested and beat gay men in bars, parks and other locations known for being frequented by LGBT people. In 2012, Nahas was arrested along with 11 others at a government checkpoint while on his way to university. He said he was held longer than the others as soldiers mocked him for being gay before letting him go after a few hours.

After his detention, Nahas went back home. His father became increasingly violent toward him and he was afraid to go out.

A few months later Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian militant group linked to Al-Qaeda, took control of Nahas’s hometown, Idlib, and vowed to cleanse the city “of everyone who was involved in sodomy,” Nahas said. “I was terrified that would be my fate,” Nahas told Newsweek on Tuesday.

+ A girls’ high school in New South Wales, Australia had planned on showing its students a documentary about same-sex parenting called Gayby Baby for Wear It Purple Day, which has been celebrated in schools for years. Although no parents of any pupils complained, the Daily Telegraph covered the screening of the documentary with the claim that there was a “backlash from parents” and that “gay push should be kept out of schools. Thanks to the Daily Telegraph, NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has banned the showing of the film during school hours.

+ Also in Australia, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she supports same-sex marriage and does not support having a voter referendum on the issue, which is
what current Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to have. Unfortunately, Gillard’s stance on these issues is less than super useful now that she is no longer in office.

+ Civil rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson passed away on Wednesday at the age of 104. Boynton Robinson was in attendance at the march to Selma across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and was among those brutally beaten in 1965. She passed away in Montgomery, Alabama, surrounded by loved ones.

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1077 articles for us.

21 Comments

  1. Did you all read the article about the Notre Dame study?

    Here are some gems:
    “Notably, women who didn’t have children at a young age, were conventionally attractive, or had higher education were less likely to be bisexual. McClintock suggested this is due to having ‘more romantic opportunities with male partners.’…

    “Women with some degree of attraction to both males and females might be drawn into heterosexuality if they have favorable options in the heterosexual partner market”

    “Women who are initially successful in partnering with men, as is more traditionally expected, may never explore their attraction to other women. However, women with the same sexual attractions, but less favorable heterosexual options might have greater opportunity to experiment with same-sex partners”

    Here that, ladies? If you have considered being with a woman it’s prob just because you’re ugly and weren’t successful at dating men! Don’t worry- you can date a woman as a consolation prize.

    Gross.

    • Yeah, those lines in the Notre Dame article really rubbed me the wrong way. Especially the “conventionally attractive” part. Reminds me of all those times a straight person has said “You’re a lesbian? But you’re so pretty!”

    • There are numerous things wrong with that study. The heterosexism is one major issue. I am also struck by this: ““Women have a greater probability than men of being attracted to both men and women, which gives them greater flexibility in partner choice” – how would you even find out the ‘truth’ about people’s attractions? Does she think that men who are predominantly straight, for example, are going to be honest with her? And how can you account for all the repressed attractions that people experience?

      Maybe there was more nuance in the actual study and it has been misrepresented. But if it is what that article makes it out to be, it’s seems pretty dodgy.

      • Why are we acting like this metric doesn’t exist?

        Let’s see, “conventionally attractive,” as defined by the average WASPy American:

        Men: tall and muscular, long penis
        Women: skinny, long hair (preferably blonde), big breasts, full lips, no tattoos or body hair

        Just because we don’t agree with it doesn’t mean we should pretend we don’t know what they’re talking about. Come on.

        • I think the article didn’t consider (or I’m misinterpreting it) that quite a few queer women, if they wanted to, could look more “conventially attractive” but many of them simply choose not to dress in that way due to different tastes. I’m sure I’m not the only girl who’s gotten comments from straight people like: “You’d be so pretty if you’d let your hair grow out” or “You have a really nice bod, but why do you insist on dressing like a man?”

  2. Being Australian is so embarrassing at the moment. One silver lining is that this ridiculous ban has brought some wonderful responses from the girls at the school who were supposed to be watching the doco, the Premier of Victoria, and heaps of publicity for the film. Got to keep looking for those linings when we have scared old men who abuse their power and ban a film based on one newspaper article!

    • I know right. But this little part of me still feels defensive and protective when I read those negative stories from Australia on foreign (particularly American) websites.

      Was really proud that one of the ladies who was in a queer peer education group was a facilitator for a few years ago had her tweet published in mainstream Australian news coverage of it!

    • The reaction was heartwarming. Junkee described Akerman as a ‘human pufferfish’ which was quite the insult to pufferfish. Also, best way to ensure teenagers watch something is to tell them not to. I can’t help thinking that all they accomplished was free publicity for the movie & backlash for the NSW govt.

  3. LEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARE—NOT—ILLEGAL ALIENS.

    Career Politicians as Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are evaporating in the polls because the momentum in this election has shifted away from standard rule by the political hierarchy that rose during the measureless growth of government that has took place over the past decades toward a populist majority that rejects administration by a cunning and materialistic self-selected elites. The question the election of 2016 will settle is whether the voters will choose populism on the right or populism on the left to replace the fading dynasties of those who thrive on power. As I said in my previous commentary utilizing the program E-Verify would be the perfect tool, to chase down employers who are hiring illegal aliens instead of Americans and those immigrants that came here legally.

    It would be the perfect arrangement between Donald Trumps Wall, and the internal enforcement by more recruited ICE officers enlisting the operation of—MANDATORY—E-Verify. No bending the rules that if you get caught having hired foreign nationals who don’t have the required documentation; you are looking at a statutory time of 5 years in prison. If either Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Jeb Bush or some of the other politicians its without any doubt—no wall, no Mandatory E-Verify and little enforcement of any kind. In truth most are for stealthily open borders, so Democrats can get more illegal aliens to unlawfully vote and Republicans more cheap labor for what both political parties want to pacify their wealthy donors.

    Digging around on the web each day, I came across this interesting article about if the millions of illegal aliens were under the tremendous strain of not being able no longer to find a job?

  4. In other news from Kentucky, three Louisville LGBT activists were arrested at a State Fair event this morning. They were there silently protesting one of the event’s sponsors, a notoriously and virulently anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-union, pro-death-penalty company. Arrested for “failure to disperse.” Boo, says I.

    Also: Julia Gillard is still a total badass, IMO.

  5. I went to high school in Portland and one of my good friends went to St. Mary’s Academy. It’s an all-girls school.

    I have been following the depressing story on another news feed so I was really glad to get this positive update that sexual orientation is now protected status for employment at St. Mary’s! Did Lauren Brown get to keep her job or submit that application? I hope she stays at the school. It really is progress to see a private Catholic school adopt a non-discriminatory policy; I hope they promote that acceptance for the students as well.

  6. The reason Trump makes me feel sick to my stomach is because he reminds me of the populist politics of the Post-Reconstruction South and the days of the Clan combined with the fact many immigrants came to the States escape tyranny.
    To escape police states where loved ones disappeared forever or came back forever changed.

    People talking like Jorge Ramos was not acting as member of press should by asking questions that should be asked, that he lacked objectivity and integrity just deepens the sickened feeling y’all.

    Sick doesn’t begin to describe all the TWOC deaths this month. Some part of me will always twinge in sympathy to all people that died violently, needlessly at the hands of another. If all I can outta that list of 24 things to fight for the living is verbal fisticuffs with randos that manage to be phobes in my presence and people that already think I’m crazy I will do it.
    Every one deserves the chance to survive and live as their self.
    No one’s last moment should be violent because they decided to live as their self than die slowly on the inside.

    I’m going to go pet something small and adorable now.

  7. I graduated Burwood Girls in 2013 (the high school where Gayby Baby was banned) and it was honestly the most supportive and accepting environment to be in. We had a rainbow flag and mural and student panels dedicated to LGBT+ issues. Also might I add, the director of Gayby Baby and the co founder of Wear it Purple day are ex students of Burwood Girls and I couldn’t be more proud. The way the Daily Telegraph reported on the screening of the documentary was completely false and blown out of proportion, DT has zero journalistic integrity to begin with.

    I’m so happy with the support and positivity surrounding what has happened though. I know that the teachers and current school captains are fighting the good fight and are proactive in contributing and creating a positive environment for all students.

    • Thank you Raquelle for the insider’s perspective, I was also under the impression that the so-called uproar was blown out of proportion in an attempt to rekindle the paranoia that always seems to accompany truly progressive sex education. Of course, the newspaper needed a supporting, progressive environment to even have a shot at such a story; most schools on the planet would never even screen a documentary like this one. The screening was merely an excuse to use the punchline of “gay push should be kept out of schools.”

  8. Thanks for including some Aussie news 🙂
    The Gayby baby controversy was so stupid. Heaps of high schools in Australia celebrate Wear it Purple Day every year with no issues but because same-sex marriage is a big political issue at the moment, they decided to politicise an issue that really isn’t about politics – just about teaching kids to be kind and respectful human beings. I gave a speech at my school on the day (a religious private school) and each year more students and staff are celebrating the day and more schools are joining. It was such a disapointment that the current gov. had to detract from the real meaning of the day. But on the plus side – more press for the fabulous work that Wear It Purple is doing!

  9. Thanks for including some Aussie news 🙂
    The Gayby baby controversy was so stupid. Heaps of high schools in Australia celebrate Wear it Purple Day every year with no issues but because same-sex marriage is a big political issue at the moment, they decided to politicise an issue that really isn’t about politics – just about teaching kids to be kind and respectful human beings. I gave a speech at my school on the day (a religious private school) and each year more students and staff are celebrating the day and more schools are joining. It was such a disappointment that the current gov. had to detract from the real meaning of the day. But on the plus side – more press for the fabulous work that Wear It Purple is doing!

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