New survey shows black LGBTQ youth are at higher risk of discrimination

WASHINGTON — The HRC Foundation and the University of Connecticut released the Black & African American LGBTQ Report on Friday, which showed that LGBTQ are at a higher risk of discrimination. Some of the findings include:

More than three-fourths of Black and African American LGBTQ youth who responded to the survey have heard family members say negative things about LGBTQ people, and nearly half have been taunted or mocked by family for being LGBTQ. Eighty percent “usually” feel depressed, down, worried, nervous or panicked. Nearly half feel critical of their LGBTQ identities. Sixty-seven percent of respondents — and 82 percent of transgender and gender-expansive youth — have been verbally insulted because of their LGBTQ identity. Ninety percent of respondents have experienced racial discrimination, and only five percent believe Black and African American people are regarded positively in the U.S.
Sixty-three percent of Black and African American transgender and gender-expansive youth try to avoid using the restroom during the school day.

Sign a petition for queer, trans youth in Decatur School District #61

DECATUR — Decatur Pride is promoting a petition in support of queer and trans youth in Decatur Public Schools District #61. From the Change.org petition:
There is a lot of fear and misunderstanding regarding queer and trans students. Hate crimes along with suicide (in the queer and trans community) is at an all-time high. It has been clear that faculty and staff need further training on diversity and inclusion. Our goal is to create and maintain all-inclusive safe spaces in our community for our children.

New federal survey shows 2% of US high school students identify as transgender

The Trevor Project commends the CDC for counting transgender youth

NEW YORK — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday released a report that shows almost 2 percent of high school students identify as transgender, and 35 percent attempted suicide in the past year. The research was included in the CDC’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR): “Transgender Identity and Experiences of Violence Victimization, Substance Use, Suicide Risk, and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among High School Students — 19 States and Large Urban School Districts, 2017.”

Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, commented on the importance of the report:

“The CDC’s new groundbreaking report shows that transgender youth exist in much greater numbers than researchers previously estimated1. By collecting data inclusive of gender identity, the report shows the very real health risks faced by transgender and gender non-conforming youth. The CDC’s findings highlight the need for even more policies to protect transgender and gender nonconforming youth, as well as additional support for LGBTQ-affirming organizations like The Trevor Project. “The Trevor Project has worked with other groups for years to advocate for the CDC’s inclusion of transgender youth in its Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), and we commend them for acknowledging the needs of transgender young people in the only federal survey of youth health.

LGBTQ short rejected by high school to screen at Big Muddy

CARBONDALE — A student’s LGBTQ themed short film, “Since the Day We First Met,” that was rejected by his high school film festival will be screened at the Big Muddy Film Festival of Southern Illinois University. From Alex Rodriguez in The Southern Illinoisan:

Originally being rejected by his high school’s film festival for “clearly illustrating LGBTQ themes”, the short had picked up traction around the internet, being picked up for several other festivals and Singleton even being interviewed by queer news sites for the situation. The official reason given to why his film was rejected was because of LGBTQ themes, which, according to the MPAA, are categorized with a PG-13 or R rating, allowing the festival’s committee to reject it on those unjust grounds. Thanks to backlash and the efforts of many online, Singleton’s film, along with others rejected on similar grounds, were readmitted into the festival, sending a clear message that queer cinema has a place in all film festivals. “Since the Day We First Met” centers around a deaf high school student named Max.

Administration grants waiver to let South Carolina adoption agencies refuse LGBTQ parents

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Trump administration has granted a wavier that would allow the state to license religious adoption agencies that focus on specific religions, and refuse to serve other groups like LGBTQ and Jewish families. From The State of Columbia:
The waiver was requested to head off Miracle Hill losing its license and federal funding under a new regulation put in place by the Obama administration. The new rule barred publicly funded foster-care agencies from serving specific religions. Miracle Hill Foster Care has been operating under a provisional license pending the outcome of the waiver request. “We are deeply gratified by this decision, which allows Miracle Hill Foster Care to keep its license and continue serving nearly 200 foster children and more than 230 foster families,” Miracle Hill chief executive Reid Lehman said in a statement.

Southern Illinois Pride drag fundraiser in March

CARBONDALE — The Rainbow Cafe LGBT Youth Center is hosting a Southern Illinois Pride pageant fundraiser at Carbondale’s Street Bar on Saturday, March 9. From the Rainbow Cafe Facebook page:
Categories include:

TITLE CATEGORIES
• King of Pride: defined as a self-identified female competing as a male illusionist. • Queen of Pride: defined as a self-identified male competing as a female illusionist. • Ms. Pride: defined as a self-identified female competing as a female. • Mister Pride: defined as a self-identified male competing as a male.

Anti-bullying laws that include sexual orientation associated with fewer suicide attempts

LOS ANGELES — New research from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that anti-bullying laws that explicitly protect youth based on sexual orientation are associated with fewer suicide attempts among all youth, regardless of sexual orientation. In addition, enumeration of sexual orientation was associated with fewer experiences of stressors, such as feeling unsafe at school and being physically forced to have sexual intercourse. While fewer youth attempted suicide in states with sexual orientation-inclusive anti-bullying laws, more sexual minority youth experience bullying and other stressors, and they are more likely than non-sexual minority youth to experience suicide ideation and attempts—whether or not their state has explicit sexual orientation protections. “Enumeration of sexual orientation in state anti-bullying laws is a first step,” said lead author Ilan H. Meyer, a senior public policy scholar at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. “These laws are associated with fewer suicide attempts but do not eliminate disparities between sexual minority and non- sexual minority youth.

Missouri State Capitol

Conversion therapy ban filed in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Conversion therapy, also referred to as “reparative therapy,” “ex-gay therapy,” and “sexual orientation change efforts,” is a widely discredited practice that attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Representative Tracy McCreery (D – 88) filed the Youth Mental Health Preservation Act (HB 516) on Wednesday which will prohibit licensed mental health practitioners from subjecting minors to harmful “conversion therapy” practices that attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. These practices have been condemned by the American Counseling Association, American Medical Association, and American Psychiatric Association. In 2009, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued a report enumerating the direct risks of conversion therapy to include, among others: depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, and a distinct rise in suicidality.

Germantown Hills to make policy changes after LGBTQ town hall

GERMANTOWN HILLS — A central Illinois school district says it will be changing policies after it came to statewide attention with a letter that called LGBTQ students discussion their orientation as “disruptive.” The changes were discussed at a town hall that had been closed to the press and general public after the letter went out. District superintendent Daniel Mair told local TV station WMBD would review the policies and codes of conduct and make any necessary changes. From WMBD:
A previous letter from the principal informed parents that discussions on sexual identity have caused significant disruptions at the school, many believed the letter targeted the LGBTQ community. The superintendent said they had no intentions on targeting the LGBTQ community, nor was it stated anywhere in the letter.