California The Chino Valley Unified School District was sued for its policy of notifying parents when students seek to identify as a gender different than their birth certificate in school. The state attorney general claims the policy violates rights to privacy, equal protection of the laws, and freedom from discrimination under various California laws and the state constitution. A temporary restraining order was granted for a limited time. A second school district, Murrieta Valley Unified School District, has adopted the same policy recently. The district is not part of the AG’s suit yet, but the state school superintendent requested the district rescind the policy.
Texas An injunction halting a state law to ban pharmaceutical and surgical therapy for minors with gender dysphoria was denied. Texas became one of 21 states banning such therapy.
Georgia A federal judge allowed a ban on gender-related hormonal or surgical procedures for minors to resume. This overturns a previous ruling granting a preliminary injunction on the legislation.
Court action is anticipated on bans on gender-related therapies, which have passed in North Carolina, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Iowa, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, West Virginia, Indiana, Georgia, Louisiana, and Florida.
Hong Kong Nixes Marriage Equality
Hong Kong’s activists have lost another court case to establish marriage equality. Hong Kong’s highest court did not rule for marriage equality, but it has ordered the city to establish some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples. The court gave the city government two years to grant rights to same-sex couples for property ownership and inheritance, hospital visitation, and other rights similar to non-equality married couples The court declared, “The absence of legal recognition of [a same-sex couple’s] relationship is apt to disrupt and demean their private lives together in ways that constitute arbitrary interference.” China decriminalized homosexual activity but has not authorized marriage equality, and the country’s culture remains averse to homosexual rights.
One of the first and most significant gay and lesbian rights organizations, the Gay and Lesbian Students Education Network, has new national leadership. Actor and activist Wilson Cruz, a longtime member of the GLSEN board of directors, is now chair. Cruz was one of the first “regular characters” on network TV, playing a gay teen in “My So-Called Life.” Another activist and long-serving board member, Imara Jones, is now vice chair. Recently appointed Executive VP Melanie Willingham-Jaggers hailed the new leadership, “I can think of no better leadership team for this moment,” she says, citing new challenges facing GLSEN from opponents of the transgender rights movement in schools, especially high schools.
Country singer Ty Herndon marries, again
The Grammy-nominated country singer-songwriter Ty Herndon, recently married fiancé of six months, Alex Schwartz. Herndon was previously married. The ceremony, in “country chic” décor, was held on a farm in Chapmansboro, Tennessee, and attended by more than 300 guests, including actors Kristin Chenoweth and Sally Struthers. Herndon started in the business in the 1980s as a member of the Tennessee River Boys. He has recorded 10 studio albums and had three #1 singles on Billboard Country Charts.
Out Baller Bails
The first active NFL player to publicly identify as gay, Carl Nassib, is retiring from professional football. He is leaving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after beginning his NFL career in 2016 with the Cleveland Browns. He also played for what is now the Las Vegas Raiders, then moved to Tampa Bay in 2022. He will continue working with the NFL philanthropies and promoting diversity and inclusion.
Mississippi, G’damn (in a good way)
Nina Simone may sing her civil rights anthem with a different spin to mark the election of Fabian Nelson, a gay Black man, who is expected to become Mississippi’s first publicly gay state legislator. Nelson won a runoff in a Democratic Party Primary for a district in the state capital of Jackson, Mississippi. No Republican is running in the district.
Italy, G’damn (in a bad way)
One fabulous-looking Italian Army general got busted for a book he wrote saying some negative things about gay people. General Roberto Vannacci was head of Italy’s elite paratrooper unit and carried out missions in Iraq and Afghanistan until Italy’s defense minister disciplined him for the book, “The World Upside Down.” Vannacci wrote that homosexual men are not normal and claims there is an “international gay lobby” trying to “brainwash the world.” He also appears to question whether Black people can be Italian. The Army said it had not reviewed the text before it was published. Vannacci now works in the Army’s geographical map division.
Fine for ornery Kentucky county clerk upheld
Former Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis denied a marriage license to a gay couple after the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges U.S. Supreme Court decision made marriage equality legal, even in rural Kentucky. The couple sued and was awarded $100,000 by a federal jury this year. The wheels of justice move slowly and roll on as Davis’ attorneys, the Liberty Council, vowed to appeal the award. Davis was sent to jail for contempt of court in 2015, and a deputy county clerk issued licenses to one and all, equally, in her stead.
G.W. Bush: HIV Program needs support
One of the most successful HIV prevention programs, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, was authorized in 2005 by President George W. Bush. The program is credited with providing care to 25 million people experiencing HIV worldwide through the distribution of anti-HIV drugs and educational programs. PEPFAR has become controversial to anti-abortion members of Congress who want to cut the program. Bush, a pro-life president, wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post, telling lawmakers the program that was created under his leadership is “sufficiently pro-life to continue supporting.” He wrote, “We are on the verge of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic. To abandon our commitment now would forfeit two decades of unimaginable progress and raise further questions about the worth of America’s word.”
Hate chicken returns to Old Blighty
After being chased out of Reading, West of London, England, in 2019, Chick-fil-A is opening a franchise store in England in 2025. The restaurant has been criticized in the United States for its founder and former CEO, Dan Cathy’s support of the Salvation Army and Fellowship Christan Athletes. Both organizations were accused of anti-gay and anti-marriage equality policies. Regardless of fast service and good-tasting food, activists have called for boycotts of the restaurant since 2012. However, in 2019, the restaurant chain changed its charitable policies, ending donations to perceived anti-gay and anti-marriage equality groups. The company said it would give exclusively to organizations working on education, homelessness, and hunger. The company will spend $100 million on international expansion. BTW: The word “Blighty” comes from the Urdu word vilayati, which means foreign, British, English, or European.