Suspended For Nail Polish, Gay Texas Teen Speaks Out

Trevor Wilkinson (screen capture)

Texas high school senior Trevor Wilkinson was placed on in-school suspension (ISS) on November 30 after he showed up to school wearing nail polish.

Nail polish, it turns out, violates his school’s dress code – but only if you’re male.

According to Wilkinson, who attends Clyde High School in West Texas, he was told he would remain in suspension until he removed the nail polish.

Wilkinson took to Twitter that day to protest writing, “Imagine your school not allowing boys to paint their nails and giving boys iss for it. And the whole administration being okay with it, homophobic and sexist? Welcome to west Texas.”

Wilkinson’s story went national after he refused to remove the nail polish and instead launched a petition demanding that the school policy be changed.

At this writing, over 336,000 people have signed the petition.

“It is a complete double standard because girls are allowed to have any form of nails they want, and honestly they can express themselves in any way they want,” Wilkinson wrote on “I am a gay male and I’m beyond proud. This is unjust and not okay.”

Monday night, Wilkinson addressed the school board again asking them to amend the dress code. And yes, he was wearing his nail polish.

He began by noting that the ACLU had sent letters to nearly 400 schools in September about school rules that might be discriminatory. Clyde High School was among those who received a letter.

(image via Trevor Wilkinson)

“With all due respect, there have been two times this issue could have been resolved,” he told the board. “Although frustrating, I know everything is not going to go my way. But this isn’t about me anymore – it’s about a discriminatory, sexist policy that needs to be changed.”

“I got my education taken away from me for something as minor as painting my nails because it’s against the dress code,” he continued. “The question is why? Why is it against dress code for a man to be comfortable with his masculinity and defy the gender norms society has imposed on us?”

“If it’s not harmful for girls to wear it, why is it harmful for males?” he added.

Wilkinson also pointed out that making a rule about nail polish only applicable to male students was sexist. “Having a double standard like this only shows that Clyde doesn’t accept kids for who they are.”

He also threw down some equality speak saying, “I understand that you guys have traditional values and I respect that, but to get respect you also have to give it.”

“There’s a certain beauty in uniqueness and nobody should have that taken away. Diversity is what makes this country so beautiful.”

He closed his remarks asking the school board to be “open-minded enough to accept and respect others for who they are.”

Wilkinson addresses the school board at the 2:45 mark in the video footage from local ABC News affiliate KTXS.

But it appears the school district will not be changing its dress code any time soon.

Superintendent Kenny Berry issued a statement which read, in part, “The District will conduct a thorough review of its dress code when it performs its annual review of the Student Handbook.”

There was no mention of when that annual review might take place.

Berry went on to note that, until that time, “the District will assure that no student is treated in a discriminatory or inequitable manner.”

Trump Reverses LGBTQ Health Care Protections On Pulse Shooting Anniversary

The Trump administration has finalized a rule allowing health care providers to refuse care to transgender people, including gender reassignment surgery.

Reversing an Obama-era regulation, the change in rules at the Health & Human Services Department rolls back an interpretation of prohibiting sex discrimination under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act that included protections for trans people.

Under the Obama administration, discriminating against trans people basically boiled down to animus based on the ‘sex’ of a trans person. In the Trump administration, discriminating against trans people is fine.

The announcement on the HHS website adds the new rule will “relieve the American people of approximately $2.9 billion in undue and ineffective regulatory burdens over five years.”

Mary Beth Waddell, a senior legislative assistant for the virulently anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, celebrated the finalized rule in a statement which read in part, “Under the old Obama rule, medical professionals could have been forced to facilitate gender reassignment surgeries and abortions — even if they believed this was a violation of their conscience or believed it harmful to the patient.”

Dr. Susan R. Bailey, president of the American Medical Association, issued her opposition in a statement:

“Respect for the diversity of patients is a fundamental value of the medical profession and is reflected in long-standing AMA policy opposing discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or a woman’s decisions about pregnancy, including termination.

“The federal government should never make it more difficult for individuals to access health care — during a pandemic or any other time.”

Sam Brinton, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project issued this statement:

“Access to quality health care without discrimination is critical right now, and thankfully, whatever this new rule may say, LGBTQ people are still protected under the law. This rule sends a dangerous and confusing message to health care providers at the worst possible time. In the midst of a global pandemic with serious implications for the LGBTQ youth The Trevor Project serves, the last thing our nation needs is for the Administration to suggest, contrary to the plain language of the Affordable Care Act, that medical care providers don’t have to treat transgender and nonbinary people with the same care and respect as everybody else.”

The Human Rights Campaign’s Alphonso David denounced the news saying LGBTQ people “should not live in fear that they cannot get the care they need simply because of who they are.”

“It is clear that this administration does not believe that LGBTQ people, or other marginalized communities, deserve equality under the law,” said the HRC president. “But we have a reality check for them: We will not let this attack on our basic right to be free from discrimination in health care go unchallenged. We will see them in court, and continue to challenge all of our elected officials to rise up against this blatant attempt to erode critical protections people need and sanction discrimination.”

And Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, of the pro-LGBTQ law organization Lambda Legal, announced his group is planning a lawsuit against the Trump administration.

“We will be challenging the rule because at a time when the entire world is battling a dangerous pandemic, which in the United States has infected more than 2,000,000 people and killed more than 116,000, it is critical for everyone to have ready access to the potentially life-saving health care they need,” Gonzalez-Pagan said.

While the reversal of the former regulations had been in discussion for some time, Health & Human Services decided to release the announcement on 4 pm just before the weekend in the middle of Pride Month.

And the Trump administration’s assault on LGBTQ protections continues…

More Arrests In George Floyd Killing, Officials Upgrade Derek Chauvin’s Murder Charge

George Floyd under the knee of former police officer Derek Chauvin (screen capture)

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who held his knee on an unarmed Black man’s neck until he lost consciousness, has had his murder charge upgraded.

The other three fired officers who were present at the incident have now been charged as well.

From the New York Times:

Minnesota officials charged three more former police officers on Wednesday in the death of George Floyd, and added a higher charge to those already lodged against the former officer who pressed his knee to Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Keith Ellison, the attorney general of Minnesota, announced the charges at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

The three officers, Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, were charged with aiding and abetting murder, court records show. Mr. Kueng was in custody on Wednesday, county jail records showed. The authorities said they were in the process of arresting Mr. Lane and Mr. Thao.

The fourth officer, Derek Chauvin, 44, who was arrested last week, faces an increased charge of second-degree murder.

“Daddy, Look What You’ve Gotten Us Into!” Cries A Young Boy As His Father Calls Police On Black Man For ‘Trespassing’

Wesly Michel was waiting for a friend at their apartment building in San Francisco on July 4, when he encountered a racist assh*le who decided he needed to call the police because Michel was, basically, ‘waiting while black.’

Sadly, the son of the racist was with him at the time, and the son begged his father not to call the police or act out.

“Daddy, look what you’ve gotten us into. Let’s go!”

Michel, a 35-year-old software engineer, told CNN, “Unfortunately this incident mirrors the experience that African Americans endure daily where we are questioned on whether we belong. I videotaped this incident to protect myself and to support my story should police get involved.”

During the three-and-a-half-minute recording (which was posted to Michel’s Facebook page), the boy can be heard pleading with his father not to call police on Michel, whom the father says is a “trespasser” in his building that he describes as “appears to be African-American.”

From CNN:

Michel encountered the father and son on Independence Day as he says he was waiting on a friend at an apartment building in San Francisco. The video begins as the man asks Michel to identify the person he is there to see and to “please call your friend on the call box and have them come down and get you.”

“They don’t have to do that. You can just walk away,” Michel responds.

The man, who appears to be holding open the door to the building during the conversation, tells Michel he’s going to call the police.

“Daddy don’t!” the child says as the man pulls out his cell phone.

Michel welcomes the call and reminds the man that he is being recorded.

“You’re just gonna be the next person on TV, just remember that and you have your son with you,” Michel tells the man.

The man calls the police and tells them that Michel is a “trespasser,” who “tailgated” into the building, walking in as he was walking out.

As the man talks to police, his son begins pleading with him to leave and to not call police.

“Dad, don’t. Please go,” the boy says. “Daddy go. It’s the better; I agree with him, daddy.”

The boy begins to cry as his father describes Michel to police.

“Daddy, I don’t like this. Let’s go,” he says.

“Listen to your son, walk away,” Michel says. “I will stop this. I will stop the recording.”

Of course, Michel’s friend arrives (as the video is still recording) but there’s no apology from assh*le man.

As the father smirks, his young son continues to beg his father. “Told you. Let’s go now,” pleads the young boy. “Daddy, look what you’ve gotten us into. Let’s go!”

The police do not come to the scene. Assh*le man asks Michel to stop recording, but he continues anyway.

“Now you’re online forever,” says Michel.

My question is: if you truly think the man is trespassing and a danger, why are you continuing to stand within two feet of him with your VERY young son next to you???

Reading the comments on Michel’s Facebook page, the vast majority note that the son had the good sense that the father did not. Many also pointed out how traumatized the child was, but assh*le man wouldn’t relent even for his child.

Internet sleuths, including the folks at Essence, believe the man to be someone named Christopher Cukor. Several posters found his Linkedin profile as well as his Facebook page before the profile photo was changed.

The photos of the man do appear to be him, but I’m not out to dox anyone.

There is an interesting twist to the story.

IF the man is someone named Christopher Cukor, several people found an SF Gate news item from 2012 of a man named Peter Cukor, in the same area, who was killed by a black man after calling the police about a “strange man” on his property.

Peter Cukor had a son named Christopher Cukor, who would be about 44-years-old today.

That Christopher Cukor blamed the police for not responding to his father’s call and eventually sued the police department. It appears from the police transcript of the call that the elder didn’t communicate imminent danger. But when the black man returned, Cukor’s wife called saying her husband was being attacked, and the police responded.

According to the SF Gate report, the suspect was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. He mentioned to police he was looking for his fiancée Zoey. The man’s father told police his son didn’t have a fiancée and Zoey was a figment of his imagination.

The attacker’s family told authorities he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia five years earlier and they had asked authorities to remove him from the streets while he was treated, reports SF Gate.

That is a sad story. But, I don’t believe that justifies living the rest of your life assuming all black men pose violent danger to you.

Wedding Dinner Reservation Cancelled By Homophobic Restaurant

Kendall Brown (L) and Mindy Rackley (R)

A same-sex couple in Missouri were surprised when the restaurant they had booked for their wedding rehearsal dinner cancelled the reservation upon learning their sexual orientation.

Kendall Brown and Mindy Rackley are getting married on June 15, and had planned on holding their rehearsal dinner on June 13 at Madison’s Café.

Newsweek reports that the couple chose the restaurant because it had been Rackley’s father’s favorite place to dine before he passed away two-and-a-half years ago. Holding the dinner there prior to their union was meant as a way to honor his memory.

Brown’s mother made the reservation on Monday evening, but the next day Brown received a call from the cafe asking for more information.

“Her first question was, ‘what is your groom’s name?’” explained Brown. “I said, ‘I’m marrying a woman actually and her name is Mindy.’”

From the other end of the call came the question: “Your spouse is another woman?”

Brown told the woman ‘yes.’

And with that, the woman at the restaurant told Brown, “We’re gonna have to refer you to someone else for your dinner because we don’t condone that kind of relationship.”

“Out of love for you, we’re going to have to decline your business because we believe you’re in an unhealthy relationship,” added the woman.

Brown immediately called her fiancée in tears.

Rackley told Newsweek the conversation “saddened” her.

“I just can’t believe that this is still happening and that we get treated differently because of who we love,” she said. “Who we love doesn’t change who we are and, I don’t know, it just saddens me.”

Note: Missouri does not prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in the Show Me state.

Local news station KMOV reached out to Madison’s Café for their side of the story.

According to the news station, “A woman at the restaurant acknowledged the couple’s situation but did not want to comment.”

KMOV reports in front of Madison’s Cafe (screen capture)

After their story went viral on social media, several local restaurants reached out, and the couple has booked another establishment for their dinner.

Brown told Newsweek she understands that the owner’s of Madison’s Café are entitled to their beliefs, but they shared their story on social media because they want other people to be “aware so that they don’t have to feel the way we felt.”

“In this day and age, this is just not okay,” she added.

Pennsylvania Wedding Venue Refuses To Host Same-Sex Weddings

Steven Dinnocenti, a retired educator who has attended Star Barn events in the past, recently shared on his social mediahis outrage upon discovering the venue has a ‘no same-gender weddings’ policy.
(image via Depositphotos)

Another day, another wedding vendor refusing to serve same-sex couples.

This time, it’s Star Barn Village, located near Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.

Steven Dinnocenti, a retired educator who has attended Star Barn events in the past, recently shared on his social mediahis outrage upon discovering the venue has a ‘no same-gender weddings’ policy.

“Never again will I step on (their) grounds,” wrote the openly gay married man.

“What one does not know is the blatant discrimination they have towards the LGBTQ community and other individuals that they have written in their Core Values statement,” added Dinnocenti.

He also posted a link to Star Barn’s ‘Core Values’ statement which reads, in part, “We provide marriage-related services as ordained by God’s Word, the Holy Bible, that are consistent with the written truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

At this writing, Dinnocenti’s Facebook post has been shared over 360 times and garnered over 560 comments.

PennLive spoke with the owner of the venue, David Abel, who says he “does not tolerate discrimination against anyone, not in his business or in a public setting.”

“No persons will be discriminated against,” he insisted to PennLive. “However, we ask people to respect that we have core tenants in our faith and our beliefs and we cannot participate in any event that would be in contradiction to those core tenants – one of them being marriage, which has been biblically based for thousands of years as being between a man and a woman.”

He also asserts that religious freedoms are one of the principles under which the United States was founded. “It was also founded as one nation under God not over God,” he said.

(photo via Depositphotos)
But Dinnocenti told PennLive he flips that script. “The bottom line is go back to the Constitution,” he says. “The Bible should not be dictating the rule of the land.”

It’s important to note that Pennsylvania does not have any LGBTQ protections on the books. So, it would seem Mr. Abel is legally allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples.

This highlights, yet again, the need for The Equality Act to be passed in Congress and signed into law. The federal legislation would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and erase any confusion about refusing services to people based only on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

For now, however, PennLive does point out that another wedding venue, Riverdale Manor and Thyme and Seasons Catering in nearby Lancaster, has seen its same-sex wedding business thrive since marriage equality became the law of the land in 2015.

Maureen Raezer, owner and president of the venue, told PennLive she subscribes to “the principles of inclusive economics.”

In fact, Raezer says she’s stopped doing business with vendors who don’t appreciate her inclusive wedding industry approach.

“I think they see it as they are somehow condoning gay marriage by participating in it,” Raezer said. “I‘m not sure how selling somebody a wedding cake does that. If I sold cookies to someone, why would I care what their sexual orientation was?”

She also believes that diversity is the future of economics. For her, a business model of excluding people “financially makes no sense.”

(h/t PennLive)

Alaska: Organization Sues To Deny Shelter To Trans Women In Freezing Temperatues

Virulently anti-LGBTQ legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom, is representing a ‘Christian’ women’s shelter that is suing to deny transgender women shelter from the freezing winter cold.
(image via Depositphotos)

Virulently anti-LGBTQ legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom, is representing a ‘Christian’ women’s shelter that is suing to deny transgender women shelter from the freezing winter cold.

The conservative law firm, which represented Colorado baker Jack Phillips in his fight to deny services to gay people, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the ironically named Downtown Hope Center against the city of Anchorage, Alaska, to deny services to transgender women.

The issue arises from an incident that occurred in January 2018, when a transgender woman was turned away from the shelter, according to local news station KTUU.

Downtown Hope Center says the woman, identified in court papers as “Jessie Doe,” was denied shelter because she was allegedly inebriated. The shelter claims she was put into a taxi and sent to a hospital for treatment for a cut on her forehead.

But the same woman showed up the next day and again was turned away.

The average temperature in Anchorage at night during January is 9 degrees.

In September 2015, the Anchorage Assembly passed AO-09, a city ordinance which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The ordinance added protections to Anchorage’s equal rights laws for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people in housing, employment and public accommodations and includes exemptions for religious groups and those with ministerial duties.

In a press release, ADF asserts the ordinance exempts homeless shelters like the Hope Center. ADF attorney Ryan Tucker told U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason that the homeless women in the shelter would “rather sleep in the woods” than spend a night in a shelter with a transgender woman.

In a further slap to trans women, the ADF also says that because many of the women at the shelter have been battered or sexually abused by men, they shouldn’t have to sleep in proximity to ‘men.’ ADF calls the idea of trans women sleeping in the shelter ‘dangerous.’

But the Southern Poverty Law Center disagrees.

“There is simply no evidence that transgender people are more of a threat to anyone whether that be in bathrooms, locker rooms or homeless shelters,” David Dinielli, Deputy Legal Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told KTUU. “In fact we know transgender people are among the most, if not the most likely to be targeted for abuse, sexual abuse and physical abuse.”

It’s worth noting that the Hope Center receives some of its operating funds from public tax payer monies via a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The ADF, which has represented so-called ‘religious freedoms’ lawsuits in more than a dozen states, has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group which works to push trans people “back into the shadows.”

Gay Widower Being Denied Survivor Benefits By Social Security Administration

Michael Ely and James Taylor (image via Metro Weekly)

James Taylor and Michael Ely of Arizona were together as a loving couple for 43 years having met in 1971 when Taylor was 20-years-old and Ely was 18-years-old.

In 1994, they moved to Tucson, Arizona. Taylor was the primary wage earner, while Ely managed their household.

In 2007, the couple celebrated their relationship with a commitment ceremony.

And they married as soon as they could when a court struck down Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2014.

Sadly, six months later, Taylor passed away of cancer.

But when Ely filed for Taylor’s Social Security benefits (which Taylor paid into his whole life), he was denied.

It turns out the Social Security Administration requires couples to be married for a minimum of 9 months before a survivor can access benefits.

It’s worth noting that the couple would have married sooner but were barred from doing because of Arizona’s marriage ban.

It would seem logical that a well-documented relationship of 43 years would somehow be able to overcome this legal snafu.

“Even though we’d been together for 43 years, I’m barred from receiving the same benefits as other widowers,” says Ely. “Even though my husband had worked hard for 40-plus years and paid into the social security system with every paycheck.”

Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Social Security Administration saying the nine-month marriage requirement for social security survivor’s benefits is unconstitutional where same-sex couples were not able to be married for nine months because of discriminatory marriage laws.

“The federal government is requiring surviving same-sex spouses like Michael to pass an impossible test to access benefits earned through a lifetime of work,” said Peter Renn of Lambda Legal. “Michael and his husband got married as soon as they could, less than three weeks after Arizona ended its exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, but they were only able to be married for six months before Michael’s husband died of cancer.”

“Now, the Social Security Administration is allowing the heartbreak of discriminatory marriage bans to persist by holding same-sex couples to a standard that many could not meet, insisting that they have been married for nine months even where it was legally impossible for them to do so.”

“These benefits are as essential to the financial security of surviving same-sex spouses in their retirement years as they are to heterosexual surviving spouses,” says Renn. “But the government is holding their benefits hostage and imposing impossible-to-satisfy terms for their release.”

Lambda Legal filed a similar lawsuit in September against the Social Security Administration on behalf of a 63-year-old lesbian in Washington state who was unable to marry her partner of 27 years due to the ban on same-sex marriage in that state.

(h/t Lambda Legal)

Trump Administration Proposes Defining Transgender People Out Of Existence

The Trump/Pence administration continues it’s assault on the LGBTQ community as the Department of Health and Human Services proposes a new, extremely narrow definition of ‘sex’ that would virtually erase the existence of 1.4 million transgender Americans.

The move would exclude transgender people from federal non-discrimination protections.

From The New York Times:

The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

A series of decisions by the Obama administration loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, including in education and health care, recognizing gender largely as an individual’s choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth. Conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, were incensed.

Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times. The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by The Times.

According to reports, the HHS Department is also trying to persuade the Departments of Education, Justice and Labor to adopt the policy in an effort to provide a more unified front in the certain-to-be-filed lawsuits.

The Human Rights Campaign quickly issued a statement denouncing the proposal.

“Setting a destructive precedent, the Trump-Pence administration intends to erase LGBTQ people from federal civil rights protections and eviscerate enforcement of non-discrimination laws,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.

“Defining ‘sex’ in this narrow language tailored to the talking points of anti-equality extremists is part of a deliberate strategy to eliminate federal protections for LGBTQ people,” added Griffin. “This is a direct attack on the fundamental equality of LGBTQ people and, if this administration refuses to reverse course, Congress must immediately take action by advancing the Equality Act to ensure that LGBTQ people are explicitly protected by our nation’s civil rights laws.”

The HRC suggests the administration’s policy change could have drastic consequences for LGBTQ people across the federal government. For example:

• Same-sex couples and their families could be turned away from emergency shelters
• A transgender person could have their insurance deny them coverage for transition related care
• A gay man could be harassed about being gay at a job skills training
• An elderly same-sex couple could be denied in home meal service
• A transgender woman could be turned away from a hospital for a broken ankle

The answer to all of this would be the passage of The Equality Act which adds clear, comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people to our nation’s civil rights laws.

The legislation has 246 cosponsors in Congress, and 117 major corporations have announced their support.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who could become the Speaker of the House after the midterm elections, has publicly stated she feels the passage of The Equality Act would be a high priority and one that is very personal to her.

LGBTQ discrimination is a real and persistent problem in the U.S.

Polling by the Human Rights Campaign has found that nearly two-thirds of self-identified LGBTQ Americans report experiencing discrimination.