Nevada Gov. Signs Pro-LGBTQ Bills Into Law At Pride Fest

Much of the LGBTQ political news being reported lately focuses on the spate of anti-LGBTQ bills being promoted and passed in Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country.

But it’s not all bad news everywhere.

This past Sunday, Nevada’s Governor Steve Sisolak attended the Henderson Pride Festival where he signed several pro-LGBTQ bills into law.

“It is so important that we bring these bills to the community, to this center to help you understand how important this is,” said Sisolak at the signing ceremony.

The event also served as the grand re-opening of the Henderson Equality Center.

It’s a breath of fresh air to see legislation moving LGBTQ interests forward and not backward.

The bills passed during the legislative session and now signed into law are:

Senate Bill 275 modernizes Nevada’s HIV laws by repealing a provision that made it a category B felony for someone who tests positive for HIV to “knowingly or willfully engaging in a manner” that could transmit the disease.

The laws were first put in place in the early part of the AIDS epidemic and targeted gay and transgender people. The antiquated laws don’t reflect the advances in HIV medicine and science that has occurred in the past 20+ years. Nine other states are currently considering similar legislation.

Senate Bill 237 allows LGBTQ-owned businesses to be designated as minority-owned which opens up opportunities from local chambers of commerce.

Senate Bill 109 will require local governments that collect demographic information to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Gov. Sisolak said the new law will “ensure our government reflects our community. Representation matters.”

Assembly Bill 261 makes Nevada only the sixth state in the U.S. to include the contributions of LGBTQ people in history and civics classes.

The Silver State now joins California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon and Colorado in making public education queer inclusive.

On the other side of the political spectrum, though, Tennessee and Montana have passed laws requiring schools to notify warn parents if issues of sexual orientation or gender identity are scheduled to be addressed.

Analysis from the Human Rights Campaign found that more than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures in 2021. At least 17 had been enacted according to an HRC report on May 7.

Responding to the pro-LGBTQ legislation passed this year in Nevada, GLSEN interim Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers said in a statement, “This year, we’ve seen record numbers of harmful anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across the country. But Nevada’s new law offers a powerful contrast and shows us that a better way is not only possible, but already in motion.”

Holiday Ad Celebrates ‘Family You’re Born Into Or The One You Make’

(image via screen capture)

Props to Ritz Crackers for the new holiday ad spot featuring all kinds of folks (including a multi-racial queer couple) showing up for family celebrations this Christmas.

“The holidays are about spending time with family. Whether it’s the one you’re born into or the one you make.”

On their ‘Taste of Welcome‘ website, the snack maker writes, “At RITZ, we believe everyone should feel like they belong. That’s why this holiday, we’re encouraging people to rethink what it means to be family.”

The company is also partnering with The It Gets Better Project (which aims to uplift, empower and connect LGBTQ+ youth), Hispanic Star (showcases and amplifies the value and contributions of the Hispanic community), and Invisible People (which fights to humanize homelessness by putting a face to the issue) by donating $50,000 to help support communities in need this season.

GLAAD Reports On LGBTQ-Inclusivity In 2019 Movies

Paramount’s ‘Rocketman’ was one of the more prominent LGBTQ-inclusive movies of 2019

Last week, GLAAD released its 8th annual Studio Responsibility Index, tracking LGBTQ representation in major studio films in 2019. This report is essential for assessing the quality, quantity, and diversity of LGBTQ characters in films released annually and setting the path for representation moving forward.

One of GLAAD’s most significant contributions to the media landscape is assessing LGBTQ representation, and holding major players accountable when there are efforts to erase the experience of LGBTQ people. The report is intended to serve as a road map toward increasing fair, accurate and inclusive LGBTQ representation in film.

GLAAD found that of the 118 films released from the eight major studios tracked in 2019:

• 22 (18.6%) included characters that were LGBTQ representing a slight increase from the previous year’s report (+0.4 percentage points) and the highest percentage of inclusive films found in the eight-year history of the report.

• 56% appeared for less than three minutes of total screen time, with 21 of the 50 receiving less than one minute of screen time. Only nine films from the 8 major studios included an LGBTQ character who had more than ten minutes of screen time.

• More bad news – there was a significant decrease in the racial diversity of LGBTQ characters in major films for the second year in a row. In 2019, just 34 percent (17) of LGBTQ characters were people of color. This is down from 42 percent in the previous report and from 57 percent in the year before that.

• The report found zero transgender characters in major studio films, and only three movies included bisexual characters.

In 2018, GLAAD issued a challenge to major studios asking for an increase to 20 percent representation by the end of 2021, and up that to 50 percent LGBTQ representation by the year ending 2024.

GLAAD is extending that challenge to ensure that within the next two years, at least half of LGBTQ characters in major studio films are people of color.

For more information how you can help GLAAD fight for more fair LGBTQ representation in the media, click here.

(source: GLAAD)

Inclusive Coffee Ad Hits The Sweet Spot

A Belgium coffee company has seen its latest commercial, titled “Something To Share,” go viral and gay Twitter approves.

Belgium-based instant coffee brand Douwe Egberts initially shows two teens getting hot and heavy in a romantical moment at home and one of them is covered by a hoodie.

When dad walks in the door, the teens make a dash for upstairs. During the run to the bedroom, though, dad gets a glimpse of the couple.

His daughter registers a moment of concern, but the next thing she knows she gets a text message complete with three coffee emojis.

As the teens sit down for java, the inclusive twist is revealed along with the slogan, “We all have something to share over a Douwe Egberts coffee.”

Good on you, Douwe Egberts

And gay Twitter goes wild:

AG Bill Barr Has A Problem With LGBTQ Inclusion In School Curriculum

Attorney General Bill Barr (image via Flickr/WhiteHouse – public domain)

Attorney General William Barr says he has a problem with the inclusion of consequential LGBTQ figures in public school curriculums that do not allow homophobic parents to opt-out their kids on the basis of religious beliefs.

From The Hill:

“Many states are adopting curriculum that is incompatible with traditional Judeo-Christian principles. … They often do this without any opt-out provision for religious families,” Barr said.

He particularly cited laws in New Jersey, California, and Illinois requiring an LGBT curriculum.

“The Orange County Board of Education in California issued an opinion that ‘parents who disagree with the instructional material … may not excuse their children from this instruction,'” he said, lamenting that in some cases parents are not “warned” about the material.

Schools already teach about the heroes of the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movements. What is the harm in teaching kids about the Stonewall uprising?

As former Vice President Joe Biden pointed out at the LGBTQ Town Hall this week, almost half of all Americans incorrectly believe that federal law protects LGBTQ people from discrimination.

Including some lessons on the struggles and accomplishments of LGBTQ Americans could help solve that issue.

MTV Studios Announces Reboot Of GLAAD Award Winning Series ‘Undressed’

MTV Studios is continuing the trend of bringing back past TV series with the news that Undressed, which ran from 1999 to 2002, will get the reboot treatment.

Logging over 200 episodes over six short seasons, the scripted anthology series would feature a new cast each season, and episodes would focus on two or three interwoven storylines.

Created by two-time Oscar-nominated director Roland Jaffe (who will return as executive producer), Undressed was credited for bringing frank discussions about sex to younger television audiences.

The program often used its young characters’ restless energy to dramatize narratives related to the lives of teens and young adults.

While Will & Grace dealt with the issue of sexual orientation, Undressed went full-on exploring sexuality, including several same-sex relationships making it one of the most inclusive series on the air at the time.

In 2003, the series was honored with a GLAAD Media Award for ‘Outstanding Daily Drama.’

In addition, the show was the springboard that launched several successful stars of today including Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Brandon Routh (Legends of Tomorrow), Jason Ritter (Joan of Arcadia), Max Greenfield (New Girl) and more.

The announcement comes as MTV wraps up it’s 5th consecutive quarter of primetime ratings growth.

“Undressed was ahead of its time and we’re looking forward to developing the series for a whole new generation,” said Pamela Post, head of scripted programming for MTV Studios, MTV, VH1 and Logo. “Much has changed in the dating/relationship world since the series first premiered and we’re excited to showcase how both have evolved.”

MTV also recently announced reboots of popular shows The Real World and Daria.

Progress For Schools Becoming More LGBTQ Inclusive Is Slowing

GSA bus in Pride parade (image via Flickr/jglsongsCC License)

According to the 2017 National School Climate Survey from GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), progress in making schools more inclusive and less hostile for LGBTQ students has slowed down after years of improvement.

The survey polled more than 23,000 students across the United States ages 13-21 between April and August of 2017.

The average age of participants was 15.6 years-old and four in ten of those surveyed identified as gay or lesbian.

The results of the survey showed that after years of declining harassment, the improving climate seems to have plateaued (see graphic below).

The data from the survey shows:

• Almost 60% of LGBTQ students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation; 44% because of their gender expression

• Almost 35% of LGBTQ students say they missed a day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe

• 4 in 10 avoided gender-segregated spaces like bathrooms or locker rooms due to safety concerns

• 98.5% of LGBTQ students have heard the term “gay” used in a negative way; 70% say they hear these remarks frequently

• 70.1% of LGBTQ students say they’ve experienced verbal harassment based on sexual orientation; almost 60% based on gender expression

• Almost 30% say they’ve been physically harassed (pushed, shoved) based on sexual orientation; 24.4% based on gender expression

• 12.4% of LGBTQ students say they’ve been physically assaulted (punched, kicked) based on sexual orientation; 11.2% based on gender expression

• 42.2% of LGBTQ students say they considered dropping out of school due to harassment

• 48.7% of LGBTQ students have experienced cyberbullying in the past year

• 57.3% of LGBTQ students reported being sexually harassed in the past year at school

The majority of LGBTQ students (55.3%) who were victimized in school did not report the incident believing no effective intervention would happen or the situation could become worse.

Of the students who did report an incident, 60.4% say school staff did nothing or told the student to ignore it.

One piece of good news: more students reported having a Gay/Straight Alliance (53.3%) at their school than ever before.

The data shows that when a school offers a GSA, LGBTQ students were less likely to hear homophobic or transphobic slurs; saw more intervention by school personnel; and were less likely to feel unsafe at school due to their sexual orientation.

Head over to GLSEN to read the full report.

NJ Police Veteran Lt. James Tracy Is One Of NBC Out’s #Pride30

Lieutenant James Tracy (click image to enlarge)

For Pride Month, NBC Out is putting the spotlight on 30 individuals who are bringing positive awareness to and for our LGBTQ community not only through their actions but living by example.

The series is called #Pride30.

So, meet Lt. James Tracy of the Englewood Cliffs Police Department in New Jersey.

Yes, let’s stop and take in the photo and all. It’s pretty fab.

Now, aside from the biceps and chest on display (when you got a Porsche, you don’t keep it in the garage), Officer Tracy has been instrumental in bringing LGBTQ inclusivity to police departments all across Bergen County in the Garden State.

From NBC Out:

Tracy, 40, helped to initiate the Bergen County Police Academy’s very first LGBTQ bias training program in 2016. Now, the New Jersey native is working to expand this program throughout the whole state.

Last June, during LGBTQ Pride Month, Tracy started an initiative where every officer in his department wore “rainbow pride bracelets.” The program was intended to show the town’s LGBTQ community that their police officers are dedicated to inclusion and are supportive of everyone’s rights. The program also initiated a dialogue between officers and numerous residents who asked questions about the bracelets and how they could get one for themselves.

In addition to LGBTQ equality, Tracy has also been dedicated to engaging with youth and training the next generation of law enforcement officers. Tracy is the co-founder and leader of the Junior Police Academy, which is held annually in Englewood Cliffs. It’s a weeklong summer program that trains young people who may want to pursue a career in law enforcement. The program is now in its 14th year.

In true Pride Month fashion, the 40-year-old police veteran shares that he was ‘in the closet’ for the first 10 years of his career as a police officer.

Acknowledging he worked with great professionals in the police department, he was still wary of telling his co-workers the truth about his sexual orientation for fear that they would not accept him.

Eventually, the weight of his personal truth became too much to carry and he slowly began to share with his co-workers.

“The relief that I experienced after coming out can’t be described with words; it was just this enormous weight off my shoulders,” says Tracy. “After experiencing that, I wanted to help other gay officers who may be dealing with the same struggles. Ten years of hiding who I am was much too long; life is too short to hide anything about yourself.”

Because of his personal experience, Tracy helped to initiate the Bergen County Police Academy’s very first LGBTQ bias training program in 2016. And now the native New Jerseyan is moving to share that program throughout New Jersey.

Tracy says he finds “do’s” and “don’t” in bias training shuts down interaction due to fear of saying or doing the wrong thing.

“If you train people from a diversity and inclusion perspective, you don’t need to spend a lot of time on ‘don’t do this’ and ‘don’t do that.’ The LGBTQ population is the only demographic that crosses into every race, ethnicity and religion. Essentially, we are a minority within a minority, and if agencies are not providing bias training on LGBTQ issues, they are missing a huge minority segment.”

NBC Out closes it’s profile of the handsome officer by asking what pride means to him. His answer is spot on.

“Pride to me is about being proud of yourself, accepting yourself, and everything about yourself — regardless of what other people think.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Make sure you follow NBC Out’s series #Pride30 which includes Tracy, Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez, trans Virginia lawmaker Danica Roem, Hollywood producer Greg Berlanti, and a whole bunch of way impressive/inspiring LGBT folks you should know.

One more thing: I’m gonna say normally I resize photos for The Randy Report so the images fit my blog.

In this case, however, I couldn’t bring myself to deprive you of the full-size awesomeness that is Lt. James Tracy.

So click the image to enlarge the pic above.

#HappyPride2018

Olympic Silver-Medalist Gus Kenworthy To Headline DNC’s LGBTQ Gala In June

Gus Kenworthy (image via Instagram)

Woofy out Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy will headline the Democratic National Committee’s LGBTQ Gala on June 25 in New York City.

From ABC News:

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the DNC at their LGBTQ Gala this Pride season. Over the last year, the Trump-Pence administration has pushed our community to the sidelines, attacking us for who we are and who we love,” Kenworthy wrote to ABC News in a statement.

“It’s time we take a stand against this administration by electing representatives this upcoming November who actively support and believe in equality for everyone,” he said.

The seven-time world champ quite publicly skipped the White House reception for 2018 Winter Olympians last Friday along with fellow high-profile athletes Lindsey Vonn, Erin Hamlin, Adam Rippon and Chloe Kim.

At the reception, Donald Trump told attendees that watching the Paralympics was “tough to watch.” Gus was among the Olympians who clapped back at the insult.

LGBTQ Inclusion Being Considered By Amazon In Search For HQ2

Apparently there’s an unspoken component to Amazon’s current search for a location for it’s highly coveted second headquarters, known at this time as HQ2.

And that’s taking measure of how communities view and treat local LGBTQ folks.

On one recent trip to Dallas/Fort Worth by Amazon, the local team made a point of showing off how inclusive and welcoming the community has been to the Rev. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas, pastor of a predominantly gay megachurch in Dallas, and his 4,000 congregants.

More from The Washington Post:

As Amazon executives recently toured finalist locations to help select what they’ve dubbed HQ2, they asked public officials about what sort of “compatible cultural and community environment” — the wording from the company’s search parameters — each city offers, adding to speculation about whether Amazon will choose a liberal stronghold.

In North Carolina, company representatives asked pointed questions of Gov. Roy Cooper (D) about several state policies such as the “bathroom bill,” which restricted the use of public facilities by transgender people, according to a person in the room. In another city, an Amazon executive groaned at the mention of proposed legislation in Georgia that would restrict funding for same-sex adoption, according to another person who attended the meeting between the company and state and local officials.

Given the publicity and economic impact of the project, including as much as $5 billion in capital expenditures, Amazon’s push on gay and transgender rights may increase pressure on state and local policymakers who have either declined to institute equal-rights rules or passed laws some view as discriminatory.

According to the WaPo, 11 of the 20 finalist cities have anti-LGBTQ laws on the books.

There are those that believe landing HQ2 in a red state might help facilitate positive change towards LGBTQ folks since Amazon would arrive with very pro-LGBTQ policies as a company.

The awarding of the contract for HQ2 will be a huge economic boon for the winner.

Over the past few years Amazon has invested $3.7 billion into the Seattle economy and paid more than $25  billion in salaries.

The new headquarters could mean up to 50,000 new jobs, and $5  billion in capital investments for the city that gets the contract.

Anti-LGBT laws could sink some Amazon HQ2 hopefuls. Amazon will consider LGBT rights in selecting a new headquarters from 20 finalists. 11 finalists are in states that have anti-LGBT laws on the books, according to the advocacy group No Gay No Way.