Stunning Virtual Collaboration: ‘Bolero Juilliard’

This is really quite special.

Proposed by Juilliard President Damian Woetzel and under the artistic leadership of choreographer (and New Dances veteran) Larry Keigwin, Bolero Juilliard is a virtual collaboration with Juilliard’s community of artists, bringing together dancers, instrumentalists, singers, actors, and alumni during the ongoing pandemic.

In addition to the incredibly talented students taking part in the creative endeavor, don’t miss famous alumni of the school popping up throughout the video including Christine Baranski (drama), Jon Batiste (jazz studies), Renée Fleming (voice), Laura Linney (drama), Patti LuPone (drama), Yo-Yo Ma (music), Bebe Neuwirth (dance), Itzhak Perlman (music), Bradley Whitford (drama) and more.

Rowan University Students Dance To Drown Out Anti-LGBTQ Hate Speech

The students at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, were not having it when demonstrators showed up on their campus holding anti-LGBTQ, anti-women and anti-Muslim signs.
Dancing to drown out the hate at Rowan University (screen capture)

The students at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, were not having it when demonstrators showed up on their campus holding anti-LGBTQ, anti-women and anti-Muslim signs.

According to the university’s online newspaper, The Whit, one of the signed held high read, “Warning: homos, whores, porno freaks…Muslims, drunks…obey Jesus or hellfire.”

Charming.

At the time, a social media post went out among students which claimed the demonstrators make their appearances on college campuses around the country in an attempt to make money.

The social media message implored the students not to engage:

“Dude so just so you know the thing happening is this group of guys who travel across the country to public college campuses and yell controversial things with the signs that they have, they do this to make money by hoping that students will get riled up and physically attack them, and then they can sue the students or even the school. They can also make money if the campus police or Glassboro police kick them off the campus; because this is censorship of freedom of speech of the first amendment, they can sue the school for a lot of [$$$]. They are con artists and scammers, don’t give them the time of day and spread this message.”

Note: There hasn’t been any evidence that confirms the anti-LGBTQ demonstrators were looking to have their appearance escalate to violence for financial gain.

It wasn’t long before hundreds of students showed up with their own signs and Pride flags forming their own, largely peaceful, protest.

One student, Elijah Olumakin, brought a speaker and music to try and distract from the demonstrators.

“I felt as though, to protest the poisonous words they’re trying to infect our minds with, we need to infect the heart with positive messages,” Olumakin told The Whit. “Whether you’re black, white, Spanish, Indian, broke, poor, gay, straight or non-binary, you love good music.”

The music led to dancing, and pretty soon the students turned the incident into a big party drowning out the hate speech.

Student government president Rbrey Singleton got on the mic at one point to congratulate the students for standing up to hate speech.

“I am so proud of everybody – we are stronger together,” Singleton told his peers. “We came out here, we stood up to hate. We’re going to keep turning our backs to hate.”

Later, in a message to the university community via email, Singleton praised the students writing, “You continue to amaze me every day by your strength and resilience.”

“We’ve been standing in the face of hate today, and many in our community have been standing against hate their entire lives,” he continued. “Let’s be bigger and turn our backs on hate. If we don’t give prejudice and bigotry our attention or power, it WILL leave. Let’s continue to spread love, inclusivity and pride everywhere we go, on and off campus.”

Rowan University President Ali Houshmand issued a statement emphasizing that, while freedom of expression is allowed at all times, hate speech has no place on campus.

“Rowan is obligated as a public institution to allow freedom of expression, but we do not endorse or condone hate speech in any form,” wrote Houshmand. “Rowan University is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all members of the community and rejects the abhorrent sentiments expressed by the protesters.”

According to the local ABC News affiliate, two students were arrested for throwing soda at the haters.

Teacher Fired For Reporting Homophobic/Racist Flyers At School

During the last week of March, homophobic and racist flyers began to appear throughout the hallways of McCormick Junior High School in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Even worse, the teacher who reported the flyers was FIRED for bringing attention to them.  “It’s great to be straight. It’s not OK to be gay. Black lives matter only because if it weren’t for them who would pick our cotton. Join the kkk.”
(image via Twitter)

During the last week of March, homophobic and racist flyers began to appear throughout the hallways of McCormick Junior High School in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

According to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, the flyers read, “It’s great to be straight. It’s not OK to be gay. Black lives matter only because if it weren’t for them who would pick our cotton.”

“Join the kkk,” concluded the message, which seemed to be signed by “the confederate kid club.”

#hideous

When the flyers were brought to the attention of Kaycee Cook, a substitute teacher and co-sponsor of the school’s gay/straight alliance, she contacted Wyoming Equality. The advocacy group works to protect LGBTQ people in the state.

The executive director for Wyoming Equality, Sara Burlingame, told the press that she had heard about the flyers from several members of the community.

“This is unacceptable,” she said in a statement to Queerty. “It does not reflect the values of Cheyenne. We’re not going tolerate this. And we’re going to show up and support our LGBT youth and our black youth with unwavering pride and support.”

Even the mayor of Cheyenne, Marian Orr, got wind of the flyers and tweeted her support to Cheyenne youth writing, “Tonight, my heart is the heaviest it’s been since taking office. This is not right. To the youth in our community: You are loved. You are valued. We need you to take us forward. You are Cheyenne.”

When the Wyoming Tribune Eagle contacted Principal Jeff Conine about the flyers, he seemed to downplay the issue saying there were only two flyers found and that they were removed before the school day began.

But others, including Kaycee Cook, told the Eagle that the flyers were “all over the school.”

In fact, anti-LGBTQ bullying has been reported for weeks at the school with little done to tamp down the hate.

Some students say they stopped going to the school’s GSA meetings because a group of boys began verbally harassing and bullying the members of the group.

One student who preferred to remain anonymous said the boys openly called themselves racists and homophobes.

There are even reports of teachers calling same-sex students holding hands “disgusting.”

Cook says she’s taken the issue to supervisors for weeks without any results.

Here’s where it really gets messed up, though.

On March 27, Cook received an email from Principal Conine firing her.

(image via Wyoming News)

“I am notifying you that due to incidents that have occurred at McCormick you are no longer welcome as a guest or a substitute teacher in our building,” read the email.

Cook told the press she believes Conine’s actions were in retaliation for contacting Wyoming Equality.

The Laramie County School District 1 issued a statement about the debacle, which read:

“In the midst of an investigation regarding inappropriate flyers that were posted at McCormick Junior High yesterday, (LCSD1) is offering support to our LGBTQ and black students who were reportedly targeted through the incident.”

When contacted by the Eagle, Principal Conine told reporters he wasn’t prepared to make a statement about the email.

Since last week, at least one of the student’s responsible for the hateful flyers has been identified. LCSD1 Superintendent Boyd Brown told Wyoming News that the student would be “disciplined in line with district policy.”

Additionally, it looks like Cook’s dismissal will be reversed and she should be reinstated at the school soon.

What a debacle.

#NationalWalkoutDay Students Send A Message To Lawmakers “If Any Elected Official Gets In Our Way, We Will Vote Them Out”

High school students across the entire country are sending a clear and powerful message to the nation’s lawmakers and the National Rifle Association that we need more than “thoughts and prayers” to solve our gun violence problem in the U.S.

These kids are woke.

From The New York Times:

Thousands of students, emboldened by a growing protest movement over gun violence, stood up in their classrooms on Wednesday and walked out of their schools in a nationwide demonstration, one month after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Florida.

The 17-minute protests unfolding at hundreds of schools are intended to pressure Congress to approve gun control legislation after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and come 10 days before major protests in Washington and elsewhere.

Ohio: 7th Grader Shoots Himself In Middle School Restroom

Gun advocates say there should be MORE guns in schools.

And that’s how these kinds of incidents happen.

From the CBS affiliate in Cleveland:

Schools in the Jackson Local School District in Stark County are on lockdown after a seventh grade student shot himself on a middle school campus.

Just before 8 a.m., a student shot himself in the men’s restroom at Jackson Memorial Middle School, according to Jackson Township Police. The school is about 55 miles south of Cleveland.

Police say the boy was transported to a nearby hospital. His condition is not known at this time.

Police have not said if the shooting is accidental or intentional, but they are calling it self-inflicted.

All other students and faculty members were no injured.

National Education Association Responds To Trump Administration Rolling Back Transgender Protections

Lily Eskelsen García, president of The National Education Association, which is represents more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, issued this statement in response to the Trump administration’s decision to rescind guidance protecting transgender students’ use of public bathrooms in schools:

Every student matters, and every student has the right to feel safe, welcomed, and valued in our public schools. This is our legal, ethical and moral obligation. The Trump administration’s plans to reverse protections for transgender students by rescinding the Title IX guidance, is dangerous, ill-advised, and unnecessary.

We reject this discriminatory plan because it is a drastic departure from our core values. We don’t teach hate, we do not tell people how to pray, and we do not discriminate against people based on their religion, gender, or identity. Period.

As the Trump administration threatens our students and our values, we will double-down on our efforts to protect our most vulnerable citizens, including our LGBTQ students and members. We urge more states, school districts, and schools to adopt protections for transgender students. We owe to our students because they need to see us take a bold stand against discrimination whatever form it takes.

17 School Districts Confirm “Conservative Horror Stories” Regarding Trans Bathroom Rights Are False

(map via GLSEN)

With today’s announcement by the federal Departments of Education and Justice on protections for transgender students, it’s important to debunk the often-told myth that transgender “bathroom rights” somehow leads to predators dressing as women to prey on female students in school bathrooms.

Media Matters took a comprehensive look into the matter:

Conservative media outlets have attacked transgender-inclusive non-discrimination policies in schools by claiming they create confusion, violate students’ privacy rights, and can be exploited by students who will pretend to be transgender in order to sneak into the restrooms for the opposite sex and behave inappropriately.

Media Matters Contacted Officials At The Largest School Districts In 12 States With Gender Identity Protections On The Books. Media Matters contacted school district officials in states with laws prohibiting discrimination in public schools on the basis of gender identity and asked whether they had experienced “any incidences of harassment or inappropriate behavior” as a result of “allowing transgender students to access facilities they’re comfortable with.” Media Matters specifically raised the oft-heard criticism that protecting transgender students will “result in confusion, harassment, or inappropriate behavior” such as “students pretending to be transgender to sneak into locker rooms or bathrooms.”

The responses from across the country were overwhelmingly the same: Seventeen school districts covering 600,000 students experienced no problems after implementing transgender protections.

Justice And Education Departments Issue Guidelines For Trans Students In All Public Schools

Today, the federal Justice and Education Departments issued joint guidelines ensuring that all transgender students can attend school without the risk of discrimination or bullying based on their gender identity.

The guidance explains how existing law, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, views the issue of “gender identity” as part of a student’s determined “sex.” Therefore, any bullying based on gender identity would fall under “sex discrimination” which is outlawed under Title IX.

The guidance does not require any student to use shared bathrooms or changing spaces, when, for example, there are other appropriate options available; and schools can also take steps to increase privacy within shared facilities.

Federal education guidelines apply to public districts serving K-12 students, public universities, and other education facilities receiving federal money.

The guidance is not legally binding; however, it reinforces the administration’s position that it will take legal action against violators.

Via press release:

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status. The guidance makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.

“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “This guidance further clarifies what we’ve said repeatedly – that gender identity is protected under Title IX. Educators want to do the right thing for students, and many have reached out to us for guidance on how to follow the law. We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers, and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies. I look forward to continuing our work with the Department of Education – and with schools across the country – to create classroom environments that are safe, nurturing, and inclusive for all of our young people.”

“Our federal civil rights law guarantees all students, including transgender students, the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities without sex discrimination as a core civil right,” said Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “This guidance answers questions schools have been asking, with a goal to ensure that all students are treated equally consistent with their gender identity. We look forward to continuing to work with schools and school communities to satisfy Congress’ promise of equality for all.”

“Every child deserves to attend school in a safe, supportive environment that allows them to thrive and grow. And we know that teachers and administrators care deeply about all of their students and want them to succeed in school and life,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our guidance sends a clear message to transgender students across the country: here in America, you are safe, you are protected and you belong – just as you are. We look forward to working with school officials to make the promise of equal opportunity a reality for all of our children.”

The guidance explains that when students or their parents, as appropriate, notify a school that a student is transgender, the school must treat the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. A school may not require transgender students to have a medical diagnosis, undergo any medical treatment, or produce a birth certificate or other identification document before treating them consistent with their gender identity.

The guidance also explains schools’ obligations to:

* Respond promptly and effectively to sex-based harassment of all students, including harassment based on a student’s actual or perceived gender identity, transgender status, or gender transition;

* Treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their school records or identification documents indicate a different sex;

* Allow students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity; and

* Protect students’ privacy related to their transgender status under Title IX and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

At the same time, the guidance makes clear that schools can provide additional privacy options to any student for any reason. The guidance does not require any student to use shared bathrooms or changing spaces, when, for example, there are other appropriate options available; and schools can also take steps to increase privacy within shared facilities.

In addition to the Departments’ joint Title IX guidance, the Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education also released Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students, a compilation of policies and practices that schools across the country are already using to support transgender students. The document shares some common questions on topics such as school records, privacy, and terminology, and then explains how some state and school district policies have answered these questions, which may be useful for other states and school districts that are considering these issues. In this document, the Education Department does not endorse any particular policy, but offers examples from actual policies to help educators develop policies and practices for their own schools.

Many parents, schools, and districts have raised questions about this area of civil rights law. Together, these documents will help navigate what may be a new terrain for some.

The documents referenced can be found here:

Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students

Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students

Devastating Spec Ad For Johnnie Walker By Two German Students

I won’t ruin it for you.

All you need to know upfront is this is a spec ad done by two German film students – Daniel Titz and Dorian Lebherz – for Johnnie Walker titled “Dear Brother.”

The ad seems to follow two brothers on both a spiritual and physical journey to the most important places of their youth.

Once you get to the end, go back and watch again. I didn’t see the ending coming, but once I did, I went back to put it together.

Then, go read this interview by AdWeek with the two filmmakers.