MILWAUKEE — Emotions took over the moment Nick and Brad Schlaikowski stepped foot into the newly furnished Courage House on Milwaukee's south side.

The house was purchased a year ago by the Schlaikowski's and their non-profit Courage MKE to create Wisconsin's first group home and shelter dedicated to homeless LGBTQ teens.

"Parents are kicking them out of their homes just because they're trying to be their authentic self, and so here we are to bring them to a place 

where they can be themselves," said Nick, co-founder of Courage MKE.

Nick and Brad gave Kohls the green light to design and decorate the home themselves, giving way to an overwhelming surprise reveal Tuesday.

"Every little nook and cranny is filled with some sort of enormous hug for these kids," said Brad, co-founder and executive director of Courage MKE.

From top to bottom, Courage House was covered with thoughtful items. It included custom art highlighting the group's mission and making the house feel like a home.

Lowe's, Sherwin Williams, Kohls, Kauffman Counters and Kohler are just some of the businesses who stepped up to donate materials and time.

"In the climate we have in our country right now, to know that there's this many people that know this mission of this house is for LGBT children, it gives me hope that we don't have to worry about that anymore," said Brad.

In addition to housing, Courage House will offer therapy, life skills coaching, tutoring and job training.

Courage House can host five teens. Courage MKE has a vision to create not only a larger home, but multiple homes in Wisconsin.

Courage MKE will host a ribbon cutting at the home Feb. 28.

Stories of hate against the LGBTQ community in Portland have been circulating on social media.

The Portland Police Bureau said it is looking into the attacks but coming forward may not be as easy as it sounds.

"Hate happens in the dark. Hate happens when no one is watching," Q Center executive director Cameron Whitten said. 

The disturbing stories spreading online say members of the LGBTQ community have been targeted in multiple attacks. 

"We are not shocked. We are seriously, seriously disappointed but we are not surprised," Whitten said. "For generations, LGBTQ people have been fighting against violence, harassment and discrimination."

With people turning to Facebook and Twitter with their stories, police are taking notice.

Police said they can't confirm any bias-related crimes lately but officers did respond to an assault on February 10 near SE 15th and Morrison that may have been one. 

Police went to the area of SE 15th and Morrison about a person who may have been assaulted. Police said the person was intoxicated and may have fallen. The person was taken to the hospital and later reported the incident as an assault. 

A bias crime detective was assigned to the case but wasn't able to confirm whether there was a crime. Police said social media posts "suggested the victim believed it may have been" a bias crime. 

"When a hate crime happens, people already have a sense of distrust in whether the authorities will do something," Whitten said. "The fact that we have not done a good enough job to protect people is a testament to why we have hate crimes that are under-reported. So we're trying to do better and we're focused on keeping our communities safe, that's what's important."

Portland police said they are looking into the numerous social media reports about the "rash of attacks on LGBTQ community members in Southeast Portland," but said they haven't received any reports. They urge anyone who is a victim to come forward.

"PPB has proactively reached out to community stakeholders to brief them on what we have learned, and to encourage any victims or witnesses to contact law enforcement," police said in a press release. 

By standing together and being vigilant, Whitten said victory is within reach. He also said the Q Center is another resource for help. 

"The fact that we're being vocal, saying enough is enough, gives me hope that we can actually end this awful wave of hate happening in our communities," he said. 

The Q Center is holding a town hall on Sunday at 6 p.m. to talk about the reports. 

If you were the victim of a bias crime assault or you witness one, call 911 right away. If you were the victim of vandalism or graffiti, call the non-emergency line at 503.823.3333.

For nearly four years, Gavin Grimm has been suing his former school district after it banned him from using the boys bathrooms in high school.

Along the way, he's became a national face for transgender rights. His case almost went to the U.S. Supreme Court. He graduated and moved to California but kept fighting.

"I have fought this legal battle for the past four years because I want to make sure that other transgender students do not have to go through the same pain and humiliation that I did," he said.

The Gloucester County School Board's meeting comes just months before a trial is set to begin over its current bathroom rules.

Grimm said the proposed policy "is far from perfect, but would represent an important first step for Gloucester." The policy "would also send the message to school districts across (Virginia) and the country that discrimination is unacceptable," he said.

Grimm has also been expanding his case against the school board. A federal judge ruled Thursday that he can sue over its refusal to change the gender on his high school transcript, which still lists him as female.

Grimm said the unchanged transcript will stigmatize him every time he applies to a college or potential employer that asks for it.

"I shouldn't have to be outed against my will in every situation where I would have to give that document," Grimm said during a phone interview from the San Francisco Bay Area, where he moved after graduating in 2017.

A court order legally made Grimm a man. And he is listed as male on his birth certificate, passport and a state-issued identification card in California.

The issue of Grimm's transcript highlights another concern in the transgender community that, like bathroom policies, remains far from settled across the nation.

Federal law does not directly address the issue. Some states, such as Massachusetts, provide explicit guidance to schools for updating records. Others, such as Virginia, do not provide a clear path forward to schools.

"The issue is certainly rising as more students express their gender identity," said Francisco M. Negron Jr., chief legal officer for the National School Boards Association.

"We would hope states offer clear guidance," he added. "The alternative is that students would have to make the case on their own, and school districts would not have the benefit of clarity under state law."

Paul D. Castillo, an attorney for the LGBTQ rights group Lambda Legal, said Grimm's effort to update his transcript is "not an isolated incident."

"But it might be one of the first challenges based on federal law to update a student's legal record," Castillo said.

David Corrigan, the lead attorney for the Gloucester County School Board, declined to comment on the case or on how it could be impacted by a possible policy change. The district is located about an hour east of Richmond.

While campaigning in New Hampshire, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she supports a third gender marker for non-binary people and would back federal policy that protects it. Gillibrand said "yes" when asked if she supported "X" as a possible third gender marker for official documents, according to CBS News on Saturday morning.

American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire organizer Palana Belken, who is also a trans woman, asked the question during an LGBTQ rights meeting, CBS News reported. In New Hampshire, a state lawmaker has introduced two bills for third gender markers in the Granite State, according to CBS.

The National Center For Transgender Equality described a non-binary person as someone who does not identify as either male or female. A third gender marker is one way of acknowledging non-binary people. If a third gender marker were to pass at a federal level, it would mean documents such as a passport could reflect a non-binary person's identity more accurately.

New Hampshire state Rep. Gerri Cannon introduced the state bills. As one of two transgender women elected to the legislature, Cannon said she knows the importance of unified documentation. "Right now, especially non-binary people, when they go to one state to another some state trooper may take a look at a license with an 'X' on it and go, 'What is this?'" Cannon told CBS News.

Cannon posted about Gillibrand's visit on Twitter. "It was great to Have Senator Gilabrand [sic] in Somersworth today. A real impressive Candidate!" Cannon tweeted on Friday night.

While supporting the third gender marker, The Associated Press reported that Gillibrand said she would also advocate for transgender rights more broadly. She called President Trump's anti-trans policies like the military service ban "an outrage," according to the AP.

While no third gender marker exists on a federal level, numerous states have instituted their own use of an "X" as a gender marker. CBS News reported that Maine started offering an "X" option back in June 2018, starting with stickers for those who signed up for the third option. Permanent licenses can be printed with either M, F, or X starting in June 2019, according to CBS News.

In January, California started issuing identification cards such as driver's licenses with a "X" option, according to The Guardian. "I'm glad that finally non-binary people are recognized, that we exist," one of the first people in line to get a new ID card, Alon Altman, told The Guardian.

In June 2017, Oregon became the first state in the country to offer a third gender marker on official documents for "nonbinary, intersex and agender people," according to NBC News. The rule went into effect in July 2017. "We must proactively break down the barriers of institutional bias," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told NBC News when the rule passed the state Transportation Commission.

While a handful of states have passed these laws, entire countries have as well. Canada introduced a third gender marker on passports in August 2017, according to The Guardian, joining Australia, New ZealandGermany, and Pakistan in their efforts to provide accurate documentation with third gender markers.

The South Dakota House of Representatives has passed a bill that would ban teaching about transgender people in public schools.

Lawmakers in the state gave the green light to HB 1108, which seeks to block teachers from acknowledging the existence of transgender people to young people in classrooms, on Tuesday (February 12).

The bill says: “No instruction in gender dysphoria may be provided to any student in kindergarten through grade seven in any public school in the state.”

The proposal passed by a vote of 39-30 in the 70 seat chamber, where the Republican Party has a large majority.

South Dakota anti-transgender bill ‘harmful’ to young people

LGBT+ campaigners hit out at the proposal, warning that it could prevent teachers from providing any support to young transgender people.

Cathryn Oakley of LGBT+ campaigning group Human Rights Campaign said: “The intent of this legislation is clearly to discriminate against transgender and gender non-conforming South Dakotans.

“If HB 1108 were to become law, it would send a strong message to LGBTQ youth that they are less than their peers.”

Oakley added: “South Dakota was the first state to introduce anti-transgender legislation that would bar trans kids from accessing facilities consistent with their gender identity, and it seems intent on being on the forefront of discrimination yet again, at the risk being out of step with the rest of the country.

“We implore the Senate to vote against this harmful legislation.”

Libby Skarin of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Dakota added: “[We are] disappointed that South Dakota’s representatives voted to pass House Bill 1108.

“It is this type of hostility toward young transgender people from adult leaders that contributes to the high rates of depression and even suicide among transgender young people in our state. But the fight is not over.

“Our commitment to ensuring that transgender South Dakotans can live openly without discrimination remains strong and urges South Dakota lawmakers to stop hurting transgender youth.”

South Dakota anti-transgender bill would be on ‘forefront of discrimination’

The bill will now head to the South Dakota Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans.

If it clears the legislature, the bill would then head to the desk of South Dakota’s Republican governor Kristi Noem.

And, if passed, the state would become the first to explicitly restrict teaching on trans issues, though wider laws restricting teaching about LGBT+ issues are not a new battle in the US.

Seven states still maintain ‘no promo homo’ laws, which actively restrict schools teaching about homosexuality.

Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas maintain laws barring the “promotion of homosexual relationships” in schools.

Some of the laws have been criticised for being damaging—with Arizona explicitly restricting teaching about “safe methods of homosexual sex.”

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