There’s still no federal law barring people from being fired for being LGBT.


WASHINGTON — New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) signed an executive order Thursday that bans discrimination in state government against transgender people.

“Throughout our history, it has been clear time and again that we always grow stronger when we work to ensure the full inclusion of all citizens in our democracy, our economy and our communities,” Hassan said in a statement. “By making clear that gender identity and gender expression are protected in the State’s anti-discrimination policies, this Executive Order helps ensure that New Hampshire state government welcomes and incorporates the talents and contributions of all of our citizens.”

The executive order also requires the state’s Justice Department and Department of Administrative Service to review their contracts with the private sector to ensure they include protections against discrimination based on gender identity. The state’s Division of Personnel has until Sept. 15 to give guidance to agencies on how to roll out the new policy.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell cited a new rule added to the Obamacare law to prevent discrimination, including “sexual stereotyping,” as one of the Obama administration’s successes in advancing homosexual rights.

“We took a major step just last month in the final rule of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act,” Burwell said at an event on June 9 at the agency in Washington, D.C., to mark Gay Pride Month.

The new final rule – which goes into effect on July 18 and was issued by HHS’s Office of Civil Rights – addresses three types of discrimination – those based on disabilities, persons with limited English proficiency, and discrimination “based on sex.”

Patricia Dean, a partner in the Holland & Hart law firm in Washington, D.C., analyzed the portion of the 99-page regulation that is focused on sex discrimination, including gender identity and sexual stereotyping.

Dean explained the regulation as follows:

“The final rules define ‘gender identity’ as an individual's internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual's sex assigned at birth,” Dean wrote in the analysis posted on the law firm’s website on June 8.

“A ‘transgender individual’ is an individual whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned to that person at birth,” Dean wrote. “In defining what includes ‘sex stereotyping,’ the new rules reflect the Supreme Court's holding in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228, 250-51 (1989) that stereotypical notions of appropriate behavior, appearance, or mannerisms for each gender constitutes sex discrimination.

“The new rules thus define ‘sex stereotypes’ as stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity, including expectations of how individuals represent or communicate their gender to others, such as behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice, mannerisms, or body characteristics,” Dean wrote. “Stereotypes can include the expectation that individuals will consistently identify with only one gender and that they will act in conformity with the gender-related expressions stereotypically associated with the gender.”

Dean called the rule “the first federal civil rights law to prohibit discrimination ‘on the basis of sex,’” including gender identity and sex stereotyping in health care programs.

ORONO, Maine — When it was time for the RSU 26 board to vote Tuesday night on new guidelines for transgender students — required after the department was sued by a former student — school board vice chairman Jacob Eckert said he was uncomfortable and cast the lone vote against them.

The new rules are the result of a lawsuit by a former student who sued after being denied access to the girls bathroom in grade school and middle school, and Maine Human Rights Commission guidelines created last year in the wake of the lawsuit.

The Orono rules basically state students and staff should address transgender students in accordance with their gender identity, using the name and pronoun corresponding with how they identify themselves. Transgender students also should be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity that is consistently asserted at school.

School board members Eckert and Leo Kenney questioned the proposed rules before the 4-1 vote. Kenney said he was worried that local girls “will share a locker room with a transgender student.”

“I think it’s concerning,” Kenney said before the vote.

Eckert followed by saying, “I’m all in favor of making accommodations” but then added that his concern was sacrificing the “comforts of the majority for the comforts of a minority.”

The incident that sparked the court case against Orono began in 2007 when a child, later identified as Nicole Maines, who was born male but identifies as female, was forced to stop using the girls bathroom at the Asa Adams Elementary School. She was told to use a staff bathroom after the grandfather of a male student complained.

Her parents filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, and the lawsuit — the first in the country to fight for a transgender student’s access to the bathroom of the gender with which the child identified — followed.

The Penobscot County Superior Court order, dated Nov. 25, 2014, enjoined the Orono School Department from discriminating against other students as it did against Nicole Maines, who is now a University of Maine student.

The 2014 Maine Supreme Judicial Court decision guarantees the right of a Maine transgender student to use the school bathroom designed for the gender with which he or she identifies.

Lisa Erhardt, the guidance counselor at Asa Adams School, suggested a couple minor word changes after the first reading of the new rules that were made before the final vote was taken Tuesday night. Millinocket also has established a transgender policy.

Chairman Brian McGill reminded the group that the Orono guidelines align with the state’s constitution, the Maine Human Rights Act and the state’s Human Rights Commission’s recommendations, as well as federal rules.

“We got sued and we lost and it does come back to the law,” McGill said, adding, “I do understand this discomfort but it is Maine law.”



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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Thousands of people from across Upstate New York attended the 2016 CNY Pride Parade and Festival on Saturday, flooding the annual gathering with conversations about the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando less than one week ago.

However, the festival was not a grim event. Despite the deeply somber start to the week's activities, the joyful crowd was determined to celebrate the culmination of CNY Pride Week with music, dancing and hula hooping.

Kathryn Conner and Megan Monahan of New Hartford, N.Y, drove more than an hour to attend CNY Pride Fest. It was Monahan's first time at the festival.

"I came out here to support the victims in Orlando," said Monahan. "They have a lot of love coming from us in New York."

Conner said she was completely shocked when she woke up on Sunday to hear about the Orlando shootings.

"It takes a lot to make me speechless and I had no words," said Conner. "A lot of my friends are LGBT so it hit close to home. It was absolutely horrible."

Conner said she expected Central New York's LGBTQ community to use their anger about the shootings to spread their message even more passionately.

"The world is filled with hate, but love will always conquer in the end," Conner said.

Keturah Thorpe and Jamie Stulir of Binghamton signed messages of solidarity to Orlando on a large blanket.

"For how far we've come as a gay community, it's crazy that something like that would just happen," said Stulir. "It's funny how they think it would set us back. The way [the shooting] brought people together is amazing. There's more awareness now for gay, trans and bi lifestyles."

They both felt assured that Syracuse police would keep festival attendees safe. However, Thorpe said she would be moving to a bigger city soon, and she worries about more mass shootings in populated places.

"I'm queer and I feel like a fear has been awakened that I didn't experience before," said Thorpe. "I don't want to show [my sexuality] as much."

Mary Gillen and Sandy Davis have attended the CNY Pride Festival for many years.Katrina Tulloch

Mary Gillen and Sandy Davis, a married couple from Mexico, N.Y., have attended CNY Pride Fest for many years. They said the Orlando shooting represented a tidal change in the way people talk about underrepresented groups in 2016.

"It isn't just Orlando," said Gillen. "There's bigotry and hatred of so many people. The rhetoric in our country has changed, and [Donald] Trump is driving that narrative."

Gillen and Davis tied hateful rhetoric directly to the presidential campaign.

"Trump initiates visible lash-outs against different groups of people," said Davis. "He's making it OK. He encouraging people to eliminate anyone who's different."

In the last 10 years, Gillen and Davis felt marriage equality become increasingly accepted. They grew up decades ago, when identifying as LGBTQ felt more like being part of "a subculture" than a community.

In last couple years, however, Gillen said that acceptance has shifted.

"We have felt safe as lesbians up until now," she said. "With Trump and the religious right, I'm starting to look over my shoulder. Do I have to watch my back again? Damn it, we're not afraid. We're not backing down. Those days are done."

Mayor Stephanie Miner marched in the CNY Pride Parade and her office increased police presence at this year's festival. At least two protesters stood outside the event on West Kirkpatrick Street.



A federal judge in Chicago is allowing several transgender students to have a voice in a lawsuit seeking to reverse a suburban school district's policy allowing a transgender student to use girls' facilities.

The court Wednesday granted a motion to intervene filed by the ACLU of Illinois for the students and an advocacy group.

Conservative organizations sued in May on behalf of dozens of families with links to Palatine-based Township High School District 211, naming the district and the Department of Education as defendants.

District 211 allowed the access at William Fremd High School only after the department threatened it with the loss of federal funds.

Plaintiffs said the district and department already represented the transgender students' interests. But the court concluded their intervention could be helpful deciding the case.


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