As Election Day approaches, the vote for the governor of North Carolina will be a referendum on the bathroom bill

Incumbent North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory  is in an extremely tight race against Democratic challenger Attorney General Roy Cooper, and it’s all coming down to the issue of the state’s “Bathroom bill.”

In March, McCrory signed House Bill 2, the state’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. HB-2 bans transgender citizen from using bathrooms that corresponds with their gender identity, and requires them to use government-run facilities that correspond with their “biological” sex. McCrory’s challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper, opposes the bill.

A RealClearPolitics averaged poll from Nov. 1 showed Cooper leading by two points, 48 percent to 46 percent.

“There’s no question this is going to be a very close race at the top of the ticket, and the LGBTQ voting bloc really has the ability to impact the outcome of this election,” said Executive Director Chris Sgro of Equality North Carolina, according to Reuters.

Copper has promised to work to repeal the legislation if he is elected on Nov. 8.

Not only is HB-2 harmful to members of the LGBTQ community, but it has cost the state about $630 million in lost business since it was signed in March, and the bill also lead to the relocation of the NCAA tournament from Greensboro.

“Legislators have gone out of their way to stigmatize and marginalize transgender North Carolinians by pushing ugly and fundamentally untrue stereotypes that are based on fear and ignorance and not supported by the experiences of more than 200 cities with these protections,” Sarah Preston told CNN in March after HB2 was hastily pushed through the general assembly. Preston is acting executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

McCroy’s side views the bill as banning perverts and sex offenders from claiming that they identify as women to enter women’s restrooms. One campaign ad paid for by the North Carolina Values Coalition bashed Cooper using this rhetoric.

WASHINGTON — In court papers, he's identified only as "G.G." But he's not anonymous anymore.

Gavin Grimm is the public face of the latest Supreme Court battle over a more familiar set of initials: LGBTQ rights. Like his lesbian and gay predecessors — people like Edie Windsor, whose lawsuit led to federal benefits for same-sex marriages, and Jim Obergefell, whose lawsuit struck down gay marriage bans nationwide — Grimm may be poised to make history.

He represents the "T" in LGBTQ, for transgender. At the tender age of 17, he is fighting for the right to use the boys' bathroom at Gloucester High School in southeast Virginia. If doing so leads to broader civil rights protections for transgender men and women, Grimm reckons, all the better.

Thus it was that on Saturday morning, as most of his peers prepared for a weekend of football games and parties, Grimm awoke in the nation's capital and prepared for what likely will be a publicity blitz unlike any he has experienced since suing the small-town school board 16 months ago.

His immediate family circle — mother, father, twin brother and pet pig — has grown to include the ever-present lawyers and staff of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing him in court.

“My life’s about to get a lot busier than I’m used to it being,” the soft-spoken senior said matter-of-factly. "Being a plaintiff in a Supreme Court case is a big deal."

The battle over so-called bathroom bills has played out in many states as conservative lawmakers seek to force students to use facilities that correspond to their gender at birth, and transgender students fight for the right to follow their gender identity. Twenty-three states, including North Carolina and Texas, have challenged the administration's right to interpret its own regulations on the issue without legislative action or judicial review.

Grimm actually is not the plaintiff before the Supreme Court but the respondent, reflecting his victory over the Gloucester County School Board at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in April. That verdict — followed by the Obama administration's directive that schools receiving federal funds allow transgender students to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity — prompted the board to seek Supreme Court review.

In court papers, the school board noted that the federal law barring sex discrimination in education allows schools to provide separate restrooms and locker rooms on the basis of sex. "No one ever thought this was discriminatory or illegal," its petition seeking Supreme Court review says. "For decades, our nation's schools have structured their facilities and programs around the idea that in certain intimate settings, men and women may be separated 'to afford members of each sex privacy from the other sex.'"

The lower court's verdict, it contends, "turns that longstanding expectation upside-down."

When the court announced Friday that it would hear the case, Grimm's bathroom quest actually stalled. Had the justices turned down the case, his victory in the 4th Circuit would have been sealed. Now he has to wait until the high court rules — most likely after the school year ends.

“It would have been nice to spend less of my senior year worrying about where I’m going to be using the bathroom," he said. Instead, Grimm is eager to fight and win at the Supreme Court "to make sure that trans kids that come after me do not have to go through this experience.”

For Grimm, the experience of coming out transgender to his friends and family several years ago was traumatic enough. But when parents began to object to his use of the boys' bathroom during sophomore year and the school board ruled he must adhere to his "biological gender," the experience worsened.

“They sent a very clear message to my peers that I was something different" and "not fit for common spaces,” he said. Being forced to use a single-stall, unisex bathroom or the one in the nurse's office stigmatized him among other students.

“The damage is done, and it’s been done significantly, and there’s nothing that will ever change that," Grimm says of the school board's decision. For him, school has become an unsafe, unwelcoming environment.

"My favorite school activity," he said, "is leaving school."

While the focus of his case is on discrimination in education, the court's ruling could have a major impact on other forms of bias against transgender men and women, such as in employment, health care and housing. For Grimm, that makes it all the more worthwhile.

“No matter how difficult this has gotten for me, and it has gotten very difficult," he said, "there’s never been a single moment when I thought, 'Gee I wish I didn’t do this.'"

NEW YORK, NY – GLAAD has released the tenth edition of its Media Reference Guide, the industry standard style guide for reporting on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and the issues that affect their lives.

The newly released tenth edition of the guide includes an updated terminology section and, for the first time, encourages journalists and other media content creators to adopt the use of ‘LGBTQ’ as the preferred acronym to most inclusively describe the community.

“On one level, it is just adding another letter,” says Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO. “But really it is bringing a whole new definition to the way we describe ourselves. It’s the start of a bigger shift.”

“Queer” existed as a slur for a long time, an arrow slung at people to make them feel like freaks or deviants, writes Katy Steinmetz in Time. The oldest meaning, going back to the 1500s, is strange, peculiar or questionable, and the word will still ring pejorative in many older people’s ears. Yet around the time of the AIDS crisis groups really started to reclaim it (“We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”), and today young people are increasingly gravitating toward this label, one with no precise definition related to sexuality or gender. Which is the point.

For more than two decades, the GLAAD Media Reference Guide has provided journalists with the essential information they need to report fairly and accurately on the LGBTQ community. The GLAAD Media Reference Guide has also informed the style guides of leading news organizations including The Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others.

The word has been on the rise for the past several years, as has the acronym, Steinmetz continues.   Some media outlets are already using it, as are lots of advocacy organizations and even government programs. Teen magazines from outlets like Vogue are “going queer.” Liberal politicians are using the five-letter version, as are some Republicans. (Donald Trump used “LGBTQ” during his acceptance speech at the convention this summer. Twice.) When the National Park Service embarked on a mission to identify places of significance related to sexual and gender minorities two years ago, one of the first actions scholars recommended was changing the title of that mission from an “LGBT heritage initiative” to an “LGBTQ” one, so as “to have the initiative be explicitly inclusive of those who, for personal or political reasons, do not feel represented by lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identifiers,” as the eventual report explained.

GLAAD today also renewed its commitment to working on behalf of queer-identified people, updating its mission to include “queer” in the organization’s work to accelerate acceptance for LGBTQ people. GLAAD’s powerful media programs will continue to share stories from the LGBTQ community that lead national dialogue, build understanding, and drive acceptance forward.

“The GLAAD Media Reference Guide is the industry standard for fair and accurate reporting on the LGBTQ community, and informs the style guides of the world’s leading news organizations,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “This latest edition reflects the increasingly diverse ways LGBTQ people, especially young people, talk about their identities.”

Additional updates to the GLAAD Media Reference Guide include an updated glossary of terms that includes “Asexual,” “Aromantic,” and “Intersex”; an updated transgender terminology section; and updated In Focus sections for reporting on the bisexual community, nondiscrimination laws, religion and faith, and HIV & AIDS.

The tenth edition of the GLAAD Media Reference Guide is available here:

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Students in Buffalo public schools can now use bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender they identify with.

Many families woke up to the news Thursday morning after the board of education approved the district's new Gender Identity Policy.

District leaders say transgender students have been using their bathroom of choice for years.

The new policy simply provides specific guidance to administrators.

The issue of gender identity in public school bathrooms has been a controversial one across the nation and Wednesday night's meeting was no different.

"I don't think the policy was reasonable as to the notice," said Carl Paladino, Buffalo Public School Board member. "I think that kids are entitled to an actual notice at the time of the entry."

"When you protect the privacy rights of all students, the transgender children are protected also," said Paulette Woods, Buffalo Public School Board member. "And I made a very strong point that all children deserve to be protected from bullying, all the children, transgender or not, needed to be able to be safe."

Principals will get a copy of that policy Thursday.

The district says training for administrators and staff will begin soon.

AUSTIN, TX -- More than 200 small business owners penned an open letter on Tuesday decrying conservative lawmakers' efforts to craft a law banning transgender individuals from using bathrooms based on their gender with which they identify themselves.

"We, the undersigned, are Texas small business owners," the letter begins. "We are at the heart of the Texas economy, and of Texas communities. We come from industries and communities all over the state. We employ local people, we pay taxes, and we work hard to make a living and make a difference in the lives of our employees and customers."

As such, the business owners said, they have watched developments in North Carolina -- where a anti-transgender bill was signed in March -- with dismay.

"That’s why we’re watching what’s unfolding in North Carolina with a growing sense of dread," the business owners wrote. "Experts put economic damage from the discriminatory HB2 law at $395 million and rising. That damage is coming from the loss of corporate investments, talent, performances, sporting events, and conventions."

The group said Republican lawmakers are threatening jobs and the Texas economy in general in pursuing their own legislation to ban transgender people from using the bathrooms of their choice.

“That’s why we oppose any Texas legislation — broad or narrow — that would legalize discrimination against any group,” the letter reads. “That kind of legislation doesn’t just go against our values to be welcoming to everyone, it jeopardizes the businesses we’ve worked so hard to create, and it threatens the jobs and livelihoods of everyday Texans.”

The group's members said Texas faces a similar backlash should GOP leaders proceed in a move they said would cost hundreds of millions to state coffers as a result of cancelled concerts, conventions, corporate investments and sporting events.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has led the charge against transgender people's unfettered access to the bathrooms of their choice, saying allowing them into their preferred bathrooms would open the door to sexual predators preying on women and children.

During a speech at the Dallas Regional Chamber on Oct. 20, Patrick doubled down on the idea of banning transgender people from the bathrooms of their choice, re-packaging his effort as the envisioned "Women's Privacy Act," as reported by WFAA-TV

Patrick told the gathering: "Transgender people have obviously been going into the ladies’ room for a long time, and there hasn't been an issue that I know of. But, if laws are passed by cities and counties and school districts allow men to go into a bathroom because of the way they feel, we will not be able to stop sexual predators from taking advantage of that law, like sexual predators take advantage of the internet.”

He told the audience passing his "Women's Privacy Act" would be a priority in the 2017 legislative session.

Passage of the North Carolina law known as House Bill 2 has had a detrimental effect on that state's economy. Citing the law's rebuke of inclusion, the NCAA moved seven championship contests out of North Carolina as a result -- including first- and second-round games of the 2017 men's basketball tournament.

The NBA followed suit, pulling February's All Star Game from the state. And the Atlantic Coast Conference pulled its football championship and women's basketball tournament as well as other title events.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also stands in fervent opposition to allowing transgender people to use their choice of bathrooms. In response to ultimately unsuccessful efforts by President Barack Obama to outline transgender policy guidelines for school districts nationwide to follow, Abbott mocked the initiative in a tweet: "JFK wanted to send a man to the moon. Obama wants to send a man to the women's restroom," Abbott wrote.

they hope conservative lawmakers will drop their plans or risk following in the economic fate of other states with laws discriminatory to transgender people.

"We can’t afford the losses seen in North Carolina, Indiana, and elsewhere," the business owners wrote.
"We want Texas to stay open for business for everyone. In 2017, we hope our elected officials will remember the small business community when they go to work."

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