Happy Sunday! It’s that time again. What happened this week that you need to know? The theme of these stories seems to be “fight back,” plus, a couple of people making a real difference in the middle of America. Oh, and we didn’t forget the Whack Job of the Week! (There’s never a shortage.) Check out who it is below.
Here are the week’s 5 news stories that’ll keep you looking well-informed at brunch:
1. High Heel to Pay
We love a good fight back story and this is a great one. This story comes from Shreveport, Louisiana. Yep.
Jeff Roberts, the principal at Southward High School, told a student, Kami Pham, that her senior photo would be removed from the yearbook and she couldn’t wear a wig, heels or makeup to graduation. Why? To start, wearing light makeup and the outfit she’d chosen wouldn’t match her birth certificate. Second, he claimed that Kami’s outfit would violate the school dress code. (In fact, it wouldn’t because the dress code has no prohibition on what Kami wanted to wear and furthermore, other students could wear the same outfit and not be in violation.)
So, Kami Pham, along with her friends at school, fought back and got the school board involved. They also started a Change.org petition shining light on Roberts. In the end, Roberts got sent to the principal’s office himself because they overturned his decision. Yay Kami!
2. Pulse Survivors File Suit
It hasn’t been a good couple of weeks for Facebook. The social media site, along with Google and Twitter, are being sued by survivors of the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. The lawsuit claims these sites “aided and abetted” the terrorist organization ISIS by spreading propaganda and allowing for an “infrastructure which provides material support to ISIS,” ultimately inspiring the shooter to kill 49 people and wound 58 others.
The shooter, Omar Mateen, pledged his loyalty to ISIS during the rampage at the nightclub while on the phone to police. However, there’s no evidence any ISIS leaders knew about the attack before it occurred.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a great track record for lawsuits of this nature. A similar one was dismissed by a judge last week and another against Twitter was dismissed in 2016. Either way, it begs the question: How soon until Congress starts regulating these social media companies to protect private information and stop the spread of dangerous propaganda?
3. Sailing into Equality?
We covered the awful story in February when Bermuda signed a law into action overturning marriage equality. This historic decision has led to much focus on the law and how to really respond. People around the globe have called for boycotts on travel and support to Bermuda. But recently Carnival Cruises has stepped into the fight to help support OutBermuda to challenge the law.
But what’s good to know is that Carnival Cruises has a real interest in keeping marriage equality alive and well, and it’s called income. No doubt that Carnival stands for inclusivity and diversity, and their involvement will help OutBermuda in their battle, but subsidiaries of Carnival (Cunard and P&O Cruises) are registered in Bermuda. Yeah, so? Well, what this means is that the ban means that the ships cannot allow any same-sex marriages on board regardless of where the ships are.
Yep. You read that right. So being able to host same-sex weddings is a potentially huge financial win for the cruise lines, and without them it could be not only a loss in dollars but also in “sense.” We’ll stay posted on this story!
4. Making a Difference
It’s easy to find places in Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco for our nation’s homeless LGBTQ youth. However, in other areas of the country it isn’t. As we well know, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ and they’re at a much greater risk for victimization, unsafe sexual practices and mental health issues.
Well, two “ordinary guys” in Wisconsin are taking matters into their own hands. Brad Schlaikowski and his husband Nick are looking to make a difference in their home state of Wisconsin by providing a solution to the problem. There are over 200 homeless LGBTQ youth where they live in Milwaukee and only one gay-friendly shelter with 16 beds.
Clearly that’s not enough, so using a local community-funding campaign of predominately small donations, the two foster parents raised enough money to open Courage House, Wisconsin’s first group home and drop-in center specifically for LGBTQ youth. The community has clearly embraced the project and the hope is to open Courage House by November, before the frigid winter descends on one of the coldest states in the country.
They’ll continue to need our help. Please check them out here and, if you can, send a donation. You’ll be helping more than you’ll ever know. A big thank you to these guys for making a difference and giving these kids a chance at a better future.
5. Our Whack Job of the Week: Perez Hilton
Openly gay dad Perez Hilton came out this week and said that he didn’t want his young son to take dance classes because, “50% or more of little boys who take dance class end up being gay.” He added, “I don’t think that’s a homophobic thing to say.”
Hilton, whose son was born via surrogate mother, said on his podcast that he’d prefer his son grow up to be straight because, “it’s easier.” Now, is that something that most parents may say or think? Possibly. We guess it would be “easier” to be straight but he says “end up being gay.”
We are either born gay or not – we don’t become gay. We would want our child to grow up and be free to identify how he, she or they wants to. Hilton’s comments are not helpful for our community, and while he clearly loves his son (and we are not questioning his skills as a father), he could certainly use his substantial platform to further positive messages for our youth instead of potentially hurtful stereotypes.
Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo were one of two plaintiff couples in California’s 2013 challenge of Proposition 8, which brought marriage equality back to the state after being ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court. These activists also host the weekly podcast The Husbands. Catch them there or follow them on Instagram @JeffZandPaulK.
Feature image of a Bermudan couple via ghanagrio.com