Friday, June 26, 2009

Equality in the News: June 20 - 26, 2009

As you have probably already heard, the School Violence Prevention Act PASSED on Tuesday by one vote in the House! This is, as you can probably guess, incredible news for young people in North Carolina and a victory for the LGBT community. This is the first LGBT-inclusive bill to be signed into NC state law and our state becomes the only one in the South to include gender identity in a protective law. What a profound accomplishment.

We must also mention that the Healthy Youth Act passed the Senate 25-21. Though not the original, stronger version, this bill is a great first step in equipping our young people with knowledge to make informed decisions when it comes to sex. More on that below.

We also wanted to say a quick 'thank you' to our talented volunteer and supporter, Daniel Wiggins, who designed the flashy new logo for each week's "In the News" installment.

Without further ado - here's the really good news:

School Violence Prevention Act
  • First things first, please take a look at this awesome inside scoop on how the bill got passed, written by our Executive Director and legislative rockstar, Ian Palmquist.
  • News14, our state's 24-hour news channel, has an article and video on the bill's success, featuring Ian Palmquist and a great ally, Linda Griffin, who's son will be more protected as a result of the bill's passage.
  • After the first vote, the News & Observer ran a front page banner headline Tuesday: "House votes to protect gay kids." The article's failure to make clear the bill protects against all bullying wasn't too helpful as we fought to keep votes for the final vote Tuesday.
  • As we've seen through the process of trying to get this bill passed, personal stories are of utmost importance in convincing weary legislators of the need for this legislation. Check out the Charlotte Observer's take on our victory, and be sure to read on about Mark James, a student who felt the effects of bullying.
  • Greensboro's News & Record mentions how we join only 11 other states with similar protections for making all students safer.
  • The Hickory Daily Record was quick to provide an editorial of support of the SVPA after it passed - better late than never!
  • Coverage was all over the state - from Western, NC, at GoBlueRidge.net, who noted the bullying bill's success to Eastern NC, where the Rocky Mount Telegram shares news of the win (and a bit about the Healthy Youth Act).
  • Our friends at Q-Notes, who graciously helped us spread the word and gain support when the bill was in trouble, has great coverage of the bill and the debate at Monday and Tuesday's votes. They also discuss what's going on with the Healthy Youth Act.
  • The Human Rights Campaign's Back Story Blog congratulated us on the landmark victory this week.
  • GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, applauded our efforts on their official website. GLSEN is the leading national organization advocating for safe schools for LGBT students.
  • Awesome blog Feministing mentions our victory with a personal story.
  • 365Gay, an LGBT-blog, also picked up the story and dished just a little bit on the right-wing effort to get harsh, violent punishments incorporated in the bill.
  • OutImpact of Wilmington has an awesome article which includes a list of how the Representatives voted. See if your legislator supports protecting all students!
  • The work continues - though this is a huge victory, it's also a chance for the misinformed to spread misconceptions and lies. Take, for example, the Beaufort Observer's online edition, which posted an article (editorial?) on the bullying bill. Keep those letters to the editor coming - especially to combat false "reporting" like this!
  • We can't forget to mention Pam's House Blend and her coverage of the SVPA. She has brought so much attention and awareness about this bill, and we must thank her for her advocacy and support!
  • Last week, before the bill was passed, there were ridiculous attempts of connecting being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender to being a pedophile, incestuous, or any other number of sexual disorders. As we all know, this fundamentally isn't true and it's outrageous that our lawmakers can make such false claims. Check out the Progressive Pulse's awesome categorical debunking of every one of those falsehoods.
  • Last, and certainly not least, we urge you to read IndyWeek's transcript of the eloquent speech in support of the School Violence Prevention Act from Wake County Rep. Darren Jackson.
On a personal note - I attended the second reading and vote and watched the debate, and it was absolutely stunning to see the strong advocates in support of this bill in action - advocates like Rep. Haire, Rep. Cotham, Rep. Adams (my very own), Rep. Parmon, and of course, Rep. Glazier (and on the Senate side - Sen. Julia Boseman). Their words inspired me and made me feel like LGBT people indeed have thoughtful supporters in Raleigh. I've sent my legislators a thank you for their support - you can look yours up too and either thank them, or press them for real answers as to why they didn't support this important bill.

Healthy Youth Act
Other news...
  • Just wanted to mention briefly that Equality NC received 3 awards from Q-Notes' reader-decided "QList" - best of the Carolinas awards. Find out what we won. Congratulations to Ian, and Board Members Addison Ore and Mike Nelson for their awards, as well!
Phew! I knew it was going to be a busy week when victory was declared on Tuesday - and I wouldn't have had it any other way. Enjoy your weekend!

On a personal note - It has been an honor working with the small, dedicated and powerful staff of Equality NC to get this bill passed. It's also been an eye-opening journey as I traveled across the state, gathering and listening to stories of people who have felt the affects of bullying. I know that this victory will be seen for years to come in the halls of schools in North Carolina - all of which just got a little bit safer. Congratulations, Equality NC!

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