National LGBT News Briefs: Campus, Catholics and Cops

Bathroom politics hit Pitt, Catholic hierarchy challenged on LGBT youth and LAPD takes a step on transgender policy

By Joe Corcoran
Published on April 19, 2012, 7:46am | Comments

Pitt Bathroom Policy Contradicts City/County Nondiscrimination Codes

A University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) facilities policy contradicts that of the city and county in which the university is located, The Pitt News reports.

In February, Pitt's Anti-Discriminatory Policies Committee passed a resolution suggesting that the university allow people to use campus bathrooms of the gender with which they identify, rather than of biological sex. Last month that suggestion came to a sudden halt when a representative from the university's General Counsel and Human Resources offices announced that students would be forced ''to use gendered facilities according to the sex listed on their birth certificates.''

The Pitt News reports that the university's policy challenges a citywide code regarding the issue.

Charles Morrison, the director of Pittsburgh's Commission on Human Relations, suggested to The Pitt News that the university is violating both city and county codes. ''According to the city code, 'Sex is the gender of a person, as perceived, presumed or assumed by others, including those who are changing or have changed their gender identification,''' Morrison told the paper.

The university's vice chancellor, Robert Hill, responded by emphasizing Pitt's nondiscrimination policy. ''The University of Pittsburgh will not discriminate on the basis of gender identity and expression,'' he said in a statement. ''This does not represent a change in policy; rather, it is an articulation of a long-standing University practice concerning the use of restroom and locker room facilities.''

Adam Dobson, vice-president of the university's gay-straight alliance told The Pitt News, ''What I would like is if Pitt would appropriately implement its nondiscrimination policy because of its concern for its students, rather than fear of legal consequences. What I'd really like to see is a university that values all of its students' safety, comfort and identities.''

Change.Org Petition Asks Cardinal to Support LGBT Youth

A new Change.org petition, launched by Joseph Amodeo, a former member of the Executive Committee of the Junior Board of Catholic Charities, asks Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to meet with leaders from the LGBT community and homeless LGBT youth.

Amodeo resigned from the Junior Board of Catholic Charities after Dolan avoided a request to help young people served by the Ali Forney Center, a nonprofit organization that provides emergency care to homeless LGBT youth, the petition states.

''We need to raise our voices and seek a dialogue with the Cardinal on this and other issues affecting the LGBT community. Those sitting in the pews must send a message that leaders in the pulpits need to hear: we stand in solidarity with LGBT youth,'' Amodeo wrote on Change.org. ''We should all embrace our young adults and not turn our backs on them for being who they are.''

The petition, which asks the cardinal to ''hear their stories, and collaborate in responding to the epidemic of LGBT youth homelessness,'' will be delivered to Dolan's office May 17.

A March 2011 study compiled by Public Religion Research Institute revealed that 73 percent of Catholics favor laws that would protect gay and lesbian people against discrimination in the workplace; 63 percent of Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military; and 60 percent favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.

LAPD Announced New Transgender Inclusive Policies

The Los Angeles Police Department has released new policies regarding officer interactions with transgender individuals.

The new policies, signed by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, instruct officers to be ''respectful, professional, and courteous'' to those who identify as transgender.

Some of the new procedures include the usage of ''gender pronouns appropriate to the individual's gender identity and expression,'' the elimination of frisking solely to identify someone's biological gender, and requests to remove ''appearance-related'' items that can be associated with one's gender identity.

The LAPD will also revise their Jail Operations Manual to include ''the proper processing, housing, custody and protection of transgender individuals,'' the Transgender Law Center reported in a statement.

Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, applauded the move. ''This is a huge victory for transgender people who may interact with the police, and for transgender inmates,'' Davis said a statement. ''It sets a great precedent for police departments nationwide. We often receive calls from people who have experienced police harassment and experienced violence in prison, so we are thrilled that the LAPD is taking steps to remedy this tragic situation.''