Welcome to The Riley Roundup, a daily collection of LGBTQ-related stories worth your attention by Senior Editor John Riley. Here’s the news for September 6, 2023:
U.S. ON CANADA’S BAD LIST
Canada has issued a travel advisory to the United States, per National Public Radio, warning members of the LGBTQ community that some American states have enacted laws that may affect them if they choose to travel to the United States.
While the country’s Global Affairs department did not specify to which states it was referring, it did advise travelers to research local laws before traveling.
Among the nearly 80 laws passed this year are those prohibiting drag performances, restricting access to gender-affirming care, or restrictions on which public restrooms or facilities transgender individuals can use.
“Outside Canada, laws and customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics can be very different from those in Canada,” the department said in a statement. “As a result, Canadians could face certain barriers and risks when they travel outside Canada.”
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…
A law prohibiting doctors from prescribing gender-affirming treatments to transgender, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming youth has taken effect following a Texas Supreme Court decision last week.
The court refused to reinstate a district judge’s order blocking state authorities from enforcing the law, according to CNN.
As Metro Weekly previously reported, Travis County Judge Maria Cantú Hexsel’s injunction was suspended after the office of the Texas Attorney General appealed the decision, meaning the law was set to go into effect unless the Texas Supreme Court sided with Cantú Hexsel and reissued the injunction.
Under the law, minors are barred from receiving puberty blockers and hormone therapy, although those who have already started such treatments can continue to receive them as they are “weaned off” any drugs to treat gender dysphoria by June 1, 2024.
A separate portion of the law prohibiting surgical interventions on minors was not challenged in court and went into effect on Friday, Sept. 1. Doctors found to have violated the law can have their licenses to practice revoked.
Opponents of the law, including the plaintiffs suing to overturn it, have blasted the Texas Supreme Court for failing to address their arguments that the ban on gender-affirming care for minors is discriminatory and infringes on parents’ rights to make medical decisions for their children.
The American Civil Liberties Union has called the court’s decision “unjust” and “cruel.”
AND SPEAKING OF THE ACLU…
Per the Indianapolis Star, the ACLU is suing the state of Indiana’s Department of Corrections over a law passed earlier this year prohibiting state or federal funds from being used to cover the cost of gender confirmation surgery for transgender individuals in DOC custody.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, claims the law violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment by denying transgender inmates necessary — and, in some instances, life-saving medical care. It also claims the law discriminates against transgender inmates by singling them out for disparate treatment, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
“The DOC cannot deny necessary treatment to incarcerated people simply on the basis that they are transgender. To do so is a form of discrimination,” Ken Falk, the legal director for the ACLU of Indiana, said in a statement. “If the legislature can deny a form of healthcare arbitrarily, they could just as easily deny other lifesaving treatments to people who are incarcerated.”
COMING SOON TO A COURTROOM
A Michigan school district has been sued by former and current students and their parents over a policy allowing transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity, reports Grand Rapids-based FOX affiliate WXMI.
The plaintiffs behind the lawsuit claim that they believe such a policy violates the bodily privacy and safety of cisgender female students attending Vicksburg Community Schools by forcing them to share facilities with transgender females — referred to as “biological males” in the lawsuit.
While the school district explained to parents that students uncomfortable with the policy could use alternative changing spaces or single-user restrooms, the lawsuit claims that the students have experienced “fear, embarrassment and humiliation by failing to timely void urine” and that some intentionally avoid using the restroom during the school day to avoid having their privacy violated.
The lawsuit is seeking $30,000 in damages for each of the student plaintiffs, as well as a permanent court order requiring the school to only allow students assigned female at birth to use female-designated restrooms.
While the plaintiffs claim the policy violates the Title IX rights of cisgender female students, Vicksburg Community Schools claims that it is abiding by policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of “sex” — which includes sexual orientation and gender identity — as well as similar federal guidance regarding the treatment of transgender students.
It also claims the policy is consistent with a recently expanded state law prohibiting discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.
LEFT OUT OF LABOR DAY
According to the Associated Press, a local LGBTQ group was allegedly excluded from a Labor Day parade in Essex, Iowa, due to objections from the city’s mayor, who cited safety concerns. Organizers with the group Shenandoah Pride claim they received a letter barring them from participating in the parade, which is part of an annual four-day festival in the town of about 720 residents.
Shenandoah Pride had planned to have a small group walking with a banner and a drag performer, Cherry Peaks, riding in a convertible as members of the group handed out candy, popsicles, and stickers to onlookers.
But ultimately the group was forced to withdraw from the parade, instead settling for having its own vendor booth at the festival.
According to Council member Heather Thornton, Essex Mayor Calvin Kinney made the unilateral decision to bar the group from the parade.
Thornton said that, despite Kinney’s claims of concerns for safety and demands that parade participants avoid promoting or addressing “the politically charged topic of gender and/or sexual identification/orientation,” she was unaware of any threats made against the parade or participants. Neither Kinney nor City Attorney Mahlon Sorenson responded to a request for comment from the AP.
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