Media Trail - 10/25/19

Media Trail - 10/25/19

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Matthew Shepard’s parents criticize AG Barr on LGBT rights

NBC News reported the parents of murdered gay college student Matthew Shepard have accused Attorney General William Barr of hypocritical stances on LGBT rights.

The criticism came Oct. 16 during a Justice Department ceremony focused on a hate-crimes law named after their son.

Shepard was killed in 1998. Eleven years later, a law was enacted expanding the federal hate crimes law to include crimes based on a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Shepard’s parents assailed Barr in part because the Justice Department argued last week before the Supreme Court that employers should be able to fire employees because they are transgender.

School district backtracks on transgender student policy

The Valdosta Daily Times reported a Georgia school district said it won’t let transgender students use bathrooms aligning with their gender identity, reversing a previous decision.

The Pickens County school district announced the decision Oct. 16, following a heated public meeting Oct. 14.

The district said it wants to consult with police and others about how to guarantee safety, citing death threats, student harassment and vandalism.

Superintendent Carlton Wilson earlier said students could use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identities. But Wilson said he received death threats after the announcement and put the policy change on hold until he could talk to the five-member school board.

Wilson said transgender students can use gender-neutral bathrooms.

A number of federal courts have ruled that students should be able to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identities.

Waitress refuses to serve couple over transgender comments

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported a Fond du Lac woman said she was fired from a restaurant for refusing to serve a couple who were making disparaging comments about a transgender woman sitting at the bar.

Brittany Spencer worked as a server at Fat Joe’s Bar & Grill in Fond du Lac. Spencer said she went to her manager Oct. 12 to ask if someone else could serve the couple because she felt that ignoring their hateful comments was just as bad as saying disparaging things.

Spencer was told to do her job or go home. She chose to leave.

Tad Wallender is one of the owners. He said his servers have a duty to serve all customers and not discriminate against anyone. Spencer posted the incident on Facebook and was told she was fired.

Lawmakers introduce bill prohibiting LGBTQ discrimination

The Morning Journal reported Ohio lawmakers have introduced a bill to forbid employment and housing discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

The latest iteration of the Ohio Fairness Act was introduced by Democratic Rep. Michael Skindell and Republican Rep. Brett Hillyer on Oct. 16.

The bill’s unveiling comes about two weeks after a request from minority Democrats to extend employment protections to gay House employees was denied by House Speaker Larry Householder.

More than two dozen Ohio communities, including Columbus, have adopted LGBTQ discrimination protections but that only covers about a fourth of the state’s population.

A similar bill has been filed every session of legislation since 2003 but has only won passage in the House in 2009, before it died in the Senate. 

Reporting via Associated Press

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