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An Open Letter To All LGBT Students Of The Anoka-Hennepin School District

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Dear LGBT Students of the Anoka-Hennepin School District:

This letter will help to clarify your rights, and also will instruct you on how to protect yourselves against those who mistakenly believe they can deprive you of your rights.

It is urgently important for you as LGBTQ students to understand that under the “No establishment of religion” clause of the United States Constitution, no religious superstition, hate, bullying non-acceptance of your gayness or any other religious stricture can be forced on you by means of any government entity including your public schools.

Deplorably, your public schools Superintendent has caved to many of the demands of certain adult, theocratic anti-gay bullies. If these anti-gay bullies, these adult theocrats, want their children to be raised in a religious environment hostile to LGBT human beings, then they have to send their children to anti-gay religious schools, not to public schools. They have no constitutional right — none whatsoever — to bully your public school administration into imposing a religiously-motivated anti-gay bigotry onto you. By contrast, you do have a right to a safe public school learning environment; one in which you may at times say “I am an out, proud gay student,” and never be harassed or assaulted for having said it.

The controlling legal standard for public school students’ free speech rights is that if something you say is not disruptive to the learning environment, you can not be stopped from saying it. The basis for teaching and learning in a public school is scholarly method and science, not the Bible and even more particularly not a nasty anti-gay bigot’s misinterpretation of the Bible. Ergo, for you sometimes to say “I am an out, proud gay student” is not disruptive of a public school learning setting, but for somebody to say “God hates fags,” – or anything that expresses that concept – however “polite” the language – is disruptive of and inappropriate to the public school learning environment and your right to a fear-free public school setting. If anti-gay bullying theocrats want for their children to be in school environments where people may say “God hates fags,” they have to send their children to that particular kind of religious school.

To emphasize the point that science, not anti-gay bigotry is the basis for teaching in public schools, I am now calling your attention to the booklet Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth. That booklet was produced by major medical and professional associations to educate school administrators, teachers and personnel and to counter the harmful effects of anti-gay bigotry. The organizations that endorsed this booklet are — get ready, this is a long list — the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of School Administrators, the American Counseling Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the American School Health Association, the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Education Association and the School Social Work Association of America. The American Medical Association is not on that list, but has a policy firmly against all forms of anti-gay bigotry and discrimination.

Hateful anti-gay bigots — including those who abuse God and/or Jesus as excuses for their repugnant bigotry — do not know better than the collective minds of all of those professional medical, science and educational organizations what is healthy for school communities in the 21st century. Obnoxious, anti-gay bigot pigs have no basis in law for torturing you or for pressuring for you to be tortured in public school settings.

I am now going to name some of the theocratic bullies that have been attempting to transmogrify your public school lives as LGBT students into living hells. The professional anti-gay bigot Tom Prichard of the so-called Minnesota Family Council has a history of telling lies about gay human beings. The MFC website makes clear that Prichard is gay bashing on the basis of religious motivations. A tab on his site’s homepage is labeled “Pastors” and then there are pages devoted to what these filthy anti-gay bigots have the nerve to call “The Truth Project.”

“The Truth Project” aims to shove anti-gay bigots’ uniquely hateful interpretation of the Bible down innocent gay victims’ throats. It is a product of the anti-gay hate group “Focus on the Family,” whose executive Tom Minnery was called out by Senator Al Franken for falsifying evidence when testifying against the inalienable rights of gay Americans. Again, the public school standard for determining “truth” is scholarship and science, not the Bible. This is not to say that there are not huge numbers of religious people, including Christians of course, fully accepting of LGBTers and supportive of their equality. (Here is a list of 236 gay-welcoming churches in Minnesota).  But it is to say that the cowardly anti-gay bigots hiding their hate behind their veils of phony and fraudulent religious excuses have no constitutional right to impose – or to cause to be imposed — a theocratic anti-gay regime on you through and in your public schools. Another shameless, lying anti-gay theocratic bigot who has been trying to make your lives hell in Minnesota is Barb Anderson, also of the so-called Minnesota Family Council.  These and other bullying, lying, anti-gay theocrats may have cowed your irresponsible school superintendent, but you must not be afraid of them because the Constitution is on your side against the religiously-motivated, mean-spirited, anti-gay tyranny they want to impose on you.

A recent, disturbing article in Rolling Stone magazine – School of Hate; One Town’s War on Gay Teens – makes clear that you have not been adequately instructed on how to gather evidence for legal actions against anti-gay bullies and school administrators who fail sufficiently to protect you against anti-gay bullies.

Every single time you are a victim of anti-gay verbal harassment or of a hate-motivated physical attack, you must create a written record of the harassment and/or of the attack, who you reported it to and what they did about it. If school officials have not taken measures adequate to stopping a anti-gay tormentor from tormenting you, then you must create a written record of your complaint about the tormentor and of the official’s response. You can create a useful record with letters. Make copies of the letters with your complaints to school officials. Mail one copy of each letter to yourself. Keep that letter mailed to yourself inside its sealed envelope. The Post Office cancellation stamp on the unopened envelope is your legally-valid documentation of the date you sent the letter.

If you are having ongoing problems with anti-gay bullying, you must create as thorough and detailed as possible a record of the bullying and of school officials’ inadequate responses. Such a detailed record with names, dates and times will help you to win eventual court cases against your tormentors and their enablers in the public school system. When school officials see that LGBT students are organized and empowered against bullying in this way, they will become far less likely to cave to the anti-gay demands of bullying adult theocrats. The school officials will see that their dereliction of duty to uphold your constitutional rights is about to cost them money. Here, you can read of a bullied gay student awarded $100,000 by a court. Here, you can read of a school having to pay $225,000 for not doing enough to stop bullying.  There have been dozens, and dozens, and dozens of these cases. Your public school officials will see that you have the knowledge and the evidence to go to a competent school bullying attorney and to say “This public school is not adequately protecting me. Here is the record of all the bad things that have happened to me in this public school. Will you represent me in a lawsuit against the school?”  What wins money in lawsuits against public schools is the fact that bullied students and/or their parents or guardians have let school administrators know about the bullying, yet the administrators have not done enough to protect the victims. That is what will make creating a thorough record so empowering for you as an LGBT student in a public school.

Additionally, cowardly theocratic anti-gay bullies will try to make you feel isolated and alone, without support. But they are not going to succeed in torturing LGBT public school students that way any longer in the United States. You have human rights supporters all over the country and the world. Your human rights supporters will leap into action in your defense if bullying theocrats continue to try to make your lives hell in the Anoka-Hennepin School District. If you are experiencing anti-gay bullying in those schools, and school officials are not adequately protecting you, contact me with the story. I will expose your tormentors to the world and activate the human rights community nationwide on your behalf and in your defense.

Image: A Gay-Straight Alliance school bus from Seattle Pride, 2008. By jglsongs.

 

New York City– based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT– interest by– line has appeared on Advocate .com, PoliticusUSA .com, The New York Blade, Queerty .com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

 


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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Ran a Bribery Center Blocks From the White House’: Comer Mocked for Claiming No Evidence of Trump Influence Peddling

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The powerful Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, James  Comer (R-KY) is being highly mocked after declaring he will investigate President Joe Biden for “influence peddling” despite admitting there’s little if any evidence President Biden has engaged in influence peddling.

When pressed, he pointed to Biden’s classified documents and one alleged email from Hunter Biden’s laptop.

But when pressed again by a frustrated CNN host, asking why he’s not investigating ex-president Donald Trump, he couldn’t offer a valid reason, except to claim there no evidence of it.

Some were quick to point out the Trump’s tenure in the White House was filled with alleged influence peddling operations.

Here’s Chairman Comer with CNN’s Pamela Brown on Sunday. While the transcript is a bit simplified, it’s not far off.

“What’s different with Joe Biden is we’re investigating the Biden family for influence peddling,” Comer said on CNN Sunday evening. “We have a strong suspicion that people around Joe Biden, mainly in his family, have been peddling access to the Biden family, with our adversaries around the world, and when we find out that they have multiple classified documents scattered throughout multiple residences and office buildings across the East Coast, then this raises a huge red flag for us. We want to make sure that those documents in the possession of Joe Biden weren’t somehow sent to our adversaries and didn’t somehow compromise our national security.”

READ MORE: The Powerful GOP Oversight Committee Chairman Is Pushing a Baseless Narrative That Biden Is ‘Compromised’

CNN’s Pamela Brown pushed back.

“But you’ve also talked about how you worried about the same situation with the Trump family. Trump had 300-plus documents at Mar-a-Lago, why don’t you have that same concern?” Brown asked. “I mean, there are visitors going in and out of Mar-a-Lago from different countries, including China, there’s been a Chinese spy who was arrested at Mar-a-Lago and it was in an unsecure location at Mar-a-Lago. So would you apply that same concern evenly across the board?

Comer was unimpressed with the facts she presented.

“If someone can show me evidence that there was influence peddling with those classified documents that were in the possession of President Trump, then we would certainly expect it.”

His defense for the Chinese spy? It’s a public place – making all the more dangerous for unsecured classified documents.

“Do you have evidence of influence peddling with the classified documents that was for Biden?” Brown asked. “It sounds like you don’t – you’re looking into it, but why wouldn’t you look into it in the same way for Trump?”

“We have evidence that the Biden family has been very cozy with people from the Chinese Communist Party. We have evidence that Hunter Biden was receiving payments that were that were linked directly to the Chinese Communist Party through those Chinese energy companies. We’re very concerned about all the money connected to Ukraine.”

“How is that connected to classified documents?” Brown again pushed.

READ MORE: Principal Ordered Librarian to Take Down Holocaust Survivor’s Famous Quote Just Days Before Holocaust Remembrance Day

“We don’t know we want to look. We see there’s one email that’s been identified that is suspicious that we want to look into. We want to make sure that there’s one email that was on Hunter Biden’s laptop wasn’t one of the classified documents. So I think there’s ample reason to be concerned.”

Comer revealed he has no evidence against President Biden or the Biden family.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) called it a “a politically-driven fishing expedition.”

“Republican hypocrisy on full display,” Gomez tweeted in response. “How can you launch an investigation without any evidence? This is a politically-driven fishing expedition — full stop. Lots of political stunts, not a lot of problem-solving.”

But, as several people noted, there is plenty of apparent evidence against Donald Trump.

HuffPost White House correspondent S.V. Dáte called Comer out: “Trump ran a bribery center five blocks from The White House,” he shouted, referring to the Trump D.C. Hotel, while tweeting in all-caps.

“Just a stunning dereliction of duty,” charged Robert Maguire, the research director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). “Trump brought in tens of millions of dollars as president from businesses he refused to divest, which were used by special interests and foreign governments to enrich him while currying favor with him and his administration.”

Telling Chairman Comer he is “happy to chat,” Mother Jones’ David Corn tweeted, “I know of 2 billion reasons Comer and the House Republicans should look at the Trump family regarding influence peddling and overseas dealings.”

Corn is likely referring to the $2 billion “investment” Trump son-in-law and senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner received.

“Six months after leaving the White House,” The New York Times reported last April, “Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince, a close ally during the Trump administration, despite objections from the fund’s advisers about the merits of the deal.”

READ MORE: Criminal Charges Against Trump Possible as Manhattan DA Presents Grand Jury With Evidence in Hush Money Probe

MSNBC’s Steve Benen likened Comer’s interview to “watching a snake eat its own tail.” Benen also pointed to Comer’s second attempt, Monday morning, which did not go well.

Bloomberg’s Emily Wilkins, the Vice President of the National Press Club, apparently mistakenly, said to Comer: “So you are asking questions about Trump.”

He made clear he is not.

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Principal Ordered Librarian to Take Down Holocaust Survivor’s Famous Quote Just Days Before Holocaust Remembrance Day

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A Pennsylvania principal drew criticism last week after telling a Bucks County school librarian to take down posters with a famous quote by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winning human rights activist, professor, and Holocaust survivor, just days before Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Central Bucks School District reportedly has ties to an organization that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

Despite being under investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights after an ACLU complaint, the Central Bucks School District earlier this month voted 6-3 to pass “a contentious policy that bans teachers from engaging in ‘advocacy activities’ and displaying inclusive symbols like Pride flags in their classrooms,” WHYY reported earlier this month.

Citing that new rule, known as Policy 321, the school principal told Central Bucks High School South librarian Matt Pecic to take down four posters that displayed Wiesel’s famous quote from his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, WHYY reports.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented,” Wiesel said.

READ MORE: $1 Billion Campaign From Group ‘Linked to Staunchly Conservative Causes’ Will Try to ‘Redeem Jesus’ Brand’ in Super Bowl Ads

The principal reportedly told Pecic if he did not comply human resources would have to get involved. Pecic, who has worked for the school district for three decades, met with the principal accompanied by his union representative.

“If I didn’t take it down, I knew there would be consequences that could impact me,” Pecic said. “It’s a horrible feeling. And you feel like you have to do something that you don’t agree with.”

Making the issue even more difficult, “Pecic’s ninth-grade daughter, a Central Bucks student at Holicong Middle School, originally emailed him the quote,” WHYY reports.

“This is where I get choked up,” Pecic said. “She said that ‘this quote reminds me of you.’”

Pecic describes himself as someone who often speaks up, “if I disagree with something, especially if I think it’s not for the benefit of students, I will say something.”

On Thursday, after uproar from the community, the district stepped in and allowed the posters with Wiesel’s quote to be put back up.

READ MORE: Trump-Aligned Christian Nationalist Group ‘Taps Into Unholy Well’ That Threatens Democracy

“We regret that the decision was made to remove it,” the district said in a statement, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported,  “and in a manner that promotes not only the importance of the novel, but continued awareness and education surrounding the Holocaust and its National Day of Remembrance this coming Friday. The district apologizes for any hurt or concerns this has caused, particularly for those in the Jewish community.”

The Central Bucks School District hired a public relations firm, Devine + Partners, at the cost of $15,000 a month, “in an attempt to repair strained public relations and improve the school district’s image,” The Buck’s County Herald reported last summer.

Devine + Partners was hired to help after “a series of executive decisions made by the Central Bucks School District, most of which appear targeted towards the LGBTQ+ student body.”

“This includes the removal of Pride Flags in the classroom, under the justification that they were political symbols, and as such, not fit for the classroom. It also includes only allowing students to attend Human Growth and Development classes that matched with their assigned genders at birth, and pausing said classes shortly after they began, effectively outing these students to their teachers and peers.”

READ MORE: McCarthy Sat for an Interview With Trump Jr. – One Bragged About an ‘Illegal’ Act, One Wished His Dad Would ‘Show Some’ Love

WHYY is a separate report notes on Monday that the Central Bucks School District has ties to an anti-LGBTQ hate group, the Family Research Council.

The district is currently reviewing five books after rolling out a new, harsh policy “which aims to keep books that a yet-to-be-determined group might deem ‘inappropriate’ for unspecified ‘sexualized content’ out of school libraries,” WHYY reported in July.

“Recent updates to the policy were reviewed by a conservative Christian law firm, Independence Law Center, as first reported by the Bucks County Courier Times,” WHYY adds. “The Independence Law Center is the legal arm of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which is a statewide branch of the national organization Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist group designated as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

Earlier this month NBC 10 Philadelphia reported on the passage of Policy 321 by the school board. Watch below or at this link.

 

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News

Criminal Charges Against Trump Possible as Manhattan DA Presents Grand Jury With Evidence in Hush Money Probe

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Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has empaneled a special grand jury and prosecutors are now presenting evidence against Donald Trump in their revived investigation into hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and one other woman during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Calling it “a dramatic escalation of an inquiry that once appeared to have reached a dead end,” The New York Times reports the Manhattan DA is “laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months,” and says it “a clear signal” that Bragg “is nearing a decision about whether to charge Mr. Trump.”

Among the witnesses testifying is David Pecker, “the former publisher of The National Enquirer, the tabloid that helped broker the deal” with Daniels.

READ MORE: $1 Billion Campaign From Group ‘Linked to Staunchly Conservative Causes’ Will Try to ‘Redeem Jesus’ Brand’ in Super Bowl Ads

Prosecutors have also contacted members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and have subpoenaed phone records and other documents that could provide evidence.

But The Times notes that a “conviction is not a sure thing, in part because a case could hinge on showing that Mr. Trump and his company falsified records to hide the payout from voters days before the 2016 election, a low-level felony charge that would be based on a largely untested legal theory. The case would also rely on the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer who made the payment and who himself pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the hush money in 2018.”

Cohen broke with Trump and in 2016, “made the extraordinary admission in court on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women during the 2016 campaign to keep them from speaking publicly about affairs they said they had with Mr. Trump,” The Times reported in 2018.

The payments were made “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016, Cohen testified.

He was sentenced to 36 months in prison.

“Days before then-President Donald Trump left the White House, federal prosecutors in New York discussed whether to potentially charge Trump with campaign finance crimes once he was out of office,” CNN reported on Friday, citing a new book from CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

But they “decided to not seek an indictment of Trump for several reasons, Honig writes, including the political ramifications and the fact that Trump’s other scandals, such as efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the January 6, 2021, insurrection, ‘made the campaign finance violations seem somehow trivial and outdated by comparison.'”

Award-winning journalist and author Brian Karem tweeted: “As someone who worked extensively with [Michael Cohen] on the book ‘Revenge’ I can say this: Facts show that the MOST dangerous criminal case against Donald Trump could be made by the Manhattan D.A.”

Read The Times’ full report here.

This article has been updated to include Brian Karem’s tweet.

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