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After HERO Defeat in Houston, Dallas Lawmakers Strengthen Transgender Protections

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Council Votes Unanimously To Amend Nondiscrimination Ordinance

Take that, Houston.   

Just one week after voters overwhelmingly repealed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO, the Dallas City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to strengthen their city’s nondiscrimination law. 

HERO was defeated largely due to opponents’ false claims that transgender protections in public accommodations would allow men to enter women’s restrooms and prey on victims. But in Dallas, the council actually voted to clarify transgender protections that have been in place since 2002. 

When the Dallas ordinance was approved, “gender identity” was erroneously included under the definition of “sexual orientation.” The ordinance prohibits discrimination citywide in employment, housing and public accommodations. On Tuesday, the council voted to list “gender identity and expression” separately alongside sexual orientation, and more clearly define the terms.

“This is very near and dear to us,” Rafael McDonnell, a spokesman for the city’s LGBT community center, told the council prior to the vote. “Words have meaning, and your vote today will give life to those words, and be seen not only in Dallas but around the country as support for the LGBT community.” 

The 15-member council approved the changes with little discussion. 

Councilman Adam Medrano, who heads the city’s LGBT Task Force, which proposed the changes, thanked members for their work. Mayor Mike Rawlings thanked Medrano. 

“We’re a very diverse city,” Rawlings said. “We want to make sure everyone’s protected.”

Oliver Blumer, a transgender man who serves on the city’s LGBT Task Force, told the council the amendments will help local employers recruit and retain talented workers. 

“It’s good business,” he said. 

Omar Narvaez, another member of the Task Force, which proposed the new language, noted that in 2014, 77 percent of Dallas voters approved an amendment to the city’s charter protecting LGBT city employees against discrimination. The amended citywide nondiscrimination ordinance mirrors the language in the charter. 

“We’ve always been a leader when it comes to LGBT rights, not just in the state of Texas but across the nation,” Narvaez said. “Let’s keep Dallas a state leader on equality.”

Patti Fink, another member of the Task Force, said although the 2002 ordinance legally protected transgender people, the language wasn’t clear. 

“The transgender community believes they’re not included, because the definition of gender identity is stuffed into the definition of sexual orientation,” she said.  

Minutes prior to Tuesday’s vote, the anti-LGBT hate group Texas Values notified its followers on Facebook. Texas Values was among the groups that helped defeat HERO in Houston. 

“Breaking: City of Dallas is trying to fast track a bathroom bill similar to the one defeated last week in Houston,” Texas Values wrote. “Spread the word.” 

Phillip Jones, CEO of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, said last week he feared the repeal of HERO in Houston could hurt the entire state when it comes to booking national conventions. But Jones also said HERO’s defeat could allow Dallas — which recently launched an LGBT tourism campaign called “All Love is Big Love” — to lure conventions away from Houston. Jones even joked that the city’s new slogan should be, “Dallas: Aren’t You Glad We’re Not Houston.” 

Under Dallas’ amended ordinance, gender identity and expression are defined as “an individual’s real or perceived gender identity as male, female, both, or neither.” Sexual orientation is defined as “the actual or perceived status of an individual with respect to the individual’s sexuality,” including heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual.”

In addition, the council added a declaration saying the city of Dallas encourages all entities to recognize the rights of all individuals, regardless of whether they’re exempt from the nondiscrimination ordinance. For example, the ordinance exempts religious organizations and companies with fewer than 15 employees, as well as state and federal government agencies.

Violations of the Dallas ordinance are a class-C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500, but the city strives to resolve complaints through mediation. In 2014, officials reported that none of the 61 complaints received since the ordinance took effect 13 years ago led to a prosecution.

Read the changes to Dallas’ amended citywide nondiscrimination ordinance below. 

Image by City of Dallas/Twitter

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‘Breathtaking’: Economists Stunned by Job Growth ‘Boom’ as Unemployment Drops to Level Not Seen Since 1969

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The year was 1969: Congress certified the results of the election, officially declaring Richard Nixon would be the 37th President of the United States, Joe Namath led the New York Jets to win Super Bowl III, The Beatles released the soundtrack from their hit film “Yellow Submarine,” and unemployment was 3.4%.

It’s been 54 years since unemployment was at 3.4%, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released January’s report  Friday morning, stunning economists who expected unemployment to go up, not down.

Economists projected 187,000 new jobs would be added to the U.S. economy in January. Instead, the number came in at 517,000, Forbes reported. Prior months were also adjusted to be better than first reported.

READ MORE: ‘Anyone Who Thinks This Is Economy Is in Recession Is Bananas’: Economists Cheer ‘Hot’ Biden Jobs Report

“This is a breathtaking number. That spike in stories about layoffs? It was about a small unrepresentative slice of the economy. Real America is still getting back to work,” crowed Professor Justin Wolfers, the popular University of Michigan School of Economics professor, a senior fellow at Brookings.

“Average job growth over the past 3 months is a cracking +356k. A boom!” Wolfers cheered.

“We haven’t seen unemployment this low since before Woodstock, baby,” he added. “Groovy.”

Wolfers wasn’t done. He blasted those who continue to talk about recession: “This is a final nail in the coffin of all the 2022 recessionistas. When average job growth is this high we call it a BOOM.”

READ MORE: ‘When Was Your Most Recent Period?’: Student Athletes in Florida May Be Required to Share Menstrual History

For those who just want the bottom line, Wolfers offered this take on the jobs report: “It’s all good news.”

“January marked the 25th straight month of solid job growth,” The Washington Post reports, observing that the “labor market shattered expectations.” The Post adds: “the labor market remains formidable, inflation is beginning to normalize and there are signs that the global economy may be on stronger footing than originally feared.”

 

Image: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the economy, Thursday, January 26, 2023, at Steamfitters Local 602 United Association Mechanical Trades School in Springfield, Virginia. Official White House Photo by Erin Scott via Flickr

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

GOP’s New ‘Bizarre Obsession’ Shows It Has ‘Gone Crazy’: Morning Joe

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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough ripped the Republican Party for focusing on a “bizarre obsession” to stoke a culture war that targets vulnerable teenagers.

A proposed draft of a Florida physical education form would require all high school athletes to provide information on their menstrual cycle to state athletic officials, which the “Morning Joe” host bashed as an unnecessary and cruel attack on a minuscule number of transgender teens who play sports.

“The percentage is so small that they’re doing this to every girl in Florida schools?” Scarborough said. “Talk about overkill. Just stop already.”

“I mean, let’s talk about that Florida law,” Scarborough continued. “Can you imagine doing that as a young girl when you were, like, in high school, middle school? Come on, talk about, again, the obsession over 0.003 percent of the population, and then the unbelievably small number of transgender students who are playing sports. The Florida Republican Party has gone crazy. They sent out tons of mailers on this, the obsession, and now they’re making young girls self-report on menstrual cycles because of this bizarre obsession?”

READ: America finally facing politician who has Mussolini’s guile, ruthlessness and willingness to see people die

“This is stupid,” he added. “This is another stupid extension of a culture war where he’s trying to create a culture war around something where there is not a war.”

Watch the segment below or at this link.

 

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‘When Was Your Most Recent Period?’: Student Athletes in Florida May Be Required to Share Menstrual History

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For the past two decades teenaged women participating in Florida high school athletics have been asked to submit their menstrual history, including the date of their first period, the date of their last period, and how many periods they have had in the last 12 months. The board of directors of the Florida High School Athletic Association, the organization in charge of coordinating high school athletics in the Sunshine State, will debate later this month if they will make divulging that information mandatory for participating in sports. According to the FHSAA website that board is comprised of 14 men and two women. Not one is a physician or medical professional.

Critics are voicing concerns over a variety of issues, including the right to privacy, the need for the highly personal medical information, who has access to it, how it is stored, and how it could be used against the students, including to determine possible pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, or if the athlete is transgender.

“Many parents and doctors are worried that schools will use the menstrual data to monitor students for late or missed periods, a possible sign of pregnancy, or to out transgender students by watching for girls who don’t get periods or boys who do,” The New Republic reports, calling it “a terrifying glimpse of our dystopian post-Roe world.”

READ MORE: ‘Absolutely Repulsive’: Some House Republicans Are Now Wearing an Assault Weapon Lapel Pin

The three-page form, called the Preparticipation Physical Evaluation, asks:

“When was your first menstrual period?” “When was your most recent menstrual period? “How much time do you usually have from the start of one period to the start of another?” “How many periods have you had in the last year? and “What was the longest time between periods in the last year?”

A draft form slightly alters the questions, asking instead, “Have you had a menstrual period?” and “How old were you when you had your first menstrual period?” in addition to the other three questions.

While it currently states answering is optional, at the end of this month those questions could become mandatory, although the reason for the possible change has not been disclosed.

READ MORE: ‘Firehose of Disinformation’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders Picked to Deliver State of the Union Response in Nod to Trump (Video)

Because the information is not being given by the athletes to a physician or other medical professional or organization, the information is not subject to HIPAA regulations. And in some school districts the inform action is stored on a third-party platform, possibly exposing it to other entities.

“This is clearly an effort to further stigmatize and demonize transgender people in sports [and] meant to further exclude people who aren’t assigned female at birth in girls sports,” the  president of PRISM, a South Florida nonprofit organization that provides sexual health information to LGBTQ+ youth, Maxx Fenning, told The Tampa Bay Times. “Beyond that, I think there’s concern among LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ [students] alike. This is an extremely invasive mode of gleaning into someone’s reproductive history, which is especially dangerous in this post-Roe world we live in.”

TIME adds that critics “have noted that this policy would be a major challenge for transgender athletes who may have to out themselves with their responses to the questions. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved a bill last year—which is currently under legal fire—that bans transgender female students from playing on women and girls’ sports teams.”

READ MORE: Trump Vows to Use DOJ and Congress to Make Being Transgender Illegal While Promoting the ‘Nuclear Family’

According to the fan-checking site Snopes, “these written forms with students’ medical information are submitted to school officials, contrary to a number of other states where only a doctor’s signature is required to clear an athlete for play.”

Snopes adds that “concerns grew as many states worked to criminalize abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and transgender athletes faced scrutiny. In Florida, abortions are banned after 15 weeks, with only a few exceptions.”

“Any forms (physical or digital) could be subpoenaed. Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County, nearly all athlete-registration forms moved online, which meant reproductive data for athletes was being stored by a third-party software company called Aktivate. Other counties were also planning to digitize their forms.”

Last October NBC News reported that an Aktivate spokesperson said a student’s information could be removed but only with parental and school district consent.

Image via Shutterstock

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