Commissioners In Waco Allegedly Threatened HR Director With Negative Performance Review Over Change
McLennan County, Texas, has rescinded nondiscrimination language that was added to its job applications last year, with one commissioner comparing LGBT people to purple-and-white zebras.
The McLennan County seat is Waco, which is home to Baylor University, one of the nation’s most anti-LGBT schools. Recently, three billboard ads promoting the dangerous, discredited practice of “ex-gay” therapy went up in Waco, but LGBT activists reportedly have convinced the owner of the billboards to take down the ads.Â
The Waco Tribune-HeraldÂ reports that last year, the Commissioners Court hired a progressive new human resources manager,Â Amanda Talbert, with the stated goal of bringing the county into the future. Shortly after being hired, Talbert added sexual orientation and gender identity to the nondiscrimination statement on county employment applications, under the description of “sex.” Â
â€œI take discrimination very seriously and I want to do everything we can to show that we donâ€™t discriminate,â€ Talbert said.
Commissioners were initially supportive of the change.Â
â€œI wouldnâ€™t think anybody on the court would hesitate to bring all this up to date,â€ County JudgeÂ Scott Felton,Â who chairs the Commissioners Court, said at the time.Â
However, after the Tribune-Herald published its story about the change, commissioners began approaching Talbert and demanding that she remove the new language, even allegedly threatening her with a negative performance review.Â
Now, a majority of commissioners say they oppose adding LGBT nondiscrimination protections to the county’s employee handbook, which Talbert has also been working to update.Â
“Commissioner Kelly Snell (pictured) asked if the county starts adding protection clauses to the nondiscrimination policy, when would they draw the line and stop?” the Tribune-Herald reports. “Snell said someone could then want to include purple and white zebras in the countyâ€™s nondiscrimination policy.”Â
Felton now says Talbert should have gotten the court’s approval before updating the job applications.Â
â€œI donâ€™t believe that the commissioners court discriminates. Iâ€™m not saying discrimination doesnâ€™t happen,” Felton said. “The basic thing we want to know is, ‘What does the law say we need to be doing?'”Â
The short answer to Felton’s question is, the law says the county can’t discriminate against LGBT employees.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken the position that LGBT people are covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. And in recent years, federal courts have agreed.
In addition, federal courts have held that LGBT public sector employees are covered under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.Â
So, while the county isn’t legally required to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its written nondiscrimination policy, it would behoove commissioners to do so if they want to reduce potential liability â€” not to mention the talent recruitment and economic development benefits.Â
Sadly, though â€” and despite their lip service â€” commissioners don’t really appear ready to bring McLennan County into the future, or even the 21st century.Â
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GOP’s New ‘Bizarre Obsession’ Shows It Has ‘Gone Crazy’: Morning Joe
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?”
“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.”
‘When Was Your Most Recent Period?’: Student Athletes in Florida May Be Required to Share Menstrual History
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.”
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.
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.”
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
George Santos Says Man Interviewed for Staff Position ‘Violated’ His Trust After Secretly Recording Conversation
The freshman New York Republican lawmaker who is believed to be under multiple DOJ and local investigations, suggests the candidate handed the recordings over to Talking Points Memo, and says he expects an article will be published there Thursday evening, after the news site contacted his office.
“According to Santos, his office had been in the process of hiring Derek Myers for a position, but paused when they saw he faces wiretapping charges in Ohio after publishing recorded court testimony — obtained from a source, he said — as part of a story for a small newspaper,” Semafor reports. “FIRE, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to First Amendment issues, has defended Myers, arguing local authorities in the state were criminalizing legitimate journalism.”
“While they said they expect the audio will just show them questioning him about his specific circumstances, it’s unknown if he recorded other exchanges.”
Regardless, Santos is taking action.
The GOP congressman accursed of deceiving his constituents with countlessly false claims that helped get him elected, says he is going to report Myers to the Biden administration, claiming he has a White House press pass.
Santos says he wants Myers’ White House press pass to be revoked, after Myers, the congressman says, claimed to have one.
“He should have that revoked if it’s true, if it’s even remotely true he has it,” Santos told Semafor.
It’s not known if Myers does, and if so it’s unlikely it’s a permanent hard pass. It’s also unlikely it would be revoked if Myers did not break the law.
Semafor adds in Washington, D.C. it is legal to record your own conversation with another party without obtaining their consent.
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