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Trump Has Now Politicized and Weaponized the U.S. Census



The U.S. Dept. of Commerce one year ago today released – then quickly changed – a draft of the Constitutionally-required 2020 Census that showed the federal government would be counting the number of LGBTQ Americans. Scientists and advocates had been urging the federal government to include the question as part of the census because it helps many federal agencies determine how and where to spend their budgets.

Why are we mentioning it? Because for some reason an NBC News article, and other news articles published one year ago today, are making their way across social media as if they are new. So it’s a good time to remember that as the Trump administration is working to erase LGBT people, it is also falsely claiming it is required to ask if a Census participant is a U.S. citizen. In other words, the Trump administration is weaponizing and politicizing the U.S. census: erase the gays, target the immigrants.

“The U.S. Census Bureau, which is part of the Department of Commerce, is required to issue a list of categories it plans to track three years before the survey is conducted,” NBC News reported at the time. “Tuesday’s list showed categories ranging from race and gender to the type of plumbing in homes and the length of a person’s daily commute to work. Each category is followed by a table showing the federal agencies that rely on the data to make decisions about law enforcement, health care, equal employment opportunities and more.”

When the “proposed addition suddenly disappeared…a statement was issued by the Census bureau that called the LGBTQ inclusion a mistake.”

“The Subjects Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey report released today inadvertently listed sexual orientation and gender identity as a proposed topic in the appendix,” the U.S. Census Bureau said in a statement to NBC News. “This topic is not being proposed to Congress for the 2020 Census or American Community Survey. The report has been corrected.”

Tim Teeman, writing at The Daily Beast, explained at the time why this is a problem:

“Why did census organizers at first plan to include LGBT Americans in the census, and then—suddenly, and so far without explanation—decide not to?” he asks. “How, if not by counting them, can LGBT people be protected and have their rights, quality of life, and health maintained? By not counting LGBT people, the Government is hurting them. The case for a proper LGBT Census is a moral, as well as practical, one.”

Why is it a problem the 2020 Census will ask if you or someone in your family is or is not a U.S. citizen? Mother Jones’ Ari Berman, a voting rights expert, explains part of the reason:


Image by jasleen_kaur via Flickr and a CC license


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‘And Tango Makes Three’ Authors Sue Florida, Say Law Suggests Book ‘Deserved To Be Banned’



and tango makes three

The authors of a beloved children’s book about gay penguin parents, And Tango Makes Three, are suing a Florida school board as well as members of the Florida Board of Education. One of the arguments is that the book, based on a true story, is implied to be obscene by the fact that it’s banned.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, the two authors of And Tango Makes Three, along with six children who wish to read the book and their parents. It challenges Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Law, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The law bans education on sexual orientation and gender identity through the third grade. Many Florida school districts ban students up to that grade from checking out books with LGBTQ themes from school libraries.

The suit alleges is that the law in question is “vague and overbroad,” thus running afoul of the First Amendment. Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that removing And Tango Makes Three from public school libraries was illegitimate because the libraries do not follow a specific curriculum.

READ MORE: Drag Queen Story Hour Interrupted by Neo-Nazis Seen in Terrifying Video

“Books in school libraries are, by nature, optional reading. Even if library shelves constituted curriculum, Lake County had no legitimate pedagogical purpose for barring students’ access to Tango,” the lawsuit reads.

And Tango Makes Three tells the true story of Roy and Silo, male penguins at the Central Park Zoo in New York City. The penguins were seen performing mating rituals, and had even attempted to hatch a rock. Zookeepers gave the penguins an egg from a different pair of penguins who were unable to hatch it. With Roy and Silo’s help, the egg hatched into a female penguin chick, Tango.

The suit says that the book “contains no obscenity or vulgarity; and it is factually accurate,” and thus it’s appropriate for schoolchildren in the 4- to 8-year-old age range suggested by the publisher. By keeping it out of the hands of children, the school district is violating the First Amendment rights of the authors based on their viewpoint, the suit says.

“By censoring Tango and barring students below the fourth grade from accessing the book in Lake County public school libraries, Defendants have stripped the Authors’ book of an essential aspect of its communicative value. They have also injured the reputation of the Authors and Tango by implicitly and falsely suggesting that the book contains obscene, vulgar, sexual, or age-inappropriate material that deserved to be banned—contrary to the wholesome, positive and family-friendly content of the book—and have thereby deprived the Authors of more of their target audience and speech rights,” the suit continues.

The students are part of the suit because their “right to receive information” has also been infringed, lawyers argue. The six children, identified only by their initials, all wanted to check out the book from their library at the beginning of the school year, but are prohibited by the law. They would check it out, the suit says, if it were available.

Ironically, this is not the only penguin-related lawsuit over the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. In May, the publisher Penguin Random House—no relation to And Tango Makes Three—sued Florida’s Escambia County School District in Pensacola for removing books “based on ideological objections to their contents or disagreement with their messages or themes.”

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#IAmGay Is Trending as Weibo Scrambles to Delete ‘Illegal’ Gay Content



The hashtag #IAmGay is trending after a large microblogging site in China, Weibo, banned all gay content in a crackdown on what it says is a “cleanup” of “illegal” content. Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but there are no protections or equality measures for LGBT people. Weibo, which has has been compared to Twitter, also lumped violent content into its ban.

“Social media users reacted with posts with the hashtag #IAmGay, which had gathered 130 million views and 135,000 comments a few hours after Weibo’s initial post,” German news agency dpa International reports.

“As a member of this group, I am proud, I am glorious … I refuse to be discriminated and misunderstood,” wrote one user on Weibo.

“If one day [my children] realize that #IAmGay, I hope that they will only be happy for finding themselves that day, and not fall into the abyss of being ‘naturally illegal’,” another user wrote. 

“I am gay and I’m proud, even if I get taken down there are tens of millions like me!,” another user said, according to Reuters. He also posted a photo of himself.

In a post to users Weibo said the change was made to “create a bright and harmonious community environment,” SkyNews adds.

“There can be no homosexuality under socialism?” another asked. “It is unbelievable that China progresses economically and militarily but returns to the feudal era in terms of ideas.”

As of Friday night, “Weibo has so far cleared 56,243 pieces of content, shut 108 user accounts and removed 62 topics considered to have violated its standards,” Reuters adds.

Image by Jon Russell via Flickr and a CC license


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