DC Schools Consider Programs to Alleviate Harassment Against Gay and Lesbian Students
As gay youths become more open about their sexual orientation, they are being subject to more "visible" abuse in Washington, DC area schools, according to Linda Shevits, a Maryland education official to whom discrimination cases are reported. In response to this phenomenon, school districts are attempting to form comprehensive programs that include staff training and explicit policies and venues for handling anti-lesbian and gay discrimination.
Gay and lesbian students often face harassment and are occasionally physically assaulted. Rarely are these cases reported. Virtually no records of anti-gay and lesbian harassment are kept by school districts or gay and lesbian rights groups. Only six out of the 20 Washington-area school districts include sexual orientation as a classification for discrimination.
"We're really starting to hear a lot more from kids about schools, that this is the place they feel most unsafe," said Craig Bowman, executive director of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League. Due to this pressure, homosexual youths are at a higher risk for substance abuse and are four times as likely to have attempted suicide, said Lesbian and Gay Youth: Care and Counseling author Caitlin Ryan.
Montgomery county school officials hope to issue guidelines concerning verbal abuse and create sensitivity programs for educational staff, according to human relations director Oliver Lancaster.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .