QBits
Gay teen banned from bringing male date to prom

Missouri teen is not allowed to bring his date as the county handbook states ‘boys can only invite girls’

Stacy Dawson, the Missouri teen, is banned from bringing a male date to his prom.

A gay Missouri teen is being banned from bringing his male date to his high school prom, it was revealed today (15 February).

Stacy Dawson, from Scott County, asked his school’s administrators if he could bring his same-sex date to his senior prom.

‘I was really shocked, and it was really depressing,’ he told KFVS.

‘The school board says since it was in the handbook it could be awhile before it was changed, and I probably would not be able to bring my date.

In the handbook, it states high school students are permitted to invite only one guest. Girls can invite boys and boys invite girls.

Alesdair Ittelson, a staff attorney for civil rights group Southern Poverty Law Center, said the policy was ‘blatantly unconstitutional’.

‘It tells LGBT students they don’t deserve the same rights as their heterosexual peers, and that’s not right and that’s not constitutional,’ she said.

‘I think it’s an incredibly important issue because it’s not only for me, but it’s anyone who comes after me, I want them to not have to go through this, and I just think it’s really important for them to bring whoever they want to prom in the future,’ said Dawson.

Ittelson will give the district until 5pm on 25 February to change the policy, or face a lawsuit.

Dawson said: ‘I think it’s an incredibly important issue because it’s not only for me, but it’s for anyone who comes after me, I want them not have to go through this, and I just think it’s really important for them to bring whoever they want to go to prom in the future.’

Superintendent Alvin McFerren said he couldn’t comment as it is a ‘student matter’.

Back in 2010, Constance McMillen was banned from bringing her female date and wearing a tuxedo.

After the 18-year-old complained, the Mississippi school then cancelled the prom and encouraged parents to organize a private prom and not invite the gay teen.

After a lengthy lawsuit, the school was later ordered to pay $35,000 (£22.5k, €26.1k) in damages to McMillen.

Missouri Eagle Scout Eric Jones comes out, loses Boy Scouts job

The 19-year-old, who was serving as a counselor at one of the organization’s summer camps in Missouri, sat down with the camp director to tell him that he was gay.

Monday, July 16, 2012, 8:25 PM
Eric Jones says he was kicked out of the Boy Scouts of America because he came out as a homosexual.

Courtesy Ryan James

Eric Jones says he was kicked out of the Boy Scouts of America because he came out as a homosexual.

Eric Jones was an Eagle Scout with the Boys Scouts of America for nearly 10 years up until Sunday.

The 19-year-old, who was serving as a counselor at one of the organization’s summer camps in Missouri, sat down with the camp director to tell him that he was gay.

"I’d been working on coming out," Jones told the Daily News. "I thought it was time to have my life of scouting and my other life come together."

Jones, however, quickly lost his job, as the camp’s director asked him to leave.

"He said I was deserving to be there, but he had to follow the policy of BSA," Jones said.

Boys Scouts of America has long been known to have a policy that bars openly gay males from joining the organization.

Gay advocates recently told MSNBC that the organization is currently in the process of reviewing a resolution that would end the 102-year-old policy, but a Boy Scouts spokesman insisted that there weren’t any current plans to change it.

"Contrary to media reports, the Boy Scouts of America has no plans to change its membership policy," the spokesman said in a statement. "We do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA."

Jones said that while he knew of the Boy Scouts policy, he thought that the director “would overlook it” because he had been working at the camp for nearly five years.

"This is definitely good for me. I’m generally happy," Jones said, describing how he feels a day later.

“But most importantly, I feel discriminated,” he added.

Jones’ conversation with the director was filmed and will be featured in a upcoming documentary, “Second Class Citizens,” by Ryan James Yezak.

“I want to give all encompassing look at discrimination because of sexual orientation,” Yezak said of the documentary, which he hopes to complete by the end of 2012.

Jones and Yezak first got to know each other when Jones saw a previous film of Yezak’s and reached out to him for advice on coming out.

“Honestly, I would be lying if I said I was surprised by the director’s decision,” Yezak told the Daily News. “I’m familiar with their policy though it’s not often talked about.”

Yezak said the Boy Scouts of America will represent private organizations who contribute to discrimination in his film.

Boys Scouts of America could not be reached for comment.

Jones said he has no regrets even though he’s lost a major part of his life.

“I have to thank BSA for making the person I am, for being the person who stands up for what I believe in,” Jones added.

GOP Lawmaker Comes Out As Gay Then Comes Out Against Don’t Say Gay Bill

by David Badash onMay 2, 2012

Post image for GOP Lawmaker Comes Out As Gay Then Comes Out Against Dont Say Gay Bill

Saying, “being gay has never been a Republican or Democrat issue,” Zach Wyatt, a Christian Republican state representative in Missouri, this morning came out against his state’s proposed “Don’t Say Gay” bill — then came out as gay himself. Saying he is tired of the anti-gay “bigotry being shown from both sides of the aisle on gay issues,” today, as he did last week, Wyatt voiced his position against the Missouri “Don’t Say Gay” bill, calling it “horrible.”

“I’m compelled to speak out against colleagues and especially special interest groups who have pushed this bill forward,” Wyatt said, speaking to his colleagues about the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. “Students need to feel safe when they go to school and be able to speak to teachers, counselors, and administrators when they’re getting bullied. This bill will make that illegal.”

Speaking of his own sexuality, Wyatt told his colleagues, ”I will not lie to myself anymore about my own sexuality, it has probably been the hardest thing to come to terms with. I have always ignored it, didn’t even think about it, or want to talk about it.”

Wyatt also apologized for having taken the GOP position on an anti-bullying bill in an interview, and for voting against a non-discrimination bill.

“We are incredibly proud of Representative Wyatt’s courage today,” said A.J. Bockelman, Executive Director of PROMO – Missouri’s statewide advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. “We hope this announcement should serve as a positive example not only for the LGBT community, but also for Representative Wyatt’s colleagues. We truly hope the announcement will be met with support from his colleagues and friends from both sides of the aisle and respect his decision to be true to his identity and self.”

Last week, Rep. Wyatt released a statement condemning the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, similar to one in Tennessee, which would make it illegal to discuss homosexuality in schools in Missouri.

“Wyatt is one of four gay lawmakers in Jefferson City. He joined Rep. Stacey Newman, a St. Louis Democrat, Wednesday morning to call on 20 of his fellow Republicans to withdraw their support of the legislation,” PoliticMO reports.

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill’s sponsor, Steve Cookson, made headlines here at The New Civil Rights Movement last week when he expressed feelings of being misunderstood and confused as to why people are upset after GOP lawmakers supporting his bill compared same-sex marriage to bestiality.

Wyatt’s campaign website, and his speech today, notes he will not seek another term in office, and instead is headed to Hawaii to go back to school.

Federal Court Orders Missouri School To Stop Censoring LGBT Resources

A federal judge has ordered a Missouri school to cease blocking internet content that affirms LGBT people and educates about LGBT identities. The ACLU of Eastern Missouri had filed suit last summer on behalf of PFLAG and other LGBT groups against Camdenton R-III School District for using a website filtering software that blocked access to sites like the “It Gets Better” campaign, The Trevor Project, and the Gay Straight Alliance Network. Sites that condemn LGBT people and promote harmful ex-gay therapy were allowed, however, because they were categorized under “religion” instead of “sexuality.” The judge found that the school’s filter, URL Blacklist, constituted viewpoint discrimination and granted a preliminary injunction. From the ruling:

The record contains direct evidence that Camdenton intended to discriminate based on viewpoint. Superintended Hadfield agreed at the hearing that school board member John Beckett has expressed “concern with students accessing websites saying it’s okay to be gay.” At a public school board meeting, Mr. Beckett stated that “the amended policy may not have gone far enough,” and that he would like to require parental consent before allowing students to access these sites… These statements are direct evidence that Camdenton continued to use URL Blacklist, despite it being ineffective and falling below professional standards, out of an intent to continue to burden websites expressing a positive viewpoint toward LGBT individuals.

Camdenton has 30 days to discontinue its current internet-filter system to comply with the order. As this is only a preliminary injunction, the ACLU’s case against the district will still proceed. In addition, the group’s “Don’t Filter Me” campaign continues to reach out to school districts across the country and encourages them to adjust their settings so as not to censor LGBT-friendly resources.