Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Online Extra: Gays Across America: Survey data revealed ahead of Nat'l Coming Out Day


Bianca D.M. Wilson. Photo: Courtesy Williams Institute
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LGBTQ youth in California say that they're less connected with school, suffer academically, and are more frequently victimized than their straight peers, a new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found.

The report, " LGBTQ Youth in California's Public Schools: Differences across the State," was released October 5, just in time for National Coming Out Day, which is October 11. The report is based on data from the 2013-2015 California Student Survey and California Healthy Kids Survey.

Bianca D.M. Wilson, the Williams Institute's senior scholar of public policy, said in a news release, "Even in a state as supportive as California, where you live and go to school can make a significant difference in how successful and safe you feel at school. Policies and laws are an essential start, but they're not enough. Establishing a culture of acceptance is critical to support individual lives."

Among other findings, the report says that even though state laws protect LGBTQ youth from bullying and discrimination at schools, LGBTQ youth have found a more negative school environment than non-LGBTQs. They reported that they didn't have as many caring relationships with teachers, and that they had fewer opportunities to join in meaningful school activities, according to the report.

The state's LGBTQ youth also said they suffered more frequent physical and verbal harassment at school, and they were more likely to report they felt unsafe at school.

Additionally, LGBTQ youth reported lower grades and more absences from school, the report says.

To read the report, visit .


Rainbow flag at Stonewall

Another special event recognizing National Coming Out Day will be the unveiling of the rainbow flag at the Stonewall National Monument in New York City. It will be the first time that the flag, an international symbol of LGBT pride, will fly over federally designated land. After the ceremony, the flag will remain at the site, known for the 1969 Stonewall riots that occurred at the Stonewall Inn. The riots are generally regarded as the start of the modern LGBT civil rights movement.

The ceremony will include appearances by "Aladdin on Broadway" star Telly Leung, Barbara Applebaum, chief of interpretation, education, and visitor services for the National Park Service, which now oversees the site; and gay San Francisco activist Michael Petrelis.

In a news release, Petrelis said, "It is a victory for our community to have these symbolic colors flying majestically over our Stonewall, designated as a National Monument by President Obama, even as our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are under attack by the current regime in power."


Trans military ban

The National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders recently spoke out against the Department of Justice's response in Doe v. Trump. The lawsuit is the first of four cases that have been filed to stop President Donald Trump's ban on transgender people serving in the military ban. NCLR and GLAD filed Doe v. Trump August 9 on behalf of five trans service members.

In its motion to dismiss the case and oppose the plaintiffs' request for emergency relief, the Trump administration "falsely claimed transgender individuals have not yet suffered harm from this policy," a news release from NCLR and GLAD issued October 5 says. Among other issues, current trans service members have been "stigmatized, denied health care, and are facing the loss of their professions," and their post-service retirements, the groups say.

"The government's response reads like pure fiction," stated Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD's Transgender Rights Project. "It states a fantasy that the president's announcement of a ban on military service for transgender people has changed nothing. That's simply not true. Every day this reckless ban stays in place, our military strength is diminished and our country is less safe for it."

NCLR legal director Shannon Minter called Trump's attack on trans service members "unconscionable."

"Rather than even attempting to defend it, the DOJ is asking the court to turn a blind eye to the devastation the president has caused in the lives of real people and real families," stated Minter.

"Because of the president's ban, smart, dedicated, and idealistic young people like our plaintiffs ... are barred from fulfilling their dreams of military service," he added. "And transgender people who are already serving have been told that their skills, training, and years of dedicated service are not valued. The ban has left them scrambling to make new plans for their futures, just as it has undermined our nation's security. This is the exact opposite of how military policy should be made."


Gays Across America is a column addressing LGBTQ issues nationwide. It runs most Tuesdays. Please submit comments or column ideas to Seth Hemmelgarn at (415) 875-9986 or


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