First Openly Gay Student Body President

On April  1, Bobby Brooks, a junior at Texas A & M University, will begin as the first openly gay student body president in the history of the school, and the 74th elected.

A & M routinely makes the list of 20 least LGBTQ-friendly schools in the nation.  Fall of 2016 was the first time A & M wasn’t on the list since 2011.

Asked about his choice to attend a university with a history of intolerance for LGBTQ orientation, Brooks said:  “I was an Aggie from the first day that I was born, there was no choice about it…My sexuality was a non-issue in terms of selecting Texas A & M as a university because I knew what this university could offer.”

Brooks actually ended up in second place in the vote for student body president, but as a result of an investigation which revealed that his opponent ran a campaign of fraud and intimidation, the “winner” was disqualified.  Thus, Brooks won!

A new beginning for the Aggie Nation!……….

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Gay and Lesbian Parents

 I think I mentioned that I was going to speak on the topic of same-sex parenting in Mississippi to the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection’s Integrity group on 3/23 at 6 p.m.  More on that topic……..

The Public Policy Research Portal at Columbia Law School identified 79 scholarly articles in search of authentic academic work on the subject of the well-being of children raised by gay or lesbian parents.  Seventy-five (75) of these concluded that children of gay or lesbian parents fare no worse than other children.  Columbia’s policy research institute concluded that the “research forms an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on over three (3) decades of peer-reviewed research, that having a gay or lesbian parent does not harm a child.

Nadia Kounang at CNN reached the same conclusion after evaluating a study in the Journal of Development and Behavioral Pediatrics which reached a statistical judgment that children or same-sex parents are just as healthy emotionally and physically as the children of different-sex parents.  The journal is joined by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which issued a policy statement which supports access for all children to (1) civil marriage rights for their parents and  (2) willing and capable foster and adoptive parents, regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation.  The Academy of Pediatrics supports families in all their diversity, because “the family has always been the basic social unit in which children develop the supporting and nurturing relationships with adults that they need to thrive.”

And in South Carolina last month, a federal district judge ruled that same sex parents must be listed on a child’s birth certificate.  The case is Carson v. Heigel.

Remember Gavin Grimm?

Gavin Grimm is the high school student who sued his Virginia school district based on the transgender use of bathrooms.  The United States Supreme Court announced this week that, instead of ruling on the case, it will send it back to the Fourth Circuit.  The SCT’s reasoning:  the Fourth Circuit based its ruling on guidance which was issued by the Obama administration clarifying Title IX protections for transgender students.

On February 22, the Trump administration rescinded that guidance.  The administration revoked federal guidelines specifying that transgender students have the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity.  The Education and Justice Departments were notified that the administration is ordering schools to disregard memos issued relative to transgender student rights.  The “Dear Colleague” letter, which is the method by which the executive branch sends out “memos”, does not offer any guidance but says that earlier guidance lacked extensive legal analysis, did not go through a public vetting process, sowed confusion and drew legal challenges.

The administration said that it wants to “further and more completely consider the legal issues involved” and that any guidance must include “due regard for the primary role of the State and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”

So the Fourth Circuit is back in business on this transgender case, as well as other transgender student cases that are moving through the lower courts.  The Seventh Circuit will hear a case wherein Ash Whitaker, a Wisconsin student, is requesting relief, on March 29th.  Both Ohio and Pennsylvania courts have held that while the litigation is working its way through the courts, transgender students must allowed to use the facilities of their choice.

We will continue to watch these cases.

Integrity

I am delighted to speak to the Integrity meeting at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Starkville MS on THURSDAY, MARCH 23 at 6 pm in the Johnson Center. Visitors are welcome. I will be speaking on the status of single-sex parenting in Mississippi.