Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 41 / 12 October 2017
 

Online Extra: Gays Across America: Lesbian first in Seattle mayoral primary

NEWS


s.hemmelgarn@ebar.com

Seattle mayoral front-runner Jenny Durkan
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The lesbian in Seattle's mayoral race came in first in the primary battle against 20 other candidates and is headed to the general election in November.

In an August 2 Facebook post, Jenny Durkan said she's "honored and humbled" by her primary victory. If she wins the general election, she'll be the city's first out lesbian mayor.

"We can make sure Seattle is a city we love in 20 years and 40 years as much as we love it today," said Durkan. "Whether it's climate change, immigration rights, or whether its affordability, solving the homelessness problem, we will make sure we deal with them responsibly and compassionately."

She continued, "We will make Seattle the city of the future, that everybody is welcome in and that everybody has a home in."

Durkan, a former U.S. attorney, likely will face urban planner Cary Moon in the November election. Durkan finished the primary with just over 28 percent of the vote; Moon has 17.6 percent, though there are still ballots to be counted.

In a news release, Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said her organization's "confident" Durkan will win in November.

"As the first openly LGBTQ U.S. attorney in history, Jenny championed police and criminal justice reform, promoted drug and mental health courts to address unnecessary incarceration, and worked to prevent employment and housing discrimination," said Moodie-Mills. "Jenny is a values-driven leader who has shattered lavender ceilings before, and we will work tirelessly to ensure she shatters another in November."

Current Mayor Ed Murray, who's gay, ended his re-election bid due to a sex scandal but is endorsing Durkan.

In a lawsuit that was later withdrawn, Delvonn Heckard, 46, claimed that Murray had "raped and molested him" in the 1980s, when Heckard was a teenager, according to the Seattle Times. The paper also reported that Murray, who faced similar accusations by other men, "vehemently denied the claims."

 

Parents of CA trans student sue school

The parents of an 8-year-old transgender girl in California are suing her former school, claiming she was discriminated against because of her gender identity.

Nicole "Nikki" Brar attended Heritage Oak Private Education, a secular, for-profit school in Yorba Linda, which is in Orange County.

Attorneys claim in a news release that the school and its parent company, Nobel Learning Communities, "violated the state's Unruh Civil Rights Act by refusing to treat Nikki in accordance with her gender identity."

Among other problems, the school wouldn't let her wear a girls' uniform, it refused to use her appropriate name and pronouns, she had to use the boys' restroom, and Nikki's teacher was prohibited from trying to "proactively prevent bullying and harassment," according to the news release from Public Counsel, the firm that's representing Nikki and her parents along with several law professors.

"This case is about the denial of basic respect and dignity," stated Mark Rosenbaum, director of Public Counsel's Opportunity Under Law project and lead counsel in Nikki's lawsuit. "When adults at a school think that they can dictate the name that a child goes by and demand she wear a boy's uniform when she knows she's a girl, that's wrong. And that's what happened at Heritage Oak."

Attorneys say that Nikki's parents "sought, repeatedly, to work with the school," but their efforts were unsuccessful. She's since transferred to the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, which has affirmed her gender identity.

Priya Shah, Nikki's mother, stated, "This is a fight for basic equal dignity, for our family and for all families ... I am forever in awe of the courage that it took for Nikki to stand up for who she is, despite all the messages she was getting from her school and from society."

Jaspret Brar, Nikki's father, said, "We couldn't stand to watch Nikki's hopes and dreams be crushed because a group of adults didn't accept her for who she is. What would you do as a parent? What would you do if your child were denied basic respect by their school? You'd act."

In a statement sent by spokeswoman Kerry Owens, Heritage Oak and Nobel Learning responded to the lawsuit by saying, "We strive to meet the needs and well-being of all children in our schools, and have been able to accommodate the needs of other transgender students in older grades ... without incident."

In Nikki's case, the school said, "We believed it was extremely important to respond, not hastily, but with deliberate care, to decide when and how to inform and educate our entire elementary school community ... about the mid-year change of gender identity expression of a young child."

School officials stated that they told the family they'd "decided to retain an outside consultant" to help, and they'd been consistently communicating with the family "to discuss potential experts and specific accommodations," in addition to accommodations they'd already offered, "such as use of the single-unit staff bathroom."

"Unfortunately," the school said, "these accommodations were rejected and the parents withdrew their child."

 

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 s.hemmelgarn@ebar.com .

 

 






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