A new draft report from the California Attorney General’s office indicates transgender people in the state are stopped by police at vastly different rates than cisgender men and women.
The report is based on data reported from 58 of the state’s largest law enforcement agencies and shows transgender people were stopped because of “reasonable suspicion” alone —instead of a specific violation or clearly unlawful behavior — in nearly half the stops.
For transgender people, the proportion of “reasonable suspicion” stops was 44%, or four times the ratio for cisgender people.
The data includes all people stopped by police, regardless of whether the officers were responding to a potential offense they observed or to a call for service.
California requires police departments to report the demographic data of every driver, bicyclist, or pedestrian they stop, including perceived race, gender, and approximate age.
The new state data shows that transgender women are stopped due to an officer’s “reasonable suspicion” in more than 45% of encounters when they were stopped in 2021. Trans men were stopped for the same reason 43% of the time.
Interactions with police officers were also more likely to lead to more drastic outcomes – with transgender people more likely to be searched, handcuffed, and arrested – and to have lethal and non-lethal force used against them.
Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard that requires officers to articulate why they believe a person is likely engaged in a crime. Probable cause, the standard required to arrest someone, has a higher bar.
Under the 2015 Racial and Identity Profiling Act, or RIPA, law enforcement agencies with 334 or more officers were required to report data to the state for 2021. The reporting requirement expands to all police agencies for data collected this year.
Alex Binsfeld, legal director at the Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project, an advocacy group in San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle that gender biases result in officers focusing on transgender people because they don’t fit their notions of how a woman or man ought to look.
“It’s in effect a way to enforce Western gender binary norms on appearance, that you will be punished if you are not gender binary in your appearance,” they said. “Policing of trans folks at these disparate rates has led advocates to argue it’s a status crime.”
Cisgender people, who made up the overwhelming majority of the total number of stops statewide, were stopped for traffic violations the majority of the time. Cisgender women were stopped because of an officer’s “reasonable suspicion” in less than nine percent of encounters; cisgender men were stopped because of an officer’s suspicion in 11% of encounters.
Out of 3.2 million total stops, transgender people accounted for 4,740.
Transgender advocates scored a major victory in July when Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed S.B. 357, a bill repealing a notorious “walking while trans” law. Effective January 1, the bill repeals a 1995 law that prohibits loitering in public places with the “intent to commit prostitution.” The voided statute allows police to cite people they find suspicious due to factors like how they dress or where they stand on the street.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, the San Francisco Democrat who sponsored S.B. 357, said the sweeping loitering law causes innocent people to get swept up in the criminal justice system and makes sex workers less safe because they fear seeking out law enforcement.
“Even one arrest can have such profound implications for someone’s life,” Wiener said. “It’s one step; there’s certainly more work to do.”
Before the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision was overturned, the family-building landscape for LGBTQ couples was already fraught with legal and financial obstacles. But now, with the uncertainty following the Roe reversal in June — including how it may affect the legality of certain reproductive procedures — health and legal experts are advising LGBTQ prospective parents to consult with attorneys versed in the specific laws of their states before they begin their family-planning journeys.
Primary care physician Eric Kutscher and his husband, medical student Lala Tanmoy Das, of New York, are starting a family, which they have been thinking about doing for years.
“We talked about having kids literally on our second date,” Das said.
The couple have already gone through in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which entailed using the sperm of one of the men to fertilize a donated egg. The next step on their journey is to find a surrogate to carry the embryo to term. However, the reversal of Roe v. Wade has given them pause.
Many potential surrogates live in states that have restricted abortion access after the high court decision, Das and Kutscher noted, and should there be a complication during the pregnancy, they do not want their surrogate’s options limited.
“Eric and I are extremely pro-choice people,” Das said. “Maternal health comes first, no matter what.”
Kristin Marsoli, the director of marketing for Circle Surrogacy of Boston, said her agency adjusted its screening process and questionnaires last year after Texas changed its laws to ban abortionafter detection of a fetal heartbeat.She said the agency wanted to “ensure that surrogates from Texas were properly educated about what a termination would mean if it came up in their journeys.”
Marsoli said the agency — where nearly half (44% to 46%) of the intended parents identify as LGBTQ — is prepared to make further adjustments as conservative states seek to restrict abortion and reproductive care after the reversal of Roe. Since the decision on June 24, 14 states have already banned or restricted abortion, and seven more are considering similar restrictions.
“Our legal team is keeping a close eye on trigger laws and other changes being made in each state and providing regular updates to our teams so that we can continue to adjust our process as needed,” she said.
For now, the agency is not advising couples like Das and Kutscher to geographically restrict their search for surrogates when the wait for surrogates can easily take up to a year and the legal landscape is still in flux.
“There is still so much that is unknown,” Marsoli said.
Just a few days after the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, Louisiana legislators debated a bill that would have defined life as beginning at fertilization with no exception for assisted reproductive treatments like IVF.
While Louisiana’s personhood bill was scuttled after debate on the House floor, the Dobbs ruling opened the door for states to pass laws that not only dramatically restrict or ban abortion, but also have potential effects on assisted reproductive services.
“Roe was holding up a floor. Legislators couldn’t restrict reproductive health decisions beyond what Roe protected,” said Cathryn Oakley, the state legislative director and senior counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group. “States have basically the unfettered ability to regulate those issues as they see fit.”
Depending on the exact wording of state abortion bans, such measures could affect reproductive technologies like IVF, because the process may result in discarding fertilized human embryos.
“If the law says that life begins at the moment of fertilization … that means that those embryos have rights,” Oakley said, even if the fertilization happens outside the body. “It may be impossible for folks in some states to get IVF where they live.”
From 1% to 2% of all U.S. births are the products of IVF every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while it is not uncommon for heterosexual couples to use IVF in their family-building journeys, same-sex couples do so disproportionately. A report last year from the U.K.’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority found a fourfold increase in the use of IVF among female same-sex couples: In 2009, 489 IVF cycles (1% of all cycles) involved female partners, compared to 2,435 IVF cycles (4% of all cycles) in 2019.
While many anti-abortion rights groups support IVF, others advocate against access to the procedure. A coalition of anti-abortion rights groups called The Personhood Alliance objects to IVF on the ground that it violates the rights of the embryo.
Missouri, Kansas, Georgia and Alabama already have fetal personhood laws, and legislators in six more states have introduced such measures, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group. The Alabama attorney general’s office has said the law will not affect IVF treatment; the consequences of personhood laws in other states remain unclear.
LGBTQ people are disproportionately affected by any law restricting access to assisted reproductive health care, like IVF.
“The fact is that in the LGBTQ community, a larger percentage of their family-building journeys are going to access assisted reproductive technology,” said Dr. Roger Shedlin, the CEO of Connecticut-based WINFertility. “By definition, you could see that the community is disproportionately impacted.”
And the reversal of Roe comes in the context of an already difficult legal landscape for LGBTQ parents and prospective parents, because states are free to establish their own parentage laws.
“Dobbs doesn’t just drop into a vacuum,” said Polly Crozier, a senior staff attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD. “Already we have seen attacks on LGBTQ families, because there have been cases in the past few years attacking nonbiological parents. We will probably see more challenges to the marital presumption of parentage and challenges to rights of nonbiological parents.”
Many states have not updated parentage laws to accommodate the reality that at least one of the two parents may not be biologically connected to their children, which is the case for many LGBTQ couples with kids.
“Nonbiological parents are already feeling that vulnerability, and then you see all the anti-LGBTQ bills,” Crozier said. (State legislators have already introduced more than 340 anti-LGBTQ bills this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign.)
She added that LGBTQ families should take the legal steps necessary — like second parent adoption or voluntary acknowledgment — to make sure their families are protected.
“This is really the time to make sure those core protections are in place,” Crozier said.
There is even less consistency when it comes to other kinds of laws about assisted reproduction. For example, Louisiana law restricts IVF already. Dr. Nicole Ulrich, a reproductive endocrinologist and specialist in fertility medicine at Audubon Fertility in New Orleans, said her clinic does not store embryos in the state long term. “We store them in Texas right now,” she said.
Ulrich, who estimated that as many as 20% of her patients are LGBTQ, said the clinic is making “contingency plans” about how to make other arrangements for patients in case laws in Texas change, requiring it to relocate the embryos again.
In addition, Louisiana law prohibits the use of a donor egg or donor sperm in a gestational carrier, meaning only couples able to use their own sperm and eggs can access gestational services.
“Because of regulations in Louisiana, we actually can’t help same-sex male couples conceive,” Ulrich said.
“It’s frustrating to essentially be forced to exclude a whole population.”
Financial obstacles can also make treatments like IVF and services like surrogacy prohibitively expensive for many LGBTQ people, and they are often not covered by health insurance.
“To add any additional burden or barrier of crossing state lines, staying in a hotel, that’s all going to really add additional burdens for something that is already not accessible for so many people,” Oakley said.
Over the past several years, insurance companies have been improving coverage for assisted reproduction, Shedlin said. However, because of the medical definition of infertility, even some LGBTQ people who have insurance face barriers to accessing those benefits. In many instances, laws designed for heterosexual couples require them to establish histories of infertility before they qualify for coverage.
“Just to access your coverage, you face six months to a year, because we have a medical focus,” Crozier said of qualifying for insurance coverage. “They are essentially treating LGBTQ couples differently than non-LGBTQ couples.”
There is an overall context of heteronormativity, which can produce discrimination and exclusion for LGBTQ people, said Rebecca Kluchin, a professor of history at California State University, Sacramento, focusing on American reproductive history.
“We have this assumption that pregnancy is the purview of straight women,” Kluchin said. “There is an assumption that reproduction is still heterosexual.”
Despite the legal uncertainty and financial obstacles, Kutscher and Das are moving ahead with plans to build their family.
“It means the world to us,” Das said. “We definitely have qualms about what the future will hold — and what the child’s reality will be, what the world will be like … but we’re excited, and we feel ready.”
The Biden administration declaredmonkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday as cases topped 6,600 nationwide.
The declaration could facilitate access to emergency funds, allow health agencies to collect more data about cases and vaccinations, accelerate vaccine distribution and make it easier for doctors to prescribe treatment.
“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a Thursday briefing about the emergency declaration.
A quarter of U.S. cases are in New York state, which declared a state of emergency last week. California and Illinois followed suit with emergency declarations Monday.
The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern last month, a designation reserved for the most serious global disease outbreaks. It has previously been used for Covid-19, Zika, H1N1 flu, polio and Ebola. At least 26,200 monkeypox cases have been confirmed worldwide this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The WHO recently advised men who have sex with men to reduce their number of sexual partners and reconsider sex with new partners while the outbreak is ongoing.
The average U.S. monkeypox patient is around 35 years old, but people of all ages can be infected. The CDC has recorded five cases in children: two in California, two in Indiana and an infant who is not a U.S. resident who tested positive in Washington, D.C.
The California and Indiana health departments declined to provide details about their pediatric cases, but Jennifer Rice Epstein, the public affairs officer at the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, said the patient in her city was exposed via a close contact.
As of last week, white people represented 37% of U.S. monkeypox cases, followed by Hispanic or Latino people (31%), Black people (27%) and Asian people (4%), according to HHS.
U.S. officials still think the outbreak can be contained
HHS officials still hope to prevent monkeypox from becoming endemic in the U.S.
“We continue to marshal forward the tools that we need to make sure that we can take on monkeypox and keep it from spreading to the point of becoming endemic,” Becerra said Thursday.
“There should be no reason why we can’t stay ahead of this if we all work together,” he added.
That work relies primarily on testing, targeted vaccinations and treatment.
As of Thursday, the U.S. had distributed 600,000 of the 1.1 million available doses of the Jynneos vaccine, which is administered as a two-shot regimen. In total, the country has ordered 6.9 million doses. HHS said a shipment of 150,000 doses will arrive in the U.S. in September to then be distributed.
The shot can prevent monkeypox if given before or within four days of exposure. If given within 14 days after exposure, it can ease symptoms.
U.S. testing capacity has also increased, from 6,000 weekly tests in May to 80,000 now.
“Right now we’re really only testing at about 10% of the capacity we have. We are encouraging anyone who has a rash that could be monkeypox to present for testing,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday.
Around 14,000 people in the U.S. have received TPOXX, an antiviral drug that is authorized for use against smallpox but can also be used to treat monkeypox. The Strategic National Stockpile contains 1.7 million of the treatments, HHS said. But the drug’s use is for now limited to people with severe disease or a high risk of becoming severely ill. Physicians must also complete extensive paperwork to prescribe it for monkeypox.
Expanded access to TPOXX was among the many reasons that sexual health providers called on HHS to declare a public health emergency.
“It’s unconscionable not to further make changes to make TPOXX accessible to all that need it,” David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said Tuesday on a news call.
Most U.S. monkeypox patients have reported a rash
The most common monkeypox symptoms include a rash — reported in 99% of U.S. cases so far — malaise, fever and swollen lymph nodes. Some patients have also reported chills, headache and muscle pain.
Some people with monkeypox develop just one or two lesions in their rash, while others can develop several thousand, according to the WHO.
A study published last month, which examined monkeypox cases in 16 countries from April to June, found that nearly 65% of people had fewer than 10 lesions. The lesions were most commonly found in the anus or genital area, followed by the torso, arms or legs. A smaller number of people saw lesions on their face, palms or soles of the feet.
Symptoms usually appeared within a week of exposure, the study found. Around 13% of people studied were hospitalized, mostly for pain management.
n response to a mean-spirited tweet sent by Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida about her appearance, a queer activist from Texas has gotten the last laugh. In addition to clapping back hard, she has raised more than $1.5 million to support abortion care as of Friday.
Olivia Julianna, a political strategist for Gen-Z for Change, a social justice advocacy group led by young people, revealed to The Advocate that she wasn’t prepared for her overnight success but appreciated it. She uses her first and middle names publicly for privacy concerns.
“I’m in shock at the amount of support that we’ve gotten from people across the country,” she says.
Julianna says she could never have imagined the level of impact she will have had with her deft navigation of the situation that Gaetz inadvertently made possible.
As of midday Thursday, donations to a fundraiser she established were $3,000 short of $700,000, she told The Advocate. On Friday that number reached $1.5 million, she tweeted.
“We’ve now hit $1.5 million raised!! That’s 500K+ just in the last day,” she wrote. “Any celebrities or philanthropists want to close that gap to 2 million[?]”
“I would like to say thank you to him for giving me such a big platform to share my message and share my work with,” she says.
The activist launched the fundraiser for the nonprofit organization’s abortion fund after being body-shamed by Gaetz on Twitter. Julianna had responded to remarks Gaetz made last weekend. The congressman mocked abortion rights activists, calling them “disgusting” and overweight. Julianna criticized the congressman’s comments online.
“It’s come to my attention that Matt Gaetz — alleged pedophile — has said that it’s always the ‘odious…5’2 350 pound’ women that ‘nobody wants to impregnate’ who rally for abortion,” she began in her tweet.
“I’m actually 5’11. 6’4 in heels. I wear them so the small men like you are reminded of your place,” she continued.
Gaetz responded by tweeting an image of her next to a news article mentioning his comments.
Julianna raised the clap-back level several notches and replied, referencing Gaetz’s ongoing potential legal troubles for alleged sexual encounters with underage women.
Then she announced a fundraising campaign on behalf of Gen-Z for Change, a 500-strong youth-led group that supports abortion rights and says it seeks to create tangible change on “issues adversely affecting young people.”
A reporter asked Gaetz whether he believed women who attended abortion rights rallies were “ugly and overweight” after his comments at the weekend rally at the conservative Turning Point USA Student Action Summit drew condemnation, and Gaetz doubled down on his remarks, according to The Washington Post.
He replied to those offended by the comments: “Be offended.”
It’s taken just a little more than 48 hours for Julianna to raise three-quarters of a million dollars.
Among other reproductive health care services, Julianna says donations will be split among 50 abortion funds.
As for Gaetz’s political acumen, Julianna says he lacks any.
“I think it’s hilarious that Matt Gaetz underestimated me and didn’t think that I would clap back in such a strong way,” she says.
The incident has taught Julianna one thing that she hopes will benefit other young people.
“It goes to show no matter how young you are, no matter what position of power you’re in, you can make a difference,” she says. “I hope that this absolute insane event that’s taken place will motivate young people across the country to make their voices heard and fight for the things that they believe them.”
And Julianna has one final assessment of Gaetz: “He’s a joke,” she says.
Will they or won’t they support marriage equality? That is the question facing Senate Republicans. Backers of the Senate version of the House’s Respect For Marriage Act think they are close to finding 10 Republican votes to make up the 60 votes needed to pass the measure and overcome a filibuster. But many Republicans have been very quiet about whether or not they support the bill. A common response is that they haven’t looked at the bill — a four-page document — yet.
The time it’s taken just to confirm that eight more members of the GOP will vote yes on the measure is very much at odds with the lightning speed at which the House introduced and passed the bill. It aims to codify marriage equality for LGBTQ and interracial couples into law and would effectively cut off expected attempts to throw the U.S. back into darker times by outlawing marriages for some based on sexual orientation or race.
The time it’s taken just to confirm that eight more members of the GOP will vote yes on the measure is very much at odds with the lightning speed at which the House introduced and passed the bill.
With 47 House Republicansvoting in favor of the bill, it seems like conservative lawmakers have figured out something very important: They can’t be the party of family values and be in favor of taking away the right to be a family for many of their constituents at the same time.
Now, we wait to see how many Senate Republicans have realized it too.
As a journalist who has covered many similar pieces of legislation, this issue is also particularly personal. For many queer people, marriage isn’t even a goal. In many communities, it’s still something seen as what boring heteronormative suburban gays do. I say this as someone who doeswant to get married someday and carries an aching heart over the fact that marriage was legalized for me just as my last serious live-in relationship ended — and might be taken away again just as I’ve moved in with a new partner and am exploring domestic bliss once again.
But regardless of whether it’s a knot you’d like to tie (or not), everyone from staunch Republican voters to anti-assimilationist queer activists agrees that it’s a right people should have. Marriage equality was never about assimilation — it was about putting an end to a separate-but-equal society in which only some people have fundamental rights, including financial security and protection and stability for children, while others are seen as lesser and undeserving of those same rights and relationship recognition.
A majority of American voters across all political parties have supported equal marriage rights for same-sex couples since 2021, when the annual Gallup Values and Beliefs poll found 55% of Republicans, 73% of independents and 83% of Democrats saying same-sex marriages should be recognized under law. This year, Gallup reported that 71% — up from last year’s 70% — of Americans support marriage rights for LGBTQ people. It’s a number that has risen every year since the Obergefell v. Hodges decision legalized it. It could explain why 47 Republican House representatives voted in favor of the Respect For Marriage Act in this era of hyper-partisanship and divisiveness over everything politics.
Decades of advocacy and activism led to this moment: LGBTQ people are more visible and accepted across mainstream society than ever before, and marriage is a fundamental part of that. We are out and proud, able to live authentically at work, school and in communities without having to hide our partners and identities out of fear of repercussion. Another Gallup poll this year found that 7.1% of the U.S. population identify themselves as LGBTQ, with numbers increasing with each younger generation to the point where 1 in 5 members of Gen Z is out as LGBTQ.
This visibility has led to increased discrimination. A 2022 report from GLAAD found that 70% of LGBTQ people reported that personal discrimination has risen over the past two years. Not to mention the dozens of discriminatory state laws proposed to shove LGBTQ youth into a closet they’ve never had to be in. But change is inevitably coming; when it comes to LGBTQ equality, the train has already left the station.
The GOP claims to be for family values. LGBTQ people have families now. Families with kids.
LGBTQ people serve at every level of government from the federal Cabinet down. Transportation Secretary and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, campaigned openly and affectionately to help millions of people see how mainstream and likable gay couples can be. Buttigieg’s unspoken campaign slogan might as well have been, “We’re boring and suburban, just like you.” We’ve come far from the 2004 resignation of former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, who stepped down in brewing scandal and outing threats with a new phrase that quickly entered the discourse: “I am a gay American.”
But the current conservative makeup of the Supreme Court threatens to stop the progress LGBTQ communities have fought hard for. When Justice Clarence Thomas said that the court should “reconsider” its ruling in cases like Obergefell, which guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry, and Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized LGBTQ intimacy, it sent such a panic throughout LGBTQ communites across the country. How could it not? After all, the nation had just watched the court decide to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion — despite a majority of Americans disagreeing with the move.
To even “consider” overturning constitutional protections for the LGBTQ community would be out of step with not just what the majority of the American people want, including the majority of Republicans. But anything seems possible right now.
Now is the time for Republican lawmakers to act. The GOP claims to be for family values. LGBTQ people have families now. Families with kids. How would a Wanda Sykes or a Neil Patrick Harris, much less the countless other LGBTQ parents across America, explain to their kids why the Supreme Court took their parents’ marriage away and why the government didn’t do anything to stop it? When did breaking up families become a mandate for the party of family values? These questions should haunt the 157 Republicans in the House who voted against the Respect For Marriage Act, and it should give pause to the senators poised to cast their own votes. Republican voters made it clear that they support marriage equality. Now it’s up to Republican senators to listen.
Oklahoma public schools have started requiring students from kindergarten to college to complete “biological sex affidavits” if they want to compete in school sports, in accordance with a state law that took effect earlier this year.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill in March that bans transgender student athletes in public elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges from competing on the sports teams of their gender identity as opposed to their sex assigned at birth.
A photo of an affidavit required by Woodall Public Schools went viral Wednesday after Erin Matson, executive director of abortion rights group Reproaction, shared it on Twitter.
“This has nothing to do with encouraging girls to be athletes,” Matson wrote. “This is totalitarianism. It is the white nationalist agenda. The anti-LGBTQ agenda. The anti-abortion agenda. It is all the same agenda.”
The address on the affidavit matches Woodall Elementary School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, about an hour southeast of Tulsa.
Ginger Knight, superintendent at Woodall Public Schools, confirmed via email that the district is required by state law to have students complete the form if they want to participate in athletics, but Knight had no additional comment.
After the governor signed the bill in March, Oklahoma was the 13th state nationwide to enact such a bill. Now, 18 states have enacted similar measures.
Nearly all of those states designate sports teams by sex assigned at birth as determined by the student’s birth certificate issued at or near the time of their birth.
Oklahoma is the only state so far to require an affidavit to prove a student’s assigned sex. If a student is under 18, the affidavit can be completed by a legal guardian or parent. Once a student reaches 18, they have to sign the affidavit themselves. The law requires that a new affidavit be completed ahead of every school year.
Two other states can require an affidavit or sworn statements in some cases.
In Kentucky, for example, a student’s assigned sex can be determined by their “original, unedited birth certificate” or via an affidavit “signed and sworn to by the physician, physician assistant, advanced practice registered nurse, or chiropractor under penalty of perjury.”
Under Idaho‘s law, which a judge blocked in August 2020, a student’s sex can be disputed. If that happens, the school can request that the student provide a form from their health care provider to “verify the student’s biological sex… as part of a routine sports physical examination relying only on one (1) or more of the following: the student’s reproductive anatomy, genetic makeup, or normal endogenously produced testosterone levels.”
Proponents of trans athlete bans argue that they help ensure fairness for cisgender female athletes, while LGBTQ rights advocates say the measures violate the civil rights of trans people.
Some LGBTQ people on Twitter condemned Woodall Public Schools’ affidavits.
“With a notary requirement — this is not ONLY incredibly transphobic, but is going to have the impact of preventing lower socioeconomic status kids from participating,” one person wrote.
Another person wrote that requiring “notarized affidavits attesting to the genital composition of individual elementary schoolers is a disgusting invasion of privacy and is predatory and discriminatory.”
The Education Department issued guidance last year that said it will interpret Title IX, a federal law that protects students from sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools, to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination.
At the time, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told ESPN that he understands concerns about fairness in sports, “but we do have a responsibility to protect the civil rights of students, and if we feel the civil rights are being violated, we will act.”
The Biden administration’s Title IX directive is on hold after a federal judge in Tennessee blocked it earlier this month, ruling that it would make it impossible for some states to enforce their own laws on transgender athlete participation and use of restrooms.
While CDC works to contain the current monkeypox outbreak and learn more about the virus, this information can help you make informed choices when you are in situations or places where monkeypox could be spread.
How can a person lower their risk during sex?
Talk to your partner about any recent illness and be aware of new or unexplained rashes on your body or your partner’s body, including the genitals and anus. If you or your partner have recently been sick, currently feel sick, or have a new or an unexplained rash, do not have sex and see a healthcare provider.
If you or a partner has monkeypox, the best way to protect yourself and others is to avoid sex of any kind (oral, anal, vaginal) and do not kiss or touch each other’s bodies while you are sick, especially any rash. Do not share things like towels, fetish gear, sex toys, and toothbrushes.
If you or your partner have (or think you might have) monkeypox and you decide to have sex, consider the following to reduce the chance of spreading the virus:
Have virtual sex with no in-person contact.
Masturbate together at a distance of at least 6 feet, without touching each other and without touching any rash.
Consider having sex with your clothes on or covering areas where rash is present, reducing as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. If the rash is confined to the genitals or anus, condoms may help; however, condoms alone are likely not enough to prevent monkeypox.
Remember to wash your hands, fetish gear, sex toys and any fabrics (bedding, towels, clothing) after having sex. Learn more about infection control.
Having multiple or anonymous sex partners may increase your chances of exposure to monkeypox. Limiting your number of sex partners may reduce the possibility of exposure.
Avoid touching the rash. Touching the rash can spread it to other parts of the body and may delay healing.
What should a person do if they have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms?
Avoid sex or being intimate with anyone until you have been checked out by a healthcare provider.
If you don’t have a provider or health insurance, visit a public health clinic near you.
When you see a healthcare provider, wear a mask, and remind them that this virus is circulating in the area.
Avoid gatherings, especially if they involve close, personal, skin-to-skin contact.
Think about the people you have had close, personal, or sexual contact during the last 21 days, including people you met through dating apps. To help stop the spread, you might be asked to share this information if you have received a monkeypox diagnosis.
How can a person lower the chance of getting monkeypox at places like raves, parties, clubs, and festivals?
When thinking about what to do, seek out information from trusted sources like the local health department. Second, consider how much close, personal, skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur at the event you plan to attend. If you feel sick or have a rash, do not attend any gathering, and see a healthcare provider.
Festivals, events, and concerts where attendees are fully clothed and unlikely to share skin-to-skin contact are safer. However, attendees should be mindful of activities (like kissing) that might spread monkeypox.
A rave, party, or club where there is minimal clothing and where there is direct, personal, often skin-to-skin contact has some risk. Avoid any rash you see on others and consider minimizing skin-to-skin contact.
Enclosed spaces, such as back rooms, saunas, sex clubs, or private and public sex parties where intimate, often anonymous sexual contact with multiple partners occurs, may have a higher likelihood of spreading monkeypox.
In the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll published Tuesday, the survey found that on the question of same-sex marriage: Fifty-eight percent of Americans support passing a federal bill to codify the right, including 44% who strongly back it, compared to 31% who oppose.
Politico also reported:
— On interracial marriage: Federal legislation has more lopsided support here: Seventy-one percent of voters support it, with just 15% opposing. (From the crosstabs: Twenty-five percent of Republican voters either somewhat or strongly oppose such a bill.)
— On abortion: These numbers are nearly identical to popular opinion on same-sex marriage: Fifty-seven percent support federal legislation protecting abortion access, while 34% oppose.
— On access to birth control: Of the topics we polled, nothing garnered greater support than federal legislation to protect access to birth control: A full three-quarters of voters back the idea, with 15% opposed.
As the Respect For Marriage Act legislation, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by an 267-`157 vote- including 47 Republicans voting yes last week works it way into the U.S. Senate for consideration and eventual debate, Politico reported Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT.) became the latest senator to declare his opposition this morning, calling the legislation “another attempt by Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats to distract the American people,” and saying he believes marriage is between a man and a woman.
During a gaggle with reporters aboard the presidential aircraft enroute to Somerset, Massachusetts last Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the Respect for Marriage Act passed by the U.S. House is “personal” to President Biden, adding that he would sign the bill should it pass the Senate.
The political battle is uphill in among the Republicans as U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg indicated in a recent interview with PBS News Hour anchor Geoff Bennett.
In a memo sent to school administrators on Thursday, Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said the new federal protections under Title IX “are not binding law, do not create any new legal obligations, and should not be treated as governing law.”
“The Department will not stand idly by as federal agencies attempt to impose a sexual ideology on Florida schools that risk the health, safety, and welfare of Florida students,” the memo continues.
“As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this landmark law, our proposed changes will allow us to continue that progress and ensure all our nation’s students — no matter where they live, who they are, or whom they love — can learn, grow, and thrive in school,” U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in June.
Diaz claims that allowing transgender girls to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their gender and to participate in school sports as their gender would jeopardize “the safety and wellbeing of Florida students” and risk violating Florida law. In 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill to ban transgender girls from playing school sports.
“While Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Diaz are intent on weaponizing state agencies in their war on transgender youth, the fact remains: the U.S. Department of Education has said unequivocally that students are to be protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Equality Florida press secretary Brandon Wolf said in a statement.
“The DeSantis Administration repeatedly puts the political ambitions of the Governor over the wellbeing of Florida’s students and the result is a state that is increasingly more hostile toward and unsafe for young people. LGBTQ students exist. The federal government has recognized that they are protected from discrimination. Even as the Governor attempts to bolster his right-wing bona fides by hurtling our state toward full-tilt authoritarianism, school districts across Florida should remain committed to protecting all students.”
DeSantis has declared an all-out war on Florida’s LGBTQ community. In March, he signed the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law, prohibiting any mention of LGBTQ topics in schools.
As cases of monkeypox surge around the globe, four pioneers of the AIDS activist movement watch in awe and with a sense of nostalgia.
Some of the similarities between the two viruses speak for themselves. Like the HIV strain that started the AIDS pandemic in the late 1970s, the current monkeypox outbreak has emerged from sub-Saharan Africa and has been found overwhelmingly in men who have sex with men who live in the world’s metropolises. And while epidemiologists have not reached a complete understanding of how the current outbreak of monkeypox spreads, recent research points to sexual transmission.
Four pioneering AIDS activists of the 1980s and ‘90s contend that there are other, consequential yet less obvious parallels playing out in real-time.
As in the early days of the AIDS crisis, they argue, government messaging around the outbreak has been flawed, gay men have been blindsided and public health officials have failed to defeat a severe disease plaguing the LGBTQ community.
“It feels like déjà vu,” said gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, who was a leading member of the Gay Liberation Front in the United Kingdom. “The lessons from the AIDS crisis and Covid have clearly not been learned.”
Public health officials around the world were slow to combat AIDS when it first began to emerge in men who have sex with men during the late 1970s. It wasn’t until June 5, 1981, that the United States released the world’s first government report on the infectious disease in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a government bulletin on perplexing disease cases.
“In the period October 1980-May 1981, 5 young men, all active homosexuals, were treated for biopsy-confirmed Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia at 3 different hospitals in Los Angeles, California,” the report read. “Two of the patients died.”
Three years later, the U.S. government announced the development of an AIDS test, in addition to a vaccine, which never came to fruition. By 1985, an estimated 12,000 Americans had died of the disease.
Similarly, activists argue that the global response to tame monkeypox has been too slow to curb ballooning case numbers — more than 20,500 cases of the current monkeypox outbreak have been reported globally across 77 countries and territories since the start of May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
No one has died from monkeypox outside the 11 African nations where the infectious disease has become endemic since it was discovered in 1970. However, a substantial proportion of patients infected with monkeypox have been hospitalized for severe pain caused by pimple-like sores that commonly develop.
Since the first cases were discovered in May, the United States has distributed nearly 200,000 Jynneos vaccines — a two-dose vaccine to prevent smallpox and monkeypox — to the most at-risk population, which falls far short of its roughly 3.8 million gay men. In France, only an estimated 6,000 people have been vaccinated across more than 100 vaccine centers in recent weeks, French Minister of Social Affairs and Health François Braun said on Monday. And in the United Kingdom, health officials ordered an additional 100,000 vaccine doses last week to keep up with burgeoning demand.
Last Saturday, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, a designation reserved for the most threatening global disease outbreaks, after initially forgoing to do so last month. More than two months after the first U.S. case of monkeypox was detected in mid-May, on Thursday public health officials in New York City issued a declaration that the infectious disease posed an imminent threat to public health, and officials in San Francisco declared a state of emergency.
“What’s interesting is that many of the scientists and clinicians who were trained during the AIDS epidemic or were there at the beginning, people like Tony Fauci, know this history, but the response to monkeypox has been alarmingly slow and chaotic,” said Gregg Gonsalves, who joined Act Up — the leading group that fought for action to combat AIDS — in 1990 and is now a professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. “As an individual, it’s like, ‘Three strikes you’re out, man.’ HIV, Covid and now monkeypox? How many times can you make the same mistakes over and over again?”
Representatives from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which Dr. Anthony Fauci has directed since 1984, and officials from the White House, where Fauci serves as the chief medical adviser to the president, did not immediately respond to NBC News’ requests for comment.
Images of men waiting in long lines outside clinics around the world to get vaccinated, technical issues with online vaccine portals and reports that accused the U.S. government of developing a “wait-and-see” response to the outbreak — reportedly calling for shipments of vaccines only as cases surged in the last handful of weeks — have piled on to activists’ fears that the public health response to monkeypox is shaping up to be a repeat of its flawed strategy to combat AIDS.
Although the virus started spreading in May, the U.S. didn’t order more doses of the monkeypox vaccine to add to its stockpile until June. Regulators also had not finished inspecting a key Denmark facility manufacturing monkeypox vaccines until July, leaving 1.1 million ready-to-distribute doses stuck in Europe.
“Just like during the AIDS pandemic, it seems that some governments care very little so long as monkeypox is just affecting men who have sex with men,” said Tatchell, who was turned away from a hospital in London that had run out of monkeypox vaccine last Sunday. “What other explanation can there be? Governments should have been rolling out emergency vaccination programs for gay and bisexual men two or three weeks ago.”
Some veteran AIDS activists also argue that as during the AIDS crisis, the messaging to combat monkeypox has not been tailored enough to reach the LGBTQ community.
Ron Goldberg, an early AIDS activist who joined Act Up in 1987, points to the “America Responds to AIDS” public service announcement campaign, which the government launched at the height of the crisis in the late 1980s. Many of the commercials featured heterosexual couples and displayed messages including “AIDS Is Everyone’s Problem.”
“At that time, they were so afraid of talking about gay sex, or anything like that, they had to bland out the message when they were trying to give some information,” Goldberg said. “If it’s happening within a certain population, you have to direct your messaging to that certain population.”
Activists have largely applauded public health officials’ efforts to not link monkeypox directly to the LGBTQ community — as many believe they did with AIDS — and thereby create stigma. However, some argue that repeated statements from public health officials that “anyone can get monkeypox” mirrors AIDS messaging that “anyone can get the AIDS virus” and also circumvents efforts to alert the demographic most at risk.
Research overwhelmingly suggests that the current outbreak of monkeypox is being driven overwhelmingly by men who have sex with men. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine published last week found that of the 528 cases of monkeypox researchers analyzed, 98% were found in men who identified as gay or bisexual. Another recent report by the the British Health Security Agency finding that of the 699 monkeypox cases for which there was available information, 97% were in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.
“The numbers are there,” said Didier Lastrade, who founded the first French chapter of Act Up in 1989. “We shouldn’t shy away from this. … We’re big people, we’re grown-ups, we can take it. The stigmatization is happening either way.”
But compiled with two years of pandemic isolation and big summer events, such as last weekend’s annual Pines Party on Fire Island, some activists fear it will be difficult to get gay and bisexual men to curtail their sexual behaviors.
“You want to be able to reach people in their 20s and 30s and say, ‘Look, this is no joke. You’ve all seen the pictures. You’ve all had friends who have had monkeypox. You don’t want it,’” Gonsalves said.
More broadly speaking, Lastrade argued, the advent of pre-exposure prophylaxis, the HIV prevention pill (also known as PrEP), along with scientific proof over the past decade that treating HIV can prevent transmission, have caused gay and bisexual men to fall asleep at the wheel when it comes to their sexual health.
“The new generation totally forgot about the story of AIDS. I keep on writing books about AIDS but nobody reads them,” said Lastrade. “When s— happens, they forget their reflexes that we used to have because it was a question of life or death.”
Regardless of the messaging, with a lackluster global vaccine rollout, the activists fear the virus will become an infectious disease the LGBTQ community has to permanently live with, as it did with AIDS decades ago.
“Many people are saying we’re past the point of containment, that we already missed our chance,” Gonsalves said. “If that’s true, that is incredibly serious because this disease doesn’t necessarily kill, but the enormous suffering and expense of all of this is going to put a burden on many, many people, many, many health systems and many, many communities who have been already plagued.”