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Virginia school district ponders banning cross-gender dress | Reuters

Posted: February 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Virginia school district ponders banning cross-gender dress | Reuters

Showcasing how ignorance is a life-threatening, clear and present danger, a "Virginia school district is considering banning cross-gender dressing in a move proponents said aims to protect students from harassment," Matthew Ward reports. The ban is being considered "after teachers […] said some male students were dressing like girls, prompting complaints from other students."

Although wanting to protect youth from harm is noble, misguided bans on expression are functionally equivalent to censorship, and serve no protective purpose. Worse, ignorance of gender diversity "could actually make the students more susceptible to bullying," not less, according to the executive director of Equality Virginia, James Parrish. "They're calling it cross-dressing, but if [one wears] clothes that reflect their gender identity [then] that's appropriate gender dressing," he said.

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Update: A grass-roots petition to oppose the ban has been circulating on Tumblr. A vote is expected in March. Hopefully, the petition along with the threat of legal action from the ACLU of Virginia will be enough to deter this dangerous violation of student’s freedom of expression.


Constitutional Law Prof Blog: Banning (Male) Circumcision: San Francisco Ballot Measure

Posted: May 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Constitutional Law Prof Blog: Banning (Male) Circumcision: San Francisco Ballot Measure

Banning male circumcision is the goal of a group of San Francisco “intactivists,” lead by Lloyd Schofield, who have successfully placed a measure on the local ballot for November that would make it “unlawful to circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles, or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years.” The ordinance contains an exception for religious ceremonies, which is interesting as it pits two frameworks of “rights” against one another. On the one hand, religious freedom, and on the other, basic human and youth rights.

The key, as noted by the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, is how one conceptualizes the argument: “Conceptualized as the child’s right to be free from harm, the First Amendment religious freedom arguments become less persuasive.” As they show, legal precedent is mirky, and some debate over whether the group’s motivations are a “hostility to religion” or a resentment that they were circumcised have arisen.

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Storied career takes transgender attorney to judgeship | Houston & Texas News | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

Posted: November 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Storied career takes transgender attorney to judgeship | Houston & Texas News | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

"[Phyllis] Frye, a transgender Houston attorney born as Phillip Frye, fought back tears earlier this week as the mayor appointed her to a municipal bench in the same room where she helped repeal Houston's 'cross-dressing ordinance' in 1980," Brian Rogers reports. It was the very same chamber where she was subject to arrest.

She was a graduate of A&M, an Eagle Scout, a husband, and a father. Now, she's one of only a handful of transgender judges in the country. "I understand it is very significant," Frye said. "But I don't want to overplay it either. I don't want people to think I am anything other than an associate municipal court judge." Frye will oversee "traffic ticket cases and other low-level misdemeanor trials." Naturally, her appointment received harsh criticism from opponents who said the mayor, an out lesbian, is "promoting a [GLBT] agenda" that's "anti-family." Apparently it's just all too easy to corrupt the youth before they get traffic tickets, don't'cha know?

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Company Accused of Firing Over Facebook Post – NYTimes.com

Posted: November 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Company Accused of Firing Over Facebook Post – NYTimes.com

Finally, an authoritative body realizes that the internet is used for something more than work. While this is only a small in the fight to ensure the free speech of those use the internet, it could mean the large changes for those that talk about taboo subjects, like sexuality and gender variance, online.

PS. How sad does it make me to say that sexuality and gender variance are taboo issues.

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Canadian Polyamory Court Case Rundown | Polyamory in the News

Posted: November 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Polyamory in the News blog assembles a whole host of links on the first-ever north american court case to test polyamory rights. The case is in British Columbia and is a challenge to Canada's century-old anti-polygamy law. Polyamorous people are concerned because the law is written so broadly that it can apply to many poly relationships, either people who hold themselves out as married (handfasted, etc) to multiple people or groups of three or more who cohabit. The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association has been formed in order to argue the case on behalf of polyamorous people. They have already filed an affidavit and are seeking to fly in poly witnesses from around the country—and they need donations to do so. The blog post also includes the breaking news that the Canadian and B.C. attorney generals have now confirmed that polyamorous people are subject to the law, along with links to current and past media treatment of the case.

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Calif. judge blocks sex offender residency law

Posted: November 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Calif. judge blocks sex offender residency law

"Jessica's Law" restricts registered sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a public or private school, or a park where children gather. Sounds good in theory, but "despite lay belief, a sex offender parolee's residential proximity to a school or park where children regularly gather does not bear upon the parolee's likelihood to commit a sex offense against a child," Judge Peter Espinoza wrote, blocking the law's enforcement.

The law's controversial; researchers and law enforcement groups say "residency restrictions don't prevent sexual assaults and, in fact, are counterproductive," Josh Goodman reports. Espinoza's ruling cites one such report by LA Police Chief Charlie Beck, which said if parolees can't find stable housing, they're more difficult for law enforcement to monitor. However, Beck is now distancing himself from that conclusion.

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Spanish prostitutes ordered to wear reflective vests for their own safety – Telegraph

Posted: October 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Spanish prostitutes ordered to wear reflective vests for their own safety – Telegraph

In a move that is certain to produce some stunning and visually striking outfits, the Spanish town of Els Alamus has ordered that prostitutes working along the highway must wear bright yellow reflective vests. Mayor Josep Maria Bea has been accused of mounting a campaign to drive prostitutes out of the area, but claims that the ordinance is not targeting prostitutes because of their choice of occupation, but because their roadside presences poses a danger to drivers. Was the issue that the drivers were getting distracted by the women's outfits? Or that they were failing to notice them at all? It's a little unclear just how these vests will help, except to create an easily identifiable road-side sex-worker uniform.

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Do You Have Anything to Declare? Yes. My Breasts. | The Stir

Posted: October 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Do You Have Anything to Declare? Yes. My Breasts. | The Stir

Remember the ill-fated Australian law demanding travelers Down Under declare "pornography"? Its enforcement proved so confusing that not only has the customs card been rephrased to read "illegal pornography," officials have been telling travelers who ask for clarification to declare: "anything explicit."

So, fearing they'd break the law otherwise, that's exactly what one newlywed couple did, showing their nude beach honeymoon pics in front of everyone in the customs line. Australian Sex Party leader Fiona Patten said that the law encourages "an incredible breach of people's privacy. […] If the objective is to stop child pornography then this is not going to achieve this." Like DRM, this law only punishes the law-abiding.

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When Abortion Is Actually A Crime | RHRealityCheck.org

Posted: October 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

On the heels of an Australian decision that a couple were – in defiance of the facts – not guilty of breaking anti-abortion laws (because the laws are outdated and could be easily misinterpreted), Amanda Marcotte asks tough questions about the meaning of anti-choice legislation and its effect on women who become pregnant without being ready for motherhood: "What would happen to those women? Will anti-choicers, like cowardly Australian politicians, feel like it’s just fine for abortion to be going on as long at it’s officially condemned by the government and there’s a satisfying stream of women being sent to the emergency room because they inexpertly tried to self-abort? Or will they, like the cops in the Leach case, decide that it’s time to start sending women to jail for having the temerity to act as if they know their own situation in terms of readiness to be a mother better than strangers?" All good, hard, important questions. How will you answer them?

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A twist on equality laws – The Boston Globe

Posted: October 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on A twist on equality laws – The Boston Globe

Although lovely, the Berkshire Mountains in Western MA may not be the sunniest part of America – but that doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t have just as much opportunity to feel the sun on their skin as men do. Katherine Gundelfinger of Pittsfield, MA has succeeded in getting a question on the ballot in her county, asking for support for legislation – not yet introduced – that will change the laws around nudity such that they are equally strict (or loose) for men and women. Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto doesn’t think this is particularly important, saying “I just don’t think that the issue is worthy of discussion.’’ Of course, he’s allowed to sunbathe topless free of consequence – and there are plenty of people who don’t have that right, or who support the idea the everybody should, who think it’s definitely worth of discussion.

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