The title song from the Taiwanese gay-themed movie “Your Name Engraved Herein” says “love wins” in any language!
Amanda Kabak has more to tell about her challenges writing “Upended”!
A Rainbow Minute recalls the bold act of psychiatrist Dr. Anonymous!
And in NewsWrap: Nicaragua targets its oldest queer NGO, Shanghai U tracks queer students, Yucatan approves marriage equality, Virginia school board pays costs for trans rights case, Indiana lesbian teacher loses Catholic school employment bias suit, Colorado Christian school kids walk out after gay coach is forced out.
All this and more on the August 30, 2021 edition of This Way Out!
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Complete Program Summary and NewsWrap Transcript for the week of August 30, 2021
Program #1,744 distributed 08/30/21
Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle
NewsWrap (full transcript below): Nicaragua’s government moves to shut down the LGBTQ group Fundación Xochiquetzal and other non-governmental organizations … China’s Shanghai University is accused of collecting information about “non-heterosexual” students … Yucatan becomes the latest Mexican state to open civil marriage to same-gender couples … the Gloucester County School Board agrees to reimburse the legal costs of trailblazing Virginia trans student Gavin Grimm … a U.S. federal court rules that an Indiana archdiocese had the right to fire a veteran teacher because of her same-gender marriage … students at a Denver, Colorado Christian high school stage a walk-out to support their gay volleyball coach after he’s forced to quit. (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by JOE BOEHNLEIN and JOHN DYER V, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR).
Feature: Honoring the Memory of Dr. Anonymous, the American Psychiatric Association’s John E. Fryer, M. D. award is named for the gay psychiatrist who spoke out at its 1972 convention, a moment remembered in this Rainbow Minute (read by TOM MILLER, produced by JUDD PROCTOR and BRIAN BURNS of WRIR-Richmond)
Feature: The moving theme song from the gay-themed Taiwanese movie Your Name Engraved Herein was named Song of the Year at the August 21st Golden Medley Awards — the Grammys for Chinese language music. There have also been numerous instrumental and vocal cover versions, including translations into Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, English and French. Singer Crowd Lu stood out as an ally in his touching acceptance speech.
Feature: Lesbian author Amanda Kabak drew plenty of people into her first novel, The Mathematics of Change. The “mathematics” involved the equation of midlife in the world of academia. In Upended, Kabak moves to a life-changing crisis in the digital media world (the conclusion of a two-part interview with JOHN DYER V, with music by ALDRICK VINCENT)
A summary of some of the news in or affecting global LGBTQ communities for the week ending August 28, 2021 Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle, reported this week by Joe Boehnlein and John Dyer V, produced by Brian DeShazor.
The government of Nicaragua is aiming to shut down the country’s oldest LGBTQ advocacy group. The Interior Ministry has asked the National Assembly to “annul the legal non-profit status” of Fundación Xochiquetzal and 14 other non-governmental organizations. President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front is the controlling party in the Assembly, so that body is likely to rubber-stamp the request.
The news was reported this week by Confidencial, an online newspaper that has been critical of the regime of Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.
Assemblyman Filiberto Rodriguez introduced the bill in mid-August that would dissolve the 15 NGOs for “holding activities outside the law and acting expressly against the law.” The Interior Ministry is charging each NGO with failure to provide names of donors and other administrative infractions.
According to Confidencial, at least 45 national and international NGO’s have been ordered closed by the Nicaraguan government since July. Fifteen of those were medical associations whose specialists have been critical of the Central American country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Six others have ties to U.S. and European groups. The U.S.-based Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is among the groups that have funded Fundación Xochiquetzal, according to the Washington Blade.
Opposition politicians, journalists, student and business leaders, and human rights activists are the targets of the crackdown. It’s timed conveniently ahead of national elections scheduled for early November.
China’s Shanghai University is asking its three campuses to provide details about “non-heterosexual students,” including their political views and social contacts. The New York-based online outlet Sup China reported on a Weibo post by user Bābǎi Yīwàn Lǐ who leaked a supposed “Campus Survey” that he called “horrendous.” He shared a screenshot of what is allegedly a “directive” from Shanghai University ordering officials to “investigate” and “report” all information it has about LGBTQ students. Pink News says that includes their “psychological condition” and any “mental disorders.”
No one seems to know why the actions have been taken, or how the information might be used. Other Weibo users say this is not the first time a university has been asked for information about their LGBTQ students.
A court in China’s eastern Jiangsu Province rejected a student’s challenge to a university textbook earlier this year. It ruled that the book’s description of homosexuality as a “psychological disorder” was simply an “academic view.”
Several Chinese queer activists told Reuters in July that their accounts on the popular WeChat platform had been locked and all their content deleted.
This intrusion into the lives of LGBTQ people at Shanghai University may just be the latest step in efforts to discourage queer organizing. Organizers of the always well-attended Shanghai Pride Festival suddenly announced its permanent cancellation a year ago, reportedly under pressure from both Shanghai city officials and China’s central government.
Yucatán is now the 21st state in Mexico to open civil marriage to same-gender couples. The vote in the state Congress this week was 20 in favor and five against. A majority of legislators in earlier secret votes opposed the move, but Mexico’s Supreme Court ordered another vote — this time on the record.
The country’s high court issued a marriage equality ruling in 2015, but left each state to implement it. Most have done so legislatively, like Yucatán. The independent federal district of Mexico City led the way in 2010.
Same-gender couples in Mexico’s remaining 10 marriage inequality states can still wed, but it requires usually expensive and time-consuming legal filings in federal court. It’s called an “amparo,” and it cannot be denied by federal judges because of the high court ruling.
Veteran gay journalist Rex Wockner reports that Yucatán lawmakers also voted to ban so-called conversion therapy this week.
The American Civil Liberties Union announced this week that a Virginia school board has decided not to challenge their demand to pay the legal fees and other costs associated with their lengthy court battles on behalf of trans student Gavin Grimm – a total of more than 1.3 million dollars. Grimm’s lawsuit against the Gloucester County School Board policy that prevented him from using high school bathrooms and locker rooms that matched his gender identity began in 2015.
Grimm ultimately won his case in several lower courts that all supported his lawyers’ assertion that the anti-trans policy violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the school board’s final appeal in June.
Josh Block is a senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. He said, “it should not have taken over six years of expensive litigation to get to this point.”
Grimm was only 15 when his case started. He’s now 22. He said in a statement issued through the ACLU, “I hope that this outcome sends a strong message to other school systems that discrimination is an expensive losing battle.”
The Gloucester County School Board’s insurance company may hear that message the loudest.
Conversely, a U.S. federal court has ruled that a Roman Catholic high school in Indiana was within its rights to fire a teacher solely because she married her lesbian partner. Lynn Starkey was an instructor and guidance counselor at the Archdiocese of Indianapolis Roncalli High School for more than 40 years. The city has an ordinance banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. So Starkey challenged her dismissal in a 2019 lawsuit. However federal judge Richard L. Young decided in mid-August that the school could fire her based on a “ministerial exception” as described in a 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Young wrote that, “One may reasonably presume that a religious school would expect faith to play a role in that work … When the state interferes with these types of employment decisions, it violates both the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment.”
Starkey’s lawyer said she has not yet decided whether or not to appeal.
Two other queer teachers have also been fired by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in the past few years. According to the Indianapolis Star, at least one termination challenge is still pending in federal court.
Finally, more than four-dozen students at Valor Christian High School in Denver, Colorado staged a walkout this week after volleyball coach Inoke Tonga was forced to resign because he’s gay.
Sixteen-year-old student Lucy Sarkissian helped organize the demonstration. She told the Denver Post, “Hiding behind Christianity as a guise for bigotry is not only disgusting, it’s not Christ-like.”
Coach Tonga told Denver TV station KMGH that the school’s athletic director and pastor pushed him out:
[sound:] “He said, you know, we don’t want to make it seem like we’re trying to convert you into being a straight man, but we just want you to be a child of God. They told me, you know, we’ll give you a day, we’ll give you a week, however long it takes for you to accept our help to be healed and come to become a child of God and denounce being gay. I remember calling one of my best friends immediately after just crying, and telling her, you know, I feel like it’s a repeat of the 27 years of life where I hated myself.”
Former lacrosse coach Lauren Benner revealed in an Instagram post this week that she, too, had been pressured by Valor officials to resign. She said when she was called into the administrative offices, she hoped that it was to discuss the pay raise and title change she had been asking for. Instead, she wrote, “I was told someone anonymously called the school and suggested I was in a relationship with another woman. … It was right then and there … that I made the formal decision to end my employment at Valor.”
Proudly gay and Christian Tonga was the head coach of the Valor boys’ junior varsity volleyball team and an assistant for the varsity team. He evoked a “turn the other cheek” attitude about his former employer:
[sound:] “My main message was to just make sure I’m speaking out for those who are silent. I truly do love them and hope especially as a Christian school, they did as Christ did in the Bible and left those who shun people and find those who are shunned in order to bring them back.”
Coach Inoke Tonga. Amen.
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