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This Way Out Radio Episode #1885: Queer Broadway Picks and Tony Nods

Broadway’s 2023-24 season is full of LGBTQ-related plays and musicals. Gay USA’s Andy Humm and guest co-host Merryn Johns offer their thoughts on the hits, the misses and the queer Tony nominees; we add some examples from the shows “Suffs,” “Prayer for the French Republic,” “Merrily We Roll Along,” “Water for Elephants” and “Lempicka” to their astute reviews.

Plus: comedian Dana Goldberg’s wise words about pronouns.

And in NewsWrap: the Czech Constitutional Court overturns sex reassignment surgery and sterilization prerequisites for legal gender changes, thousands protest across France and Belgium an attempt in the French Senate to restrict pediatric gender-affirming healthcare, Tel Aviv’s renowned LGBTQ Pride Parade is canceled in favor of a hope and freedom rally due to the ongoing Gaza war, the Boy Scouts of America re-brands itself with the more inclusive name “Scouting America,” South Carolina’s Republican Governor Henry McMaster is expected to sign a bill denying puberty blockers and hormone therapies to trans people under 18, Mississippi’s Republican legislative majority defines gender as the sex assigned at birth for bathroom admittance, Rhode Island is poised to protect medical professionals who provide gender-affirming healthcare and abortion services, and more international LGBTQ news reported this week by Michael Taylor-Gray and Melanie Keller (produced by Brian DeShazor). 

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Complete Program Summary
for the week of May 13, 2024

Queer Broadway Picks and Tony Nods

Hosted this week by Lucia Chappelle and produced with Greg Gordon

NewsWrap (full transcript below): The Czech Republic’s Constitutional Court orders the removal of laws requiring forced reassignment surgeries and sterilization in order for trans people to change their legal gender on government documents … thousands of people in more than 50 cities in France and Belgium hit the streets to protest a proposal by rightwing lawmakers in the French Parliament to ban puberty blockers and hormone therapies for trans patients under the age of 18 … Tel Aviv officials announce a muted  June 7th annual LGBTQ Pride observance out of respect for the hostages still being held in Israel’s war on Hamas … rightwing “anti-woke” Republicans howl over the announced pending name change of Boy Scouts of America to the more inclusive “Scouting America” … South Carolina Republicans pass a draconian ban on pediatric gender-affirming healthcare that also threatens transgender adult healthcare … Mississippi Republicans “beat the clock” and pass a bill before the legislative session ends that forces trans people to use bathrooms and other sex-segregated public faculties based on their birth certificate gender … but Rhode Island Democrats approve a bill to protect gender-affirming care and abortion providers from legal attacks from other states that oppose one or both practices (written by GREG GORDON, edited by LUCIA CHAPPELLE, reported this week by MICHAEL TAYLOR-GRAY and MELANIE KELLER, produced by BRIAN DeSHAZOR)


Feature: Comedian Dana Goldberg has some wise words about some little words (with a music tag by CARRIE FERGUSON).

Feature: Gay USA’s Andy Humm and guest co-host Merryn Johns review the queer side of the current Broadway season and the LGBTQ Tony nominees, including Mother Play and Appropriate. This Way Out’s LUCIA CHAPPELLE adds samples of some of the shows they discuss: Prayer For The French Republic, Merrily We Roll Along, Water For Elephants, Lempicka, and the hosts’ favorite Suffs.


A summary of some of the news in or affecting
global LGBTQ communities
for the week ending May 11, 2024 
Written by Greg Gordon, edited by Lucia Chappelle,
reported this week by Michael Taylor-Gray and Melanie Keller,
produced by Brian DeShazor

   The Czech Republic’s sex reassignment surgery and sterilization prerequisites for legal gender change are "at odds with the fundamental right of trans people for the protection of their physical integrity in relation to their human dignity" – this according to a Constitutional Court ruling this week. A trans man who wants to change the female gender he was assigned at birth on his government documents without the forced surgeries won his case. 

The Court’s 13-2 ruling gave the central European nation’s Parliament until the middle of next year to enact the legislative changes needed for compliance. The Justices gave lawmakers some flexibility in establishing new requirements for legal gender changes. Those can include testimonial support by medical providers, a mandatory waiting period, or additional government paperwork.

Czech Human Rights Commissioner Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková said she was “very happy” about the Court ruling. She wrote, “Congratulations to all transgender people in our country.  Today is an important milestone on the road to greater dignity and protection of your rights.”

The non-governmental organization Trans*parent is also happy, but with a caveat. Their Instagram post cautioned, “Now the government has to act.”

    In Paris they were chanting, “Anti-patriarchy, anti-capitalism, solidarity with trans people all over the world.” Across some 50 cities in France and Belgium, nearly 11,000 progressive members of Parliament, trade unionists and young activists rallied and sat-in, brandishing placards demanding “health resources for transitions.”  More than 800 local groups and prominent individuals endorsed the May 5th actions.  The outcry was prompted by an attempt by right-wing members of the French Senate to restrict pediatric gender-affirming healthcare. 

The legislation denies trans people under the age of 18 access to reversible puberty blockers and hormone therapies.  By forcing patients to delay treatment, critics claim that the bill opens the door to the restoration of outlawed “conversion therapy.” The proposal’s sponsors deny that.

Parliament is scheduled to begin debating the measure on May 28th.

    “This is not the time for celebrations.” So said Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai when he announced the cancellation of his city’s LGBTQ Pride Parade due to Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza. The annual event that regularly draws hundreds of thousands of celebrants is one of the biggest Pride festivals in the region. Major queer groups and some high-profile rights leaders agree that the current crisis demands that the planned June 7th celebration be toned-down. Mayor Huldai balanced respect for the hostages being held captive by Hamas and the continuing struggle for LGBTQ human rights in his May 8th announcement. He declared on the platform everyone but Elon Musk calls Twitter, “In coordination with the organizations of the gay community, we decided that this year, instead of the pride parade, we will hold a rally in Tel Aviv-Yafo as a sign of pride, hope and freedom.”

    “Be prepared” for the high-pitched howls of the rabid rightwing: the Boy Scouts of America is “re-branding” itself as “Scouting America.”

The B.S.A. has actually been on the outs with conservatives since May 2014, when mounting pressure finally persuaded it to opened its ranks to openly queer members and leaders. The venerable male youth organization also began welcoming girls and transgender boys in 2017.

Membership in the Boy Scouts of America topped almost five million in 1972.  It fell significantly from more than tw0 million in 2018 amidst the avalanche of thousands of sexual abuse claims that nearly destroyed the 114-year-old U.S. institution.

COVID lockdowns also took a toll. Now emerging from bankruptcy protection, what will become Scouting America today serves slightly more than a million teens. That includes more than 176,000 girls, more than 6,000 of whom have progressed to the celebrated rank of Eagle Scout. The May 7th media release explained that the name change was “to ensure that everyone feels welcome in Scouting.” 

President and CEO Roger Krone revealed the name change at a national meeting in Florida. It becomes official in February.  Krone emphasized, “Our mission remains unchanged … We are committed to teaching young people” to “be prepared.”

Republican Congressmember Andrew Clyde of Georgia refuses to take the new pledge. In predictable far-right style he lamented, “The Left has now taken ‘Boy’ out of ‘Boy Scouts’ … Wokeness destroys everything it touches.”

   South Carolina’s young trans people are about to lose their gender-affirming healthcare. Republican Governor Henry McMaster is expected to sign a bill approved by the Republican-majority state legislature this week. 

Patients under the age of 18 being treated with puberty blockers and hormone therapies prior to August 1st will be required to ‘taper off.” The exceptionally rare pediatric surgery and all other gender-affirming treatment must end by January 31st.

The measure also bans public funding for “directly or indirectly” paying for any gender-affirming care.  That will limit access to treatment by transgender adults in South Carolina who use Medicaid to offset their healthcare costs, according to some equality activists.  It also seems to run afoul of a regional federal appeals court decision in April that state health care plans and government-underwritten insurance programs must cover gender-affirming medical care.

Cathryn Oakley of the Human Rights Campaign calls it “a major violation of South Carolinians’ liberty.” In her words, “South Carolina legislators abused their power …  by substituting their judgment for that of parents, medical professionals, mental health care professionals and other experts,” 

    Mississippi’s Republican legislative majority “beat the clock” this week to define gender as the sex assigned at birth. The bill they passed bans trans people from using sex-segregated public bathrooms that match their gender identity.  It also requires the buildings at all public educational institutions to have single-gender bathrooms and changing rooms, including dormitories and other student housing.

This bathroom ban was thought to have died along with another anti-trans bill last week. Republican lawmakers had failed to reconcile the slightly different versions passed in the House and Senate before the four-month legislative session ended. Rightwing groups and high-profile conservatives apparently pressured them for a settlement before time ran out.

Republican Governor Tate Reeves is expected to sign Mississippi’s latest anti-trans bill as enthusiastically as he signed two earlier measures: one to ban trans girls from competing in female school sports, and another to deny gender-affirming healthcare to trans patients under the age of 18.

    Finally, the Rhode Island state Senate wants to protect medical professionals who provide gender-affirming healthcare and abortion services. A bill it passed on May 9th would shield licensed medical providers from being prosecuted by officials in other states that frown upon those forms of healthcare.  Providers would be allowed to ignore out-of-state demands for patient information and other documents, even if they are subpoenaed.

In a Democratically dominated state, the Senate vote was a lopsided 29-to-7, and the state House is expected to follow suit.  Democratic Governor Dan McKee is likely to sign it.

Nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts each have similar laws.  The Movement Advancement Project counts ten other states with those protections.

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics summed up widespread approval for the measure from professional medical organizations.  Its statement read: “Out-of-state laws banning access to essential medical care [take] away people’s freedom to make important medical decisions for themselves and their families, informed by guidance from trusted providers, and replaces it with the wishes of politicians. That’s not the Rhode Island way.”

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