June 10, 2009 - 11:53am

Florida GSA Network News June 2009

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The Florida GSA Network is a valuable resource to help you develop and manage the most effective GSA possible. We also provide the BEST way to stay connected to other GSAs and to the many opportunities you have to directly affect laws in your community and the state. In order for us to keep you in the loop, we need you to update your information. Please visit our Florida GSA Network Web site at www.eqfl.org/gsa and click on the “register” icon. If you’ve already registered your GSA in the past, please re-register so that we have the most up to date information. Thanks!

National News:

1 . Congress takes up the Safe Schools Improvement act.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act addresses the widespread bullying of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) students, and those perceived to be LGBT. Current federal law does nothing to address this type of bullying. The 2007 National School Climate Survey, conducted by the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), found that nearly three fifths of LGBT students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and more than a third felt unsafe because of their gender expression. In addition, 44% of LGBT students surveyed reported experiencing physical harassment and 22.1% reported being physically assaulted at school in the last year.
What is the Safe Schools Improvement Act?
The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) would amend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (part of the No Child Left Behind Act) to require schools and districts receiving federal funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Act would also require that states report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.
Broad Support from Educators and Administrators
Numerous education, health, law enforcement and youth development organizations support federal legislation to combat bullying and harassment, including: American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American School Health Association, National Association of School Psychologists, National Education Association, and National Parent Teacher Association.
The Safe Schools Improvement Act – was introduced in the House of Representatives Tuesday May 5th, by California Rep. Linda Sanchez.

Adapted from: HRC.org/laws_and_elections

2 . Maine legalizes equal marriage for gays and lesbians!

Just weeks ago, Gov. John Baldacci signed legislation allowing same-sex marriage in Maine, minutes after it received final approval in the legislature. Maine is the fifth state to allow gay marriage.
Up until he put his pen to the bill, it was anyone’s guess whether he would sign or veto it. Baldacci had said previously he had not made up his mind on gay marriage.
Had he vetoed it, the bill likely would have died. It received final approval in the Senate by a slim majority, not enough to override a veto.

See full story at: www.365gay.com

3. Senate to hold hearing on the Uniting American Families Act

On Wednesday June 3rd,(NOTE: Need a date here, change the tense since this happened. Tell them the outcome) the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first-ever Congressional hearing on obstacles faced by lesbian and gay couples under U.S. immigration law.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the committee, scheduled the 10 a.m. hearing on the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). The bill, sponsored by Leahy in the Senate and Congressman Jerold Nadler (D-NY) in the House, would modify immigration policy to end discrimination against lesbian and gay Americans who want to sponsor their permanent partners for residency in the United States.
Under current United States law an American with a same sex partner that is not a resident cannot sponsor them for residency the same way a straight married couple could.

See the full story at: www.365gay.com

State News:

1. Florida Safe Schools Policy

Since the passage of the Florida Safe Schools Policy in 2008 counties have begun the process of adopting policies to conform to the law. Equality Florida has been working to ensure that counties adopt the model policy that was first adopted by Broward County. This model policy includes categories that specifically protect students based on sexual orientation and gender identity. More than 15 counties throughout the state include LGBT protections comprising the majority of Florida students, over 1.5 million out of the total of 2 million. We continue to work with counties who are still in the process of adopting their safe schools policy to ensure they adopt the policy that ensures protection for LGBT students.

2. Equality Florida’s GSA Network to host leadership and advocacy trainings

Equality Florida’s GSA Network will be hosting regional leadership and advocacy trainings in the fall of 2009. The trainings will serve to strengthen GSA leaders leadership skills-set as well as equip them with the knowledge necessary for basic community activism. Trainings will be held in South Florida, Tampa Bay and Orlando. Be on the look out for more updates! For more information call or email Michael: [email protected] , 407-462-9692.

3. Florida Supreme court uphold right of Florida Bar to take stand against adoption ban

The state Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the Florida Bar’s right to oppose the state’s ban on gay adoption. Liberty Counsel, a faith-based legal group, had asked the high court to prohibit the bar’s Family Law Section from filing a friend of the court brief in an appellate court that was considering Florida’s ban of adoptions by homosexuals. The justices ruled 5-2 in the case on Thursday.
The bar brief supported a trial judge’s ruling that declared the ban unconstitutional. That decision is on appeal to the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami.
The high court majority ruled Liberty Counsel failed to show the brief violated its constitutional rights or that the bar broke its own rules.

See the full story at: www.365gay.com

4. Orlando Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center to host LGBT Youth Movie Night

On June 12th the Orlando LGBTCC will be hosting an LGBT youth movie night. The event will begin at 8:30 pm and youth ages 13-21 are welcome to attend. This will be a showing of the musical RENT. Admission is free and there will be free food and drinks.
The Center: 946 North Mills Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803. 407-228-8272

Contacting the Florida GSA Network: Michael Farmer GSA Network Coordinator [email protected] 407-462-9692 Instant messenger: EqualityNOW87 416 N. Ferncreek Avenue, Orlando FL, 32803 Suite B


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