Things That Matter

Trans Activists Of Color Protested At The CNN/HRC Equality Town Hall And Audience Members Applauded

CNN and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) hosted a historic town hall last night focusing on issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community. The moderators and presidential candidates tackled topics and hard-hitting issues that have severely impacted the lives of millions of LGBTQ+ Americans. The town hall happened as the Supreme Court is deciding if LGBTQ+ people are deserving of the same discrimination protections as all Americans. Here’s what happened last night.

Texas politician Julián Castro made it clear that religion will not be an excuse for LGBTQ+ discrimination in his administration.

There have numerous attempts by local and state governments to legalize religious discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. The bills, often labeled as Religious Freedom bills, have been proposed in North Carolina and Indiana and failed. North Carolina wanted to legislate what bathroom people had to use and Indiana wanted to give religious organizations and business owners the license to outright discriminate against people based on their faith.

“If I’m elected president, the first order of business on January 20, 2021, will be to have a catalog with all of the different executive actions that this president, this administration, has taken, including exemptions that they’ve created or rolled back that has allowed people to discriminate against the LGBTQ, using as the reason their religion, their excuse their religion,” Castro told an audience member who asked how he will stop religious organizations from using their faith to dictate discriminatory laws. “I will go back to what we did in the Obama administration and then take it to the next level to protect the LGBTQ community. I don’t believe that anybody should be bale to discriminate against you because you are a member of the LGBTQ community. I don’t believe that folks should be getting funding if they’re doing that. I don’t believe that in the healthcare context, the housing context, the employment context that people should be able to do that. I support the Equality Act and will work to pass that. When I was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, we did the transgender rule, which as I mentioned, expanded the equal access rule so that transgender individuals can find shelter in a manner that they are comfortable with and in accordance to their preference and that’s what I would do as president.”

Castro’s performance during the LGBTQ+ town hall has received praise from LGBTQ+ people.

Credit: @cmclymer / Twitter

Castro was able to speak about the issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community with an understanding that proves he isn’t going off talking points.

His conversation about faith and the license to discriminate showed his understanding of religion and LGBTQ+ people of faith.

Credit: @TUSK81 / Twitter

Castro wants to keep religion from attacking the very LGBTQ+ people of faith who depend on it. For many religious LGBTQ+ people, seeing religious leaders claim that their faith doesn’t accept them is a harsh reality.

Trans women of color let their voices be heard in a town hall that largely ignored them.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg was interrupted when he started his time on the stage. Trans activist Bamby Salcedo and other trans women of color stormed the venue holding trans flag that read “We Are Dying.” The women chanted “We are dying” and “Do something.” Some audience members joined the women in their protest however others jumped up to take the flag away and end the protest.

Anderson Cooper, who was moderating for Buttigieg, spoke up for the women as they were escorted out telling the audience, “Let me just point out, there is a long and proud tradition in history in the gay, lesbian and transgender community of protest and we applaud them for their protest.”

Cooper continued saying, “And they are absolutely right to be angry and upset at the lack of attention, particularly in the media, of the lives of transgender [people].”

Another trans activist, Blossom C Brown, also took on the moderators about the lack of Black trans voices during the town hall.

A lot of the conversation during the town hall focused on issues impacting gay men, trans women, and bisexual people. Many are calling out the town hall for ignoring trans people of color, lesbians, and non-binary people when it comes to health, housing, identity expression, and other issues impacting these communities specifically.

Ashlee Marie Preston, the only trans Black woman in the program, was taken out of the program by CNN so she publicly boycotted the event.

Credit: @AshleeMPreston / Twitter

There was a pretty glaring lack of trans women and men of color during the hours of discussion about LGBTQ+ issues. It is a common complaint within the community as trans women of color have long been ignored and silenced within the LGBTQ+ Rights movement.

READ: After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

Students Staged A Walkout At A Catholic High School After A Student Claimed School Officials Threatened To Out Her

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Students Staged A Walkout At A Catholic High School After A Student Claimed School Officials Threatened To Out Her

Buzzfeed Twitter

Students at a Catholic high school in Los Angles staged last week in unity with a gay classmate who says shows harassed by the school for her sexuality. 

According to a recent report published by Buzzfeed, officials at the school threatened to out high school senior Magali Rodriguez. Following Buzzfeed’s report, which was published last Thursday, students at Bishop Amat Memorial High School, staged a walkout on Friday.

Bishop Amat students organized a walkout protesting the alleged actions of officials at their school on Friday.

According to Buzzfeed, Rodriguez attended Bishop Amat, for three years. The high school senior said that the incidents began to occur during her freshman year when she first began dating her girlfriend when the school’s dean confronted the couple and claimed that students had “complained about their relationship.”

 During her time at the school, Rodriguez claimed that she had been subjected to various disciplinary meetings and counseling sessions. She was also kept from sitting beside her girlfriend during lunch hours. In the report by Buzzfeed, Rodriguez claimed that school officials had threatened to out her to her parents if she refused to comply with their rules, which were not forced onto the straight students in relationships at the school. Rodriguez claims that though she was never publicly affectionate with her girlfriend at school, she felt constantly monitored by officials at the school. In one incident, Rodriguez said that a staff member approached the two teenagers during summer school and told them that they would both go to hell and that “she was trying to get them expelled.”

At the time, Rodriguez had come out to her peers but had not yet come out to her parents. 

Ultimately, Rodriguez’s grades and mental health took a toll until she decided to write her parents a letter and come out.

“Rodriguez, a high school senior, tried to stay positive and get through it, but after more than three years, she was at breaking point,” reported Buzzfeed. “She was crying every day before school, her grades suffered, and spending time on campus brought intense waves of anxiety. So she decided to speak up — first to her parents and now publicly.”

Ultimately Rodriguez’s parents withdrew her from the Catholic school. Speaking to Buzzfeed Rodriguez’s mother  Martha Tapia-Rodriguez condemned the school for how they treated her daughter saying, “They took it upon themselves to parent our daughter, to counsel her, to lecture her.”

When news of the way the school had treated Rodriguez went public, her former peers decided to stage a walkout.

The walkout took place during the student’s seventh period on Friday and lasted for an hour and a half until the school day ended. 

Several students BuzzFeed News spoke to Saturday said they hadn’t heard about Rodriguez’s experience prior to the article, and were shocked to learn how she was treated. One anonymous student who took part in the walkout spoke to Buzzfeed about the incident saying, “I never would’ve imagined Amat to be an environment like this… Once I started to read about the article I was in full shock. I decided to walk out to stand up for her.” This same student claimed that while teachers had commented on the situation saying that there were “two sides to every story” none attempted to put a stop to the protest.

According to the unnamed student, the school’s principal made an announcement before the school lunch bell that they were aware of the Buzzfeed report and had offered counseling services to students who had concerns. 

Two hundred students took part in the walkout, and according to the student interviewed by Buzzfeed, students chanted prayers for Rodriguez. Some called her via FaceTime to show what was being done. 

“I decided to walk out because I wanted to take a stand,” another student told Buzzfeed. “I didn’t agree with what the administration did with the situation and I feel like it was a good idea for the student body to stand as one to show our support for Magali.”

According to a tweet shared in response to BuzzFeed News’ original report, the school has said that it is not intolerant of LGBTQ students.

“Bishop Amat High School is committed to providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students, irrespective of their sexual orientation,”  Bishop Amat said in a statement.

According to a tweet shared in response to BuzzFeed News’ original report, the school has said that it is not intolerant of LGBTQ students.

“Bishop Amat High School is committed to providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students, irrespective of their sexual orientation,”  Bishop Amat said in a statement.

According to a tweet shared in response to BuzzFeed News’ original report, the school has said that it is not intolerant of LGBTQ students.

“Bishop Amat High School is committed to providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students, irrespective of their sexual orientation,”  Bishop Amat said in a statement.

Beto O’Rourke Dropped Out Of The Presidential Race But Julián Castro Is Holding On

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Beto O’Rourke Dropped Out Of The Presidential Race But Julián Castro Is Holding On

juliancastrotx / Instagram

As the primary race draws closer, the restrictions on who is allowed on the debate stage are getting tougher. Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro had announced mid-October that if his campaign didn’t raise $800,000 by Halloween his campaign would be over. While fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke announced the end of his campaign on Oct. 31, Castro’s campaign successfully pushed to raise enough money to keep his campaign going. In fact, he announced that they raised over $1 million for the month of October, well above the campaign goal.

“We’re not going anywhere,” campaign manager Maya Rupert told Politico. “Julián will keep being a voice for the voiceless, and a champion for the Americans who have been left behind. We will keep lifting up important issues others choose to ignore, and demonstrating by example why Secretary Castro is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump.”

Castro implored his supporters to keep his campaign going.

Credit: @MauraBarrettNBC / Twitter

In an email sent out to supporters, Castro put it bluntly: “If I can’t raise $800,000 in the next 10 days—I will have no choice but to end my race for President. The truth is, for our campaign, these debates have offered our only guaranteed opportunity to share my vision with the American people. If I can’t make the next debate stage, we cannot sustain a campaign that can make it to Iowa in February.”

Beyond logistics, Castro acknowledged the integrity of the campaign donors. “I started this campaign on a shoestring budget in the neighborhood I grew up in. I didn’t grow up a frontrunner. I didn’t have personal wealth to pump into this race,” he wrote in the email. “And we’ve built this campaign without a cent from super PACS or billionaires.” 

The Mexican-American politician now needs to poll higher than 3 percent in four national polls to qualify for the next debate.

Credit: juliancastrotx / Instagram

With the funds needed to campaign in battleground states, Castro is better poised to meet that DNC qualification. He has the 165,000 donors required to qualify but is still polling in low single-digit numbers. According to FEC filings, Castro’s campaign only had about $672,000 on hand at the end of September. Money goes far in elections, but it isn’t the deciding factor for campaign longevity. Beto O’Rourke had $3.3 million on hand by the end of September, a significantly higher amount than Castro, and Beto conceded.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders remains the Democratic candidate with the highest sum of cash on hand, at a whopping $33.7 million by the end of September. Both Sanders and Castro refuse to accept donations from super PACS or billionaires. Trump, however, had a reported $83 million on hand by the end of September.

Even, AOC asked her supporters to make a contribution, though she’s endorsed Bernie Sanders for president.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

On Nov. 1, Castro shared the good news from the backseat of a vehicle, saying, “I am so happy to announce today that, because of grassroots contributions from all over the country, we hit our $800,000 goal for the month of October.” Even better, he said, “We raised just over $1 million.” Castro effused gratitude as he spoke to the individual donors that make his campaign possible, “I just want to express my appreciation and say thank you to each and every one of you…Whatever you gave, I appreciate it. Thank you for believing in a campaign that is focused on lifting up the most vulnerable folks in our country and making sure that all of us can prosper in the years to come.”

The night before the deadline, Castro’s team hosted a call-a-thon to raise the remaining estimated $200k.

Credit: @juliancastro / Twitter

Of course, Castro’s campaign has a long way to go. He made sure to tell his supporters, “I also want you to know that this campaign, not only is it going to keep on going, but it continues to need your support. Spread the word. Talk to your friends, your family, your coworkers. We’re going to make a strong push to try and get onto the debate stage and go on. Take care.”

Halloween wasn’t so scary for Castro’s campaign after all.

Credit: juliancastrotx / Instagram

“THANK YOU!” Castro tweeted Friday. “With the help of tens of thousands of donors across the country, we reached our $800k fundraising goal—and crossed the $1M mark for the month of October. We’re going to keep pushing to make the debates and raise issues others won’t address. Thank you for your support.”

In response, one supporter tweeted, “You are very welcome! Keep fighting for racial justice in public policy hermano! We stand with you and your vision for humane and dignified treatment for our communities 🦋.”

READ: Julián Castro Is Rolling Out A $10 Trillion Plan To Fight Climate Change