In Ontario, students at a Durham Region high school are showing their support for a transgender student who they claim has been banned from using the school's washrooms. Students at Clarke High School on Highway 115 in Clarington have collected more than 160 names on a petition, according to Grade 12 student Dan Brunelle. Brunelle said his friend James was told by school officials at the beginning of the school year he cannot use the men's washrooms because he is still in the process of transitioning from female to male. James told Global News he was assured by principal Silvia Grdovic and a guidance counsellor that a solution would be found but, two months later, he is still waiting. James alleged he was told to use the facilities at a small Harvey's located inside a Shell station adjacent to the school "but not during school hours." At the school, he was offered access to a special washroom for which he has to request a key. "I felt like they were saying that to be transgender there's something wrong and that transgender people need to be segregated," said James. Grdovic declined to speak and referred inquiries to the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. Its manager of corporate affairs, Greg Kidd, said the washroom that was suggested is kept locked because another student's medical supplies are stored there. He also flatly denied the claim that James was told to use the Harvey's washroom. "We would never ask a student to go offsite," he said. Kidd said school board representatives are scheduled to meet with James on Tuesday evening. "We want to find a solution that he's going to feel comfortable with and that respects his choices," said Kidd. James said he is buoyed by the support of students and many teachers. "I feel I might actually get somewhere," he said. Some students have voiced their support for James on social media. "Clarke is so stupid, they tell us to not bully and stuff and except [sic] people. Yet there [sic] not accepting transgender people like james," tweeted @Darian_Todd. Student Holly Mathias (@humble_holly) added: "He deserves to be accepted for who he is." According to its website, Clarke High School's key principles include a commitment to "show respect for all persons." Kidd echoes this pledge. "Our school board has a culture of inclusiveness of diversity," he said. Brunelle appealed via Twitter to NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo, asking if Toby's Law -- a recent amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code protecting transgender people that DiNovo spearheaded -- could apply in this case. Last month, the Toronto District School Board released guidelines allowing students to use the washroom that corresponds with their gender identity "regardless of the student's sex assigned at birth."
In New Zealand, former United Future MP Gordon Copeland has compared same sex marriage to apartheid, saying allowing gay people to marry was like calling the New Zealand Maori rugby team "honorary whites.” The comments were made before a select committee hearing submissions on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage Bill) Amendment Act, which would allow same sex marriage. They sparked condemnation from MPs. Copeland told the committee he opposed the bill, which would "debase" marriage by broadening its definition to include same sex couples. Same sex couples had the same legal rights under a civil union and calling a same sex relationship "marriage" was comparable to calling the Maori rugby team "honorary whites" for apartheid tour of South Africa, which was insulting to Maori. "These two relationships are different relationships and putting them together is debasing marriage," he said. But Labour MP Charles Chauvel said Copeland's talk about "different but equal" seemed to echo the apartheid race rhetoric in much more offensive way. "As gay and lesbians, think about how that analogy makes us feel," he said. Copeland said his comments were not a race analogy, but about government's using the same term for two different things. Committee chair Labour MP Ruth Dyson called them offensive and inappropriate. "You need to think about how you made people feel with those comments." Outside the committee, Copeland defended his comments and denied they were homophobic. "That is just stupid." Other submitters also argued against the bill, with many church leaders afraid it would compel them to marry homosexual couples. Some suggested the next step could be legalising incest or bigamy. MPs have stressed that no-one would by compelled to marry someone against their religious belief. Supporters of the bill have called the current law a violation of human rights.
The United States Supreme Court has pushed back until November 30 consideration of whether to take on the legal challenges to same sex marriage. The San Jose Mercury News reports that the development, first outlined Tuesday by the widely followed Scotusblog website, would likely result in the high court releasing its decision on what gay marriage cases to review until the first week of December. The Supreme Court originally planned to consider the cases at its closed-door conference on November 20, but the court docket now shows November 30. The Supreme Court is considering whether to accept review of several legal challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, as well as California's Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on same sex marriage. A federal appeals court earlier this year struck down Proposition 8, finding it unconstitutional because it stripped away the previous right of same sex couples to marry in California. Proposition 8 supporters have asked the Supreme Court to take the case. If the justices decline, the appeals court ruling would remain intact and California gay and lesbian couples would have the legal right to marry. Several federal courts have found the federal government's restrictions on same-sex marriage rights unconstitutional, including a recent ruling out of New York. House Republicans, who are defending the law because the Obama administration considers it unconstitutional, are urging the Supreme Court to review those cases.
It has been no secret that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants marriage equality in Illinois. But what may be surprising to some is how passionate he seems about the topic. The mayor on Tuesday listed it third -- behind pension reform and a Chicago casino -- in his list of priorities he'd like to see Springfield tackle in the upcoming legislative session. "One is retirement security and pension reform so we can give taxpayers and the public employees retirement security, which is something we can't say today," Emanuel told reporters during a visit to Austin Polytechnical Academy High School to announce an investment in the school's manufacturing program. "Two, I was advocating, as have other people for 25 years, a casino for the city of Chicago, but one in which I've committed [that] all the resources will go into school modernization and building new schools and modernizing our schools so our kids will have the best facilities to learn in. Third, I will continue to advocate, as I have since a congressman, that we also pass marriage equality and end the discrimination on the books." The state of Illinois has since June 2011 allowed residents to enter into a civil union, but that's not been good enough for many same sex marriage supporters and the mayor. "The time for marriage equality is now. The time is right and the time is here," he said, adding that he intended to become "very involved" in the issue to make sure it happens in Illinois. Democrats now hold veto-proof majorities in the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate, and Emanuel said that while Governor Pat Quinn "has to be a part" of pushing for marriage equality, he's already started conversations with other state lawmakers. "I’ve been in touch with ... State Representative Greg Harris, State Representative Deb Mell and leaders in both chambers, so Illinois will now take the next step in making sure that our values are reflected in our laws," he said. The "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act'' -- HB5170 -- was introduced last year but never came up for a vote. Emanuel in January was one of 75 mayors from around the country who expressed support for the Freedom to Marry campaign.
In Florida, a teacher at Deerfield Beach High School is fighting the Broward school district over its handling of an accusation that she possibly contributed to a young girl's homosexuality. Juliet Hibbs, a straight woman currently on medical leave, was investigated last year for misconduct after the girl's parents made those allegations to the school's principal. However, the district cleared her and no action was taken. "I was shocked by the charges" and the principal's decision to have the district pursue the matter, said Hibbs, 47, who is now filing a case with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the school system. According to the district's investigative report, the incident began last year while the student was in Hibbs' class. She was suddenly barraged with incendiary messages from her stepdad on her Twitter feed after he discovered the girl's orientation. "As each message came, she got smaller … I watched her get destroyed," Hibbs said, who reported the incident as child abuse and cyber-bullying. The girl, 18 at the time, never returned home. The parents told investigators they were upset that Hibbs had not told them about their daughter's orientation. They accused her of possibly contributing to their daughter being gay and believed Hibbs had told the girl to not come home. But in the district report, the daughter said an abuse counselor told her she didn't have to go home because she was of age. Of Hibbs, she said the allegations were far-fetched since a straight woman couldn't make someone become a lesbian. Hibbs said the complaint should have been handled by the school and she believes the district investigation was an attempt to bully her for being too outspoken on other school issues. "My career has been ruined. Before Deerfield, I had an impeccable record," said Hibbs, an educator for 10 years. She said she now has several medical problems from the stress of the situation that will likely prevent her from teaching. The school's principal, Jon Marlow, did not respond to two calls seeking comment. Hibbs has filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the district, the principal and the assistant principal at Deerfield Beach High. Advocates for the gay and lesbian community called the charges absurd. "A teacher doesn't determine the sexual orientation of a student," said Dr. Katharine Campbell, director of clinical services at SunServe in Broward County, which works with gay youth. She said teachers are there to help students find out who they are and helping them shouldn't bring repercussions. Hibbs is not the first to accuse the principal of intimidation. Over the summer, about half a dozen teachers spoke out about mistreatment at the school. Though no formal investigation against Marlow was ever launched, Superintendent Robert Runcie said he would look into the matter.
In Cincinnati, Fox affiliate anchor Tricia Macke returned to work Tuesday after her two-day suspension, as expected. WXIX-TV General Manager Bill Lanesey had said Monday that he expected Macke “to be back on the anchor desk” today. Neither Macke nor co-anchor Ben Swann mentioned her absence at the top of the 6:30 pm newscast. Macke was alleged suspended for two days after she posted to her Facebook remarks calling openly gay MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow an “angry young man.” Fox 19 issued a statement that read in part, “We have received several expressions of concerns about a recent Facebook posting by FOX19 Anchor Tricia Macke on her personal Facebook page. Tricia’s response is provided below and is also posted on her personal Facebook page. We also apologize to anyone who may have been offended by her comments.” Macke issued a statement that read, “I recently posted comments on my personal Facebook page regarding cable news anchor Rachel Maddow which were insensitive and inappropriate. I apologize to Ms. Maddow and any others who may have been offended by my comments, as they do not reflect my firm beliefs in individual and equal rights, and they certainly do not represent the opinions or position of my employer WXIX-TV.”
Justin Bieber now has Polo Ralph Lauren white boxer briefs, and wants the world to see.
One Direction performed on The Today Show Tuesday, 1D’s Liam Payne spotted showing off his right arm tattoo.