Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lake County Florida School Board Attempts To Create New Rules That Would Keep Gay-Straight Alliance From Forming, Michigan Man Says He Was Attacked Because Of Sexual Orientation, Chris Hughes’ Husband Sean Eldridge Files To Run For Congress, Profiling Two Families Who Differ On Whether Boy Scouts Of America Should Retain No-Gays Policy, Tyler Shields Shoots Alexander Ludwig Shirtless, Alex Pettyfer

In Florida, the Lake County School Board could create new rules that would keep a local Gay-Straight Alliance student group from forming at a middle school. The School Board discussed the rules for student clubs at a workshop Monday -- with most members saying they want to limit extra-curricular student groups in secondary schools. The discussion comes after the American Civil Liberties Union supported 14-year-old Bayli Silberstein, who wanted to form a Gay-Straight Alliance student club at Carver Middle School in Leesburg. Bayli was denied last school year but re-applied to form the group in October. The student has yet to hear a final decision from Principal Mollie Cunningham. The club aims to give students a place to be themselves and to combat bullying, according to Bayli's application, which detailed instances of children being shoved or called names because of their sexuality. The ACLU, citing the federal Equal Access Act, says school districts cannot pick and choose which clubs to allow based on what they think students should or should not discuss. If a school allows any student group to meet that doesn't have a mission directly related to school academics, then it cannot deny other students groups the same access, the ACLU says. In Florida, the law applies to middle and high school students. School Board members Bill Mathias, Debbie Stivender and Chairwoman Kyleen Fischer spoke in favor of a rule that would ban extra-curricular clubs in secondary schools while fellow board members Tod Howard and Rosanne Brandeburg favored banning extra-curricular clubs only in middle schools. Fischer said the district should focus on education and that "social engineering" is not the job of the School Board. "It is not our job to socially mentor students, but to educate them," she said. Howard said he was worried about the clubs that would be lost under stricter rules. "I am very concerned that one club would push out the remainder of the clubs that are doing good things," he said.

In Michigan, a man was hospitalized early Sunday morning after four men allegedly attacked him outside a Muskegon bar. Adam Lee Johnson was at DJ’s Pub & Grill on Henry Street Saturday night with a few friends singing karaoke. “I go (to DJ’s) about two or three times a month,” said Johnson. The 29-year-old said he loves to sing, his talents were showcased on FOX 17’s West Michigan Idol where he took home first place in 2006. Johnson said he was just leaving the bar at closing time after a night of singing when he was jumped by four men in the parking lot. He said he never saw it coming. “I have a mild concussion and also a contusion on the right side of my face.” One of Johnson’s friends called 911 while his attackers ran away. FOX 17 spoke with the owner of DJ’s Pub & Grill by phone who said they were aware of the attack but it happened as the bar was closing. The owner said a few employees were cleaning up inside the bar and noticed flashing lights of an ambulance in the parking lot but never saw anything else. There are cameras outside the bar, but the owner said none of the cameras face the section of parking lot where the attack took place. Johnson said last month a man was kicked out of DJ’s after he tried to attack him based on his sexual orientation. He is convinced the attack on Sunday was also because he’s gay. “They were calling me names, and yeah, as much as I don’t want to be that guy, I don’t want to cry hate crimes when it’s not serious, but it is,” Johnson said. “I was a victim and I’m still trying to process that and deal with that but I want to find them and bring them to justice I guess.” Since the assault, Johnson has seen an outpouring of concern from the community. “I’ve had a lot of support from friends and family, really overwhelming,” he said. Kimi Zimmerman, a close friend of Johnson said she hopes that from this horrible attack, the community can rally together for some good. “What those four guys don’t realize is Adam has a whole community of people standing behind him and we won’t tolerate it, we won’t stand for it,” said Zimmerman. Johnson’s friends and family are in the process of putting together a fundraiser to help pay for the 29-year-old’s medical bills since he doesn’t have insurance. Johnson said he will be filling out a police report as soon as he can, the owner of DJ’s said they will work with police to find whoever is responsible for the attack.

Sean Eldridge, an investor and Democratic political activist, has filed paperwork establishing a 2014 campaign for Congress in New York’s Hudson Valley. A statement of organization creating “Sean Eldridge for Congress” and a statement of candidacy were processed by the Federal Election Commission on February 1. Eldridge is the president and founder of Hudson River Ventures LLC and a senior adviser to Freedom to Marry, which advocates for same sex marriage. He’s married to Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook and the publisher of The New Republic magazine. Eldridge created a political action committee that promoted an overhaul of campaign finance laws, according to Capital Tonight. Eldridge would seek the 19th District seat held by two-term Republican Chris Gibson, who was re-elected by 53-percent to 47-percent in 2012. New York’s 19th District, which takes in all or part of 11 counties, backed President Barack Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 52-percent to 46-percent, according to data compiled by Political Capital. Eldridge is a frequent donor to Democratic candidates and committees. He gave $30,800 in February 2012 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of House Democrats, Federal Election Commission records show. Eldridge did not immediately return an e-mail seeking a comment. House Democrats, who fell 17 seats short of winning a majority in 2012, are targeting Republican-held districts like Gibson’s that voted for Obama. Andrew Romanoff, a former Colorado state House speaker, announced last weekend that he will challenge three-term Republican Mike Coffman in the 6th District near Denver, a district that also voted for Obama.

Despite a shared affection for Scouting, the Tessier family in Maryland and the Comers in Tennessee hope for opposite outcomes this week as leaders of the Boy Scouts of America ponder whether to move away from a national no-gays membership policy. Wes Comer, his wife and children belong to an Apostolic Pentecostal church near their Knoxville home that considers homosexuality sinful. Comer says he will pull his eldest son out of the Scouts, despite a positive experience with them, if the BSA modifies the policy to allow some troops to accept gays. The Tessiers, who live in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Kensington, have two sons who enjoyed Cub Scouts, progressed to Boy Scouts, and continued to thrive there even as many in their troop became aware that each boy was gay. The family is grateful for that, but fervently hopes the BSA’s top leaders officially scrap the ban so that open acceptance becomes the norm for Scout units nationwide. Each family’s sentiments are shared by many others, and the BSA — whose governing board is deliberating behind closed doors this week at a Texas hotel — now finds itself in a situation where any decision it makes is likely to rouse anger and disappointment. On the agenda is a proposal to ease the ban on gays by allowing local troop sponsors to decide the matter for themselves. Critics from the right say that step would trigger mass defections and want the ban to stay; critics on the left say the BSA shouldn’t tolerate exclusion of gays by any unit. The Washington Post offers a closer look at the Comers and Tessiers, and their heartfelt views.

Tyler Shields posts a series of stills from an upcoming film project – Final Girl that feature one the stars, super sexy Alexander Ludwig, shirtless.

Former Shields star Alex Pettyfer spotted in West Hollywood teaching a friend how to ride a motorcycle.

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