Federal court considers bathroom use by transgender student

By : wire report
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ATLANTA (AP) | A student has the right to use the bathroom that corresponds to his gender identity, a lawyer told a federal court Thursday, arguing that the issue is about the right of transgender students to “equal dignity.”

But the Florida school district that’s appealing a lower court order in favor of the transgender boy told three judges on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that they should overturn the ruling and let the school district restrict students to the bathroom matching their at-birth sex to protect the privacy of other students.

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Issue: 26.18 Tomorrow’s Leaders Today

By : Dylan Todd
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Watermark highlights 10 LGBTQ youth in Central Florida and Tampa Bay who are making a difference in their community, local news, celebrity interviews, photos, events and much, much more!

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Watermark celebrates its silver anniversary with a look back at the LGBTQ headlines of the past 25 years

By : Jeremy Williams
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For 25 years, in nearly 700 issues, Watermark has been telling the stories of Central Florida and Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ communities.

First premiering in Orlando in 1994, and then expanding into Tampa Bay in 1995, Watermark now covers more than a dozen counties across the state. We can be found in many Florida cities including Daytona Beach, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Sarasota—and thanks to WatermarkOnline.com, we have developed an international audience which relies on us for news, politics, sports, arts and entertainment as it pertains to the LGBTQ community.

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Issue 26.14: Reading Rainbows

By : Dylan Todd
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Reading Rainbows – Drag Queen Story Hours enchant Central Florida and Tampa Bay, “Newsies” comes to Osceola Arts, and Tampa hosts statewide LGBTA Caucus, local news, celebrity interviews, photos, events and much, much more!

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Gay teen shunned by parents starts college fund for others

By : wire report
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) | A Florida teen who raised tens of thousands of dollars for college after his parents ostracized him for being gay now wants to pay it forward.

Seth Owen’s story was widely shared after his biology teacher took to the crowdfunding site GoFundMe that raised $140,000. He also got a $25,000 check on Ellen DeGeneres’ TV talk show.

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2 stabbed at gay pride festival in Florida

By : wire report
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) | Police say two people were stabbed at a gay pride festival in Florida.

Fort Lauderdale Police did not say what caused the altercation at the Feb. 24 beach bash, but said the two victims are expected to survive.

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Watermark’s Most Eligible – Tampa Bay: DeLaran Withers

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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AGE: 49

HOMETOWN: Fort Myers, Fla.

IDENTIFIES AS: “DeLaran. I love who I love.”

PRONOUNS: She/Her/Hers

SIGN: Aries

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis excludes LGBTQ protections from non-discrimination executive order

By : Abigail Brashear
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Gov. Ron DeSantis failed to include LGBTQ protections within an executive order that reaffirmed other existing protections and denied discrimination. 

Executive order 1910 was issued hours after DeSantis was sworn into office on Tuesday and is titled, “Reaffirming Commitment to Diversity in Government.” It repeatedly rejects the idea of discrimination against “age, sex, race, color, religion, national origin, marital status or disability,” but fails to mention anything regarding the topic of gender identity or sexuality orientation. 

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Sarah Fortney: Polk County School Board Member

By : Erin Pike
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Sarah Fortney has been an educator and advocate for students and staff for over 30 years, fighting for their rights and creating the best learning environment for all.

Over three years ago, Sarah and I were attending an emergency staff meeting on the last day of school, and as we watched our school district lead a powerful change maker through a forced resignation, Sarah spoke up for the staff and the students. That was the day Sarah knew her efforts were not enough and began to consider what more she could do.

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Trump’s safety panel seeks to revoke school discipline rules

By : wire report
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President Donald Trump’s school safety commission on Dec. 18 called for a rollback of an Obama-era policy that was meant to curb racial disparities in school discipline but that critics say left schools afraid to take action against potentially dangerous students.

The panel, led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, made the recommendation in a report that lays out dozens of suggestions to improve safety in America’s schools. Trump created the commission in March following a Parkland, Florida, school shooting that killed 17 students and staff members.

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Stormy Daniels cancels strip club appearance over homophobic slur

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Stormy Daniels canceled her scheduled appearance at Goldfinger, a strip club in Sunrise, Fla., because she claims the club owner used a homophobic slur against her assistant.

Daniels took to Instagram to call out the club owner for using the slur and alleges he also asked Daniels to “do something not in my contract.”

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Florida leads nation, introduces bill to end conversion therapy in 2019 legislative session

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | Florida became the first state nationwide to introduce legislation to end conversion therapy in the 2019 legislative session Nov. 21.

State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Democrat who represents Florida’s 37th district in Miami-Dade, introduced Senate Bill 84 (SB 84) to protect LGBTQ youth from the discredited practice.  Conversion therapy purports to change a child’s sexual orientation and gender identity using “psychological or spiritual intervention.” It is widely opposed by prominent health associations including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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