“It Gets Better” hopes to help eliminate LGBTQ teen bullying and suicide with song and hope

By : Jeremy Williams
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TAMPA – Suicide is the leading cause of death among LGBTQ young people in the U.S., according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of suicide attempts is four times greater for LGBTQ youth than their straight counterparts, and many of these cases have been the result of bullying.

Statistics like these have lead to the creation of organizations such as The Trevor Project, Stomp Out Bullying and the It Gets Better Project, the latter of which is traveling the country with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and Speak Theater Arts and holding educational workshops to help curb the epidemic of bullying and LGBT teen suicide. The group will visit Tampa the fourth week of March.

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Former Miss America champion Ericka Dunlap takes a walk on the political side

By : Billy Manes
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ORLANDO – Ericka Dunlap has been everywhere. The ubiquitous beauty queen has followed the trails of her 2004 crowning as Miss America with numerous service projects, making her name as a supporter for the rights of those with less, and doing so with grace. She’s also hilarious, but you’re not supposed to know that. This year, Dunlap will face off against Orlando District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill in November. And though Hill has been dogged by bad press and a series of unfortunate events, Dunlap isn’t trading in the base of political gamesmanship. She’s just continuing her philanthropy in the best way she knows how: at home.

“I have been a resident of District 5 all of my life, and honestly I have always wanted to positively impact the people. That’s the reason why I think people should give pageants credit: for what they can do, which allows a young lady to represent her area, but also to bring life to what you can do,” she says.

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Orlando Magic presents first Pride Night

By : Billy Manes
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Orlando – It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Orlando’s signature sports league the Orlando Magic would be hopping onto the “Pride Night” train. After all, Orlando has been in the global spotlight since last year’s Pulse massacre which took the lives of (eventually) 50 victims. The Magic has made a point of its engagement with the community and the community has paid in kind (nearly $500 million) to build the Amway Center, the spired city landmark that hosts the basketball team and its games. The league is proud of its varied community, staff says. Giving back is what it is all about.

“We, over the last two years have been introducing more theme nights for our community around myriad things,” Linda Landman Gonazalez, vice president of philanthropy and multicultural insights for the Orlando Magic, says.“We’ve always done Black History Month; we’ve always done Hispanic Heritage Month, Latin Night; we’ve always done everything.”

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Montana House Committee tables LGBTQ rights bill

By : Wire Report
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HELENA, Mont. (AP) – A legislative committee has tabled a bill that sought to extend civil rights protections to gays, lesbians and transgender people across the state.

The House Judiciary Committee heard emotional testimony last week from citizens who said they’d been discriminated against due to their sexual orientation or sexual identity, while opponents said the bill infringed on their religious expression rights.

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LGBT employees ask Education Secretary to keep protections

By : Wire Report
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WASHINGTON (AP) – LGBT employees have asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to commit to safeguarding anti-discrimination regulations amid fears that the Trump administration may weaken those protections.

In the email, obtained by The Associated Press Feb. 17, staffers at the Education Department urged the new secretary to issue a statement confirming her commitment to Title IX rules, which prohibit discrimination based on sex in educational programs.

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Bid to extend protections to Montana LGBTQs stirs emotions

By : Wire Report
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HELENA, Mont. (AP)- Advocates launched a new bid Wednesday to extend non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across Montana – undeterred by a long string of prior legislative defeats.

Proponents this time argue that extending protections would be good for Montana’s business climate.

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Washington court rules against florist who refused to serve gays

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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The Washington Supreme Court has upheld the state’s civil rights law in the face of a challenge to the statute from a florist who refused to serve a same-sex couple based on religious objections.

Writing for a unanimous nine-member court of elected judges, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud determined in a 59-page decision Barronelle Stutzman, the sole owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Wash., discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation in 2013 by refusing to provide floral arrangements for the wedding of a gay couple, Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed.

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Jacksonville passes inclusive nondiscrimination protections

By : Wire Report
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville City Council has voted to update the city’s civil rights laws to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Tuesday’s 12 to six vote was a victory for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. Mayor Lenny Curry said he will let it become law without his signature.

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California considers update to antiquated HIV laws

By : Wire Report
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SAN FRANCISCO — Legislation slated to be introduced this week would update California’s laws criminalizing HIV, which were adopted during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, so that a person could not be prosecuted for intentionally transmitting the virus if their sex partner tested negative for HIV, the Bay Area Reporter reports.

Under current law, HIV-positive persons may be prosecuted for engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse with the specific intent to transmit HIV even if no actual transmission of the virus occurs. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to eight years in prison.

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Tear gas thrown at LGBTQ nightclub in Croatian capital, 2 hurt

By : Wire Report
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ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) – At least two people have been injured after an unknown assailant threw a tear gas canister during a party for LGBTQ people in Croatia’s capital.

Police say an investigation is underway into the incident at a Zagreb nightclub early Sunday. Local news reports say people inside the club fled in panic, storming the exit and breaking windows to get out.

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In emotional speech, Streep renews harsh criticism of Trump

By : Wire Report
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NEW YORK (AP) – In an emotional speech by turns tearful, defiant and humorous, Meryl Streep doubled down on her harsh criticism of President Donald Trump, and spoke of having become a target since she first took him on in her Golden Globes speech in January.

Addressing a cheering audience at a fundraising gala for the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT group, Streep referred to Trump’s tweet after her Globes speech, in which he called the celebrated actress “overrated.”

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Prosecutors seek maximum sentence for alleged cyber bully

By : Wire Report
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP)- Dutch prosecutors on Thursday sought the maximum possible sentence- nearly 11 years- for a man charged with cyberbullying dozens of young girls and gay men and who is also wanted in Canada for his alleged involvement in a high-profile online abuse case.

In an emotional closing statement, prosecutor Annet Kramer urged judges at a court in Amsterdam to sentence the 38-year-old suspect, identified only as Aydin C., to 10 years and eight months in prison, saying he subjected some of his victims to years of emotional abuse.

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