Central Florida Overheard: $2 million for the arts

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For the ninth consecutive year, United Arts of Central Florida’s 2018 Collaborative Campaign for the Arts exceeded their fundraising goal, raising more than $2.07 million for local arts, science and history organizations.

Over the course of three months, United Arts and 14 other organizations local to Central Florida received donations from patrons, most of which saw their gifts matched by 15 percent by United Arts. This announcement comes after statewide budget cuts to the arts heavily impacted local cultural organizations. The donations from this fundraiser will help bring 2.7 million cultural experiences, including 970,000 K-12 student experiences.

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Oregon school district accused of forcing LGBTQ student to read Bible as punishment

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COOS BAY, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon school district is accused of forcing students to read Bible passages as a form of punishment, among other accusations.

The Coos Bay World reported Tuesday that the North Bend School District initially denied the claim, but the building administrator later acknowledged in an interview with state education officials that he demanded Bible reading for punishment.

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LGBTQ teens start tradition with state’s first ‘rainbow’ prom

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INSTITUTE, W.Va. (AP) — For many teens the prom is the epitome of their high school experience. But for students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer, it can be a challenge to feel like they belong. This year, some West Virginia students decided to start a new tradition: The Rainbow Formal, the state’s first dance for LGBTQ youth.

Last weekend’s event drew students from at least 10 counties to the student union at West Virginia State University. One of them, 15-year-old Steve Sartin from Mingo County, managed the jitters while adjusting his rainbow suspenders and rainbow Converse sneakers.

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Straz Center gets grant; Over 3,500 students to benefit

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | The Straz Center for the Performing Arts has announced its acquisition of a $20,000 grant from The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay to help bring the arts to the area’s disadvantaged students.

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay is a partnership between donors, nonprofits, community leaders, businesses, volunteers and businesses. During their fiscal year of 2017, they awarded $10.3 million in grants to qualifying organizations in Tampa Bay.

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Students rally on behalf of bullied gay teen at York High School

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YORK, Maine (AP) – More than 200 students have gathered to show support for a 14-year-old gay student who was bullied at York High School in Maine.

Students and parents say the bullying was brought to the attention of the school administrators, but that not enough was done to stop it.

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More women’s colleges open doors to transgender students

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WELLESLEY, Mass. (AP) – Until last year, Ninotska Love would have been barred from attending Wellesley College. She’s an accomplished student who has persevered through hardship, but under longstanding rules, the college would have rejected her.

Now the rules have changed. This week, Love will become one of the first transgender women to attend Wellesley in the school’s 147-year history.

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open auditions for new 
full-time elite training program in orlando

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Marshall ellis dance school hosting open auditions for new
full-time elite training program in orlando

Marshall Ellis Dance School is holding auditions on Aug. 4 for its new Elite Training Program, a rigorous full-time opportunity for students ages 8-18 who aspire to a career in dance.

The Elite Training Program will launch in September 2017 and run through June 2018. It will admit just 15 students in its first year and will provide an intensive, personalized and positive ballet training experience for its dancers. It fills a clear need in the region by providing expert pre-professional training in the arts- and enterainment-oriented Central Florida community.

The weekly daytime schedule includes 22 hours of dance, more than other similar programs in the area. Elite Training Program students also have access to unlimited evening and weekend drop-in classes, workshop series performances, and local and regional dance festivals.

There’s no fee to audition, and dancers should bring a headshot plus photos of a first arabesque and tendu a la second. Those en pointe should bring pointe shoes. The audition will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 4 at ME Dance School, 1300 La Quinta Drive, Orlando, Fla. 32809.

ME Dance is partnering with Florida Virtual School and has designed its training schedule to support students’ academic success.

The Elite Training Program is guided by school founder and owner Marshall Ellis. Ellis has trained, traveled and danced around the world, performing soloist and principal roles in Europe, Asia and the United States. He joined Orlando Ballet under the direction of Fernando Bujones, and he performed in a range of roles from corps de ballet to principal dancer. He became a principal equity performer at Walt Disney World Resort and performed the principal ballet role in the Cirque du Soleil show La Nouba.

The Elite Training Program will be under the leadership of Program Director Rachael Riley, previously a soloist with Omaha Theater Ballet and member of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company, where she danced featured and principal roles. During her time with Grand Rapids Ballet, Riley appeared in the U.S. and internationally as a principal guest artist and served as resident choreographer.

Ellis founded ME Dance Company in 2012 and opened ME Dance School two years later. The Elite Training Program is his next step in providing dancers with opportunity to cultivate their talent and artistry to the fullest potential.

For more information about ME Dance School and the Elite Training program, prospective students should visit medanceschool.com or email classes@medanceschool.com.

Christie approves law to give schools transgender policy guidance

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation July 21,  requiring the state to give guidance to public schools about policies for transgender students, including blocking the schools from forcing the students from using bathrooms that conflict with their gender identities.

The civil rights group Garden State Equality applauded the Republican governor for signing the measure saying that Christie took a stand for LGBT youth.

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Advocacy groups urge states to protect transgender students

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WASHINGTON (AP) – Dozens of advocacy groups urged state education officials July 18 to protect transgender students after the Trump administration rescinded Obama-era guidance on school bathroom use.

The nation’s leading civil rights organizations said in a letter addressed to state education officials charged with civil rights protection that schools must allow students to access restrooms in line with their stated gender identity, as the guidance had called for.

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Study: Bullying persists in school, reports of sex crime up

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WASHINGTON (AP) – A new study shows that 1 out of every 5 middle and high school students has complained of being bullied at school. And the number of reports of sexual assault on college campuses has more than tripled over the past decade.

The study by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Justice Department released May 16 says that overall instances of bullying have been declining in American schools over the past decade. But 21 percent of students aged 12-18 still reported being bullied in 2015. That’s slightly below the international average.

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Creighton University investigating profane note targeting gay people

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Officials with Creighton University say they are investigating to try to learn who taped a profane, threatening letter targeting gays on a student’s dorm room door.

The hand-scrawled note found last week opens with an expletive and a gay slur, then urges the targeted student to kill himself.

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Hillsborough County math teacher alledgedly bans cross necklaces from classroom

By : Staff Report
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The Liberty Counsel filed a complaint against a Riverview High School math teacher April 19.

The letter to Jeff Eakins, Hillsborough schools superintendent, stated that Lora Jane Riedas “has prohibited at least three children from wearing Christian cross necklaces in her classroom, claiming on occasion that they are ‘gang symbols.'”

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