5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Homegrown Homophobia
Welcome back to our weekly round-up of the most infuriating bits of anti-LGBT rhetoric to grace our news feeds in the past seven days. This week, American homophobes were on a roll, giving us plenty to choose from — our only problem was picking only five outrageous stories to share here. Read on to see what made the cut, but expect a healthy dose of snark in the following pages — sometimes it's the only way we can get through the day.
5. South Carolina Legislators Punish Schools That Include LGBT Stories
In South Carolina, it appears the only good kind of education is a straight education — one that ignores all historical references to the fact that LGBT people exist. At least, that's how things will go if Republican Rep. Garry Smith (pictured above) has his way.
Because schools aren't hard-up enough for funding as-is, Smith introduced a piece of legislation that would slash the budgets of South Carolina universities that dare to assign LGBT-inclusive books to students.
Both the University of South Carolina Upstate and the College of Charleston had incorporated LGBT issues and history into their curriculum, the state’s Republican legislators proposed a budget cut for the 2014-2015 fiscal year in order to teach the public universities a lesson. That budget, which has already passed the Higher Education subcommittee and the House Ways and Means Committee, would strip the University of South Carolina, Upstate of $17,162, and the College of Charleston of $52,000. It's slated to go before the full state House this week. If approved by that chamber, the budget would then move to the state Senate and finally to Republican Governor Nikki Haley, whose office has yet to respond to requests for comment.
Naturally, the proposed cuts have drawn outrage from a number of students, faculty and alumni who have voiced their disapproval on a website that was created to protest the slashing of the budget.
"I am a gay USC Upstate faculty member and a proud CofC alumnus...and SC is my home too,” read one post. “I won't stand by and let my academic freedom AND my civil rights be devalued."
But Rep. Smith won't be swayed by those limp-wristed alumni and their tender-hearted allies. He said he proposed the cuts after receiving an email from a concerned parent whose 17-year-old daughter would be attending the College of Charleston, and was upset because the university offered no options for students who were offended by LGBT subject matter.
"I think the university has to be reasonable and sensible to the feelings and beliefs of their students," Smith told CNN, somehow free of irony. "That was totally ignored here. I was trying to hold the university accountable. Their stance is 'Even if you don't want to read it, we'll shove it down your throat.' It's not academic freedom — it's academic totalitarianism."
Yes. Because including accurate discussions of historical LGBT people who really did exist is nothing if not "academic totalitarianism." And you know what isn't totalitarian at all? Telling admission-paying, legally adult students what they can and cannot read. Sweet freedom...
4. Lesbian Couple Claims Antigay Neighbors Ran Them Out of Town
After what they say was more than ten years of antigay harassment and discrimination from neighbors, a lesbian couple in Vermont is taking their town to task — and to court.
Barbara Ernst and Barbara Supeno, who have been together for 21 years, bought lakefront property in Addison, Vt., in 2004. But in the decade since, the couple said town leaders have been attempting to push them out, inflating the property values, circulating homophobic letters, and keeping the couple in the dark about zoning meetings they needed to attend, according to Burlington TV station WPTZ's review of the lawsuit.
"It's entirely based on their sexual orientation," attorney David Bond said. "Neighbors insulted them, made obscene gestures to them. There were dead animals left on their property."
The couple's suit focuses largely on conflicts they have had over zoning and property. Two public meetings where held in 2008 regarding a fence they had installed, but they say they were not notified about the meetings. The complaint also says Supeno faced a $100 fine for installing an accessibility ramp for her mother. Also, they claim that anonymous bullies circulated a letter about the couple three years ago, which stated they were scam artists. The couple also alleges that a homophobic slur spraypainted outside the town offices was directed at them.
Neither the couple nor the town officials named as defendants were willing to speak on-camera, but the formal charges include "defamation, false light invasion of privacy, tortious interference with prospective business relations, sexual orientation discrimination, common law retaliation and violations of common benefits clause," according to WTPZ.
Find more outrageous news on the following pages…
3. Gay Couple Attacked in NYC on Tenth Anniversary
What was at first a romantic night out to celebrate the tenth anniversary of a longtime couple in New York City became a living nightmare when one partner was the victim of a violent antigay assault on Sunday.
J.P. Masterson and Peter Moore were waiting for the subway train at the West Fourth Street station in Washington Square early Sunday morning when a man approached them and demanded to know their sexual orientation, reports The New York Times. When Masterson didn't respond, he says, the suspect shouted "I fucking hate faggots!" and began punching Masterson in the face. The victim says there were as many as 50 people standing on the subway platform who witnessed the assault.
Masterson, 39, suffered seven broken bones, including a broken nose and fractured orbital bone. He was treated at Lenox Hill Hospital and released, though CBS New York reports that some of his injuries will require surgery.
Police released a sketch of the suspect on Thursday (seen at left), describing him as a white male in his late 20s, estimated to be 5 foot 8 inches, weighing 170 pounds, and possibly with a thick Polish accent. They are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime.
"I couldn't believe in this day and age that in the Village, which is where I came out and felt the most accepted, that now I have to be on edge," Masterson told CBS New York.
Despite the attack, he and Moore are resilient.
"You might beat me down, and I might look real grotesque right now, " said Masterson, defiant. "But I'm still standing."
2. Trans Woman Told to Compete With Men — Then Files Lawsuit
Chloie Jonsson is the latest casualty in an unfortunate trend of transgender women forced to turn to legal action to gain access to the spaces occupied by their fellow women.
After being denied entry to the women's division of CrossFit through a bizarre letter that claimed Jonsson and her supporters are "either intentionally ignoring or missed in high school" a "very real understanding of the human genome [and] fundamental biology," Jonsson rightly filed suit.
The letter from CrossFit's general counsel seems to attempt the argument that the fitness giant isn't actually discriminating against Jonsson, since she can compete — just not with other women. (Sound familiar? It should — opponents love to claim that marriage equality already exists because gay and lesbian people can get married… to people of the opposite sex.)
Perhaps even more outrageously, the letter also blatantly rejects well-accepted medical consensus that transgender women hold no significant physical advantage over cisgender (nontrans) women. But hey, no one should expect CrossFit to meet some inconsequential standards set by a little, insignificant organization called the International Olympic Committee, right?!
Despite the existence of numerous studies that have determined after a year on hormone replacement therapy, trans women have a muscle mass and bone density comparable — or sometimes even lower — than cisgender women, the winners at CrossFit believe they've got a better understanding of human genetics.
And before anyone tries to say that Jonsson is just "pretending" to be a woman to compete in the division, note that the 5-foot, 4-inch athlete began her transition more than eight years ago, and she is recognized as female on all of her legal documentation in California.
In reality, transgender women may very well be at a disadvantage when competing against cisgender women. In a transgender woman who has undergone hormone replacement therapy and gender confirming surgery — as Jonsson has — testosterone levels generally register below the range of cisgender women. This happens as a result of trans women no longer generating testosterone from their testes, while cisgender women continue to produce testosterone in their ovaries. Testosterone drives muscle development and increases bone density. Chromosomes and genitals become irrelevant, as any physical advantage stems from testosterone levels.
CrossFit's decision to ban trans athletes from competing with their target gender demonstrates willful ignorance of biology that goes against nearly every policy in place for athletic competition, backed by data demonstrating that trans athletes don't have an advantage.
If we foliow CrossFit's flawed logic to its conclusion, a transgender man, with testosterone levels mirroring that of cisgender males and a similar pattern of muscle development, could choose to compete in the women's division — which would actually afford the competitor an unfair advantage. Such a policy seems to encourage abuse, rather than prevent it. And it's more than a little ironic to see CrossFit, an organization built on the idea of encouraging people to improve their physical shape, so severely lacking the most basic understanding of what factors go into muscle development. Finally, CrossFit's decision may well violate California state law, which bans discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
We look forward to seeing Jonsson and her attorney lay the legal smackdown on the asshats at CrossFit in court.
Find the most outrageous story on the next page...
1. Texas Lesbians Murdered
A Houston lesbian couple was found murdered in Galveston, Texas on Friday, and police are still searching for the killer. The women, both 24, had been together for two years, and were raising one partner's 5-year-old daughter together, according to reports. They had traveled to Galveston to celebrate Mardi Gras.
Although the bodies were discovered near a dumpster on Friday, police did not confirm the cause of death until Tuesday. “Britney Cosby, 24, died of blunt force trauma, and Crystal Jackson, 24, was shot to death," Maj. Darrell Isaacks told Galveston County's Daily News. Police say both women were killed sometime between 9 p.m. Thursday and roughly 7:45 a.m. on Friday, when their bodies were discovered by a beer deliveryman.
The families of the women are begging the person of interest to turn himself in, so that they can hopefully get some answers.
"Just come forward, just to give us closure as a family," Cosby's sister, McDade Cosby told ABC. "Just come forward, 'cause we need closure at this point."
Regardless of whether the murders were motivated by antigay animus, multiple families have been shattered, and a 5-year-old girl has been left without a mother because of someone else's greed, insecurity, and lack of humanity. And that's the true outrage.