Virginia board considers restoring names of schools named for Confederate generals

The Republicans get into office and they return to the racist ways the left tried to retire.   Hugs

A Virginia board is considering restoring the names of two schools that were originally named for Confederate generals but were changed in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd.

The Shenandoah County School Board voted in 2020 to change Stonewall Jackson High School to Mountain View High School and Ashby-Lee Elementary School to Honey Run Elementary School.


But in the two years since, community members — especially alumni — have expressed opposition to the name changes, school board member Cynthia Walsh said.

More than 4,000 people have signed a petition to change the names back, Vice Chair Dennis Barlow said at a board meeting, where the issue was discussed at length last week.

Walsh is one of three members who were on the board when the name changes were approved. The current, all-white board is made up of six members.

Some new board members say they feel the decision to change the names was rushed and that it did not consider the opinion of the community.

Barlow — who characterized those who were in favor of changing the names as outsiders who are “creepy,” “elitist” and from “the dark side” — said the school board’s decision was “undemocratic and unfair.”

He added that he regards Jackson as a “gallant commander.”

Walsh, who said she does not think the names should be changed back, argued: “Most people who vote for elected officials then count on them to do the right thing on their behalf.”

“We do have a representative democracy. We don’t have a direct democracy,” she added.

After Floyd’s death, statues, monuments, schools and buildings named for Confederate leaders became a focal point of the racial justice movement around the country. A number of the statues and monuments have come down.

“Times have changed. The makeup of our schools has changed,” Walsh said. “And I sincerely believe that revisiting the name change is not what’s best for kids.”

The board decided at the meeting that it would poll constituents about whether they believe the names should be changed back. But the board could not settle on whether to poll the entire area or only the residents of the areas served by the schools in question.

Kyle Gutshall, a recent high school graduate who was elected to the board this year, argued: “In my opinion if you’re doing it countywide, you might as well throw the students out, because they don’t care.”


But other board members were adamant throughout the night that the decision first has to be what’s right for the students.

“No. 1 criteria: what is best for kids,” Andrew Keller said earlier in the meeting. “The kids we’re going to teach today and the next 25 years.”

They also didn’t settle on what options would be in the survey, which they mostly agreed should have these questions:

  • Do you want to keep the names?
  • Do you want to restore the original names?

“I suggested a compromise: adding a third” option, Walsh said. “I did not agree to the name change, but I do not think we should change it back, and that’s where we left it that night, but we didn’t vote on it.”

The next school board meeting is June 9.

The board likely won’t vote on the issue then, because it is still hammering out the details of the survey, Walsh said.

If the vote is split, the issue is likely to be tabled for a year or until there is a new board, she said.

Shenandoah County Public Schools declined to weigh in on the matter.

“It is the responsibility of the Shenandoah County School Board to determine the name of schools, school facilities, and areas of school facilities or grounds in the division. We do not have a comment or statement as a division at this time,” the district said in a statement.

The system serves about 6,000 students. More than 75 percent of them are white, and about 3 percent are Black, according to the state Education Departmenr.

But Walsh said the statistics don’t show the full picture. “In one of our elementary schools, there are 10 languages spoken,” she said. “There is diversity.”


Maine Teenagers Take Over Small Town’s Pride Event

The Bangor Daily News reports:

When no adults would revive the community Pride parade in Belfast, a group of motivated Belfast Area High School students stepped up to make sure that the event — which has been on a pandemic hiatus — happens this year. In Belfast, the city’s first-ever Pride parade and festival took place in 2016, and became an annual tradition. But no adult organizers had come forward this year to keep the tradition going.

The 20 club members secured a permit from the city of Belfast, found sponsors, raised money for banners, flags and other expenses and grappled with the procuring of liability insurance. Ultimately, the high school agreed to cover the event under the school’s policy, a move that surprised and pleased the teens, according to Annie Gray, the club’s co-advisor.

Read the full article. Wonderful piece. The clip below is from their first parade in 2016. Belfast has a population of 7000.


Prost- 🇺🇦 • a day ago

I have faith in this generation of kids. They’re alright in my book.

S1AMER Prost- 🇺🇦 • a day ago

Many of them, anyhow.

But great numbers of them are actually growing up to be mirror images of christianist, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic parents. (As ever, much fruit never falls far from the tree.)

Still, the Bangor kids give us all some hope for a better future in some places, and that’s definitely cause for rejoicing!

ErnestMc Epic Collision • a day ago

Yes, you wouldn’t know it sometimes to read the news, but Americans are getting less and less interested in religion and being religious. And. at the same time, out and visible LGBT people are more and more common.

juanjo54 S1AMER • a day ago

Sadly, a certain number do. However, studies have shown that number of younger people growing up in Christian households including evangelical households are not down with the obsession about gay people expressed by church leaders.

ErnestMc juanjo54 • a day ago

Many (not all) religious families are indeed anti-LGBT and racist and pass that on to their children, but religion (despite the loudness of it on the right) has become less and less vital in American lives, with more and more people saying they’re not affiliated with any religion. That’s a good sign.

clay • a day ago

“Ultimately, the high school agreed to cover the event under the school’s policy”

Good, because it sounds like the students learned a lot from their experience.

ErnestMc • a day ago

This is the other half of the current LGBT story that isn’t being told much these days. (The media, including LGBT media, gravitates toward the horror stories and it is important to know one’s enemies.) Young people are growing up with wide exposure to positive LGBT portrayals. Many of them have the support of their peers and their families. They’re not conflicted about sexuality and gender and they’re not about to let Republican extremists control their lives.

Good work, Belfast youths!

Florida wants to avoid critical race theory and ‘social justice’ in social studies texts

How much can Republicans white wash history to show only what they want it to be?   How much can they change so that the maga parents are not made uncomfortable?   Please note what the state Republicans have labeled social justice.  Why are Republicans against having student learn how to handle their emotions?  is it because they want angry young people who become angry adults?    Hugs

Florida education officials, in guidance, told publishers that all proposed social studies content must abide by the state’s rules outlawing critical race theory and similar teachings.

A student with textbooks. | Getty Images

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s Department of Education is explicitly aiming to keep critical race theory and “social justice” out of social studies textbooks that the state will ultimately adopt for its new teaching standards.

The agency, in recent undated guidance, asked textbook publishers to avoid those topics on top of “culturally responsive teaching, social and emotional learning, and any other unsolicited theories” as the DeSantis administration and Republicans continue to scrutinize what students are learning in public schools, especially on the issues of race and gender identity. Florida already has received national attention after rejecting scores of math books for broaching topics state leaders deemed “impermissible.”

“Instructional materials should not attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students to a viewpoint inconsistent with Florida standards,” FLDOE officials wrote in its undated specifications to publishers. Bids formally opened March 12 and textbook publishers have until June 10 to submit their social studies proposals to the state education department.


Florida education officials, in the guidance, told publishers that all proposed social studies content must abide by the state’s rules outlawing critical race theory, known also as CRT, and similar teachings.

The state, through a rule passed by the Board of Education in 2021, defines critical race theory as an ideology that “racism is not merely the product of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and its legal systems in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons.” Critical race theory, along with “The 1619 Project” from The New York Times, are theories that “distort historical events,” according to Florida leaders.

Critical race theory, an analytical framework developed by legal scholars, is generally known as a way to examine how race and racism have become ingrained in American law and institutions since slavery and Jim Crow.

Social studies lessons are also required to follow the “Stop WOKE Act” passed by Republican lawmakers in Florida earlier at the request of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who made a major push to prohibit schools and companies from leveling guilt or blame at students and employees based on race or sex, taking aim at lessons over issues like “white privilege.” To that end, the guidance to publishers notes that possible critical race theory components could include making someone “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.”

Additionally, the Florida Department of Education wants to avoid references to “social justice” in its textbooks and gave publishers a few examples to help guide them.

Social justice lessons, according to Florida officials, would be “seeking to eliminate undeserved disadvantages for selected groups; undeserved disadvantages are from mere chance of birth and are factors beyond anyone’s control, thereby landing different groups in different conditions; and equality of treatment under the law is not a sufficient condition to achieve justice.”


The state is also targeting social emotional learning, which has recently emerged as another topic under criticism from DeSantis. Social emotional learning aims to teach students how to manage their emotions and develop strong relationships with their peers. This is counted as an “unsolicited” strategy to FLDOE, which told publishers to refrain from teachings on “identity and identity identification concepts; managing emotion; developing relationships and social awareness.”

Florida’s slate of math textbook rejections, along with recent laws passed in the state like the Parental Rights in Education bill, on Thursday were key topics during a congressional hearing on “curriculum sabotage and classroom censorship” led by the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

One Florida Republican on the subcommittee, Rep. Byron Donalds, asked the panel of witnesses, ranging from parents to school leaders and free speech advocates, if they believed the math lessons flagged by the state education department were appropriate. Donalds, a former member of the Florida House, used examples of questions asking students to measure racial prejudice by age and political affiliation.

A representative from free speech organization PEN America agreed with Donalds, acknowledging that there was a “risk that this was going to stoke division, detract from the lesson.”

“If we’re going to talk about history, let’s talk about history,” Donalds said. “But if we’re going to bring subjective material into the classroom, that is the problem that has some parents upset in the United States.”

Democrats frequently criticized Florida’s policies along with others across the U.S. that they say prohibit discussions of race and LGBTQ issues and violate free speech principles, mirroring authoritarian governments. They used last week’s racist shooting at a Buffalo grocery store as a “horrifying” example of what could happen if “ignorance and hatred spread.”

“Gov. DeSantis is bringing a brand of authoritarianism to Florida that Putin, Maduro or Castro would applaud,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).

(((heleninedinburgh))) • 2 days ago

Filing ‘Florida standards’ alongside ‘hot snow,’ ‘dry water,’ and ‘compassionate conservatism.’

Nathaniel McManus (((heleninedinburgh))) • 2 days ago • edited

Next thing you know they will tell the kids who attempt to read and learn the truth for themselves they will be scared into thinking that it will be an assured way to be kidnapped by a homosexual and sold to an adrenochrome extraction laboratory.

Ann Kah (((heleninedinburgh))) • 2 days ago

Goes with the Florida staples of “jumbo shrimp” and “biblical morality”.

Paula Ann Kah • 2 days ago • edited

And who can forget these equally popular and pertinent corollaries.
War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength.

Elagabalus • 2 days ago

Florida is becoming like that unruly child in a classroom you can always depend on to disrupt everything by calling undo negative attention to itself. It’s a childish act that’s getting really old really fast.

bearLvrFL • 2 days ago

As someone who works in mental health, the elimination of “emotional learning” content wholesale from grade school curriculums is a big, BIG mistake.

kladinvt • 2 days ago

Kids graduating from FloriDUH high schools will have a hard time being accepted to out-of-state colleges/universities due to the low-standards of education pushed by DeathSantis and the GQP.

What, me worry? • 2 days ago

The publishers of textbooks need to step up and fight back. Stop caving in to these assholes. Kids in Texas and Florida and other confederate states need to learn the truth, not right wing “Lost Cause” propaganda. Can’t handle the truth? Get some mental health care.

Uncle Mark’s ugly face returns • 2 days ago • edited

Continuing this culture war at no further financial expense to the state, and I’m assuming that DeSantis will only approve books by the one publisher that publishes the only approved math books…the same publisher owned by VA Republican Gov Youngkin.

rednekokie • 2 days ago

In other words, Florida has totally removed itself from actual history, and any attempt to reconnect will be met with total contempt.
Perfect place to raise your kids if you want them to be absolute idiots.

J Ascher • 2 days ago

Before you know it, the only grade school textbook allowed to be used in Florida will be the bible.

jk105 • 2 days ago

So teachers in Florida need to instruct students in such a way that it is not clear where they stand on issues like was it right or wrong for Southern states to own humans as property.

Emails shed light on how Hanover’s School Board and Alliance Defending Freedom came together

Yes Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)  is a religious “anti-LGBTQ hate group,”  This redacted email exchange shows that at least one of not more religious bigots on the board wanted to not include the state mandated non discrimination language in the school handbook so reached out to a religious legal hate group to write them a different one they could approve instead.    I don’t think it is legal but it shows how far the religious right is willing to go to be able to discriminate against LGBTQ+ and eventually any non-Christians.   Hugs

Emails obtained by 8News show that a Hanover County School Board member reached out to a top legal strategist for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a week before he tried to set a meeting between the board and the organization.

A month later, the school board approved a plan to have ADF, which some have classified as an “anti-LGBTQ hate group,” review the district’s policy regarding the treatment of LGBTQ students.

On March 16, 8News filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all of the county’s school board members’ emails concerning ADF since Nov. 21, 2021.

Although key details in the conversations were largely redacted – blacked out – by the school district, the emails shed some light on how the board and Alliance Defending Freedom came together.

The emails do not account for possible phone calls, text messages or other communications between the board and organization.

What is ADF and its link to Hanover’s school board?

Alliance Defending Freedom is a conservative Christian legal advocacy and training organization based in Arizona seeking to secure “generational wins that change the law and culture,” according to its website.

These goals include “ensuring the law respects God’s created order for marriage, the family, and human sexuality.”

In March, Hanover’s School Board voted 4-3 to allow ADF to review the board’s equal educational opportunities policy, which concerns the rights of LGBTQ students and more. Board Chairwoman Ola J. Hawkins, Vice Chair Bob Hundley and school board member Sterling Daniel voted against the proposal.

The decision came after the board voted last November not to adopt policies, as Virginia school divisions were required to under legislation passed by the state legislature, allowing students to use bathrooms and school facilities aligning with their gender identity. A month later, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia filed a lawsuit on behalf of five transgender students against the school board.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) added ADF to its “anti-LGBTQ hate group” list in 2016, saying the organization has spread “known falsehoods” that demonize LGBTQ people. Among several examples, SPLC points to a national campaign backed by ADF to pass laws that would prevent transgender students from taking part in sports on the teams that align with their gender identity, specifically in Arizona and Idaho.

Ryan Bangert, senior counsel and vice president of legal strategy at ADF, strongly disputed SPLC’s designation and said ADF is one of the U.S.’s most respected and successful U.S. Supreme Court advocates that has worked “to preserve the fundamental freedoms of speech and religion for all Americans.”

He also called the Southern Poverty Law Center “partisan” and “scandal-ridden,” claiming it has presented “false claims and gross mischaracterizations,” citing reports critical of its “hate map” and a federal judge’s opinion in 2019 that argued the list doesn’t “depend upon objective data or evidence.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center declined to comment on Bangert’s statement.

Emails reveal a timeline

Records show that Hanover School Board member John Axselle first emailed Bangert at Alliance Defending Freedom on Feb. 7, 2022. Most of the email, including its subject line, was blacked out by the district when we received the email through a FOIA request.

Hanover schools spokesperson Chris Whitley said the email and an attachment Axselle sent were redacted because they included “attorney-client material,” showing that Axselle had formally reached out to ADF a month before the board’s narrow vote to start considering the organization’s legal advice.

“Thank you in advance for your assistance with this matter,” Axselle writes to Bangert in one of two sentences not blacked out.

The email exchange between Axselle and Bangert — seven emails in total from Feb. 7-8 — is the only one between a school board member and an ADF employee in the records shared with 8News.

Board member Axselle’s Feb. 7 email to Ryan Bangert, senior counsel and vice president of legal strategy at ADF. (Email provided to 8News by Hanover schools after Freedom of Information Act request)

In one email, Bangert tells Axselle, the board’s Beaverdam District representative, that he received his message and “will review promptly and revert.” Later that night, Bangert sends another email asking Axselle if they could speak the next day.

Emails show that Bangert set up a call between himself, Axselle and his colleague Jon Scruggs, senior counsel and director of the Center for Conscience Initiatives with ADF, for the afternoon of Feb. 8.

Bangert’s email to Axselle on Feb. 8 setting up a phone call for 4 p.m. ET that day. (Email provided to 8News by Hanover schools after Freedom of Information Act request)

It’s unknown whether the phone call occurred as ADF and the school board declined to discuss the emails and declined 8News’ interview requests. But Axselle sent an email to Chairwoman Hawkins and Vice Chair Hundley less than a week later with the subject line, “Meeting with ADF.”

“ADF contacted me and they can meet with us Friday, February 18, 2022, at 5:00 PM, if that is good for us. This is going to be a Zoom meeting,” Axselle wrote in the Feb. 14 email. “Please let me know if this is good for the Board and I will confirm with them if you like.”

“I’ll work with Ola to notify the board of the plan to conduct a called closed session meeting Friday; our goal will be to confirm that as early as possible tomorrow morning so that the appropriate legal notice can be posted,” Hundley replied 37 minutes later.

According to the school board’s online agenda, a closed session meeting did not take place on Feb. 18 but one was held on Feb. 22 to interview “prospective candidates for employment” and for “consultation with legal counsel pertaining to probable and pending litigation,” including the ACLU lawsuit.

Board chair Hawkins’ email to school board attorney Lisa Seward on March 3. (Email provided to 8News by Hanover schools after Freedom of Information Act request)

Emails also show that Lisa Seward, the Hanover school board attorney, sent “research” to the school board and school Superintendent Michael Gill on March 2, six days before the board voted to allow ADF to advise it on its policy.

Seward’s entire email, apart from her salutation and “thank you,” was blacked out by the school division. The next day, Chairwoman Hawkins thanked Seward “for the research and update” and “detailed information.”

Hanover residents and parents ask for answers

Hanover County residents critical of the idea of bringing ADF on as legal advisors contacted school board members before and after the vote, the emails show.

Most were thanked for sharing their input but were provided little to no details or answers to their questions, including two residents who received similarly worded responses from Hanover County School Board member Robert May.

May emailed the South Anna District residents that the board voted “to engage Alliance Defending Freedom for legal review of Policy 7-1.2 at no cost to HCPS” and that he believes it “does reflect the ideals of the Constitution of the United States.”

Axselle’s email to board chair Hawkins and vice chair Hundley. (Email provided to 8News by Hanover schools after Freedom of Information Act request)

One resident emailed Chairwoman Hawkins twice before the March 8 vote, repeatedly asking her how the school board and ADF came together.

“I certainly hope this School Board, that is also planning to sign a Proclamation of Equity at the meeting tomorrow night, would not go out and ask for their assistance,” the resident wrote in the second of two emails to Hawkins on March 7. “So, I will ask again: How did the Alliance Defending Freedom come to be involved with the School Board? Did they approach HCPS, or did someone from HCPS contact them?”

Hawkins did not respond to the second email, records show, but did reach out to Vice Chair Hundley about the message and told him to let her know what he thought about the email.

“I believe we should get some advice from Mike and/or Lisa on this one,” Hundley wrote on the morning of March 8. “Since it’s a closed session topic, we may not have to divulge that, but we should ask first.”

Not long after that email, Hawkins and school board attorney Lisa Seward exchanged emails that were almost entirely redacted.

Most school board members did not respond to requests for an interview for this story, but those who did declined to speak and pointed 8News to Chairwoman Hawkins for a statement on behalf of the board.

Vice chair Hundley’s email to board chair Hawkins concerning an email from a parent she received. (Email provided to 8News by Hanover schools after Freedom of Information Act request)

“As you may know, we are actively involved in a lawsuit with the ACLU of Virginia. It is not the School Board’s practice to comment on pending litigation,” she wrote in an email. “Therefore, I do not have anything further to add to this other than what has been discussed and shared publicly.”

Hawkins and Bangert refused to answer questions about whether the board approached ADF or the other way around.

“The Hanover County School Board is committed to carrying out the critical task of providing excellence in education for their students while adhering to the law and advancing a culture that demonstrates dignity and respect for all students and staff who are part of the community,” Bangert said in a statement. “We look forward to serving the board by providing legal advice that accomplishes these goals.”

Christopher Berg, an Atlee High School parent of two, has been vocal about the board’s refusal to adopt the statewide policy last year. At a recent school board meeting, he spoke out against a possible change to the county’s student code of conduct that the district says clarifies its position on protests and walkouts.

After Berg claimed the change would be “unconstitutional” and called it “un-American,” Hanover schools discipline hearing review officer and Seward agreed that as it was proposed the potential change to the code would not violate students’ First Amendment rights. A William & Mary law professor specializing in freedom of speech told 8News that the change could be construed “as a blanket ban on protests and demonstrations,” as it was written, and a potential legal challenge was not out of the question.

In an interview, Berg told 8News that his youngest child, a nonbinary ninth-grader named Em, was suspended earlier this year for three days after taking part in an unapproved walkout protesting the board’s policies on transgender students in the county. Berg said Em has been harassed and bullied at school by students.

He said he believes the possible change to the code of conduct, which the board has yet to vote on, and ADF’s involvement in the school district only makes matters worse for transgender and nonbinary students.

“It really kind of feels like they’re just continuing to push more and more against the trans kids of Hanover County and kind of demoralizing those students,” Berg said. “That’s obviously the reason why the students got really upset and have started protesting. That was just yet another middle finger at the students.”



S1AMER • 2 days ago

It’s a safe bet that ADF and similar groups are doing the same thing in school districts around the country.

Elagabalus • 2 days ago

I thought it was hard growing up gay during the sixties and seventies. I feel sorry for today’s LGTB youth. “The love that dare not speak its name” is now being forced back into the closet with a vengeance and it will require the same herculean effort that it took after Stonewall to repair the damage that’s being done now. LGTB youth have their work cut out for them. I wish them luck. They’re going to need it.

Sýba apúyas dsū âfōa Nic Peterson • 2 days ago • edited

Reference the extermination of the gay rights movement in Germany by the Nazis. It was a movement whose roots can be traced back to 1867.

If things get particularly horrible here, a lot of us will be dead by the time a recovery of gay rights might take place.

The “it can’t happen here” people need to get a serious clue.

jk105 • 2 days ago • edited

Why are some comments redacted? These exchanges don’t concern national security. What are they hiding?

Soldiers Facing Discrimination from State Laws Could Request Transfers Under Draft Army Policy

As Beau said the military will pull bases from states that give their people too hard a time.   The military is not going back to a time of hidden LGBTQ+.   Also military families have LGBTQ+ kids and the air force has already said they will do everything possible to see trans kids get the medical treatment they need including transferring families away from bigoted states.    Hugs

A base member wears rainbow socks during an LGBT Pride Month event.

A base member wears rainbow socks during the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month Five Kilometer Pride Run at Joint Base Andrews, Md., June 28, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)

The Army is circulating a draft policy tweak that would specify that soldiers can request to move if they feel state or local laws discriminate against them based on gender, sex, religion, race or pregnancy, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the plans.

The guidance, which would update a vague service policy to add specific language on discrimination, is far from final and would need approval from Army Secretary Christine Wormuth. But if enacted, it could be one of the most progressive policies for the force amid a growing wave of local anti-LGBTQ and restrictive contraception laws in conservative-leaning states, where the Army does most of its business.


The policy would ostensibly sanction soldiers to declare that certain states are too racist, too homophobic, too sexist or otherwise discriminatory to be able to live there safely and comfortably.

Read More: Army Officer Faced Retaliation After Reporting Trump Ukraine Call, Watchdog Says

“Some states are becoming untenable to live in; there’s a rise in hate crimes and rise in LGBT discrmination,” Lindsay Church, executive director of Minority Veterans of America, an advocacy group, told “In order to serve this country, people need to be able to do their job and know their families are safe. All of these states get billions for bases but barely tolerate a lot of the service members.”


If finalized, the new rules would clarify what situations would entitle a soldier to a so-called compassionate reassignment. Right now, those rules are vague but are mostly used for soldiers going through family problems that cannot be solved through “leave, correspondence, power of attorney, or help of family members or other parties,” according to Army regulations.

The updated guidance, which sources said was drafted in response to several state laws but before a draft of a potential Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked, would instruct commanders that they can use compassionate reassignment specifically to remove troops facing discrimination from their duty stations.

The tweak came from a MILPER message, which is an internal tool for Army leaders and planners to issue policy clarifications, though the guidance has not yet been fully worked out through the policy planning process or briefed to senior leaders, according to one Army source.

“The Army does not comment on leaked, draft documents,” Angel Tomko, a service spokesperson, told in an emailed statement. “AR 600-100 and 600-200 establish the criteria for which soldiers may request for a compassionate reassignment. The chain of command is responsible for ensuring Soldiers and Families’ needs are supported and maintain a high quality of life.”

According to a 2015 study from Rand Corp., roughly 6% of the military is gay or bisexual and 1% is transgender or nonbinary. Those numbers are likely low, given that the survey was conducted only four years after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and before transgender troops could serve openly. Gen Z troops, the latest generation starting to fill the ranks, are also much more likely to identify as LGBTQ.

It’s unclear whether the Army’s inclusion of pregnancy on the list would protect reproductive care for soldiers if Roe v. Wade is overturned. That language could be intended to protect pregnant service members or their families from employment or other discrimination, but could also be a means for some to argue for transfers based on broader reproductive rights.

The sources who reviewed drafts of the potential policy had different interpretations of what the change would mean. In practice, however, reassignment to a new installation wouldn’t happen overnight, and it would be almost impossible for a woman to find out she’s pregnant, have her command approve a transfer, complete the move and then be able to seek different reproductive care during a pregnancy.

Last week, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston, the service’s top enlisted leader, told lawmakers that the force is considering some response to the end of Roe v. Wade, though it’s unclear whether that is a separate policy being mulled by Army planners.

“The answer is yes, we are drafting policies to ensure we take care of our soldiers in an appropriate way,” Grinston told a House Appropriations Committee subpanel. “There are drafts if it were to be overturned, but that would be a decision for the secretary of the Army to decide the policy.”

However, the policy tweak shared with was written in April, weeks before news broke of a draft decision overturning the landmark abortion ruling, according to an Army official with direct knowledge of the situaiton.

At least 13 states have so-called trigger laws that will immediately outlaw abortion if and when Roe v. Wade is overturned. Additional GOP-controlled states are expected to follow suit with similar legislation. Meanwhile, some state lawmakers are considering restricting contraception such as IUDs and Plan B. Some officials, like Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, haven’t ruled out an outright ban on contraception. Idaho State Sen. Brent Crane, who is the state’s vice majority leader, said he would be open to legislation banning some birth control methods.

Currently, Tricare, which covers 9.6 million troops and veterans, covers IUDs, contraceptive diaphragms, prescription contraceptives and surgical sterilization, which could all be severely curtailed if states go forward with banning or limiting birth control as many service members and their families receive medical care paid for by Tricare off base.

The Army’s consideration of a policy to protect soldiers from discriminatory laws is part of a wider Defense Department campaign to start shielding service members from increasingly divisive laws and rhetoric from state-level lawmakers.

Multiple Defense Department and veterans advocate sources have told the other services are considering similar policies, but it is unclear how far those discussions have advanced.

The closest to a direct challenge from a service to the rise of potentially discriminatory policies coming out of state legislatures occurred in April, when the Air and Space Force vowed to provide medical and legal resources to troops who are impacted by laws “being proposed and passed in states across America that may affect LGBTQ Airmen, Guardians, and/or their LGBTQ dependents in different ways,” according to a press release from those services.

Texas has the highest population of soldiers in the nation, serving as the home to the Army’s largest installation, Fort Hood. It is also the home of Fort Bliss, in addition to having the nation’s second-largest National Guard force. The Army also has major bases in Georgia and North Carolina, as well as a constellation of other smaller bases in conservative southern states including Florida.

Some Republicans have latched onto the culture wars in hopes that new actions will fire up their base ahead of the midterms and the next presidential election.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is largely seen as a GOP front-runner in the event Donald Trump doesn’t run for the White House again, signed what critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”

That policy forbids teachers from referencing sexual orientation or gender identity to students between kindergarten and third grade. Gay teachers fear that means even mentioning their spouses could get them fired or land them in the midst of an ugly political fight in school board meetings that have become a staple of right wing media.

In April, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into a law a sweeping measure to prevent transgender kids from playing on sports teams aligning with their gender identity and limiting schools from teaching about race. Kemp also signed a policy that bans books deemed offensive from school libraries and gives parents tools to file complaints.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called on the public to report parents of transgender kids to child protective services if those children are receiving any gender-affirming care.

“What we’re seeing across the board is a small group of elected officials who are trying to politicize and weaponize LGBTQ identities in despicable ways. They’re not only doing that to our youth, but the collateral damage is hurting our service members,” Jacob Thomas, communications director for Common Defense, a progressive advocacy organization, told “[Troops] can’t be forced to live in places where they aren’t seen as fully human.”


Virginia Republican State Rep Sues Barnes & Noble To Stop Them From Selling “Obscene” Pro-LGBTQ Books

Below I post the book riot report.    Several things I want to point out and I hope you read both articles.   Here are some quotes from the article showing this is not going to stop and it is not thier goal to get these LGBTQ+ books out of schools.    They want them out of society all together.    They don’t want adults reading them either.   They are going after any book that has LGBTQ+ content or charaters.  Hugs

No longer is this about the rights of students to access books. It’s now about the rights of private businesses to sell books. Anderson suggests this is a new avenue for parents to fight.

“We are in a major fight. Suits like this can be filed all over Virginia. There are dozens of books. Hundreds of schools,” he said.

Though this lawsuit includes only two books, Manning, same school board member who triggered the removal of Gender Queer, has her sights on Saga by Brian Vaughan next. She has been at the forefront of book challenges in Virginia Beach since the school year began, challenging The Bluest Eye for being “too racy,” despite never reading the book.

From the Facebook page of Virginia Del. Tim Anderson:

I am pleased to announce a major legal victory. Today, the Virginia Beach Circuit Court has found probable cause that the books Gender Queer and a Court of Mist and Fury are obscene to unrestricted viewing by minors.

My client, Tommy Altman, has now directed my office to seek a restraining order against Barnes and Noble and Virginia Beach Schools to enjoin them from selling or loaning these books to minors without parent consent.

We are in a major fight. Suits like this can be filed all over Virginia. There are dozens of books. Hundreds of schools.

Book Riot reports:

Neither book fits the definition of obscene and neither book is pornography. Barnes & Noble has yet to respond to the legal actions taken.

As a private business, they are not only allowed to sell what they wish to sell, but they are under no obligation by anyone to move materials out of their facilities. Further, no private business like the bookseller would simply “supply” books to the school district.

Right-wing groups are pushing a narrative that suggests public schools are at the epicenter of indoctrination, forcing gender and sexuality onto young people starting in kindergarten. Lawsuits like this further fuel misinformation campaigns by these groups.

moisturize me • 3 days ago

Seriously? He owns a gun shop and he’s worried about children?

Niblet58 • 3 days ago

So who are they going to take on next, Amazon? They sell that book and I know more kids who spend time online than do in a library or brick and mortar bookstore. Good fucking luck there, champ.

DaveMiller135 • 3 days ago

News Flash: Your kids are going to have uncomfortable questions about sex, and other growing up matters. All maneuvers like this do is guarantee that they won’t feel safe coming to their parents for the answers.

Uncle Mark’s ugly face returns • 3 days ago • edited

A kid struggling with their homosexuality is more likely to read content online than risk discovery buying or checking out a book

Last week, Virginia Beach (VA) schools voted to remove Gender Queer from shelves. It came after school board member Victoria Manning complained about it and several other books within the schools. After the initial review of the book and several others, Manning appealed the decision made to keep the book and after reconsideration, the book was pulled.

Now a Virginia lawyer is stepping in to take the decision further: he’s filing a suit against the school and against the Barnes & Noble store in Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach attorney and State Delegate Tim Anderson, posted on Facebook that he and his client Tommy Altman–a right-wing republican running for Congress in the district housing Virginia Beach–saw the Virginia Beach Circuit Court find “probable cause that the books Gender Queer and A Court of Mist and Fury are obscene to unrestricted viewing by minors.”

Altman has now directed Anderson to pursue litigation against Barnes & Noble for making the material available to minors.

“My client, Tommy Altman, has now directed my office to seek a restraining order against Barnes and Noble and Virginia Beach Schools to enjoin them from selling or loaning these books to minors without parent consent,” reads Anderson’s post.

No longer is this about the rights of students to access books. It’s now about the rights of private businesses to sell books. Anderson suggests this is a new avenue for parents to fight.

“We are in a major fight. Suits like this can be filed all over Virginia. There are dozens of books. Hundreds of schools,” he said.

Alongside his message, Anderson posted screen shots from both books and the pursuant restraining orders.

Image from Facebook post.


Responses to Anderson’s announcement from followers encouraged such action and suggest this won’t be the end. Several mentioned fighting such fights against “obscene” materials for months, and that children should not be exposed to such obscene books. Still more comments applaud this brave move and see it as a way forward in book banning outside Virginia.

Facebook comment about how barnes and noble was "supplying child porn novels."

Neither book fits the definition of obscene and neither book is pornography.

Barnes & Noble has yet to respond to the legal actions taken. As a private business, they are not only allowed to sell what they wish to sell, but they are under no obligation by anyone to move materials out of their facilities. Further, no private business like the bookseller would simply “supply” books to the school district.

Right-wing groups are pushing a narrative that suggests public schools are at the epicenter of indoctrination, forcing gender and sexuality onto young people starting in kindergarten. Lawsuits like this further fuel misinformation campaigns by these groups.

Virginia has been a hotbed of book challenges in the last year, thanks in part to the rhetoric and campaigning against books and “critical race theory” by governor Glenn Youngkin. The governor, as well as Altman, are Trump supporters, and Anderson’s announcement is more than tacit approval of Altman’s run for Congress. Anderson has made books a big part of his social media strategy and has riled up his base through it.

Though this lawsuit includes only two books, Manning, same school board member who triggered the removal of Gender Queer, has her sights on Saga by Brian Vaughan next. She has been at the forefront of book challenges in Virginia Beach since the school year began, challenging The Bluest Eye for being “too racy,” despite never reading the book.


New Jersey GOP Senator Intros “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

New York City’s CW affiliate reports:

A New Jersey Republican introduced legislation that would prohibit teachers from bringing LGBTQ-related instruction into classrooms from kindergarten through sixth grade.

The bill, proposed by State Senator Edward Durr, is even more restrictive than the Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Seventh through 12th grade students only be exposed to LGBTQ topics if consent is given by a parent under Durr’s proposal.

If the bill is passed, parents would be allowed to sue schools that employ educators who violate the law by incorporating topics such sexual orientation or gender identity into the curriculum without a parent’s consent.

Changing America reports:

“Any student whose parent or guardian does not provide prior written consent shall be excused from that portion of the course where such instruction is provided and no penalties as to credit or graduation shall result therefrom,” reads a portion of the bill introduced by state Sen. Edward Durr.

Durr, a Republican and former commercial truck driver made headlines last year when he defeated former New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) — at that time one of the most powerful elected officials in the state.

If a school district or employee “knowingly violates” the proposed law, the state Office of the Attorney General may seek an injunction.

The bill has zero chance of passing.

Durr, who famously spent less than $100 on his campaign, was exposed after being elected for a history of racist social media posts. He then issued the standard “sorry if anybody was offended” fauxpology.


Brian Green • 2 days ago • edited

It was tough growing up gay in small town America in the 70s, there was still next
no societal support, much less family, and I’m not going to lie, it left me with a number of scars.

These past 20 years, we’ve come so far! It felt good to see the work that all of us who came before did paying off in increasing acceptance and equality. It felt good to know that we were paving the way, making it easier for young people to come out with less fear or shame.

And now this…..And tens if not hundreds of thousands of gay youth are once again being told in the news media that they under attack, being told that they are somehow something shameful or wrong, that they do not deserve to be treated as their heterosexual classmates are.

Obviously, none of us are happy with the direction this country has been headed of late, and the need to continue to fight for equality is now more important than ever.

What’s breaking my heart right now is I know how hard all this anti-LGBTQ stuff is on our children. A child who has an inkling at 8 or 9 or 10 that they are LGBTQ, who is living in one of these states trying to pass these laws, is growing up learning to hide who they really are out of fear and shame.

The lawmakers who are pushing these discriminatory laws are 100% guilty of child abuse… there will be more broken lives, more kids killing themselves because of these people.

Sorry so verbose… just really needed to vent.

Brian Green AyJayDee • 2 days ago

While there has always been something of a backlash against our community for every gain we’ve made, I honestly think the current hate surge has more to do with courting conservative voters than really having a moral objection to the queer community… The people using us as a wedge issue know better and are merely triggering bigoted voters by spotlighting us. More “practical” than revenge, though certainly you are correct that some fall into that category.

S1AMER • 2 days ago

We’ll be seeing many more such bills introduced in state legislatures in the coming months, and in many other states (not NJ) they will pass.

And each bill, as it comes along, will be worse than the one before.

Damn Republicans for many reasons, but double-damn them for picking on kids as a GOTV tactic.

Progressive German Newspaper Asks for State-Funded ‘Educational’ Porn

This is a great idea!   Recently I posted how a 17 year old was so ashamed of his nude body and that he was recorded masturbating that he first paid off the scammers then killed himself when they wanted more with threats to show the pictures / videos to his parents.  I said then we need to teach kids what their bodies are, what they are feeling is natural, what to do in some situations (I read in one of the Scandinavian countries they teach teen boys how to discretely hide their erections until they subside) and to not be ashamed to talk about things that they need to ask or tell an adult what is happening to them.    It is a fact that young people / kids see porn and nude bodies.  They shouldn’t be terrified of seeing a nude person or their developing feelings.   It is a fact kids will explore each other.  It is a fact that kids have sexual feelings and desires.  It is a fact that how an adult reacts or talks about bodies, nudity, and sexual acts can leave a kid scared they are broken and that they are abnormal.   Often how an adult reacts to catching a teen in a sexual situation is more traumatic than the actions they were involved in.   Remember kids will talk to each other about sex / feelings and if they cannot talk to an adult then the information they get from the other kids their age maybe be badly wrong.   

Porn is another area where comprehensive sexual education is needed.   Kids of all ages see porn.  Younger kids won’t care, but as kids get older toward puberty (around 10 / 11 years old most kids get really interested) and what they see / what their older siblings watch for porn will give them wrong ideas.   Adults know or should know that porn is a game, a story acted out for the pleasure of the watcher.   It is not real, it is not how real sex happens, and it is often geared to a segment of the audience.   I have read studies of what kids think their sex acts should be based on the porn they watched, and it is scary how misinformed they are.   Some boys thought girls liked to be abused and called names during sex.  There were other misconceptions based on duration of the acts and other things, but the thing that stood out to me was that because boys were seeing men aggressively take women and dominate them, they thought that was the way they had to act.    When the girls objected, the boys were confused.   So I think that these types of educational opportunities should be explored.   

In doing some research into the idea of how to publicly teach kids about their bodies, nudity, and sexual feelings I found this 8 part series. /  .   This should be redone in English and shown in our schools.     Hugs

Progressive German Newspaper Asks for State-Funded 'Educational' Porn

BERLIN — Progressive German publication Taz published an opinion piece last week suggesting that state public media fund “educational” porn as part of their mandate to “protect children,” rather than attempt to censor the commercial variety.

The article argues that “so far, an inefficient fight against free porn platforms is being waged.”

“There is no need for bans, just good alternatives,” Taz’s Arabella Wintermayr noted.

The “bans” the article refers to are efforts related an ongoing censorship campaign being waged by obscure local politician Tobias Schmid, director of the State Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Germany’s self-appointed one-man War on Porn. Schmid has been fighting in the courts to push for “age verification compliance.” 

Last month Schmid bragged about an AI tool called KIVI, which automatically scans all online content to determine which images are not compliant with the AV law.

He explained that he coined the name KIVI after “KI” — the German initials for AI — and “VI” from the Latin word “vigilare,” meaning “to survey.”

While some might view such surveillance as an authoritarian fantasy, Schmid called it a “fantastic combination,” German tech news site reported.

Schmid was also the architect of the judicial “network block” against xHamster, one of the country’s most popular tube sites.

The Case for Government-Funded Porn

Taz quoted pornographer and activist Paulita Pappel, who leads the European chapter of the Free Speech Coalition, and who criticized Schmid’s approach.

“They try de facto to silence the discourse about pornography in public and hide behind the protection of minors,” Pappel told Taz. “The idea that these network blocks would make sense is completely absurd. A 12-year-old can bypass them in no time with a VPN.”

The magazine also noted that Pappel’s Lustery studio recently released a scene in partnership with mainstream public broadcasting talk show “ZDF Magazin Royale,” which the company promoted as “the first-ever government-funded porn film.”

According to Lustery, the talk show’s producers reached out to them to “produce an ethical porn film as an alternative to the many tube sites.”

“Since the show is part of a public service broadcaster,” a Lustery rep explained, “they were able to use German TV tax [monies] paid by private individuals, companies and institutions in Germany” to produce the almost 30-minute scene titled “FFMM straight/queer doggy BJ ORAL orgasm squirting ROYALE (gebührenfinanziert).”

“Many people are loudly supporting it because they feel like the tax — annually, €220.32 — that everyone needs to pay is finally being used for something important and useful,” the rep noted. “Others are outraged because they either don’t understand why they’d need to pay for porn or they demonize porn and don’t want their money being used for such things.”

“But the fact is every German paid for it, no matter their attitude towards the genre,” the rep added.

A Proposal With Intriguing Potential

Taz concluded that this approach “would have potential.”

“In addition to normalizing feminist perspectives on sexuality and competing with the market power of free platforms,” they wrote, “the relationship to pornography would also change if it suddenly no longer took place on questionable websites but in the mainstream.”

“Consuming pornography would no longer be associated with something dirty,” Pappel theorized. “As a result, people would be freer from feelings of guilt, and communication about sexuality might be more open. Which may even prevent aggression.”

“There is a public broadcasting mandate to provide a basic supply of information, education, entertainment and advice,” added a legal expert consulted by Taz. “It should expressly reflect diversity that cannot be represented in the mainstream of the private sector.”

The educational mandate, the expert continued, “could be fulfilled, for example, by the films shown illustrating how consensus, communication and genuine desire work. This would set an appropriate framework that implements this basic service.”

Taz concluded by questioning the censorship-first approach, and suggested that the state media authorities should welcome “the approach of [public media] competing with the big free porn platforms … if they are actually concerned with the protection of minors. After all, [public media networks] are already taking age control very seriously.”


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