Thursday, April 24, 2008

FLORIDA DIGEST April 24, 2008

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Letter from Michael Rajner

The National Day of Silence brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling,bullying and harassment in schools. This year's event will be held in memoryof Lawrence King, a California 8th-grader who was shot and killed Feb. 12 bya classmate because of his sexual orientation and gender expression.Hundreds of thousands of students will come together on April 25 toencourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBTbehavior. (

On Friday, April 25th students across the nation will participate in theGLSEN's National Day of Silence to raise awareness for need to enactcomprehensive anti-bullying legislation. In Broward County, severalGay/Straight Alliance groups met resistance by school administrators due topoor interpretation of the district's position on the National Day ofSilence. On a website, the National Day of Silenceis under attack and identifies an extensive list of schools across thenation where students are organizing events.

A few days ago Sun-Sentinel editorial columnist William Butte's article onthe need for the National Day of Silence was posted to our list-serve. Ithelped provide understanding for the importance and need for such a day. Iwrote Mr. Butte and thanked him for his column and noted that severalBroward County schools were participating in this day. He responded to mye-mail and forwarded me an e-mail from a student concerned that a schoolboard official was interfering with the observance of this day. At thetime, every school in Broward County was forced to discontinue planning forany event already underway. On Monday, the district clarified it's policyand stated that the school district has not officially endorsed this day andauthorization to organize such event is at the decision of local schooladministrators. Students were also permitted to exercise their firstamendment as long as it did not interfere with academic pursuits.

What upset me greatly was to learn that churches in Broward County werepreaching against this day from the pulpit. Preaching against a day thatwas designed to speak out against harassment, hatred and intolerance.

Parents were reported to have called the school district to complain againstthis peaceful and silent demonstration. The Christ I grew to know and lovewould not be preaching the sermon of hate in those churches that contributesto societies shame, he in fact would be standing with all of God's children.The Christ I know is caring and compassionate.

In 1994 I lived in Los Angeles and had the honor to sit on an advisory boardfor the first gay prom for teens. At 23 years of age, it was a lifechanging experience to listen to the horror stories of the youth that werebanish from their homes simply because of their sexual orientation. Onechild shared that his father grappled him by the throat and tossed him outthe front door onto the dirt and ordered never to return home. Homeless,hungry and desperate, this youth was forced to engage in survival sex on thestreets of Santa Monica Boulevard so he could earn some money to afford someform of shelter and food to eat. In Broward County this very situation doesexist more than we can ever imagine.

A few months ago, we rallied as a united community to grieve and speak outagainst the loss of 17-year old Simmie Williams, Jr. A youth murdered forhis sexual orientation/gender expression. In many ways Simmie is our ownLawrence "Larry" King. When Simmie was approximately 15, his mother had nochoice but to remove him from high school because he was bullied andharassed by his peers for his sexual orientation. It was the only way sheknew to protect her child from institutionalized hate that is indoctrinatedin our laws. On the very night her child lay at rest, Denise King drovearound the Sistrunk neighborhood to search for a 15 year old boy who wasturned away from his home for being gay. During a time of such tremendousloss and agonizing pain, Denise found incredible strength in God to go outand search for this abandoned child. Sadly, we do not know the whereaboutsof this child.

On Friday, April 25th the Sun-Sentinel will be printing an article toaddress the conflict that students in Broward County experienced this yearwhile attempting to organize a peaceful and silent demonstration in BrowardCounty to honor a murdered child. As you read the article this comingFriday, please remember the youth across this nation attempting todemonstrate incredible leadership to exercise their constitutional right andattempted to bring about positive change.

The conversations and e-mail communications with students of Broward Countythis week have provided me with incredible hope and inspiration for a bettertomorrow.

With you in the Fight!
Michael Emanuel Rajner

Go to the links for the following articles:

-The 10th annual Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
Nearly 100 films unspool in Miami-Dade and Broward,0,6663353.story

-Legislators, stay out of very sensitive abortion issue
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why some Floridalegislators are hoping to mandate that all women, seeking an abortion,review an ultrasound image of their fetus prior to consenting to theprocedure. Although ultrasounds performed in the first trimester areconsidered medically unnecessary, the proposed law commands physicians toconduct them. The action also attempts to distort the directive of informedconsent into a tactic to dissuade women from terminating their pregnancies.,0,1220303.story

From Equality Florida
Pinellas County Partially Amends Human Rights Ordinance
Gender Identity and Expression Still Must Be AddedLast night was a big nightin Pinellas County and I wanted to give you a quick update. The Board ofCounty Commissioners approved adding sexual orientation to the county'sHuman Rights Ordinance (HRO) by a vote of 4 to 2. While we would prefer tobe celebrating a fully inclusive ordinance this morning, our team securedthe second best outcome: a commitment by the board to bring forward genderidentity or expression within the next six weeks.
Tobias Packer Local Policy Coordinator

Wilton Manors: Free Movie in the Park
Friday, April 25, 2008 At Hagen Park
2020 Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors
"Happy Feet" Rated PG
Into the world of the Emperor Penguins, who find theirsoul mates through song, a penguin is born whocannot sing. But he can tap dance something fierce!
Starring Elijah Wood and Robin Williams.
WARNING: May Cause Toe-Tapping

Miami Herald
Go to the links for the following articles:

-Broward leaders fear losing port business over IDs
Broward County officials told state legislators that a proposed new port IDsystem might drive some shippers out of Florida.

-Florida's budget squeeze easing
Lawmakers started compromising on the state budget, saving some programsthat appeared to be in for major cuts, but some big-ticket items remainunresolved.

Palm Beach Post
Go to the links for the following articles:

-Senate approves paying those wrongfully imprisioned
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Senate passed a bill that would automatically paypeople who were wrongfully incarcerated, but excludes those who havecommitted prior crimes

-Once again the Senate blushes, this time it's the m-word [masturbation]
Senate President Ken Pruitt temporarily ended discussion on a billprotecting children when it appeared discussion would devolve into the useof the "m-word."

-Tobacco fund used for health programs
TALLAHASSEE - The House and Senate leadership on Wednesday rescued twohealth programs from the budget ax by tapping into Florida's landmark cashsettlement with tobacco companies.

-Broward Community College faculty complain about trustees to Gov. CharlieCrist
The Faculty Senate at Broward Community College gave Gov. Charlie Crist apetition Wednesday blasting the school's governing Board of Trustees.,0,7009193.story

-Florida Senate OKs ban on penalties for teachers who challenge evolution
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Senate passed a measure today that would preventschool districts and principals from penalizing teachers who challenge evolution.

-Jeb Bush skeptical about global warming
DALLAS (AP) -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he is "light green" on theenvironment and is skeptical that humans are causing global warming.

Fort Report
Go to the links for the following articles:

-What are Florida's votes- real, virtual or imaginary?
Nearly 1.75-million Democrats voted in Florida's officially meaninglesspresidential primary, and it remains to be seen whether Florida will sendany delegates to the national convention.

-With Michigan, Florida, Clinton claims popular vote lead
But Obama discounts votes in two disputed primaries, touts his higherdelegate count


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