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We Mourn for Philando Castile. This Violence Must End.
 

Pride Marble Poll Results — 2016
 

An Apology from OutFront Minnesota
 

We Stay Strong in the Face of Adversity
 

OutFront Minnesota Statement on Trump’s Executive Order against Refugees and Immigrants
 

Minnesota Trans Healthcare Victory
 

OutFront Election Statement
 

2016 OutFront Action Endorsements
 

OutFront Solidarity Statement With Standing Rock
 

Senator Bonoff for Congress
 

Check out our archive of previous E-Newsletters

 
We Stay Strong in the Face of Adversity
02-07-2017

For many of us the past few months and specifically the past 19 days have been tumultuous and stressful as our political climate has become increasingly anti-LGBTQ. Legislative and executive attacks made against our LGBTQ and allied communities have created a country that can feel less safe for us. We have seen legislation introduced at the state level in Minnesota that seeks to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ Minnesotans and make our trans youth less safe. At the federal level there has already been a travel ban on immigrants and refugees which affect LGBTQ immigrants.

There are credible sources that detail the potential for an impending executive order that would allow religious exemptions in all matters effectively overriding any nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities. To be clear, freedom of religion is important, it’s a part of what makes our country great. That's why it's already protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. We must oppose any policies that allow people to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people or anyone else. This executive order, in it's current draft state would do exactly that. We are monitoring this as it develops and have built a petition supporting LGBTQ equity in Minnesota. Additionally, tomorrow we are kicking off weekly Wednesday Actions at our headquarters to phone bank, write letters and organize around equality and fairness for ALL Minnesotans.

Our communities have faced political challenges like this before and we have endured and prevailed. We set out decades ago knowing that the fight for equity would not happen overnight and today we are faced, once again, with that realization. We strive ever forward to create a more perfect union with our fellow advocates for justice. Our fight continues, we know that together we make the impossible possible. We know that together, we are unstoppable. We must learn to center the humanity of those we see as other, we must fight for love. Join us as we work together to build equality for LGBTQ Minnesotans and to fight for justice for ALL.



OutFront Minnesota Statement on Trump’s Executive Order against Refugees and Immigrants
01-30-2017
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Minnesota Trans Healthcare Victory
11-16-2016

 

Ban on transition related surgeries ruled unconstitional by Ramsey County judge. Read the full decision here and press release below.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2016
Contact: 
Jana Kooren, jkooren@aclu-mn.org 651.645.4097 x123 or 651.485.5925 c 

 

Minnesota transgender surgery ban found unconstitutional

St. Paul, Minn – A Minnesota District Court ruled this week that transgender people on Medical Assistance in Minnesota deserve access to medically necessary services related to gender transition. Since 2005, surgical treatments for gender dysphoria have been excluded from coverage even though equivalent treatments were covered under the federal Medicare program and private insurance plans. In December 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union along with the ACLU of Minnesota filed a lawsuit on behalf of OutFront Minnesota and Evan Thomas, a transgender man, challenging Minnesota’s ban on coverage. 

The ACLU’s client, Evan Thomas, was denied coverage for transition related surgery, despite being diagnosed with gender dysphoria. 

“I'm so happy we've won.  The judge’s ruling is a forceful statement that transgender people deserve equal treatment under the law.  Right now, when we're suddenly facing a path that's so much rougher than it looked a few days ago, this victory looks even more important, and I'm proud to have been part of this case,” stated Evan Thomas.  “I thank the ACLU for taking it on and winning such a good ruling -- it's been a privilege to work with these wonderful, dedicated people.”

OutFront is Minnesota’s largest LGBTQ rights organization and was also a plaintiff in the case. 

"OutFront Minnesota is delighted by this ruling, confirming what we knew all along: targeting transgender people like this is discriminatory, unconstitutional, and wrong.  Since filing this suit, we have been contacted by many individuals and families whose access to health care has been unjustly harmed.  At last we can provide some hopeful news that the care they need may now be within reach," stated Phil Duran, Legal Director of OutFront Minnesota.

“The victory today will bring immediate relief to the scores of transgender people living in Minnesota being denied the medical care they need,” stated ACLU-MN Executive Director Charles Samuelson. “Singling out groups of people and denying them medically necessary care for no legitimate reason is wrong and harmful. We are glad the court agreed with respecting the dignity of people.” 

The case was filed in Ramsey County District Court against Emily Johnson-Piper, the Commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Human Services. 

Cooperating attorneys in the case include: Matt Ralph, Erin Conti, JoLynn Markison, James R. Mason, Shannon McNeal of Dorsey & Whitney; Teresa Nelson of the ACLU-MN and Joshua Block of ACLU. 
###



OutFront Election Statement
11-09-2016

 

Champions. Justice-seeking activists. Thank you for your vigilance, dedication and steadfast commitment. You inspire us each and every day. It is time for us to grieve, support each other and allow healing in our communities. We must seek resilience in the hard fought efforts to bring rights and protections to all. We recognize that this is a profound movement moment. Although the outcome of the elections was not the one we had hoped and worked for - this is a critical time to come back to the heart and mission of our work in order to continue what we have always known would be a lifelong fight to achieve true social justice and liberation for all LGBTQ people.


Remember: Oppression thrives off isolation. Connection is the only thing that can save you [us].” - Yolo Akili


With every set-back, we have an opportunity to reaffirm our collective purpose to create a country and state that reflects our values and priorities. We have only been able to achieve transformational social change by coming together. We need to fight for the state and country we want. That means speaking out and working against racism, white supremacy, xenophobia, sexism, misogyny, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and any other forms of oppression that impact so many.


To LGBTQ people of color, native indigenous people, immigrants, people with disabilities and other community members who are disproportionately and negatively affected by our current social and political systems. We see you and we love you.


OutFront’s anti-violence program and legal program are here for you if you need to talk or face violence, harassment, discrimination or isolation.


We know many of our community members and allies are afraid of what this means in regards to our current freedoms and protections in the country and state. We at OutFront Minnesota want to assure you that this outcome will not deter us from our mission. Many of you fought for  the current rights and opportunities we have today --- and it is because of YOU that our movement continues to not give up in the face of hate. We will take the time needed to grieve this moment in our history, and renew our resolve to fight together for equity and liberation for all LGBTQ Minnesotans.



2016 OutFront Action Endorsements
11-03-2016
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OutFront Solidarity Statement With Standing Rock
11-01-2016
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Senator Bonoff for Congress
10-14-2016
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We Mourn for Philando Castile. This Violence Must End.
07-07-2016

OutFront Minnesota extends our deepest condolences to the Castile and Reynolds families and friends. We know that thoughts and prayers are not enough — we must take action to change the racist police practices that impact communities of color in the Twin Cities every day. This was an act of violence against Philando Castile as well as Diamond Reynolds, her daughter, and their loved ones. There is a vigil tonight at JJ Hill Montessori, the school where Philando Castile worked. Come to 998 Selby Ave, St. Paul at 5:30 PM to honor Philando's life.


We urge members of our LGBTQ communities, particularly those who are white, to reflect on the ways that racial injustice and police brutality are queer issues. Many members of our communities are people of color, and liberation is not possible unless we unite against oppressive systems.


We echo the demands for justice that have been put forth by the Castile/Reynolds families as well as Black Lives Matter St. Paul, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, and NAACP St. Paul Chapter. We ask our members to do so as well. OutFront amplifies the work of these community organizations that have long histories of leading the fight against systemic and institutionalized racism.


All LGBTQ people and allies must raise their voices to demand a change to the institutions that continue to target, dehumanize, and murder Black people, both straight and queer. We encourage all who are able to attend the vigil tonight and to look for upcoming opportunities to take action for racial justice.



Pride Marble Poll Results — 2016
07-01-2016
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Spotlight: Quinn Villagomez
06-17-2016

 

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An Apology from OutFront Minnesota
06-14-2016

An Apology from OutFront Minnesota

June 14, 2016

 

In the days following the horrific mass shooting in Orlando, FL, we at OutFront Minnesota mourn for everyone impacted by this tragedy. While we know this is a difficult time for all members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) communities, we acknowledge that it was largely Latinx and Black folks who were most directly targeted by this atrocity. 

 

OutFront Minnesota would like to thank all who came out to the event on Sunday evening. We hoped this event would provide a healing community space for those of us who needed it. We failed. We take responsibility for the fact that this event did not meet the needs of ALL community members.

 

We want to acknowledge these mistakes.

 

One of the major criticisms of this event was that it should have been a vigil, but was transformed into a political rally. We agree. 

 

In addition: 

  • To the Latinx community members that were not included in the event, we are sorry.
  • To the people who left the event feeling more pain than when they arrived, we are sorry.
  • To the queer and trans people of color who left the event feeling unheard and unsafe, we are sorry.
  • To the speakers, particularly the Muslim speakers, whose comments were disrespected by attendees without our immediate response, we are sorry.
  • To ALL of the people of color who left feeling further tokenized, marginalized, and ostracized, we are sorry.
  • For not having a moment of silence, we are sorry.
  • For not centering the victims more visibly and respectfully, we are sorry.

This tragedy is a horrific reflection of our current reality:  queer brown and black people are the targets of homophobic, bi-phobic, and transphobic violence in greater numbers, and with greater severity, than queer white folks. Queer and trans people of color have fewer safe spaces, their organizations receive less funding, and their voices are doubly marginalized in an already marginalized community. On Sunday we contributed to the creation of a space that not only failed to be an authentic healing space for ALL community members, but one that was also less safe for Queer and Transgender People of Color (QTPOC) and contributed to the further marginalization of these voices. Our work to address white supremacy both within our organization and in the state of Minnesota is far from done.

Our failure to acknowledge the ways certain members of our community — especially Latinx queer and trans people, but also queer people of color more generally — are differently and exceptionally impacted by the shooting is unacceptable. We cannot claim to do intersectional work if this is the best we can do. We must do better. And to the brave folks who called us out on social media, we thank you for your honest and valid criticism of this event. Keep holding us accountable. We need it. 

 

 

if you have additional feedback, please email us at advocate@outfront.org



Republicans push bill to keep transgender people from changing restrooms
04-01-2016

Several Republican state lawmakers are renewing their push to define who can use which bathrooms in Minnesota schools and workplaces.

They're supporting legislation that would require transgender people to use restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms that match the sex on their birth certificate. It would also prevent employers from deviating from the rules.

Opponents, including Gov. Mark Dayton, say the proposal is discriminatory. Monica Meyer, executive director of the group Outfront Minnesota, said the bill is trying to solve a safety problem that doesn't exist. Meyer said the proposal would also weaken the state's strong anti-discrimination laws.

"This legislation is about fear-mongering and it creates a hostile climate for transgender people, and it's wrong. It's just plain wrong," she said. "This bill is really about discrimination, plain and simple discrimination."

Read more on MPRnews.com

 



Minn. GOP Lawmaker To Address His Controversial ‘Bathroom Bill’
03-24-2016

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - The lawmaker behind a controversial bill, defining who can use bathrooms in Minnesota, will speak about his plan Wednesday.

The bill says "restrooms, locker rooms, [and] dressing rooms ... shall remain reserved for males or females as they are biologically defined." That means a transgender person assigned male at birth, but who identifies as a woman, could not use the women's restroom.

Opponents say it goes against the Civil Rights Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Amendment. The group OutFront Minnesota says they would like to see the legislature advance issues that make the state better for all people.

"In 1993, we passed a really strong non-discrimination law. And we made history by including transgender people in prohibiting discrimination in employment, and in education, public accommodations and housing. And this bill really is a step backward," Monica Meyer, OutFront Minnesota's executive director, said.

WCCO reached out to the author of the bill, Republican Representative Glenn Gruenhagen from Glencoe, who said he will make a comment at a news conference Wednesday morning.

See video on CBS.com



Limit bathroom use to biological sex, Republican lawmakers propose
03-24-2016

Transgender people should be legally forced to use bathrooms associated with their biological sex, a group of Minnesota Republican lawmakers proposed Wednesday.

The bill declares that a "person's right of privacy" should trump any "claim of nontraditional (gender) identity" when it comes to which restroom or locker room a person uses. It would apply to schools and to private businesses, which would be legally barred from permitting access to restrooms and similar facilities "on any basis other than biological sex."

Lead sponsor Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen, R-Glencoe, said he was inspired by a constituent who is now going to a different building at work to go to the bathroom because she doesn't feel comfortable with a transgender woman using the woman's bathroom.

OutFront Minnesota, a group that supports gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer rights, is opposed to the bill. "There are transgender Minnesotans who live all over our state," said Monica Meyer, OutFront Minnesota's executive director. "What they're trying to do is live their lives and do what everyone else does, which is to try to use public accommodations, use the restrooms and be safe, and be able to be a part of everyday life in our state."

Read more on Twincities.com



GOP bill would limit bathroom use to 'biological sex'
03-23-2016

The battle over transgender rights has flared at the State Capitol as a group of Republican legislators unveiled a proposal Wednesday that would require people to use bathrooms and changing rooms that match their "biological sex."

Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday decried the legislation, saying that he was "appalled" and that he would veto it if it were to reach his desk. "This is about pandering to their extreme issue," Dayton said. He added: "They just keep bashing people for their own political advantage. ... They're wrong on the issue, and they're wrong on the morality."

(Rep., R-Glencoe) Gruenhagen said the legislation was prompted by a complaint from a female constituent in his district who he said works in the Twin Cities. The third-term Republican said his constituent felt uncomfortable after a transgender co-worker began using the women's restroom at their workplace.

Monica Meyer, executive director of OutFront Minnesota - an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals that opposes the legislation - criticized the rhetoric by GOP legislators, saying it "creates a hostile climate in our state." She added: "Elected officials should be looking at policies that improve our state for all people."

Read more on Startribune.com



Precinct Caucuses & OutFront's Endorsed Candidates
02-29-2016

OutFront Minnesota Action is a political action committee of community members from across our state who recognize the tremendous opportunity the November elections give us to make sure our elected officials believe in a Minnesota where all of us have the freedom, power, and confidence to make the choices that are right for our own lives. Building relationships with and electing strong, pro-equality leaders is one of the ways that we can build a stronger movement. Support our endorsed candidates at your local precinct caucus. You can also download our 2016 resolutions here.

MN House Endorsements

Jennifer Schultz (07A)
Jay McNamar (12A)
Zach Dorholt (14B)
Clark Johnson (19A)
Jack Considine (19B)
David Bly (20B)
Jerry Newton (37A)
Barb Yarusso (42A)
Leon Lillie (43B)
Jon Applebaum (44B)
Lyndon Carlson (45A)
Mike Freiberg (45B)
Peggy Flanagan (46A)
Cheryl Youakim (46B)
Yvonne Selcer (48A)
Rick Hansen (52A)
JoAnn Ward (53A)
Lindsey Port (56B)
Erin May Quade (57A)
Raymond Dehn (59B)
Diane Loeffler (60A)
Frank Hornstein (61A)
Karen Clark (62A)
Susan Allen (62B)
Jim Davnie (63A)
Dave Pinto (64B)
Rena Moran (65A)
John Lesch (66B)
Sheldon Johnson (67B)

MN Senate Endorsements

Erik Simonson (SD07)
Dan Wolgamott (SD14)
Kevin Dahle (SD20)
John Hoffman (SD36)
Alice Johnson (SD37)
Terri Bonoff (SD44)
Ron Latz (SD46)
Melissa Franzen (SD49)
Melissa Halvorsen Wicklund (SD50)
Jim Carlson (SD51)
Maureen Ramirez (SD52)
Susan Kent (SD53)
Scott Dibble (SD61)
Patricia Torres Ray (SD63)
Dick Cohen (SD64)
Sandy Pappas (SD65)
John Marty (SD66)
Foung Hawj (SD67)

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Right-wing religious organization targets a Minnesota charter school for attempting to create a gender-inclusive environment
01-12-2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Jill Gaulding, Counsel for Hannah and David Edwards
Co-Founder & Legal Director, Gender Justice
651-789-2090 | 651-757-5268 (cell)
jill.gaulding@genderjustice.us

Jennifer Houston, Director, External Affairs, OutFront Minnesota 612-822-0127
jhouston@outfront.org

Alison Yocom, Co-Chair, Transforming Families MN
612-321-8416 | 612-355-9366 (cell)
transformingfamiliesmn@gmail.com

January 12, 2016 (Minneapolis, MN) – The Minnesota Family Council (MFC), an organization hostile to LGBTQ equality, is holding an event tonight at Nova Classical Academy, a St. Paul charter public school, in an effort to dissuade Nova’s school board and administration from implementing gender-inclusive practices within the school environment. MFC is opposed by organizations that work with LGBTQ youth and their families, including Gender Justice, OutFront, Transforming Families, and Minnesota Trans Health Coalition. These organizations support Nova—and all schools—in aligning their practices with state and federal anti-discrimination laws, including Minnesota’s recently passed statewide anti-bullying law.

Hannah and David Edwards are the parents of a gender non-conforming 5 yr. old child who attends kindergarten at Nova. When their child faced bullying from other students, they asked Nova, a public charter school, to take steps to ensure a safe, supportive school environment for all students. In response, some parents have organized petition drives, and tonight’s event, to prevent Nova from providing a supportive environment for gender non-conforming children. “We believe the messages being expressed by the Minnesota Family Council do not represent the position of a majority of Nova parents and that their presence on Tuesday will do further damage to the climate of the school community. We look forward to Nova’s school board taking action to demonstrate that they are committed to creating gender-­‐inclusive policies and protections for every student who enrolls at their school,” David Edwards said.

The MFC claims any steps taken by the school will “put children at risk.” Yet LGBTQ youth are already at risk in schools. A 2013 study, for example, showed that 75% of transgender students reported being verbally harassed at school in the previous year, and 1 in 3 have been physically assaulted. Numbers for gender non-conforming students are similar; in a 2010 study, 66% reported verbal harassment and 33% reported physical harassment. Rates of depression and suicide among these youth populations are frighteningly high.

Both state and federal laws require schools to reduce these risks by protecting transgender and gender non-conforming youth from discrimination and bullying in schools. The burden of ensuring school compliance with those laws should not fall on the families of bullied students.

Jill Gaulding, Legal Director of Gender Justice, rejects the MFC’s claim of “risk.” “What really ‘puts children at risk’ is not children using the restrooms consistent with their gender identity, but when schools fail to follow laws that protect transgender and gender non-conforming children from discrimination.”

Monica Meyer, Executive Director of OutFront Minnesota, agrees. “A school should be a place where all students, including LGBTQ youth, are able to thrive, a place that is affirming, supportive, and inclusive. It’s a tragedy that we have all these adults targeting youth, sending the message that it’s not okay to be who you are.”

Parents and community members who support inclusive student rights and object to this sort of discrimination against children are encouraged to attend tonight’s event at Nova Classical Academy.

Selected Resources:

Report on 2013 school climate survey:
http://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/2013%20National%20School%20Climate%20Survey%0 Full%20Report_0.pdf

Report on 2010 and 2011 studies on the long-term harms of bullying: https://mcclellandinstitute.arizona.edu/sites/mcclellandinstitute.arizona.edu/files/ResearchLink_Vol.%204%20No.%201_Bullying.pdf

Guide for supporting transgender students in K-12 schools:
http://hrc-assets.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com//files/assets/resources/Schools-In- Transition.pdf

2015 report on NYC schools’ response to discrimination against transgender and gender-nonconforming students:
http://www.nyclu.org/files/releases/Dignity_for_All_Report.pdf

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OutFront Minnesota Challenges Minnesota’s Ban on Medicaid Coverage of Transition-Related Surgery
12-17-2015

Lawsuit Says Ban Arbitrarily Denies Transgender People Necessary Healthcare

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 17, 2015
CONTACT:
Crystal Cooper, ACLU National, 212-519-7894, ccooper@aclu.org
Jana Kooren, ACLU of Minnesota, 651-645-4097 x123 or 651-485-5925, jkooren@aclu-mn.org

ST. PAUL, MINN. – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Minnesota filed a lawsuit today in Minnesota State Court to challenge the coverage ban on transition-related surgery for transgender people on Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare, the state’s public insurance programs for low-income residents.

Minnesota’s Medical Assistance program provides coverage for medically necessary care for virtually every type of medical condition. But for gender dysphoria, Minnesota law mandates a sweeping and categorical exclusion of all transition-related surgical care without any regard to whether the treatment is medically necessary for an individual recipient. As a result of this sweeping exclusion, most surgical treatments for gender dysphoria are excluded from coverage even though the same or substantially equivalent treatments are required to be covered under the federal Medicare program and private insurance plans regulated by the State of Minnesota.

“For many transgender people, transition-related surgery is a medical necessity and can sometimes be a matter of life and death. Transgender Minnesotans—like everyone else—should be able to receive adequate health care based on medical standards of care,” said Joshua Block, attorney in the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Project. “Every major medical organization has recognized that policies banning coverage for medically necessary transition care have no basis in modern medical science. Minnesota’s statute is a historical relic based purely on disapproval of transgender people.”

The complaint was filed on behalf of plaintiffs Evan Thomas and OutFront Minnesota, the state’s leading LGBTQ rights group, arguing that this ban is discriminatory and has no basis in medical science.

Evan Thomas is currently on Medical Assistance and has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. After fighting depression all his life, he began hormone therapy and legally changed his name and gender earlier this year. But he has been denied coverage for medically necessary transition-related surgery.

“A weight was lifted when I first began my gender transition and realized I didn’t have to pretend to be a woman anymore,” said Evan Thomas. “Being denied surgical treatment is harmful to my health and well-being every day I’m forced to live in this body.”

OutFront is Minnesota’s largest LGBTQ rights organization and is regularly contacted by transgender individuals on Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare seeking coverage for transition services, including transition-related surgery. OutFront provides guidance to these individuals regarding Minnesota’s Medical Assistance program and their coverage options.

“Since its inception nearly thirty years ago, OutFront Minnesota has been firmly committed to advancing transgender equality across Minnesota,” said Monica Meyer, executive director of OutFront. “In recent years, we have undertaken a comprehensive approach to eliminating unjust barriers to health care that many transgender people face. Today's lawsuit is a critical part of this effort, and we thank the ACLU and Dorsey & Whitney for their steadfast support for achieving the equal protection of law for Minnesota's transgender community.”

Ten states and the District of Columbia currently cover transition-related surgical care through their public health insurance programs. Transition-related surgery is also covered by Medicare.

The case is filed against the Commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Human Services, and demands that Minnesota end its discriminatory practice of excluding transgender individuals from accessing all of their needed health care.

Cooperating attorneys in the case include: Kristina Carlson, David Couillard, and JoLynn Markison of Dorsey & Whitney; Teresa Nelson of the ACLU-MN and Joshua Block of ACLU. Read the full lawsuit complaint here.

Read Evan Thomas' stiring account of his life experiences as a Trans person and why he has decided to be a part of this lawsuit on ACLU MN's blog here.

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LGBTQ Organizations Stand in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter
12-03-2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer Houston
jhouston@outfront.org

December 3rd, 2015 (Minneapolis) — Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities know that liberation is not a given; it is fought for. We remember it was trans women of color who led the riots at Stonewall, catalyzing a national movement. Before Stonewall, trans people who were getting arrested spurred the Compton Cafeteria Riots in 1966. We remember the White Night Riots after America’s justice system failed Harvey Milk. We remember that just two years ago, we rallied to narrowly defeat a constitutional ban on marriage equality in Minnesota. As LGBTQ people from many races, many religions, and many colors, we know what it is to stand up for our inherent worth, our identities, our bodies, and to speak out against discrimination, harassment and violence. Countless times LGBTQ people and organizations have organized, agitated and taken action to demand institutional equity and respect for our lives.

We are called to stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and all struggles to fight racism, to ensure that the killing of Black people gets proper investigation, and to call attention to the pervasive culture of white supremacy in the United States. What happened to Jamar Clark — and has been happening across this country to Black and Brown people for much too long — is not justice. This must change.

We recognize that Black people in America, some of whom are LGBTQ, are systematically oppressed and we stand together affirming that Black Lives Matter. As LGBTQ organizations, we acknowledge that while our work is bound up with movements for racial healing and justice, and many members of our organizations and communities have shown up in support of this movement, we historically haven’t done enough to align our missions with work for racial justice. With this letter, we want to publicly state our support in a unified way, and ask our friends and supporters to step forward with us.

As allies to this movement we believe that our first job is to listen and to ask how we can support Black Lives Matter, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, the NAACP, and other organizations taking the lead to end racially biased violence here in Minnesota. Our job is to listen first, and then to act. We are not coming in recommending strategies. We are curious, open and learning. We are educating our communities and our organizations on why it is important for LGBTQ communities to stand with Black communities — why our politics, our values and our liberation are bound together. Minnesota has some of the worst racial disparities across socio-economic, health and environmental conditions. We are committed for the long haul of actively working to create a more equitable state.

We are reminded and hold true the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies … but the silence of our friends.” We will not be silent, and we will not turn our backs on the Black community during this urgent time. We ask that members of our many LGBTQ communities step into this commitment with us – the commitment to listen, and to act.

OutFront Minnesota
PFund Foundation
RECLAIM
Faded Productions
Twin Cities People of Color Pride
Family Tree Clinic
Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition
Rare Productions
20% Theatre Company Twin Cities
Shades of Yellow
Rainbow Health Initiative
Gender Justice
GLBT Host Home Program - Avenues for Homeless Youth
Twin Cities Pride
Transforming Families
Minnesota Two Spirit Society
Minnesota AIDS Project
Bisexual Organizing Project
KFAI Radio
Transgender Health Services at U of M Program in Human Sexuality
Café Southside
Gadfly Theatre
MN LGBTQ Therapists Network
The Column
Embodied Arts
National LGBTQ Task Force
Pangea World Theatre
One Voice Mixed Chorus
Madame of the Arts
All God's Children Metropolitan Community Church
WEDGE
Out Now, MA
Stonewall DFL
Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests
Augsburg College Queer Pride Alliance Point Acupressure
Family Equality Council
Out Family Coalition, CA
Aliveness Project
MN Coalition Against Sexual Assault
PFLAG Twin Cities
Queer Bike Gang
Telling Queer History
Saint Paul Mennonite Fellowship
ReconcilingWorks


∗ If you are an LGBTQ organization and are interested in signing on to this letter please contact Jennifer Houston at jhouston@outfront.org

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Beth Zemsky's Gala Legacy Award Acceptance Speech
12-01-2015

I am honored to receive this award and recognition. And at the same time it is a bit odd and awkward because this recognition is of me and my work, when as an activist and an organizer, I think of movement work in the context of us. It is our work, our accomplishments, our losses, our joys, our dreams, our movement for justice.

Having said this, I am really happy to be here.

Honestly, I never imagined that I would be here. When I started doing LGBTQ activism in 1980, it never occurred to me that I could have a career as a professional lesbian that spanned three decades. I also never imagined that this work would ever be celebrated by anyone; certainly not at a big swanky event at the International Market Square in which I got to wear a sparkly dress and heels.

The theme for this evening is Audre Lorde’s quote:
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

Another thing that Audre Lorde said that has also been important it to me is that it not our words that are dangerous, but our silences. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, we knew this. We knew that Silence = Death. And we knew that no one was going to care about our lives, and in fact no one did, until we fought to claim a space for ourselves by taking care of each other, by creating a community, and by building a movement to affirm our multiple identities and build power to change the conditions of our lives.

You know, the thing about getting a legacy award is that I get to reflect back on some lessons from the past that might point our way to the future.

One thing I know about movements is that they move. We need to remember that as much as we win access to the Rights everyone has, this does not make us like everyone else. Nor do I think this should ever be our goal. As soon as we try just to be like everyone else, we lose access to one of the most powerful gifts we as a community have to share with the world.

As LGBTQ people we know, as evidenced by the choices we’ve made for our lives, the transformational power of love. For any of us who’ve gone through the process of coming out, we potentially risked everything we had – homes, jobs, relationships, our safety etc. —in order to live a life filled with passion, desire, and authentic connection. In fact, we have members of our communities right now who are part of Black Lives Matter in N Minneapolis who are outside putting their lives on the line. We know how powerful it is to really believe that we deserve and can live a life centered in dignity, loving connection and desire.

That’s our gift. As LGBTQ people and as a movement. Imagine what it would be like if we were able to have all of our politics centered in the transformational power of love, rather than fear and hatred.

Times are critical. We are in this moment when the forces of fear, hate and polarization have louder and louder voices. They aren't necessarily growing in power. They are just getting more frantic and shrill and then more brazen in their violence.

Our challenge in the face of all of this is how do we continue to love and support each other. How do we move our movement to center a commitment to build a world in which we never have to leave any of ourselves behind - where all of who we are (including our magnificent gender, racial, religious and sexual diversities are embraced), and where all of who we love, and all the ways we love are affirmed and celebrated.

How can I talk about love rather than anger in response to all that is happening in the world right now and on the streets of our cities?

I can do this because this love I am talking about is not a noun. It is a verb. This love calls us to expand our sense of connection, to dream of new possibilities, and to take risks to bring the things we dream into reality. This love calls us to love our racialized and colonialized bodies into wholeness and to reach across divides to touch each other with all the passion and desire we feel. This love also calls us into accountability to live up to our deepest held values and commitments to each other. Ultimately, to paraphrase my friend and colleague Mandy Carter, this love calls us to out of a place where justice is just about us into a place of connection and action towards justice for all… including justice for trans people, for Black folks, for the Syrians and all the refugees and immigrants seeking a safe place to call home, and for those among us who experience oppression every day.

I am really proud of my accomplishments—the things I’ve had a hand in creating, the workshops I’ve facilitated, the actions I’ve organized, the classes I’ve taught, and the relationships with the people and the organizations I’ve supported and mentored. But what I’m most proud of is that I’ve been able to do my activism from this place of love.

That’s the movement I’ve tried to be a part of. And this is the movement I want us to continue to become.

Thank you for this honor and recognition. I look forward to our ongoing connection and work together. In love.

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State of Minnesota: Healthcare Plans Cannot Exclude Coverage for Transgender Health Services
12-01-2015

 

*OutFront Minnesota, Rainbow Health Initiative, MN Transgender Health Coalition, MN Transgender Insurance Taskforce issue a Joint Press Release*

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer Houston
jhouston@outfront.org

STATE OF MINNESOTA: HEALTHCARE PLANS CANNOT EXCLUDE COVERAGE FOR TRANSGENDER HEALTH SERVICES

December 1, 2015 (Minneapolis)— The Minnesota Departments of Commerce and Health have released a bulletin stating that health plans subject to their jurisdiction may not exclude coverage for services related to a person’s gender transition. This announcement culminates nearly two years of work on this effort by many, including Rainbow Health Initiative, MN Transgender Health Coalition, the University of Minnesota’s Program in Human Sexuality, MN Transgender Insurance Taskforce and OutFront Minnesota. Minnesota is the thirteenth jurisdiction in the country to make a statement on this subject.

The inability to access appropriate health care is a major stressor for transgender Minnesotans of all ages, and can contribute for many to a sense of hopelessness and despair. “Unnecessary barriers to insurance coverage harm families, and interfere with providers by requiring them to engage in layers of advocacy so their patients can access the care their insurance policies should be covering,” says Dylan Flunker, member of the MN Transgender Health Insurance Taskforce. Rainbow Health Initiative’s Voices of Health survey shows that over 16% of transgender individuals experienced discrimination from their health care providers in the last year. RHI's Executive Director, Joann Usher, states, "every week RHI and the other partners in this effort receive calls from trans individuals who have lost hope that they will ever receive the care that they need and deserve because they have received yet another insurance claim denial. This bulletin will hopefully reduce the number of denials and provide us with one more tool in our appeals toolkit.”

The Affordable Care Act, under which MNSure was ultimately created, bars discrimination in covered contexts on the basis of transgender status as a form of sex discrimination. Minnesota law has barred discrimination against transgender people since 1993, and in 2012, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights agreed that where a University’s student health plan contained such an exclusion, the plan violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act. “That discrimination complaint, and the many insurance appeals we have worked on over the years, have shown the ongoing need for clarity in the law regarding transgender-specific health coverage,” says OutFront Minnesota Legal Director Phil Duran. “While this policy does not address all issues transgender people face in this area, it sends a powerful message to all insurers that they must take transgender health concerns seriously.”

As a collective voice of organizations, we will work together to ensure that all transgender individuals are able to access health care coverage, and that health insurers abide by ACA and human rights laws and regulations.

# # # #

About OutFront Minnesota
OutFront Minnesota is the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) organization. OutFront’s mission is to create a state where LGBTQ people are free to be who they are, love who they love, and live without fear of violence, harassment or discrimination. They deliver programs and services to Minnesota's LGBTQ and allied communities in the areas of community organizing, public policy, anti-violence and crime victim services, law and education and training. OutFront works with more than 70,000 champions of equality to create positive change in our communities, workplaces, schools, places of worship, and state and local government. www.outfront.org
Contact: Jennifer Houston, Director, External Affairs
jhouston@outfront.org
612.822.0127

About Rainbow Health Initiative
Rainbow Health Initiative advances health equity for LGBTQ communities through research, education, and advocacy. RHI collects statewide and national LGBTQ health data via “Voices of Health”, an annual community health assessment, and uses this data to largely inform RHI’s education and advocacy efforts. This year, RHI has released a report on the 2013 MN Student Survey (“Invisible Youth”), created an online LGBTQ Provider Directory in partnership with the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition, published an online Patient Toolkit, and is currently working on facilitating the Standards of Inclusion Board for LGBTQ inclusion in health and human services.
Contact: Joann Usher, Executive Director joann.usher@rainbowhealth.org
612.206.3180

About MN Transgender Insurance Taskforce
The Minnesota Transgender Health Insurance Taskforce is a coalition of advocates, providers, and community members committed to improving healthcare for trans and gender nonconforming Minnesotans. Achieving full insurance coverage for all gender related health care, including hormones, psychotherapy, and surgery, for all Minnesotans is our mission. Contact: Katie Spencer, PhD at the U of M Program in Human Sexuality, mntransinsurancetaskforce@gmail.com or 612-626-8755

About MN Transgender Health Coalition
The Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition is committed to improving health care access and the quality of health care received by trans and gender non-conforming people through education, resources, and advocacy. Contact: Peek Ehlinger, Board Chair, liz.ehlinger@gmail.com

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OutFront Minnesota Announces LGBTQ Gala Award Winners
11-03-2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jean Heyer
612-701-3874/heyerjeanmarie@gmail.com

 

OUTFRONT MINNESOTA ANNOUNCES LGBTQ AWARD WINNERS

 

November 2, 2015 Minneapolis – On Saturday, November 21, OutFront Minnesota will honor six award winners who are champions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer  (LGBTQ) equity. The awards will be presented at International Market Square during the stage program at OutFront’s Annual Gala: Dare to Be Powerful.

 

This year’s theme is inspired by the iconic words of Audre Lorde:

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

 

The OutFront Minnesota Awards recognize the accomplishments of outstanding individuals who dare to be powerful and, as a result, advance the movement for LGBTQ equity in Minnesota.

 

Beth Zemsky Legacy Award Winner for long-term commitment to equity for LGBTQ Minnesotans.

 

Beth Zemsky has been a leader in the LGBTQ movement locally and nationally for 35 years. She was an OutFront Minnesota staff member from 1989-1993 and went on to serve as the founding director of the University of Minnesota GLBTA Program Office. She currently works as a consultant specializing in intercultural organizational development. A long-time Board Member of the National LGBTQ Task Force, Beth's range of experience as an organizer, psychotherapist, trainer, and mentor have led to her supporting the growth and development of countless people and organizations, LGBTQ and beyond. Recently, her movement building work caught the eye of the international world and she has traveled to share her story and the story of LGBTQ Movement Building in the United States with people abroad. Her legacy of leadership is a misnomer because she has so much more to give. In addition to being a brilliant intersectional movement builder, thinker and strategist, she is funny, generous, kind and deeply rooted in justice.

 

Lena K. Gardner - Innovator Award Winner for using new and innovative strategies to organize & engage community members to advance equity for all LGBTQ Minnesotans.

 

Lena K. Gardner, a queer Black woman and long time OutFront supporter, has helped lead Black Lives Matter Minneapolis into amazing intersectional organizing. She has brought together thousands of people from across our state to demand justice for Black Minnesotans while organizing to include diverse people across race, religion, sexuality and gender identities. Lena's vision and gift for creating deep relationships has fostered a movement for racial justice that has space for LGBTQ people, people of faith and allies. Lena draws connections and parallels between racial, economic, gender, and sexuality oppression that allows communities to come together to demand change. In her paid work, Lena is a development leader for an online Unitarian Universalist congregation, the Church of the Larger Fellowship, faith without walls.

 

Parker Breza – Visionary Award Winner for making a significant impact in helping OutFront Minnesota advance its mission and vision

 

Parker Breza is an exceptional young activist. He has been very busy the past few years affecting change with Minnesota DFL and a number of progressive campaigns. As an intern at OutFront, Parker played a key leadership role in the Youth Summit; facilitated many trainings; led phone banks; and engaged hundreds of Minnesotans in LGBTQ equity issues. During his senior year at Benilde St. Margaret, he was one of several youth leaders who created the LGBTQ Catholic Youth Summit. This monumental event brought together more than 200 members of the Catholic Church and LGBTQ students to engage in a discussion about making the Catholic Church a more welcoming and affirming place for LGBTQ young people. Parker is currently a first year at Tufts University where he was recently elected LGBTQ rep for student government.

 

For the second year in a row, OutFront is honoring several young people with a Courage Award for speaking up for LGBTQ equity.

 

·       Ema Santibañez nine-year-old, fourth grade girl, who identifies as transgender, testified at a St. Paul Public School Board meeting this past winter in support of the Gender Inclusion policy;

·      George Yocom, a 12-year-old, seventh grade boy, who identifies as transgender, bravely spoke at a Minnesota State High School League Board meeting last December in a room with more than 150 people, many of whom were conservative members of the opposition. In the past year, George also co-hosted a panel at OutFront’s Youth Summit; shared his story in a Star Tribune article about fighting for health care access as a young trans person; and participated in an hour-long MPR radio interview about trans youth. He is currently co-leader of his middle school GSA

·       Holly Montemayor, a 17-year-old junior in high school, who identifies as transgender, spoke in front of several hundred people at OutFront’s LGBTQ Lobby Day at the Capitol in April. She also spoke in support the gender inclusion policy at a St. Paul Public School Board meeting earlier this year.

 

The stage program at OutFront Minnesota’s gala will feature Emmy Award winning actor, vocalist, arts educator and community organizer T. Mychael Rambo as emcee. There will also be a dance party with a DJ, a fabulous silent auction and delectable heavy appetizers.

 For more information, please visit: outfront.org/gala

About OutFront Minnesota

OutFront Minnesota’s is the state’s leading LGBTQ organization. Our mission is to create a state where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are free to be who they are, love who they love, and live without fear of violence, harassment or discrimination. We deliver programs and services to Minnesota's LGBTQ and allied communities in the areas of community organizing, public policy, anti-violence and crime victim services, law and education and training.  We work with more than 70,000 champions of equality to create positive change in our communities, places of worship, schools, workplaces, and state and local government.

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Endorsement Announcement: Angie Craig
10-08-2015

On October 6th, OutFront Action announced endorsement of Angie Craig for Congress in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District. OutFront Action is the state’s leading organization in building equity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Minnesotans. If elected, Angie will be the first openly lesbian Congressperson elected from Minnesota.

“We’re excited to throw our support behind Angie Craig,” said Monica Meyer, OutFront Executive Director. “We’re excited to send someone to the Capitol who is going to champion LGBTQ equity and progressive policies, especially addressing the huge disparities in opportunity for LGBTQ youth and transgender Minnesotans.” Meyer’s noted Angie Craig’s history of opening healthcare access for transgender employees during her time at St. Jude Medical, a current policy priority of OutFront Action’s advocacy arm for the state of Minnesota.

“As a member of the LGBTQ community, growing up in the south, I’ve seen just how vile and insidious workplace and housing discrimination can be in all their forms,” said Angie Craig. “And now that the marriage struggle is over, we must turn our attention to protecting the LGBTQ community from discrimination in the workplace, housing and all other aspects of civic life. I will also support the Student Non-Discrimination Act to ensure that LGBTQ students attend school in a safe and supportive learning environment; while also supporting additional resources for homeless youth.”

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Youth Library Opening
10-07-2015

OutFront's Youth Library is a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ teens to gather after school, where they can find hundreds of great books that relate to the issues they live every day. Healthy snacks and free counseling are always available, as well as opportunities to get involved in social justice issues. Books for parents and younger readers can also be found. Hours are Mondays - Thursdays from 3pm-6pm. Library entrance is at Suite 207. Contact youthlibrary@outfront.org with questions or comments.

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Legislative Updates
05-07-2015
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