Welcome to our weekly round-up of the most infuriating bits of news from the past seven days. We'll be providing a retrospective on the most heinous, crazy-making bits of anti-LGBT news that came across our radar last week. Our hope in doing this isn't only to darken the skies, but also to sound the alarm about the kind of idiocy that passes for "legitimate commentary" these days. Expect a healthy dose of snark in the following paragraphs — sometimes it's the only way we can get through the day.
5. Fired Lesbian Teacher Sues Calif. School District
Sadly, it's a story we're all too familiar with: an openly lesbian teacher is drummed out of her school for being gay, or, in this case, for standing up for her gay students. Julia Frost was a probationary English teacher at Sultana High School in Hesperia, Calif. from 2011-2013, at which point her contract was not renewed. She says she was subjected to homophobic harassment and antigay attitudes throughout the duration of her employment, but when the harassment rose to professional retaliation against the out teacher for supporting her students, Frost had had enough.
After repeated obstruction from school officials, Frost helped students who were trying to establish a Gay/Straight Alliance on campus by filing a formal complaint. Frost says she was spurred to action not only as a cosponsor of the school's fledgling GSA, but after she saw repeated instances of homophobic and transphobic hostility directed at LGBT students in the hallways and classrooms. But after
On November 19, Lambda Legal filed suit against the Hesperia Unified School District, contending that Southern California school district violated state antidiscrimination laws regarding unlawful termination and retaliation for helping her LGBT students exercise their right to free speech. Among the numerous instances of homophobic language documented in the complaint, is the allegation that Frost was penalized after helping a student file a formal complaint after a teacher told the student to "take that gay headband off," and used the phrase "That's so gay" in a disparaging manner.
While it's beyond shitty that Frost had to endure this professional bullying, we commend her for holding the school district's feet to the fire and letting them know she will not go quietly into the night.
"I love teaching and working with young people, and it breaks my heart to see some of them facing hostility and rejection just for being who they are," said Frost. "That’s why I agreed to be a faculty co-sponsor of the GSA. These students need and deserve a supportive, positive role model, just like all students do. I can’t regret having been there for them, and shouldn’t be punished for having done so."
4. Cheney Family Feud Drags on Between Liz and Mary, the 'Intolerant Lesbian Bigot'
As I mentioned in last week's roundup of outrageous news, Thanksgiving at the Cheney compound is sure to be, well, painfully awkward. After right-wingers accused Wyoming Senate hopeful Liz Cheney of not being antigay enough, since she has a sister — Mary — who is married to a woman and the couple has children, Liz went on record as definitely "not pro-gay marriage."
Unsurprisingly, that didn't sit too well with her sister, who not only shot back on Facebook, calling her sister's outdated views "just plain wrong," but also didn't sugarcoat the situation when she told Politico she is "not working, not contributing, and not voting for" her sister in Wyoming. "I'm not supporting Liz's candidacy," she told the website via email.
While some might think this is a relatively tame response to a family member directly disavowing your spouse and children, right-wingers like Bryan Fischer claimed that it revealed Mary's underlying bigotry.
Fischer, the certified wingnut who leads the antigay American Family Association and helms the association's weekly radio show, asked his listeners, "Who is the one who is being intolerant here?"
"Who is the one that's being a bigot?" he continued. "Who is the one who that's saying you've got to agree with me or I'm going to disown you? Who is the one that's saying you've got to agree with me or I'm not going to be in relationship with you? It's not the Christian. It's not the heterosexual. It's not the one who believes in man-woman marriage. It is the intolerant lesbian bigot that is doing that."
And just in case his ever-so-bright listeners weren't clear who he was talking about when he said "not the Christian, not the heterosexual, and not the one who believes in man-woman marriage," Fischer clarified. "It's very clear here that Liz Cheney is not the intolerant bigot," he said in the video posted by Right Wing Watch. "It is Liz Cheney's sister who is, in fact, the intolerant bigot."
Watch Fischer's rant below, if you feel you've got the stomach for it.
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3. Colo. School Board Member Says Trans Kids Must Be Castrated Before They Can Use the Bathroom
The latest in what seems to be a never-ending saga of violent transphobia directed at minors, a school board member in Colorado said last week that trans students in her district will never be allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, at least, "Not until the plumbing's changed," according to Katherine Svenson. "There would have to be castration in order to pass something like that around here."
Svenson was apparently responding to a California law that's currently under threat of a repeal at the ballot box, after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the School Success and Opportunities Act in August, guaranteeing trans students are granted equal access to the facilities and sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.
And lest we write off Sverson's hateful rhetoric as the inane rantings of a bigoted old woman, trans activist and blogger Cristan Williams uncovered Svenson's long anti-LGBT history in a comprehensive interview with the hate-monger published at the TransAdvocate.
2. IKEA Caves to Homophobic Russian Law, Censors Lesbian Couple in Magazine
We expected better from you, IKEA.
Ikea kowtowed to Russia’s ban on so-called homosexual propaganda and removed a British lesbian couple from the Russia-edition of its monthly magazine Ikea Family Live, according to The Guardian.
A spokeswoman for the Swedish furniture company confirmed to Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper that the company indeed removed the feature about Clara and Kirsty, a Dorset-based lesbian couple who are raising a son, in order to comply with Russia’s Draconian ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," which imposes fines and possible jail time for individuals, media outlets, or organizations found to be speaking in support of LGBT identities in any forum that might be visible to minors.
IKEA's spokeswoman said the company was just "following the law," listing that as the furniture producer's second-most priority in communication, after "home interior design." The spokeswoman said IKEA made the decision to remove the "offending" couple after consulting with Russian lawyers. How (un)surprising.
And in case you were wondering about the awful homosexual propaganda that Russians will now be spared from seeing when they consider affordable mass-produced furniture:
"We're two mums bringing up our baby boy in Clara's loft,” read one statement. And, "We're not your average family in your average home, but if my nan can raise two sons in a tiny caravan, we can make it work in our little loft."
Find the most outrageous story on the following page…
1. Virginia Baker Ruins 'Lesbian Anniversary' Cake
In what is undoubtedly our biggest story of the week, a lesbian who lives in Washington, D.C., found a distasteful surprise when she picked up the cake she'd ordered for her and her partner's anniversary from an Arlington, Va. bakery.
Instead of the message she'd asked to have piped onto the cake — Happy Anniversary, Lindsey! Love, Sarah," she found a sloppily written and vaguely homophobic message: "Lesbian Anniv. No ballons."
Now, you might be tempted to think this is just a simple instance of a "Cake Wreck," where some poor put-upon baker mixes up the instructions for the cake with the text it's supposed to include. But after speaking with Sarah (who asked that her last name not be used), it's clear that at nowhere in the initial order did she even mention the word "lesbian." That might have something to do with the fact that her partner identifies as genderqueer, which means they aren't a lesbian couple, strictly defined. But whoever produced the cake — and Sarah isn't willing to name the bakery for fear of a violent backlash — clearly intoned that the cake was for a lesbian couple, and, at the very least, whoever took the order described the order as a "lesbian anniversary" cake. We're not sure what makes a cake specifically lesbian, but we're betting it doesn't have anything to do with the chocolate and buttercream pairing which Sarah picked up — even though she ordered a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
Sarah says she spoke with a manager when she picked up the cake, and that staffer apologized for the sloppy writing, but not the content of the message. Sarah did accept a full refund, but rejected the manager's offer to bake her a new cake. We don't blame her.