Ge­or­gia con­gress­man in­tro­duces LGBT stu­dent equal­ity bill

GA Voice - - Newsbriefs -

In 2009, Mary Nor­wood fell 700 votes short of de­feat­ing Kasim Reed to be­come At­lanta mayor. Now she’s ready to take another crack at it. Nor­wood filed pa­per­work Oct. 5 to start rais­ing money for the 2017 elec­tion to suc­ceed Reed, who is up against term lim­its.

“To­day I’m tak­ing the first step in be­com­ing your next Mayor. I’m fol­low­ing the law and fil­ing to ac­cept con­tri­bu­tions. Over the next sev­eral weeks, I will con­tinue to be in com­mu­ni­ties through­out our city with At­lantans from ev­ery part of our great city,” she said in a state­ment sent to the Ge­or­gia Voice. “I am run­ning for Mayor of At­lanta to give all At­lantans a re­spon­si­ble, transpar- ent and ac­count­able gov­ern­ment that will en­sure that we have a safe city, a sus­tain­able city and a pros­per­ous city for ALL of our ci­ti­zens. With over 25 years of city­wide ser­vice, I have a unique un­der­stand­ing of our city’s com­mu­ni­ties–their is­sues, needs, and aspirations. As this city’s next Mayor, I will make cer­tain that ev­ery com­mu­nity in this great city has the qual­ity of life they de­serve. Your is­sues will be my is­sues and they will be ad­dressed so that our city will be safe and you will have the ac­count­abil­ity that you de­sire and ex­pect from your city gov­ern­ment.”

Nor­wood, who was elected to the At­lanta City Coun­cil in 2013 (a sec­ond time), joins a crowded field of can­di­dates that in­cludes At­lanta les­bian pioneer Cathy Woolard.

Con­gress­man Hank John­son (GA-04) on Sept. 26 in­tro­duced the In­clu­sive Cam­puses Act of 2016 to au­tho­rize the use of Ti­tle III funds to es­tab­lish on-cam­pus re­source cen­ters for LGBT stu­dents at His­tor­i­cally Black Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties (HBCUs) and other mi­nor­ity serv­ing in­sti­tu­tions.

Ti­tle III pro­vides fed­eral grant fund­ing to as­sist state and lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion agen­cies. It be­gan as part of the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Act of 1965, which au­tho­rizes funds to en­hance and strengthen HBCUs and other mi­nor­ity ser­vic­ing in­sti­tu­tions.

“We should be do­ing all we can to help ev­ery­one feel wel­comed and in­cluded,” said John­son, a grad­u­ate of Clark At­lanta Univer­sity and The Thur­good Mar­shall School of Law, in a state­ment. “As a proud grad­u­ate of two HBCUs, I feel this leg­is­la­tion is cru­cial in con­tin­u­ing the legacy of com­mu­nity and in­clu­sion I felt as a stu­dent.”

Less than 30 per­cent of HBCUs have ac­tive univer­sity-sanc­tioned LGBT-spe­cific or­ga­ni­za­tions on their cam­puses. Ad­di­tion­ally, less than 20 per­cent of HBCUs in­clude gen­der iden­tity/ex­pres­sion and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion in their nondis­crim­i­na­tion state­ments. Of­ten­times, this has led to the alien­ation and emo­tional dis­tress of LGBT stu­dents while cre­at­ing cam­pus en­vi­ron­ments of fear­ful si­lence and pas­sive in­tol­er­ance.

John­son says the bill will pro­mote full di­ver­sity, ac­cep­tance and in­clu­sion of all stu­dents who at­tend HBCUs and other mi­nor­i­ty­serv­ing in­sti­tu­tions. Or­ga­ni­za­tions en­dors­ing the bill in­clude the Con­sor­tium of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion LGBT Re­source Pro­fes­sion­als, Cam­pus Pride, the Na­tional Black Jus­tice Coali­tion, Trans Stu­dent Ed­u­ca­tional Re­sources and Fayetteville State Univer­sity.

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