Posts tagged with "civil rights"

Transgender Sports illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

NCAA Opposes Anti-Transgender Legislation 

Top WNBA, NCAA Coaches & Players Call On NCAA To Take Urgent Action Against Anti-Transgender Legislation 

Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve and Forward Napheesa Collier Join HRC, Athlete Ally, Gender Justice, and NCAA Athletes to Urge NCAA to Make Good On its Commitment to Host Championship Games in Locations ‘Free of Discrimination’

Some of the nation’s top NCAA and WNBA coaches and players joined a growing chorus of athlete voices across the country today speaking out against the slate of discriminatory, anti-transgender bills in state legislatures across the country—aimed at banning transgender youth from participating in sports—calling on the NCAA to take urgent action in response to the legislation being taken up in more than 30 states. The calls for action—made during a press call today—come in the wake of last week’s comments by NCAA President Mark A. Emmert who said the discriminatory legislation conflicts “with NCAA’s core values” and that the NCAA is committed to hosting championship games in locations “free of discrimination.” Today’s remarks—in opposition to the discriminatory legislation and calling on the NCAA to take action—came from:

Cheryl Reeve, GM and Head Coach, Minnesota Lynx:

“The notion that the motivation of transgender athletes is to gain scholarships or a competitive advantage is simply a false narrative. This diminishes the athlete overall. Simply put, trans inclusion makes our sports, our teams, and our communities stronger.”

Napheesa Collier, Athlete (Forward), Minnesota Lynx:

“Transgender inclusion is so crucial for the health, safety and wellbeing of transgender kids …. The NCAA has to take action and withdraw all athletic competition from states considering harmful and anti-transgender sports bills.”

CeCé Telfer, former NCAA champion and transgender athlete:

“As a trans athlete, first of all, I am not a threat to women’s sports because I am a woman. The joy and beauty of finally embracing myself and being in a sport that I love and being on that line with the women I’m supposed to be with, it’s enlightening.”

Alana Bojar, NCAA and cisgender athlete:

“Trans women don’t threaten women and girls sports. They’re my teammates who want to play for the exact same reasons I do: to have fun, to improve ourselves, to make friends, and be physically fit.”

Zooey Zephyr, former high school transgender athlete in Montana:

“I can with the utmost certainty say that I am the woman I am today thanks to the sports I played in my youth and the sports I continue to play in adulthood. Trans girls are girls. Trans boys are boys. They deserve opportunities to become better athletes and better people.”

Aliya Schenck, NCAA and cisgender athlete:

“Sports teach really important life lessons. They teach teamwork. They teach leadership. They teach self-discipline and self control in stressful environments. And these are all lessons that trans kids would be robbed if these bills and these legislations get passed. Trans girls are girls. Trans kids are kids. They’re not a threat to women’s sports, and we’re proud to call them our teammates.”

Alphonso David, President, Human Rights Campaign:

“This is a moment of national crisis where the rights and the very existence of transgender young people are under attack. These [anti-trans sports] bills are nothing more than a coordinated effort from anti-LGBTQ extremists spreading fear and misinformation about transgender people in order to score cheap political points. At this time, though, we are asking the NCAA to do more and to use the power of their visibility to affirm and support transgender and nonbinary athletes across the nation.”

Anne Lieberman, Director of Policy and Programs, Athlete Ally:

“Every day the leadership of the NCAA stays silent, these hateful bills gain momentum. The time has passed for simply monitoring the situation. If you say nothing, even though you have clear policies and practices that support inclusion of trans student athletes, you are implicitly supporting these bills. I want each and every young person in this country to be able to live without fear and be able to play sports as who they truly are.”

Erin Maye Quade, Advocacy Director, Gender Justice:

“Transgender students participate in sports for the same reasons as anyone else: for the physical and mental health benefits, the invaluable lessons of teamwork and self discipline, the lifelong friendships, and, honestly, just to have fun. Like kids everywhere, transgender kids thrive when they are treated with dignity and respect. Being a kid is hard enough. We don’t need politicians making it even harder for kids who are transgender and singling them out for increased bullying and harassment. We need champions for all kids–individuals and institutions, including the NCAA.”

Growing Chorus of Professional and Student Athletes Across the Country Speaking Out Against Anti-Transgender Bills

Today’s calls for the NCAA to take action come amidst a growing chorus of athletes and other prominent sports figures across the country speaking out against the discriminatory measures.

Recently, 500 NCAA student athletes called on the Board of Governors to continue upholding its “NCAA Anti-Discrimination Policy and only operate championships and events in states that promote an inclusive atmosphere.” This week, Minnesota Lynx GM and coach Cheryl Reeve wrote: “Transgender exclusion pits woman athletes against one another, reinforces the harmful notion that there is only one right way to be a woman and distracts us from the real threats to women’s sports.”

In 2016, the NCAA Board of Governors instructed the association to relocate all seven previously awarded championship events from North Carolina after the vote of HB 2, legislation that eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people and forced transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity. The NCAA has continuously stated a firm position that if participating states do not meet the association’s “expectations of a discrimination-free environment,” they will “not hesitate to take necessary action at any time.”

A recording of today’s media briefing call, and full remarks of all speakers, can be found here. NCAA President Mark A. Emmert’s remarks last week on the NCAA’s commitment to ensuring hosting championship games in locations “free of discrimination” can be found here.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Trans Rights illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

The “Slate of Hate”

Anti-Trans Bills Moving in State Legislatures Across the Country, Explained

Many state legislatures across the country have embraced a discriminatory agenda as hundreds of bills that would weaken protections and rights for LGBTQ people—more than 100 of which vilify and marginalize transgender people, particularly trans youth—are moving through statehouses at an alarming rate. Despite widespread, overwhelming public opposition to the bills, a closer look reveals this onslaught of discriminatory legislation is being driven by a group of well-funded, national anti-LGBTQ organizations—including the Heritage Foundation, the Eagle Forum, and Alliance Defending Freedom, which is designated as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  • These national organizations have launched a full-throated strategy to chip away and weaken LGBTQ rights and protections by fomenting clashes in the states—using state legislatures to spread misinformation about LGBTQ (particularly transgender) people, and fabricate a groundswell of  seemingly anti-LGBTQ sentiment.
  • Using state legislatures as the strategic vehicles to embrace and pass a flurry of anti-LGBTQ legislation, the strategy is gaining ground — as discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ copycat bills are being pushed through state legislatures at an alarming rate.
  • This strategy, in many cases, seeks to vilify trans youth to undermine broader LGBTQ progress, and to reignite culture wars that most of the country has moved beyond.

Anti-LGBTQ Bills Seek to Vilify Trans Youth

So far, there are more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, 106 directly target transgender people and 56 of those would ban transgender girls and sometimes women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. The legislation moving in these states seek to vilify and marginalize transgender youth by denying them the fundamental opportunities to participate in youth sports activities and — more egregiously — deny them health care:

  • Denying health care for trans kids: The anti-transgender effort to target transgender youth by denying them medically necessary services and gender-affirming care have sprung up in 20 states. These bills are opposed by organizations dedicated to children’s health, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the National Association of Social Workers, and more. Some of these bills moving through state legislatures include:
  • The Alabama House of Representatives passed SB 10, which would make it a felony for medical providers to provide age-appropriate, best practice, medically-necessary care.
  • Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of HB 1570 was overridden by the legislature.
  • The Tennessee state legislature is considering HB 578 (SB 657), which would classify providing gender-affirming care as child endangerment, triggering criminal, civil, and professional penalties.
  • Denying organized sports opportunities for trans youth: We’re seeing many extremely similar bills in states across the country that would ban transgender girls and sometimes women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary level. These bills have been introduced in 30 states. We’ve already seen some of these bills signed into law, including:

Legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to justify these bills, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact. State athletic associations, as well as collegiate and professional sports organizations, have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason states need a ban on transgender participation in sports.

Top Businesses, Athletes, Advocates Oppose Anti-Trans Hysteria  

These discriminatory bills—driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local stakeholders or public concern—will have a devastating impact on LGBTQ people, particularly transgender youth. Legislators pushing these bills forward are also ignoring the views of leading corporations, health and welfare organizations, and the majority of voters, all of whom oppose anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation.

  • Earlier this month, nearly 70 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  •  The nation’s biggest advocates for women and girls spoke out in support of full and equal inclusion of transgender women and girls in sports, including the National Women’s Law Center, American Association of University Women, and the Women’s Sports Foundation, among many others.
  • This week, leaders of four of the largest food companies and major employers in the United States — Danone North America, Mars, Inc., Nestlé USA, and Unilever — spoke out against anti-LGBTQ legislation and called for the swift passage of the Equality Act in the Senate.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation. At the height of March Madness, NCAA President Mark A. Emmert also spoke out against the slate of discriminatory, anti-transgender bills in state legislatures across the country and committed to hosting championship games in locations that provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination.
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters.

Trans Rights illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Montana’s Anti-Trans Sports Bill

Montana Sends Anti-Trans Sports Bill To Gov. Gianforte 

Today, the Montana Senate passed House Bill 112, an anti-LGBTQ bill that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary level consistent with their gender identity. The bill now heads to Governor Greg Gianforte’s desk for signature or veto. Montana was the first legislature to take up anti-transgender legislation in the 2021 session, considering it in January in a rushed House process and before any serious legislation to address the COVID-19 crisis.

Montana has been at the tip of the spear in the legislative fight to pass discriminatory anti-transgender legislation, a fast and furious effort led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. There are so far 192 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, 93 directly target transgender people and about half of those would, like HB 112, ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.  Legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact.  Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason Montana needs a ban on transgender participation in sports.  Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued the following statement in reaction:

“Montana legislators have sadly led the national effort to advance these discriminatory bills that put fear over facts, science, and medicine. Montana legislators are putting Governor Gianforte in a position to jeopardize the wellbeing of the state and put transgender kids in danger in favor of [this] anti-equality political talking point. While no Montana legislator has provided examples of what they claim to be legislating against, they continue to justify prioritizing this manufactured issue over addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. Transgender kids are kids, and they deserve better than this targeted discrimination. Ultimately, this is a bad deal for all Montanans, who would also be subject to the catastrophic consequences that other states have faced after passing anti-transgender legislation.”

Wide range of business and advocacy groups, athletes oppose anti-trans legislation

  • Earlier this month, more than 55 major U.S. corporations stood up and spoke out to oppose anti-transgender legislation being proposed in states across the country. New companies like Facebook, Pfizer, Altria, Peloton, and Dell join companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Google, Hilton, IBM, IKEA, Microsoft, Nike, Paypal, Uber, and Verizon in objecting to these bills.
  • Nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states with anti-trans sports legislation
  • The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ people, and transgender children in particular.

A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — dangerous, anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

  • For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another more recent poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

  • The Idaho anti-transgender sports bill that passed was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

church illustration by 360 Magazine

Montana’s Religious Refusal Bill

Montana House Sends Religious Refusal Bill To Governor Gianforte’s Desk

RFRA bill similar to controversial Indiana law signed by then Gov. Mike Pence

Today, the Montana House passed passed anti-LGBTQ Senate Bill 215, an expansive religious refusal bill that could grant a license to discriminate against Montanans and visitors, including LGBTQ people, people of faith, and women, across a wide range of goods and services in the state. The bill now heads to Governor Greg Gianforte for signature or veto. In 2015, then-Governor of Indiana Mike Pence signed a similar piece of legislation into law that encouraged widespread discrimination from medical providers, businesses, government officials and taxpayer-funded entities. Mississippi also passed a RFRA in 2016. In the wake of Indiana, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a RFRA bill at the urging of Senators John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Mitt Romney, saying that it would have “unintended consequences” and divide the state. The Arizona bill faced serious business opposition, including Apple, AT&T, Delta Airlines, Major League Baseball, and the Super Bowl House Committee.

As reported by The 19ththis is among 36 anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” measures coursing through state legislatures as part of a national flood of anti-LGBTQ legislation and an effort by national, far-right extremist groups to sow fear and division for political gain. This represents the fourth anti-LGBTQ bill sent to a governor’s desk this session, and just the second RFRA bill. Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued the following statement in reaction to today’s House vote:

Governor Gianforte was elected in part on the promise of bringing new businesses and industries to Montana. He should seriously consider vetoing this legislation, which would not just discriminate against LGBTQ people, but threaten to ward off the very businesses he is hoping to attract. In 2015, then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence saw a steep decline in revenue and loss of business that hurt Indiana. Montana could resign themselves to the same fate if this bill becomes law. The people of Montana believe in religious liberty and LGBTQ equality — those two values are not mutually exclusive. Rejecting this legislation is crucial for the equality of all and for the future of the state. In trying economic times and in the midst of a global pandemic, discrimination should not be on the agenda.

Indiana passed a similar bill which cost them $60m in lost revenue

  • The backlash from the business community and voters was swift, and Pence soon became a national disgrace. Pence’s discriminatory bill had enormous consequences for Indiana’s economy and reputation. Indianapolis’s non-profit tourism agency estimated that in their city alone, Pence’s anti-LGBTQ bill cost up to 12 conventions and $60 million in lost revenue
  • The State of Indiana had to spend $365k of taxpayer money on a PR firm to help dampen the backlash and attempt to restore the reputation of Indiana
  • A reported by the Associated Press detailed that “12 out-of-state groups were surveyed and all said that the state’s controversial religious objections law played a role in their decision to hold their events elsewhere.”

Voters strongly disapproved of Indiana’s religious refusal law and punished Pence for signing it

  • And polling conducted by HRC after the 2015 fight found that 75 percent of Hoosiers said the law was bad for the state’s economy, and 70 percent of those surveyed said they opposed it.
  • Following the embarrassing fallout, his approval ratings tanked with voters and Pence decided not to run for re-election. Yet, his appalling record on LGBTQ equality won him a place on the ticket with Trump as his running mate. Now, Pence has been working behind the scenes at the White House to push his own disgraced values onto the national stage.
  • A poll conducted by the Indianapolis tourism department showed that the city was still facing the lingering repercussions of the reputational harm it incurred as a result of the legislation a year later

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Film Premiere illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Twenty Pearls Premiere

COMCAST ANNOUNCES EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE OF
TWENTY PEARLS – A DOCUMENTARY EXAMINING THE STORIED HISTORY OF ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA SORORITY, INCORPORATED – ON ITS NEWLY LAUNCHED BLACK EXPERIENCE ON XFINITY CHANNEL

Comcast NBCUniversal is excited to announce the exclusive premiere of the documentary film “Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated”, arriving Friday, March 26 on its newly launched Black Experience on Xfinity Channel, available on X1, Flex, and on-the-go with the Xfinity Stream app.

From award-winning filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper, produced by Coffee Bluff Pictures, and narrated by Phylicia Rashād, Twenty Pearls closely examines the founding and legacy of the first Black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, which is now regarded as one of the most significant and influential Black organizations in historyThe documentary tells a powerful story of sisterhood. In 1908, nine Black women enrolled at Howard University made one decision that would change the course of history. These college students created Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. For over 113 years, the sorority has influenced many of the most famous watershed moments in history.

Through narration, interviews, and rarely seen archival materials, the audience will see the sorority’s impact on World War II, NASA, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) culminating in the historic election of America’s first Black and South Asian woman Vice President. Twenty Pearls features interviews with members of the sorority including Vice President Kamala HarrisMiss Universe Ireland 2019 Fionnghuala O’ReillySmithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch III, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Fierst, great-granddaughter of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, International President and CEO of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Dr. Glenda Glover and many more.

 
Watch the Twenty Pearls trailer hereTrailer
 

“This is an extraordinary time to look back at our past to serve our future,” added filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper. “A future where Black women are centered. Helming this documentary love letter to the founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the generations of women that followed in their footsteps, and to all Black women everywhere is an honor. This is an important history for all of us to know and understand.”

“We’re thrilled to work with award-winning filmmaker, Deborah Riley Draper, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to bring this exclusive premiere to the Black Experience on Xfinity channel, furthering our company-wide mission of investing in and showcasing authentic Black stories and culture,” said Keesha Boyd, Executive Director, Multicultural Video & Entertainment, Xfinity Consumer Services. “We launched this channel to help facilitate the discovery of stories like Twenty Pearls while providing a platform for emerging Black content creators.”

“Telling our own story is essential to preserving our history and uplifting the culture,” said Alpha Kappa Alpha International President and CEO Dr. Glenda Glover. “Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s remarkable 113-year journey which began on the campus of Howard University is punctuated by stories of history makers, ceiling breakers, public servants, and ordinary women who have changed the course of American history.  Through this beautifully written and narrated odyssey, this film highlights in undeniable ways the vision, courage, tenacity, determination, and power of Black women while putting to bed the age-old questions about the relevance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Divine Nine sororities and fraternities.”

Black Experience on Xfinity is a first-of-its-kind destination of Black entertainment, movies, TV shows, news, and more. It features high-quality content from many of Xfinity’s existing network partners, at no additional cost, while investing millions of dollars in fostering and showcasing emerging Black content creators. The channel is the only one of its kind endorsed by the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), the world’s largest group of Black film critics that gives annual awards for excellence in film and television. Available at home on Xfinity X1 and Flex, and on-the-go with the Xfinity Stream app, the Black Experience on Xfinity will entertain, educate and uplift, featuring Black actors, writers, producers and directors. At home, Xfinity subscribers can visit channel 1622 or simply say “Black Experience” into the Voice Remote to instantly enjoy the ultimate in Black storytelling.

Visit Xfinity to learn more about the Black Experience on Xfinity and other Black programming available on X1, Flex, and the Xfinity Stream app. Visit Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated to learn more about Twenty Pearls, which premieres on March 26 on Xfinity and is free for subscribers, and will be available nationwide, on-demand, starting on March 30, 2021.

LGBT flag illustration by Symara Wilson for 360 Magazine

HRC Press Call

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Alphonso David and State Legislative Director Cathryn Oakley hosted a press call to preview the state legislative landscape for 2021. With a number of anti-LGBTQ bills being introduced, heard, and voted on now and in the coming months, Alphonso David and Cathryn Oakley discussed the recurring themes the Human Rights Campaign is seeing in anti-LGBTQ legislation across the country, and shared additional political and electoral context around these fights.

Upon viewing the state legislative landscape, it can be observed that national organizations are pushing anti-LGBTQ bills across the U.S. The discriminatory bills are mongered by fear, not facts, and the opposition to such bills has been becoming desperately vocal. Despite the broad popularity of supporting LGBTQ equality from the general American public and preference for pro-quality candidates – even by Republican voters – these bills still are being introduced. States who pass these anti-LGBTQ laws risk major harm to their queer residents’ lives. Bills like these have posed economic, reputational, and legal harm to states who consider passing them, as evidenced by the result of anti-LGBQT legislation in states such as North Carolina, Texas, Indiana, and Idaho, among others.

Fortunately, the HRC has a strong record of defeating anti-equality legislation in states. Their team is hard at work monitoring and leading the fight against anti-equality bills across the country this year. For example, senseless anti-transgender sports and medical care bills are being introduced in state legislatures across the country as the latest iteration of the political fight against LGBTQ equality. The HRC is looking lead LGBTQ+ friendly progress and combat National anti-LGBTQ+ groups like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom and the Eagle Forum who are leading the charge, rather than legislators or constituent concerns.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Listen to the full recording of today’s press call here.

Illustration for 360 Magazine by Rita Azar

Montana’s Anti-Transgender Bills’ Negative Impact

On Thursday, Leader Kim Abbott, the ACLU of Montana, the Free and Fair Coalition, local Montanans, and the Human Rights Campaign detailed their opposition to two anti-transgender bills (HB 112, a bill that would ban the participation of transgender women in women’s sports, and HB 113 which would restrict transgender access to medical care) being rushed through the legislative process in Montana.

HB 112 passed the House Judiciary Committee and HB 113 is expected to see the same result, with both likely to be voted on by the full House within the week after preliminary hearings were held on the federal holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Opponents of the bills on today’s press call discussed the discriminatory nature of both bills and the adverse personal, social, economic, legal, and medical impacts the passage of these bills have had in other states. Those opposed include local legislative voices and those that would be personally impacted by the legislation in question.

“Montana is the first state this year to be giving serious consideration to anti-transgender legislation and unfortunately we don’t expect it will be the last,” said Cathryn Oakley, Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director. “Last year was historic for anti-transgender bills and we expect this year will be as well. These bills went through a rushed legislative process. Why the rush? These are made up issues. As a federal court has already recognized, bills like these are unconstitutional and motivated by anti-transgender animus. This — not COVID or economic relief legislation — is their priority and their motivations are 100% political.”

“This bill would harm pediatricians and other medical professionals by levying steep fines,” said Dr. Lauren Wilson, from the Montana Chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics. “House Bill 113 represents one of the most extreme political attacks on transgender kids in history. Transgender kids are kids. They don’t deserve a ban against participation in sports. We know that transgender kids who can  live with gender they identify with have a lower rate of suicide. These bills undermine the work and rules that schools already have. It would also violate federal law and threaten federal funding. Transgender kids have the best chance to thrive if they can get the care they need and are allowed to be an active part of their community.”

“I am the proud daughter of two kids. My son is transgender. Being transgender is not a choice, and being transgender is not negotiable,” said Jaime Gabrielli, the parent of a transgender child in Montana. “Impulsivity is not part of the equation of transgender affirming health care. These are necessary, planned, informed, thoughtful processes that do not happen quickly. It’s a choice that often comes as one of two remaining options: end your life or transition. When suicide is an option, you do everything you can as a parent to help. I see him beginning to thrive because he’s finally able to be who he is. Making necessary medical care that transgender kids rely on illegal does not make them more safe. My plea to lawmakers is to protect trans youth in Montana by voting ‘no’ to HB 112 and HB 113.”

“I am among the more than 160 businesses in Montana that stand against these bills,” said Chelsie Rice, Owner of the Montana Book Company. “It’s projected that the loss from the North Carolina bathroom bills was upwards of $3 billion. Montana businesses do not support these bills. We face a loss of revenue that we can’t afford. More than that, we want to be businesses that are welcome to all in our state.”

Public policy polling by the Human Rights Campaign in partnership with the Hart Research Group across swing states in the 2020 election showed that support for transgender access to medical care had more than 90% support, including significant support among conservative voters. Idaho, which was the first and so far only state to pass  legislation banning transgender women from participation in sports, has been enjoined from implementing that law pending the final determination of the case as a federal district court found the transgender athlete challenging the law has a significant likelihood of winning her case.

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and South Carolina show that there would be devastating economic fallout. The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill would have lost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years. During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state. Together, these real-life previous implications of attacking transgender people put Montana’s economy and reputation at risk.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Vaughn Lowery illustration by Allison Christensen for his book Move Like Water x Be Fluid produced by 360 MAGAZINE

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Move Like Water × Be Fluid

By Katrina Tiktinsky

Vaughn Lowery, founder and publisher of 360 MAGAZINE, is set to release his first book this month. Move Like Water × Be Fluid is a stunning memoir documenting the author’s journey from a childhood in the Detroit projects to a successful career in fashion and media. The arc of this remarkable passage twists and turns in surprising ways, ensuring readers will believe in the concept that this life truly is what you make it. The text will debut as an exclusive multi-volume installation within 360 MAGAZINE and marks the inception of the brand’s foray into publishing.

This provocative coming-of-age story explores the power of branding strategy, a technique the writer developed at an early age and carried with him throughout his lifetime. Lowery, from the time he was a young child, is able to comprehend that one’s innate, individual self is their greatest commodity in life. Through the highs and lows that inform his experience, he stays true to that ideal. Lowery puts forward a raw and compelling narrative of a child, and later a man, who repeatedly picks himself up, reimagines his life, and finds innovative ways to move forward. The self-empowerment so emblematic in Lowery’s character and story promotes readers to adopt the author’s tactics in their own lives.

The influence of prominent civil rights leader Joseph Lowery, the writer’s grandfather, is prevalent in this work. A beacon for both hope and progress during the Civil Rights Movement, the legacy of Joseph Lowery weighs heavily on the narrator. This, along with his upbringing and existence as a black man in America, make Lowery both introspective and contextually aware when it comes to race. Moreover, draws parallels between the movement his grandfather championed and led, and the Black Lives Matter movement of today, exposing the failures of our system and calling for meaningful, systemic change. Both Joseph and Vaughn Lowery are members of the first intercollegiate historically African American organization Alpha Phi Alpha. Lowery simultaneously considers the work he can do, as a singular human being, to forward social justice causes in his day-to-day life and interactions with others. 

In 1920, his grandmother, Agnes Christine Moore Lowery (the little girl in the blue dress, also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha), came with her grandmother to become the first black to vote in Tennessee. The kids’ book, The Big Day, depicts their journey the day she voted, now available on Amazon here.

Photo of LaJUNE by Armon Hayes for 360 Magazine

Photo: Armon Hayes, Talent: LaJUNE

360 Magazine is also now selling one of a kind home goods via Chairish, a curated marketplace for the best in vintage and contemporary furniture, decor and art. Check out this piece designed by 360’s founder Vaughn Lowery.

In the year 2020, which has been afflicted with an overwhelming amount of change, there has never been a timelier moment for insight from a man like Lowery. As mentioned, Lowery’s deep ties and connections to racial justice in America feels incredibly relevant, as do his thoughts on digital media, something Lowery pioneered years before COVID-19 forced the world hurriedly online. Constantly at the forefront of social change, Move Like Water × Be Fluid offers an understanding of the current moment, yet looks forward to the possibility of an evolved, cosmopolitan world. One that Lowery aspires to through all his works, including this installation and 360 MAGAZINE.

As we follow the author through grade school, high school and on through Cornell University, we collect advice from a myriad of powerful secondary characters. From all walks of life, these secondary support systems offer Lowery the push he needs to continue on striving towards something better. We watch Lowery model the work ethic of his admired older sister, gain confidence from an encouraging teacher, change the trajectory of his life due to a neighborhood mentor, and learn from the critique of a Residential Advisor. This self-help-book stands apart for never failing to appreciate the importance of an individual’s support system. Fittingly, while the book catalogues Lowery’s journey to success, it inspires and encourages readers in the same way Lowery’s community uplifted him – to take action towards a meaningful life.

Comparable titles to Move Like Water × Be Fluid include other stories of individuals who later turned to publishing their experiences in self-help books. Numerous celebrity examples include Becoming by Michelle Obama, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, or The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey. These titles, as well as Lowery’s first book, all feature introspection and explanations regarding the course of the authors’ lives. 

The following descriptions outlines the chapter-by-chapter journey within Move Like Water × Be Fluid.

Chapter 1: The beginning of Lowery’s journey is marked by his complicated childhood in Detroit, distinctly connected to his sense of place and community. Financial struggles and surroundings reminiscent of the song “Gangsta’s Paradise,” as well as the author’s early experience with assault contextualize the course of Lowery’s life.

Chapter 2: A childhood mood, coupled with the realization of his intelligence, swiftly changed the direction of Lowery’s life. Following a move to New Jersey to live with his older sister, Lowery’s early experiences of racism shine a light on his passion for racial justice today. The opportunity to participate in an honored education program again changes the trajectory Lowery follows.

Chapter 3: This chapter offers insight into the ups and downs of high school, a narrative many are familiar with. Yet, Lowery’s poised observations throughout the chapter reflect his early understanding of the world.

Chapter 4: After a remarkable yet complex journey through high school, Lowery achieves the first of many dreams by gaining the chance to attend Cornell University in New York. At Cornell, he is able to expand his understanding of self and what he hopes to accomplish.

Chapter 5: Saks Fifth Avenue recruits Lowery to work in their corporate office, marking Lowery’s first foray into the world of economics and fashion. The advice he gains from mentors in the field prompts him to shift towards a career in acting and modeling, supplemented by working in the Medicare Department of U.S. Healthcare.

Chapter 6: New York, in all its hectic nature, pointed Lowery west towards California where he could further capitalize on his talents in the entertainment industry.

Chapter 7: This chapter details one of the events in Lowery’s life for which he is best known: his commercials as “Joe Boxer Guy” that overwhelmed the nation. Following ups and downs in Los Angeles, this success cemented Lowery’s understanding of his own talents as well as his ties to L.A.

Chapter 8: Following an offensive home invasion, Lowery pivots to continue embracing what life throws at him with appearances on NBC’s “Scrubs” and “America’s Next Top Model.”

Chapter 9: With plenty of capital and the space to complement his next steps, Lowery founded 360 MAGAZINE in 2008, powering through the tidal wave that was the recession all due to his own brains and the belief in his product and brand.

Chapter 10: After another painful reminder of the inadequacies of the justice system in America due to an unjust prison stay, Lowery’s comprehension of what is truly important is once again realigned. Despite his negative experiences, his magazine is able to be on the cutting edge of the Los Angeles scene.

Chapter 11: The number 360 is ubiquitous to Lowery – one embodies the other. His appreciation for both his own capabilities and expertise, as well as the ones of others, assures his magazine and brand are constantly evolving. 

Chapter 12: Thinking on the future following the tragic death of a friend, Lowery is nowhere near finished and is more than ready to continue is many metamorphoses. He now exists in a space where he strives to empower others, all around the world. 360.

Move Like Water x Be Fluid, by Vaughn Lowery, is available this month exclusively on the 360 MAGAZINE’s website. 360 MAGAZINE has received numerous accolades, and has recently been featured on Dancing with the Stars. Stay in touch by following both Lowery (@vaughnlowery) and 360 (@360magazine)

Additionally Vaughn has an audio book titled, “Say Uncle: The Story of Vaughn Lowery” which loosely based on his childhood. It is available for here on Amazon Music. For additional info on Vaughn Lowery visit Wikipedia and IMDb.

Covid-19 Impact on Artists

Story × Art: Alex Rudin

As we head into the eighth month of Covid-19, the distractions of apple picking, pumpkin carving, and outdoor dining are behind us. Lockdowns have long been lifted and social gatherings have become commonplace. The ominous inevitability of a deadly third wave looms. This guaranteed “dark winter” begs one to reflect on the early days of the pandemic. A time when fear, disinformation, and isolation plagued every household, no matter its inhabitants. 2020 has been a year of postponement, grief, isolation, and reckoning. Yet with struggle comes the opportunity for growth, change, and creation… If you let it. As Andy Warhol once said, “they always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

As a self-employed artist, uncertainty is a language I speak well. Prior to Covid-19 I spent my days in the School of Visual Arts printshop in NYC. From conceptualizing and prototyping new products for my business, Rudin Studios LLC, to fumbling around for an answer to the age-old question of “what to make,” it is clear I was lost in an artistic haze of looking for purpose. Then Coronavirus hit. Instantaneously everything turned upside down. Suddenly, I was in an unfamiliar town, without the ability to work (silkscreen), miles away from the studio I call home. I remained glued to the news awestruck by the infection and mortality rates. I racked my brain for something to do, how to help, what to make.

I became focused on those who were not as privileged as me. Those who were struggling to find housing, to feed themselves, to protect themselves from this deadly virus which was clearly and disproportionately hurting people of color. I began working on a series of paintings to be auctioned off, 100% of the proceeds going to homeless and trafficked youth in NYC. While the fundraiser was a success, I could not help but feel the conceptual aspects of the work were not important, relevant, or impactful. If I learned anything from my education at Parsons School of Design, it is that concept is king. My artwork slowly began to shift towards the idea of documentation. Buzzwords like “historical” and “unprecedented” flew across the airwaves and fueled my desire to capture and document the struggles of 2020. This was just the beginning.

Soon to follow were the atrocious murders of George Floyd, Ahmed Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, which brought racial justice to the forefront of the American conscience. While the President continuously fanned the flames of racism, the cries for equality and allyship were deafening. It was time to allow my artwork to reflect the times and struggles of our country which so deeply affected me and so many others. Black Lives Matter, and it is the white person’s responsibility to be educated allies; to use the privilege we are born into to advocate for our oppressed brothers and sisters. I wanted to help acknowledge, reflect, and correct the institutional racism that is so insidiously intertwined with our institutions and the American way of being.

Concurrently, the 2020 Presidential election was ramping up. Climate change’s incendiary winds pillaged the west. The wearing of masks became a polarizing political tool. And all the while, the current administration refused to acknowledge or accept responsibility for any of it. Rather shifting blame, denying, and lying became the governing practice. The global importance of what was taking place in the United States was apparent. Election 2020 was to be a reckoning. On the docket: racial justice, women’s rights, climate change, science, and healthcare, to name a few. A polarizing choice between Id and empathy.

For the first time in my career, my purpose seemed clear. I began making work that focused on the progression of human rights, equality, and fairness relying on my trusty formula of stylized portraiture and anecdotal commentary. I firmly believe that artists have a social responsibility to reflect the times we live in. The majority of my work has focused on uncovering and expressing truths about what it means to be a woman in 2020. However, one cannot comment on the feminine experience without addressing the current political situation and the oppression experienced by American minorities. While the Trump Administration continued to attack women’s rights, promote violence, ignore climate change, and fan the flames of racism, I relied on my creative voice to talk about the challenges we faced not only as women, but as a nation. That being said, I decided to devote my time to creating a series of posters for the 2020 election to help galvanize the female vote. This included partnering with Women for Biden Harris 2020, Women for the Win, and Article 3 among numerous other female-run organizations.

While the trials and tribulations of 2020 have forever altered the fabric of American reality, so has it altered me. A year such as this begs internal personal reflection if not metamorphosis. To find purpose, love, and empathy through the chaos of hate and violence is the silver-lining we all need. In a time where division is the name of the game, we must transcend the idea of the “other.” As the most recent Covid-19 wave surges across the country, I implore anyone with the creative impulse to say something, to do so. Pick up the pen. Document the times, the thoughts, the fears that come along with living through such tumultuousness. Follow the empathy, the creativity, and the voice inside telling you to advocate for those less fortunate. As Thomas Paine aptly stated, “The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.” If you find yourself in a place of privilege, take it upon yourself to seize the opportunity in front of you. It is not an opportunity for financial incentive or career advancement, but for internal revolution. Soon, life will “go back to normal,” but there’s nothing normal about what we have witnessed. Allow the intensity of experience to alter you. For when the time has come and gone, and you reflect upon 2020, wouldn’t it be nice to say that through all the sadness, grief, and fear a better version of yourself was uncovered?

Kaelen Felix illustrates WEB DUBOIS FOR 360 MAGAZINE

W.E.B. Du Bois: The Lost and the Found

W.E.B. Du Bois spent many decades fighting to ensure that African Americans could claim their place as full citizens and thereby fulfill the deeply compromised ideals of American democracy. Yet he died in Africa, having apparently given up on the United States.

In 1909, Du Bois was among the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), according to the organization’s website. During his time serving as the director of publicity and research, Du Bois founded The Crisis, a publication that focused on the African American pride and always published works from young members of this community.

After leaving the NAACP in 1934, Du Bois went on to become a voice in the civil rights movement. He was a leader of protests and was a part of the socialist party. In his lifetime, Du Bois wrote two books, The Souls of Black Folk and Black Reconstruction, in addition to his publication The Crisis.

In 1951, Du Bois was indicted as “an unregistered agent of a foreign power,” but was acquitted by a judge according to Britannica

Becoming increasingly radical and being intrigued with the principles of communism, Du Bois left America and moved to Ghana in 1961, according to the History Channels’ online publication. He then became a member of the American Communist Party. 

Poet and assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Elvira Basevuch, has taken a deeper look at Du Bois’ ideology and analyzed it in her upcoming book, W.E.B Du Bois: The Lost and the Found.

In this book, Elvira Basevich looks at the paradox of a man who wanted to change America but left in defeat by tracing the development of his life and thought and the relevance of his legacy to our our current state. She adeptly analyzes the main concepts that inform Du Bois’ critique of American democracy, such as the color line and double consciousness, before examining how these concepts might inform our understanding of contemporary struggles, from Black Lives Matter to the campaign for reparations for slavery.

She stresses the continuity in Du Bois’ thought, from his early writings to his later embrace of self-segregation and Pan-Africanism, while not shying away from assessing the challenging implications of his later work.

This wonderful book vindicates the power of Du Bois’ thought to help transform a stubbornly unjust world. It is essential reading for racial justice activists as well as students of African American philosophy and political thought.

Du Bois’ ideas and teachings were too radical for the time, but Basevich is taking a closer look at them and finding that many of these teachings a relevant today.

Her book is available for pre-order now and will be released on December 29, 2020.