VA Board of Juvenile Justice Continues LGBT Protections
Last week Virginia's Board of Juvenile Justice agreed to continue the inclusion of protections for LGBT youth despite opposition from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The protections including LGBT youth were first introduced under Governor Mark Warner in 2005. Governor Tim Kaine, his successor, preserved the same language.
A series of revisions to the language, all of which were LGBT inclusive, were denied approval by Cuccinelli's office. In order to get approval, the board finally revised the wording to prohibit "discrimination in violation of the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and state and federal statutes and regulations."
According to Metro Weekly, the board no longer lists the characteristics that are protected from discriminatory practices, but now "instructs facilities to assess whether a resident belongs to a 'vulnerable population'. If that determination is made, the facility must act to protect that resident's health and safety". A vulnerable population is cited as "a resident or group of residents who have been assessed to be reasonably likely to be exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally (e.g., very young residents; residents who are small in statures; residents who have limited English proficiency; residents who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, or intersex; residents with a history of being bullied or of self-injurious behavior)."
In response, James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, and Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, released a joint statement, saying: "Unlike the Board for Social Services, which backed down from similar non-discrimination rules proposed for adoption and foster care agencies, the citizen representatives on the Juvenile Justice Board refused to be bullied and stood with the LGBT community. They did not give up on regulations essential to protect vulnerable LGBT youth in their care . . ."
A period of final executive review is necessary before it can be published into the Virginia Register of Regulations. Additionally, a 30 day period of public comment on the rules will occur after it is published.
Media Resources: Back2Stonewall Blog 11/20/12; Metro Weekly 11/16/12; ACLU 11/14/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .