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27
Oct

Legislation & LGBTQ+

Let’s give it up for the letter, “L” this week! What a Lovely Letter that has Literally Labled Lisa (me) as a strong Lady! In case you didn’t know this, my mother named me after a soap opera…true story. Eileen Fulton, played the character Lisa Grimaldi on “As The World Turns.” Lisa was a strong female character, and that’s what my mother wanted me to be…BINGO! Looks just like me, right?

Eileen Fulton stars as Lisa Mitichell Grimaldi in AS THE WORLD TURNS. Photo cr: Danny Sanchez/CBS ©2010 CBS BROADCASTING INC. ALL RIGHS RESERVED

Lesbian is the first “L” in LGBTQ+. Raise your hand if you know where that term derives from. It’s ok, I can’t see your arms, but if you played along, you’re FUN and LIVELY. Let’s travel to the Northeastern Aegean Sea to find the third largest of the Greek Islands, Lesbos.

Lesbos within the North Aegean
Coordinates: 
39°10′N 26°20′E (trust me, it’s in there, it didn’t come through in the copy)

The word lesbian is derived from the name of the Greek island of Lesbos, home to the 6th-century BCE poet Sappho.[3] From various ancient writings, historians gathered that a group of young women were left in Sappho’s charge for their instruction or cultural edification.[6] Little of Sappho’s poetry survives, but her remaining poetry reflects the topics she wrote about: women’s daily lives, their relationships, and rituals. She focused on the beauty of women and proclaimed her love for girls.[7] Before the mid-19th century,[8] the word lesbian referred to any derivative or aspect of Lesbos, including a type of wine. Cheers to Wikipedia!

Sappho of Lesbos, depicted here in a 1904 painting by John William Godward, gave the term lesbian the connotation of erotic desire between women.

Pop culture lesson = Check! Geography Lesson = Check! History Lesson = Check! Now, let’s go into some modern political lessons. Let’s start with a Law called Title VII (that’s a 7 in fancy Roman numerals) of the Civil Rights Law of 1964. Stay with me, sometimes we have to know our history as to not repeat it…thanks for still reading along. You’re LOVELY!

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. It generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state and local governments. Title VII also applies to private and public colleges and universities, employment agencies, and labor organizations.

Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 provide protection against sex discrimination in the context of tenure. Title VII is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, as well as race, color, national origin and religion. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, covering all staff and students in any educational institution or program that receives federal funds. https://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/legal-resources/know-your-rights-at-work/title-vii/

United States Map
  • (Dark Green) State law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (21 states, 2 territories + D.C.)
  • (Strike through Light Green) State explicitly interprets existing prohibition on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and/or gender identity (see note) (2 states, 0 territories)
  • (Light Green) State law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation only (1 state, 0 territories)
  • (Tan) No explicit prohibitions for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in state law (26 states, 3 territories) this is the scary one
  • (Gavel) State is in a federal circuit with a ruling that explicitly interprets existing federal prohibition on sex discrimination (under Title VII) to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  (26 states, 3 territories)

What does this mean having Wisconsin in Light Green with a Gavel? According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, I can’t be discrminated in hiring or firing for being gay…Hooray! Here’s your human resource lesson for the day! If you are reading this and you don’t live in Wisconsin, please check out your state in the aformentioned information. Thanks & I hope you still like our cheese! https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/er/civil_rights/discrimination/sexual_orientation_protection.htm

Sexual Orientation Protection

Overview (WISCONSIN)

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act prohibits employers, employment agencies, labor unions, licensing agencies, and other persons from discriminating against employees, job applicants, or licensing applicants because of their membership in specific protected categories, including sexual orientation.

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Law defines “sexual orientation” as having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, having a history of such a preference or being identified with such a preference.

What actions are covered?

When an individual’s sexual orientation motivates the decision related to an employment action or licensing action, it becomes unlawful discrimination.

Specifically, the law prohibits discrimination in recruitment and hiring, job assignments, pay, leave or benefits, promotion, licensing or union membership, training, lay-off and firing, and other employment related actions.

How does the law define sexual orientation?

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Law defines “sexual orientation” as having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, having a history of such a preference or being identified with such a preference.

Who is protected?

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Law applies to all private and public employers, regardless of the number of employees, except for federal government or tribal employers.

Can an employer refuse to hire a person because of their sexual orientation?

No, the law prohibits discrimination because of being identified as a relative, friend or significant other of someone with a particular sexual orientation.

May an employer ask about an applicant’s sexual orientation?

The Fair Employment Law prohibits any inquiry that implies or expresses any limitation because of a protected basis, including sexual orientation. Marital status discrimination is also prohibited under Wisconsin law and questions about marital status that are designed to detect a person’s sexual orientation may violate both marital status and sexual orientation provisions of the law.

Is an individual protected if an employer thinks the employee’s sexual orientation is different than it really is and acts on that perception?

Yes, the definition includes being identified with a preference for a particular sexual orientation. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against someone based on perceived sexual orientation, even if the perception is wrong, for example, it would be a violation of the law if an employer assumes a man is homosexual because he is effeminate and discharges him because of that perception.

The Supreme Court heard three cases earlier this month that ask whether it is legal to fire workers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity (Title VII). That alone is enough to make those three of the most important employment discrimination cases in many years. But there are additional layers to these cases, layers that could imperil all workers regardless of whether or not they are LGBTQ. Only 22 states prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and only 21 prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. So if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the employers in ZardaBostock, and Harris Funeral Homes, millions of LGBTQ workers will be left without legal protections. Read on, my friend. https://www.vox.com/2019/10/2/20883827/supreme-court-lgbtq-discrimination-title-vii-civil-rights-gay-trans-queer

Let’s see, Lisa was named after a soap opera and might lose protections because she’s a lebian? Looks like a little scary scenario to me and for my other LGBTQ+ friends. Why do we need to legislate kindess and decency? That is a direct quote from my wife, Angela. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

My call to action this week is to think about how you would feel if you were fired for having brown eyes instead of blue? What if you lost your health benefits because you were left-handed? I was born this way, who says Little Lisa from Loganville should be legislated against? Please show your rainbows, please stop homophobic jokes, and please register to vote!

Mahalo,

Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)

20
Oct

Let’s Explore the Letter “K!” Oh, and Koenecke is my last name…it starts with “K.”😊

This week’s blog will not be a long one, but rather paying homage to Kevin Jennings who founded the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Oh, and he was a school counselor! YEP, that’s right, a school counselor. He is just one of the famous LGBTQ+ activists we can learn about during this month, OH, that’s right, October is National LGBTQ History Month. Click here to learn more about our famous people! Kool!

https://lgbthistorymonth.com/

Kevin, as I like to call him, went to Harvard, no big deal, and in 1988 he started America’s first Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at the Concord Academy in Massachusetts. Today, there are thousands of GSAs in our schools. There are other names for GSAs including Gender Sexuality Alliance and many others. Read on to learn more about Kevin Jennings in these exerpts from the National Education Association’s, Cindy Long.

An Interview with Kevin Jennings, Founder of GLSEN: Safe Schools for Everyone (full article linked)

By Cindy Long, NEA Sr. Writer/Editor

When Kevin Jennings taught history in Rhode Island 10 years ago, he saw students verbally bullied and harassed to the breaking point. It reminded him of the torment of the endless name-calling he suffered when he was in school.

But when the bullying among his students began to turn physical, he decided he had to do something to make school a safer place for everyone. That’s when he founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

GLSEN is a national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN works with educators, students, and the community to help children learn to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

https://www.glsen.org/

I have used GLSEN for numerous resources and applaud the organization for celebrating our community, especially the youth. Here is my article on GLSEN, “Geez, That’s alot of “G’s.” The “S” in GLSEN stands for straight, without our straight allies, we would be facing an uphill battle every day! In 2015, I was a national semi-finalist for GLSEN’s National Educator of the Year…how’s that for a fun fact? Sorry I didn’t win…oh well.

Kevin Jennings was named Lambda Legal’s CEO in 2019…watch for more on that maybe next week as we explore the letter “L”. Lovely! See what I did there?

Short and sweet for the letter “K” this week. Your call to action? Please learn more about famous LGBTQ people during October. Let’s get some of them in our school curriculum, right?

https://lgbthistorymonth.com/

Please check out GLSEN’s website for free resources, to register your school for educational materials and to mark your calendars for these awareness weeks:

Oh, and if you’re still reading this, I was selected to do a TEDx talk in February. Kool, right? It is a bucket list of mine…Hooray! More to come on that…Happy LGBTQ History Month!

~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)

13
Oct

Knational Coming OUT Day & KCNN Equality Debate

Lisa Koenecke

You might have noticed the title includes the letter “K.” Knope, Knot a typo, just letting you know that this week’s blog is meant to be brought to you by the letter “K,” but there were other more important messages to share.

October 11th every year is National Coming OUT Day. If you know my story, you’ll remember that my national coming out day was Thanksgiving of 2016 when my sister told me I was gay. Oh yeah, and “Please pass the carrots.” Can’t make that up, and of course I cried, and then ate my carrots.

National Coming OUT Day is a significant observance for the LGBTQ+ community as well as for our families, our allies, and our communities. On Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights (history linked). This year celebrates the 31st year of this auspicious…

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13
Oct

Knational Coming OUT Day & KCNN Equality Debate

You might have noticed the title includes the letter “K.” Knope, Knot a typo, just letting you know that this week’s blog is meant to be brought to you by the letter “K,” but there were other more important messages to share.

October 11th every year is National Coming OUT Day. If you know my story, you’ll remember that my national coming out day was Thanksgiving of 2016 when my sister told me I was gay. Oh yeah, and “Please pass the carrots.” Can’t make that up, and of course I cried, and then ate my carrots.

National Coming OUT Day is a significant observance for the LGBTQ+ community as well as for our families, our allies, and our communities. On Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights (history linked). This year celebrates the 31st year of this auspicious holiday. Thank you to the Human Rights Campaign for their advocacy(videos) around this rite of passage for some, or perhaps another day to stay in the closet for some. This is why school counselors are vital to creating safe spaces for all of those marginalized souls.

I was in the closet for so long because I didn’t know that being gay (and ultimately happy) was an option. Being raised Missouri Synod Lutheran didn’t offer a great deal of hope for females, let alone, females loving other females. We used to volunteer to clean the church on Saturdays. I would always volunteer to go with my mom for the main reason of being able to stand in the pulpit and “preach” whatever was on my mind. You might want to sit down (if you aren’t already) for this next part…I wanted to marry a pastor. Not a female pastor, but a male one. YIKES! What was I thinking? Oh, right, that’s what was modeled for me. As I grew older, I gained more confidence in myself as a strong female. After all, my mother had named me Lisa after Eileen Fulton’s character on the soap opera “As The World Turns,” because she wanted me to be a strong female. Careful what you ask for, right?

Once I realized that I could be the pastor and that I didn’t have to rely on a man. I wanted to volunteer at church to be an usher. All of my uncles were, so why not me? It was then that my relationship with the church, it’s heirarchy and hypocricy changed my views. My aunt was the treasurer at our 100 member tiny church on the hill. I was related to half of the congregation. In fact, if our carload of cousins was late to Saturday/Sunday school, they would wait for us to start. When I told my aunt that I wanted to be an usher, she told me that women weren’t allowed to hold leadership positions. WHAT???!!!??? I’m shaking my head as I write this. So, again, when my sister told me I was gay, I had to face my own coming out rite of passage. My church had let me down. Now what to do?

You go to college, hang out with all of the female athletes, that’s what you do! Too bad I didn’t know what coming out meant my freshman year at UW-LaCrosse. October 11th, 31 years ago would have been the first National Coming OUT Day. I wonder how my life would have turned out differently if I had been true to myself? To every season, there is a reason. Who would have thought 31 years ago, that there would be a presidential debate focused soley on LGBTQ+ issues? That is exactly what happened on the eve of National Coming OUT Day (NCOD).

Cable Network News (CNN) hosted the first ever Equality Town Hall. CNN worked with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) by inviting 9 of the top 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to discuss our issues. Just the fact that we are seeing these discussions and advocacy in my life time gives me hope for the future. Check out the 9 Takeaways from CNN’s Equality Forum. For those of you wanting a chuckle, watch Saturday Night Live’s take on the CNN LGBTQ Forum. You’ll need to watch some of the original footage to understand the SNL skits.

WOW, this was an emotional week for me and writing this blog was quite cathartic as well. Thank you for taking the time to read and maybe even you watched some of the videos I linked for you. My Call to Action this week is realize that the Supreme Court of the United States will decide whether a landmark 1964 civil rights law bars employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status. We can be fired in half of these United States based upon who were are and for whom we love. Please be our ally and wear your rainbow ribbons, share your stories and together we can shape our policies to become more inclusive.

Mahalo!

~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)