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KosAbility is a community diary series posted at 5 PM ET every Sunday and Wednesday by volunteer diarists. This is a gathering place for people who are living with disabilities, who love someone with a disability, or who want to know more about the issues surrounding this topic.  There are two parts to each diary.  First, a volunteer diarist will offer their specific knowledge and insight about a topic they know intimately. Then, readers are invited to comment on what they've read and or ask general questions about disabilities, share something they've learned, tell bad jokes, post photos, or rage about the unfairness of their situation. Our only rule is to be kind; trolls will be spayed or neutered.

I won't be taking off my Gay Writer hat and putting on my Disabled Writer hat this evening. Even if I could do it I wouldn't attempt it. I'm a person. I'm a writer. I'm an activist. I'm disabled. I'm gay. There is no part of my identity I'm not proud of. There is no part of my identity that anyone can minimize or take away from me in order to uncomplicate their perception of my story. I won't hide anything from anyone.

It's not just that people who are double minorities endure more stress than others. That's expected. It's a lot more complicated, because different identities require confronting different types of issues in different settings and still sometimes the two identities clash. A problem might come up that involves interplay between both of your identities, and you have to figure out - all on your own - how you're supposed to handle it.

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KosAbility is a community diary series posted at 5 PM ET every Sunday and Wednesday by volunteer diarists. This is a gathering place for people who are living with disabilities, who love someone with a disability, or who want to know more about the issues surrounding this topic.  There are two parts to each diary.  First, a volunteer diarist will offer their specific knowledge and insight about a topic they know intimately. Then, readers are invited to comment on what they've read and or ask general questions about disabilities, share something they've learned, tell bad jokes, post photos, or rage about the unfairness of their situation. Our only rule is to be kind; trolls will be spayed or neutered.

It's two fifty-four AM as I sit here in my bed typing furiously and anxiously, wide awake as ever. I have my coffee and nearly complete silence, and sleep is not a possibility tonight. Yes - I have coffee at nearly three in the morning.

But hear me out.

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Thanks to GLSEN for this story

Crossposted at my blog burn after writing

In 2005, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network released a study conducted by Harris Interactive - "From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America - A National Report on School Bullying" - that looked at "students’ and teachers’ experiences with bullying and harassment." They interviewed 3,450 students aged 13 to 18 and 1,011 secondary school teachers. It was the first national study that took on the topic of bullying in America's schools.

Not surprisingly, 65% of students reported that they had been bullied within the year in which the study was conducted "because of their perceived or actual appearance, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, race/ethnicity, disability or religion." The purpose of the study was to gain information in order to help raise awareness in schools across the country about the prevalence of bullying and the need for outreach, education and policies that would lead to a safer environment for students.

Today, GLSEN has released a follow-up study on bullying, biased remarks and family diversity conducted by Harris Interactive, called "Playgrounds and Prejudice: Elementary School Climate in the United States" - this time based on interviews with "1,065 elementary school students in 3rd to 6th grade and 1,099 elementary school teachers of K-6th grade." It examines homophobia and gender nonconformity in elementary schools. The study found that:

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A Fox news affiliate in Indiana reports that the state will soon offer license plates expressing pride and support for people who are LGBT:

The first license plate in the country to feature the logo of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender organization goes on sale next month in Indiana.  

The plates feature the logo of the Indiana Youth Group, an organization that advocates tolerance and provides training for schools and service agencies.

The Huffington Post notes that Indiana is not actually the first state in the nation to offer LGBT-friendly license plates, but it's progress in a state that is hostile to people who are LGBT.

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KosAbility is a community diary series posted at 5 PM ET every Sunday and Wednesday by volunteer diarists. This is a gathering place for people who are living with disabilities, who love someone with a disability, or who want to know more about the issues surrounding this topic.  There are two parts to each diary.  First, a volunteer diarist will offer their specific knowledge and insight about a topic they know intimately. Then, readers are invited to comment on what they've read and or ask general questions about disabilities, share something they've learned, tell bad jokes, post photos, or rage about the unfairness of their situation. Our only rule is to be kind; trolls will be spayed or neutered.

A slightly tweaked version of this piece appears at my blog burn after writing

The funniest thing I do when I'm out is watch people and how they react to me. It's not just the chair - it's the hand-controlled truck, it's the handicap accessible apartment. Just seeing someone eye all this medical and accessibility equipment and gape all curiously makes me laugh inwardly. Has no one seen a shower bench before? A truck's wheelchair lift? I can't even tell you how many times I'll be out in public, at a grocery store or movie theater, and someone just stands and stares while I use the lift to swing my chair out of the truck.

I attract crowds.

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So for those who weren't around yesterday, I got information to write a story, and along with eventually Think Progress and several state blogs in Tennessee - LGBT and others who were on it at the outset - discussed a new bill their General Assembly introduced yesterday that would force people who are transgender to go to the incorrect bathroom for their actual gender.

It immediately started generating discussion all over the place and the fact that there was national attention gave state orgs ammunition to call out these people for introducing the bill. And then the bill's sponsor in the Senate withdrew his bill entirely shortly after the House sponsor did a TV interview saying he wants to "stomp" people who are transgender.

And then, NewsChannel 5 in Tennessee reported this:

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Some legislators in the Tennessee General Assembly are having a bad day. A bill to restrict access to public restrooms and public dressing rooms designated by sex to members of that particular sex was introduced and immediately condemned and pretty roundly mocked all day long all over national and state news and blogs.

You'd think it might humble these members. But you'd be wrong:

Rep. Richard Floyd isn't exactly making any apologies for his bill to crack down on transgender people using public bathrooms. The Chattanooga Republican defiantly tells Andy Sher he'd "stomp a mudhole" in any transgender man who troubled his wife or daughters.

Seriously, that's the best they can come up with? Stomping?

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Crossposted at The Huffington Post

[UPDATE: Senate version of bill WITHDRAWN!]

A new anti-transgender "bathroom bill" was filed in Tennessee's General Assembly today by a Republican state Senator. The bill "restricts access to public restrooms and public dressing rooms designated by sex to members of that particular sex." There is a monetary fine for people who violate the law. And since in Tennessee it's legally impossible to get your sex changed on your birth certificate (and only a little less impossible to get it changed on your drivers' license), this affects all transgender and gender non-conforming people.

Tennessee has been proposing and passing some of the most homophobic and transphobic bills in the country - it is, after all, the state that passed HB600 stripping local jurisdictions of LGBT antidiscrimination provisions. There are ongoing court challenges to that law I'll be discussing soon. There's also the "license to bully" bill. And the "Don't Say Gay" bill was introduced there as well.

The response to many of those bills came too late - HB600 is now law, and it went almost entirely unremarked upon until its passage. But this one was introduced January 10th in the House and will be introduced today in the Senate, so hopefully we can mobilize to rally against its passage fairly quickly.

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Way, way back in the early days of a few months ago in August, Rick Santorum signed the National Organization for Marriage pledge, which was a strictly anti-gay pledge to promise that as president, Rick Santorum (and the other signers) would fight the gays at all costs and abolish our marriages everywhere. There were five goals stated in the pledge:

1) Send a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman to the states for ratification
2) Defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which includes the traditional definition of marriage and ban states from recognizing gay marriage, in court;
3) Appoint judges and an Attorney General who oppose a constitutional right to same-sex marriage
 4) Appoint a commission to investigate claims of harassment against those who support marriage as being only between a man and a woman
 5) Support legislation that would give people living in the District of Columbia the right to vote on marriage

Rick Santorum, as one of the first signers of the document, was very very serious about marriage. He had been a proud opponent of marriage for gays and lesbians and even went further than other candidates in opposing gay intimacy altogether. He has completely rejected the Supreme Court's landmark decision Lawrence v. Texas. He has compared gay marriage to 'calling a paper towel a napkin', he has compared it to a 'non-alcoholic beverage' and he has compared it to 'slavery'. He worries over gay people so much that he would re-institute Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Very, very serious.

But no more!

Poll

Should Rick Santorum be forced to sign another pledge?

69%25 votes
0%0 votes
30%11 votes

| 36 votes | Vote | Results

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This is just a quick update and it may have already been discussed. In case you missed it, there has been a huge controversy over an anti-LGBT calendar sold by both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Chrislove wrote about it here, and other LGBT blogs called attention to it as well. It features a "funny" picture of a male wearing make-up and appearing generally feminine (it's clever, you see) and it's titled "I'm not gay, I'm just a sissy." It mocks World AIDS Day by saying that "We All Have AIDS."

There is no first amendment right to have your product distributed and sold by anyone. You can create whatever you want and distribute it yourself or through someone who's willing to distribute it for you, of course, but that's as far as it goes. In this case, Barnes & Noble has decided they don't want to distribute the homophobic and serophobic calendar:

Barnes & Noble yanked the calendar from its website, and a spokesperson for the company told the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation it was never made available in stores. Amazon continues to stock the item, according to the Huffington Post.
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Daily Kos writer and activist TheFatLadySings has taken the initiative to apply for a Pepsi Challenge grant to help close the gap between those who can easily access internet, get noticed on blogs and attend activism conventions and those with no such opportunities, and everyone should help with this campaign - it will bring more people of color to Netroots Nation 2012 and it will help to make our convention a little more like the makeup of the Democratic Party constituency.

All it takes is a minute to sign up - it's a really easy process. You'll get one email a day reminding you to vote every day and then when voting is over you'll stop getting emails.

Raven Brooks, the executive director of Netroots Nation has offered to assist in this effort and tells us:

"The key to winning the Pepsi Refresh grant is accumulating daily voters. Netroots Nation has agreed to help us organize to win this grant. Sign up at this link to receive an email once a day providing you links to vote. Once the contest is over, win or lose, the email list will be deleted and your email won't be shared with anyone. So please help us recruit all the daily voters you can, and we can do this."

Netroots Nation 2010 in Las Vegas was the first Netroots convention - the first convention ever, really - that I was able to attend. I'm stuck in a tiny town - Loxley, Alabama, where there are only about 1,300 people - in rural south Alabama. I don't get out much, because there's simply not a lot to do - I'm surrounded by fields and a farmers' market and it's quite a drive before I would reach anything resembling civilization. Add to that the fact that I'm in a wheelchair - and it becomes obvious there isn't much of an opportunity for me to thrive in my situation. I'm lucky enough to have a computer and internet - which I can barely afford some months anyway.

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This comment was noticed on Facebook by my friend Michael. Sadly, it is just one example of the type of racism appearing on the internet tonight (Facebook and Twitter) - and it started within minutes of the announcement that Kim Jong-Il is dead.  Photobucket

My friends Michael and Brandon (who is Michael's boyfriend) - who write for Middle Tennessee State University's paper Sidelines - reacted with horror and disgust to this type of behavior - and they were told that it's okay because it's "from a movie" (Team America: World Police.) Yes, it's from a movie that employs racial stereotypes against an entire group of people because they don't like one of the people who fit into that racial group.

My friend Michael took to his Facebook account and to his Tumblr account, and he said:

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