California Public Schools Will Now Require Teaching LGBT History

Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, 1987 (The Washington Post)

Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, 1987 (The Washington Post)

California has long been one of the most progressive states in the union, fearlessly blazing a trail where other states dare not tread.

OK, maybe I’m biased because I live here.

But California is about to do something (else) no other state has done: require teaching LGBT history in public schools.

Granted, this isn’t a complete shock. Last year, the state voted to pass a new curriculum for history and social studies where children will learn about LGBT history at various points during K-12 schooling. Topics will range from learning about diverse families in elementary school to historical nuts-and-bolts in high school.

(Side note: A public forum was held in 2015 regarding the new curriculum. While there were disagreements over how some religious groups were portrayed, “no one protested the inclusion of the history of LGBT rights.” Progress!)

This measure comes after the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Act (FAIR) Education Act was passed in 2012. This act bolstered the inclusion of minority groups (including the LGBT community) in public education on history. The deadline to include this new information in textbooks was this year.

With California leading the way, I hope other states will follow suit in teaching inclusive history to their students.

 

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Trump Bans Funding for International Organizations that “Promote” Abortion

Trump signs international abortion ban (Lifesite)

Trump signs international abortion ban (Lifesite)

Well, that was quick.

On his third day in office, Trump showed his hand on female reproductive rights (not like we didnt already know…) He moved to block U.S. aid for organizations that “promote” abortion. In this case, “promoting” abortion means presenting it as a viable option and/or providing abortion counseling.

Similar rules have been in place since 1984, when President Ronald Reagan instituted the first rule known as the Mexico City policy. (The policy was named for the location in which Reagan announced it.) Depending on which party is in office, the bill has been repealed (by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) and reinstated (by George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush).

Despite the fact that the policy has been around for over 30 years, it’s unclear whether it’s actually working:

Health experts say the policy has not led to a decline in abortions in the affected countries. Some research suggests that it has had the opposite effect: increasing abortion rates by forcing health clinics to close or to restrict contraceptive supplies because of lack of funding. Others say the restriction only heightens the risk of illegal and often unsafe abortions.

A study completed by the Stanford University School of Medicine in 2011 found that the Mexico City policy was “linked to increases in abortion rates in sub-Saharan African countries.” But the study also found that it was difficult to link a country’s abortion rates back to the policy.

 

Ohio Bans Abortions After 20 Weeks

Ultrasound of fetus at 20 weeks (The Times in Plain English)

Ultrasound of fetus at 20 weeks (The Times in Plain English)

Another blow for women’s health: Ohio Governor John Kasich (yes, the former Republican presidential hopeful) signed a bill to approve banning abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. (To put this in context, most pregnancies are around 40 weeks long.)

The Senate Bill 127, signed December 2016, does not allow for exceptions in rape and incest cases. Supporters of the bill claim that the fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. (I’m curious how they know this; did they ask the fetus through the ultrasound?) The only exception will be for women whose pregnancy puts their health at risk.

Providers caught performing abortions after 20 weeks will charged with a “fourth-degree felony.”

Earlier that month, Kasich tried to sign a “heartbeat” bill, which would ban abortion after six weeks. A heartbeat pulse can generally be found around that time, though women may not know they’re pregnant. He eventually vetoed it due to overwhelming public pressure.

Around 1% of abortions occur after 20 weeks. The new law takes effect Mar. 14, 2017.

Bus Permits for the Women’s March Outnumber Bus Permits for the Inauguration by a 1:6 Ratio

Women's Strike For Peace And Equality March, 1970 (Time)

Women’s Strike for Peace-And Equality, Women’s Strike for Equality, Fifth Avenue, New York, New York, August 26, 1970. (Photo by Eugene Gordon/The New York Historical Society/Getty Images)Women’s Strike For Peace And Equality March, 1970 (Time)

Friday, January 20th is Inauguration Day for the president-elect. The Women’s March takes place the next day. (Who’s going? I am!) D.C. can already tell the event is sure to be huge, judging by the number of bus permits secured. And the March might overshadow the previous day’s activities.

According to D.C. Council member Charles Allen, 1,200 buses have secured parking permits for the day of the March in RFK Stadium. (RFK Stadium has a capacity of 1,300 buses.) By contrast, just 200 buses have registered for parking permits for Inauguration Day. For every bus that has registered for the inauguration, six buses have registered for the March.

For President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in 2009, 3K buses registered for permits. Bus registrations for the current president-elect comprised 6.67% of that total.

Attendees for the March are expected to number as many as 200K.

Hopefully, this detail begins getting the message to the president-elect loud and clear that we will not be ignored.

 

 

First Female President of South Korea Impeached

South Korean President Park Guen-hye (NovoRossia)

South Korean President Park Guen-hye (NovoRossia)

South Korean President Park Guen-hye made history in 2012 by becoming the first woman elected to the country’s highest office. Now, she’s made history for a more ignominious reason: Park is the first female president of South Korea to be impeached.

Park is battling various charges of corruption. The South Korean National Assembly voted to impeach her 234 to 56. The vote now will move to the Constitutional Court, which could take up to six months.

And if the Constitutional Court is in favor?

Park will be formally removed from office if six of the court’s nine justices support her impeachment, and the country would then hold a presidential election within 60 days.

According to a recent poll from Gallup Korea, Park’s current approval rating sits at a measly 5%. Incredibly, this is an improvement from her 4% approval rating. Poll respondents supported her impeachment at a rate of 81%.

 

 

Nikki Haley is the First Woman and Minority Named to the Trump Administration

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (Politico)

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (Politico)

President-elect Donald Trump (I threw up a little just now writing that) has named his pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He’s selected Republican Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley. Haley is the first woman Trump has selected for his administration.

Haley’s also the first minority Trump has selected: She’s of Indian descent, and her parents are Sikh.

Haley has served two terms as governor of South Carolina, and is known for advocating removing the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s State Capitol grounds.

She is the first woman governor of South Carolina, as well as the first minority governor of the state.

According to CNN, “Haley will keep serving as governor until the Senate confirms her nomination.”

Asian-Americans Shifting Away from the Republican Party

Asian-American voter (The Huffington Post)

Asian-American voter (The Huffington Post)

Recent data shows that Asian-Americans are leaving the Republican party to vote Democrat.

Through the 1990s, Asian-Americans were more likely to vote Republican. It’s thought that Asian-American generally voted for the Republican candidate due to connecting with fiscally and socially conservative platforms. Asian-Americans voted Republican around 55% of the time during the 1992 presidential election between Republican George H.W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton (who ended up winning). The 2000 election became a turning point when more Asian-Americans began supporting the Democrat candidate. In 2012, Barack Obama won with Asian voters by “nearly 50 percentage points.” Karthick Ramakrishnan of the National Asian American Survey attributes this outcome to Democrats actively trying to win the Asian-American vote.

Party Identification Among Asian-Americans (NPR)

Party Identification Among Asian-Americans (NPR)

Over time, Asian-Americans gravitating towards the Democrats doesn’t seem like a big deal, and more like a natural shift over time. Except that it might not be. This fact becomes more important in this election where surveys have shown Asian-Americans rejecting many points of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s platform: keeping out and deporting immigrants, diplomacy with China, among other aspects.

But it’s too early to tell whether this shift for Asian-Americans toward the Democrats is a blip on the radar or foretelling a larger, more long-term trend. According to Ramakrishnan, it’s too early to tell. In 2015, 47% of Asian-Americans identified as politically independent.

In October 2016, a survey found that registered Asian-American voters supported Hillary Clinton over Trump by a 4-to-1 lead.