Monday, November 30, 2009

2009 College Climate Survey Online!

Iowa Pride Network is asking all Iowa college students to take this quick, confidential 10 minute survey.


The Iowa College Climate Survey is the first and only statewide survey to document the experiences of LGBT and straight allied students as well as the levels of racism and sexism in Iowa’s colleges and universities.

The survey is open to ALL and any student enrolled in an Iowa college or university (public or private, community college or vocational school).  Regardless of whether you're a freshman, graduate student or non-traditional student--we need to hear from you!

Please help us educate our state and communities about what it’s like to attend an Iowa college. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


First Study Since Safe Schools Law; 
IPN Calls for Meaningful Implementation

Des Moines, IA – November 11 – Iowa Pride Network announced findings from its 2009 Iowa School Climate Survey (ISCS) today at the Iowa State Capitol. The 2009 survey is the first since the legislature passed the 2007 Safe Schools Law. The law requires schools to have anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies that protect all students including those that are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

“The 2009 ISCS reveals that LGBT bullying and harassment remain commonplace,” said Iowa Pride Network Co-Founder and Executive Director, Ryan Roemerman; “But it also makes clear that the law works when it is meaningfully implemented.”

Key findings from the 2009 Iowa Pride Network School Climate Survey show:

Many students do not know about Iowa’s Safe Schools Law regarding Bullying and Harassment:

54.2% of respondents reported that they do not know what the Iowa Safe Schools law is
71.9% reported that their school has not adopted the law
89.2% reported that the law is not posted at their school

Iowa’s LGBT students continue to feel unsafe in school and face verbal and physical harassment or assault daily and are more likely to consider suicide:

87.5% (91% in 07) of LGBT students in Iowa reported hearing homophobic remarks frequently in their schools.
78.4% (80% in 07) of LGBT students report being verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation.
37.5% (36% in 07) of Iowa LGBT students reported some incident of physical harassment (being pushed or shoved) because of their sexual orientation
20.5% (16% in 07) of students reported some incident of physical assault (being punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) because of their sexual orientation or gender expression.
56% of LGBT students are more likely than their straight peers to report that they had considered committing suicide

Three high school students,who attended the press conference, detailed their experiences as a LGBT or straight allied individual in Iowa schools. Stephen Wayne Boatwright, a senior at Hoover High School spoke of how he is fearful to walk down the halls after having glue smeared all over his locker. He is allergic to adhesives. Jozie Butler, a freshman at Southeast Polk High School, explained how she has been called names because of having gay friends. Evan Hay, a senior at Southeast Polk High School described how she is no longer allowed to attend her favorite class because a teacher is uncomfortable with her sexual orientation.

Despite their hardships, the students expressed their commitment to help educate others about how they can change their school’s climates.

“While I have been harassed, I know I have friends that support me. I also know that not all students have the support that I do. That is why I am here today, to let students know that they aren’t alone—and that there is a law that protects them,” stated Boatwright.

The study did find some areas of progress: Fewer students report being verbally harassed and more teachers and students are intervening when homophobic remarks are made in their presence. Most notably it found that in schools where the law was known by the student to have been adopted, students were 40% less likely to report hearing homophobic remarks used frequently or often in their schools.

“Bullying and harassment often starts with verbal harassment and often ends in physical violence. This law, if implemented can stop bullying and harassment before it starts,” explained Roemerman.

Iowa Pride Network is calling on schools to adopt programs that are recommended within the law, such as having student organizations that reduce harassment and trainings for teachers and students regarding the law. To educate students, Iowa Pride Network has created a “Make it Real” manual that will help students understand how to make the law real in their schools. The manual details how schools must follow the law and stop harassment and how students should report harassment when it happens.

“Our hope is that the manual will assist schools’ efforts in educating their students on the law.” Adding that, “Every one of us, students, schools, communities—must do all we can to create safe schools. We have the tools. We must have the resolve.”

View the 2009 Iowa School Climate Survey

View the “Make it Real” Manual 


The 2009 Iowa Pride Network School Climate Survey included responses from 203 LGBT, allied and non-allied high school students from 69 schools across the state. This biennial statewide survey is the only survey that measures the levels of racism, homophobia and sexism in Iowa schools. This is the third survey Iowa Pride Network has released since 2005. Key findings, the complete survey and additional information about methodology and demographics may be obtained by calling the Iowa Pride Network at 515-243-1110 or by visiting

About Iowa Pride Network
Iowa Pride Network works directly with LGBTA youth to cultivate advocates and leaders who fight homophobia and transphobia and strive for social justice.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

IPN to Release 2009 School Climate Survey

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ryan Roemerman, Executive Director, Iowa Pride Network

First Study Since Passage of the 2007 Iowa Safe Schools Law

Iowa Pride Network will announce findings from the 2009 Iowa School Climate Survey (ISCS) on Wednesday, Nov. 11. This biennial survey is the only survey that measures the levels of racism, homophobia and sexism in Iowa schools. The 2009 survey is the first since the legislature passed the 2007 Iowa Safe Schools Law. The law requires schools to have anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies that protect all students including those that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.

The survey details how the majority of Iowa's LGBT students continue to feel unsafe in their schools and face verbal and physical harassment or assault daily. The survey also reveals positive signs of improvement in key areas, such as an increase in teachers intervening in bullying situations. New data surrounding students' thoughts on suicide will also be provided. Iowa Pride Network will share its recommendations on how to support schools to ensure they meet and exceed the standards set by the Iowa Safe Schools Law. Students from various high schools will also be in attendance to share personal experiences.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009
10:00 a.m.

Iowa State Capitol, Room 116
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

Ryan Roemerman, Executive Director
515-243-1110 (office) 515-371-8355 (mobile)

The ISCS is the only biennial state-wide survey to document the safety of LGBT students in Iowa's schools. This is the third survey Iowa Pride Network has released since 2005.

About Iowa Pride Network
Iowa Pride Network empowers students to fight homophobia and transphobia in high schools and colleges by supporting gay-straight alliance (GSA) clubs and providing leadership opportunities and organizing projects centered on social justice. For more information call Iowa Pride Network at 515-243-1110 or by visiting Iowa Pride Network.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Iowa Pride Network GSA Registration Drive Update: As of Friday, September 25: We have called 413 schools. Out of that, we have actually talked to 168 of them to assess their school safety and whether or not they have a GSA/Diversity Club! Thank you volunteers!!! Just three more days left: Sept. 28, 29 and 30th.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

School Protects Gay Student After Suit

No one should ever have to experience such harassment and it shouldn't take a lawsuit for schools to react.  If you, or someone you know is experiencing something like this, notify Iowa Pride Network.  Schools should be safe for everyone.

Shared via AddThis

Friday, August 28, 2009

New "Thinking Queerly" Curriculum Debuts

To enhance and support local GSAs, Iowa Pride Network’s Regional Gay Straight Alliance Coalitions will begin meeting monthly starting in September. The coalitions reduce isolation that many LGBT students experience, educates students about LGBT history, people and events with our “Thinking Queerly” curriculum (only 16% of LGBT youth ever hear about this information in Iowa schools) and provides a refuge for students in schools who may not have a GSA.

The six coalitions are located in Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Falls, Mason City, Sioux City and Council Bluffs. Hundreds of students will utilize the coalitions this year!

The innovative “Thinking Queerly” curriculum used in the coalition meetings is now in its second edition and will be taught by IPN’s trained Leadership Team and Youth Council members. We know that students who are taught the curriculum increase their knowledge by an average of 30%. Last year, LGBT Youth and Mental Health; Future Leaders and Out Professionals; and understanding Power, Privilege and Oppression were rated the highest for knowledge increases.

An exciting development this year is the development of an online request form where individual GSAs can request specific monthly topics and supporting materials from our curriculum as a way to expand this resource at a local level.

This means that by completing a simple request form following a GSA Coalition meeting, GSA leaders can receive an emailed PDF version of that month’s curriculum that they can present partially or entirely to their Gay-Straight Alliance.

This is intended to provide GSAs with an active and accurate meeting agenda to bolster existing programming within the Gay-Straight Alliance. We strongly encourage GSA leaders to create additional and specialized programming to satisfy the unique needs of their school.

If you would like more information about our events, coalitions meetings, or want to start a GSA, please contact Rachel Johnson, Outreach Coordinator at: or by calling: 515-243-1110.

GSA Registration Drive set for Sept. 21-30

Iowa Pride Network is kicking off the year with our Annual Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Registration Drive September 21-30! Volunteers will help call all of Iowa’s 400+ schools and 30+ colleges. Last year’s efforts yielded ten newly discovered GSAs and over a dozen additional schools that wanted to start one! GSAs—an alliance of LGBT and straight students working to end homophobia and transphobia—are the core of our work as they reduce physical violence towards LGBT students in schools.

Today, 1 out of 3 LGBT students in Iowa are physically harassed and assaulted and will skip at least two weeks of school this year because they are simply too afraid to go. Luckily, LGBT students who have a GSA in their school are 23% less likely to be physically assaulted and are much more likely to attend school.

The GSA Registration Drive helps IPN focus its efforts on schools who request support starting a GSA and providing resources to schools who want to create safe learning environments for all students. For information on how you can be involved with this important work contact the Iowa Pride Network office at 515-243-1110.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

IPN AP High School Shooting Statement

Iowa Pride Network is saddened by the terrible violence at Aplington-Parkersburg High School today. Our thoughts are with the families and friends affected by this tragedy.

Monday, June 1, 2009

UI features IPN & Executive Director

The University of Iowa is featuring Iowa Pride Network and Executive Director, Ryan Roemerman, as part of it's "Be Remarkable" Campaign. The ongoing campaign is meant to share the achievements and opportunities that define The University of Iowa. This campaign is about telling the University's story—and the stories of the people who shaped the University’s history and build its future. Read the article here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Linn-Mar, Waldorf named 2009 "Best GSA"

Executive Director, Ryan Roemerman poses with Jessica Schiermeister, Waldorf GSA President at the 2009 Spring Soiree and Honors Program

Des Moines--Waldorf College and Linn-Mar High School were presented with Iowa Pride Network’s Award for Best Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at the Annual Spring Soiree Benefit and Honors Program held at the home of Jim and Roxanne Conlin in Des Moines on Thursday night.

The Iowa Pride Network Awards go to GSAs that have shown a committed effort in raising awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues on their campuses and in their communities and have pioneered programs that have increased the respect of LGBT people. Each application is evaluated on five categories: Education, Programming, Advocacy, Outreach and Community Service with consideration given to the impact their GSA programs and initiatives have on the climate and culture of their community.

“Both award-winning GSAs have helped to raise awareness and are actively working to stop anti-gay violence,” stated Ryan Roemerman, Iowa Pride Network Executive Director. “Today in Iowa’s schools 1 in 3 LGBT students will be physically harassed—pushed or shoved and another 1 in 6 LGBT students will be physically assaulted—punched, kicked or injured with a weapon.”

The 2007 Iowa School Climate Survey conducted by Iowa Pride Network showed that LGBT students who have a GSA in their school are 23% less likely to be physically assaulted—and are less likely to skip class.

“We are proud to recognize these GSAs and their work in making every Iowa community a safe and respectful place to live and grow,” added Roemerman.

Click Here to watch Linn-Mar GSA acceptance speech via YouTube

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Iowa Decency - New York Times Editorial

Check out the Editorial by the New York Times regarding the Iowa Marriage case.

Friday, April 3, 2009


For Immediate Release
Contact: Ryan Roemerman, Executive Director, Iowa Pride Network, 515-243-1110

Decision enhances organization’s vision of a state that embraces LGBT citizens

Des Moines, IA – April 3, 2009 – In a unanimous decision, the Iowa Supreme Court today held that the statute limiting civil marriage to only heterosexual couples violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution.

“This ruling is historic for Iowa and the nation and speaks boldly about true equality,” stated Ryan Roemerman, Executive Director of Iowa Pride Network, a statewide advocacy organization for LGBT students. “This ruling advances our vision of creating a state that embraces its LGBT citizens. It shows that marriage equality is not just an Iowa value—it’s an American value.”

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Eve of Equality-Gay-Marriage May Become Legal

Decision day is finally here! The Iowa Supreme Court will announce TOMORROW morning whether committed gay and lesbian couples will win the freedom to marry in Iowa.

Join us for historic "Decision Day" rallies in locations near you! (Click Here for updates from One Iowa) Iowa Pride Network is a partner with One Iowa, the group fighting for marriage equality in Iowa. We have worked together to increase LGBT rights in our state.

Tonight is the eve of one of the most historic decisions in Iowa's history. We are excited about the possibilities that this decision may bring. Regardless of the outcome, will continue our work to secure equality for all Iowa’s LGBT citizens.

Decision Day Rallies - Hosted by One Iowa, co-sponsored by Iowa Pride Network

Des Moines
Western Gateway Park
13th Street between Grand and Locust

Iowa City
University of Iowa Pentacrest
Clinton and Iowa Avenue

Council Bluffs
Playland Park
2 North 40th Street

Quad Cities
Davenport Unitarian Church
3707 Eastern Avenue

Cedar Falls
University Of Northern Iowa Maucker Union

Iowa State University - Free Speech Zone by the Hub

Additional locations may be added, Click Here for more information

Co-Sponsors Include:
Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Iowa Pride Network, Iowa Planned Parenthood Affiliate League, ACLU of Iowa, I'M for Iowa, Marriage Equality USA - Iowa Chapter, Iowa Planned Parenthood Affiliate League, PFLAG National, AIDS Project of Central Iowa, Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Lambda Legal, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa

Saturday, March 28, 2009

2009 Iowa School Climate Survey is now Online!

Take the Survey

If you are a student who currently attends an Iowa High School please take this survey and pass it on to other high school friends. If you’re not in high school, please forward it to friends that are.

Thank you for helping us learn about the true experiences of what it’s like to be in an Iowa high school.

About the Survey:

Iowa Pride Network’s Iowa School Climate Survey is the only statewide survey to document the experiences of students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or straight allied (LGBTA) as well as the levels of racism and sexism in Iowa’s secondary schools.

Conducted biennially since 2005, the Iowa School Climate Survey (ISCS) fills a crucial void in our collective understanding of the contemporary high school experience. The results of this survey are intended to serve as a guide for every legislator, educator, school board and community leader concerned with ensuring safe and effective schools for ALL students.

ACLU sues California district over homophobia, including student Facebook page

According to San Jose’s Mercury News, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued officials in an Orange County school district, accusing them of allowing sexist and homophobic harassment and bullying at a high school that gained recent notoriety for canceling—then reinstating—a production of the musical "Rent."

The lawsuit, filed in state court, centers on the treatment of a female student at Corona Del Mar High School who was allegedly threatened in a video featuring three other students that was posted on a fourth student's Facebook profile.

The male students in the video used homophobic and sexist language while discussing sexually assaulting and killing the female student, according to the lawsuit, which identifies the student only as Mary Doe. The school and the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (N-MUSD) are accused of not adequately responding to the video incident and of condoning sexist and homophobic behavior.

Although much of the complaint is based on the school's alleged acceptance of homophobia, Mary Doe herself is not gay, said Hector Villagra, who directs the ACLU's Orange County office. The district said in a statement that officials were attempting to resolve the matter when they learned about the lawsuit.

The district said the lawsuit had numerous factual errors and mistakes but that “the district will utilize its best efforts to ascertain the truth of these matters, as well as to be sure there are procedures in place to allow prompt resolution of any and all disputes regarding discrimination and harassment."

The lawsuit mentions the controversy over the school's planned production of "Rent: School Edition," a slightly toned-down version of the Pulitzer-prize winning Broadway show, as evidence of school officials' alleged hostility toward gay students.

The lawsuit also accuses the superintendent of not responding to Mary Doe's parents' concerns about her safety and failing to assign an assistant football coach to investigate the harassment, although the three of the four accused students are on the football team. The suit seeks unspecified damages and asks that the school be forced to take steps to redress the alleged homophobic atmosphere on campus.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, 3/18/09, By Jacob Adelman

Indiana district agrees to allow female student to wear tux to prom

Lebanon Schools has reversed its policy requiring female students to wear dresses if they attend the prom after a senior girl who is a lesbian sued last week, according to the Indianapolis Star.

In a statement, Superintendent Robert L. Taylor said that the issue had been resolved. School policy for this year's prom will be that all attendees shall wear appropriate formal attire with no gender-based attire requirements imposed," the statement said.

"Female students will be permitted to wear tuxedos if they choose." Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the student's attorney, said his client is pleased with the decision and will attend the April prom in a tuxedo.

"We think this is what the decision should have been all along, that there was never any justification for the policy," Falk said. "It's unfortunate that we had to go this far."

Falk had asked a federal court to force the school to let the girl, who remained anonymous in court filings, attend the prom in a tuxedo. The lawsuit said the school violated her right to express herself and discriminated against her because of her gender.

The district had long had the policy and had never reviewed it because it hadn't been challenged, the district's lawyer, Kent Frandsen, said last week.

Source: Indianapolis Star, 3/17/09, By Andy Gammill

Friday, March 13, 2009

Judge: Gay Club Can Meet At Yulee High

WJXT-TV, Wed., March. 11, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. on Wednesday granted a preliminary injunction requested by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida to force Nassau County school officials to allow a students promoting tolerance for gays to hold club meetings on campus.

Nassau County schools had prohibited a Gay-Straight aliance from meeting at Yulee High School. Students Jacob Brock and Hannah Page, backed by the ACLU, filed a lawsuit challenging the restriction.

Adams ordered the district to grant official recognition of the Gay-Straight Alliance and give it the same privileges as any other student organization. He also ruled that the group did not have to change its name -- one of the objections of school officials.

"This is a victory for our clients, for the Yulee High GSA, and indeed for gay and straight kids all across America," said Robert Rosenwald of the ACLU of Florida. "Time and time again, we've seen discrimination and intolerance struck down by the courts in these cases, and for every school that wishes to cross the line, we'll be here to defend the students."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

6th Annual GSA Conference set for April 4, 2009

Don't Miss Iowa Pride Network's Largest Student Networking Event of the Year!!!

On Saturday April 4th, 2009, Iowa Pride Network will be hosting its 6th Annual Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Conference for high school and college students and advisors throughout the state!

The conference will be held at John & Mary Pappajohn Education Center located at 1200 Grand Avenue in downtown Des Moines from 9:45 AM until 4:30 PM. Check-in will begin at 9:00 AM, and the conference will start promptly at 9:45 AM.

Lunch and FREE IPN T-Shirts will be provided. This is a FREE conference!

Please remember: YOU MUST officially register on IPN's website AND you must have signed permission slips with you at the time you register!! (These are available only on IPN's website!)

Registration Deadline: March 28, 2009

9:00 – 9:45 Registration (Breakfast items/coffee, etc.)

9:45 – 10:15 Welcome & Opening Speakers

10:15 – 10:25 10 Min. Break

10:25 – 11:25 Session 1

11:25 – 12:25 Lunch, meet with college representatives

12:25 – 1:25 Session 2

1:25 – 1:35 10 Min. Break

1:35 – 2:35 Session 3

2:35 – 3:10 Student Networking, meet with college representatives

3:10 – 4:10 Session 4

4:10 – 4:30 Closing Session

The mission of the Annual Gay-Straight Alliance Conference is to celebrate the diversity and culture of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied (LGBTA) communities; collaborate across the spectrum of our identities and experiences; provide a safe forum to discuss challenges, issues and ideas facing LGBTA students today; and empower each other to build not only successful student organizations, but healthy and productive lives.

MAP to John and Mary Pappajohn Education Center

As Iowa Goes, So Goes the Nation...

Law School to Examine Iowa Same Sex Marriage Case
University of Iowa News Release, Feb. 12, 2009

While the Iowa Supreme Court debates the future of gay marriage in the state, the University of Iowa College of Law will examine the legal issues the justices are considering.

A two-day symposium, "As Iowa Goes, So Goes the Nation: Varnum v. Brien and Its Impact On Marriage Rights for Same-sex Couples," will be held Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 at the Boyd Law Building.

Symposium coordinator Emily Winfield said speakers will provide a general background of the issues under consideration by the justices in the case Varnum v. Brien.

The case was argued in December on appeal from a state district court, which held that same-sex marriages do not violate the state's constitution. The Iowa Supreme Court's decision is expected sometime by the end of the year.

"Our speakers will consider not only the legal issues, but ask the question, 'What happens if?'" said Winfield, senior symposium editor of the law school's Journal of Gender, Race and Justice. "We want to talk about the different directions this case could go as well as consider the role other factors, such as social science, might play in the resolution of the case."

Lawyers and scholars from groups that both favor and oppose same-sex marriage will participate in the moderated panel discussions. Panelists will examine such issues as Iowa's historical commitment to expanding civil rights, how state and federal laws affect the issue, and the use of social science and history in marriage rights litigation.

Among those participating in the symposium will be:

--Jean Love, a former UI law professor, and Pat Cain, former UI law professor and UI provost, both now teaching at the Santa Clara University School of Law.

--United States District Court Judge Joseph F. Batallion of Omaha, who held in 2005 that an amendment to the Nebraska state constitution banning same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution.

--Austin Nimocks, senior legal counsel, Alliance Defense Fund.

--Writer Dan Savage, author of the book "The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family," who will deliver the conference keynote. The book is a memoir recounting his and his partner's experience starting a family.

Academic events will be held in the Levitt Auditorium in the Boyd Law Building. Admission is free and open to the public. Savage's keynote address will be held during the symposium banquet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26 in the hotelVetro. Tickets cost $20.

A symposium banquet will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26, also at the hotelVetro. Tickets to the dinner cost $45. Registration is required by Feb. 21.

For more information, to register or to buy tickets to Savage's keynote, visit Tickets to the keynote are also available at Prairie Lights bookstore and the University of Iowa College of Law.

For information or to register visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell),

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

IPN Remembers Lawrence King

Who was Lawrence King?
Lawrence King was a 15-year-old student from
Oxnard, California, who was shot and killed in class on February 12, 2008 by a 14-year-old classmate because of King’s sexual orientation and gender expression. The hate crime received little media attention but has served as a rallying cry for the need to address anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment. Organizers have registered more than 100 vigils across the country in remembrance of King.

At IPN we mourn Lawrence and all of the students who--even today--face hostile learning environments because of their real or percieved sexual orientation and gender identity.

Metro Gay-Straight Alliances are banding together for a candlelight vigil which will be held today at
Drake University from 7-9 pm in remembrance of Lawrence.

Last year the Iowa State Daily published a speech given by Warren Blumenfeld, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction. It was a great speech, so we have included it below.

Iowa State Daily
Issue date: 2/26/08

Each year, the FBI tracks incidents of hate crimes throughout the United States. It reported in 2006, its most recent report, 7,722 criminal incidents involving 9,080 offenses as a result of bias against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national origin, or physical or mental disability.

• 51.8 percent were motivated by racial bias.
• 18.9 percent were motivated by religious bias.
• 15.5 percent were motivated by sexual orientation bias.
• 12.7 percent were motivated by ethnicity or national origin bias.
• 1 percent was motivated by disability bias.

Once again, we are mourning the tragic death of a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, a courageous soul who defied the sexuality and gender status quo and embraced life by living with integrity, sincerity and compassion.

On the morning of Feb. 12, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, brandishing a gun, entered E. O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, Calif. He walked up to Lawrence King and blasted two bullets into King's head at close range. Reports indicate that McInerney targeted King because he was openly gay and gender non-conforming. Doctors declared King brain-dead at the hospital, and three days later, took him off life support. He was just 15 years old and in the eighth grade.

Speaking of her friend, whom she referred to as Larry, Melissa Castillo remembered her classmate as a person "who was never afraid to show who he was. He was always the spirit of our group. He was always smiling. He was always bubbling. If you were having a bad day, or if you were feeling down, he was the one to bring you back up and make you start laughing again. He was proud of [who he was]. That's what we loved about him."

Melissa and Larry's other friends loved him for being proud of being gay, and for expressing his gender in ways that felt comfortable and integral to him, even though this often went against convention. Larry occasionally came to school wearing traditionally feminine articles of clothing: dresses or skirts with makeup and jewelry. Not everyone, however, supported Larry's sexual identity and gender identity and expression.

Lawrence King's name is now recorded on a continually growing list of members of our communities who have been taken from us all too soon, people who dared to be themselves and to push back the margins of human potential and expression. They are my inspiration and my heroes. Though their names are too numerous, I will mention just a few others.

Twenty-one-year-old gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, on Oct. 6, 1998, was pistol-whipped by two young men and tied to a wooden fence for more than 18 hours in near-freezing temperatures. Matthew had hoped to dedicate his life to advancing the cause of human rights for all people. His uncle, R. W. Eaton, said that "Matt was a small person with a big heart, mind and soul that someone tried to beat out of him."

Gwen Amber Rose Araujo, a male-to-female transsexual, in Newark, Calif., at a party on Oct. 3, 2002, was choked by a male partygoer. Three assailants continued to physically abuse and verbally taunt Gwen for the next five hours. They bashed her head with a frying pan and a can of tomatoes, causing a large head gash to stream with blood. Another person struck her with a barbell, while another crashed her head into a plaster wall. Gwen's body was discovered two weeks later. The three suspected assailants were arrested for Gwen's murder. Following Gwen's funeral, people marched through the streets of Newark ending at a community mall According to her mother, Sylvia Guerrero, "[S]he went through a lot of pain, and people didn't respect h[er]. It took a lot of guts. [S]he's strong, and [s]he finally came out."

In Alabama, two men bludgeoned to death Billy Jack Gaither, a 39-year-old gay man, with an ax handle and tossed his limp body onto a pyre of burning tires.

Brandon Teena, a female-to-male transsexual, was gang-raped in Nebraska when some men found out he had a vagina. Teena reported the incident to local police officials who basically discounted his story. Soon thereafter, the perpetrators entered Teena's home and murdered him along with two of his friends.

Charlie Howard, a 23-year-old gay man, was walking arm-in-arm with his friend Roy Ogden after leaving a meeting of Interweave, a support group for lesbians, gay males, bisexuals and transgender persons sponsored by the Unitarian Universalists in Bangor, Maine. Three teenage males attacked them for being gay. While Ogden got away, the three teens surrounded Howard, punched and kicked him as he attempted to hang on to a rail of a bridge overlooking a stream below. One of the teens gave the order to throw Howard from the bridge. When Howard heard this, he cried out in panic saying he could not swim. His plea only enlivened the boys, who dislodged Howard's hands from the railing, and with a mighty heave, tossed him into the stream some 20 feet below. Howard's lifeless body was found down stream.

What was done to Larry, to Matthew, to Gwen, to Billy Jack, to Brandon, and to Charlie is, unfortunately, nothing new and is not limited to them. We see hate-motivated violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and other targeted social groups on the rise, though most do not reach a high level of public discourse. These are examples of hate-related violence in general and so-called queer bashing specifically. The killers live in a society that promotes intolerance, for queer bashing comes in a great many forms.

For today we still live in a society where some people proclaim that we don't have a right to exist, but exist we do, everywhere, in all walks of life. The truth is that there is currently a cultural war being waged by the political and theocratic right, a war to turn back all the gains progressive people have made over the years.

No amount of intimidation, however, will ever lock us away again. Lesbians, gay males, bisexuals, transgender people and our loving and supportive heterosexual allies are coming out in greater numbers than ever before, as witnessed in the large outpouring of grief, anger and love in remembrance of Larry. As marginalized people, we are pushing the boundaries, unwilling any longer to accept the repressive status quo.

One year before he was slain, gay San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk recorded a will that was to be played in the event of his assassination. In it he stated that he never considered himself simply as a candidate for public office, but rather, always considered himself as part of a movement: a liberation movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and a liberation movement for all people.

Each time Harvey spoke in front of a crowd, he urged people to come out everywhere and often: "Tell your immediate family," he would say. "Tell friends, neighbors, people in the stores you shop in, cab drivers, everyone." And he urged heterosexual people to be our allies, to interrupt derogatory remarks and jokes, to support us and offer aid when needed. If we all did this, he said, we could change the world.

Well, in his brief time with us, Lawrence King also changed lives. His caring soul transformed the people he met. Though his murderer may have succeeded in devastating his body, he did not and will never succeed in destroying his gentle spirit, or in extinguishing the heart of a community and a movement for social justice, for Larry's spirit continues, inspiring a people, a nation, a world.

I truly believe that love will conquer the hatred. To Larry, to Matthew, to Gwen, to Brandon, to Billy Jack, to Charlie, to Harvey, and all the others, thank you for the riches you have left us. We will continue the struggle in your name to make the world a safer and more supportive environment for all its people. May you find the peace in death that you could not always find in life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Student Day @ Capitol Set for March 4th

For the past three years, Iowa Pride Network members have been instrumental in helping achieve LGBT equality in Iowa. Through our capitol press conferences at the Student Day at the Capitol and personal stories and activism we have changed the landscape for LGBT people through the passage of the Safe Schools Law and the amended Civil Rights Law which now includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

This year, we’re marching to the Capitol to let our legislators know that we’re still here. Just a few years ago some legislators thought LGBT people didn’t exist in Iowa! On Wednesday, March 4th, we will go to the Capitol to remind them that we’re here, we are politically powerful and we want to be part of the process.

This year’s Student Day at the Capitol will be unique: We’re planning to meet one-on-one with our only out LGBT State Senator, Matt McCoy; our amazing ally Lt. Governor Patty Judge and other allied legislators—where you can pick their brains about running for political office, LGBT issues in Iowa and any other issues that are important to you. It promises to be a day of fun and networking. We hope to see you all there!


(This includes all students and adult advisors/chaperones.)

***All participants MUST bring a completed permission/release slip.***

Registration Deadline is February 25th!

Capitol Complex Map:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Governor Declares Today Iowa GSA Day

In Honor of Student Groups that
Help Curb Violence in Schools

Des Moines, IA – January 28 – Governor Culver has declared today “Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Day” to honor GSAs—student organizations that create safe learning environments—and students and staff who work to end violence and homophobia in Iowa schools and colleges.

"It is a known fact that Gay Straight Alliances make our schools safer and more accepting," said Lt. Governor Judge. "The Culver/Judge Administration and Iowa's outstanding Gay Straight Alliances share a common vision - ensuring that every Iowa student has a safe nurturing environment in which to learn, and we look forward to working with GSAs and all Iowans to turn this goal into a reality."

Iowa Pride Network’s Third Annual Iowa GSA Day is a day where hundreds of students from dozens of secondary schools and colleges are expected to take part in activities to address the serious problems of anti-gay bullying and harassment, while advocating for solutions - like GSAs and educator trainings - to ensure safe schools for ALL students.

Ryan Roemerman, Executive Director of Iowa Pride Network stated, “GSAs are important in reducing violence and homophobia in our schools. As our 2007 School Climate Survey shows, GSAs are clearly needed now more than ever.”

Key findings from the 2007 Iowa Pride Network School Climate Survey include:

· 91% of LGBT students in Iowa reported hearing homophobic remarks frequently in their schools.
· 80% of LGBT students report being verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation.
· 75% of students report that faculty never or rarely intervene when homophobic remarks are made in their presence.
· 36% of Iowa LGBT students reported some incident of physical harassment (being pushed or shoved) because of their sexual orientation; while nearly 16% of students reported some incident of physical assault (being punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) because of their sexual orientation or gender expression.

In the survey’s recommendations, Iowa Pride Network has called on school districts to support student efforts to create organizations, such as Gay-Straight Alliances, which seek to end violence, harassment, discrimination and isolation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight allied (LGBTA) students.

“Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance Day lets LGBT and Allied students know that they aren’t alone” Roemerman remarked. “It lets them know that they’re supported and that their work in creating safe schools is important to our schools, our communities and our state.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lt. Governor to Kick-Off Iowa GSA Day

Governor Proclaims Day Honoring Student Groups that Help Curb Violence in Schools

Lt. Governor Patty Judge will help Iowa Pride Network students, teachers and supporters kick-off events for Iowa Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Day at Ritual Café. Iowa GSA Day, declared yearly by the Governor for the past three years honors GSAs, students, teachers and community members around that state that work to end violence and homophobia in Iowa schools and colleges.

GSAs are important in reducing violence and homophobia in Iowa schools. As the 2007 Iowa School Climate Survey shows, GSAs are clearly needed now, more than ever:

o 1 in 3 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) students is physically harassed—pushed or shoved
o 1 in 6 LGBT students is physically assaulted—punched, kicked or injured with a weapon
o LGBT students will skip two weeks of school this year because they are simply too afraid to go

LGBT students who have a GSA in their school are:

o 23% less likely to skip class and 15% more likely to attend school because they feel comfortable and safe
o 23% less likely to be physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
5:00-7:00 p.m. (Address by Lt. Governor and IPN staff and Students at 6:00 p.m.)

Ritual Café
1301 Locust Street (between Grand Ave. and Locust St.) in Downtown Des Moines
Free Food provided from 5-7pm

About Iowa Pride Network
IPN works directly with LGBT and Allied youth to cultivate advocates and leaders who fight homophobia and transphobia and strive for social justice.