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When Hyim Shafner first started working as the campus rabbi for St. Louis Hillel at Washington University in the mid-1990s, he was approached by a male student with an unusual request.

“I’m having trouble meeting guys, rabbi,” Shafner remembers the student saying. “Can you fix me up with a nice Jewish boy?”

Suddenly Shafner’s days at the Orthodox Yeshiva University in New York “felt very far away,” he said.

But moments like that at the university got Shafner, now the rabbi at Bais Abraham Congregation in University City, to begin thinking more seriously about the special problems faced by homosexual “Orthodox” Jews.

“Jews are not a very big people,” he said. “I think of Judaism as a family, and it’s a shame someone has to leave Orthodoxy — their faith that they value — because they don’t feel like they can find a place in the family.”

As a way to introduce St. Louis’ Orthodox Jewish community to the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender — or LGBT — community, Bais Abraham and the Jewish Community Center of St. Louis will host a weekend of events April 12 to 14 designed to support Orthodox LGBT Jews.

The event was organized by Eshel, an organization that tries to create understanding for LGBT Jews in traditional Jewish communities. Eshel is bringing in three speakers to discuss what it’s like to be LGBT and Orthodox. The organization has held similar events in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, but next weekend’s event will be the first time it has brought a program like this to the Midwest.

“A lot of people are very curious about this topic,” said Aviva Buck-Yael, a member of Bais Abraham and an Eshel board member. “In most places, we have surprising turn outs. … They want to know why people wish to stay in the Orthodox community when they’re LGBT. They want to find out how they make that work.”

Orthodox Judaism accepts homosexuals as members of the community as long as they are celibate. But, according to ?traditional? Orthodox rabbis, a sexually active member of the LGBT community would be acting in a way that’s inconsistent with traditional Orthodox practices, and could not properly call himself or herself an Orthodox Jew.

“It’s a hard thing, theologically, for people to deal with,” said Shafner. “But what if someone is born allergic to matzo — it’s the same thing theologically. God commanded them to eat matzo on Passover, but they can’t do it. … Some Orthodox are driving to synagogue on Saturday, but you don’t find an uproar over that.”

Recent U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments about cases on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 have kept same-sex marriage in the news. And polls surrounding the issue continue to show a greater acceptance of same-sex marriage, especially among younger Americans — religious and not.

More than two-thirds of Americans say that gay and lesbian relationships should be accepted by society, while 26 percent disagree, according to a survey last month by the Public Religion Research Institute, or PRRI. But the survey found an even division over whether sex between two adults of the same gender is a sin — 44 percent say it is, 46 percent say it is not.

A Pew poll last month showed how dramatically attitudes have changed over gay issues, even over the last 10 years. In 2003, 58 percent of Americans were opposed to allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, and 33 percent were in favor. Last month’s survey found that the trends have crossed, with 49 percent supporting same-sex marriage, and 44 percent opposed.

Jewish-Americans seem to be among the strongest supporters of gay issues. According to a PRRI survey last year, more than 80 percent of American Jews support allowing same-sex couples to marry legally, though the survey did not break down its results into Judaism’s different streams. About 1 percent of Missouri’s population in 2011 was Jewish, according to the North American Jewish Data Bank. And about 10 percent of St. Louis’ Jewish population is Orthodox.

Shafner said ?some? Orthodox Jews will inevitably be uncomfortable with next weekend’s programs, “but if people come and listen to the speakers tell their stories of staying with their faith against tremendous odds, they’ll be inspired.”

The Eshel events is on Friday night, with a dinner for LGBT Jews

On Saturday, Bais Abraham will host Shabbat services followed by a free lunch and a panel with the three speakers. On Saturday evening, Shafner will host a discussion — “Unity and Diversity in the Jewish Community: Can we have it all?” That will be followed by a screening of a short documentary, “DevOUT” featuring some of the women speaking on the panel.

(f) A pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs, activities, and facilities, including athletic teams and competitions, consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.

facilities means bathrooms.

first graders at risk

Posted: February 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

Parents of transgender first-grader file discrimination complaint


gay terrorists strike again

Posted: February 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

Baker refuses to make wedding cake for lesbian couple

Says Aaron Klein, the owner of Sweet Cakes in Gresham, Oregon, ‘They’ve made a choice to do what they’re doing, I’m making a choice to not be a part of it.’

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Monday, February 4, 2013, 10:16 AM

Primary schools praised for labelling four-year-olds ‘transgender’

Inspectors have praised infant schools for supporting their cross-dressing students, with children as young as four being labelled as “transgender”.

All children should be vaccinated against flu because they are 'super-spreaders' who infect the rest of the family, experts have said. Ofsted have praised schools for supporting their pupils, whether they want to dress as boys or girls Photo: Alamy

By Hannah Furness

7:42AM BST 19 Jun 2012

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A report found young pupils were being encouraged to express themselves and permitted to dress as the opposite sex without judgment.

The education watchdog highlighted examples of good practice, such as appreciating “that a boy may prefer to be known as a girl and have a girl’s name and similarly a girl may have a girl’s name but wants to dress as and be a boy”.

It praised primary schools where “transgender pupils are taken seriously”, and those which had “gender-neutral” environments.

According to a report on one infants’ school, teaching children aged four to seven, it found it was doing “excellent work” with “pupils who are or may be transgender”.

In a survey of 37 primary and 19 secondary schools, Ofsted questioned 1,357 pupils about their experiences at school to draw conclusions.

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According to the Daily Mail, it found one unnamed school encouraged children to behave in a “non-gender stereotypical way”, with younger boys dressing up in traditionally female clothing and allowed to wear ribbons in their hair.

One report published earlier this year singled out Central Street Infant and Nursery School in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, for particular praise, after finding it celebrated “difference and diversity as a way of developing tolerance, understanding and respect”.

Noting that around a quarter of the children in Reception year had same-sex relationships as part of their family, it said: “Transgender pupils are taken seriously. This involves a high level of tolerance, empathy and support.

“The school appreciates that a boy may prefer to be known as a girl and have a girl’s name and similarly a girl may have a girl’s name but wants to dress as and be a boy.”

It also notes the school works actively to give same-sex parents their preferred names, such as “mum Pat and mum Dawn” and lessons to explain how a child conceived using frozen sperm could believe he had “no father”.

In the latest report, nine schools were highlighted by Ofsted inspectors as having “successfully tackled prejudice-based attitudes and related bullying” help eliminate name-calling and create an “inclusive” environment in classes.

In total, almost half the children surveyed said they had been bullied or picked on at their current school, with inspectors saying name-calling in schools was too often dismissed by teachers as childish teasing

Susan Gregory, Ofsted director of education and care, said: “Schools must develop a positive culture so all pupils learn in a happy and safe environment.

“Teachers should receive the right training and support so they have the skills and confidence to teach pupils about diversity and the effects of bullying.”,0,1784522.story

Maryland trolley company halts wedding rides after gay marriage law

The owner of Discover Annapolis Tours is walking away from the wedding industry instead of compromising his Christian convictions.

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Discover Annapolis Tours owner Matt Grubbs quits wedding business Discover Annapolis Tours owner Matt Grubbs, polishing the trolley’s interior, decided to discontinue the company’s popular wedding service instead of having to serve same-sex couples. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun / December 8, 2012)

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By Erin Cox, Baltimore Sun

December 29, 2012, 6:22 p.m.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A company whose old-fashioned trolleys are iconic in the city’s wedding scene has abandoned the nuptial industry rather than serve same-sex couples.

The owner of Discover Annapolis Tours said he decided to walk away from $50,000 in annual revenue instead of compromising his Christian convictions when same-sex marriage becomes legal in Maryland on Tuesday.

While most wedding businesses across the country have embraced the chance to serve same-sex couples, a small minority has struggled to balance religious beliefs against business interests.

Wedding vendors elsewhere who refused to accommodate same-sex couples have faced discrimination lawsuits — and lost. Legal experts said Discover Annapolis Tours sidesteps legal trouble by avoiding all weddings.

“If they’re providing services to the public, they can’t discriminate who they provide their services to,” said Glendora Hughes, general counsel for the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights.

The trolley company’s decision, publicized by a straight groom offended by what he called “repressive bigotry,” offers a snapshot of a local business navigating a new landscape in Maryland’s wedding industry, and leaving customers behind for a competitor to swoop in.

The head of the Maryland Wedding Professionals Assn. said the trolley company was the second vendor to refuse business over the same-sex marriage law, which voters upheld in November. The clergyman who led the opposition to same-sex marriage in the state called the company’s choice to abandon profits on principle “gutsy” and predicted that more businesses would follow suit.

“That’s a bold and noble statement,” said Pastor Derek McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance.

Frank Schubert, the political strategist who ran campaigns against same-sex marriage in Maryland and three other states this year, said opponents predicted collateral damage from legalizing same-sex unions. In November, voters also approved gay marriage in Washington and in Maine, where the first same-sex marriage licenses were issued Saturday.

“This is exactly what happens,” Schubert said, adding that religious liberty is “right in the cross hairs of this debate…. The law doesn’t protect people of faith. It simply doesn’t.”

Schubert pointed to a handful of news reports across the country of wedding vendors sued for refusing to accommodate a same-sex ceremony, such as a pair of Vermont innkeepers and a New Mexico photographer.

In Maryland, the gay rights group Equality Maryland said the trolley company’s decision appears to be an isolated case. “As long as he doesn’t discriminate against other people, he’s free to do whatever he wants to do, including withdrawing his business from the industry,” executive director Carrie Evans said.

Discover Annapolis Tours owner Matt Grubbs declined repeated requests to discuss the move, beyond acknowledging its economic impact to his business. Grubbs’ trolleys, with their interior lighting and quaint feel, had nearly become a staple in Annapolis’ wedding scene.

Grubbs confirmed that he had sent an email to prospective client Chris Belkot last month explaining: “We are not able to lend support to gay marriages” as a Christian-owned business. “And as a public accommodation, we cannot discriminate between gay or straight couples, so we had to stop doing all wedding transportation.”

Grubbs’ message went on to suggest Maryland residents contact their lawmakers to “request they amend the new marriage law to allow an exemption for religious conviction for the layperson in the pew. The law exempts my minister from doing same-sex weddings, and the Knights of Columbus don’t have to rent out their hall for a gay wedding reception, but somehow my religious convictions don’t count for anything.”

Belkot, 31, forwarded Grubbs’ email to Annapolis news websites and fired off a response to Grubbs that read, in part: “It is your right to run your business any way you see fit, but let’s be honest here, you drive a trolley up and down a street. Not exactly God’s work.”