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Federal appeals court upholds expulsion of anti-gay Ga. college student

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court's ruling that an Augusta State University student should be expelled from the school's counseling program because her anti-gay beliefs went against the ethical guidelines for being a school counselor.

Jennifer Keeton, who describes herself as a Christian and was attending ASU to become a school counselor for grades K-12, sued the university after professors recommended she undertake a remediation plan as a way to teach her more about LGBT issues. The plan included attending workshops on LGBT issues as well as attending Augusta Pride.

Keeton is represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization dedicated to defending "traditional family values." In her lawsuit, Keeton claimed her First Amendment rights were violated by the university because it stated her biblical opposition to homosexuality — that she would state in class and to other students — went against the professional code for being an ethical counselor.

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ACLU steps in to aid transgender Ga. elementary student

Tommy Theollyn, the father of a seven-year old transgender son, is trying to get his son, D., access to the boy's restroom at Todd Grant Elementary school in Townsend, Ga., after being told by the district's superintendent that the child must use the girl's restroom. Theollyn presented his case before the McIntosh County School Board on Sept. 15, and also gained support from the ACLU last week.

Theollyn claims that before the new school year began last month, he met with D.'s teacher about his son's transgender status. Theollyn says that the teacher was understanding of his son's unique situation and offered support, but when the new school year began, Theollyn said he was told his son would be required to use the girl's restroom.

Theollyn, a transgender man who transitioned after giving birth to D., claimed that Superintendent William Hunter refused to allow his child, who was labeled a girl at birth but started identifying as a boy last year, access to the boy's restroom and threatened to call Child Services during a heated meeting in August.

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Advocacy groups face off over Gwinnett schools filtering LGBT websites

Alliance Defense Fund

The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian organization with the mission of defending “traditional family values,” is taking on the ACLU in its battle to mandate the Gwinnett County School System remove LGBT filters from its computers.

On Aug. 1, the ADF sent a letter via email to Gwinnett Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks urging him and the school system to not allow the ACLU to “bully” the system with its request.

“School districts shouldn’t be bullied into exposing students to sexually explicit materials,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman in a statement. “This latest scare tactic — under the façade of illegal censorship — is just another act of intimidation designed to forward the ACLU’s radical sexual agenda for children.”

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Alliance Defense Fund to Gwinnett schools: Don’t be bullied by ACLU’s ‘radical sexual agenda’

The Alliance Defense Fund is taking on the ACLU in its fight to get Gwinnett County schools and other schools across the country from filtering LGBT websites to students.

While the ACLU argues that filtering LGBT websites prohibits students attending schools in the Atlanta suburb from such websites as the “It Gets Better Project,” the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), GSA Network, and the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the ADF protests that lifting the filter would allow students easy access to pornographic websites.

Opening the filtering program would "allow sites such as polybi.com, where a woman's naked torso is fondled by three hands; gaydatingtips.com, which advertises a see-through boxer for men; and gayquestions.com/hc3.asp, where students would see an image of two naked men apparently engaged in a sex act," the ADF wrote in a letter to Gwinnett Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks and emailed to him on Aug. 1, states a report from the conservative online news site World Net Daily.

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DOJ: California school district must properly deal with bullying after student’s suicide

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education reached a settlement today with a California school district after one of its middle school students, Seth Walsh, committed suicide in the wake of years worth of bullying and harassment based on the student's non-conformity with gender roles, according to the ACLU of Southern California.

Walsh, who was 13 at the time of his suicide, killed himself in September of last year. After his death, the Department of Education received a complaint that the school district did not fulfill its responsibility in keeping Walsh safe from threats, bullying and harassment.

According to The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), incidents were reported to school officials but the district failed to adequately respond or deal with the offending students.

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Gay rights advocates praise Illinois civil union law

Illinois became the latest state to recognize legal same-sex unions today when Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law the Illinois Religious Freedom and Protection and Civil Union Act, allowing civil unions for the first time in the state. The unions will begin June 1.

"Illinois is taking an historic step forward in embracing fairness and extending basic dignity to all couples in our state. We commend Gov. Quinn for signing this bill," said John Knight, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Project of the ACLU of Illinois.

Camilla Taylor, senior staff attorney at the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal, announced the launch of Civil Union Tracker, a resource for Illinois couples and families considering a legal union in the wake of the new law.

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Illinois legislature approves civil unions

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn plans to sign civil union bill into law

Illinois will begin offering civil unions to gay and straight couples next summer, after the state legislature approved a bill last week.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will hold a ceremony in January to sign the bill into law, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Dec. 5. The law will then take effect in June.

“The passage this week of the civil unions legislation was historic. It’s a landmark law, it’s headed my way and I think it will be the law of the land of Lincoln in the coming year,” Quinn told the Associated Press.

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DOMA faces new legal challenges

Two separate legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act were filed today. The first, brought forward by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), was filed today in Connecticut representing plaintiffs from Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire.

The lawsuit is challenging the constitutionality of DOMA’s Section 3, which prohibits federal acknowledgment of same-sex marriages performed where such marriages are legal. The lawsuit specifically addresses couples married in Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire, according to GLAD.

Same-sex marriages are legal in those states.