Kansas lawmakers want to block the right to abortion by changing the state constitution

TOPEKA, Kansas — Lawmakers are fast-tracking a push to amend the state constitution and undo a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that said women have the right to abortion.

The goal, with voters’ approval in August, is to add a line to the state bill of rights saying abortion isn’t constitutionally protected ⁠— and that legislators can regulate abortions, including when a pregnancy results from rape or incest or threatens a woman’s life.

What the U.S. won (and lost) in the China trade deal

Markets finally got this week the signed phase 1 U.S.-China trade deal they had waited for. "The market impact is largely the rally we've seen over the past three months," wrote Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, in a note to Fortune. It's a "cloud of uncertainty" cleared from the U.S. and global economy.

Experts in trade business and law who reviewed the agreement—which was only made available after the signing— tell Fortune the first phase is an important step. But much remains nebulous, particularly for enforceable tangible gains. ...

Column: Trump’s China trade deal doesn’t even get us back to square one, despite immense cost

That sound you may have heard Wednesday morning was that of a heavy truck spinning its wheels, as President Trump signed an agreement with China that imposes a cease-fire in a trade war that has achieved virtually nothing for Americans, except the imposition of enormous economic costs on U.S. consumers, farmers and manufacturers.

Law professor first to outline how Title IX protects transgender students

Monday, January 13, 2020

LAWRENCE — Transgender rights have made significant progress in recent years thanks to court decisions and high-profile transgender individuals putting a spotlight on the issue. Much discrimination still exists, though, especially for young people without political power. 

Kyle Velte, associate professor of law at the University of Kansas, argues that combining the efforts to ensure Title IX’s protections of transgender students with ongoing work to challenge birth certificate correction statutes holds transformative potential for both movements. The requirements for gender confirmation surgery to change birth certificates are especially burdensome.
“A lot of transgender folks don’t want to have gender confirmation surgery for a variety of reasons, or they can’t afford it,” Velte said. “That opens them up to a variety of problems in life, especially for young people. I think there’s still a lot of transphobia in society. I’m trying to connect how Title IX protecting students and changing birth certificate requirements can work together. I think students can help lend emotional appeal to these stories, and adults can help with the political side.”
Velte has written an article published in the American University Washington College of Law’s Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law that is the first to document how Title IX protects transgender students and connects it to the effort to change laws making it difficult to change gender assignment on birth certificates. 

Numerous situations in life require a person to show ID, whether it is at a job interview, voting, boarding a flight, buying alcohol or many others. That can present problems for transgender individuals, especially minors who are required to present birth certificates to schools. More youths are coming out as transgender, yet 16 states require gender confirmation surgery before one may correct the gender marker on a birth certificate. Three states don’t allow correction of gender under any circumstance. That results in students facing many problems at school, chiefly use of restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identification.

In the article, Velte presents detailed arguments about how Title IX’s federal protection of students on the basis of sex prevents discrimination against transgender students. However, across the country, schools require transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender at birth. Such policies can be extremely harmful, leading to students attempting to avoid using bathrooms at all, which in turn leads to negative health outcomes such as dehydration and kidney or bladder infections. Those risks, in addition to the bullying transgender students may face, can result in suicide.

The article’s second part summarizes the legal landscape for both movements, outlining decisions and cases currently in the courts. It also points out the importance of identity documents in society for all and the unique challenges that result for transgender individuals. Additionally, it documents the origins of sex-separated facilities in the early 19th century as a means of protecting the virtue of women who were increasingly entering the workplace. Velte also gives in-depth analysis of Title IX, constitutional equal protection, state anti-discrimination laws and school district policies.

Through the article, Velte argued that “the surgical requirement is counterfactual, unconstitutional, unlawful and unethical.” In the article’s third part, she outlined how modern science shows the requirement is counterfactual and argues it violates the First Amendment protections of the right to refrain from speaking and right to be free from endorsing a government message. The requirement also violates due process rights to liberty, dignity, bodily autonomy, gender autonomy and privacy.

The article’s final part presents a proposal to advance the interests of both transgender K-12 schoolchildren and transgender adults challenging surgical requirements for correcting identity documents. Velte points out the strategic benefits of a coalition, how to build such a coalition and how to avoid the disconnect between those fighting for gay and lesbian rights from the movement for transgender rights.

Allowing individuals to change the gender status on birth certificates without requiring surgery is not only the right legal thing to do, but policies requiring students to use facilities matching their gender at birth are unnecessary, Velte said. There are no biological or health reasons for such policies, and there have been zero cases of transgender individuals assaulting someone in a public bathroom, counter to frequent arguments made in support of the policies. In fact, transgender individuals are much more likely to be the victim of such attacks.

“Things are changing for the better as science and society realize gender is not a binary construct,” Velte said. “Medical professionals and psychologists would say these are ridiculous requirements, and I’d like to see the law reflect that as well.”

The world in 2030: Twenty-somethings will define the 2020s

Twenty-Somethings will define the world in 2030. All other generations would be wise to follow the advice of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí: “The problem with today’s youth is not being a part of it anymore.” 

Thanks to Twenty-Somethings, across the next decade, international trade will be managed for social justice, Islamist extremism will be moribund, liberal arts will flourish again, and and ecological sins will be repented. To those today to whom “O.K., Boomer” is rightly said, the world in 2030 will look surreal.

Kansas schools protect LGBTQ students as legal experts dismiss lawsuit concerns

A Wichita teacher accused the district’s school board of moving slowly on passing protections for LGBTQ students at the start of its December meeting.

Later in the meeting, after the district did pass such a statement, one of the board’s longest serving members announced his resignation.

Kansas schools have been adding gender identity and sexual orientation to their nondiscrimination policies. Olathe and Manhattan updated their policies this past year while Topeka did so about a decade ago.

Stolen and erased

A Navajo girl was exploited and sex trafficked in urban and rural New Mexico. Why did so many fail to help her? 

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Eva was found at dusk one Tuesday in late December 2016, standing in a parking lot in northeast Albuquerque. The 15-year-old Navajo girl had been missing more than two weeks when her grandmother got a call from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s office — saying her silver Ford truck had been recovered.

“I don’t care about the truck, what about my granddaughter?” Heidi demanded. 


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