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NV conservation group supports FERC's transmission planning rule; Memorial Day weekend includes Tornadoes and record-high temperatures; A focus on the Farm Bill for Latino Advocacy Week in D.C; and Southeast Alaska is heating homes with its rainfall.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

NE advocates for LGBTQ+ rights hopeful after visits with state senators

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Thursday, March 7, 2024   

State legislators across the country continue to introduce anti-LGBTQ bills and there have been a record number of them for four years in a row.

In Legislative Bill 574 restricting gender-affirming care for transgender minors nearly ground the Unicameral to a stop for weeks last year.

With another anti-LGBTQ bill pending this session, Legislative Bill 575, the "Schools and Spaces Act," participants in OutNebraska's recent LGBTQ+ Legislative Day were unsure what to expect.

MacKenzie Loncke, legislative intern for OutNebraska, said most participants felt very positive about their interactions with their state senators.

"We're really hopeful that these personal testimonies that everyone shared are able to humanize our cause," Loncke explained. "And that they recognize that we deserve -- and are entitled to -- protections."

About 10% to 15% of Americans identify as LGBTQ+, with higher percentages among millennials. LGBTQ+ individuals face more discrimination in housing, employment, health care and other areas of their lives, and transgender individuals are four times more likely to be victims of violence than their cisgender peers.

Floor debate on the measure regulating transgender youths' participation in school sports -- which would override the existing gender participation policy of the Nebraska School Activities Association -- has not yet been scheduled.

Loncke pointed out many who participated in LGBTQ+ Legislative Day were parents and other relatives of LGBTQ+ Nebraskans, who expressed concern about their loved ones' safety.

"A lot of participants were sharing that banning kids from sports in school facilities does nothing to keep other students safe," Loncke observed. "And instead just puts trans kids in danger and makes them feel alone -- and wanting to support all kids and not singling them out because they're different."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said schools have an important role to play in supporting transgender youths, and recommends they "review and implement policies and practices to ensure inclusivity."

Loncke added 54 people participated in this year's LGBTQ+ Legislative Day -- double last year's number -- and senators participated from all over the state and represented a variety of views.

"I think that people were expecting more senators to be anti-LGBTQ+," Loncke acknowledged. "I think that was like a big takeaway; that they were actually seeing us and hearing us, and not coming in defensive or anything like that."

Disclosure: OutNebraska contributes to our fund for reporting on LGBTQIA Issues, Reproductive Health, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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