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Alabama School Bars Lesbian Student From Bringing Girlfriend

RUSSELLVILLE, AL — The American Civil Liberties Union today demanded that Franklin County School System officials reverse its decision that a lesbian student can't attend the school prom with her girlfriend. Cynthia Stewart, a junior at Tharptown High School, approached the ACLU for assistance after school officials denied her request for the upcoming March 25 prom.

"I can't believe my school is doing all of this just to keep me from bringing my girlfriend to the prom," said Stewart, a 17-year-old student who, as a member of the prom planning committee, has personally raised over $200 for the prom and created the theme her classmates chose for the dance. "All I want is to be able to be myself and go to my prom with the person I love, just like any other student wants to do."

Stewart's aunt and guardian, Kathy Baker, approached ACLU of Alabama board member and local attorney Henry F. Sherrod III last week for assistance after the school announced it was cancelling the prom. Baker had approached the school board to appeal the principal's earlier decision that Stewart could not bring her girlfriend to the dance, but her plea on behalf of her niece was turned down. Some teachers told classes last Thursday that prom was being canceled altogether as a way to avoid having to let Cynthia bring her date. Finally, at least one teacher made statements to students Monday indicating that the prom is back on, but there has still been no reversal on the decision that Stewart can't bring her girlfriend to the event.

"It's just sad to see this school twisting itself in so many different directions to avoid its constitutional obligations to one student," said Sherrod. "Cynthia doesn't just deserve to be able to take her girlfriend with her to the prom like any other student — she has a federally-protected right to do so."

In today's letter to Franklin County School System officials, the ACLU cited cases both in Alabama state court as well as federal court guaranteeing students' First Amendment right to bring same-sex dates to school dances. In addition to illegally canceling the prom, the ACLU said that Tharptown High School's principal further violated Stewart's First Amendment rights by requiring her to remove a sticker she was wearing at school that read, "I'm a Lesbian." Stewart said that when she told the principal she had a First Amendment right to wear the sticker, he replied, "You don't have that much freedom of speech at school."

"Federal law makes it absolutely clear that Franklin County School System doesn't have any right to discriminate against lesbian, gay, and bisexual students who want to bring same-sex dates to school dances," said Christine P. Sun, Senior Counsel with the ACLU national Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, who represents Stewart along with Sherrod. "We hope that our telling the school about its legal obligations towards its students will make it think again about treating Cynthia Stewart like a second-class citizen."

The ACLU has given the school district until November 20 to respond to its letter.

Additional information, including a copy of the ACLU's demand letter, is available at http:// www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/russellville-alabama-school-prom-discrimination.

Source (That link leads to a site that has some potentially NSFW ads.)

Though I don't fault the principal for telling her to remove the sticker -- because you don't have 100% free speech in school -- his other actions are despicable! Canceling the prom, then making it widely known that it has to do with this girl is a surefire way to not only alienate her, but it also gives jerks an excuse to harass and beat her up.

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Its not just that, its the massively childish attitude towards potentially being forced to let her in. I mean, hideous biaa or no, surely its not worth cancelling the entire prom for everyone just to keep out one couple whose lifestyle you disagree with. I'm as appalled as if someone had been told they couldn't bring their chosen partner due to racial reasons.

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Update:

Lesbian couple allowed at prom

By Trevor Stokes

Staff Writer

THARPTOWN - Franklin County school officials say they are reconsidering a request from a Tharptown High School junior who was originally told she could not attend the prom with her girlfriend.

Cynthia Stewart, 17, said school officials told her that she and her girlfriend cannot attend the prom as a lesbian couple.

Stewart sought help from the American Civil Liberties Union. The organization formerly demanded that school officials reverse their decision.

School officials say they were already in the process of re-evaluating the issue and concluded Stewart's girlfriend can attend the prom in March as long as she is cleared through a screening process that all out-of-district dates must undergo when attending similar school functions.

"All I want is to be able to be myself and go to my prom with the person I love, just like any other student wants to do," Stewart said.

She said Tharptown High School Principal Gary Odom told her she would not be allowed to attend the prom with her girlfriend.

Assistant Superintendent Donald Borden confirmed Stewart was originally told she could not bring her girlfriend to the prom. He said the school is in the planning stages for the March prom and that the screening process for out-of-district dates has not started.

"We've not made any decisions who can come to the prom," he said. "We're going to screen dates anyway, but we do that for anybody. If her date passes, she comes."

Odom said the checks screen out troublemakers and students with documented behavioral problems.

Stewart has been serving on the school's prom planning committee.

Florence attorney Hank Sherrod III said he was contacted by Stewart's aunt, Kathy Baker, about the matter and he later contacted ACLU officials. Sherrod is a member of the state ACLU executive board.

"Without question, this is a violation of her civil rights," Sherrod said.

He said he has written the school requesting that Stewart be allowed to attend the prom with her girlfriend. He is seeking a decision by Nov. 20.

Sherrod, contacted Tuesday night, said school officials have not contacted him about the change.

"If that's indeed true, it's good news," Sherrod said. "It certainly would make Cynthia happy."

Sherrod added that Stewart's girlfriend "is a teenager with no problems that would keep her from being able to attend the prom. We're not asking for special treatment. We just want to be treated like everyone else.

"We're just asking that (school officials) follow the law and do the right thing by allowing Cynthia to take her girlfriend, which she has every right to do."

Christine P. Sun, senior counsel with the ACLU, said federal law "makes it absolutely clear" that the school system cannot discriminate against Stewart or anyone else.

"We hope that our telling the school about the legal obligations toward its students will make it think again about treating Cynthia Stewart like a second-class citizen," Sun said in a release.

Borden said involving the ACLU was premature, but the school board plans to respond to the civil liberties union.

"This is kind of a shock to me that they went to the ACLU because I don't believe that she had been denied (any rights)," Borden said.

He said the school district doesn't have specific policies addressing proms, allowing those decisions to be handled by individual schools.

Stewart, in a telephone conversation, said she is pleased with the reversal, "but I don't know why I couldn't just bring her in the first place. It doesn't make sense why they said no in the first place."

Baker had a similar reaction when told of the decision.

"It's great to allow her to bring who she wants to bring," Baker said. "I'm glad they've changed their minds."

Baker, who is Stewart's legal guardian, appealed the initial decision to the school board Oct. 28.

"It made me mad," Baker said of the initial decision to forbid her niece from bringing her girlfriend. "I tried to get a reason out of (Odom), but really all he said was he didn't think it would be appropriate. It upset me."

Stewart said she hopes raising the prom issue will change the way some people think about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. She said there are other students at Tharptown High School who are gay.

"I'm not just doing this for me; I'm trying to help other kids in my situation," Stewart said.

Sherrod said the law is clear about the issue. He said allowing Stewart to bring the date of her choice to the prom is a right.

"This issue is going to be confronting a lot of conservative school districts more and more as this generation accepts people for who they are," Sherrod said. "There is case law that makes right and wrong very clear."

Source

Good for her. Now hopefully they won't use the screening process as an excuse to deny her girlfriend entry.

Despite the good news, the Assistant Superintendent is an idiot. A student was told she couldn't bring a date because they're gay. How is that not denying them their rights? Ugh!

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Yeah, the 'screening process' is going to be their blanket here.

"Sure, the lesbian couldn't come, but neither could 12 straight kids! We're fine!"

EDIT: And just wait, someone from the school district will come out and say that "We're doing this to protect her from being ostracized and harmed!"

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Contrary to popular belief, people under 18(19 in Alabama) don't have the same rights as adults do. That's why I don't like teenagers talking about their freedom of speech rights.

Could you run that by me again? I know adults and children are separated on certain grounds due to age restrictions (alcohol, smoking, age of consent etc) but I'm pretty sure freedom of speech applies to all age ranges, doesn't it?*

*I am a foreigner - I could well be wrong.

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Contrary to popular belief, people under 18(19 in Alabama) don't have the same rights as adults do. That's why I don't like teenagers talking about their freedom of speech rights.

Could you run that by me again? I know adults and children are separated on certain grounds due to age restrictions (alcohol, smoking, age of consent etc) but I'm pretty sure freedom of speech applies to all age ranges, doesn't it?*

*I am a foreigner - I could well be wrong.

A child only has as many rights as their parents and schools allow them. That includes freedom of speech. I, as an adult can wear a shirt that says "Bush led thousands of people to their deaths based on lies", but that shirt is not allowed in most schools.

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Body parts sold to kebab stand, police say

Three Russians also suspected of killing man, eating parts themselves

MOSCOW - Russian police have arrested three homeless people suspected of eating a 25-year-old man they had butchered and selling other bits of the corpse to a local kebab house.

Suspicions were raised when dismembered parts of a human body were found near a bus stop in the outskirts of the Russian city of Perm, 720 miles east of Moscow.

Three homeless men with previous criminal records have been arrested on suspicion of setting upon a foe with knives and a hammer before chopping up his corpse to eat, local investigators said in a statement.

"After carrying out the crime, the corpse was divided up: part was eaten and part was also sold to a kiosk selling kebabs and pies," the prosecutor's main investigative unit for the Perm region said.

It was not immediately clear from the statement if any of the corpse had been sold to customers.

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This guy is a professor at the college I graduated from and continue to work at. Never met him though, as he's in a totally different department.

Oak Park man charged with e-mailing child porn

November 19, 2009

An Oak Park man identified by authorities as a professor at Columbia College was charged Thursday with e-mailing child pornography.

Kevin Fuller, 41, was arrested after federal agents searched his residence and found images in a computer of infants and prepubescent children engaged in sex.

A criminal complaint alleged Fuller used an e-mail account to distribute child pornography since at least February 2008. He allegedly used e-mail to communicate with others about sexual acts involving children, authorities said.

A lawyer for Fuller could not immediately be reached for comment. He was expected to appear in court late this afternoon.

The penalty for transporting child pornography includes a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, the U.S. attorney's office said.

The Columbia College web site identifies Fuller as a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Science. A school spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

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A child only has as many rights as their parents and schools allow them. That includes freedom of speech. I, as an adult can wear a shirt that says "Bush led thousands of people to their deaths based on lies", but that shirt is not allowed in most schools.

Um, no. Saying that is one thing, wearing that is another.

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Shirts fall under freedom of speech. The same way signs do at a political rally. In fact, it's not illegal to wear a shirt with cuss words because the courts said it's a first amendment issue. I found that out when a guy was wearing a shirt that said fuck all over it at a kid's softball game. Children can't get away with that kind of stuff though.

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Meredith Baxter From "Family Ties": I'm Gay

First Posted: 12- 2-09 08:17 AM | Updated: 12- 2-09 11:19

Meredith Baxter has given an interview to the Advocate coming out as a lesbian, followed by an appearance on Wednesday's "Today" show (scroll down for full video). Baxter has been married three times and has five grown kids, but the sitcom mom says she came out to herself and family about seven years ago. Baxter, 62, has been dating Nancy Locke, a 54-year-old contractor, for four years. She is also an alcoholic, and she's been sober for 19 years.

Recently the National Enquirer reported she was on a lesbian cruise.

A few choice questions from the Advocate, scroll down for "Today" quotes:

When did you realize you were gay?

Thirteen years ago I had a short-term affair with somebody -- a woman -- who I just cared for tremendously as a person, was not really attracted to her, but the best way to describe it, [a romance] seemed like the next natural step in our relationship just because I cared about her a lot. Not once -- it's probably hard to imagine -- but not once did it occur to me that I was a lesbian. Not once. I just thought, OK, I don't think so, and went off and got married again for a short period of time. And a couple years after that, I entered my next foray into being with a woman, and the penny dropped at that point...

In your personal life with the people you've told, has it been a cakewalk?

Maybe a cakewalk on their side. It was absolute fucking agony for me, only in the respect that I was so fearful.

Fearful of what?

Fearful of reaction, of judgment, of whatever I was sure was going to come....

When Prop. 8 was happening, did you consider coming out then?

No, no, that would have seemed opportunistic. I didn't see the point in that. I may be wrong, but that's where I was at that point. It was certainly just heartbreaking to see that go down -- I didn't expect that at all. I really thought we were going to be OK.

Meanwhile, on "Today," Baxter told Matt Lauer "I am a lesbian and it was a later-in-life recognition.Some people would say, well, you're living a lie and, you know, the truth is not at all. This has only been for the past seven years."

She went on, "I've always lived a very private life. To come out and disclose stuff is very antithetical to who I am."

Welcome to the club Meredith. You should be receiving the agenda in the mail soon, dues are twenty bucks a month, and remember not to reveal the details of Project:Garland to any of the "straighties".

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Welcome to the club Meredith. You should be receiving the agenda in the mail soon, dues are twenty bucks a month, and remember not to reveal the details of Project:Garland to any of the "straighties".

I was told fifteen and that I would get a hat :P

Well, you joined up during a membership drive so of course you got the hat and lower dues. I got a grill myself. It's great but often flaming.

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Welcome to the club Meredith. You should be receiving the agenda in the mail soon, dues are twenty bucks a month, and remember not to reveal the details of Project:Garland to any of the "straighties".

I was told fifteen and that I would get a hat :P

Well, you joined up during a membership drive so of course you got the hat and lower dues. I got a grill myself. It's great but often flaming.

My hat is nice, but I want the grill now!

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Welcome to the club Meredith. You should be receiving the agenda in the mail soon, dues are twenty bucks a month, and remember not to reveal the details of Project:Garland to any of the "straighties".

I was told fifteen and that I would get a hat :P

Well, you joined up during a membership drive so of course you got the hat and lower dues. I got a grill myself. It's great but often flaming.

rimshot.gif

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Dating and social network site BeautifulPeople.com has axed some 5,000 members following complaints that they had gained weight.

The members were singled out after posting pictures of themselves that reportedly showed they had put on pounds over the holiday period.

The site allows entry to new members only if existing members vote them as sufficiently attractive to warrant it.

The US, the UK, and Canada topped the list of excluded members.

The site has always been unrepentant about its selection process, calling itself "the largest network of attractive people in the world".

The move was reportedly prompted by members themselves, who police the membership of the site to maintain a high - if highly subjective - standard of attractiveness.

"As a business, we mourn the loss of any member, but the fact remains that our members demand the high standard of beauty be upheld," said site founder Robert Hintze.

"Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which BeautifulPeople.com was founded."

I don't know what to say, except, if these people who patrol the site, are so beautiful, why are they on a dating site?

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3D TV is being billed as possible industry saviour

By Maggie Shiels

Technology reporter, BBC News, Las Vegas

3D TV is being billed as a possible saviour for recession hit manufacturers looking to boost sales.

On the opening day of the Consumer Electronics Show, CES, in Las Vegas, all the big names unveiled 3D TV's.

Industry experts said the picture looks promising with a survey showing around 3.4m 3D TV sets will be sold in the US this year.

"It's a challenging market. We need something to kick us out of this," said Panasonic's Elsuke Tsuyuzaki.

"To me, the thing that's going to get us there is 3D," added the firm's chief technology officer.

"2009 is a year none of us want to repeat," said Gary Shapiro the president of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) which hosts the annual tech gathering.

The association has predicted that for the coming year the whole consumer electronics industry should eke out a slight revenue increase of 0.3%. The rise of $440m (£280m) will take expected revenues to $165.3bn (£105bn)

However Mr Shapiro noted that lower average selling prices for TVs will be a drag. CEA expects TV revenues to decline 2% in this sector to $22.1bn (£14bn) even though unit sales will go up 5% to 37.7m (£24m)

For several years the industry has talked up the arrival of 3D TV in the home to little effect.

Many however believe 2010 really is the breakthrough year for the technology, helped in large party by the growing number of 3D movies at the theatre and the success of James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar.

"While 3D has taken a number of years to penetrate in the movie theatres, I believe this is the year it will begin to enter the home," Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Dreamworks Animation told BBC News.

However he added a caveat to that statement.

"It usually takes from five to ten years to transition from one platform to a newer one. To go from analogue to digital has taken about ten years so that is why I say to you this is the year in which 3D is going to enter the home in a really meaningful way."

Mr Katzenberg, who is known as a 3D evangelist, said he is so confident about the future of that vision that he has committed his studio to make 3D versions of all its future movies.

During CES, he announced Dreamworks would release Monsters vs. Aliens as a 3D Blu-ray disc in an exclusive promotion with Samsung and Technicolour.

In 2010 around 20 out of 170 movies will be made in 3D, double the number from last year.

Samsung is just one of the big TV makers betting a huge chunk of the bank on 3D being a winning proposition for consumers and for the company.

It, along with the other top names such as Sony, LG and Panasonic, put on ritzy displays at CES to show the hundred thousand plus attendees what the future holds.

There were also announcements galore.

The Discovery Channel said that it is forming a joint venture company with Sony and IMAX to deliver 3D TV channels.

UK satellite operator BSkyB said it is also planning to launch a 3D service later this year and ESPN said it will show at least 85 sports events this year on its new ESPN 3D channel.

Panasonic revealed a tie-up with top US satellite provider DirecTV to launch three high-definition 3D TV channels by June to try and jump-start demand for 3D TVs and content.

"Once you see it you get it," said Panasonic's Mr Tsuyuzaki during a CES session on the issue called "3D Hope or Hype."

"It will take off a lot more quickly than a lot of people expect."

Price point

That is certainly what the Consumer Electronics Association said it was told by those it surveyed on the issue.

"One of the key findings is that we don't need to convince consumers that 3D is different," said Shawn DuBravac, the CEA's chief economist.

"This is the struggle we had with HDTV (high-definition TV.) 25% of consumers say they will own a 3D TV over the next three years. By 2013, a quarter of all sets sold will be 3D," added Mr DuBravac.

Right price

"3D is gaining a ton of momentum unlike any other technology in recent history," said Buzz Hayes, senior vice-president of Sony's 3D tech centre.

"The market is ready for it and a lot of people are embracing it."

One important factor the industry has to get right is pricing.

"The TV industry is desperate and they are latching onto 3D as hard as they can" Gartner research's principal analyst Van Baker told BBC News.

"They have done the flat panel upgrade. It will be a hard sell to get people to spend big bucks again on 3D TV so soon after paying out for an HDTV."

Those in the business agree it is an important consideration.

"I think all the CE (consumer electronics) companies are waiting to see what the others do (on pricing)," said Ahmad Ouri, chief marketing office of Technicolor.

"It can't be double the price tag, or it's a non-starter."

Movie boost

Source

I really can't wait for this fucking 3-D bubble to burst again.

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Google said Tuesday the company and at least 20 others were victims of a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack" originating in China in mid-December, evidently to gain access to the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

"Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective," according to a statement by David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer for Google, operator of the most popular Internet search engine.

Drummond said that as a result of the attacks, Google has decided it is no longer willing to consider censorship of its Google site in China and may have to shut down its site and its offices in that nation.

"These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered -- combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the Web -- have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China," Drummond wrote.

"We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.

"We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China," Drummond's statement reads.

A Google spokesman said the targeted human rights activists were in the United States, Europe and China.

Efforts by CNN to reach the Chinese Embassy in Washington Tuesday evening were not successful.

Google, perhaps best known for its search engine, also provides other computer services, including e-mail, online mapping and social networking.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/01/12/google.china/index.html

Expect Google to be banned in China by tomorrow.

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