National Center for Lesbian Rights

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Legislation & Policy

Common Ground Initiative

NCLR partners with the NCAA in the Common Ground Initiative to increase dialogue at conservative religious colleges about how LGBTQ inclusion and respect for religion can operate together to create safer, healthier, and more inclusive environments for student athletes—and by extension for all students.

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Legislation & Policy

State Policy Working Group

NCLR, along with other national LGBTQ organizations, is part of a State Policy Working Group that addresses proposed state legislation affecting LGBTQ people across the country. The group works to support local advocates in advancing bills to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, healthcare, and other areas, and to allow transgender and nonbinary people to obtain gender marker changes on identity documents.

The group also works to stop the dozens of hostile anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures every year. Among the proposed laws that have been successfully defeated are bills that would permit discrimination against same-sex couples who marry, create broad religious exemptions to existing civil rights protections, allow religiously-affiliated child welfare agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples, prohibit transgender people from using restrooms and other facilities based on their gender identity, and deprive transgender youth of access to gender-affirming medical care and participation in school sports based on their gender identity.

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Cases & Advocacy

Apilado. v. North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association

LaRon Charles, Jon Russ and Steven Apilado had been playing softball together in the San Francisco Gay Softball League for years. Their team had competed in the Gay Softball World Series organized by the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA), but had never finished better than fourth place. At the 2008 World Series in Seattle, the team made it all the way to the championship game, when they were shocked to learn that their eligibility to play was being challenged based on a NAGAAA rule limiting the number of non-gay players who could play on a World Series team.

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Cases & Advocacy

Sulpizio v. San Diego Mesa College

Lorri Sulpizio was the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at San Diego Mesa College, and her domestic partner, Cathy Bass, assisted the team and served as the team’s Director of Basketball Operations for over eight years. Despite Sulpizio’s and Bass’s dedication and demonstrated track record of success, they were discharged after Coach Sulpizio repeatedly advocated for equal treatment of female student-athletes and faculty, and an article was published identifying Sulpizio and Bass as domestic partners.

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Cases & Advocacy

Harris v. Portland

NCLR and co-counsel reached a settlement agreement on behalf of Jennifer Harris with Penn State and its women’s basketball coach Rene Portland and athletic director Tim Curley. This groundbreaking lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Harris alleged discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation and invasion of privacy.

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Cases & Advocacy

Stephens v. Bloomsburg School District

NCLR and attorney Michael Shirk from the National Education Association/Texas State Teacher’s Association negotiated a settlement on behalf of Merry Stephens, an award-winning teacher and basketball coach in rural Texas. In 2004, the School Board initiated proceedings to terminate Coach Stephens, based on the personal anti-gay animosity of several school board members. In exchange for Coach Stephens’ agreement not to pursue further legal action, the district agreed to pay Coach Stephens a monetary settlement.

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Cases & Advocacy

Lessik v. East Bay Iceland, Inc.

John Manzon-Santos and Alan Lessik, award-winning amateur figure skaters and were training for the 2006 Gay Games, filed a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court seeking redress for sexual orientation discrimination. Manzon-Santos and Lessik alleged that, while training for the pairs competition at Berkeley, California’s Iceland, they were harassed, discriminated against, and kicked out of their home rink for skating together.

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