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Disappointed in the governor

An open letter to Gov. Hutchinson.

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Disappointed in the governor

An open letter to Gov. Hutchinson: 

I am writing you to express my disappointment in your response to the letter sent by the federal government as guidance to the school districts of this nation regarding the fair and equal treatment under the law of transgender students. You stated that you found the letter "offensive, intrusive and totally lacking in common sense." The guidelines the federal government made explicit to the school districts in the state of Arkansas and throughout the country may be different than what you are speaking out against and opposing. 

When the state of Arkansas took federal money tied to Title IX, the state signed a contract with the federal government that explicitly agreed to not discriminate on the basis of gender identity. 

The Republican majority in the United States Congress in 2013 actually defined "gender identity" and set the standard for nondiscrimination that is now part of the contractual agreement the state entered into when receiving funds for programs tied to Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act.

I am concerned that you do not fully understand the peril you are putting transgender students in when you come out in opposition to this letter. Ensuring a safe and healthy environment in Arkansas schools requires that you are aware that data from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey show a direct correlation between the high suicide rates of teenagers and bathroom restriction of transgender teens.

Please look at whose lives you are putting in jeopardy when you refuse to acknowledge the students in Arkansas schools whose safety is in danger daily. 

Perhaps you do not have experience or previous relationship with a member of the transgender community. Let me for a moment be their voice. I am the president of Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition (ArTEC). There has been a lot of misinformation about our community. I would appreciate an opportunity for a direct, non-confrontational conversation. I invite you into this conversation as soon as possible so that together we can build a stronger, safer Arkansas for all Arkansans.


The Rev. Gwen Fry

President of ArTEC

From the web

In response to the May 12 cover story Benjamin Hardy, "Life Saver," about AIDS activist Eric Camp.

This story brought back so many memories — sad, joyful and poignant. It was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful person. Eric deserves to be lauded. His work touched many and saved many lives. 

It is also a tribute to all the beautiful people of courage who are no longer with us and to all the brave and compassionate people from congregations of many denominations who got involved with RAIN at a time when ignorance and fear prevailed. 

Yesterday, I did a grief and loss workshop for health care workers. In every workshop I facilitate about grief, or about death and dying, I begin by saying that I learned everything I know from the CareTeams and CarePartners in Arkansas. I often tell their stories.

Thanks to Benjamin for writing this great piece.

Trudy James

I am thankful to see AIDS being discussed because it hasn't been wiped out. Education needs to continue. I was a RAIN team member in the '90s. Sadly, we lost a number of partners (people with AIDS who were assigned to our team for support) over the years, but I was thrilled to run into a former partner earlier this year. She is doing well and back to working full time. As effective treatments became more readily available and the families and public became more educated on the modes of transmission so fear diminished somewhat, the need for RAIN teams declined. It was wonderful to catch up on Eric's life through this article. Trudy, Eric and their brave speakers saved countless lives and the impression they made on those teens continues to shape their sexual behavior today. Thank you!

Kay Ekey

I knew and worked with Eric back in the day and I am very glad to see this article on his contributions to public health and the people of Arkansas. I remember Eric as focused, clear thinking, selfless, intense and tireless. I agree with the article that his actions saved countless lives and in my book he is a hero.

There are people who will not like this article and show their dislike in these comments, but those people have never dissuaded Eric from doing what he knows to be right.


In response to Gene Lyons' May 5 column about Donald Trump and the media:

Note to Republicans: The world is watching. And laughing. You know, Don Rickles puts on a better show. He's much funnier than Trump, I can tell you that. Maybe you should consider drafting Rickles as your candidate. You know, kinda class up the joint.

Tony Galati

Tony, you and I run with different people from other nations. The ones I know are puzzled, concerned, mystified and more than a little terrified. They view the possibility of a Trump presidency as unimaginably bad. I tell my foreign friends that I don't think that possibility is all that likely, but I openly confess that Trump's success thus far speaks poorly for the intelligence of an unacceptably large fraction of the American voting public.

However, I persist with the interpretation that Trump's appeal is not based on the angry white male, but on the scared white male. The decades of privilege that have benefited white males in the U.S. are going away and they are smart enough to see that happening. Trump offers the promise that if they join his gang, or tribe, they can "make America great again" and restore privilege by bluster and bully. I guess to many that sounds like a better plan than the option of being smarter and working harder to compete in the global economy. Cruz's appeal might have been that his God will make things all better, if you just sign on and trust her, or him.


In response to Gov. Hutchinson's outrage over the federal order to allow people to use the bathroom of the sex they identify as:

I personally wouldn't want to share a restroom with Asa or our skanky attorney general.

That's no more ridiculous than this whole bathroom issue. So many are hung up on who can use the restroom with whom that it is just laughable. It is sad commentary indeed that with all the challenges and issues facing this country we just can't quite conquer that whole bathroom issue.

In many parts of the world there are no men's restrooms and there are no ladies' rooms. There are just restrooms and we all share them and absolutely nobody gets all worked up about it. Americans are way too hung up on bodily functions.

I once met this girl in a restroom in Tokyo and ... well, that's a story for another thread.


We must understand that everything that goes through Asa's mind and comes out of his mouth is first filtered through his Bob Jones University indoctrination, the NRA, Walton and Koch influences and his desperation-fueled craving to die a wealthy man. You know, the kind of man the Bible says has terrible odds of getting into Heaven. The turning worm just might roll over Asa in the coming year ... GOOD!

President Obama is clearly enjoying his last months in office and I fully expect after the November elections he's going to go wild with the good stuff like the directive sent out for the protection of transgender students. Buy your ringside tickets now in order to have a great view of Republican skin sizzling for the next four to eight years!


In response to Arkansas Blog reporting on the possibility of stopping the proposed widening of Interstate 30 by lawsuit:

Pissed-off downtown resident here who also happens to be a real estate lawyer. I am happy to offer my assistance to an effort to get a federal suit going ... if it comes to that. 

While we are not in the same federal circuit as Alabama (and thus aren't benefitted by any direct precedent being set in the case), I will still be watching it in interest. 

In the interim, I am being cautiously optimistic about the process. The public outcry has been impressive and has already resulted in some substantive changes and actual improvements — the downtown interchange reconfiguration and added parks. If we can get the number of lanes down to a reasonable eight or so, I might actually consider the project a net win, though obviously not as big as outright removal or the boulevard option would be.

Thanks to the Times for your frequent reporting on this.



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