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Washington, DC — Jose Luis Magana / AP
Washington, DC — Jose Luis Magana / AP

National Parks Service reverses policy banning uniformed workers in Pride parades
In mid-May, the National Park Service (NPS) banned employees from attending Pride parades in uniform, sparking outrage from both LGBTQ+ employees and the greater community. This reversed a long tradition of participation by NPS workers, who argued in response that Pride is about identity, not politics. (The NPS itself runs the Stonewall National Monument, commemorating the Stonewall riots of 1969.)

Facing backlash, the Interior Department reversed the policy on May 25. Secretary Deb Haaland emphasized the importance of Pride and encouraged participation in Pride events while in uniform. Advocates remain cautious about how the new policy will be implemented, calling for safeguards against bias in approving participation.

Louisiana lawmakers pass "Don't Say Gay" bill banning classroom talk about sexuality, gender
The Louisiana Senate passed legislation on May 23 that would forbid school staff from talking to students in grades K-12 about sexual orientation or gender identity. Amid multiple similar bills passing in other states, Louisiana's is so far the strictest.

Unlike a majority of similar measures, this bill puts restrictions on high schools, not just elementary and middle schools. It's not just about classroom education either. Teachers and other school staff would be forbidden to discuss LGBTQ+ topics at clubs, sports games, or even school dances, and would not be allowed to disclose their own status as part of the LGBTQ community if they were.

Educators and other critics of the bill spoke out during a Senate committee hearing earlier this month, recognizing that the ban could likely send students the message that there is something wrong with LGBTQ+ people and force school staff and teachers into the closet.

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry is expected to sign the bill into law.

Idaho drag performer wins $1.1 million defamation case against far-right blogger
On May 24, an Idaho jury awarded over $1.1 million to Eric Posey, an Idaho drag performer, after finding that a far-right blogger Summer Bushnell defamed him by falsely claiming he exposed himself at a 2022 Pride event.

Bushnell recorded Posey's Pride performance and doctored the video by adding a blurred spot over Eric Posey's performance, falsely suggesting it covered his "fully exposed genitals." This alteration created the misleading impression that Posey had exposed himself. While Bushnell's defense maintained she believed Mr. Posey exposed himself, despite Bushnell herself admitting on the stand that she never witnessed the act, the unedited video showed no indecent exposure.

Posey faced harassment and threats following the incident, with the edited video becoming a symbol in a movement against drag queens and LGBTQ+ people. He expressed gratitude for the support from his friends and community, which helped him through the ordeal.

The Kootenai County jury unanimously ruled that Bushnell's doctored video was defamatory, and agreed that it had caused significant emotional distress and damage to Posey's reputation.

In total, Posey received $926,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages, as it was proven Bushnell either knew her claims were false or acted with reckless disregard for the truth.

After the verdict, jurors expressed their sympathy to Posey, and the North Idaho Pride Alliance thanked them for their decision, reaffirming their commitment to the LGBTQ+ community's safety.

Missouri Republican candidate's slogan: "Don't be weak and gay"
Valentina Gomez, a Republican candidate for Missouri secretary of state, posted a social media campaign video in which she ran down a street while wearing a protective vest and said, "In America, you can do anything you want, so don't be weak and gay. Stay fucking hard."

Observers noted that the 25-year-old candidate's video was filmed in St Louis's historically LGBTQ Soulard District. The post also tagged Andrew Tate, a British influencer, and his brother Tristan Tate, a kickboxer, who are set to face Romanian charges of human trafficking, rape, and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women.

In February this year, Gomez also posted a video in which she used a flamethrower to burn LGBTQ-themed books. "This is what I will do to the grooming books when I become secretary of state," she said. "These books come from a Missouri public library. When I'm in office, they will burn."

Her platform highlights her far-right views: opposing the "transgender agenda," securing the Second Amendment, and rejecting vaccine mandates. She advocates replacing voting machines with paper ballots and requiring voter identification.