California to get first female and first LGBT Senate leader

California to get first female and first LGBT Senate leader

San Diego Sen. Toni Atkins will make history Wednesday when she becomes the first woman and first lesbian to hold the California Senate’s top job.

A former Assembly speaker, Atkins is taking over the post of Senate president pro tem from fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon as the chamber gears up for election season and faces a number of thorny challenges, including a reckoning over sexual misconduct, a loss of the Democratic supermajority and an icy relationship with the state Assembly.

Atkins, whose colleagues describe her as measured, said she’s not focused on making headlines.

"I think you’re going to see my focus will be internally so you’re not going to get any big pronouncements," she said in a brief interview with The Associated Press.

Senate Democrats lost their supermajority last month when Los Angeles-area Sen. Tony Mendoza resigned rather than face an extremely rare expulsion vote over sexual misconduct allegations, and he’s running again for the same seat. Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton, meanwhile, is facing a recall that could cost the Democrats another seat in June.

On sexual misconduct, critics say the statehouse culture values the protection of lawmakers over justice for victims. They say incidents of inappropriate behavior are swept under […]

Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent Deliver Emotional Speech About LGBT Visibility on Television

Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent Deliver Emotional Speech About LGBT Visibility on Television

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Vivien Killilea/gettyimages The stars of TLC’s ‘Nate & Jeremiah,’ who are expecting their second child, were honored by the Family Equality Council at the group’s annual gala Saturday night by their good friend Armie Hammer. Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent are expecting the birth of their second child any minute.So much so that they had a car packed and waiting for them just on case they got the call during Saturday night’s Family Equality Council’s Impact Awards, where they were honored with this year’s Murray-Reese Family Award.“It can happen any minute,” Berkus told The Hollywood Reporter .“Maybe I’ll just go into sympathy labor here,” Brent joked.“It’s a miracle that we’re here,” Berkus added.The stars of the TLC reality home makeover show Nate & Jeremiah By Design married three years ago and have a three-year-old daughter Poppy. They announced on Valentine’s Day that they were expecting a boy.The Family Equality Council is a nationwide advocacy group for LGBT parents and their children. Armie Hammer presented Berkus and Brent with their award.“I want to start by saying that Nate and Jeremiah are so annoying,” the Call Me By Your […]

Philadelphia Ends Foster-Care Program With Two Agencies That Refuse To Accept LGBT Parents

Philadelphia Ends Foster-Care Program With Two Agencies That Refuse To Accept LGBT Parents

After learning two faith-based foster-care agencies refused to place children with LGBT people, Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services has ended its relationship with both organizations.

On Thursday, DHS halted foster-care intake with Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services, pending an investigation. Some 233 children already placed by the two agencies will remain in place, according to a spokesperson, but new placements will stop.

“Our goal is to minimize placement disruptions, and to ensure that a child’s ability to reunify with their family of origin or to continue an adoption process is not delayed because of a placement disruption.”

The decision follows a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer revealing the agencies would not work with LGBT people or same-sex couples interesting in fostering, despite receiving a combined $3 million in city funding.

In October, a gay Philly couple was turned away by Bethany Christian Services, which is currently facing a discrimination lawsuit in Michigan. Catholic Social Services told the Inquirer it also does not accept applications from LGBT people. The two organizations, which have contracted with the city since the late 1990s, maintain their homophobic stance is protected because they’re religiously affiliated. But unlike other states, Pennsylvania doesn’t exempt faith-based foster-care and adoption […]

Irish PM Leo Varadkar marches with partner in New York St Patrick’s Day Parade

Irish PM Leo Varadkar marches with partner in New York St Patrick’s Day Parade

Prime Minister of Ireland Leo Varadkar attends the 2018 New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images) Irish leader Leo Varadkar has marched with his partner Matt in New York St Patrick’s Day Parade – which until recently banned LGBT groups.

Ireland’s out Taoiseach (prime minister) has been a trip to the US for St Patrick’s Day, already raising LGBT rights with Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

Mr Varadkar broke another barrier today – when he marched alongside his same-sex partner in New York St Patrick’s Day Parade.

Due to the strong influence of conservative Catholic groups, the parade had maintained a decades-long ban on LGBT groups. It slowly lifted the rule in 2016 and 2017, under pressure from commercial sponsors.

Mr Varadkar held hands with his partner Matt Barrett, a doctor who currently lives in the US, as they walked together in the parade.

Mr Barrett has eschewed many of the traditional roles associated with a leader’s partner or spouse, but appeared happy to support his boyfriend at the event.Mr Varadkar acknowledged: “It was a real privilege to march with my partner. Only a few years ago people couldn’t march under […]

UK teacher wins global best teacher prize

UK teacher wins global best teacher prize

Andria Zafirakou has been praised for working with disadvantaged pupils and their families A teacher from north London has been announced as winner of a competition to find the world’s best teacher.

Andria Zafirakou, who teaches art and textiles in a Brent secondary school, has won a prize worth $1m (£720,000).

She has spoken of the hardship and overcrowded housing conditions facing many of her pupils.

But in accepting the prize, she called for more support for the "power of the arts" in school, particularly for the "poorest communities". First UK winner

Mrs Zafirakou becomes the first UK winner of the Global Teacher Prize, beating teachers nominated from more than 170 countries.

The prize, launched in 2015 by an education charity, the Varkey Foundation, was created to give more status to the teaching profession, with an Oscars-style awards ceremony in Dubai. The London teacher was congratulated by other finalists Prime Minister Theresa May sent a video message commending Mrs Zafirakou and said great teachers needed "resilience, ingenuity and a generous heart".Racing driver Lewis Hamilton, Olympic champion Mo Farah, former US vice president Al Gore and former UK prime minister Tony Blair were part of the event honouring the north London teacher.In her acceptance […]

‘Game changer’ treatment for Multiple Sclerosis patients

'Game changer' treatment for Multiple Sclerosis patients

MS sufferer Louise Willetts says she is completely well, two year on from treatment that was originally used on cancer patients.

Doctors say a stem cell transplant could be a "game changer" for many patients with multiple sclerosis.

Results from an international trial show that it was able to stop the disease and improve symptoms.

Louise was among over 100 patients who took part, all of whom had relapsing remitting MS – where attacks or relapses are followed by periods of remission.

W1A stars head to Sheffield with The York Realist

W1A stars head to Sheffield with The York Realist

Ben Batt (left) and Jonathan Bailey star in The York Realist Actors Jonathan Bailey and Ben Batt have put TV careers on hold to appear in Sheffield in a new production of a play some consider a modern classic. The York Realist is a gay romance set in 1960s Yorkshire, when homosexual acts were still illegal. If the play lacks a traditional happy ending, says writer Peter Gill, that’s because life seldom supplies them.

Last year Ben Batt and Jonathan Bailey narrowly missed sharing screen time in the third series of the BBC comedy W1A.

Batt appeared as a cross-dressing footballer, while Bailey returned to the role of ambitious production assistant Jack, who realises he’s losing the battle for the affections of colleague Izzy.

But now on stage in The York Realist, they share scenes of aching intensity as two gay men in the England of the early 1960s.

Batt is the farmer drafted in to play a centurion in York’s medieval Mystery Plays. Bailey is an assistant director up from London who spots George’s talent as an actor and falls for him. Bailey played Jack (centre) in W1A, usually seen battling for the affections of Izzy (left) Peter Gill’s play was first […]

‘I forget my PE kit deliberately’ – the boys who hate sport

'I forget my PE kit deliberately' - the boys who hate sport

"Sometimes people try to forget their PE kit deliberately. You get a detention but sometimes a detention is worth it for avoiding PE."

Dan is 16 and he hates PE.

By contrast, Liam and James, both 12, were keen enough to be playing table tennis in shorts and T-shirts outside on one of the coldest days of the year..

"It’s quite a lot of tactics. It’s like tennis but on a little scale. So you think things through," said James. Boys Active?

These very different views sum up why some teachers believe PE is ripe for reform.

For Dan and fellow PE refusenik Olly, football is a particular torture.They rarely get the ball and when they do they often mess up through nerves.The pair say they liked PE when they were younger, before some of their classmates got ultra-competitive."It just wasn’t fun any more. It was just annoying. They wouldn’t really play, they just wanted to win."They hog the ball and I can’t really get involved. So I just hang around having a conversation," says Olly.Dan adds: "They are some of the most popular people in our year. They seem to be really aggressive and competitive."They leave out the people they think […]

UK Weather Sees Ireland Cancel Grand Slam Homecoming Celebrations

UK Weather Sees Ireland Cancel Grand Slam Homecoming Celebrations

Ireland celebrate winning the Grand Slam and Six Nations Championship after defeating England at Twickenham on Saturday Rugby grand slam heroes Ireland have been forced to cancel their homecoming party in Dublin due to bad weather.

Thousands of jubilant fans were expected to welcome the champions at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

However, the IRFU has advised that the event has been cancelled due to heavy snow.

In a statement, the IRFU said: “We regret to advise that the Grand Slam Homecoming celebrations has been cancelled due to adverse weather.

“Irish Rugby would like to thank their supporters for their continued support throughout this campaign.”

The event was due to kick off at 4.30pm when Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, skipper Rory Best and the rest of the squad were to take to the stage to be introduced to the crowd.Ireland sealed the Grand Slam with a 24-15 victory over England at Twickenham on St Patrick’s Day.A Status Orange snow-ice warning has been extended across parts of Ireland to 6pm for seven counties, including Dublin.Meanwhile, widespread snow across the UK overnight Saturday has hit transport links, with police forces in the worst-hit regions urging people to avoid non-essential road travel.The wintry snap dubbed […]

Labour’s Response To Salisbury Has Been Unsurprising

Labour's Response To Salisbury Has Been Unsurprising

Slow stirrings but we are finally there. Russian imperialism that has often been nothing more than a nostalgic yearning for a return to the days of Soviet Union is now being realised by Britain.

The probability of Putin being behind the chemical weapons attack in Salisbury is high but that margin for doubt for some is yet definitive proof that this is simply more scaremongering towards Russia. It’s worth noting that scepticism towards false intelligence is not baseless but pretty reasonable, given what happened with the Iraq War.

But right now the evidence seems decisively pointed against Russia. The chemical agent that killed double agent Sergei Skripal is called novichok and according to the chemical weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon , was developed and produced in Shikhany, within a military research lab in central Russia.

The response of Britain has been a varying mix of the wild and the reasonable in reactions. So far, Russian diplomats have been expelled while there is a clamour to eject tycoons with links to Putin’s state apparatus from London, increasingly a tax haven for the super-rich.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has taken a position of waiting for investigations to unfold before making judgements. Many have – with […]