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Gender & Sexual Solidarity: News & Updates

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On Monday of last week, the right-wing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proudly visited the New College Florida for his new, conservative higher education project. For years DeSantis has been on a crusade on 'woke culture' in all areas of life. His new enemy: inclusive education. On Monday May 15, DeSantis signed a bill banning any state funding for diversity, inclusion and equity programs on public colleges.

At the forefront of this culture war DeSantis has placed the New College Florida which has been subsidized with $50 million  since the beginning of the year, and has seen a significant change in staff and educational programming. According to DeSantis, this funding is needed for a conservative transformation into a 'top classical liberal arts college'. And a radical transformation it is! After replacing the university board with DeSantis supporters, a purge-like culture erupted. Within a short period of time, the board got rid of the DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) office and fired the president, replacing him with a conservative interim president. This new head kicked off his tenure by firing the diversity dean, a trans gender individual, and the librarian, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community as well. But the restructuring doesn't end there. The university is looking to invest the provided money into the hiring of new teachers, the creation of new sports teams, and the recruitment of new students. Furthermore, a new curriculum was established, restricting what topics will be allowed to be taught at the college. This ideology of control and limitation leads to a system in which any lesson planned by teachers must be reviewed and approved by university officials, a process that does not only harm education, but will also slow down the teaching process.

DeSantis' visit at the New College in Sarasota was greeted by rallying and chanting of students opposed to the changes.  During this propaganda event, the conservative board appointee Cristopher Rufo expressed his support for DeSantis' education policies and called the new restrictions a "once-in-a-generation reform."

Though the New College is the only university which has undergone this reform so far, it is most likely that this reactionary schooling culture will spread throughout Florida, under the SB 266 education bill. 

It is devastating to see how such a hazardous ideology can ravage an established school system. If this crusade against inclusive education spreads to more conservative states, it will not only harm the diversity of education and indoctrinate students into a conservative, right-wing world view but will also establish a culture of division and discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals, PoC's, women and anyone not fitting in with the white supremacist, straight, Christian ideology, pushed by the conservative political forces.    


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On May 11, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Guatemalan trans women Estrella Santos-Zacaria. Estrella first fled her home country in 2008, after being raped as a young teenager and receiving death threats from her neighbors because of her gender identity. Shortly after her arrival in the United States, Estrella was taken in to custody by immigration services, and was deported not long after. In its verdict, the immigration court judge stated that Estrella did not make a strong enough case for a possible persecution in Guatemala. Following her deportation, Estrella spent many years in Mexico, without support or protection. Caught in this vulnerable situation, Estrella was assaulted and raped by a Mexican street gang, driving her to a second attempt to seek safety and peace in the U.S.. Finally back in the U.S., Estrella filed a lawsuit in hope of a second chance for asylum. After a long process through the judicial system, and a number of denials, Estrella brought her case to the US Supreme Court. The court, most publicly known for its conservative to right-wing judges and its reactionary stance on women's rights over their bodies, unexpectedly ruled in favor of Estrella, granting her an immigration court date. In a comment on the court's decision, the US State Department verbalized that it has found that Guatemala has done little to protect LGBTQ+ people and that transgender women are subject to frequent threats of violence. 

Though this is positive news, it is still just a technicality and does not guarantee an asylum status. In our eyes, it is necessary that the United States' immigration courts start granting security to all trans people in need.        

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In 2022 there was a record level of violence against members of the LGBTQ+ community in Honduras, specifically in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. The majority of the murders were of gay men and were committed with firearms, and 80% of these murders have gone unpunished, with only 11% even investigated. These murders come along with a rise in other forms of violence against LGBTQ+ people, including threats, discrimination and physical attacks. The Honduran government, under the leadership of Xiomara Castro, has neither protected nor fulfilled campaign promises to the LGBTQ+ community, including the promise to institute sex education classes that discuss sexual diversity from a non-binary point of view. 

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Hailing from all corners of the United States and Canada, 22 delegates ranging from the ages of 10 to 80 traveled to Nicaragua from January 7-16, 2023 to investigate the conditions and the lives of Nicaraguan women on a delegation organized by the Jubilee House Community–Casa Benjamin Linder and Alliance for Global Justice. We had the opportunity to meet with a plethora of community organizers, workers, and public officials: from peasant feminist farmers to self-employed unionists; from urban community health workers to nurses and doctors; from battered women’s program directors to women leaders in the police, National Assembly, and Ministry of Women. We met with Nicaraguans from all walks of life and heard their stories of resilience and empowerment despite two hundred years of imperialist aggression and efforts to undermine their sovereignty. We were inspired by the power and protagonism of Nicaraguans and particularly Nicaraguan women and their participation in their communities and governments.

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Donny Reyes, co-founder of the LGBTI Rainbow Association in Tegucigalpa, joined with other activists who are calling on the state to protect the rights and very lives of LGBTI people in Honduras, where at least 46 members of the community were killed in 2022. They also named the state as the main aggressor. “We are concerned about the increase in violence; we are in a state of great vulnerability and lack of protection,” said Reyes. The levels of impunity and defenselessness of the LGBTI community "continue to rise," said the activist, who expressed his concern about the "lack of protection" towards the members of the group.

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Worldwide the population of female prisoners is rising at immense rates. Since 2000, the number of women in prisons has grown by 60%. The hotspots of this development are Asia and Latin America. Today around 95,000 women are imprisoned in Latin America and the Caribbean countries. The stories of these women are often the same. Born into poor families many only reach low levels of education, leading to un- or underemployment. Often they have suffered from sexual abuse and violence. With a majority of  them being mothers, the pressure to put food on the table is even more pressing, a situation driving them into the low level drug trade.

In 2010, the UN adopted "the Bangkok Rules," a system that promotes non-custodial alternatives like community service, school education, job trainings and house arrest. Since 2014 the National Code of Criminal Procedures has allowed this procedure in Mexico, which has led to a notable reduction of female prisoners between 2014-2019. But more often than not, this comes with a price. The number of pre-trail detention cases has increased, and many choosing this path have to wear an electronic monitoring device. 

Electronic monitoring by itself is a popular alternative to incarceration both in United States and Mexico. But this "alternative" comes with a number of problems. Restrictions like a mandatory permission to leave the house and the need to recharge the ankle mounted device twice a day makes it next to impossible to hold a job and leads to heavy dependence on relatives or other supporters. In the eyes of advocates, electronic monitoring is not an alternative to incarceration but a reproduction of many aspects of incarceration in a person's home. In the city of Los Angeles, electronic monitoring, as a condition of pre-trial release has increased by 5,250% between 2015 and 2021. With most of the affected still awaiting their trail, the system violates the "innocent until proven guilty" law. Furthermore, electronic monitoring comes with a financial aspect. In the United States the costs of confinement are transferred to the individual, leading to a price check of $2,800 - $5,000 per year. Even though in Mexico costs are officially covered by the government, private companies providing the devices charge a fee of $250-$300 monthly--an extreme high amount in a country with a minimum wage of $180 a month. But financial issues are just one side of the problem. Especially in Mexico the need of electricity and a mobile signal often means that the person has to move into a different area; this is a difficult task for jobless and stigmatized individuals. In the worst case this can mean that women are forced to move in or stay with violent and abusive partners. Adding to all the social and financial difficulties are health issues like dry skin and deformation of the ankle.