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LGBTQ

K-State Sports

Scott Frantz has been quietly preparing for what lies ahead since Kansas State’s football season ended at a bowl game on Dec. 31. It’s a future that could change NFL history.

Frantz, an offensive lineman from Lawrence, is gay. His teammates and the Wildcat faithful have known that for three years. But not since Mizzou’s Michael Sam has a college football player been out publicly before seeking a pro career. 

KCUR 89.3

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Diversity and inclusion is a nebulous phrase that covers a lot of territory.

In Kansas City in 2019, KCUR covered issues of race, the LGBTQ community and how school districts addressed diversity issues.

Jose Lepe / AP Photo

Katie Sowers’ childhood passion for football has carried her from Hesston, Kansas, to Miami — and the Super Bowl, where she’ll be the first woman to ever coach in the title game.

Sowers is an assistant coach on offense for the rival San Francisco 49ers, and will be in the skybox with the other coaches strategizing against the Kansas City Chiefs, and the city she loves so much the skyline is tattooed on her left forearm. She’s also the first openly LGBTQ coach in the NFL and, thus, Super Bowl LIV.

Segment 1: Kansas City's journey toward greater inclusivity takes one step forward, two steps back.

The state of diversity and inclusion in Kansas City is shaping up to be one of this year's most tenuous storylines. We previewed both positive and negative issues facing marginalized communities in the metro, including diversity training for law enforcement and seemingly discriminatory legislative efforts.

Adam Hamilton

Key Methodist leaders in the Kansas City area say it will be business as usual for them when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion, after an announcement on Friday that the United Methodist Church would split to allow a new, "traditionalist-minded" denomination for congregations who don't support same-sex marriage or allow LGBTQ clergy.

Adam Hamilton, pastor of the 22,000-member, five-campus Church of the Resurrection, said he predicts only a handful of churches in the Kansas City area will split off from the existing denomination.

courtesy of the artist

In the art world, what makes regular abstraction different from "queer abstraction"?

Unlike LGBTQ artists who explore identity through representational images that make clear statements, the 20 artists in "queer abstraction" at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art are expressing themselves through color, shape and form.

But as with non-queer abstract art, what they're expressing is not always easy to discern.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

In 1991, when Reverend Eric Williams was new to his ministry, he was asked to perform a funeral for a young man who'd died of AIDS. The parents wanted to honor their son with a church service. Their own pastor had refused. 

An unspoken rule exists among clergy that pastors don't agree to things their colleagues have refused to do, but Williams couldn't stop thinking about the young man's family. The reckoning Williams experienced on the night of that phone call is still shaping Kansas City's approach to AIDS intervention, not to mention his work as a pastor.

Updated at 11:55 p.m. ET

Facing a barrage of criticism for pulling ads featuring a lesbian couple from its airwaves, the Hallmark Channel has reversed course, and says it will now work to "reinstate the commercials."

The ad for the wedding planning site Zola shows a couple at the altar, wishing they had used the service before their big day.

Nationally, the number of reported hate crimes remained fairly stagnant in 2018 compared to the year before, but Missouri saw a 39% reduction. 

According to the FBI, there were more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies participating in the Hate Crime Statistics Program in 2018, but only about 12% reported incidents. The other 87% reported that no hate crimes occurred in their jurisdictions. Agencies participate on a voluntary basis and provide one to 12 months of data. 

Segment 1: If Kansas City wants to go green, we have to drive less. Can we do it?

Transportation is the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, with most of that coming from cars and trucks, but how realistic is it to expect people to break up with their cars in a city that was built for the automobile?

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Therapists who attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ minors through conversion therapy could be fined up to $500 and spend as much as six months in jail, if the Kansas City Council approves an ordinance passed by a committee Wednesday.

The proposed ban calls conversion therapy "ineffective" and "harmful." It’s also been debunked by the American Psychological Association.

But, opponents say outlawing it would infringe on the rights of people who want the therapy.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

As nonbinary people gain more recognition, with Merriam-Webster adding "they/them" pronouns to its dictionary and celebrities like Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness coming out as nonbinary, members of Kansas City's nonbinary community hope to educate more people about their lives.

Segment 1: Gender-nonconforming people share their experience living as nonbinary.

The pronouns "they" and "them" have been added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to describe nonbinary individuals, but the transition to gender-neutral terms can be difficult for some to figure out. "It is hard," admits Shallyn Ward, who is nonbinary, "but it's not impossible." Today, a conversation about understanding the changing language etiquette, and what it's like living as nonbinary.

Photo courtesy of the Gay & Lesbian Archive of Mid-America / LaBudde Special Collections, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Recent news out of Johnson County, Kansas, has been about cities adopting non-discrimination ordinances with protections for members of the LGBTQ community.

Segment 1: Germany's prisons emphasize rehabilitation and resocialization for their inmates.

Germany is doing a lot of things differently than the U.S. when it comes to criminal justice, and they've got a lower inceration rate to show for it. In prisons there, staff are trained in things like psychology and communication, and they're paid just as much as police officers. This is all to promote a reintegration approach, which focuses on returning inmates back into their communities. 

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Following a trend across the Johnson County suburbs, the Overland Park City Council passed an ordinance Monday night banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Segment 1: Derrick Rieke is an unlikely but powerful LGBTQ rights advocate in his community.

When Derrick Rieke spoke out, at a Shawnee City Council meeting, he told his personal story wrestling with being gay from fourth grade well into adulthood. He was addressing a room full of people he knew, many of whom were there to oppose the ordinance he was fighting for.

Kansas City Royals

Scott Switzer is the youngest of four boys, all athletes. He understands the social and physical value of sports. And, while his family fully supported him when he came out as gay as a young person, the sports world wasn’t necessarily as accepting.

Segment 1: The Gay Softball World Series comes to Kansas City.

As the Gay Softball World Series gets under way here in town, the Kansas City Royals host their first ever official Pide Night at the K. 

  • Scott Switzer, Executive Director, Gay Softball World Series 2019
  • Rick Leavitt, founder of a gay softball team and league in Florida 25 years ago, now a Kansas Citian

Segment 2: First Friday has lost its festival license. Now what?

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Updated 2:30 p.m. August 14

After several hours of public testimony and discussion lasting well past midnight on Tuesday, a Shawnee City Council committee voted to move ahead with an ordinance protecting residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. City staff will now draft an ordinance to send to the full council for consideration.

Seg. 1: Anti-Trans Violence | Seg. 2: Craftivism

Jul 22, 2019

Segment 1: The nationwide trend of violence against transgender women of color.

A man was recently charged with the murder of Brooklyn Lindsey, a black transgender woman who was found dead in Kansas City in June. Anti-trans violence is on the rise nationwide, and we talk about why.

  • Sarah McBride, national press secretary, Human Rights Campaign 

Segment 2, beginning at 20:17: How a movement combines art and activism.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

For many in the transgender community, use of their birth name to refer to them after they have transitioned is a no-no, a sign of disrespect.

But Merrique Jenson, a transgender woman working in the LGBTQ community, knows she is in a unique situation. She started her transition in October, but she is best known, both in Kansas City and nationally, as Randall Jenson.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

On Sunday, LGBTQ organizations hosted the first pride picnic in Johnson County, Kansas, in a large pavilion at Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park in Lenexa. 

Lori McGee, of Overland Park, sat on a blanket in the grass near a bubble machine, with her nine-month-old daughter, Ellie. 

"We've been looking for family events in Johnson County," said McGee, "and saw the pride event and thought, 'Wow, this would be wonderful for our daughter, and we would be able to hang out with other families that are like us."

Segment 1: How a 1990s movie on DVD saved the life of a queer Kansas teen.

Savannah Rodgers is making a documentary about her obsession, as a 12-year-old, with the movie Chasing Amy.

Seg. 1: Calm Down | Seg. 2: Blues Man

Jun 25, 2019

Segment 1: An interview with the KCAI alum who worked on Taylor Swift's new music video.

Megan Mantia gives behind-the-scenes insights into the making of a music video that's got people talking. From safety when setting real fires to building fake neighborhoods.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Kansas has agreed to change its policy and allow transgender people born in the state to update the sex listed on their birth certificates.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Friday entered into a consent decree that ends a lawsuit brought by four native Kansans and the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, Inc. (K-STEP).

The policy change is significant because birth certificates can determine access to education, employment, health care, travel and the ability to obtain other identification documents.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

"Trans rights are human rights." 

That was the rallying cry as Kansas City's first trans pride march kicked off late Saturday afternoon at Hamburger Mary's on Broadway. 

It was a colorful crowd of more than 100 people, many toting the pink, white and blue transgender flag and signs that read "I'm Here, I'm Queer" and "Black Trans Lives Matter."

"I am impressed and blown away by each and every person who showed up today," said march organizer Faith Matthews.

Wichita Public Schools is considering adding explicit protections for transgender students and staff this year.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Hundreds of young German football fans in blue jerseys dance and sing in the streets before a soccer match in Manchester, England.  

This rainy northwestern city is the third largest in the United Kingdom. Known for its music scene and soccer, it’s a city brimming with young people .

But for many of those young people, like 17-year-old Lee Smelhurst-Hudson, life in Greater Manchester can be tough.

Courtesy of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection

Updated, 10:30 a.m. Thursday: The meeting this week ended with a commitment to resist the plan approved in February at the General Conference; the church leaders present are not yet calling for a split. Some churches will continue to marry and ordain LGBTQ members.

The original post continues below.

The United Methodist Church is in crisis.

In February, the General Conference of the church held a special session in St. Louis, Missouri, to decide whether to allow marriage and ordination for its LGBTQ members.

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