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NV conservation group supports FERC's transmission planning rule; Memorial Day weekend includes Tornadoes and record-high temperatures; A focus on the Farm Bill for Latino Advocacy Week in D.C; and Southeast Alaska is heating homes with its rainfall.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

NM Legislation Would Boost Protections for LGBTQ Students, Others

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Wednesday, February 1, 2023   

Legislation to close a loophole that potentially allows discrimination against LGBTQ New Mexicans will be debated by the State Legislature this session.

House Bill 207 would prohibit public entities and contractors from discriminating on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity when providing services.

Marshall Martinez, executive director of Equality New Mexico, said the state has one of the oldest and strongest nondiscrimination laws in the country, but specific language referencing the LGBTQ community is missing.

"Legally, state departments and agencies, city and county governments and even school districts can legally discriminate in New Mexican law," Martinez explained.

During the bill's introduction, co-sponsor, Rep. Kristina Ortez, D-Taos, said it is critical to explicitly protect LGBTQ youth at a time when attacks against them are occurring across the country. Two similar bills have failed, but Martinez is hopeful the third attempt will succeed before the legislature adjourns in March.

The New Mexico bill to expand LGBTQ legal protections is in contrast to proposed laws in neighboring states such as Texas and Arizona, where lawmakers have proposed bills to restrict rights.

Martinez argued the absence of protections for transgender students and others leaves them vulnerable if agencies do not adhere to the spirit of the Human Rights Act.

"Children, Youth and Services could say for example, if they're investigating parents for child abuse, they could say, 'Oh, and by the way the parents are lesbians,' and you couldn't file a lawsuit against them in state law for discrimination because that's not prohibited," Martinez outlined.

Equality New Mexico is also supporting legislation to give 16-year-olds the right to vote in state, local, and school board elections.

Disclosure: Equality New Mexico contributes to our fund for reporting on Civil Rights, Human Rights/Racial Justice, LGBTQIA Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

References:  
House Bill 207 2023

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